Thursday, August 28, 2008

SHARE ~ Are you sitting next to seat 16A?

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Seat 16A

I woke before the alarm at 4:15am in my Singapore hotel room. A 7:00am flight would carry me to Indonesia and Jakarta, home of 15 million people. I didn’t know a soul in Jakarta. That would be enough to make me fret a bit. Usually I know many people where I go to speak and consult. Then, there was the reality that I was going to the largest Islamic country in the world. I am not a specialist at bringing the gospel to Muslim people. We have a whole department devoted to that. Roy or Mike, the Director’s of that division should’ve been the ones to go to Jakarta, not me. Yet despite my fears, I would very quickly see God show up forcefully and compassionately.

I was already tired as I sat in seat 16C. I’d be preaching twice in the next few hours, with translators, and meeting with elders and leaders of the Abba-Love network in between the services, so it would be best to rest on the flight. My neck-pillow combined with ear plugs usually put me in slumber-land- but not on this morning. Why Lord? Can’t I just go to sleep for an hour? Apparently the answer was no. Then came the reason.

Sitting in seat 16A was a young Indonesian Muslim woman named Nora. Nora wanted to talk, and with relatively good English, told me she was returning home after 10 years away because her mother requested her return. She asked why I was going to Indonesia. I responded with something like, “because I am a Christian minister, and I travel the world to tell people about Jesus, God’s Son”. The lights in Nora’s eyes became expressive. She smiled fully, and started telling me how she was coming to know Jesus as God’s Son. A friend had two months earlier taken her to a Christian service and she liked it. And, less than 24 hours before this flight, two Chinese women had knocked on her door (missionaries from China) to ask if she wanted to learn about Jesus. “Yes”, she said. They stayed for 3 ½ hours! Now she was placed next to me in seat 16A. She told me she felt Jesus was in her heart, and she could talk with him all the time. She told me she believed he was God’s Son and that yes, he did die on the cross to forgive her sins. God was at work. I listened, laughed, opened the

Scriptures and prayed with Nora, and told her of a good network of churches she could visit as she returned home.

Oh my- God is the evangelist and can get his Word through any ethnic, gender, cultural barrier we can imagine. Everyone who calls upon Him will be saved (Rom. 10:13). He called her to Himself, and also, called a friend, a church, two Chinese missionaries, and a reluctant, tired, and somewhat anxious, American evangelist to watch.

By the way, I WAS NO LONGER TIRED-----------

Gladly with you for the Kingdom of now and yet to be,

-Lon Allison



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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Prayer ~ Just Ask!

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A God Breakthrough In Our 16 Story Building

When we first moved in someone felt impressed by the Lord to tell us that we would be pastors to the apartment building where we live. One day while I was walking by I heard God tell me to ask the doorman about his family.

First I asked him, "How are you doing?" To which he replied, "Fine!" The Lord told me to stop walking, turn around and ask him again. This time I asked, "How is your family?" He replied, "Fine!" Internally though I could hear God saying to ask again. I thought to myself..."Lord, this man is going to think I am crazy." Nevertheless I asked him a third time, "Is there something I can pray for your family about?"

Immediately his demeanor changed and he began to tell me about how his mom had died recently. His sister had taken care of her and it was his sister's birthday that day. He also began to share his thoughts on God. After listening I prayed for him. God gave me some specific things to pray for in his family life. After praying, he just started strongly thanking me. He told me the things I had prayed were exactly what he was wondering about. He asked, "How did you know that?" I told him, "God knows all about you and is really active around you. He told me these things because He wants you to know that He is not far away but very close to you. God wants to talk to you too!" After we finished talking I went into my apartment and got him a bible and asked him to read John. BUT the story didn't stop there....

I left the next morning and was gone for a week at a CRM student conference. When I got back I looked for this doorman (there are 4 different ones that work different shifts) but couldn't find him. One day God told me to stop working and go back to our apartment in the middle of the afternoon.

When I walked in the building there was the doorman for whom I had been looking! He immediately said, "Jeremy I have something I really need to ask you. Thank you so much for praying for me. I realized though that I was being selfish to ask you to pray for me. You see there is this family I know very well with a 14 year old girl who is very ill with cancer. I want to ask you to go and pray for her." I was thrilled he asked so I said, "Sure, where is this girl?"

To my amazement he then told me an apartment number! It suddenly occurred to me that this was not some family friend in his own neighborhood but, that he was referring me to other people in my own building whom he wanted to see God bless. "I told them about you, Jeremy. I told them that you can hear God. Let me call them right now to see if you can go visit them." When he called they weren't home, but I know soon God will enable me to visit and pray for that girl via my own doorman's invitation. Already God has provided a man of peace who knows everyone in the building! In fact he sees them all every day he is there.



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SHARE ~ Think Differently to Be Effective

book cover

Who Gets to Narrate the World?
Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals Robert E. Webber
InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove 2008 by Webber Communications

Note>>> Below you'll find some surprising, to me, quotes from an author I usually associate with insights on worship. Webber is another voice we must listen to as to why much of our old cultural perspective and many of our traditional witnessing techniques are no longer relevant. Not incorrect; just not effective.

Christians in the Roman world found themselves in a cultural setting of moral decadence, philosophical relativism and religious pluralism. However, they narrated the world in a new way. They did not accommodate the faith to culture but set forth the faith in a countercultural way. In a world that had no set beliefs they proclaimed, "We believe." In a world that had no ethic, they proclaimed, "We behave." In a world where there was no belonging, they declared, "We belong."

Ancient Christianity was not the privatized faith it has become today. Today the influence of secularization has pushed the Christian narrative away from public matters. Christian faith, having become private and narcissistic, has very little influence in the university, the marketplace, law, politics and even ethics. It no longer plays a significant role in the foundational matters of western civilization.

If the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed involved in the recreation of the world, in winning it back from the evil one, then Christians must go back to the Garden of Eden and reclaim God's original purposes for creatures and creation. We are the image-bearers of God, and we have been given the task of making this world the theater of God's glory. It is not only the inner chamber of the heart that should glow with the presence of God, but our culture too - our cities, our civilization, the whole of life.

Social action is an essential aspect of the church's work in the world - peace and justice and caring for the poor, widows, orphans, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized arise from true faith. But these actions are to result from the embodiment of God's full narrative, not from a Christianity accommodating itself to western culture's doctrine of progress and utopia.

Historic Christianity is not a reflection on an individual's narrative but a reflection on and contemplation of God's mighty deeds of salvation for the life of the world. God's narrative is to grasp the heart and transform the believer. However, revivalism focuses on the believer's experience. This shift to experience has led to the demise the narrative of God. God rescues the entire created order, and those who know this rescue are to live collectively in the world and express God's redemption in all of life. This narrative has been lost and replaced with a focus on "my journey." Because liberals and conservatives lost God's cosmic narrative, they have been unable to offer a viable challenge to the dominant secular narrative of the world.

Christianity fell prey to humanistic social betterment (among liberals) and attention to experience (among evangelicals), with its accompanying privatism, pragmatism and consumerism. This kind of secularized Christianity will most likely fold under the pressures of Radical Islam.

Under the influence of secularism, the Christian faith has come to rely on reason or science or experience. We say, "Look, I really can demonstrate the message of the Bible to be true - consider the persuasive power of this logical fact or the undisputable argument of that scientific conclusion or the new life I live." But when we argue this way, we overlook the inner authority of the Scripture and seek to support it with an external authority. Truth is made dependent on something outside the authority of the Bible. We judge the Bible by bringing it under a discipline: reason, science, experience or some other field of study. We must do the opposite - bring all the disciplines under the word of God, under God's narrative from beginning to end.


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CARE ~ Does Care Lead to Share?

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Bryant Myers, Professor of International Development at Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, provides a helpful way to see this important integration. "The book of Acts," Myers states, "describes the evangelism and growth of the early church....In each case [Acts 3:12-13; 6:8], the gospel is proclaimed, not by intent or plan, but in response to a question provoked by God's activity in the community." (Webber) The practical demonstration of God's love for the whole world invariably provokes the question of motivation. It is not a matter of what role we occupy or the specific program in which we serve.

As Myers states, "The kingdom of God is a call to a relationship, not a call to a program or ideology, regardless of whether the program is evangelism, social action, or spiritual warfare." (Webber) Therefore, actions that demonstrate that we are followers of Christ tend naturally to provide opportunities to answer the questions raised about our motivation.

Theology, News & Notes / Winter 2008
Evangelical Activism: evangelism, Social Responsibility, and Justice C. Douglas McConnell (PhD, Fuller Theological seminary), p. 25

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

CARE ~ Cultivating Momentum



Cultivating Momentum With Kindness
By Mark Wyatt

"Many good-hearted believers and churches are floundering in frustration, wondering how to get life moving in their sphere of influence. Kindness is s sure-fire way to crank the engine and hit the gas."

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

PRAYER ~ Pray this Prayer for Your City

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FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH KEN OLIVER ...

Phil ~ Ken, write a prayer we can pray with you for the transformation of our great city

Ken ~ The prayer that I would have echoes the prayer of Jeremiah for the city -

"Lord, help us to seek the peace of the city where you have placed us as sojourners. Let us not gaze skyward, looking for your Kingdom somewhere else. Let us not be isolated and afraid. Let us not draw apart from our neighbor and seek only the comfort of those like us. Help us to see this city as a gift that you have given to us. Help us to love our fellow citizens as you love us.

For the prisoner forgotten behind the prison walls, we pray. For the foreigner who dwells among us, we pray. For the sick and lonely, we pray. For the lost who have not heard your Word, we pray. And for ourselves, we pray that you would give us the power and the vision to love these as if they were our own family. For we are all brothers and sisters.

Let us pray for the city, knowing that you promised that in the peace of the city we shall find our own peace. In the name of Jesus, Amen."


Kenneth C. Oliver, Executive Director, Chicago Bible Society, 1111 N. Wells, Suite 308, Chicago, Illinois 60610
312-573-8809 / ken.oliver@chicagobiblesociety.net / http://www.ChicagoBibleSociety.net

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