Archive for the ‘Orthopraxy’ Category

Virtual Community is an Oxymoron?

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Shane Hipps says you can’t be virtual and community at the same time. He challenges to the standard line that the message stays the same even when the medium changes. This is important in understanding the role and limitations of social media like Facebook and Twitter. Take a listen:

Shane is the author of “Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith” published this month by Zondervan.

Update: Some dialog on the subject can be found here, here, here and here.

HT: Out of Ur

White Gold

Friday, December 26th, 2008

ImageWe were running out of socks for 3 O’clock People, so I asked our Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF) if they would be willing to purchase a few dozen pair while out Christmas shopping. Well, not only did some of them do so, but the entire class “passed the hat” on two Sundays and collected just over $300. That allowed us to purchase 360 pairs of high quality men’s socks at just about wholesale.

With so many socks we could supply three different street ministries.

200 pairs went to 3 O’clock People which was our original group in need. We got to pass out 60 pairs during last Saturdays blizzard and everyone, for a change, got a pair!

100 pairs went to Operation Nightwatch, which is an ecumenical night ministry of friendship and community for the street population of downtown Portland. One of the members of our ABF is on their board.

Finally, Fran and I dropped off 60 pairs with Ken Lloyd for Homepdx. Ken works with over 100 street kids in downtown Portland. Ken said the kids call a pair of clean socks “white gold” because they are so valued.

I just learned that enough additional money has come in to allow us to purchase an additional 140 pairs, which I think we will divide between Operation Nightwatch and Homepdx.

On the Street: A Story by Matt Tamura

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Three O’clock People feeds and tries to help Portland’s street people. I’m part of the group and usually our team is down on the streets once a month. We always set-up at the same place and time (three o’clock) so the people know exactly where and when we will be there.

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Some of us will be down next Saturday, but because of a severe cold front that was due to hit Portland yesterday, I knew our friends from the street would need what little we had now and not next week. So I took the tarps, socks and gloves down to the team working on this Saturday little knowing that God had gone before us and was working.

Here is the story of this last Saturday as written by Matt Tamura, the Three O’clock People group leader.

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“Where do you sleep?!?!” He asked me with more than a small dose of desperation in his voice. I started stammering so he asked my mom, “Where do YOU sleep?” He was new to the streets, his first week for sure, maybe his second night. He didn’t have familiar faces to eat with, no one was willing to answer his questions. Those who do find a good awning or bridge spot aren’t usually willing to disclose its location to strangers.

“These people, where do they all go to sleep at night?”

“Under a bridge?” I reply, more of a guess than an answer.

“I need to find someplace to go…I am gonna get wet tonight…it’s gonna be really cold.”

“Ummmm…warming centers?” I say.

“Where are those?”

“Um….downtown?”

Why is every answer a question? It’s because I know the new warming center is for people with families, with kids. And I don’t want to tell him that I don’t know, that I don’t have any solution.

Paul showed up at Three O’clock People (our weekly feeding) today not really knowing what was going on. He had a small green rolling suitcase. He seemed youngish, maybe 35ish, good looking with only three or four days of stubble on his chin. “Are you going to feed us? Where is the soup kitchen?” I laughed: “It’s right about where you are standing.” We set up our tables and serve on the sidewalk. It isn’t always the most comfortable or convenient place, but it feels good to be out in the elements, beside them for an afternoon.

I had some blankets, but what he needed was something that might keep him dry. You don’t want to get wet on a night like [it’s going to be] tonight. Well thank God for Rick, who was going to be bringing some donated items next week, but had the premonition that they might really be needed this week. As if he were Paul’s guardian angel, Rick brought tarps and gloves and socks down to hand out.

[Paul got a tarp.] “WE ARE GONNA STAY DRY TONIGHT BABY! YEAH!!” Paul jumped and cheered and pointed to the sky. “That’s my God up there. He’s looking out for me.” Paul left with a little less fear, and a little more hope. He said he heard they might open up the Foursquare Church up the street for the night, and he was headed there to check it out. I watched him leave our corner of 9th and Pine, heading up Sandy and over to Ash.

What would be in your little rolling suitcase, if you had to leave your house today? What things would you stuff in your pockets? What if, in addition to losing most of your stuff, you lost contact with your family and friends? What if you were in an unfamiliar city, or a different country? I think loneliness is what affects me the most sometimes.

Another guy named Matt hung out with us and talked for a little bit. He has flip flops attached to his backpack shoulder straps even though he may not use them for another six months. When he goes out for a bite, he has to take everything he owns with him. Wow.

There is something all of our lives have in common. Routine. We have to go here to get food, go to this place to sleep, and be close to these people because they have our back. It’s easy for me to get into a routine. But then someone shows up and says “I don’t know where I’m going to sleep and I’m scared, can you help me?” And my heart was broken. That wasn’t in the script.

A few hours later I was still thinking about Paul, and I wanted to make sure he had a place to stay. I drove around looking for him. I circled the Foursquare church twice, noticing some homeless people hanging around one of the doors. I didn’t see Paul there, but I was kind of glad. I’d been praying that he was inside.

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Simply the Story

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Just finished a workshop called “Simply the Story.” It was about how to do an inductive bible study “oral” style.

Here’s the premise. A majority of the world’s people are oral learners either because they are illiterate, semi-illiterate, or it is their preferred learning style (true even in North America). Story telling is one of the most effective ways of communicating truth or answering spiritual question with the oral learner. It was one of the most effective tools used by Jesus in dealing with questions or communicating truth.

In an oral style inductive bible study, everything is done verbally. There are no open Bibles and you don’t “read” passages from the Bible. Instead, you become the storyteller communicating the story to the person or group.

Here is the general outline of an oral inductive bible study as taught by STS.

Telling the Story: The story is presented three times allowing the listeners to become familiar with the story’s contents.

1. The storyteller accurately tells the story which helps the listener visualize the story and feel its impact.

2. The storyteller asks one volunteer to retell the story or for listeners to retell it to each other. Listeners pay close attention to the retelling by their peers to see if they get it ”right,” which helps seal the story into the listeners’ memories.

3. The storyteller steps through the story a third time using questions to get the group involved in retelling the story.

Discovery: The storyteller helps the listeners discovery “spiritual treasures” in the story. This is done in two ways.

1. First the storyteller invites the listeners to take a look at the activities of the characters in the story by answering questions about the story. This allows the listeners to share what they see about how God works with the people in the story.

2. Second, questions are then used to lead listeners to discover and share spiritual applications.

I love doing inductive bible studies with small groups and this is a powerful new tool. Plus it is very flexible. Besides small groups, it can be used one-on-one and as a way to learn and meditate on scripture yourself.

Here is a three minute overview video.

Kiva Update

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Kiva is a micro-finance organization that I’ve been part of for almost two years. If you are not familiar with micro-finance, you can read my post titled Dr. Yunus, “Banker to the Poor.”

Through Kiva I’ve made 46 loans of which 20 have been paid back in full and 22 are active and payments are current.

I did experience my first defaults last month. Four loans through a field partner in Ecuador had to be written off. Important to note that the borrowers fully repaid the loans, but the field partner who administers the loans kept the funds and refused to forward them on to Kiva. Kiva terminated the relationship.

Here is how Kiva works.

From Ghana to Cambodia, Kiva approved micro-finance institutions (field partners) around the world go to Kiva.org and post photos and profiles of low income entrepreneurs in need of money for their businesses.

Lenders like myself go to Kiva.org and browse through profiles of these low-income entrepreneurs — a dairy farmer in Kenya, a man who wants to open a shoe shop in Honduras, or a tailor in Bulgaria. Lenders can then loan as little as $25 to the entrepreneur of their choice via PayPal.

When a loan is fully funded by individual lenders, Kiva pools the money and transfers it to the field partner who handles distribution and collection of loan payments.

Loan repayments made by the entrepreneur over the course of about 6-18 months are sent back to Kiva by the field partner. As funds are repaid, I can choose to withdraw my principal or re-loan it to another entrepreneur. I always re-loan the funds.

Kiva Loan Process

A Life Radically Transformed

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Simple observation confirmed by numerous studies have found that how American Christians live and their basic beliefs about life are no different than those of the non-Christians.

The Barna Group has established this reality over the years with findings like:

  • When defining success, most adults, Christian and non-Christian, focused on personal accomplishments, family solidarity and emotional fulfillment. Only 7% grasp the biblical message that success is not about personal accomplishment or material possessions.
  • Almost everyone in the U.S. believes that truth exists. However, a large majority of adults, Christian and non-Christian, contends that there is no absolute moral truth. More than two out of three adults argue that truth is always relative to the individual and the circumstances.
  • The divorce rate among Christians is no different than that of non-Christians.
  • Breaking the speed limit was an action deemed morally acceptable by two-fifths of all adults. That proportion was rather stable across a wide range of subgroups, including “born again” Christians.

Somewhere in the past 2,000 years, Jesus message and teaching on the genuine Christian walk and calling has disappeared for the most part. Sure, we grew up with a strong teaching that we needed to evangelize, to share our faith, but when did you last hear a message calling us to model our lives after the Sermon on the Mount? It’s as if the average American Jesus follower lives by the credo…

While talking with members of our missional tribe, this subject came up as a passing observation, but it has been resonating with me ever since. It was noted that the missional paradigm is about a fundamental and essential change in our core being which leads us to realign ourselves with the biblical narrative. That shift or change might be verbally illustrated as…

We no longer live the “American dream” with the rare “gospel presentation,” but begin to understand, apply, and walk in the faith Jesus taught and demanded. Out of this deep significant journey into “the way of Jesus,” we will be “conformed to the likeness of his Son” and have a life worth sharing. One which resonates with purpose, hope and meaning. A life where “the way of Jesus” informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for Him and others.

Evangelicals Not Much Better Than Prostitutes

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Jim Henderson in the latest “Off the Map” newsletter noted that only prostitutes rank lower than evangelicals in terms of respect in the mind of the public.

He quotes the following:

“The primary reason outsiders feel hostile toward Christians, and especially conservative Christians, is not because of any specific theological perspective. What they react negatively to is our ‘swagger,’ how we go about things and the sense of self-importance we project.” —UnChristian, David Kinnaman

“Most people I meet assume that Christian means very conservative, entrenched in their thinking, anti-gay, anti-choice, angry, violent, illogical, empire builders; they want to convert everyone, and they generally cannot live peacefully with anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.” —UnChristian, David Kinnaman

Christianity will never be cool and the cross is a stumbling block, but how we live out our walk is important. It should be marked by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. As Paul wrote, we should be “ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all people.”

How do we do this and not compromise what Jesus taught in the hard areas?

Alan Hirsch Quote

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Having noted that orthodoxy (right belief) is not enough, I am not suggesting that it is not important. Far from it! Right belief is an irreplaceable element of any discipleship in the way of Jesus. However the church nearly always sees orthodoxy narrowly, as a commitment to propositional truth, assuming that the knowledge of God is received through purely the cognitive functions. I am convinced that if we are to come to a full appreciation of God, our thinking about him must be right, but it must be complimented by orthopraxy and orthopathy if we are to come to a full-orbed, biblical, engagement with (and knowledge of) God. —Alan Hirsch

The Didache – Part 3

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Part 1 of The Didache is posted here and contains an introduction. Part 2 is posted here.

This is Part 3 and contains instruction on the Second Coming.

As always, I’ll be interested in your reaction and comments.

Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations

On the Second Coming (This heading not in the original.)

Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord. Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead — yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.

The Didache – Part 2

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Part 1 of The Didache is posted here and contains an introduction.

This is Part 2 and contains instruction on ritual, discipline and organization.

As always, I’ll be interested in your reaction and comments.

Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations

On Ritual, Discipline and Organization (This heading not in the original.)

Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

Chapter 8. Fasting and Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer). But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week. Rather, fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). Do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Thine is the power and the glory forever.

Pray this three times each day.

Chapter 9. The Eucharist. Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:

We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory forever.

And concerning the broken bread:

We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory forever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever.

But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

Chapter 10. Prayer after Communion. But after you are filled, give thanks this way:

We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory forever. Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name’s sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. Before all things we thank Thee that You are mighty; to Thee be the glory forever. Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory forever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.

But permit the prophets to make Thanksgiving as much as they desire.

Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets. Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not. But if he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there’s a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet who speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it, unless he is indeed a false prophet. And every prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for with God he has his judgment; for so did also the ancient prophets. But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for others’ sake who are in need, let no one judge him.

Chapter 12. Reception of Christians. But receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, and prove and know him afterward; for you shall have understanding right and left. If he who comes is a wayfarer, assist him as far as you are able; but he shall not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be. But if he wants to stay with you, and is an artisan, let him work and eat. But if he has no trade, according to your understanding, see to it that, as a Christian, he shall not live with you idle. But if he wills not to do, he is a Christ-monger. Watch that you keep away from such.

Chapter 13. Support of Prophets. But every true prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have no prophet, give it to the poor. If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment. So also when you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets; and of money (silver) and clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.

Chapter 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day. But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: “In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.”

Chapter 15. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof. Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers. And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel. But to anyone that acts amiss against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you until he repents. But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord.