Archive for May, 2011
Our adoption process is under way. The next major step for us is to make a portfolio that will be shown to expecting mothers. The mothers-to-be will page through our portfolio (along with about 40 other portfolios from 40 other families) and if the expecting mothers like what they see (and read), we’ll have made the cut to the next round. So, the portfolio is like the first impression, which needs to be real positive for us since I have the obvious negative of being a funeral director (who wants their kid to be adopted by a funeral director?).
My sister, Emma, graciously gave us a couple hours yesterday and took some photos of us. Below are some of the better ones. We have not edited the photos … they are in the raw.
So, here’s the question: help us determine which photos should go into our portfolio by telling us which photos you like the best. And, if you’re a photo smarty, give us some of your insight and/or ideas as to different, fun and creative shoots we could do that would help our portfolio stand out from the rest (as you can tell, we’re not looking for studio shots, but fun, creative photos that capture our fun-loving nature and hopefully appeal to those looking at the photos). Any fun ideas you could share with us would be SUPER helpful!
BTW, you may need to click on the photo if you want the full effect. Also, for the sake of clarity, just pretend they’re numbered, with “1″ starting at the top left through “8″ at the bottom right.
Today’s guest post comes from my Uncle, Pastor Michael Wolfe. He’s currently the pastor of Bart Mennonite Church and is a regular speaker for Youth With a Mission. He’s also written a book, entitled “Change Your Heart.”
He has what I would consider a prophetic heart that calls God’s people back to focusing on Jesus. From that heart, he has expressed concerns on his blog about postmodernism and it’s influence on Christians … especially younger Christians. He’s communicated some of those concerns to me, so I asked if he’d like to share them on my blog and he agreed.
Below is an introduction to an article he wrote that relates Paul’s situation to our current situation.
How do we become “all things to all men” without becoming useless to God? Unplugging little phrases from Scripture and building upon them can be dangerous. An attempt to honor the immediate context of the specific situation under address and then the larger context of other Scriptural truths (in their context) serves to help us stay within a healthy, productive mode of ministry.
What Has Inspired This Article?
Admittedly, this article is to provide caution about certain unhealthy extremes some have and others potentially embrace of which we should all be concerned. Every age faces its challenges.
For my part, I have come to see a difference between discussing the best way to understand the Biblical text and subjecting the Biblical text to the scrutiny of philosophical, cultural or psychological trends. For the sake of brevity, I will site two things that serve as inspiration for this article.
First, there are certain ways of understanding and applying the idea of being all things to all men that lead to becoming conformed to the world, which allows the culture to rewrite Scripture in a sense. Second, I recently heard a young, professing believer respond to the question, “If there is one thing you would like to be remembered as, what would it be?” by answering, “A non-conformist.” This led me to ask the question, “Isn’t God’s goal in our lives to conform us to the image of Christ and His death (Ro.8:29, Phil.3:10)? It is true that we are not to conform to this world, which stands in tension against conforming to the image of Christ but aiming to be a non-conformist does not allow one to give due attention to this tension.
We should be able to see that the simple desire to be known as a non-conformist is a shortsighted focus, totally unable to capture a healthy balance regarding this issue. This is an issue of what we are driven by. It is my contention that an extreme view of Paul’s statement about becoming all things to all men not only fails to capture a healthy balance but also encourages certain unhealthy approaches toward ministry that will eventually produce bitter fruit.
Though my goal is not to be negative and merely “tear down”, part of the process of finding balance involves being “negative” and tearing down in preparation for building up as opposed to merely being an end in and of itself. I hope to present a positive, constructive perspective that avoids the bitter fruit, referred to above, from maturing. Consider God’s commission to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:10. “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Commending, Cautioning and Considering
I would like to continue by commending all of those who properly recognize the importance of understanding their “mission field” and who have done the necessary homework to gain an appropriate measure of understanding. Along with commending those who gain understanding of the culture within which they “minister”, or which they study, I suggest that there is a fine line between understanding the culture (religion, philosophy, ideology, worldview, etc.) and reflecting or assimilating the culture.
A brief reference to the missionary ministry of William Carey might prove enlightening at this point. Gaining understanding of one’s “mission field” does not equate to conforming to or reflecting the culture when encountering a practice such as sati. Surely, efforts to eliminate such a cultural / religious practice potentially meets with violent resistance from certain sectors of society but being culturally aware and engaged does not justify tolerating practices that are contrary to moral parameters revealed in the Word of God.
As I prepare to consider the two texts around which this article is written, I would like to, again, quote from the apostle Paul as he wrote to the Corinthians on two occasions, “Be imitators (followers, mimic) of me ….” The quotation found in 1 Co.11:1 is, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” To begin with, we have an occasion in which Paul is urging them to follow his example, to do what he is doing, act like he is acting, be what he is being. His doing, acting and being is shaped by his understanding of what it means to follow, imitate or mimic Christ. The following two passages have further instruction about doing, acting and being that broaden the discussion.
All Things, All Men, All Means
“I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.” What are we to understand the limits of this concept to be? How is this statement made to the Corinthians, in its context, affected by the statement, “…do not be conformed to this world…,” made to Christians in Rome?” How can we “…imitate me (Paul)…”, “…become all things to all men…” and “…not be conformed to this world…?” Was Paul, by becoming all things, conforming to the world? If so, if we imitate him, will we not become conformed to the world?
What Paul Does Not Mean?
To read more, head on over to his blog, where the article’s posted in it’s entirety.
Compared to other languages, honorifics play little role in American English. Along with democracy, we can blame the King James Bible for our lack of honorifics. When the KJV was written, “you” was the formal way to address a superior, whereas “Thou” was the informal and familiar term that you’d use for a personal friend. But, the KJV didn’t use “you” for God, but the informal and personal “thou.”
Some groups, like the Quakers, caught onto this and figured that since their Bible didn’t speak to God formally, why should they speak to men formally? So, they called those who had a higher status in society the informal “thou”, and omitted other formal practices considered obligatory to superiors at that time; all of which was considered “intolerable insubordination” and they often received beatings as a result (Story of Christianity; 254).
In Asian culture, Confucianism has made hierarchy the modus operandi of society. In fact, honorifics are mandatory when in a formal relationship or setting, and are so prevalent in their language that it would seem the entire language changes from formal to informal settings. We have honorifics in our titles, but Asian languages often have honorific verb tenses and nouns.
And these honorifics extend to God.
For instance, Koreans – due to the nature of their Confucian culture – will never call God “You” as it’s considered entirely disrespectful. Not using “you” in reference to God would effectively change almost all of our English worship songs. They also add the suffix “Sir” to all their names for God, as seen in the graphic above.
In older English, a person of lower position in society wouldn’t even use the second person to address a superior … a language device that communicated “I can’t speak to you personally because we aren’t supposed/meant to be friends.” So, they’d speak to their superiors in the third person, such as: “What can I do for Your Highness so that I might please her?”
If these honorifics translated to how we speak to God, we’d pray, “How can I serve Your Holiness and please Him today?”
What do you think? How would your relationship to God change if you always spoke to Him in formal language?
Here are five reasons why I registered:
1.) Cause being a full-time seminarian, a funeral director, a business entrepreneur and a Level 42, Two Star General, Black Ops Gamer just isn’t enough for me (BTW, since receiving Black Ops as a Christmas gift this past year, I’ve logged a full 29 hours and 19 minutes in game mode … anybody want to interpret that number for me?).
2.) Cause five months ago I decided to get serious about blogging.
3.) Cause the main reason I’ve had relative success as a newbie blogger is due to the helpful advice from Bryan’s “The 29 eBook” — which you can download for FREE … (using Jedi mind trick … pointing my hand at your cranium) … you must download, read it entirely and then print it out and eat it.
4.) Knowledge is cheap. Wisdom is valuable. And Bryan’s been blogging since I was in high school.
5.) Cause I was stoked and excited when Bryan came out with a 12 week course called the “Booster Course” which acts as a practical guide for bloggers who are hoping to become more successful. For those Bible buffs, “The 29 ebook” is like the 10 Commandments (well, more like the 29 commandments of blogging), while the 12 week course is like the book of Leviticus (except Booster Course doesn’t involve sacrificing animals … you just have to sacrifice some of your time and your sucky blog numbers).
And, I might add, being apart of the BLOGROCKET community forum has been a great place to meet other bloggers as well.
If you’re thinking about taking blogging seriously, it would do you well to take Bryan seriously … which is kinda hard since he’s so darn funny. In fact, if you’ve never visited Bryan’s website and you need a laugh, stop on over and watch one of his “Truth About” clips.
Yesterday I got cursed out in a twitter message. And I probably deserved it (I know the person who messaged me thinks I did).
Death, grief and theology type stuff tend to be dark and deep, so I try to lighten this place up with some humor every now and again. And I guess I lightened this space up with some off color humor. Maybe I failed with my humor yesterday. And here’s the disclaimer: I will certainly fail again in the future.
So, being cursed out via twitter kinda darkened my day yesterday. It’s been a while since I was cursed out and I kinda forgot how to respond ….
And I have two reasons to be happy today:
Reason #1: Today I have a guest post on the blog of one of my favorite bloggers. It’s my humble opinion that Alise Wright is one of the better writers I’ve come across in the blogosphere. I think she’s great. And I’m posting on her blog. Yeah!
Reason #2: Last night I learned how to use the old Jedi mind trick through the medium of my blog. So … here we go (point my hand at your mind) … you will make me happy (shift my hand to the right) by going over to Alise’s blog and you will (shift my hand to the left) enjoy reading my guest post called “Denial, Viewing the Deceased and Being Born Again”.