It is always a rich privilege to step outside one’s context and world. This trip was no exception. The following are a few additional learnings I noted on the way home yesterday: 1. God is moving all over the world. God reminded me of this text often during this trip – “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you” (Colossians 1:6). 2. The impact of China. With 1.3 billion people and a church about 100 million strong, the economic, spiritual, cultural, and political influence of China is staggering. Few of us in the USA or the West, I think, appreciate this reality. 3. South Africa. One church we visited had about 400 white South Africans. Perth, Australia has over 100,000 more. Why? Violence and racial tensions. Having spent a most of my adult life wrestling with racial tensions here in the USA,. Read more.
For the last two weeks I have been meditating/memorizing Isaiah 53:2-6 and the spirituality of descent of Jesus. Out of a desire to offer a “sincere gift of Himself,” Jesus chose a downward journey of ordinariness, obscurity, rejection and powerlessness. He chose crucifixion. It preaches well but my resistance to death (and thus resurrection) is deep. Contemplating the cross, however, has made me sensitive, at least recently, about the choices I make each day to follow, or not follow, the crucified Jesus. The following are three simple gifts God gave me this past week: 1. I visited one of our core church family members this past week. Their child has Lennox Gestaut Syndrome –www.lgsfoundation.org, a severe type of epilepsy. For the past four years, they have been in and out of hospitals, working with countless doctors and specialists to control their son’s seizures, and carrying full time jobs in the NYC school system. Their son, once. Read more.
As pastors and churches are beginning to explore integration of emotionally healthy spirituality into their lives and churches, I believe it is important to step back and reflect on the wider theological and historical foundations upon which we are building. The following is my list: 1. Prayed Theology 2. A Humble Spirit to Learn from the Whole Church 3. A Sense of Global Church History 4. Contemplative, Monastic Spirituality 5. Integrity in Our Leadership 6. Emotionally Healthy Practices 7. The Marriage Covenant 8. Sexuality 9. Calling, Life and Work 10. Preaching and Teaching 11. Bringing Christ to Culture (Contextualization) 12. Bridging Racial, Cultural, Economic and Gender Barriers Last week I showed our staff a four minute video on the revolution occurring in our culture with regards to social media and its implications for NLF (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVXKI506w-E&feature=player_embedded#t=92). While I am not sure of all the implications of social media for us today, I am convinced of. Read more.
I am only now beginning to enter the space of social media, so I am very much in a learning mode. Yet, I think it is worth pondering Danah Boyd’s initial findings around racism, classism and social media. She is a a Social Media Researcher and Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, recently completing her PhD at the University of California (Berkeley).The following is an excerpt regarding her work: Speaking at this week’s Personal Democracy Forum in New York, Danah Boyd said that even among people with access to the Net, long-held social divisions of race, class, and income are starting to play out online, particularly among teens now starting to choose which social network they prefer, MySpace or Facebook. “Social media don’t eradicate social divisions,” says Boyd, an expert in NextGen behaviors for Microsoft and a senior fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “[Social media are] making. Read more.
These are my further reflections , and changes, on the theological underpinnings and foundations for what it means to integrate emotionally healthy spirituality into our lives and the people we serve. It is much more than simply doing the small group material, Daily Offices, or the church-wide initiative. That is simply a beginning. A larger, more expansive training along the lines of the twelve points listed below. Over the next few weeks, I will blog on each and their implications for us. 1. Theology– We must root our lives and churches in the living Jesus who is God Almighty as revealed in Scripture by the Holy Spirit. We are first and foremost about practices biblically rooted. We take seriously the model of the early church fathers (e.g. Ignatius of Antioch, Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Basil, Gregory the Great, Augustine, Iraneus and others) who were leaders of local churches or bishops, theologians who studied Scripture. Read more.
I wrote a brief article recently for Mark Deymaz that will appear in a book he is writing on diverse, ethnic Churches (Zondervan). It forced me to think through our history and what we have learned. The following is most of the what I wrote: Twenty-one years ago, when my wife and I planted New Life Fellowship, we chose Elmhurst/Corona, Queens, as a strategic location for the church due to the fact that individuals from more than 120 nations live in the area. So while we recognized the benefits of such a location and desired to bridge the racial, cultural and economic barriers for the sake of Christ, we underestimated the suffering this commitment would require for all of us of in leadership. For instance, I soon realized that our evangelical discipleship/spiritual formation model was too superficial to bring about the kind of in-depth transformation we would need to live in authentic community. There. Read more.