Archive for the ‘ missional thoughts. ’ Category

First Official Prayer and Support Letter

Hi friends and family!

First off, this is long. I apologize. Okay, now you can read. =]

This is my first of many prayer letters you will be – Lord willing – receiving in the coming years. I’m writing this note mainly to ask for your prayer and to let you know where I’m at in terms of graduating, my degree, and future plans!

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, I have my first of two interviews here at Azusa Pacific University for a program that the Office of World Missions (OWM) offers called H.I.S. Years (hearing, investing, serving).  7-10 applicants are chosen from the pool of 20 who submitted the application.

To give you some insight and explanation surrounding this important interview, let me begin. If you are reading this, the odds are that you most likely know that God has placed in me an immense desire to reach the unreached people groups in the world with God’s redemptive plan of salvation, the Gospel.  I have spent the last three years as an undergraduate student majoring in Theater Arts and minoring in Philosophy.  God has so incredibly blessed me by condensing a top-of-the-line four year undergraduate education program into three, significantly reducing my loans for tuition (which as it stands is a little under $40,000/year), and further enabling me to fastidiously get to the field to “fill up what is lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24) and to fulfill my ambition for preaching the gospel not ONLY where Christ has been named, but also “to preach the gospel, NOT where Christ has already been name, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.” (Romans 15:20)

In 2007, the Lord struck me with a sense of my finiteness and short period of time I have here on this earth, “For [I am] a mist that appears for a little time and vanishes,” and I need to redeem the time and pursue the Kingdom of God, not only here and now in the comfort of my relatively easy American life, but also in places where they have zero access to any resources that would even remotely point them to the Gospel.

Graduating this coming spring, I will have $43,000 in student loans in my name.  This is fantastic considering what it would be if I had taken on all four years.  However great this financial success may seem, it is still a heavy financial burden to bear and would most likely stall me from getting to the field for several more years.  As it now stands, I was planning and will continue to move in the direction of New Tribes Mission and attending their 4-year long cultural/linguistic acquisition and Bible school as well as Mastering in Education and quite possibly Intercultural Studies elsewhere using an online degree program.  This is not to mention the years I will be spending paying off my school loans before any of this can even begin to take place.  This is where H.I.S. Years comes into the picture:

H.I.S. Years is a two-year cross-cultural program designed for seniors seeking to serve cross-culturally after graduation.  It provides them with emotional and spiritual support during their final year at the school, financial assistance through means of paying student loans during the two years of service, and an assigned mentor to each student preparing to enter the cross-cultural mission field.  It is designed to give students an opportunity to serve in a missionary role in a cross-cultural context in order to prepare them for full time ministry abroad.   Ultimately, being accepted into this program would enable me to get to the field in the most efficient and time-redeeming manner that is accessible to my faculties.

My request is that you pray ardently for me this afternoon and as often as the Lord puts it on your heart.  Pray that the Lord would vindicate His Holy name as I explain the passion that he has put inside of my heart for the supremacy of his glory among the nations.  Pray that he would continue to humble me over and over and that I would joyfully accept it without bitterness or complaint.  Pray that my answers to these questions would be a reflection of the power of the Gospel and not my abilities, desires, or hopes for my own life.  Pray also for direction in the next 10 years.  My plans are at a conceptual and tentative stage, but I’m willing to take other avenues to reach the destination that I prayerfully know the Lord has for me.  And be praying if God would have you support me in anyway He sees fit in the years to come.

I love you all and pray that this letter finds you joyful, encouraged, and delighting in the Lord.

Sincerely,

Miles

Craig S. Keener

Excerpts from one of the introductions to the New Testament Cultural Background book I’m reading:

Translating can be difficult, as anybdy who has studied a foreign language can testify. Some words do not translate directly in a single term; sometimes a word or phrase can have several different meanings, and the translator has to decide which meaning is best for particular  context. There is also more than one way to express an idea in English once one decides what it means. Those of us who have read the whole New Testament in Greek can testify that the same problems obtain there as in any other text we might try to translate. A random check of any passage in two or three Bible translations will verify the difficulty: no two translations will match exactly (otherwise, of course, they wouldn’t be separate translations).

When Bible translatos go into other cultures they face difficult questions regarding the meanings of words and phrases. For instance, some translators had to explain “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:29) for a culture that had no sheep and thus no words for lambs. The culture did, however, have pigs, and used them for sacrifices. But if they translated it “Behold, the Pig of God!” (which does not ring nicely to our American ears, and certainly would have offended ancient Jewish sensibilities even more), what would happen when they had to translate passages in the Old Testament where pigs were unclean but sheep were not? Perhaps they could best solve the issue by putting a footnote in the text and by translating with some combination of words that communicated the concepts best as possible in their language, like “hairy pig.” Old Testament translators have had to resort to similar methods when rendering the Hebrew words for different kinds of locusts into English (Joel 1:4; 2:25). English does not have enough different words for locusts to match all the Hebrew terms, perhaps because the many varieties of locusts were nomre of an issue for the Israelites than they are for most of us.

Go Craig.

Awayo: Fear to Faith

This is the brand new New Tribes Mission video.  Great example of the work NTM does and the Christ-like transformation that takes place in the hearts of people all over the world who have never heard the name, Jesus.

“christian” holy wars and the social gospel

Interesting. I’m reading this book called ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs,’ and Mr. Foxe just informed me of the medieval inquisition which included the Papal Inquisitions.

As you can probably guess, the book is about Christian persecutions as they’ve happened throughout history, starting with the early church, much like dc Talk’s ‘Jesus Freaks’ that was published some years ago.

I can’t tell you how interesting and inspiring this book is.  These witnesses bring a whole new meaning to Colossians 1:24. Not recanting their faith even to the point of excruciating pain. Incredible and invigorating. Not only is it inspiring, but the facts are very intriguing as well.  Take the movie ‘Gladiator’ for instance.  The philosopher and Emperor, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (A.D. 162-180) was known as the last of ‘Five Good Emperors‘ of Rome.  You might remember him in the movie as the murdered father. He was responsible for the fourth general persecution against the Christians. Weird, right? He ordered and allowed (despite what wikipedia might tell you) countless horrible and unthinkable tortures.  Dang. He seemed like such a nice guy in the movie.

Now what I’ve just been reading is about the papal persecutions.  The history teachers leave out detailed information about these. ‘Christians’ were the villains; however, Christians were also the direct victims of these persecutions. Wait, what??

So before this era of Papal-ity (1208 A.D.), most of the persecutions against the believing church came from the pagan world. The church in Rome began to set aside scriptural doctrines such as holiness, piety, humility, charity, and compassion, and instead took up the sword along with pagan superstitions and practices. All of this in order to benefit the clergy of the Roman church.  ANY who disagreed with this doctrine (true Christians being the “any”) were labeled as heretics to the faith, and if refusing to recant “heresy,” were executed.

So now the world tells us that Christians were going around slaughtering heretics. False. Heretics were going around slaughtering Christians labeled as heretics. After all, 2 Timothy says, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  Now we get into persecution and suffering.

Oh the agendas of the social gospel.  To be quite honest, Azusa Pacific University upsets me when it comes to this issue.  This idea of “preach the gospel always, and when necessary, use words.”

WHAT?! NO!

And unfortunately, I hear too much of this at Azusa. God is behind it, maybe. I’m sure it pleases our Savior that the needy are being cared for; however, I’m convinced he’s more concerned about their eternal futures. I feel like many students at Azusa (or the mainstream students anyways) are taking the easy road, copping out and buying shoes for kids, rescuing little children from enslavement, sending monetary savings to feed some others. THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL! Let me quote a friend of mine:

What is happening today in our Christian culture is the thought that the application of the gospel is to simply come to the monetary assistance of those in need.  This is an aspect, but it is not even the central aspect, but a corollary of the gospel.  I fear that there is a growing belief that the preaching of the gospel to those who are sufferers of social injustice is secondary to the remedying of these people’s situation.  Or, to look at it another way, that the remedying of social injustice is the preaching of the gospel to those who are its sufferers.

Oh friends!  Do not be deceived! Let us not usher in temporal comfort but everlasting. Or at least couple social justice with Christ’s message of redemption.  One without the other is meaningless. More so social justice without the gospel (not all third-world countries are needy fyi). And do not be deceived into the thinking that “loving” can indefinitely take the place of “witnessing.” If you are afraid to share the gospel because it will offend… that’s the whole point. The truth is offensive. It’s edgy, difficult to cope with. God’s gospel was seen as heretical. Christ was seen as a blasphemer. “PREACH THE WORD!” (2 Timothy 4:2). It’s a command straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ who died for everone’s sins and beat the heck out of death.

And in terms of staying safe and protected from disease and sickness and third-world maladies:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall TRIBULATION, or DISTRESS, or PERSECUTION, or FAMINE, or NAKEDNESS, or DANGER, or SWORD? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death NOR life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:35-39

Have I made my point clear? If you disagree or anything, I’d be happy to politely discuss it with you anytime. I have skype (milesgrimes), twitter (milesvincent), and aim (mgrimes08@mac.com), and my email is mgrimes08@apu.edu.

Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace.
-Gordon Macdonald

EDIT (6/13/09): In regards to the last statement/quote: The world can offer the avenue to grace. The means by which the grace is offered. Grace, the seed planted by the church waiting to be broken and made fruitful by the Holy Spirit.  The church: the workers who must usher in the harvest. Thank you Mr. Mark Montgomery =]

my unofficial mission statement: mission integration initiative

In Christianity and the Creative Process, we had to draft our mission statement as it would pertain to an organization that we might want to start in the future. I really desire to work with New Tribes Mission, but decided to come up with an example of an organization I might start if I had the opportunity. This is it!

Mission Statement of the  “Mission Integration Initiative”A pilot designed to fulfill what is lacking in American churches today; mainly, a firm and substantial relationship between God’s church (as it stands in America) and His Great Commission both at home and abroad, which involves the globalization and preaching of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection    in a creative way (a holistic foundational teaching) in the cultural and linguistic context in which it is taught. This is our mission:
1. To Plant and/or Partner with Churches at Home and Abroad

a.  ABROAD:  It is our mission to present the gospel where Christ is not named in the hopes that the Spirit of God might work in the hearts of the unsaved, that they would come to know him as their personal Lord and savior, both on an individual level and in a broad corporate fellowship of believers. Lord willing, the fruit of this labor would be a newly established New Testament church that is ready and equipped to fulfill their calling at home or abroad as the Lord ordains it.  The goal in this initiative is to establish a church that does not rely on financial backing, but rather is self-sufficient within its own cultural context.  Coupled with this effort, we seek to follow the model set forth by Paul, in establishing mature churches that can then act as agents of change within their own community or in neighboring communities.
b.  HOME:  It is our mission to partner with churches and work with, aid in, or start a missions department within the church.  We firmly believe that after the revelation of the mystery of Christ, God’s focus of the proclamation of himself dramatically shifted from his chosen people, the Israelites, to the gentiles.  For this reason, the purpose of the church must be focused on reaching out both to the community and (primarily) to the nations.  By the grace of God, we will galvanize a zeal for missions in the emerging church age. This is our hope.
2. To Present a Foundational Approach to the Bible

a.  GOAL: Within a community of individuals who have no concept of God, creation, redemption, or resurrection, as these pertain to Christ, evangelization must start from the ground up; it must start where God started: in the beginning.   By approaching it from this angle, we hope to facilitate an environment in which a complete understanding of the purpose of the Old Testament is clear and that there is a proper connection/parallel made between the God of the OT and the Christ of the New.   We will also preach the Word chronologically with Christ’s resurrection the center, height, and climax of early church history.
b.  METHOD:  In order to accomplish the success of this holistic approach, we will labor in our culture and language acquisition so that the gospel message, at its core, becomes a personal one.  With a proper understanding of the arts, rituals, and/or traditions said culture possesses, the more effectively and efficiently we will be enabled to present the gospel.  Without a complete understanding of culture, a misunderstanding or miscommunication has a high probability of occurring. For this reason we emphasize the importance of this facet as it works in conjunction with a foundational teaching.
3. To Engender Excitement and Urgency
Because we seek to a mend a problem that the church has only since encountered within the last 50 years, specifically a move away from global church-planting missions, we hope that God uses us to evoke and ignite a renewed passion for the spreading of his supreme and sovereign glory to all the nations within the body of Christ both here in the churches of America and abroad in the churches established elsewhere in the world.   In order to prompt this passion, we seek to aim for an awareness of the thousands of unreached people groups in the world through creative media, statistics, and first account testimony from missionaries.   Coupled with this, we will present the overwhelming call that God has placed on all believers through his scriptures.
4. To Equip and Send
Our prime objective is “to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples”  and for them to adopt this same objective.  That means we must disciple and apprentice those who have been called into this ministry by passing on our methods of cultural and language acquisition and foundational Bible teaching in order that they are equipped and prepared for service so that they may be sent.  In this fashion, Christ’s name will be known to all peoples.

easter

My oh my. I haven’t blogged in a while.  REALLY blogged.  Well the topic of this post is somewhat of a broad one and I think I’m going to be jumping all over the place, but that’s okay.  I want to start off by saying that this is going to be more of a personal reflection rather than a “try to teach you something” or “try to be exegetical” blog.

Right now it is 7:38am on Easter Sunday Morning.  I was planning on going to the sunrise service that was orchestrated by the college group, famously known as “The Well,” at EFCC.  It was a facebook event, and I completely misread it.  It said meet at 6am at 7-11.  It did NOT say meet at 7am at 7-11.  My bad. Well, I’m a little disappointed, but not too much because I think it was God ordained.  He wanted me to blog. =] So here I am, saddened that I missed the beautiful California Sunrise on the most appropriate of days, but content to know that it was not meant to be.

So what am I getting at?  Well in the past week, I have been vacationing in the most awesome place.  A good place of relaxation (ish) and reflection commonly known as Yosemite.  I brought a couple books to read, one being Surprised by Hope. In an earlier post that was written during Christmas break, I criticized the work a little too harshly, quickly reading through it and not paying attention to the important details that Wright has to offer.  Reading this book and paying close attention to detail, I learned so much about Christ and specifically his purpose here on earth as it pertains to the resurrection (I have finally digressed).  What an earth shattering thing, Christ’s rising from the dead.  The implications of this event are far greater than I could ever hope or imagine to put into words, but I think Wright does a fine job.
I want to share some of what I am learning from this book.  It is amazing.  I highly recommend it.  I have not completely finished it yet, but I am close, and it is so good.
God and the world are not the same thing, nor is everything simply held within something called “god.”  Within biblical theology it remains the case that the one living God created a world that is other than himself, not contained within himself.  Creation was from the beginning an act of love, of affirming the goodness of the other.  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good; but it was not itself divine.  At its height, which according to Genesis 1 is the creation of humans, it was designed to reflect God, both to reflect God back to God in worship and to reflect God into the rest of creation in stewardshipHumans were made to be God’s stewards over creation, so the one through whom all things were made, the eternal son, the eternal wisdom, becomes human so that he might truly become God’s steward, ruler over all his world.  Equally, if you tell the story from the point of view of human rebellion and the consequent sin and death that have engulfed the world, this again emerges as the moment all creation had been waiting for: the eternal expression of the father’s love became the incarnate expression of the father’s love so that by his self-giving to death, even the death of the cross, the whole creation can be reconciled to GodThis is the real cosmic Christology of the New Testament:…a retelling of the Jewish story of wisdom in terms of Jesus himself, focusing on the cross as the act whereby the good creation is brought back into harmony with the wise creator. (pages 94-96)
Did you put all that together?? Wright took 3 pages to explain all that, but I condensed it down and made it more concise.  It took me a long time to read through these pages.  Re-read the bold sections.  Because of Christ’s resurrection, the whole creation was reconciled back to God.  I cannot quite explain it how Wright does, but if you do not fully understand what this passage is saying, please ask!  What a magnificent God! What an all loving and forgiving God, that he would become his own creation, love us so much, and be willing to die and defeat death so that we might one day be resurrected in bodily form like he was along with all creation!  That is the implication of his death and resurrection.  Death is the last enemy.  Jesus Christ has defeated it and therefore, we have all the hope in the world! Hallelujah! What love.
The world is created good but incomplete. One day, when all forces of rebellion have been defeated and the creation responds freely and gladly to the love of its creator, God will fill it with himself so that it will both remain an independent being, other than God, and also be flooded with God’s own life.  This is part of the paradox of love, in which love freely given creates a context for love to be freely returned, and so on in a cycle where complete freedom and complete union do not cancel each other out but rather celebrate each other and make one another whole. (page 102)
Wow.  Thank you Jesus.
I guess I want to confess publicly here.  I have been struggling with selfishness for quite a while.  Selfishness is an awful thing because the way I see it, it plays out in every corner of my life.  My entire motivation is all about me.  The only reason I do things and the only way I look at some situations is by how much I will be benefiting from those situations.  It is is remarkable to me how selfishness manifests itself into so many different areas.  Please, as you think of it, pray for me.
Lord I confess to you my wrongness and my sin.  I have chosen to follow you and in doing so have committed myself to you.  I am not my own.  Forgive me.  Thank you for humbling yourself by entering creation and reconciling it to yourself.   And thank you for your sacrificial love.   You are alive today, and I celebrate and live in the hope that one day I will be raised up to spend eternity with you.   Thank you!

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
BUT in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
-1 Corinthians 15:16-24

preparing for the future

One of the greatest triumphs of “growing up” is watching the friends around us grow into and become the leaders of our generation. Some of my upperclassmen friends have mentioned how bizarre it is to be bridesmaids or groomsmen in their best friend’s wedding. Not bizarre in a negative sense, but bizarre as in, “Where did the time go?”

Well, Justin Ross, a good childhood friend of mine, just got his solo pilot license about a month ago and his trying to attain his private license now. A solo license means you can fly by yourself within a restricted area and with other passengers under the supervision of a flight instructor. The next license would be private, meaning he could fly whenever he wanted for an extended period of time without limitations as to where he can fly. His ultimate goal, as of now, is to get his commercial pilot license which allows you to fly passengers whenever and wherever you want, analogous to a driving permit versus a driving license.
One of the requirements of a private license is a cross-country trip, which basically is flying a certain distance x-country, not necessarily flying ‘across the country’. Justin’s trip was scheduled for a Friday and he called me the Friday before: “Wanna go flying with me on my x-country trip?” The event was scheduled and I had a blast! So here is the video that I made as a result of the trip. It was so much fun and I’m glad I was asked to go.

I asked him what his goals in getting his commercial license were, and he didn’t really give me a straight answer. The future is a mystery, but when asked, he did express interest in missions! I think that the most exciting facet of growing up with your peers is seeing them grow into Christ and watching Him mold and shape their lives alongside yours. There is such a need for mission-minded aviators! Justin said it would be a long process, but he does hope that one day he will be able to assist missionaries by flying them into remote locations, delivering essential supplies including mail, food, and providing medical help by assisting nationals and missionaries out of tribes if needed. The need of missionary pilots is a large one, but God’s Kingdom is being built and He is raising up some amazing workers for His purpose.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist o one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
1 Corinthians 12:12-20

%d bloggers like this: