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May the Great Commission never be something you only read about

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How Do You Read the Bible?





A funny thing happened today.  I picked up a book I had been reading, "Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes" by Kenneth Bailey.  Here are the last couple of paragraphs I read before putting the book down:


"In the Western tradition serious theology has almost always been constructed from ideas held together by logic.  In such a world the more intelligent the theologian, the more abstract he or she usually becomes, and the more difficult it is for the average person to understand what is being said ... In contrast, the popular perception of Jesus is that of a village rustic creating folktales for fisherman and farmers.  But when examined with care, his parables are serious theology, and Jesus emerges as an astute theologian.  He is, as noted, primarily a metaphorical rather than a conceptual theologian ... A metaphor communicates in ways that rational arguments cannot.  Pictures easily trump but do not replace abstract reasoning.  A powerful television image communicates meaning that a thousand words cannot express.  When used in theology to create meaning, the parable challenges the listener in ways that abstract statements of truth cannot approach....Theologians often use "illustrations" to infuse energy and clarification into their abstract reflections.  A metaphor, however, is not an illustration of an idea; it is a mode of theological discourse.  The metaphor does more than explain meaning, it creates meaning.  A parable is an extended metaphor and as such it is not a delivery system for an idea but a house in which the reader/listener is invited to take up residence."

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Then, a couple hours later, I picked up another book, "Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes" by Brandon O'Brien and Randolph Richards.  I didn't even think about the similar theme as I began to read; I was mainly thinking of how I was supposed to return this book to my friend Jayson Georges several weeks ago, and that I probably wasn't going to finish before I saw him again.  I opened the book to where I had dog-eared the page - sorry Jayson! I hadn't cracked the book since before Christmas, so to read these words just two hours after reading the ones above were, for me, quite remarkable:


"When it comes to communicating the truth, Westerners drift more towards propositions than to artistic expressions.  Because we are somewhat uncomfortable with the ambiguity of metaphors, we tend to distill propositions out of them.  We want to know what they mean, in categorical terms.  A philosophical description of God ("omnipresent") is better than an anthropomorphic one ("his eyes roam to and fro throughout the land").  Or, so we think.  This is why books on Jesus talk more about the facts of his life than his parables.  To us, things like metaphors and parables sometimes seem like unnecessarily frilly packages for a hard truth.  We want to get past the packaging to the content; we want to know what it means.  These assumptions about the value of propositions and our unease with ambiguous language put us at something of a disadvantage when it comes to reading the Bible.  The biblical writers didn't make the distinctions we make regarding when metaphorical and potentially ambiguous language is appropriate.  We relegate it mainly to informal communication.  But the writers of Scripture recorded the profoundest truth in similes, metaphors, parables and other colorful and expressive (and potentially ambiguous) forms of language."

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Interesting, huh?  What do you think?  How do you read the Bible - particularly Jesus' teachings and parables?  Maybe it's time to re-read them.  And although I haven't finished either of the books mentioned above, I recommend them to you.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

31 Days of Giving: Last Day to Give




We invite you to consider partnering with us through giving financially.  Many people like to give end of year donations.  Would you choose one of the simple options below to make a tax-deductible gift?  Thank you!

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How You Can Give:
4 easy ways to Donate Now



"...because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now..."  Philippians 1:5



Monday, December 22, 2014

31 Days of Giving: Thank You 2 Our Partners


How You Can Give:
4 easy ways to Donate Now



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A BIG Christmas "Thank You!" to all of you who have partnered with us through 2014 ... here's some of the highlights of what you've done for us this year:

  • Prayed diligently for our family and our ministry
  • Supported us at $1,500 per month
  • Sent encouraging notes, cards and messages
  • Come to visit (this means more than you'll know!)
  • Provided a Sam's Club membership, a full tank of gas and lots of other intangibles
  • Shared your homes for visits, your table for meals and your ears for listening
  • Been a faithful part of taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unreached peoples of the world!

We ask 3 BIG THINGS from each of you in 2015:

  • Pray even more fervently for God to do great things among the unreached in Atlanta - for the glory of His name
  • Continue giving (even consider giving a little more next year)   ...   NOTE NEW GIVING INSTRUCTIONS FOR 2015 - CLICK DONATE NOW FOR MORE INFO!
  • Refer 10 new, potential partners to us by January 1 - respond here with referral contact information

Again, we say a GREAT BIG "THANK YOU!"  From the Harpers - Nathan, Rachel, Chrisley, Jude & Drew.  Merry Christmas!





We invite you to consider partnering with us through giving financially.  Many people like to give end of year donations.  Would you choose one of the simple options below to make a tax-deductible gift?  Thank you!

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How You Can Give:
4 easy ways to Donate Now



"...because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now..."  Philippians 1:5



Saturday, December 20, 2014

31 Days of Giving: ADVANCE


How You Can Give:
4 easy ways to Donate Now



"...because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now..."  Philippians 1:5

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2 ways you can "HOLD THE ROPE" and ADVANCE the Gospel with us:


  • Serve with us - Join the GO TEAM.  Yep, that's right!  You can become a missionary too.  Learn to live on mission in God's world.  We have various ways to serve:  take a short term mission trip, or if you are 20-something or in college, then you may want to check out our summer internships.  Maybe you want to go all out, like we did and look into missionary training school.  Or, it's OK to take it slow and simply come by for a Nehemiah tour.  You can find us in Atlanta (where we are), or if you like it even hotter, then talk to our buds in Houston.  Wanna go overseas now?  We can arrange that too!  If you feel like God may be dealing with you in this area of missions, check out our EQ[u]IP page (at the top) and read some of the articles there.  We'd be glad to talk to you, recommend next steps, and pray for you about it too.  We'd love to hear from you.  And, if you are wanting to really understand what we do on a daily basis, you've really got to see it firsthand.  So, what are you waiting on?  Come see us!
  • Hold the rope - We need a few champions!  Someone who loves us enough to go the extra mile.  A few folks with the same vision - willing to cast that vision to others.  Someone who will dream up those BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) with us.  If this is you, please let us know.  We need you!  What can you do?  What does it mean to hold the rope?  Well, it simply means doing anything and everything you can to keep us secure at this end of the rope ... you, and whatever team you recruit/develop, will hang on at your end.  Of course, it goes both ways!  You can help spread the word.  Facilitate prayer meetings or fundraisers.  Lead a short term team to come over and help us for a few days.  Stay where you are and host a Perspectives class.  Invite us to share with any small groups or churches you are connected with.  Lead a small group to take the missionarytrainingschool.com course together.  Stay in touch with us and pass along any special needs we may have to the rest of our PRAYER and SUPPORT teams.  You get the idea.  If you are willing to consider this commitment, please contact us here.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

31 Days of Giving: ENGAGE


How You Can Give:
4 easy ways to Donate Now



"...because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now..."  Philippians 1:5

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2 ways you can "HOLD THE ROPE" and ENGAGE with us:


  • Give to us - Along with lots of prayer, we must also raise financial support - as all GFM staff are faith-based volunteers - for living and ministry.  The next best thing you can do then, is join our SUPPORT TEAM.  God has been faithful to provide for our needs over the past 3 years, although it hasn't been easy.  Recently, it has gotten even more difficult financially.  Starting in 2015, our anticipated support level will be at 50% of what we need.  Instead of thinking so much about money, we'd rather focus all of our energies on finishing the task that Jesus has called us to in Matthew 28:18-20.  Also, we feel that our call to this field extends, at least, through 2020 or 2021.  We are excited about the experiences that lie ahead.  Our hope is that you see the eternal value in this work.  As you can imagine, a full time missionary requires support from a number of people.  We need to raise $4,200/month in sustainable support to be able to remain in this mission field.  If you can support us financially, we would be very grateful.  Please click the DONATE NOW button.  All contributions are tax deductible.  Or, if you have any questions, please respond here.
  • Spread the word - Help us find more people who will join the PRAYER & SUPPORT TEAMS.  Can you think of any friends, relatives, associates or neighbors who would be interested in talking with us, receiving our updates or supporting us?  Spread the word through your social media networks.  Or course, word of mouth is always best.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

31 Days of Giving: CONNECT


How You Can Give:
4 easy ways to Donate Now



"...because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now..."  Philippians 1:5

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3 ways you can "HOLD THE ROPE" and CONNECT with us:

  • Join the email list - Just enter your email address in the space to the right, and you will receive each blog post directly into your inbox.
  • Follow us on social media - You can "like" us on Facebook:  The World is our Neighborhood ; and "follow" us on Twitter:  @missiofamile  
  • Pray for us - Rachel and I would like to ask you to join our PRAYER TEAM.  This is the most important part of connecting with us and our God-given task.  Prayer is the fuel that allows us to be fruitful in this mission to the unreached.  Without prayer nothing will happen.  We are asking you to commit to praying for us on a regular basis - whether daily, weekly, or "upon every remembrance."  If you can make this commitment to join our PRAYER TEAM, please let us know by responding here.  


    Sunday, December 14, 2014

    31 Days of Giving: THUMB's UP!

    The first week of posts for our little "31 Days of Giving" project was all about our family and the ministry we are a part of.  For this week, we'd like to introduce you to some friends who are connected with our organization, Global Frontier Missions.  Also, we invite you to invest in their ministries as God leads you.

    The acrostic "THUMB" refers to the basic religions of the world's remaining unreached peoples.  Tribal (or animistic), Hindu, Un-religious (or atheistic), Muslim, and Buddhist.  Here is a little snapshot of a few of those.  Below, I want to introduce you to a few friends (note:  names* are changed for security reasons), who are currently looking for new partners to send them to each of these peoples:

    T - Tribal (West Africa):  My friend Gus* is currently serving with me in Atlanta with GFM.  But, God has given him a vision to reach the unreached Tribal (and folk Muslims) in West Africa through community development.  He will be making disciples and planting churches through agriculture, orphan care and education.  He is preparing for a vision trip there in a couple of months.  Will you consider supporting Gus*?



    H - Hindu (South Asia):  Calee* is serving with Pioneers and will soon join other teammates in South Asia that are working to make disciples among the unreached Hindu peoples.  There are approximately 550 million unreached Hindus in over 1,500 unreached people groups in South Asia.  Will you support Calee* as she makes disciples of Jesus among these people?

    U - Un-religious (Europe):  Mindy* is Calee's* sister.  She will be going soon to a "post-Christian" country in Europe, where less than 2% of the population are evangelicals.  There, she will utilize her amazing talents as an artist (see paintings below) to share the Gospel.  Mindy* is serving with Operation Mobilization.  Please consider giving to Mindy*.


           



    M - Muslim (Central Asia):  The Backman* family is already in their Central Asian country, learning the language and bonding with their neighbors.  They are adjusting to life on the field in this predominantly Muslim nation, serving as Jesus' ambassadors, surrounded by millions of people who have never heard the Gospel.  They are in need of a few more partners and monthly supporters.  Will you help them reach the unreached?

    B - Buddhist (Australia):  The Powers* family is preparing to go to Sydney, Australia to work among the unreached there.  They feel led by God to engage the tens of thousands of Buddhist immigrants and refugees from Southeast Asia living in Sydney with the gospel of Jesus.  Read more about it here.  Will you partner with the Powers* family?

    UP - Uttar Pradesh (India):  India is considered by many to be the hardest to reach place on earth.  Perhaps the most difficult and darkest place within India is Uttar Pradesh.  Millions upon millions of Hindus and Muslims, totally unengaged and unreached with the Gospel, are born, live and die in Uttar Pradesh.  Only 0.15% are followers of Jesus.  Please consider partnering with our friends in bringing light to this, the darkest place on earth.



    Because each of the people listed above are serving with different organizations, please contact me here if you are interested in giving to any of them.  Just tell me the name* of the person you're interested in, and I will give you the specific giving information.  Thank you for praying and partnering!

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    How You Can Give To Us:
    4 easy ways to Donate Now



    "...because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now..."  Philippians 1:5