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Bad Rhetoric

I’m growing increasingly tired — and maybe a little frustrated — with bad rhetoric that’s being used in relation to Christian missions. You’ll read it as Finish the Task, Finishing the Task, the Unfinished Task, or Finish the Mission.

Depending on who you ask there are between 6,600-6,800 unreached people groups in the world today. An unreached people group is a grouping of people with a common language and culture that have less than 2% professing Christians. Recently, missions organizations have decided to further break down the world’s population by tracking UUPG’s (Unengaged Unreached People Groups). UUPG’s are those groups that have no present Christian witness. Again, depending on who you ask there are between 1,000 and 3,600 UUPG’s.

Setting aside the argument that this is a terrible way of tracking “lostness”, it tends to give the impression that something can be done about it. Somewhere along the way we thought that God’s reconciliation with His creation was about us, and that if we try hard enough, and travel to the unreached places, we can usher in His return. What silly thinking.

I’d love to live long enough to see each UUPG “reached”. I wonder, the day that happens will the sky split open to see God’s Kingdom return?

Coming Next: A Better Way (in my opinion)

Reminders From Woods and Chandler

Two things have caught my attention in the past several days. One, the bizarre story of Tiger Woods and his meeting with the fire hydrant and tree. And two, the news that went out on Thanksgiving that Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, had a seizure and was found to have a small mass on the frontal lobe of his brain which will require surgery this coming Friday. These two stories, on seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum, I can’t help but compare and contrast as I go throughout my day(s).

In Tiger Woods we are reminded yet again that excellence does not mean perfection. He may be the greatest golfer to ever walk the earth, but he’s not a perfect man, nor a perfect husband. We hold these types of men on pedestals that are so high they can’t help but fall. We put our kids in golf camps at the age of three in the hopes that they become the next Tiger. We cheer for his wins and we groan in his defeats. But what he showed us in the early hours of the morning is that he is fallible, that he has issues, that he, just like you and me, is normal. I’m not too concerned about the details of his marriage. I’m not even concerned about what actually happened the other morning. I am concerned that the media, and by default you and I, put so much stock in his life. Why do we care so much? Why is this a story? Because we’ve made much of a man…a normal man.

In Matt Chandler we are reminded that life can change in the blink of an eye. We are reminded, that in all reality, we aren’t guaranteed our tomorrow. In fact, it’s not even ours. I’ve read with great interest Matt’s Twitter updates, Lauren’s (his wife) updates, and the updates given on Facebook by the elders of the Village. What I read in their words is what I’ve heard in Matt’s sermons time and time again. I am of the opinion that Matt is one of the best speakers in America today. He brings passion, and conviction, and compassion, and best of all, the Word of God. If you listen to Matt long enough you’ll come to understand that He places the glory of God above all things. He places it above the church he pastors, the children he has, Lauren, and even his own life. He knows for certain that when Paul says in Romans that God works all things together for our good that the all means even the bad things. Matt knows that this mass in his frontal lobe is there so that he can bring glory to God. Why do we care so much? Why is this a story? Because Matt has made much of God…a great God.

I’m not sure what will happen in the lives of these two men in the coming days. The Tiger story will grow faint and may, someday, be a tiny little asterisk on a fabulous career. The next chapter in the Chandler story will be his upcoming surgery this Friday. I know which story has me on the edge of my seat. It’s not the one that makes much of man, but the one that makes much of God.

The Obligatory New Years Post

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions. To me, they are thinly veiled goals, which the average person isn’t good at setting and keeping anyway. I’m not a big goal setter, so it only makes sense that I wouldn’t be a resolution setter.

I read yesterday where John Stickley, in writing about the same topic, quoted the Apostle Paul who said,

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

That’s quite a resolution. But for the not-yet follower of Christ this type of resolution probably carries little weight. Even for the follower of Christ it needs to be unpacked a little.

I thought I would take a shot at unpacking it by talking about affection. Typically, our affections are stirred toward someone or something. It’s a general fondness or liking of someone (something). And when we have an affection towards someone (something) we are usually influenced by that person (thing). I’ve started thinking about what stirs my affections for Christ. This is not new, others have written about it before, but it’s a new way of thinking for me. So, what are those things in my life that stir my affections for Christ…those things that put my focus where it should be and result in a natural worship of God and an increased involvement in His mission. Here’s a short list of things that stir my affection for Christ. It’s not exhaustive, will probably change, and is no particular order:

  • spending time with Julie
  • the laughter of my children
  • the book of Romans (the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome)
  • anything by John Piper (sermons, books, podcasts)
  • a good conversation with close friends
  • most songs by U2

My encouragement to you in this new year…find those things that stir your affections for Christ and focus on them. Don’t resolve to be a “good” person or a “better” person. One, what is a “good” person anyway, and two, you won’t succeed. Instead, allow your affections for Christ to be stirred and you will be better for it.