In transaction-based relationships we view people solely through the lens of what they have done for us and what we have done for them. The problem with transaction-based relationships is that we are always indebted to someone and someone is always indebted to us. Instead of seeing them as made in God's image, we see people as fundamentally a commodity. You do X so I will do Y in return. You didn't come to my thing so I won't go to your thing.
If we must use transactions in our relationships, we need to begin with Christ. "Forgive as The Lord has forgiven you." Jesus gives us the ultimate example of a transaction, as He died for us on the Cross so that we would be called the sons and daughters of the living God!
It is this reality that brings much perspective. Instead of letting the faults of others get us disappointed, we must begin and end with a high view of God's grace and mercy, which permeates every possible perspective we would have of our friendships and relationships. Thank God that Jesus didn't criticize those who deceived and disappointed him, but instead overcome by the glorious work on the Cross.
BIBLICAL INDICATORS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH
1. Preaching and teaching of all of God’s Word [Acts 20:27; 2 Timothy 4:2]
2. Worship of God [Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 1:12, 5:16-19]
3. Evangelizing of lost people [Matthew 28:19]
4. Helping those in need [Luke 6:35-36; Acts 11:29; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 1 John 3:17]
5. Baptizing of new Christians [Matthew 28:19]
6. Building up of God’s people [Colossians 1:28; Ephesians 4:12-13]
7. Unity and love among God’s people [John 13:34-35]
8. Service by God’s people [1 Corinthians 12:4-6; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Peter 4:11]
9. Partaking of communion [1 Corinthians 11:17-34]
10. Church discipline [Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1-5]
11. Effective prayer [Acts 2:24; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18]
12. Biblical church government [Philippians 1:1]
13. Holiness among God’s people [John 14:15, 17:23; Hebrews 12:14]
14. Deep and sincere love for Jesus at all times [Luke 10:27]
15. An unwavering commitment to the gospel of grace [1 Corinthians 15:1-8]
16. Evidence of the power of God [Romans 1:16]
Interesting thoughts from Tim Chester (UK)
Markers of a self-obsessed age:
1. Personality replaces character
2. Self-expression replaces self-restraint
3. Excitement replaces virtue
"We have overdosed on self-fulfillment, and now we are sick."
Congratulations, President Obama. (Was hard for me, but I managed to get it out...hehe). Just a few thoughts...
I would ask that you defend the rights of freedom of speech of ALL americans, not just those in your party. Many of us are concerned about our religious liberty and freedom to speak.
I would ask that you defend the rights and the personhood of the unborn, the disabled, the mentally challenged - "the least of these." A lot is said of a nation in how they treat such people.
Finally, many Americans seem to be concerned that we are turning into a nanny state while trying to recover the economy. As the nanny state grows, so do those who vote for the nanny. Can we reverse this course?
Thankfully, Mr President, my hope is not in politics. But you ran the race well, and God has it all in control.
Living in Brazil we don't use the term "missional" and "gospel contextualization" all that much, but I believe we should a lot more. Here in Brazil, the majority of churches, conferences, and teaching are aimed at preaching to the faithful. While they have great Bible teaching and wonderful preaching, they often don't address the cultural shifts in Brazil all that well - except to encourage people to return to "the basics."
Returning "to the basics" of piety and holiness is very important, but as pastors and leaders, we mustn't ignore obvious cultural shifts, and the implications for preaching, teaching, and church planting. Words like "missional" or "contextualization" are not dirty. What is dirty is lumping together all evangelical churches together, generalizing them as being trying to be hip or trendy, or being overly suspect of new forms of mission.
As I'm thinking through the basics... One of "the basics" for me, as a Christian, is to follow the line of Paul and Christ in engaging the lost. Contextualization is a concept rarely heard in the conversations I have with pastors in Brazil.
I thought this was a particular helpful insight by Tim Keller in his recent interview with the Trevin Wax and the Gospel Coalition.
Here is what Keller had to say about the concept of being "missional":
The term “missional” is often used today in a variety of ways – some of which contradict each other. You maintain a place for the word “missional,” but want to be specific about what it means and does not mean. How would you define “missional?”
"I think that the word “missional” is useful because it means something more (though not less) than being very evangelistic. It means recognizing the post-Christian character of our western society, and revamping everything we do in accord with that.
We no longer have cultural institutions imparting respect for the Bible and the church in the general population so that the average person pays attention to the church, seeks it out for milestone moments like baptisms, weddings, funerals, and understands what you mean by terms like God, sin, heaven, hell, right and wrong.
This means revamping how you preach, how you instruct, how you evangelize—everything. Notice how differently Paul (in Acts) preached to pagans than he did in synagogues where people were steeped in the Scripture. So I’m not ready to abandon the term missional.
There are very different views of how to be the church now in our post-Christian culture, but we should be making the effort rather than simply doing business as usual."
It could be argued that Brazil, being a very religious country, still pays much attention to the Church as a cultural institution. But I believe this too, is changing. In Brazil, we need to consider how we are preaching, instructing, and evangelizing for the next generation, for the glory of Christ.
Today I'm celebrating 40 years. As I reflect on my life, I am so grateful for Jesus. I'm grateful for so many friends. I'm grateful for my family. I truly am blessed. We have a two new changes to share with our friends & family!
First, we have a new daughter. You probably already know that. Olivia Hope Matias Bauman was born on September 9. Mother and baby are doing well. Sophia is adjusting fairly well too.
NEW CHURCH PLANT IN 2013!
We are planting a new church in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. I will serve as the lead pastor. The church will be called Igreja do Redentor. We have a core group of about 30 people committed to the new church plant. We will be "core phasing" the church beginning in October through the end of the year. We are planning to start services in late February, 2013. Please join us in prayer. More information will be coming (as well as a new logo design)... It will be a Brazilian, Portuguese-speaking church.
Join us in prayer for these big changes in our life!
With a new baby and a new church, we are also very much in need of additional partners for our ministry work. Please let us know if you would consider partnering with us. Visit the Restore Brazil site and click Get Involved to sign up to be a ministry partner.
Blessings in Christ,
Luciane, Jay, Sophia & Olivia Bauman
It's a mystery to me how those who read and know very well the Scriptures oftentimes carry an arrogance with their knowledge. It's very clear in the Scriptures that the fruit of the Spirit is absolutely contradictory to a life of arrogance. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is born of the Word made flesh in our lives, Jesus.
Knowing the Scriptures is not a competition to be won in an arena against other brothers, it is a lifelong pursuit of relationship with Jesus.
At the same time, in our relativistic and humanistic culture, some will confuse maintaining a position of truth as arrogance. This is not arrogance, this is confidence in the God who gives us our next breath. Let us be a people of humble confidence in Jesus, never known by our arrogance but rather by the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
"Cultural Engagement" may be unique in that you rarely hear the term outside of Christian circles. For us as Christians, this should be a sign. Even our terminology is a little foreign. Certainly God has given us plenty of Biblical examples on how to engage culture through preaching, teaching, and convincing others of the faith. Just consider all the approaches in Acts.
But there's another example. Healthy Christian community. The Church. Healthy Christian community may just be the most powerful witness to culture.
It's my belief that to best engage culture we must live in healthy Christian community. This means that we must consider the needs of our brothers and sisters above our own, and even above the lost, in at least one sense. This is a powerful witness to the lost, really to be reckoned with.
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:10
"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:13
We can be knowledgeable about culture, we can be up-to-date with trends and current events, we can be conversant on several levels (educational, political, cultural). But to engage culture we have to consider ultimately what we are engaging them TO: it's Christ, and the Church. It's Jesus. It's the depths of the Gospel best uncovered in Christian community.
Therefore if Christian community is devalued, even subtly, our efforts for cultural engagement will be hindered in the end. This means our house must be in order as churches and as pastors. This means unity is critical. This means excessive criticism of other ministries and churches is counterproductive to reach the lost. This means a lot of what passes for "apologetics" may be counterproductive. This means endless discussion on secondary theological issues doesn't really lead to all that much.
"If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." Galatians 5:15
How often do we throw our friends who are believers under the bus? How often do we make fun, criticize, those who belong to Christ, let alone their churches? They are our (worldwide) community.
My point is not that community is the opposite of evangelism. It's not. Community is one of the best forms of evangelism. Community, united under the banner of Christ, is an engaging force to be reckoned with.
It will engage culture and it will engage the lost.
Sometimes I write and tweet on abortion, and this touches on the political realm.
Why do I it? One reason is that it can slowly help shift the opinion of some. Another reason is that I sometimes sense an ambivalence in the pastoral community. Abortion is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and we need to create a culture of life to address it. So how do we as pastors and leaders respond?
1. It is obvious that the best way to see a "culture of life" created is through seeing lives transformed through the power of the Gospel. Men and women meeting Jesus Christ. This is the best way without a doubt.
2. A "culture of life" is also created by Christ-followers walking side-by-side with women faced with this difficult choice during their pregnancy. As well promoting and encouraging adoption.
3. A "culture of life" is also created through preaching, teaching, and educating those inside and outside the church on the issue of abortion.
Yet abortion is something that is largely enforced by law. It is simply permitted in some states, and less so in others. Therefore, it becomes a political issue, whether we like it or not. And abortion is already being reduced in several states through legislation. This means lives are being saved.
Here's where many pastors and leaders stop. ("Let's... not go there")
Many pastors are desperate to not be associated with the religious right, let alone Republicanism. There are some great reasons for this (I could spend all day writing on that).
But one of the reasons is not abortion.
The Republicans pro-life plank practically looks like a pastor wrote it. Contrast this with the extremist plank of the Democrats, which is actively supported by the president, who voted three times supporting partial-birth abortion. This is up-to-the day of birth.
It's true that it is not the law that changes a heart, but the Gospel. So, let us live the Gospel. And let us be aware of the potential sin of omission. I wonder if we will look back years from now and see that the sin of omission of our generation was the very issue of the right to life.
We must not, under the guise of civility, have a sort of political anti-nomianism, let alone an anti-nomianism with a condescending tone - "I'm above all that."
None of us are.
It's not an exaggeration to say up to 1/3 of a generation has been lost.
How would Kuyper, Bonhoeffer, or even the Apostle Paul respond, in our day and in our time?
None of us know for sure, but I doubt there would be ambivalence.
Restore Brazil will be welcoming a number of distinguished speakers at our pastors' meetings this fall. The first was Ricardo Costa, who joined us in August. In October, we will welcome Dr. Luiz Sayão, who was a coordinator and editor for the New International Version of the Bible in Portuguese (NVI).
I'm not sure which US political party is truly guilty of a "war on women."
Perhaps it's the political party in which many hold the extreme position of guaranteeing abortion-on-demand until the day of a baby girl's birth (Look it up, it's legal in many states).
Or could it be the same political party that staunchly defends the worst types of pornography under the guise of freedom of expression? The same pornographic industry that uses and exploits women as objects that is shown by research to be associated w/sex and human trafficking?
Neither political party is perfect, but there seems to be some hypocrisy here.
I've been trying to read more lately, not just reading "dead guys" but modern authors as well.
One of my friends is spending 18 months based on the tri-perspectival concept. Six months reading "prophetic" books (think theological/academic/preaching), six months reading "kingly" books (think leadership/organizational) and six months reading "priestly" books (existential/reflective/devotional).
In the midst of reading several books over the past several months, three have stood out.
- Gospel Wakefulness, Jared Wilson. Many are familiar with Wilson's work, but I find this book to be both theological, reflective, and soul-stirring at the same time. In the midst of dozens of books on the Gospel (including several from within my tribe) I find that Wilson's book simply stands out. It's my prayer that both here in Brazil, in the US, and abroad we see a Gospel awakening in our lifetime.
- Global Church Planting, Craig Ott and Gene Wilson. This book completely surprised me. I thought it would be just another manual about church planting, perhaps with some cultural considerations. The level of scholarship and research is astounding. I find the first several chapters particularly helpful, including the definition of a catalytic, apostolic, and pastoral church planters. Also Ott and Wilson examine what seems like dozens of strategies of church planting in various contexts, both with actual research (not just opinions) and interviews.
- The Road Trip that Changed the World, Mark Sayers. Mark's book came highly recommended, and I will say that it did not disappoint. Mark seems to tell stories like few modern authors can tell, and his prophetic insight on the American church is just spot on in so many aspects. I find his description of the "woosh" moment particularly insighftul. Read it and you'll understand.