Confession: This time it’s different
What follows is something of a confession. Through the years, I’ve felt no shame or embarrassment to invite churches and individuals to financially support our efforts in missions. In the past, I’ve joyfully extended that invitation, believing fully in our task, as I still do. After several occasions, however, where we have lost larger amounts of monthly support, that ease of asking, that freedom to invite, has been lost. Perhaps it’s partly age, partly feeling tired of the process of fundraising, which I am no professional at doing, nor do I wish I were.
We no longer have a wide base of contacts among Christians, after so many years on the field. In recent years, our friends have heard our pleas several times. How can we then place yet another burden upon them?
So we’ve prepared ourselves to pare back some efforts and restrict our focus, within our means. Whatever happens, good will come from it. Laser focus can be more powerful.
Loss of finances was never a sufficient reason to quit the field. (Some deem it so; each one has one’s reasons.) The struggle is to take hold of the secret of contentment and doing what is possible with what is in the hand. That’s biblical, right?
¶ The motivation would be greater, to share more writings by faithful brethren with Brazilians who read English, if the former would quit writing in a formal style no longer appropriate to the 21st Century and quoting the KJV. Our people have so much good to say, but are saying it, often, in a bad way. I used to get irked about this. Now, I just feel sad about it. In many quarters, the church is talking to itself. No wonder we’re losing our children. Never mind reaching the lost of the world.
¶ Some (many?) in the body of Christ have little idea how the Way according to Scripture differs so greatly from our societies’ religions, because we look and act and talk like them. We want to be like them. We love their titles, their pomp, their organization, their authorities, their solidity, their emotion. It’s all false, but we love it. We must love it, because we are helping ourselves to their script.
¶ Our city was just named the fourth best city in the country to live in. It is a pleasant place, for the most part. (Sometimes, it depends on what neighborhood you live in.) Traffic, however, has become a problem. And you’d still better lock your car, hide your valuables, watch out for thieves and robbers.
¶ In Psa 57.8 David says, “Awake, my glory” (ESV). Many versions put glory as “soul.” NET’s note can’t make sense of glory here, so emends the Hebrew and translates it as soul (lit., liver). Simpson may be right that it is a prayer to live in the glory of the soul that God gives us. He writes, “Ask God to wake up your glory and enable you to mount up with wings as eagles, to dwell on high and sit with Christ in heavenly places.”
¶ An online prayer asks God to “help me to live from the answers.” Many live by their questions and doubts, a hard and troubled existence. What a relief and joy to have answers! God is good to give us his revelation that informs us of our need, his solution, our new identity, and our mission.
¶ Years ago, Gordon Macdonald wrote Rebuilding Your Broken World. When your world falls to pieces, and especially when you’re responsible for it happening, there is life after disaster. The question is whether we will get up after the fall. That recalls Proverbs 24.17, “Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again, but the wicked will be brought down by calamity.” Not every fall is earth-shattering, but some are. The worst can be recovered from. Not all consequences can be erased, but a person can be restored.
¶ With the hashtag #goodnewsin5words, Kevin Cauley tweeted, “God lives with His people.” That’s a lot of good news in few words. Much can be said with little. “Christ restores man to God.” There are some inspired five-word statements in Scripture, too: “My Lord and my God!” Jn 20.28; “And do everything with love” 1 Cor 16.14 NLT. (OK, so we resorted to switching versions.) What good news can you say in five words?
¶ The much-with-little idea was the inspiration behind Quick Bible Truths, using the 140-character limit of Twitter to speak the Good News to impatient eyes. It may be one of the sacrifices to be killed on the altar this year. The idea is a good one, however.
¶ Kevin’s hashtag reminds one that the Ten Commandments are called “Ten Words.” And the number five recalls the five steps to salvation, however we order them. One good brother did a series of evangelistic studies called 5×5, five studies with five main points each. Even though it’s a bit artificial, it’s an attractive approach, as long as we don’t, ahem, engrave it in stone.