The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power, Sean McMeekin – There is more to learn about World War I and how it shaped the globe and contributed to much of the turmoil in the Middle East over the last century than most of us would realize. I’ve studied this period through lots of books but this one is unique in giving the German and Ottoman angle, rich with historical figures and crafted in a wonderful narrative format. I had the pleasure of reading this book while traveling through Turkey and traversing many of the places at the center of the story of the Ottoman Empire in WWI. If you’re a student of the Middle East, World War I, or interested in understanding how many of the modern clashes between Islam and the West developed, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book. [Reference A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East for a rather famous and award-winning look at similar issues told from the British side and set primarily in London and Cairo rather than Berlin and Baghdad.]
The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant – I’ve been intrigued by the Civil War about as long as I’ve loved the subject of history. I remember as a kid watching the TV mini-series The Blue and the Gray with fascination as many of the places were familiar (I grew up for much of my life on the East Coast.) In my mind, there is no more fascinating figure in the Civil War than General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was a straight-forward and unlikely leader who regularly struggled with alcoholism. His matter of fact approach to life translates magically into his memoirs and has long been regarded as a classic in the genre. Many speculate the literary beauty may have been enhanced by Mark Twain who had a hand both in encouraging Grant to write and editing his writing. Twain was to say of the work, “I had been comparing the memoirs with Caesar’s Commentaries… I was able to say in all sincerity, that the same high merits distinguished both books—clarity of statement, directness, simplicity, unpretentiousness, manifest truthfulness, fairness and justice toward friend and foe alike, soldierly candor and frankness, and soldierly avoidance of flowery speech. I placed the two books side by side upon the same high level, and I still think that they belonged there.”
This is one of the most intriguing autobiographies I’ve read.
King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Adam Hochschild – In this award winning book, historian Adam Hochschild (Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918) accomplishes a rare feat by providing an in-depth telling of the rise of colonialism in Africa while also giving an extensive history to the formation of the Congo Free State under King Leopold of Belgium. He also seamlessly weaves in larger than life names and places like Livingston and Stanley, The Nile River, Joseph Conrad and The Heart of Darkness, and the subject slavery—both as abolished in the English world and still taking place via Arab slave traders coming inland from the East Coast of Africa. It’s difficult to describe just how remarkable this book is—how equally fascinating and appalling it is as it moves from talking about how the rubber tire created demand for rubber from the Congo, to high society philantropy in Europe, and to the absolutely cold, calculating, maniacal exploitation and destruction of human life in the heart of Africa by King Leopold. I don’t know of another book that tells so many stories while telling one unified story as this brilliant work does.
Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired, Benson Bobrick — This is the story of how the Bible in English came to be written. It set with larger than life figures such as John and others set in London and across Europe. The book includes some of the biggest names of the era—John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Henry VIII, Mary Tudor to name a few—and brings you into some of the biggest debates of the era—the nature of scripture, the power of monarchy, the reformation, and the role of the church. The story of how the Bible was translated into the English language, and its affect on the history of the world (the English Bible was the Bible taken around the world by many settlers and explorers) is an interesting and crucial part of church history. Given the setting and cast of characters it is an easy and intriguing story to read.
A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mary Ann Glendon — This very unique piece of historical writing takes a look at the framing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While much of the book focuses on Eleanor Roosevelt and the committee of delegates from multiple countries who spent two years debating and crafting the document, it also brings in the larger context of World War II, the drive to have a sustainable international entity that could survive (unlike the earlier League of Nations), and begins to usher us into the beginnings of Cold War politics. For students of justice or the invention of human rights, this will be an absolute delight.
Photo Credit: Leonski, Creative Commons
Guest Post by Paul Louis Metzger
Have you ever met people with messiah complexes? Such individuals are scary. They often end up making a mess of things as they throw their good will around.
Unfortunately, I am often tempted to cultivate such a complex. I have to catch myself trying to help people who appear to be weaker and who seem to possess less resources than I, but yet who have not asked for my help. I am often blind to the fact that they are often relationally richer than I am and could help me in significant ways. Instead of trying to solve their problems for them, I need to share life with them, if they will take me.
No doubt you have heard stories of charitable endeavors where projects were started overseas but to no or negative effect. An African friend, Michael Badriaki, shared with me a story of how a European country provided genetically modified seed for African communities to use, even though they were told by the Africans that the seed would not grow, and it did not. Michael also shared with me how Westerners have built latrines in African communities, even though they were told the latrines would not be used because of uncertainties and fears regarding where the human waste would end up. The latrines have since gone to waste. The Westerners should have listened to the tribal peoples to see what they themselves claimed that they needed.
This overriding tendency on the part of the West is sometimes called “white man’s burden”: the propensity of many white Westerners to do good to people around the world by ruling over them. Such imperialism often parades with acts of charity. But the underlying motives are not charitable. As Michael says, many Westerners used to come with machine guns; now they come with briefcases—and with cell phones made with minerals they have mined in Africa at great profit to themselves.
I am so glad Jesus the Messiah did not have a messiah complex. If he did have such a complex, he would have fallen when tempted by the Devil and would not be able to save us. I believe Jesus’ time in the wilderness helped prepare him to listen and pray and wait on God rather than take matters into his own hands.
It is important that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil for forty days prior to his public ministry (See Luke 4:1-2). The temptation was not an obstacle, but an opportunity for strategic spiritual growth and development. I believe Jesus went through severe testing (Luke 4:3-12) to prepare him for the challenges that lay ahead. Jesus had to die to any presumed messiah complex in order to be the true Savior of the world; those with messiah complexes end up destroying others because they possess the grand ambition to rule over them rather than listen to them and serve them.
Although Jesus passed each test, Satan never gave up. He planned to reappear at an opportune time and try again (Luke 4:13). The tempter’s aim was to get Jesus to seize control rather than depend upon and obey his Father’s will disclosed in Scripture and listen and live among the people in the midst of their suffering. Jesus had to experience what they did. As the writer of Hebrews made clear, Jesus had to learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). If Jesus were to be prepared as the Messiah to save the world, he needed to be delivered from various perks that reward strength and comfort over against weakness and suffering.
Those with messiah complexes come to save those around them; but like the religious leaders in Matthew 23, they end up making the beneficiaries of their good will twice the sons of hell that they are (Matthew 23:15).
Unlike messianic pretenders, Jesus has no delusions of grand military, economic or political conquest bound up with surpassing strength and a powerful personality. He operated far more robustly and strategically by holding firmly in humble dependence to God’s Word. In view of Jesus, humility, not hubris, is the mark of missional engagement.
It is striking how Jesus used Scripture to combat the Devil at every turn. Jesus did not depend on clever forms of argument or charisma and passion in his responses to the temptations, but Scripture. What do you and I resort to when we are under duress? Do we think we are invincible? Do we struggle with messiah complexes that favor ingenuity to the exclusion of prayerful and fast-filled dependence on God’s Word? Satan would have it that way.
In his testing of Jesus, Satan used various forms of temptation that address needs and desires such as the provision of food (Luke 4:3-4), ambition (Luke 4:5-8), and protection (Luke 4:9-12). It is recorded that in two of the temptations, the Devil challenged Jesus to prove he is God’s Son and perform miracles that will benefit him (Luke 4:3, 9): instead of trusting in God for his provision, Jesus was encouraged to turn stones into bread; he was also encouraged to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple so that God would deliver him.
What would have happened if Jesus had fallen for the tempter’s tactics? No doubt, he would have eaten well if he had turned the stones into bread (Luke 4:3-4). He would have received riches and honor and glory if he had bowed the knee to Satan (Luke 4:5-8). He might even have been protected, or at least would have protected himself, if he had thrown himself from a very high place (Luke 4:9-12). But Jesus would not have been able to save the world, only harm it, just like the various messianic pretenders; such autonomous acts aimed at saving the world have always led to the world needing further salvation. The only way to help is to depend on God, not oneself. Jesus demonstrated that he was the one and only Son of God, for he alone constantly depended on God, not himself.
All of the temptations in Luke 4 seem logical. After all, Jesus needed food to stay alive and accomplish his work and attain his goal. And wasn’t his goal to reign over the nations and kingdoms of the earth? Satan offered to get him to the top of the world by taking a shortcut—all Jesus had to do was bow the knee to him.
But what good would such actions of following the Devil’s advice ultimately do? Jesus would have disobeyed his Father, just like God’s son Adam in the Garden and God’s son Israel in the wilderness over forty years. No matter how many miracles Jesus could have performed, no matter how magnificent he could have revealed himself to be, it would all have been smoke and mirrors since he would not have been reflecting God’s character and obeying God’s will as God’s Son.
Jesus is God’s one and only Son. Even so, we are tempted to take matters into our own hands to try and prove we are God’s sons, too. Rather than respond to God’s call in obedience, we are prone to manipulate circumstances and seek to control our own destiny, and the destiny of others. In the short term, we may look as if we are doing all right when we are self-sufficient. But self-sufficiency does not reflect relational trust in God, but trust in one’s self. Such self-reliance does not save us, but puts us, and those around us, in greater jeopardy.
A colleague once told me that an unguarded strength is a glaring weakness. It is important that we submit all our strengths and talents and gifts to the Lord; otherwise, we will take matters into our own hands and try to save the world. Self-sufficiency is the bane of missional engagement. Self-sufficiency along with a sense of superiority lead us to provide solutions to people’s struggles that do not fit their situations or resonate with what they believe they really need. It only aggravates their problems as they bear the burden for our sin of self-sufficiency and pride.
Messiah complexes get us into so much trouble, as we take matters into our own hands. Whenever you are tempted to engage in such thinking and behaving, you should ask—who then will save the world from me?
Can you think of situations where you have fallen prey to pride and ended up with a messiah complex in your public missional engagement? What was the aftermath? How will you guard against such pride and arrogance in the future?
Photo Credit: Snowpeak, Creative Commons
Guest Post by Emily Hill
“We are going to have to give up our lives finally,
the longer we wait the less time we have
for the soaring and swooping life of grace.”
I recently came across this quote by Eugene Peterson and was captivated by it. If I could have any superpower I would choose the ability to fly, so the imagery of a soaring life of grace resonates with me. But I think it goes much deeper than that.
I crave it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to live richly and authentically. It’s a popular discussion among my friends and family and it’s certainly a hot topic on the internet and in self-help books. How do we embrace our humanity and live fully as God intended?
I’ve noticed that even those of us who are Christians—who believe they are created by God and follow God—don’t always have a full understanding of what that really means. We often have just as many questions about how to live life to the full as those who don’t proclaim Christ. This situation leaves us more susceptible to the culture around us than we realize and we frantically search for answers and live with a deep, constant longing for more.
But the answer isn’t found in a self-help book or a checklist of behaviors. The quote by Peterson provides a clue. You’ve heard it before: we need to give up our lives.
“Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) But what does that mean?
In our modern culture, we usually assume that ancient worldviews are ignorant and unscientific and that our current worldviews are more enlightened and accurate. However, in his book on the Psalms N.T. Wright argues that the modern Western worldview is actually based on the ancient philosophy of Epicureanism. Thought adopted for different reasons in ancient and modern times, the view holds that God or gods are remote and unengaged with humanity. Therefore, the world and our individual lives are part of an independent system operating entirely of its own accord.
Think of your friend who doesn’t really consider God in their day to day decisions, or even big decisions. Or the celebrity or politician who build their careers and wield power without regard to God. Why would they? If God doesn’t exist, or if he doesn’t sustain our physical, spiritual or emotional lives, then his existence doesn’t have any bearing on how we shape our identities or pursue life. Such a view is pretty easy to maintain in middle-class America where we are often able to maintain a feeling of control over our lives and the outcomes of our actions.
In contrast, the scriptures reveal a God who cares and is intimately involved with his creation every day and on every level—he didn’t just create us and walk away. Psalm 139 is a great example of this. Verse 5 says, “I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going.” (The Message)
Wright explains that the biblical worldview is one of creational monotheism. Jews and Christians rejected the idea of disengaged gods and believed that the one God who created the universe remains in active relationship with it. They believed that God had promised to return to his people and bring his perfect rule to earth and that through Christ and the work of the Spirit he had done just that.
Though I would say I hold to the biblical worldview—and I’m guessing you would too—upon more reflection, the ideas of Epicureanism throughout our culture continue to affect how I define myself.
Everyone and everything around me is shouting for my attention. It tells me that I need it to be happy, satisfied and significant. I need to have a certain education, dress a certain way, have a successful career, live in a certain neighborhood, have certain friends, a perfect family, and eat at the trendiest restaurants. As a woman, it’s also essential to be thin with radiant skin and shiny hair. Then everyone will love me and I’ll be fulfilled.
Advertisers in our culture deliberately try to point out (or create) a need that I, as a consumer, didn’t know I had, then tell me how their product or service can meet that need and make my life better. Can you name some other messages? Can you see how they have shaped your identity and affected how you live your life?
We need a counter-narrative if we are going to be able to battle these messages that surround us.
Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (NIV). Jonathan Wilson argues that without a robust understanding of creation in light of the revelation of Jesus Christ we are left without a solid foundation for our identity. He writes:
We are not truly and fully human until we believe that we are God’s creatures and trust in Christ to remove our inhumanity, free us from all that makes us less than human, and bear away the consequences of our refusal to acknowledge our creatureliness and trust in God for life…when we do not recognize that humans have their identity as human by virtue of our creatureliness before God, we become susceptible to other bases for our humanity.
We need to give up our own self-constructed identities and look to Christ for what it means to be truly human and how we experience life most fully. Karl Barth wrote, “The nature of Christ objectively conditions human nature and the work of Christ makes an objective difference to the life and destiny of all men.” The sum of Jesus’ actions perfectly reflect God’s intentions for us and call us to find our true identity in God’s life and work.
So what do we learn about our identity and fullness of life by looking to Christ?
We see that Jesus lived for and loved the Father above all things. His destiny was not of his own making but was determined by obedience to the Father. We also see that Jesus lived for and loved others. Jesus gave himself for others. His love was not general, but specific, and did not depend on others loving him first. In these things—seen in many actions large and small—Jesus enacted the kingdom of God and pointed to the new creation.
Christ reveals that humanity was created and intended for the new creation in the kingdom of God. The purpose and proper end goal of the world is the new creation and this understanding changes everything about how we live as individuals and in community.
When we recognize the purpose of creation, and therefore of ourselves, we can live according to that end by participating in the life of Christ, in dependence on God, and bearing witness to the kingdom of God in all its fullness. As we orient ourselves to the new creation we find peace. Not just a surface-level peace of mind but the deep peace and joy of shalom found in community with God and with others.
This is the counter-narrative. Seek first the kingdom.
I don’t build my own identity and life, and I don’t find life in the next big thing. It is in surrendering my own perceived and self-constructed identity to the true humanity found in Christ—living for God and for others—that I find freedom. That is how I experience the rich, meaningful, and soaring life of grace I crave.
 Jonathan Wilson, God’s Good World: Reclaiming the Doctrine of Creation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 41.
 Karl Barth, Christ and Adam: Man and Humanity in Romans 5 (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1956), 88.
Daniel Hill is the Founding and Senior Pastor of River City Community Church, located in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. The vision of River City is centered around the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. Formed in 2003, River City longs to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. His first book, 10:10: Life to the Fullest, was recently released.
KW: What are some of your life experiences or ministry experiences that made you realize something is often missing in our Christian lives?
DH: I grew up being exposed to a wide variety of Christian traditions. Having the opportunity to visit so many different kinds of churches shaped in me a larger picture of God, which I’m grateful for. It also gave me the chance to see how common it is for Christians of all stripes to feel that something is still missing in their faith. From the outside looking in, many of these traditions seemed quite different from each other. I saw it within conservative, fundamentalist churches, as well as in charismatic, Pentecostal churches. I saw it within seeker-oriented, mega churches (I was at Willow Creek for seven years), and I saw it in justice-oriented churches with a significant emphasis on liberation theology.
I met wonderfully devout people within each of these circles who loved Jesus with all their heart, yet still struggled with this persistent sense that there was more to life in Christ than what their current reality reflected.
KW: Why do you think we fail to confront our questions and longings in our faith?
DH: For most of us it comes down to one word: fear.
We fear admitting that something is missing will expose us as some type of spiritual fraud.
We fear that this admission will call into question whether we ever had faith in the first place.
We fear that God will choose not to forgive us for saying it out loud.
We fear that God will not even really be there.
We fear that God will be there, but will remain intentionally evasive because of something we did.
We fear that we will give our all to God, yet discover only disappointment on the other side.
The most repeated command in the entire Bible is “fear not” – 365 times as a matter of fact! And while that may be a helpful card to play next time you are in the middle of an intense Bible trivia game, its importance goes far beyond that.
We see throughout the Bible that whenever God is ready to take a person to a new level of faith, the initial response is fear. That’s understandable. To fear the new or the unknown is the natural instinct of fragile human beings. God understands that.
But God doesn’t want us to stay there. Fear sets limits and ultimately (and tragically) prevents us from stepping into the 10:10 vision of fullness of life. Faith in Christ is the only force strong enough to pull us through our fear and allow us to authentically confront our questions and longings.
KW: John 10:10 contains such an amazing promise— why do you think we struggle to find life to the full?
DH: Part of the struggle is once again located in fear.
I think your book Pursuing Justice is a great example of this. I love the subtitle — The call to live & die for bigger things. It gets to an important spiritual reality: in order to truly embrace new life, we are going to have to first die to something else. It’s part of the Resurrection cycle in Christ.
But if that’s true, then there is just no way to get around the command to “fear not.” When Jesus calls us to join him in the pursuit of justice, we will be required to face fear in the eye. It might be the fear that comes when a privileged person has to stare down their reality as they enter into solidarity with those on the other side of injustice. It might be the fear that an oppressed person feels when counting the cost of speaking out against the resident power structures for the sake of the Gospel. There is no way around the presence of fear.
The other part of the struggle comes from a limited theological vision.
Even the best of our traditions carry limitations. It’s inevitable that the tradition(s) that shaped each of us accurately emphasized certain Biblical truths while neglecting other crucial ones. The imbalance that this creates differs from one tradition to the next, but the challenge remains the same. A limited vision of Christ means that only part of us is able to grab onto part of Him. If the fullness of us is going to bear witness to the fullness of Christ, then we need to expand our theological vision.
KW: How is finding full life in Christ different than finding full life in a self-help book?
DH: In Matthew 20 Jesus tells his disciples “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” He then establishes this as the baseline for them as they learned to evaluate true greatness: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (v26).
Dr. Cornel West is a thinker whom I greatly admire, and one of my favorite quotes comes on the heels of a great riff he does on this verse: “Don’t confuse success with greatness. Success is measured in terms of a Lexus and trophy wife. Greatness is measured in terms of service.”
This summarizes the distinction I see between the 10:10 vision of full life given by Jesus, and the vision of full life given by most self-help books. Personal fulfillment (or what he refers to as “success”) may come as a byproduct of following Jesus with full abandon, but it’s never the primary goal. Instead, the goal is to become a transformed, Spirit-filled person who graciously serves. That is the Jesus definition of true “greatness.”
KW: What is God’s picture of life to the full?
DH: Hebrews chapter 11 is the most eloquent and comprehensive description of faith in the whole Bible, and I believe it is the best source material for answering this. I use the phrase “Faith in 3D” to summarize the foundational elements of faith and fullness of life found here:
Dimension 1: Faith & Fear. As alluded to earlier, there is no such thing as experiencing great faith without first experiencing great fear. They live right next to each other. They are permanent neighbors in our heart. Jesus will lead you out of your comfort zone and into the unknown, and you will have to rely on him at every step of the way to navigate these new realities. With each new chapter of faith come new experiences of the abundant life in Christ. But with each new chapter also come new fears.
Dimension 2: Faith & Intimacy. The heart of faith and fullness of life is intimacy with God. It is what everything in the Christian life both leads to and flows from. It began in the Garden, when God asks Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” That pursuit continues through the prophets, the kings, and the priests, and culminates with the Good Shepherd, who says, “I’ve come to get you. Follow me and you will experience the fullness of life.”
Dimension 3: Faith & Mission. We follow a risen Savior who is alive and active in the world. “Mission” is the language of being sent by faith to join in that redemption through both word and deed. Ephesians 2.8-10 represents one of Paul’s most famous treatments of faith. He finishes by saying: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We will never fully know the life we’ve been created for without learning how to “walk in” the good works that we have been created in Christ Jesus to participate in.
KW: What would you say to someone currently sitting at the crossroads of a safe faith and a full, life-giving, holistic faith?
DH: I often repeat the wise words of Gary Haugen on this topic: “Here is one choice that our Father wants us to understand as Christians – and I believe this is the choice of our age: Do we want to be brave or safe? Gently, lovingly, our heavenly Father wants us to know that we simply can’t be both.”
I think he is right on. There is a fundamental choice we each have to make when it comes to our faith in Jesus. Do I want a brave faith, or a safe faith? We just can’t have both.
And as my justice-oriented friends have been really pushing me on me lately (thanks #killjoyProphets!), even that quote is often a reflection of a great degree of privilege. If we actually have the luxury of choosing between safe and brave, then we are living in a far more comfortable existence than most of the world. People in vulnerable situations rarely feel safe, so brave is the only kind of faith that is even available to them. That is just one more reminder of what has always been true – safe is not the goal in the life of a believer!
At an intuitive level we already understand this. Fullness of life just doesn’t sync well with comfort, safety, and status quo. One of the bravest Christ followers I have ever met is Dr. John Perkins, the founder of CCDA. He says it more eloquently than I ever could in his book With Justice for All: A Strategy for Community Development:
“God never calls us to do something we can do in our own strength. He always calls us to get in over our heads-to move out to where we’ll have to either depend on His power or sink… Ever since God first called me, I have lived on the verge of panic. I’ve always been in over my head. I’ve always been doing things I knew I couldn’t do. I’ve been like Peter walking on the water-always on the verge of sinking because he was doing something that took more power than he had. If he took his eyes off of Jesus-off of God’s power-and looked at the storm, he would sink.”
June is internship high season at Antioch, with summer interns well on their way in ministry projects and community events. This time of year also brings another round of applications being sent from all over the nation as the start date of the Antioch Yearlong Residency Program gets closer. Since its beginning in 2011, the Residency Program has graduated 18 interns and we’re excited to begin the process of welcoming another cohort this fall.
Antioch’s Yearlong Residency Program is an opportunity for college-age, seminary and transition year students to spend twelve months exploring the world of vocational ministry.
By spending an extended season in the Antioch Internship, yearlong residents have the chance to gain meaningful ministry experience, leadership development, further education, and to invest themselves in the Antioch community.
Yearlong terms begin in the fall (late August), winter (mid-January), or summer (June). We are currently accepting applications for the fall term.
It’s an opportunity to spend a year seeking God and participating in the work of His local church. It’s a chance to discover who it is He’s made you to be. And it could be a season of serving, growing, and of learning to give your life away. Here’s what some of our current year long interns have to say:
I have learned so much about Christian authenticity, leadership, and servant-minded missions. I have been challenged to trust God, serve the needs of others, and been humbled by the wealth of caring community at Antioch Church. - David Miller, Pastoral & Community Intern
The yearlong internship at Antioch is teaching me the significance of committing to the local church. To value, love and invest in the people that make up the Body of Christ — serving alongside each other as an expression of Christ in the world. - Emily Chant, Missions Intern
The yearlong internship has been an amazing growing experience that God has used to teach me more about things I thought I knew well and has given me opportunities to do things that I knew I needed to learn much more about…I am now beginning to see that I know just enough to know that I don’t know enough, and I need to be humble enough to learn and grow. - Matt Bane, Justice Kids Intern
Questions? Get in touch with Internship Staff at email@example.com. If you’re interested in learning more or are ready to submit an application, check out our website!
Guest Post by Mark Charles
I imagine that is what my grandfather said when he was a young boy growing up near Blanco Canyon in New Mexico. I remember him telling me stories about when he used to herd sheep as a child. That is until he was ‘enrolled’ in school. At a young age my grandfather was removed from his home and sent to a boarding school. There he was forbidden from speaking Navajo, practicing Navajo traditions and culture, and even learning from his elders. He was made to pick an English name and a birthday. Everything that was ‘Navajo’ was pushed aside and replaced with what was ‘American’. He no longer was given the option of becoming a shepherd when he grew up. He was forced, at an early age, into a whole new world and this world had little value or patience for who he was or where he came from.
In an effort to give their children the best possible chance of surviving in this new world, my grandparents encouraged them in English and in their education. At the same time, they also heavily deemphasized the Navajo language and traditional way of life. As a child, I saw my grandparents nearly every day and for several years, as they grew older, I practically lived with them, sleeping at their house nearly every night. But they rarely spoke Navajo to me and only told me stories when I asked, which was not very frequent. As a result, I never considered becoming a shepherd. I never considered moving back to the Reservation. I thought I was to take the path that led deep into this ‘new world’ that lay before me. I graduated from Rehoboth Christian High School and enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). And I have to admit, upon leaving for college I had no plans of ever returning for anything more than a brief visit.
But nearly 12 years later, I moved with my family from where we were living in Denver, CO back to the Navajo Nation. Ever since I left for college and especially as I began raising a family I began to realize how important it was to understand who I was and where I came from. I wanted to understand and speak the Navajo language and to become familiar with our culture and traditional way of life. The world is becoming more and more integrated and assimilated; television, radio, the internet and the global marketplace are bringing people together in ways that were never imagined even 25 years ago. Unfortunately, as we are being drawn ‘together’ we are also being stripped of many of the things that make us different and unique; things such as language, cultural traditions and dress.
Kids on the Navajo reservation are sitting in our trailers and hogans watching TV and surfing the internet and being bombarded with the same ‘ideal’ images for body, clothing, careers and life styles as the kids in Beverly Hills, Manhattan and Miami. Our Navajo children look around and see the unemployment and depressed economy of the reservation and quickly realize that learning to herd sheep, speaking Navajo and knowing their clans will be of little value in this new global economy. So they learn the same thing my grandfather was told, that things which make us distinctive and unique are supposed to be shed and tossed aside in an effort to ‘fit in’ and succeed.
This is exactly what happened to me, and after I realized it I was incredibly grateful that I still had a chance to reverse my course and offer my children something different. So my family and I moved back to the Navajo reservation and were given an opportunity to live in a one room hogan out on a sheep camp located on a dirt road six miles off of the nearest paved road. For three years we lived there with no running water or electricity. We had a dirt floor and an outhouse about 50 yards away. Sheep, cows and horses frequently grazed right outside our door, and we lived alongside and at the mercy of the elements (wind, cold, heat, rain, snow and mud).
Since graduating from college I have been trained and began working as a computer programmer and data analyst doing technical support, database design and web programming. And while living in Denver I started doing contract work for companies remotely, outside of the Denver area. Most of the time, I would telecommute over the internet and occasionally would travel to visit my clients on site. Prior to our move back to the Navajo Nation, I tested and discovered that I could receive a digital cellular signal at our hogan. This meant I would be able to keep working for my clients; by connecting my cell phone to my laptop I could use it as a modem and get on the internet at DSL speeds (I call myself the Verizon Wireless poster child). Once I was on the internet, I could perform all of my assigned duties for the clients I was working for, or at least in 3-4 hour segments, which was the battery life of my laptop and cell phone. But I was also able to charge them in our car if a longer work session was necessary.
I found this arrangement worked out extremely well and was delighted that I could give my children the experience of growing up in a very traditional Navajo setting while still demonstrating to them that we could also actively participate in the global marketplace. I especially remember one afternoon, I was returning from herding sheep. It was the first time I took them out by myself, and it felt like a graduation of sorts. I recently had completed a computer contract, and we were beginning to wonder where my next project would come from. I had my cell phone with me and as we came up over the hill, I saw that I had received a voicemail. A previous client of mine had called to let me know they had some additional work for me and were wondering if I could begin working for them again soon. Some of the work would require travel, but much of it could be done from our hogan. I remember at that moment feeling a surge of pride, hope and purpose. What a wonderful privilege it was to be able to raise my children in such a culturally traditional and rural environment and yet still have the opportunity to work in such a technically advanced and competitive field.
About a year and a half later my family and I moved from our hogan to Fort Defiance. Our current house is still located on a dirt road, but now we do have electricity and running water. I am still doing contract work and have clients around the country that I consult for on a continual basis. My oldest son attends Dine Bi’olta, the Navajo Immersion school here in Fort Defiance. At his school, Navajo is the primary language of instruction, and he is learning daily about the culture and traditions of our people as well as math, science and reading skills. We regularly travel back to our hogan and occasionally pull him out of school so he can participate in activities with family on the sheep camp and around the community.
I see all of this as a valuable part of his education and understanding of his identity. He knows and sees that daddy works on his computer and often has meetings with people around the country and even the world. He also knows that at times I need to travel to do my work, but frequently I am able to do it from our house in Fort Defiance or even from our hogan out at the sheep camp. And this is exactly what I want him to learn. I want my son to know that he can live on our reservation, participate in a traditional way of life and spend time talking with and learning from the elders of our community while at the same time also participating, competing and succeeding in the new global marketplace.
I miss my grandparents and often wish they could have lived long enough to see the full circle I have traveled. I know my grandfather would be proud of where we live and how we are raising our children. And I think he would agree with me when I say that I am convinced that the future leaders of our Navajo people, our country and the world, will not just be those who have successfully navigated and mastered the academic and economic paths laid before them.
But they will also have a deep understanding of their own identity and a strong connection to the communities they come from. These leaders will know who they are both within, as well as separate from, the global marketplace.
They will know how to navigate through it, but will not allow it to define them. And their children will have the opportunity to say, “When I grow up I want to be a shepherd.”
United is changing the way they do their frequent flyer miles.
I just received an e-mail from the company saying they are changing their mileage program in 2015. It’s not that significant in my life, but I’m fascinated with mileage programs and I love dreaming about where airline miles could someday take me.
The e-mail detailing the change (and greater challenge to earning miles) messes with something that has been constant and exciting to me for years.
It was one small reminder the world is changing all around us.
More significantly, this past week I’ve been tuning into CNN daily to find updates on The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist group associated with al Qaeda, which has taken over Tikrit and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and is now pushing toward Baghdad. Their goal of redrawing maps and creating a new caliphate or Islamic state that encompasses parts of Syria and Iraq, is huge change.
Closer to home there have been two school shootings in the Pacific Northwest in the last two weeks—Seattle Pacific University and Reynolds High School outside of Portland. Though statistics on the number of school shootings vary based on definition, CNN reported there have been 15 school shootings since the Newtown shootings in December 2012—that makes one shooting every 5 weeks. That doesn’t count shootings at malls, movie theaters and other shooting altercations at schools.
I heard last night of a fourteen year-old who is obsessed with Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and daily searches out news stories for updates. For him, this story is scary, significant and somehow connected to his very young life.
Less dramatic, but possibly just as significant are the demographic shifts taking place across the globe.
For example, the World Economic and Social Survey released by the UN in 2013 estimates that “more than 6.25 billion people will be living in cities by 2050. Between 2000 and 2050, developing regions could add 3.2 billion new urban residents, a figure larger than the entire world’s population in 1950.”
Similarly, technology and innovation in the business sector is happening at a dizzying pace. According to futurist Jim Carroll, recent research indicates that 65 percent of current preschool students will work in a job that does not yet exist and roughly 60 percent of Apple’s revenue is currently generated by products that are less than four years old.
Alvin Toffler in his modern classic Future Shock, written in 1970, defined “future shock” as “the dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future…it is a time phenomenon, a product of the greatly accelerated rate of change in society.”
In many ways, the current rate of change in society is creating future shock for many of us.
I used to think older generations disliked change. I’ve since realized that we all struggle with change. Fourteen year olds don’t like change and I don’t like change.
How do we deal with significant and constant change in the world?
How do we deal with the ugliness in our backyard and on the other side of the world?
How do we deal with suffering in the world?
First, the constancy of God is a hallmark of Christian belief.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah says, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
Peace is something we don’t have in the midst of change, but peace is the goal and what God’s covenant insures. Over fifty times in the Old Testament we are admonished to “fear not.” Jesus spoke “peace” into the cracks of greatest stress with his disciples. Three times after his resurrection—as all was changing around his followers—Jesus said, “peace be with you.”
As in scripture, the greatest changes in the world today demand the strongest reminders of God’s faithfulness and covenant of peace.
Second, God is a god of peace who loves his creation and, likewise, we too are to be peacemakers who love God’s creation. Though God is constant, we were never promised an idyllic world in this age. Most of life isn’t going to reflect a stable small town existence with county fairs over lazy summers. Much of life is in flux and will remain in flux.
Peace is something we are to actively work for in the midst of chaos and change, as God carries out his plan for the new creation. James says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness (synonym of justice).” (James 3:18)
Peacemaking and sowing is our active response to a turning world in need of stability and hope.
Peacemaking is the response to our lament, frustration, righteous anger, and confusion. It is our way of actively spreading seeds of faith, hope and love.
You can’t settle into life.
One of the problems we encounter in contemporary culture is that there are too many fourteen year-olds and eighty year olds watching news stories and somehow thinking their ultimate peace is dependent on geo-politics in Eurasia or the small things in our own lives we can’t control—like United changing their frequent flyer program.
As St. Augustine wrote over sixteen hundred years ago in book one of his Confessions, “You, O God, have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.”
As Christians, the witness we have to a changing world is that through it all we remain anchored by our belief in the compassion of God; we fix our eyes on the author of our faith, and we lean heavy into our call to be agents of redemption, reconciliation and peace in the world.
All around today there is change—big change—and change can be scary.
The best of life, however, doesn’t result from periods of stasis devoid of change and filled with comfort. Rather, it comes as I find stability in God’s covenantal love and as I am actively participating with him in the rebuilding of shalom—suffering the pains of this world, transforming them as I’m able, and realizing in compassion that often what many are facing is more unjust than the change that’s occupying me.
 Futurist Jim Carroll: (http://www.jimcarroll.com/2011/10/keynote-feedback-some-mind-blowing-stats/#.U5ntY5RdXQk)
Photo Credit: Tamara Wytsma, with our dog Charity
What is the difference between buying a painting, building an addition on your house, or getting a dog?
The answer is simply that we would get the dog for a wholly different reason than the other things – and that is for relationship. We get a dog because it is “man’s best friend;” because it can love and be loved.
God created men and women in this world because he wanted more than just a painting that is beautiful or a remodel that is useful. Rather, God desired relationship.
Here’s why I love dogs… they remind me that at the heart of what’s meaningful in the universe is relationship.
Guest Post by Roy Goble
Jim Collins writes great business books that explore new ideas, make us think, and ultimately strengthen our management skills.
But like most management gurus, his ideas can be overly simplified. To be fair, perhaps it’s his readers who are overly simple and we miss some of the nuances of his ideas.
Today I want to explore the Collins maxim that we need to “get the right people on the bus.”
The idea is summarized this way: if you want an organization to succeed, then you have to hire the right people for the job. Put them in the right position to maximize their strengths and success is infinitely easier. In other words, get the right people on the bus.
Sounds obvious, right? Well, maybe.
After decades of managing people in both for-profit and non-profit organizations, I think the simplicity of the idea is misleading. A few reasons why below.
First, getting the “right” people on the bus is never simple. Some are beyond our networks and unreachable. Others command more money than we can afford. Like traveling with a tour group, you will never get everybody you want on the bus at the same time.
Second, we misunderstand “the right people” to mean “the best people.” But you will never have an all star team. Somebody else will always be brighter, more talented, or harder working.
Finally, and this is the most important point to me, sometimes our real job is to work with the wrong people on the bus. Collins defines success as organizational profit, which is appropriate for his books. But is that really the main goal we want to pursue?
I tend to see the people I work with as works in progress (and I’m sure they look at me the same way). We find ourselves working with people who are hurting, confused, and weak. Frankly, they can be the misfits of life. A good boss or colleague does not kick them off the bus, but will instead help them grow stronger.
Doing so takes time and energy, which (in the efficiency model of business) is a drain of resources. From a bottom line perspective such effort for the weaker team members is wasteful. Ultimately, the thinking goes, it will harm the financial achievements of the organization.
But are the financial achievements of the organization the standard we really want to embrace as success? Should we kick the misfits off the bus in an effort to attain greatness for an organization? Do we want to live by the adage that to succeed we must have “A” people around us or the whole team is compromised?
A lot of companies follow that guideline. Ruthlessly. And you can see the incredible financial results in companies like Google and Apple, to name just two.
But that’s not for me. I’d rather look at the people on my team, understand their weaknesses, and invest in their lives. I’d rather spend time serving my colleagues than serving my organization. Ten years from now I should care less about whether the organizations around me are thriving and more about whether the people around me are.
Obviously I don’t want to be naive here. A business needs to be profitable. A non-profit needs to have an impact. And I’m not pure in heart; I can and have been ruthless (which I often regret). There is a balance we must strike, and sometimes we do need to kick people off the bus.
But I don’t think we should be so cavalier about it. I doubt if Collins does either. In our race to “greatness” we tend to simplify his thoughts into a heartless matrix of efficiencies that discounts the human spirit.
Having the right people on the bus is great advice. But sometimes the right people on the bus are those who need us more than we need them. Eventually you will have to work with the “wrong” people on the bus. In my way of looking at things, being good to them is the real path to achieving greatness.
Photo Credit: Benoit Courti
Guest Post by Ben Larson
What are you giving your life to? This is a question I’ve made a motto for myself lately. The older I get, the more I realize how little time and money I will be able to leverage during my lifetime. So I’ve made this question a mantra, and I use it to evaluate new commitments, expenditures, and projects before I give away the resources God has entrusted to me. Below are a few of the questions that have been haunting me lately.
Am I giving my life to Netflix? Sometimes I get excited about a new movie or TV show and get sucked into a black hole of media consumption. It’s hard not to spend two or three hours a night (which is a part time job) watching a new addicting show, especially when Netflix makes it so easy. My evenings with my wife (or even my piano) are precious to me, and I get a little sick when I think about how much of myself I’ve given away for cheap entertainment.
Am I giving my life to my stomach? I recently developed a dairy allergy, which was traumatizing for a guy who was raised on milk, bologna sandwiches, and tacos. But in dealing with the diet change over the last month, I’ve saved hundreds of dollars and lost thirty pounds, and I’m suddenly free from chronic pain that has plagued me for years. I had no idea how unhealthy my diet was and how desperately I was throwing money at my stomach.
Am I giving my life to my gravestone? I’m an artist living in an American Idol culture, which means I’m constantly living underneath the pressure to do something important. Something that will last. Something that will change the world or at least grab its attention. Oh yeah, and get rich doing it. But then I listen to my friends talk about drawing or singing with their kids, and it makes me wonder if I’ve bought into a cultural misunderstanding about the purpose of art. Or life. And I wonder if having a really cool gravestone and leaving behind an epic Instagram feed is worth the effort.
I’m trying to be better about evaluating the patterns I allow in my life, both at work and at home. And I’ve had to be ruthless with some things I love. But even after a month, I can say I’ve never felt so intentional about my relationships with my family, friends, and God. I think I might be onto something.
How do you think that question would transform your life? What are you giving your life to?
I was recently asked what Christian books have had the biggest impact on my life. Like many people who enjoy reading, I can trace a lot of my thinking and worldview to a few key books that I read at just the right time or were simply so powerful they forever shaped my thinking. Below was my response to the Top 5 Christian Books that have changed my life:
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, by C.S. Lewis – This was C.S. Lewis’ favorite among his own writings. He wrote it later in life and it shows a deep understanding of our self-deception and the ways in which self-interest often masquerades as love of others. It’s a fictional myth that may lull you to sleep a bit until you get to the last third of the book and realize that Lewis has been setting you up the whole time. The back third of the book is some of the most genius thinking and writing that I’ve ever come across. Especially if you are an intuitive personality, you don’t want to miss experiencing this book at least once in your life.
Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, by Henri Nouwen – Simply put, there is no other book that better articulates the felt quality of loneliness as the first third of this short work by Nouwen. If you are a single adult, struggle with loneliness, or want to have a deeper understanding of Christian community then this book is a must read.
Fear and Trembling, by Søren Kierkegaard – This short treatise on the story of Abraham & Isaac from the book of Genesis has shaped my understanding of faith more than any other book. In fact, I could easily say no work outside of the Bible has so shaped my adult life as this one. Kierkegaard, a Christian philosopher and one of the fathers of existentialism, can be a bit challenging to read so make sure you are committed to reading this before you start. If you stick with it till the end, it will change your life.
Christ the Center, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer – This book was compiled after Bonhoeffer’s death from the notes of students who were part of his lectures on Christology at the underground seminary at Finkenwalde. It’s an obscure book, short and easy to read, in which Bonhoeffer changes the starting point of how we try to understand Jesus from speculation to submission. The philosophical turn Bonhoeffer employs has profoundly influenced my ability to articulate a view on the authority of scripture that begins in faith and submission as a way of moving toward understanding.
Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, by Dallas Willard – There are a lot of great works on prayer, such as Madame Guyon’s Experiencing God Through Prayer and some of the more popular work by Philip Yancey, but no book on prayer I’ve read has dealt as directly with my desires, doubts and fears as poignantly as Dallas Willard’s treatise does. The late Dallas Willard taught philosophy at USC and has a way of making distinctions, clarifying concepts, and demonstrating truths that empower and equip a person to understand and take hold of all the promises on prayer discussed in the New Testament.
Do you have any titles to add to the top Christian book list? If so, feel free to add your recommendations and thoughts in the comment section below.
Photo Credit: RJones, Creative Commons
Guest Post by Paul Louis Metzger
How manifest was Jesus’ destiny as King of God’s kingdom? Not very. Unlike America’s destiny which was proclaimed or made manifest to the nations as exceptional and second to none, Jesus’ kingdom was not very visible or exceptional by human standards. After all, John the Baptist only knows Jesus is the Messiah because of the Spirit’s descent as a dove upon Jesus at his baptism of repentance in the wilderness (See John 1:33).
A dove? A baptism of repentance? In the wilderness? (See Luke 3:1-22) It is not how I would make my introduction if I were destined to be king. I would make sure my destiny was made manifest to all in very clear terms, kind of like Caesar who paraded the Pax Romana in triumphal procession or American General and later President Andrew Jackson, who championed American exceptionalism in his military exploits in the Floridas (See the discussion of Jackson in this article on manifest destiny).
To me, it is striking that Luke’s Gospel portrays John’s ministry and Jesus’ baptism against the backdrop of the Roman Empire and its regional governmental representatives as well as the high priesthood (Luke 3:1-2). The Word of God does not come to John in the city, but in the wilderness (Luke 3:2). It is not that the city is evil in and of itself, for God’s prophets of old and Jesus himself loved Jerusalem in spite of its rebellion against God (Luke 13:34). Rather, it is that God often works initially outside centers of power (outside as well as inside cities) to bring spiritual reform to a generation.
What kind of spirit brings spiritual renewal and lasting peace? The spirit of the age, whether it be the Pax Romana (Peace of Rome) and Pax Americana (Peace of America), that often rule by retributive power and pride, or the Spirit of God who rules redemptively in grace, gentleness, and humility? The Spirit of God descended on Jesus as a dove. As with the significance of the dove in Genesis 8:11 and Matthew 10:16, the dove in Luke 3 signifies peace, innocence, and gentleness.
What does the Spirit as a dove signify for Jesus’ kingdom mission? What does the Spirit do? How does the Spirit operate? The Spirit who descended upon Jesus as a dove was the same Spirit through whom Jesus was conceived and born of the virgin peasant girl, Mary (Luke 1:35), rather than by Caesar Augustus’ wife, Julia Augusta, or JFK’s Jackie Kennedy. It is the same Spirit through whom Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil in hunger and weakness, not strength (Luke 4:1-2). Lastly, it is this very same Spirit who rested upon Jesus to liberate the poor and needy and welcome the outsiders into his kingdom (Luke 4:16-29) rather than exclude them and weigh them down in despair with the oppressive burden of nationalism and empire.
All too often today talk of being missional reflects a different spirit than that of the Spirit who descended on Jesus as a dove in the wilderness. Yes, the Spirit is creative, but not showy. Certainly, the Spirit descended at Pentecost through tongues of fire and caused those gathered there to speak in various tongues. But the Spirit proclaimed the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth (See Acts 2), not Ricky Bobby’s eight pound six ounce baby Jesus of infinite consumer appeal or Rambo of blood and gore glory. The Spirit does not showcase justice, either, where the poor are made the victims of celebrity charity. Rather, the poor as well as the lame and also repentant tax collectors and prostitutes are those among whom Jesus lives. They are his friends.
Who do you and I befriend in our missional sojourns? What destiny are we seeking to manifest? How do we discern the Spirit of Jesus’ kingdom from the empire spirit of the age? Which spirit fills us as we engage in mission?
Guest Post by Justin Kron
Pentecost. Confession: It’s not one of those days on the Christian calendar that I’ve given much attention to. The day often comes and goes without any tangible acknowledgement. Maybe the same is true for you too.
As a follower of Jesus I certainly understand the theological significance of it. It’s the day in biblical history when we recognize that the Holy Spirit—one of the three persons of the Godhead—made a special appearance 50 days following Jesus’ death and forever altered the way we interact with our Creator and He with us.
Nevertheless, Pentecost does not get near the attention that Christmas and Easter get, which is kind of ironic considering that Jesus had a lot to say about the immediate and eternal benefits of having the Holy Spirit in our lives, including the incredibly radical statement that He—the Spirit—would not just be with us, but in us.
I’m still trying to get my head around the practical implications of what it means to have the presence of God in me, but I do know this—if I had any reason to believe that God was obsessed about restoring humanity’s broken relationship with Him by sending His Son to be with us, then He’s even more obsessed about doing so by sending His Spirit to be in us.
Bottom line: Pentecost is first and foremost about relationship.
If I’ve learned anything about the God of the Bible it is that He is consumed with being in an unadulterated relationship with His beloved, just as He was with Adam and Eve before things went south because of their decision to rebel against the guidelines He had given them.
The story of the Bible is one that acknowledges that God ordained that those who live in the world should not only submit to their Creator, but to His guidelines and instructions for living. Doing so leads to life and freedom. Not doing so leads to death and bondage.
It’s the same reason why it’s always a good idea for someone to learn the rules of the road before getting behind the wheel of an automobile. Driving a vehicle without knowing the laws or deciding that red means go and green means stop is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes I wish I could write my own laws and force others to follow them (e.g., slow drivers should not be allowed on the road when I’m on the road), but that’s a recipe for disaster too, so I’ve succumbed to the reality that it can’t be my way or the highway.
Not only have I succumbed to this reality, but I’ve embraced it as a necessity that enables me to reach my intended destination safely.
In Jewish tradition it is understood that Pentecost, which is the name that Greek speaking Jews in the first century called the pilgrimage festival of Shavuot (Leviticus 23:15-22), was not only an opportunity to thank God for the wheat harvest, but for the gift of the Torah—God’s “rules of the road”—that He gave to them at Mt. Sinai.
The Bible doesn’t explicitly make this connection between Sinai and Shavuot, but the circumstantial evidence is incredibly strong, including the fact that the Israelites arrived to Mt. Sinai during the month of Sivan when Shavuot is celebrated (Exodus 19:1). They also declared at that time that Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Another compelling indicator of the Sinai to Shavuot connection is found in Acts 2:41 following the Apostle Peter’s challenge to the people in Jerusalem on that day to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit by repenting of their corrupt ways, accepting the forgiveness provided through the sacrificial death of Jesus at Calvary, and declaring their allegiance to God by being immersed in water. We read:
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. [Side Note: Archeologists have discovered 48 mikvaot (ritual baths) near the main entrance to the Temple mount in Jerusalem, which is most certainly where these baptisms would have taken place.]
The fact that about three thousand embraced Peter’s message on Shavuot/Pentecost is the primary indicator of the Sinai to Shavuot connection, because in Exodus 32:28 we are told that a similar number—about three thousand—died at that time because they chose to play by their own rules and follow their own path rather than follow God’s instructions.
Pentecost thus becomes one more reminder that we all have a choice to make: Embrace the Word of God and the One who put flesh on it (John 1:14) and we will experience life, or reject the Word of God and we will experience a U-Haul load of stress, anguish, despair, isolation, and even death.
I’ve been on both paths and time and time again I have experienced what God revealed through the Prophet Isaiah:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (55:8-9)
So whatever Pentecost has been to you, I pray that today, and every day thereafter, will become your Pentecost moment; a moment of surrendering yourself to the ways and presence of God that lead to and produce life.
It’s one of the most exciting times of the year at Antioch – the summer interns have arrived.
Before planting Antioch, I worked for almost a decade with college and singles as well as spending several summers in leadership at a youth camp in the San Bernardino mountains outside of Los Angeles. The internship idea was a simple one to provide a platform for Antioch to stay engaged with college students and for college students to have a life changing summer – much like summer camp counselor experiences were for me.
We began the internship at almost the same time that we planted Antioch in an attempt to offer a progressive context where students could gain hands on experience in ministry from a new and creative church plant in the heart of the Northwest – the most unchurched part of the country.
The internship is in its eight year and, including this summer’s 18 interns, we’ve hosted 153 interns since 2007 including 18 year long residents, undergrad and graduate students, from 51 colleges and universities around the country. The interns help keep up the energy, they minister, ignite and champion the mission and vision of the local church. Our community loves pouring into the interns and the interns also make a lasting impact on Antioch and locally here in Bend.
Welcome to the Summer Intern Class of 2014
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