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Integral Mission

Integral mission, which leads to holistic transformation, can be defined as follows:
Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Micah Declaration (2001)
Prior to that the Lausanne covenant had said something similar:
We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity …
Recent posts

Rescuing Paul from Individualism: what Romans 6 and 7 are really talking about

'The book of Romans wasn't written by Luther. The book of Romans wasn't even written by Calvin. The book of Romans was written by Paul, and Paul was a Jew, and we Jews, don't like Gentiles!' Martin Goldsmith, All Nations Christian College, 1991-92.
We are so used to reading Romans through the eyes of Luther and Calvin that we forget that the reason it was written was quite different from the issues those venerable theologians faced. The problem, from a Jewish perspective, is that the Gentiles were considered to be so impure as to be beyond the bounds of God's saving grace. They were the uncircumcised, sexually immoral, idolatrous, unclean people who couldn't possibly by part of God's saving plan. But God's plan did include them (Gen 12:1-3), and Isaiah, amongst others, prophesied that 'all nations' would be included in temple worship (Isa 56:6-8). In this he was correct. Jesus' resurrection and ascension changed everything. No longer was …

The Early Believers

One thing that sermons about the early believers at the end of Acts 2 frequently miss is that they were mostly Jews! Albeit many of them living outside Judea. The god-fearers among them (if there were any) were essentially converts to Judaism from the nations. Most of them were Jews who had lived outside Judea so long their mother tongue was Parthian or Arabic or Median (Persian) or whatever. One proof of the fact they were Jews is that they met daily in the temple courtyard, or colonnades, as well as in their homes:
'And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts' 2:46
The book of Acts shows the fulfilment of Jesus' own post-resurrection prophecy that the good news would be preached to the nations, starting in Jerusalem, then spreading out to all Judea, Samaria, and then to the non Semitic nations in the 'ends of the earth' (Acts 1.8).
So when the Samaritans receive the Holy Spir…

Sometimes We Need to be Forced to do the Right Thing

So, I had to mention the elephant in the room. Corona virus. It's actually being talked about a lot, so not really the elephant in the room, but anyway.

One good thing that might come out of this enforced isolation, house-arrest, and stay-cation madness we're going through (not to mention the lack of loo roll), is that we are being forced how to teach online, work from home, and stay away from planes and airports. When we're over the hump of corona virus and our governments let us travel again, I wonder if we'll have learnt our lesson? We're in a global ecological crisis. It's no good just planting more trees to offset carbon emissions. We need to stop flying, and stop travelling long distances by train/car too. The more we can work out how to do things online, the better, as far as I can see. It's hard. It means extra work, and learning how to use all kinds of new computer programs, but in the end it might just pay off.

In Greta Thunberg's language, w…

The Four Ps of Digital Engagement

There are four basic stages to digital engagement:

Production of materialsPublishing of those materials we've producedPromotion of the published materialsParticipation of the audience
We are often very good at producing material, and publishing it. But what about the next two Ps - Promotion and Participation? These need a little more work.

Promotion It's good to promote our materials. Usually we put them out there on the web, YouTube, and on other types of social media, and hope for the best. How can we promote them? One way is to advertise. This means paying money, but perhaps not as much as you think! Facebook adverts are very effective, can be targeted to a predefined audience, and might even lead to some users re-posting your posts, or commenting on them! Google ads are also very effective, though more costly.

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay
It's a good idea not to over-promote, as this can be counter-effective. You want to create posts that are genuinely social on soc…

What Jesus Really Did in the Temple Courts

When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” Mrk 11:15-17 (NLT)

What made Jesus so angry when he saw people selling pigeons and such like in the court of the Gentile nations? It was because this was the part of the temple set aside for all nations (other than Jews), and they were turning into a Jewish market-place, so making it impossible for those from the nations to pray.

'This notice indicates that Jesus expelled the merchants from the Court of the Gentiles in order to safeguard rights and privileges sanctioned by God. The use of the forecourt as an open market effectually prevented the …

January Fasting

Are you doing dry January? Or vegan January? Or are you fasting? Perhaps your church or mission is organising a fast or encouraging supporters to fast at this time of year. It seems natural, after so much feasting, to begin fasting.

Is this biblical?

The only concern I have is that Jesus seems to teach that fasting should be done in secret:
"When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Mat 6:16-18 So, although fasting is a good thing, and I thoroughly encourage it, group fasting needs to be organised very carefully. Any encouragement to fast should be seen as optional, and private. It's better not to ask people …