Wednesday, December 30, 2009

85. Legos of beauty and hope

This is a great picture of what it means to be salt and light in the world. These pictures are from Tel Aviv, an area that has felt the brunt of violence and war. There is a small movement called Dispatchwork where people go around with Legos and patch up the holes and craters in walls and monuments with a colorful mosaic of plastic art. It is a refusal to let the effects of war brand an area with destruction.

They are filling in the wounds and scars of war with a creative, beautiful touch of art. It is a testimony that beauty can emerge after tragedy. This is exactly what Jesus does in our lives.

Monday, December 28, 2009

84. The Marathon of Project Managemnt Tools

Thanks to someone leaving a comment on the last post, I was able to learn about a whole host of project management/collaboration tools online, almost all of them FREE!

Check out the post entitled The Marathon List of Project Management

Sunday, December 27, 2009

83. Cool Information and Citation Management Tool

I was recently reminded about the tool Zotero and re-downloaded it onto my laptop. It is right on time as I am becoming increasingly dis-organized in my writing project. I have read so many books that I am starting to forget where the cool stuff is that I have marked out in these books. Zotero allows me to enter these books and "tag" them with terms that I can later search for, bringing those books back up and reminding me that a particular book discusses, say, contextualization of the gospel. Here is the promo video.

Monday, December 21, 2009

80. Slide Share and Innovation at IDEO

As a diagram junky, I always love to come across sites that attract and store other peoples innovative drawings and prototypes. I just recently came across a slideshow about innovation at posted in Slide Share. It is like a youtube for powerpoint presentations. A good resource here not only for visual learners, but also for those who like to hear neat, short summaries of ideas and concepts.

Here tis....

When it comes to innovation, IDEO is...well...I'm speechless really.

Monday, December 14, 2009

79. Missional Eschatology Part 1

Eschatology, the view of last things is finding a much needed resurgence these days. I have always been drawn to apocalyptic movies as a kid. I love the end of the world movies like Deep Impact, and recently 2012. They have a riveting effect on me and fuel my fascination with the future.

What I see in the gospels is a Jesus that was fueled by a vision of the future that was radically breaking into the present. When Jesus said the Kingdom of God was at hand, he was talking about the rule of God. And the future is the only time and place that the rule of God will be consummated. When Jesus healed someone, he was pointing to the future and saying, when the rule of God is consummated, there will be no sickness. When he fed the 5000, he was pointing to the future when all physical needs would be met. When he forgave sins, he was pointing to the future when relationships would not be fractured and we ourselves would not be fractured by our experience of the fallen nature.

When we talk about being missional, we need to, as Hirsch explains in his book ReJesus, recalibrate back to Jesus. But the conversation must go a bit deeper here. Going back to Jesus is a monumental task in and of itself, but once we get there, I think we will be confronted with another question: Where did Jesus get his mission from? When we are trying to understand what our mission is, we go back to Jesus. He embodies and enacts the mission. He is our paradigm. To be missional means to tap into Jesus as the source and energy of our mission. But where did Jesus get his mission from? What was the paradigm he operated in? We tap into Jesus, but what did he tap into?

I think a better way to ask this question is: What was tapping into Jesus? The Spirit of God is what transported that future, New Creation into the present and infused Jesus with the power to embody and demonstrate the Kingdom of God. The future broke into Jesus through the Spirit in a most powerful, yet graceful way. Jesus was apocalyptic, but he was eschatological too. His message of the Kingdom was apocalyptic because it was charged with hope and judgment for the present context, but it also stretched out to encompass the meta-narrative of history, which means it was eschatological. Apocalyptic is eschatology on steroids. Jesus was both because he had a message for the present, but this message was anchored in a future that had yet to be realized. Jesus message of the Kingdom was both apocalyptic and eschatological because he was a portal through which a future rule found a present expression.

When we talk about returning to Jesus we will inevitably run into this amazing subject of the Kingdom of God and eschatology. This should have major implications for the missional conversation. I am grateful for people like NT Wright who have uncovered the sometimes mysterious connection between eschatology and mission. If the mission is understood in the context of Jesus, and Jesus understood his mission in the context of the Kingdom of God, then we have a sort missional-eschatological helix to run through. Will come up with a diagram on this one later.

78. Verge Conference

Headed to this conference called Verge on the first weekend of February. Should be a really cool gig.

Friday, December 11, 2009

76. Symbols and the Construction of Community

Revisited a book I read a while back for the book I am working on about Apostolic Leadership. This guy is so thorough in his analysis about how symbols foster, maintain and hold community together, that it is sort of hard to find a good summary quote. Symbols are those clandestine meaning transmitters and they work in such an ambiguous way that when you stop to look more deeply into how they operate and what it is exactly that they do, you begin to see there power and presence on almost every corner. This quote is from Anthony Cohens book The Symbolic Construction of Community.

"Symbols are effective because they are imprecise. Though obviously not content-less, part of their meaning is subjective. They are, therefore, ideal media through which people can speak a 'common' language, behave in apparently similar ways, participate in the 'same' rituals...wear the same clothes and so forth, without subordinating themselves to a tyranny of orthodoxy. Individuality and community are thus reconcilable. Just as the 'common form' of the symbol aggregates the various meanings assigned to it, so the symbolic repertoire of a community aggregates the individualities and other differences found within the community and provides the means for their expression, interpretation, and containment. It provides the range within which individuality is recognizable. It continuously transforms the reality of difference into the appearance of similarity with such efficacy that people can still invest the 'community' with ideological integrity. It unites them in their opposition, both to each other, and to those 'outside.' It thereby constitutes, and gives reality to, the community's boundaries..."

An interesting question to entertain is, how does the symbol of the gospel function in this way? Symbols are fused with meaning by someone. The strength of symbols is that they can store and communicate multiple meanings at once. Their weakness is that meaning can get away from what produced the symbol in the first place. A good example of this would be the cross. Still a vibrant religious symbol in Christianity, it has been emptied of its original meaning and loaded down with centuries of domestication and cultural baggage. The most vivid display of this would be the prosperity gospel which manages to skirt the cross altogether most of the time, bypassing it for a direct line towards the resurrection, giving it a lopsided theology of naked power and naive triumphalism. Weakness and suffering, non-violent resistance and loving sacrifice seem to escape this particular ideology altogether. Instead, the prosperity gospel liquidates the meaning of the cross and shrinks it down to a purely transactional affair to secure personal salvation and forgiveness. It is a side note to the "power" of "abundant living." The current Protestant versions of the gospel have fallen into this same trap. This is quite a downsizing when compared to the massive implications Paul and other writers of the NT draw from this powerful symbol. Joel green and Mark Baker are quick to point out a foundational source of this tragedy in their book Recovering the Scandal of the Cross.
They say that part of the problem is the way in which we construe the human dilemma. Explanations of the solutions offered by the gospel are directly linked to how we understand the problem. Before Christ the human dilemma was understood within a broad spectrum of categories, including, social, physical, political, emotional, and psychological. The spiritual dimension is always present, but at times it is single voice among many. Explanations of the meaning of the cross need to first wrestle with the entire human situation in relation to God, creation and humanity. The fall reaches into every facet of our existence. It only seems right to expect the gospel, as the power of God for salvation, will speak to these categories. In fact it does. The word salvation is a medical term that is akin to the Hebrew version of shalom. Wholeness and harmony are intimately tied to the gospel, yet they are framed by a crucified messiah. A paradox indeed. The critical flaw in the prosperity gospel is that it approaches the human condition outside the framework of a crucified messiah. It is a contemporary version of the Corinthians "realized eschatology" which wants to live as though the new creation is entirely accessible in the here and now. We live between the times. We have experienced the power of the age to come, but the age to come still has yet to fully "come." We live under the sign of the cross, the spirit transporting the power of the new age into our presence, giving us a foretaste of what is to come. We have to acknowledge this tension. New life has begun, but it has infiltrated a cosmos still suffering from the brunt of the fall.

Apostolic leaders must learn how to embed the gospel in ways that reflect its multiple meanings, guarding and preserving its original potency to speak to the human condition in relation to God, people, systems and the creation.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

75. Daniel Pink on Motivation

I recently read a book by Daniel Pink. This guy is worth listening to.

74. One Stop Shop for Innovation

Found this blog post listing the 7 conferences and events in America that focus on innovation.

Friday, December 04, 2009

72. The Idea Camp

I was just thinking the other day it would be cool if we had a Christian version of are two sights I have seen of late that sort come within the same atmosphere of TED.

The Idea Camp



Innovation is catching on in a lot of circles these days in the Christian community. We desperately need forums like this to explore, share and inspire us into beautiful ventures of love and good news.

Friday, November 27, 2009

71. Conductor as metaphor for Apostolic Leadership

I love this video from TED because it points to the exact dynamics of apostolic leadership. As a conductor, you help the potential come alive. But there are many ways to be a conductor, some healthy, and some unhealthy.

A spin off this metaphor is that every community has certain instruments in it. It is the task of an apostolic leader to make music with the instruments available in the community. You work with the DNA in the community to cultivate a masterpiece. This involves creativity, innovation and thinking outside the box. It also means you respect the make up of the community, allowing it to develop into its own sound and feel. Asking a 14 member orchestra to play Beethoven is ludicrous, but how many people lead under the impression that they have to s0me how sound like Beethoven when the DNA of the community is equipped to play Rae Gae, or Indy music. The goal is not to cut a record label, the goal is to make music! Check it out.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

70. The Nations

This being the 70th post I think it only right to do something about the Nations. As early as Genesis 10, the nations have been on Gods mind. Living in a global village like we are today, it is still astounding that some parts of the world are still insulated form the technological advances that sweep across and entire nation like America but can somehow not make it into the places that need it the most. In his book about poverty, .... says that it is an anomaly that we can get the book "Harry Potter" half way across the world and released on the same day but we can not get mosquito masks to Africa to prevent people from dying from malaria.

Jesus commanded us to penetrate the nations in Matthew 28. In the old testament, the nations would flow into Jerusalem. The holy city was the mecca of the Jews and as such the Jews constructed an ethnocentric view of themselves. Jesus shatters this ethnocentric identity and pointed the church towards a boundary crossing adventure. The disciples were to bring a great reversal and flow into the nations with the good news of the Kingdom. God has always had a heart for the nations.

However, we should not get confused about this word "nations." In the Greek it is ethnos, which is where we get our word ethnicity. There is a difference between culture and ethnicity, but they do share some common space. Jesus was not just referring to geographic boundaries on maps. There are multiple ethnicity's and cultures shoved up against each other in urban centers and the outlying regions of the megalopolis'. Jesus points us towards these ethnic groups, subcultures, races and says "MAKE DISCIPLES"!!!!!.

In order to live into this calling, we need a specific form of leadership. A boundary crossing, multi-cultural, ethnically equipped leadership. Jesus knew it would take a specific category of people to carry out this task of infiltrating the different ethnic centers with the god news. he called the people apostles. Apostolic leadership is at the enter of God's heart for the nations.

70 has always been the representation of the Nations and finds its origins in the table of nations in Genesis 1. It is interesting that the 2nd Temple period was characterized by a form of leadership that had as its characterizing number ...70. The Sanhedrin was a doctrinal and moral council in the matters of the law. How ironic that the group who was formed around the symbolic table of nations had not intentions on being a light to the nations. They morphed into an exclusive style of leadership that narrowed its focus to the concerns of its own people. It is very analogous to the Shepherd-Teacher system of leadership in the church today cant help but have its eyes on the flock.

We need to recapture this vision for the nations and re-activate a missional posture towards the world. There are more ethnic groups than 70 in the world right now, and this is true probably true in Yuri own city!

May apostles flood the nations with the good news!

Friday, November 20, 2009

69. The Ten Faces of Innovation

Been reading a really cool book on Innovation by one of the founders of IDEO, a cutting edge design company. They list ten persona's of innovation. Here are they are in readers digest version. I especially like the first 2 sections.

The first 3 are Learning Persona's

1. The Anthropologist - brings new insight by observing human behavior - i.e. your insightful incarnationalist
2. The Experimenter - Prototypes new ideas by trial and error
3. The Cross-Pollinator - Explores other organizations and cultures and translates into unique revelations that fit their context

The next 3 are Organizing Persona's - savvy about the counter intuitive process of how organizations move ideas forward.

4. The Hurdler - develops a knack for outsmarting the road blocks to innovation
5. The Collaborator - helps bring eclectic groups together and often leads from the middle of the pack to create new combination's of multidisciplinary solutions
6. The Director - gathers together a talented cast and crew and sparks their creative talents.

The next 4 are the Building Persona's

7. The Experience Architect - designs compelling experiences that go beyond mere functionality to connect at a deeper level
8. The Set Designer - creates an environment/stage on which innovation team members can do their best work
9. The Caregiver - builds on the metaphor of a health care professional. They anticipate needs and create solutions before there is a problem
10. The Storyteller - builds internal morale and external awareness through stories

My favorite quote so far is:

"The devils advocate may never go away, but on a good day, the innovative types can keep him in his place. Or tell him to go to hell."

68. Dunbars Number and Intimacy in Community

Ever thought to take a step back and look at your social network from a numerical stand point? The diagram below groups people into various numerical segments. With the technology of facebook, twitter, and all the social networking tools out there, the number of friends eventually blends into the number of acquaintances. The question is, just how many friends can you have? I know for myself I love having a lot of friends. y wife on the other hand is more of a smaller cluster of friends type person. I am an extrovert and she is an introvert.

Seth Godin in his blog highlights the curious, but intuitively accurate concept of Dunbars Number. I think there is something to be said for larger gatherings. However, we must ask our selves, Whats the Point? If we are supposed to be making disciples, and this involves cultivating authentic relationships, why would we want to go any higher than 150 people?

It is a proven fact that any larger than this leads to the breakdown of the collective interpersonal capacities of the people in the tribe. I think a lot of churches settle for ambient intimacy and try to cultivate true intimacy in their small group ministries. I think the idea of Missional Orders being at the 5-15 level, Missional Villages at 15-35 and Missional Tribes being at the 35-150 mark is a good place to start on how to organize an organic simple church network. I would personally love to have a group of 150 people to hang out with once a month and synergize for the Kingdom. God willing, we will multiply our small missional band/order into a group this size. But the goal is transformation of people into the image of God and mission.

Monday, November 16, 2009

67. Back Yard Theater

Being a missional-incarnational community requires creativity and outside the box thinking. Once you see yourself as someone who is sent into your neighborhood, it forces you into a whole new set of questions like: How do we get to know our neighbors? How do we cultivate menaingful relationships with those in our context?

I came across this cool site today that helps you turn your back yard, or front yard for that matter, into a theater. What a great idea! Need to get to know your neighbors? Want to meet some kids from the down the street? Put on a free movie night in your front or back yard. Check out this site: Backyard Theater

A few more ideas to facilitate relationships with those in your immediate geographic community:

1. Buy a bottle of wine and leave it on your neighbors door step with a note attached saying: Would love to get to know you. Give us a call and we will do it over this bottle of wine. (Ripped from Hugh Halter:-)

2. Facilitate a neighborhood wide yard sale.

3. Conduct a door to door survey about how well people know their neighbors in your neighborhood.

4. If you are into gardening, pass out a flyer letting people know you will help them grow a garden or plant a few flowers or veggies in their yard...for free of course!

5. We have found that Prayer Walking your neighborhood before doing any of these things is crucial to God helping you find ways to engage your neighborhood.

6. Anyone else out there have any ideas about facilitating community and relationships in your neighborhood? Please leave a comment. I will add them to the list.

There are multiple spheres to connect with people on. Neighborhood, Workplace, social networks etc. I am all about connecting with people in a 3rd place like Starbucks. But what about our own neighborhoods? These kinds of ideas I listed can go over in an urban or sub-urban neighborhood. Take a stab at it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

66. Prophesying

You know, I have always been creeped out by this word because it has always been used in a context that was spooky or full of drama. I have only within the past few years been embracing this gifting within the body. The problem has of course been abuse. Last night someone operated in the gift of prophesy towards one of the people in our group and it was a beautiful picture of how the gift of prophecy is to be used to build up the body. I had to stop the group after it was done and say "This is what prophesy looks like by the way." There was a revealing of God intelligence, there was building up of someone in the body, and there was a sense of Gods presence there in the room. No shock and awe, no flashy drama, but it was definitely a God thing. So thankful for this gift in the body! A really cool book I have read lately on prophecy is The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Bruegemann.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

65. Self-Organization

Ran across this description of Self-Organization in a really cool book called "The Unshackled Organization". It is a good easy read but has some amazing insights into organization. Here are their bullet points about self-organization. I will let you make the application :)

  1. Self-Organization is a self-generated and self-guided process. This means change is neither a hierarchically controlled nor an externally driven process.
  2. Self-Organization moves beyond the idea of a system as an inert mass characterized by an innate resistance to change. Instead, change is the activation of a systems inherent potential for transformation…
  3. Self-Organization results from the utilkization, even the enhancement of random, accidental and unexpected events. Change, then, is not the suppression of chaos; it is order emerging out of chaos…
  4. Self-Organization represents a system undergoing a revolution prompted by far-from equilibrium conditions. This is vastly different than the trasditional model where change is nothing more than a mere shift in system functioning and a subsequent return to equilibrium.

Friday, September 18, 2009

64. Organizations as an Escape from our Mortality

Been Reading Morgan Gareth's book Images of Organization. One of his chapters entitled Organizations as Psychic Prisons. I was immediately all ears on this one. Check out this quote:

"...they encourage us to understand many of our symbolic acts and constructions as flights from our own mortality. In joining with others on the creation of culture as a set of shared norms, beliefs, ideas, and social practices, we attempt to locate ourselves in something larger and more enduring than ourselves. In creating a world that can be perceived as objective and real, we affirm the concrete and real nature of our own existence. In creating symbol systems that allow us to engage in meaningful exchanges with others, we also help to find meaning in our own lives. Although we may in quiet times confront the fact that we are going to die, much of our daily life is lived in the artificial realness created through culture. The illusion of realness helps disguise our unconscious fear that everything is highly vulnerable and transitory."

Basically, from this angle organizations can function as a distraction mechanism aimed at avoiding our mortality. Listen to some more of his jewels.

"This perspective suggests that we can understand organizations and much of the behavior within organizations in terms of a quest for immortality. In creating organizations we create structures of activity that are larger than life and that often survive for generations. In becoming identified with such organizations we ourselves find meaning and permanence. As we invest ourselves in our work, our roles become our realities, and as we objectify ourselves in the goods we produce or the money we make, we make ourselves visible and real to ourselves. No wonder that questions of survival are such a high priority in organizations, for there is much more than survival of the organization at stake."

Wow! this guy is touching on some very core issues facing churches and their institutional arrangements. As I stated in an earlier post, organizations can be a form of idolatry, and this guy really spells that out for us. I guess we see this in Genesis 11 with the Tower of Babel.
He goes on to talk about how the act of organizing ourselves is not neutral, but a reaction to our values, fears, insecurities and interests. It reminds me of the quote "Organization is the mobilization of bias."

Monday, August 31, 2009

63. The Paradox of Followership

The Courageous Follower is another really cool book on followership. He makes a great point that there are more followers than leaders out there, and yet there are so few books on being a good follower. Most of us who are into leading will eventually find ourselves in the presence of people that are worthy of following in some area. We may be all about influencing culture and people, but not everyone can be the leader at all times and in all phases of life. If you find yourself always being the leader, than your network is too small. If following is the only roel you ever play, you will be operating out some serious deficits and blind spots in your leadership skills. We all need to be followers at some point in our lives, if not periodically.
This book helps dispel the myths of being a follower. A follower in one who does not blindly follow, but contributes to the leaders success and the success of the organization, community or team you are working with. He unpacks the role of a follower in relation to the leader, and as the subtitle alludes to, a followers role is not just to be a yes man. Real followers help their leaders stay grounded in reality and stand up to them when they become un-aligned with the mission. A sample of the wisdom in this book lies in his listing of paradoxes inherent in being a good follower.

The Paradox of courageous followership:

1. A courageous follower has a clear internal vision of service while being attracted to a leader who articulates and embodies its external manifestations.

2. Courageous followers remain fully accountable for their actions while relinquishing some autonomy and conceding certain authority to a leader.

3. A central dichotomy of courageous followership is the need to energetically perform two opposite roles: implementer and challenger of the leaders idea's.

4. There is inherent tension between the identity a follower derives from group membership and the individuation required to question and creatively challenge the group and its leadership.

5. Followers often benefit from the leader as mentor, learning crucial things, yet at the same time must be willing to teach the leader.

6. At times, courageous followers need to lead from behind, breathing life into their leaders vision, or even vision into the leaders life.

7. Senior followers often are important leaders in their own right and must integrate within themselves the perspectives of both leadership and followership.

Friday, August 28, 2009

62. 5 Types of Followers

This is part two of The Power of Followership. As someone who is lerning how to lead and follow all at the same time, I am interested in this idea of followership. Kelley points to Five Types of Leaders (9 really if you analyze it closely).

I wonder how many people live in the pragmatic survivor mode? I realize that some people are peace keepers (not peace makers, that is an entirely different concept). They enjoy equillibrium and want to make sure things get accomplished with minimal conflict. The thing about the pragmatist is that they often become enablers to a system that is in desperate need of an earthquake. Pragmatists are great to have around when things are on track, But they can be a liability when there is something fundamentally wrong. They have a conflict aversion and most of all a risk aversion. we need examplary followers who have the courage to stand up to leaders and think critically about what is going on around them. Ironically, when this happens, an exemplary follower transforms into an exemplary leader.

61. The Power of Followership

Came a cross this cool book yesterday. It was just hanging out on the bookshelf at Austin Peay Library, waiting to be discovered. The Power of Followership is a great practical book, so I will probably do several posts on it.
Kelley outlines Seven Pathways of Followership that are quite comprehensive. He of course explores each path and described in detail.

1. Apprentice: Motivated to follow by their desire to become a leaders.
2. Disciple: Motivated to identify and bond with the leader.

3. Mentee: Motivated by the desire for personal improvement, and not necessarily by a desire to lead.
4. Comrade: Motivated by the desire to belong to a group of like minded people.

5. Loyalist: Motivated by an emotional commitment to another person.

6. Dreamer: Motivated by a personal dream and does not care about leading.

7. Lifestyle: Motivated by recognition of true state of affairs, and a desire for humility.
If you are looking to distill your discipleship roles with Jesus, this would be a great paradigm to use.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

60. Distilling Discipleship

Been reading Alan Hirsch's Handbook to The Forgotten Ways. There is a section in there on Apostolic Environments that talks about the "minimum discipleship standard." The idea is that you distill what discipleship is about into its separate components and then boil it down into short, memorable concepts and phrases that reflect the habits, practices and rhythms of what it means to follow Jesus. These concepts should be "sticky", or, be able to be easily passed along. I thought of this illustration as I contemplated this idea of distilling discipleship.

Think of someone looking into the sky and discovering the big dipper. Out of what seems to be random collections of stars, there appears a pattern or shape. The same thing happens when we look at what appears to be random stories, metaphors and commandments in scripture. We look at it long enough and we begin to notice patterns,shapes, themes and concepts. For example, look long enough in scripture and you will notice a common theme of love.

Then think of this star gazing person coming to you and sharing what they saw and experienced. They describe to you in a short, memorable way what the big dipper looks like and how to find it. Then, based on their description, you look up into the night sky to find it. Scripture is like the night sky, and we look into the story and pages of scripture and we see patterns or shapes of what Jesus is all about. Our task is to describe what we see in scripture, especially the life of Jesus, come up with a constellation of metaphors and concepts that describe who Jesus is and what he is about. This constellation then gives birth to habits, practices and rhythms that help us to be like him. Living into these habits is the process of discipleship.

Making disciples happens after we notice these beautiful patterns and shapes, and in turn try to come up with ways of helping other people, in short and memorable ways, see what we have seen. Imagine looking up into the sky with someone next to you and saying "Now look to the left a little, see the really bright one, now look to the right and up...." Making disciples is helping people see what we have seen and go through the process of distilling these shapes into visible habits and rhythms.

The goal of course is not to get it all right. If you remember the old days, sailors would learn the stars to help them get where they were going. We want to discover the shapes and patterns of Jesus and discipleship in scripture not as a end in and of itself, but as a means, or tool for us to find our way into becoming a new creation in Christ. Like the sailors of old, the journey is towards a new heaven and new earth. This is the destination!

59. Ikon Missional Incarnational Map

Our group came up with this map tonight to describe the missional incarnational activity going on. Some of these things are still in the incubation phase, but it was encouraging to map it out. We also had an innovative idea come up as a result of it. One of the ladies in the group, Lana, is going to start a ministry called "Random Acts of Kindness" or RAK. Her idea is for when we prayer walk, or when we drive around town, to make a note of things we can do to help people, or to help people right there on the spot during the prayer walk or as we are on our way to other places. We are going to call it RAK'n it up. Here is the map.

Monday, July 27, 2009

58. The Harvest is Plentiful

35 And Jesus went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest. Matthew 9:35-38

The Harvest Demographic

Look at the kind of people Jesus ministers to in Matthew 9. Blind, mute, demon possessed, social outcasts (issues of blood) etc. The helpless and harassed, distressed, without a shepherd = some who cares for them, protects them and guides them to refreshing places of rest and nourishment. All of this points to the demographic of people who Jesus points to as being where the Harvest is. It is sort of Matthews way of doing what Luke does in highlighting Jesus attraction to the outsiders/poor, broken hearted, oppressed, captive etc. Luke talks a lot about the Holy Spirit. I think there is a connection here in that you can not minister to this demographic with out empowerment from the Spirit. We can not, and do not do this kind of thing unless God is empowering us to do it through the Spirit of Jesus.

The Harvest is Plentiful

There is no shortage of people in any community who are in this condition. If they are not in your community, they are on the other side of town in another community. We know where they are, because we choose not to go there for our own safety or comfort. And if it is not a specific place, it is that specific type of person that you run from, that you intentionally avoid because it makes your life more complex. It makes your view of reality a bit more fuzzy. Engaging them forces you to engage a part of yourself that you would rather ignore. The pat of you that has not been softened by God love. In essence, "those people" obligate you in more ways than one. They force you to step out of your world and into theirs. As Paul reflected on the Harvest in Corinth, he said not may of you were wise, strong, noble. Mission flows out of intimacy with Jesus, but if we are not careful, the Jesus we are intimate with may not be the Jesus of the gospels. If Jesus was intimate with the poor, brokenhearted, oppressed and the captive, then would it not stand to reason that intimacy with Jesus would place me in proximity with the same kinds of people? Who ever claims to follow Jesus must walk as he walked. This is coming from one of the most imtimate followers of Jesus.

The Workers are Few

It is not a surprise then, this being the case, that he says "the workers are few." This is not the demographic we are naturally drawn towards. We do not gravitate towards these kinds of people naturally. This is why Jesus says to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers. The word "send out" is in the greek ekballow. It means to thrust out violently, to draw out with force. Some people will not go into the Harvest field unless God moves,thrusts, throws them into it. Like a bird kicking the babies out of the nest, sometimes Gd has to thrust us into the Harvest field, because on our own, we will be in other fields or in no field at all. If we want to get to the real reason why the workers are few, it is because we do not pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the field! Lets pray!

The Lord of the Harvest

The Harvest fields are not an environment of shade and rest. They are where the work takes place. Sowing, weeding, harvesting, all of this is hard work. I don't want to sound masochistic or anything like that. I am not one to glorify tough situations for toughness sake. I am only highlighting the fact that sometimes the Harvest environment is overwhelming and seems impossible. Imagine having to hand pick and harvest some of the massive corn fields, or better yet, hand pick a 15 acre farm of snap beans! As Paul says, we are not sufficient to this task. (II Corinthians 2:14-16), but God makes us sufficient. (II Corinthians 3:1-6) He is The Lord of the Harvest." It is His harvest, not ours. We are only the workers in the field. We go in weakness and dependence, like going out with no money or a place to stay, (Luke 10:4).

Meditating on this passage has so many insights into our relationship with Jesus and mission. It is probably one of the most challenging verses I am confronted with when I think of being intimate with Jesus and letting that intimacy generate a missional life. I am writing some pretty challenging reflections. I am praying that the Father will empower me to live into these principles so I will not be guilty of intellectualism.

Friday, July 17, 2009

57. Stockholm Syndrome

Derek Webb has come out with a new album this month: Stockholm Syndrome. There is a psychological development that sometimes happens when some one who has been abducted begins to develop affections for their abductor.

The sanctification process is about becoming more like Jesus, which means we begin to reflect, more and more, his ethical and functional glory. (Reflecting his form will come at the resurrection Phil. 3:20-21) . Ethical glory is relational, and functional glory would be his missional impulse.

So what does Stockholm Syndrome look like for a disciple. I think John hits on this when he says "Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity."

Developing affections for your abductor sound ridiculous, impossible. But it happens, and it is a great metaphor for the subtle process that can happen if we begin to let our love become re-directed and re-formed by our own selfish wants. The systems and values of the world are deceiving, and sometimes we do not know how far we have fallen in love with them. Secret romance would be a good term. We need prophets to help jolt us into reality, call us away from our false lover and point us back to our primary relationship, where true and satisfying love can be enjoyed.