Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Thinx 52: If you had permission ...

Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
-- Gil Bailie.
The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
-- Frederick Buechner
If you had permission to do what you really want to do, what would you do? Don't ask how; that will cut your desire off at the knees. How is never the right question; how is a faithless question. It means "unless I can see my way clearly I won't believe it, won't venture forth." When the angel told Zechariah that his ancient wife would bear him a son named John, Zechariah asked how and was struck dumb for it. How is God's department. He is asking you what. What is written in your heart? What makes you come alive? If you could do what you've always wanted to do, what would it be?
-- John Eldredge, "Wild At Heart", p. 200
When I read that I pulled out my notebook and wrote the following:
* Pastor a church ... preach
I really enjoy preaching. It's a scary, exciting adventure. Very carefully, you pick up the two-edged sword by the blade. Even as it cuts others, it's cutting you.
* Coach men to be men and women to be women
What is the church's role? To enforce cultural stereotypes or to challenge them?
Society at large can't make up its mind about men. Having spent the last thirty years redefining masculinity into something more safe, sensitive, manageable and, well, feminine, it now berates men for not being men.
Christianity, as it currently exists, had done some terrible things to men. When all is said and done, I think most men in the church believe that God put them on the earth to be a good boy. The problem with men we are told, is that they don't know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives, or raise their children. But, if they try real hard they can reach the lofty summit of becoming ... a nice guy. That's what we hold up as models of Christian maturity, Really Nice Guys. We don't smoke, drink, or swear; that's what makes us men. Now let me ask my male readers: In all your boyhood dreams growing up, did you ever dream of becoming a Nice Guy? (Ladies, was the the Prince of your dreams dashing ... or merely nice?)
-- John Eldredge, "Wild At Heart", pp. 6-7.
It's also time to remind everyone that we are all on the front-line of a great spiritual conflict.
For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand.
-- Ephesians 6:13 (NET)
And when is this evil day? I used to think it was some time in the future. It's right now.
taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
-- Ephesians 5:16 (NET)
And yes, you will be wounded. The battle is spiritual ... and very real. And the enemy hates you with a violent and implacable hatred.
So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus.
-- Revelation 12:17 (NET)
* Tell people what they can do.
So much time goes into telling Christians what they can't do that they never find out what they can do. Each church tradition has its rules regarding what is acceptable and what isn't. I grew up in an Anglican church; made my first conscious commitment through YFC; was discipled through the Uniting Church; was discipled and then sent out as a missionary by a Presbyterian church; married a Baptist; attended a Brethren assembly while studying with Wycliffe/SIL; worked for an Anglican-derivative church in Pakistan; attended a Southern Baptist (planted) International Church in Pakistan; and now attend a Baptist church in Western Australia.
I've been around. And yet, for all that, I still know more what not to do than what to do. I still don't have much in the way of experience of sharing my faith; I still don't know how to lobby a politician; and I still don't know where to even begin challenging our godless, evolutionized cultural milieu.
* Take kids on urban mission trips
People who want to get missionary experience usually go overseas. That's fine if you can afford it, or if you have a mob of people behind you who are willing to help you afford it. But there are also lots of possibilities for missionary experience within our own city. Western Urban Associates are into this kind of thing and can link you up with those who do authentic hands-on urban mission.
* Take apologetics students on witnessing trips, exploring and using every evangelism method known to man
I studied apologetics in Bible College. So did a friend of mine. We each passed our respective units. Trouble is, we never actually went out and "did" apologetics. It'd be great to have an apologetics teacher who says,
"Okay, for next week's class we will meet in Hay Street Mall, near the entrance to Wesley Arcade. First I will go and demonstrate how to start a conversation and direct it into a discussion about Jesus. Then we will break up into small groups and each have a go at doing the same. Then we'll go up to Corey's new shop in West Perth for a coffee and debrief."
* Tell the truth about who we are: that there is no such thing as a 'Carnal Christian' -- teach the all-sufficiency of Christ
I've been very much encouraged by Tom Wells's book "Christian: Take Heart!" It thoroughly debunks the 'Carnal Christian' teaching, and is massively encouraging in the process. It's message deserves a wider readership and a sensitive handling from the pulpit
* Help develop a programming language for the world that doesn't require the programmer to know English
Apparently Sun Microsystems went into China a while back claiming that the Chinese could all learn Java in 3 days. It didn't work. Imagine, now, going in with a programming language based on Chinese, or into Bolivia with a programming language based on Quechua, or into Zambia with a programming language based on Nyanja. The vast majority of computer programming languages are based on English, and no one seems interested in doing anything about that, because ...
It comes down to an inability to see outside the comfort zone, or to comprehend the extent to which [programming language] monoglossia pervades. We are not going after people who can already program. [And] we aren't asking people to switch, although that would be nice. [Rather,] we are after the 78% of the population who find it difficult to master a second language (or in the case of southern China, the 83% that are incapable of learning a third, when they have had to get Mandarin in addition to Cantonese, or in Java, where they have had [to] master Indonesian in addition to Javanese, Sundanese or Balinese). These are people who are cut out of advanced scientific or commercial work because their brains can't do English.
We already know this elsewhere; this is after all why we do Bible translation -- because we can't expect Achinese or Andaman Islanders to learn Aramaic and Hebrew ... [before] Christianity on the off-chance that it might appeal to them
-- Diarmuid Pigott, personal communication, December 2006.
Okay, that's my list. What's yours?

© Copyright Bruce M. Axtens, 2007

1 comment:

Alice said...

I have found permission giving is one of the most empowering things we can do for one another. It has the power to unlock the imagination and begin dreaming.

It is also potentially very messy as we release one another to pursue God's heart for them. There will be mistakes made and lots of thinking outside of our nice comfotable boxes - but then if we can give ourselves permission to walk that journey with one another, I think we could find a level of community rarely experienced.

I particularly like your thought of releasing people in what they can do rather than concentrating on what they can't. That goes hand in hand for me with affirming the great (God) things about people instead of telling them what's wrong with them. I think that it is incredibly sad that the Christian Church is more known these days for telling people what is wrong with them than celebrating "the fingerprints of God" in and on each of us.

Thank you for sharing your dreams, it would be great to hear how you are doing putting some wheels on them over the year.

Bless you heaps!