|Posted by danaduanecraft on July 16, 2013 at 8:15 PM|
I have found that the, "Great Revival," of Latin America, which everyone said would even eclipse the Reformation, hasn't panned out as expected! A great many have, thankfully, left the Roman Catholic Church to join Evangelical circles...yet they are now listed among the growing number of the, "Non-religious," as they found their way into congregations where the pastors is either ill-prepared & undereducated, or an opportunists looking to turn a quick Quetzal. Painfully, I have come to hear a common chant down here which goes, "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life!" Aside from the obvious theological problem(s) of this mentality is that a flock cannot be sustained merely upon the miraculous only; as the supernatural occurrences, though real, are all too infrequent! Thus, after a year or two, the famished congregants flee the church broken hearted & embittered. And just a short distance down the path, from which they walked “out” on Rome, they arrive in the midst of a Spiritual wasteland. A desert of lost souls searching inside every new-age fad, or as in the case in Central America, even going back to a romanticized pagan heritage of the once mighty Maya.
This rapid, “Neo-Pentecostal,” movement, as I refer to it, has quickly placed a great many men behind the pulpit who are ill-equipped, though many are without doubt, authentically called. Yet, because of this lack of having so few church leaders having spent any time under the roof of a Seminary, or even holding any thirst for any sort of real Biblical study, an overabundance of great heresies have entered the Guatemalan church! Let me add, the "health-and-wealth" gospel spewing out of the States with the likes of Copeland, Hagin & Hinn has found very fertile soil here in the Land which I love! We now even have our own version of the leader of the whole Oprah crowd-Joel Osteen, in a prosperity preacher by the name of Cash Luna. “How” could anyone go wrong with a name, which in Spanish translates into [the] Money Moon!
Granted, Christianity has now over two millennia’s worth of rich history behind us. And, to the surprise of those of the far-left (and now the far-right), along with other critics, the Christian church has brought with it countless blessings to those lands in which it has taken root. Far more “good” than “bad.” But as with anything involving fallen man, there will inevitably be sin running within its veins. However, just take a look at how Christians worship across the globe…it is as varied as the skin tones & the languages the hymns are sung in. Now contrast this kaleidoscopic-reality with the picture most people paint of the indoctrinating and dehumanizing image of the Christian missionary.
The reality of a “Global Christianity” is far, far removed from those darken ideas perpetrated by the lost. It is a beautiful image, way beyond words, to think of this grand world…a gem of God’s creation, all worshiping our Creator together in our own ways. Anglicans and Baptists, Methodists and Greek Orthodox, and be it from the towering cathedrals of Europe, thatch huts in Swaziland or from store-front churches in Guatemala City, all of us as true Brothers and Sisters. As each culture adds its own layer upon the intricate fabric which is the living faith of Christ we must take great care and go to the utmost of extremes to insure that this living tapestry remains strong, orthodox and true. And the only way my son and my son’s son will still have this lively faith to build their own lives upon is if we, in the here and now, do all we can to be true teachers of the Gospel and undertake the long-term task of disciple making within the correct doctrine, the common and true apostolic doctrine from the times of old. If not, then in places where the people’s faith is the strongest, in Third-World, then the likeness of Jesus will end up replacing the face of Coke-a-Cola’s red and white Santa Clause for the next generation.
|Posted by danaduanecraft on July 1, 2013 at 3:55 PM|
is Justice? By Pastor Dana Duane Craft
Coming to Guatemala, Central America, has poignantly shown me how far the world has traveled from the Biblical view of what is, "justice," for all those who have been lovingly created in the image of God himself. Why are so many ignored, uncared for and un-ministered to? Let's look at what the Scriptures tell us about practicing justice.
Saint Luke, the 1st century physician, wielded his stylus like a 21st century surgeon. Precisely choosing each word, each clause and each event to carefully illustrate the Ministry of our risen savior, Jesus Christ (Luke 1:1-4). In his continuum to his gospel; I believe the two were separated solely due to the cumbersomeness of carrying such a large scroll; the book of Acts, He paints the picture of the early Christian church and its struggles, both external and internal. And with the same precession as his earlier book Saint Luke's eye is fiercely focused upon Christ's overarching guidance and eternal perspective in the birthing of the human institution which represents our Messiah's earthly body on Earth.
At the heart of this "body" is the concept of justice. It is not merely an "idea" or even a philosophy but actually a way of life. With this being said, I feel it was no accident that Luke refers all the way back to a single verse containing a significant statement on justice presented in Deuteronomy 15:4, when describing these beginnings of the community of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 4:34-35 he tells us that, "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostle’s feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” Now let us compare that to the verse in Deuteronomy, "[But] there will be no poor among you ..."
This tiny Old Testament text carries a greater "punch" then it may seem at first. Within this single statement the Lord is declaring that (if only) his people would listen and obey Him that no permanent poverty could exist in their midst. This represents the weight of true social righteousness (justice) which expresses the Lord's love for the vulnerable and His zeal to see poverty eliminated.
Proverbs 19:7 and 14:31 are bookends to a lot of theology on our Lord's view of poor and marginalized…those who most often are left to eat only of the fruits of injustice. The first of the verses tells us that if we are kind to the poor, God will see it as if we are being kind to Him. Whereas the second verse tells us that if we cover the poor in contempt we are actually showing contempt towards God. “In proverbs we can see God identifying with the poor symbolically. But in the [birth & death] of Jesus Christ we see God identifying with the poor literally," Dr. Timothy. Keller.
In the incarnation of the Creator of the universe we can see a God who so cares about justice so much so that He was born in a feed trough among farm animals. He lived among the poor and outcast of society. To close out His earthly ministry, the Christ entered God’s chosen city by riding on a borrowed donkey. He ate His last meal in a borrowed room and upon His death He was laid in a borrowed tomb. At the cross, unjustly hung, He was penniless and had no earthly possessions except for a single robe, which His executioners cast lots for.
Clearly I am not suggesting that anyone needs to go to that extreme (but why not be that courageous) but all of us need to carefully examine “how” we are dispensing justice to those who are unwanted, unloved or even unneeded. I began thinking about my personal relationship with practicing justice when it came to moving to the mission field of Guatemala. After nearly 20 years of pushing my professional career I had come to "own" a great many expensive toys and countless other items which came to actually "own" me. When it came to shipping everything to Guatemala, and paying extremely high rates, per pound, I quickly discovered how much of my life, my time, treasure, and talent I had invested will inevitably just become trash. This lesson reminded me of the dire need to invest my life only in eternal things. Maybe in investing more of my life in eternity, I can be my neighbor’s answered prayer for his daily bread (Matthew 6:11).
Speaking of, “our daily bread,” while growing up, I always felt telling God to, “give us our daily bread," was extremely arrogant and plainly just rude. After all, who of us can demand anything of the Lord? But now that I'm much older and (hopefully wiser) I can see it as a simple and humble prayer where we ask God not for abundance but just enough for the present day. Remember the manna in the wilderness?
Whether or not we want to admit it, we are a mirror image of the Israelites wondering in the desert ... if God doesn't provide for our daily needs, both physically and spiritually, we will not rise with the sun the following morning.
My wife and I have been overwhelmed with the dire needs which seem to be everywhere here in these beautiful mountains of the Maya and we are but one small family. Yet in abandoning ourselves to the Lord's purpose we are confident that He will use our hands & feet as His own and that we actually will become the answered prayer for those in need. Yet we need your help. Yes, donations are our ministry's fuel. Yet, your prayers are what truly, “open the windows of heaven,” to allow the blessings to pour out. Please lift up our family in prayer…that we may do His will and not our own. And ask the Lord to put upon your own heart exactly “where” and “how” you can help your neighbor…how you can be just. AMEN
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