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Missions 101

The Most Enjoyable of All Subjects Has to be God

May. 26, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

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From the Introduction of Thomas Oden's The Living God:

Because of piety's penchant for taking itself too seriously, theology - more than literary, humanistic, and scientific studies - does well to nurture a modest, unguarded sense of comedy. Some comic sensibility is required to keep in due proportion the pompous pretensions of the study of divinity.

When the chips pile too high, I invite the kind of laughter that wells up not from cynicism about theology but from lightness about it. This comes from glimpsing the incongruity of humans thinking about God. I have often laughed at myself as these sentences went through their tortuous stages of formation; I ask you to look for the comic dimension of divinity that stalks every page.

The most enjoyable of all subjects has to be God, because God is the source of all joy. God has the first and last laugh. The least articulate of all disciples deserves something in between.

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The Most Fascinating Period of Missions History?

May. 22, 2015By: Evan Burns
A question was posed by my PhD professor of Missions, Dr. David Sills.  His question and my answer are below.  
 
QUESTION:  Some say that the current era of missions will surpass many of the superlatives recorded in the pages of missions history. What are some of the developments in Christianity that indicate that this prophecy will be true? If you cannot embrace such a bold statement, why would you disagree?  
 
ANSWER:  Before I express my opinion, it would be necessary to ask further questions about the phrase, "the current era of missions will surpass many of the superlatives recorded in the pages of missions history." My question is, "in what ways do some say contemporary missions will surpass the superlatives of the past?" Are people thinking primarily of the number of missionaries and the diversity of sending nations? Is this a quantitative comparison or a qualitative comparison? My intuition says that this is a quantitative comparison. If we are strictly comparing numbers of people who go overseas as missionaries (which some would include short-term trips) then yes, today's mission force is quantitatively superior to any other time in history. This is largely due to the wealth of Western churches, the speed of travel, globalism, and other technological advances. I praise God for how quickly missionaries can move about the globe. Quantitatively speaking, it is an unparalleled day in which we live.
Nevertheless, my contention is that the sacrifice and commitment of the present-day era of missionaries are fragile and fleeting compared to most eras of missions history. Take the Moravians for example; they were famous for selling themselves into slavery in the West Indies to reach the African slaves. Even many of the English and American missionaries of the 19th century would set sail for a land to which they had never taken a short-term exposure trip, and they would pack their coffins well aware that they would probably die within the first two years. Now taking those two example alone (and many more could be cited), there is a significant qualitative difference between then and today. Moreover, when reading the rich spirituality and deep theology penned by those committed missionaries in the toughest of times, it is difficult to compare what we include in our brief newsletter updates today.

Amid all today's advances in medicine, transportation, communication, and technology, it seems that there is a qualitative difference in our souls. To be sure, missionaries of the past were no more perfect than we are today. Saints are sinful in every era. But could it be that the quality of former mission endeavors was deepened by the fact that they had to struggle and suffer more than most of us do today? No email; no medical evacuation; no jet plane; no electricity; no computer; no cell phones; no vaccinations; no ATM machines. I imagine that if I were someday in heaven to ask St. Patrick, Boniface, Adoniram Judson, or David Brainerd what they thought was the qualitative difference between their missionary endeavor and mine, they would probably say something similar to what Paul said: " Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead" (2 Cor 1:9).
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Fighting Poverty Is Big Business

May. 21, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio
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Should You Trust Celebrity Charities

May. 19, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

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Here is an interesting find by FoxNews (no political crankiness please). It lists 12 charities run by celebrities and breaks down where their money actually goes. For most, the results are not good. I have put an asterick next to the ones that seem to be managing their money well.  The charities that make this list:

1. The One Campaign - Bono

2. Andre Agassi Foundation 

3. Michael J. Fox Foundation**

4. The Michael Phelps Foundation**

5. The Rainforest Foundation - Sting

6. Baby Buggy - Jerry and Jessica Seinfield**

7. The Dr. Phil Foundation

8. The Larry King Cardiac Foundation

9. Make it Right Foundation - Brad Pitt**

10.Elton John AIDS Foundation **

11. The American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming - Letterman**

12. Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation**

 

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Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

May. 18, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

hymnal

From Hymn Book of The Methodist Episcopal Church published in 1849.

#856

When, O my Saviour, shall it be,
That I no more shall break with thee?
When will this war of passion cease,
And I enjoy a lasting peace?

Now I repent; now sin again:
Now I revive; and now am slain:
Slain with the same malignant dart,
Which, O! too often wounds thy heart.

When, gracious Lord, when shall it be,
That I shall find my all in thee, -
The fulness of thy promise prove,
And feast on thine eternal love? 

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