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  • Justin Long 9:00 am on May 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    If I tweet with the tongues of men or of angels 

    If I tweet with the skill of great men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

    If I have tweet prophetically, with great nuggets of wisdom, or with faith that can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

    If my tweets raise tons of money, and I give all of it–and even myself over to hardship, that I may instagram it–but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    Are my tweets patient, as love is?

    Are my tweets kind, as love is?

    Are my tweets full of envy for the followers, or RTs, or even possessions of others?

    Are my tweets boastful?

    Are my tweets proud?

    Do my tweets dishonor others?

    Are my tweets seeking more things, more followers, more money for myself?

    Am I easily provoked to tweet angrily about others?

    Are my tweets maintaining a history of wrongs, of scandals, of past responses?

    Do my tweets delight in evil, or rejoice in the truth?

    Do I protect others by my tweets (or refusal to tweet?)

    Are my tweets always trusting, and asking/waiting for the other to clarify?

    Are my tweets always hopeful that something better will happen?

    Do my tweets endure and persevere?

    Love never fails.

    Facebook will cease, Twitter will be stilled, Google will pass away.

    For we know in part, and we prophesy in part… but when completeness comes, the part disappears.

    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    Now, these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

     
  • Justin Long 10:37 am on May 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    When we disagree about church (or anything) 

    The kind of church that reaches unbelievers is not always (or often) the kind of church that reaches believers.

    So what happens, when one person wants to start a group, effort or church that reaches unbelievers, and those from an existing church challenge him (or her)?

    “Who gave you the right to do that? Why are you doing it that way? That’s the wrong way! You shouldn’t do that.”

    There are many potential responses, but this may be the best one:

    “Why don’t we study what the Bible has to say about it, together?”

    Can everyone make disciples? What Scriptures would you study?

    Can everyone baptize new believers? What Scriptures would you study?

    Can everyone give/take communion? What Scriptures would you study?

    Often we make knee-jerk, reflexive statements (“You shouldn’t do that” or “Of course I can do that”) without going to the Scriptures and studying it out.

    (Going to the Scriptures and studying it out does not equate to reading someone else’s one page devotional, or their commentary on the Scriptures. It means actually reading the Scriptures themselves, praying together, and discussing what they mean and how they can be applied.)

    Not everyone will agree with everyone’s interpretation of Scripture. For example, consider 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Do these Scriptures suggest that an elder in the church must be married and have children? Does this automatically disqualify anyone who is not married, or does not have children? What then does this say about those who choose to live unmarried (as Paul urged, 1 Corinthians 7), or those who are childless or barren? What about the widowed?

    If the best way is to study Scriptures together, how do you handle disagreement? What would you do?

     
  • Justin Long 10:29 am on May 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    The kind of church  

    The kind of church that reaches unbelievers and the unevangelized will likely not be understood nor appreciated by those who are already believers and trying to attract their children to church. 

    In fact, the forms of church that teach unbelievers and help unbelievers follow Christ and reach other believers… May be felt as invalid forms of church by longtime believers!

    “Who gave you permission to start groups? To make disciples? To share the gospel? To take communion together?” Many reasons for this conflict, but it is not abnormal for it to happen. Expect it and prepare for it. 

     
  • Justin Long 9:54 pm on May 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Green grass and tornado chasers 

    If I wasn’t a missionary researcher, I often think I’d be a tornado chaser.

    I love the idea of chasing tornadoes – the thrill, the adventure, the awesome power of winds blowing around, the tornadic wedge, the math of meterology.

    I don’t like a tornado’s darker side – the losses in lives and property damage. But I, like so many others, are awed by the awesomeness of nature, and I think it’d be cool to be close to the danger.

    The fact is, however, I’d bet chasing tornadoes – like anything – is hard work. It’s not just about the thrill. You have to need a reason to chase them – a reason that’s important to others.

    Part of the problem of the “grass is greener in another line of work” challenge is this: once you get over the fence and into the other field, you find out how much is involved in mowing that grass, in caring for that grass. Suddenly what seemed so thrilling isn’t so thrilling after all.

    The challenge is finding what it is you want to do, what you’re shaped to do, what you’re called to do, what you’re designed to do – and then pushing into it. Pursuing it. Becoming the very best at it. I’m not so sure I could be very good at chasing tornadoes.

    You can see an exciting thing to do, but once you get into it, you’re going to find out how tough it is. Once you push through it, though–that’s when you find that you’re both good at it, and you love it. If it’s not something that (a) people need/want, (b) you like to do, and (c) you can do well – then you’re not doing what you’re shaped to do.

    This is one reason why I don’t think we should make “missionary” into a completely separate calling – as if you can’t be “missionary” who is a “teacher” or a “doctor.” There’s no reason why that thing you’re good at can’t be a way to bless others and make disciples at the same time. (At the same time, don’t equate “missionary” with “evangelist” or “disciple-maker” – we are all called to be witnesses, evangelists and disciplemakers, but not everyone is called to be a missionary, at least in my line of thinking.) A big part of making disciples is helping people to learn how to follow Jesus in every day life, whether you’re a pilot, a pharmacist, a pastor, a podiatrist, or anything else.

     
  • Justin Long 8:09 am on May 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: authority, Bible, , , process   

    The Holy Spirit (should be) driving 

    This morning, Eddie Arthur wrote “Who is driving,” a prophetic post (in the old sense of the prophet speaking truth to power sort of thing).

    He wrote in part:

    The problem is, that from where I’m sitting, many Western agencies are trying to control the development of World Christianity; either by uncritically importing teaching and methods from the West which are not directly relevant in the new context, or (more sinisterly) by removing funding when Christians in other parts of the world don’t conform to what is expected of them.

    This is a concern of mine as well. We at Beyond don’t use funds to control (we largely don’t extend funds at all, and it’s partly to avoid this). I (and we) want to avoid doing this either intentionally or accidentally.

    This is one of the reasons why I think the Discovery Bible Study idea is important. With the DBS, the answer to any question is not found with me, or with one of the missionary workers – it’s searched for in the text.

    The best story exemplifying this that I’ve recently seen is in “The Riverbanks of a Movement” (Steve Smith, Mission Frontiers, January 2014).

    In CPMs, what is essential is that you give emerging believers, churches and leaders a way to hear God speak in his Word (authority), a value to obey whatever he says (obedience) including a willingness to self-correct the movement no matter the consequences. Scriptural authority and obedience are the twin riverbanks to keep the movement biblical.

    The story of the Ina churches and their question, “I would like to know if this means we have to stop beating our wives?” makes for both insightful and inspirational reading in this regard. “What does the Bible say?” is the question to ask – and then don’t say what the Bible says; let them read it and discover it for themselves.

    The answer to “Who is driving” ought to be – “The Holy Spirit.” Anytime the answer is “I am,” problems will crop up in the long run.

    (Try this – “What does the Scripture say?” – in your own small group. You might get some interesting results.)

     
  • Justin Long 3:13 pm on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , multiplication, rapid reproduction, scale   

    Exit ramps and extinction events 

    Small groups and Bible studies in Western churches tend to offer easy entry and exit points.

    Limited-run Bible studies (think Beth Moore studies), or 8-to-12 week study groups around a particular topic.

    These kinds of things are good for what they do–but what is the long term effect?

    If I don’t like the people in this group, it’s easy for me to leave them in a few weeks.

    Within a few on/off cycles, I find the people who are most like me, who I click with, and then I just stick with them.

    I avoid the messiness of life on life discipleship, and rarely encounter viewpoints different from mine, or things I don’t like.

    The other challenge: limited-run Bible studies are less conducive to movements, because they have extinction built into their DNA.

    If we want movements that scale to the whole of an area, we may have to make our groups easy to enter but harder to leave.

     
    • Chuck Huckaby 3:25 pm on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      They also don’t have real goal in mind – they are piecemeal. I’ve never seen one with an obedience orientation or accountability and so don’t promote a culture of obedience or challenge the culture of passivity that exists in churches.

    • Brent Lindquist 2:02 am on May 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      If we want movements that scale to the whole of an area, we may have to make our groups easy to enter but harder to leave.

      At face value, I appreciate and understand this. But…it sounds way too much like a kind of cultic phenomenon. I am not sure I have an answer for this. Perhaps, a commitment on the part of leadership to connect to the departers and try and understand the reason, and try and help them to reconnect elsewhere. Then again, that probably will have similar reults in that the person finds a more homogenous group. Interesting thoughts.

      • Justin Long 7:53 am on May 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        That’s true, and being cultic is clearly something I don’t want to advocate. True group discipleship (where there is no one leader) is far safer, obviously. In one of the ActBeyond regions, what they do is: no single leader can lead the group more than three sessions. In other group what they do is: rotate group leadership (the group “leader” is just a facilitator who asks 7 standard questions to which the group responds). The instant you get a “I-say-you-do” leader, you’re itching for trouble. “I-teach-you-seriously-consider” is not very far off from that kind of leader, too…

  • Justin Long 9:00 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: death, life   

    Graduations 

    A lot of people in my social media timelines have graduations in their families. They are posting pictures and offering congratulations and reminiscing about the day when the graduating senior was born. It’s a time for happiness.

    For our extended family, another sort of graduation happened this morning. My great-uncle, who was a kind of grandfather to me, has been suffering, dealing with, enduring cancer for not quite a year. They found it very late. He got to the graduation day of one of his granddaughters last night. This morning he had a graduation of his own.

    My youngest daughter Abby asked if I was sad that “Daddy J,” as I always knew him, was gone. I told her yes, I was sad–but not the kind of terrible sadness that comes from a shocking death that cuts a life short, the grief for time together lost. This was the kind of sadness one feels perhaps at a graduation.

    At graduations we reflect on the time, and we miss the child we held in our arms on the way home from the hospital. But we are proud of all that they have become. We know they have a grand future before them, and really that their life is just beginning. And it’s not like we won’t see them again.

    He was already, as with all graduates, looking forward to the next stage. He told his hospice nurse he was growing his wings and “getting ready to fly outta here.” Others said he spent times staring up at the ceiling and talking to people only he could see. That is the sad bit of this separation: there are many waiting for him there, and they will go on and have years of fellowship and shared adventures we will miss out on, just as we will here–as if he went and lived on the other side of the world for a few years, and we will join him later. That’s sad for us now, but it’s not an endless sadness.

    So for those of us in a time of many graduations, hold tight to the hope. A million years from now this brief separation will be a distant memory, but we will still be alive. What a glorious thing we look forward to!

     
    • Liz Adleta 10:45 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Justin, what a beautiful way of expressing this! Remembering you and your family as you say your good-byes.

  • Justin Long 2:19 pm on May 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Note: I am once again trying out the P2 theme. This bombed on my old hosting service, but I’ve since moved, so I’m trying it out again. I really like the density of posts, and the presence of comments on the home page. You can use “Reply” above each post to make a comment.

     
  • Justin Long 9:00 am on May 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Simple vs. Complex Culture Crossing; or, we are not all missionaries 

    In a Facebook conversation the other day, Brian Considine asked, about the term missionary,

    Lots of stigma too. Maybe it is meant to become archaic since it is not a Biblical term? In a diaspora world, everyone could literally be a “missionary” if it means a strategic cross-cultural worker. Do we really need a special class of Christian or do we need many more Christians engaged in disciplining the nations, in every social sphere, some of whom might be right across the street?

    Thinking further about this, I remembered the many times people refer to the “cross-cultural nature” of certain things we are all commanded to do (witnessing, evangelizing or proclaiming good news, and disciple making). Think of the cultures we nearly always have to cross:

    • from male to female, or from female to male
    • across generational boundaries, from younger to older or from older to younger
    • across economic boundaries, from people of one strata to people of another
    • across political boundaries, between people of different political persuasion
    • across educational boundaries, between less/more educated
    • across employment boundaries, between people of different occupations
    • across single to married or married to single boundaries
    • across criminal boundaries, from people with pasts or presents to people without
    • across the boundary from people who converted young to people who are just now being reached

    When we say that “you take a meal to an unsaved neighbor and you are instantly ‘a missionary,'” this is sort of the boundary crossing that people are referring to. And, yes, these are definitely boundaries that must be crossed. These natural “in-ethnic-group boundaries” can prevent the Gospel from seeping to 100% of the people group.

    The word “missionary” doesn’t appear in the Bible, so there’s no definition there we can go back to. The role it’s linked to is apostle, which comes from the Greek word apostolos, from apostellein (to send away), which itself is from apo- + stellein to send. An apostle is one who is sent (not a special rank), and a missionary is one who is on a mission (having been sent). So we can link ‘missionary’ to ‘apostle.’

    It’s odd that we should say “all Christians are missionaries” when we do not say, for example, “all Christians are pastors” or “all Christians are apostles” or “all Christians are teachers.”

    I think “missionary” is a special function, not a universal command. “Missionary,” to me, ought to be used for the role of one who is (1) sent (which captures the idea of the apostle) and (2) who translates and plants the Gospel within the target culture such that it expands throughout that culture’s natural relationships, and possibly leaps out of that culture to others.

    We are all to be witnesses, willing to stand for what we have seen and known and been taught. We are all to be disciple-makers, even if only in our own homes. We are all evangelists, ready to share the Good News of the Hope we have been given. But we are not all missionaries, just as we are not *all* pastors or teachers or the like. And that’s okay.

     
    • Charles 4:21 pm on May 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Justin. Good and clear explanation.

    • justinhoca 8:50 am on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      So, the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28 doesn’t apply to all? Note the command is to make disciples of “all nations,” which requires cross-cultural work. Did that not apply to all within earshot? Since those standing there did not completely fulfill that mandate, don’t we interpret this to mean we are still fulfilling it today? If I look at your bulleted list of cultures we all have to cross, don’t we all fit your definition in the second to last paragraph?

      • Justin Long 11:31 am on May 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I think my point was not clear! :) Matthew 28 applies to everyone. We all make disciples of people near us. And anyone can be sent (missionary, apostle). But not everyone IS sent far distances (the missionary or apostolic function) and making disciples here of our neighbors is not the same as the missionary function which is intentionally sent to a place to see everyone within that place reached. Seeing everyone in your city reached is different than reaching your personal oikos

  • Justin Long 2:00 pm on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Friday Futures: long-range iris scanning, personal drones follow you, more 

    facial recognition

    The need for strategic foresight

    Toward 2025:

    1960s: companies/computer
    70s: computers/company
    80s: /office
    90s: /home
    2000s: internet/home
    10s: smartphones/person
    20s: chips/garment
    @benedictevans

    Artificial Intelligence

    Automated Automotive

    Economy

    Social Photography

    Surveillance

    Drones

    3D Printing

    Virtual Reality

     

     
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