God of the Displaced Ones. part 2

This past weekend, I concluded both Eastbrook’s Missions Fest as well as our series “God in Blank Spaces.” Building off of Jenny Yang‘s message on the global situation of displaced people the previous weekend, I continued the theme of God’s mission amongst the displaced people of the world.

My approach to this topic, however, was to engage more deeply with the theme verses chosen for the week from Leviticus 19:33-34:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

I sought to provide an overview of the book of Leviticus and its vital role in our own faith today as the New Testament people of God. In particular I focused on Leviticus’s theme of holiness, giving attention to four aspects of holiness that we must grasp clearly:

  1. God makes His people holy.
  2. God is making His people holy.
  3. Holiness is personal in nature.
  4. Holiness is relational in nature.

Here is the video and sermon outline of my message, “God of the Displaced Ones, part two.”

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

 

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A brief reading list on mission

Many times I’ll offer some readings lists to correspond with our teaching series at Eastbrook. Alongside of our series “God in Blank Spaces,” I wanted to share some resources I believe are worth looking at in brief or reading entirely. Some of these are general, while a few others are specific to our Missions Festival theme, “God of the Displaced Ones.”

Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens and Dr. Issam Smeir. Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016.

David J. Bosch. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts, 2nd edition. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Vincent J. Donovan. Christianity Rediscovered. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003.

Bryant L. Meyers. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, revised edition. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011.

Lesslie Newbigin. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989.

Michael Pocock and Enoch Wan, editors. Diaspora Missiology: Reflections on Reaching the Scattered Peoples of the World. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2015.

Matthew Soerens and Jenny Hwang Yang. Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

 

Patience and Personal Discipleship

Over the past couple of years, I have written for the Gospel Life blog hosted by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.

My most recent post, “Patience and Personal Discipleship,” is part of a reflection on character traits, or fruit of the Spirit, and discipleship in our lives.  I was asked to write about patience, which, to be honest, would not have been my optimal character trait to write about. This is mostly because I am not naturally a patient person. I have a lot of ways I need to let God work in my life in the area of patience. But I do believe that what I wrote near the end of the piece is a truth we all need to grasp: “Perhaps now is a time to disconnect from the impatient pulse of a technologized angst in order to reconnect with the patient journey of discipleship with God.” Here’s a section from the middle of the article, which you can read in its entirety over at the Gospel Life blog.

Spiritual transformation only comes via “a long obedience in the right direction.” Paul the Apostle describes our growth as Christians as a process of growth and maturing, moving from spiritual infancy to nature adulthood, “so that the body of Christ may be built up…and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13).

We understand this physically, expecting babies to grow to toddlers and on to teenagers before becoming adults. Yet, somehow, we forget that this same process of growth applies to the spiritual life of discipleship. It is not something that comes quickly, but must go through a similar process of growth and maturing over time. Spiritual growth does not happen overnight, let alone in 60 seconds; instead, it must happen over a lifetime.

There is no more valuable, nor more difficult, character trait necessary in the Christian life in this regard than patience. Scripture shows both that patience is invaluable in our own lives (Prov. 19:11; Ecc. 7:8; James 5:7) and in our relationships with others (Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 3:10). Our discipleship, as a matter of fact, is a growth in which God shows forth His patience with us from start to finish (Rom. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:16). If we want to grow with God, following Jesus as our leader and Savior, then we must commit to the patient journey of discipleship over the long haul.

Within the Bible, one of the clearest pictures of this is seen in the Psalms of Ascent. This little collection of psalms was utilized for prayer and worship on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Groups of believers would journey together, caring for one another and building one another up, as they prepared to meet with God and His people in worship.

The pilgrimage journey of the Psalms of Ascent provides us with a soundtrack for the patient journey of discipleship. We need songs in our mouths and hearts, we need others to journey with, and we need lives that move steadily closer to God.

This patient journey of discipleship, and the place that patience begins to have in our lives, is often seen as a key to seeing change in the life of others (Prov. 25:15; 2 Tim. 4:2). In a culture of anxious impatience, where many have misplaced hopes of relief, a patient, peaceful community of people living daily life with God speaks louder than all sorts of religious activity.

[Read the whole blog post here.]

Notes on Displaced People

jenny yangIn her message, “God of the Displaced Ones,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, Jenny Yang went through a lot of notes on displaced people, including statistics, figures, quotes and more that I wanted to share here.

A total of 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015.

It is the first time in history that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed.

The tally is greater than the population of the United Kingdom – or of Canada, Australia and New Zealand – combined.

On average 24 people were forced to flee each minute in 2015, four times more than a decade earlier, when six people fled every 60 seconds.

UNHCR graphic

Graphic from UNHCR 

3 Reasons for this:

  • Conflicts that cause large refugee outflows are lasting longer.
  • New or reignited conflicts and situations of insecurity are occurring more frequently.
  • The rate at which solutions are being found has been on a falling trend.
refugee bubble map
Graphic from UNHCR

God of the Displaced Ones

Two weekends ago, I began a new series entitled “God in Blank Spaces.” The idea of this series is to connect our thinking about who God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with what God does in our world. One question I pondered quite a bit is this: if God is who we say He is, then what does that mean for the world in which we live?

This past weekend, we had the privilege of hearing from Jenny Yang, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at World Relief, as the first weekend in our missions festival, “God of the Displaced Ones.” Jenny is co-author with Matt Soerens of Welcoming the Stranger and was named by Christianity Today as one of five women change-makers in non-profit leadership today.

You can watch the video of Jenny’s message below and follow along with her sermon outline as well.

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

 

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