Interview on Church Planter Podcast

Earlier this week I was blessed with the opportunity to be interviewed for the Church Planter Podcast.  The podcast and Church Planter Magazine are both excellent resources for church planters and have articles and interviews from many on the cutting edge of church planting.  Peyton and Pete have a heart for equipping serial planters through both of these avenues as well as the New Breed Church Planting network.

In this interview we discuss my work with Living Bread Ministries and why church planting among the global poor must be central to all of our efforts to minister among the poor. Regardless of the need, spiritual or physical, a thriving local church is central to the answer.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the interview.

 

True Sacrifice: Planting Churches Among the Poor and Undesired

Globally there is not a organized vision to plant churches among the very poor, but there should be.  I addressed this issue in an article I wrote for Church Planter Magazine.  You can find True Sacrifice: Planting Churches Among the Poor and Undesired on page 26 of the premiere issue of the magazine.  If you would like a subscription visit their page in the App Store.

I would love to hear your feedback on the article.

My Concern with the Adoption Movement

Since the title of this post is sure to lead to assumptions and possible misunderstandings let me begin with my affirmation of adoption.  Adoption is central to understanding the gospel.  Christ died, not simply to secure my ticket to heaven, but to reconcile me to God; that is to restore my relationship to God through adoption.  In Christ I am a son and as a son a co-heir with Christ.  The adoption of orphans is a beautiful picture of this, much like marriage is a picture of our relationship with Christ.

Furthermore, though I did not grow up in a Christian home my parents were foster parents and provided a safe home for many children over the years.  They eventually adopted both of my brothers out of foster care and provided them the same upbringing and opportunities they provided their biological children.  For this reason I have financially contributed to friends who are seeking to adopt.  As you can see, I am a fan of adoption.

After reading the above you may be thinking, “What possibly could this guy be concerned about rescuing orphans he’s seen the need and fruit first hand?”  This is true, but I have seen something else firsthand.  You see, I lead a ministry that plants churches among the global poor.  I’ve seen poverty up close and personal; desperate poverty.  The type of poverty that leads, primarily women, to do the unthinkable; to abandon or even sell their children.  Our immediate response to this is shock and horror because we’ve never been that desperate.  Rest assured, if you spend enough nights listening to the children you love so dearly crying from hunger and seeing other children die of hunger, as a mother, you might gain a different perspective.  You might begin to see this as the height of sacrificial love.

This brings us to my concern.  Maybe I have just missed it but I don’t hear enough talk from adoption advocates (primarily international adoption) regarding the building up of poor families among the global poor so that we can reduce the need for adoption.  I hear much about the need to make great sacrifices to rescue children, including the great financial cost, but I don’t hear much about making the same sacrifices, including financial, to aid poverty stricken mothers and families so they can raise their children.  I won’t speculate as to why.

Please don’t misunderstand, there is and will continue to be great need for the Western church to adopt children.  The AIDS epidemic and other diseases as well as wars and natural disasters will always create orphans.  I praise the efforts of those championing the cause of orphans globally.  I’m just asking the leaders of the movement to consider two things.

  1. Take a balanced approach and advocate for poor mothers and families to care for their children.  Call on the Western church to take this aspect of the orphan problem seriously and to demonstrate their seriousness with financial investment.
  2. Consider the importance of indigenous Christians in confronting this humanitarian tragedy.  The church is growing by leaps and bounds in the global south and they too care about orphans.  We have realized the significance of working with indigenous pastors as we seek to expand the kingdom of God globally.  We need to consider the potential of unleashing the church in the global south to care for the orphans among them.  It has been my experience that the willingness is there but what is often lacking is the financial resources.  We can help with that.  What if we began to equip indigenous Christians with the necessary discipleship and financial resources to care for the orphans among them.

After we have done these two things the numbers of children needing to be adopted by Westerners might be drastically reduced and, long term, far more children could be helped.  Maybe I’m out of touch and we are already doing what I have described above.  Do you think my concern is valid or am I just worrying for no reason?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Why did God destroy Sodom?

Why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? I did a quick study looking for verses explaining why and this is what I found.

Gen 18:19-21 Since God chose Abraham to keep the way of the Lord by “doing righteousness & justice” he revealed to him the plan to destroy Sodom because the “outcry against Sodom & Gomorrah is great & their sin is very grave…” (ESV) It does not list specific sin.

Isaiah 1 – The Lord lists the multitude of Judah’s sins and compares them to Sodom and Gomorrah because of their empty religious activities.  He commands them to “cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widows cause.” (vs 16b-17 ESV)

Jeremiah 23:14 – The prophet Jeremiah compares the sin of the prophets of Jerusalem with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.  They commit adultery, lie, and assist evildoers, so that they continue in their sin.

Ezekiel 16:49-50 – This is the only passage that directly states what the sin of Sodom was.  They were prideful, had an excess of food, and prosperous ease yet they hoarded those things on themselves and neglected the poor.  They were prideful and did an abomination before God.

Matt 10:15/Luke 10:12 – Seems to imply that the rejection of the Apostles and their message and thus a continuing in sin will be judged more harshly than the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

2 Peter 2:6-8 – Peter says that Lot was greatly distressed by the “sensual conduct of the wicked” which seems to be a reference to sexual sin and lewdness.

Jude 7 – In this verse Jude clearly ascribes a sexual nature to some of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, but in its context it would seem the sin he is referring to is the desire to have sex with the angels.

So what is my point?  Well it is not that homosexuality is ok.  There is plenty of evidence in scripture that the practice of homosexuality is sin, just as there is plenty of evidence that adultery and heterosexual sex outside of marriage is sinful.  That being said, the argument that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was strictly, or even chiefly that of homosexuality, is not defensible with scripture.  Thus, the faulty logic that homosexuality is somehow a bigger abomination to God than other sexual sins is likewise flawed.

Based on this brief study, we have to conclude that the sin that led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was pride and self-centeredness.  They had been blessed by God, but like the rich fool in one of Jesus’ parables, they hoarded God’s blessings on themselves and neglected the poor and needy among them.  They did not love God or their neighbors.  Even the sexual sin that was present was the result of self-centeredness as they sought to gratify the lust of the flesh.  Frankly, I find this understanding of the fall of Sodom to be much more bothersome and convicting to me personally, but it is nonetheless what the Bible teaches.