Teaching Dignity in a Culture of Social Oppression

Teaching Dignity in a Culture of Social Oppression

In January my wife Miho and I had the opportunity to travel to India for the second time to teach at Life Theological Seminary in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state of Odisha. Known for its tribal traditions and Hindu temples, Odisha can be a dangerous place for missionaries.  It is where missionary Dr. Graham Staines and his sons were murdered by Hindu Bajrang Dal fundamentalists in 1999.

Twenty years later, Odisha remains both a fertile ground for evangelism and a hostile environment toward Christians. According to state law: “No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any person from one religious faith to another by the use of force or by inducement or by any fraudulent means nor shall any person abet any such conversion” (The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967).  

Finding the Rest of Ministry Leadership

Finding the Rest of Ministry Leadership

In the Gospel of Mark, we hear the incredible story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Leading up to this event, Jesus and His disciples were in the midst of intensive training and ministry.  What did Jesus promise the disciples after a very busy season of healing and teaching? Get away and rest. Did they get it? No and yes.

In Mark 6:31, the author gives a key detail to illustrate the disciples’ need for rest: they had no leisure even to eat (ESV). This already-weary group stepped away with Jesus for rest only to be greeted by another large crowd. And what was their concern with this crowd? Send them away for food. We can’t host them.

Passion’s Provocation and Purpose

Passion’s Provocation and Purpose

We know how easy it is to make something into an idol. Whether money, power, success, status, happiness or a loved one. Our hearts are “idol factories” as John Calvin observed, always seeking to worship something that we have deemed worthy of devotion. At an early age we experience pain or joy and in response we make vows of devotion. “I will never experience that terrible thing again.” Or “I will have a spouse that makes me happy like that when I grown up!” Or “I will have financial security so that I can provide more opportunities for my kids.” Or, and especially for those of us in ministry, “I will never sell out or loose my edge and my passion for this ministry!”

Why Can’t I Hear the Angels Sing? The Twelve Labors of Christmas

Why Can’t I Hear the Angels Sing? The Twelve Labors of Christmas
  1. List everything you think people in your life want that will bring them ultimate joy.

  2. Try to find these items cheaper (anywhere) by checking all the search engines and local merchants within a five-mile radius.

  3. Stop and drag out all the decorating stuff. Trim the tree to surprise your spouse. Put all the boxes away to keep house tidy.

  4. Maintain a good attitude.

Closing The Pastoral Gap

Closing The Pastoral Gap

Ministry leaders are particularly vulnerable to feeling compelled to present a sparkling “public ministry persona.” It’s not easy to admit that the things we promote (desiring God, pursuing godliness, loving others, etc.) are sometimes the very things with which we struggle. If Papa John ate and enjoyed another brand of pizza would he own up to it? Do we expect financial advisors to disclose previous investment mistakes? Probably not.