Nitpicking Words for a Moment

Recently I have seen a couple of organizations that have as part of their vision statement that they seek to “fulfill the Great Commission.” When people say Great Commission, they are normally thinking of Matthew 28, starting in verse 18, but there are others. Actually, a lot of mission groups have similar statements, it just kind of struck me more

English: Folio 9 from the codex; beginning of ...
English: Folio 9 from the codex; beginning of the Gospel of Matthew (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

lately. Is there anything wrong with the statement? No… but… well no I guess… but… well… kind of. As I said above, this might be nitpicky, but words matter.

The term fulfill means “Bring to completion or reality; achieve or realize (something desired, promised, or predicted).”

The term fulfill is fine, I guess. The problem is that fulfill tends to center on the completion, not on the doing (I told you I am being nitpicky). What’s the difference? All of the versions (there are at least 6 in the Gospels and Acts) of the Great Commission (if I remember right) describe something one does, not something one completes.

Additionally, Jesus gave some relevant teaching as far as carrying out God’s work, such as Matthew 24:45-51. Jesus there compares two servants. The faithful servant was one who was found doing his job. The unfaithful servant was one who was trying to “time” the return of his master and so was found not doing his job. I can’t help but wonder whether the unfaithful servant, who said ‘My master is delaying his coming’ and so was lazy and irresponsible, came to that state after focusing too long on being ready for his master’s return, rather than being focused on his job.

Again, nitpicky. But I have seen too many groups come up with unreasonable goals (AD2000 movement anyone?) built on a fulfillment philosophy, groups that do sloppy Bible interpretation to justify a “fulfillment” philosophy (abuse of Matthew 24:14 comes to mind), and groups that use short-term strategies rather than long-term programs for change based on focus on some sort of short-term fulfillment (such as “saturation evangelism” versus community development and transformation).

If we knew for sure, if we could correctly time, Christ’s return date, the focus on fulfillment makes sense I suppose. But since Jesus made it VERY CLEAR that we can’t,  we should focus on the task of the Great Commission (based on our love for God and His Creation). Focus on the “Task of the Great Commission” or “Living out the Great Commission” I believe leads to less counterproductive thinking and acting.

Of course, words are just words. We can have all of the right words and still do poor ministry. We need a solid foundation of theology and motivation to be faithful servants of God. But leave the concept of having the Great Commission “fulfilled” to God.

My Books

I added a new Page to this Website entitled “My Books.” Right now it has one book I recently wrote, “Theo-Storying: Reflections on God, Narrative, and Culture.” It also has my seminary dissertation (on medical missions). There is


English: Stack of books in Gould's Book Arcade...
Stack of books in Gould’s Book Arcade, Newtown, NSW, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


also a rough-draftish book I wrote a couple of years ago on Wholistic Ministry. Even that book has some good stuff.  I will have to get around to cleaning it up sometime. Feel free to rummage around.

Just look for “My Books” tab at the top of the page.

In Missions and other Christian Ministry, we seek to develop and increase faith in others… but do we seek out healthy faith, or unhealthy faith?

Bukal Life Care

In Pastoral Care and Pastoral Counseling, it is generally believed that the faith of the individual can be a vital part of the healing process. This belief is built from a more fundamental assumption that faith is healthy. Yet, what is faith?

One of the best works I have seen on faith was written close to 40 years ago. Wayne E. Oates, a Christian Psychologist (and writer and seminary professor) wrote a book in 1973 called The Psychology of Religion. The final chapter (19) is titled “Toward a Psychology of Faith.” As a Christian, Oates valued faith. However, as a Christian Psychologist, he understood that some understandings of “faith” (both inside and outside of faith communities) may be psychologically destructive. So Oates sought to find a good understanding of the Biblical view of faith, informed by psychology, while avoiding unhealthy faith (or unhealthy things that are called faith by…

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Appreciating the Multi-cultural Church

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Global Theology

Dr. Soong-Chan Rah of North Park Theological Seminary speaking at chapel of Fuller Theological Seminary on “The Next Evangelicalism: Appreciating the Multicultural Church” (November 7, 2012). Dr. Rah uses the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 as a model for understanding “a world that is becoming increasingly multicultural  and how the church responds to this very dynamic time in our nation’s, as well as our world’s, church history”.

The following is my summary and notes from his lecture.

The question is not whether the world is changing, but how Christian Americans will respond. (Click to Tweet)

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Article on the Bible and Crisis Care

Article that was originally published in “Bukal Life Care Journal” (2012 edition). Go down to the post listed at the bottom of this post if you wish to download the entire e-journal.

Elijah in Dialogue with Crisis Care” target=”_blank”>Divine Intervention: The Flight of Elijah in Dialogue with Crisis Care from Bob Munson


Article by a friend of mine and fellow missionary working here in the Philippines.



by Barry D. Phillips, author of I Planted the Seed (and Woody Squashed It).

If I were a game show contestant, you might shout at your TV as I surrendered $2500 in cash in exchange for the mystery contents of a blue box. Then you’d laugh, shake your head and mock my decision to trade away a high definition, 55” flat screen TV for the unseen thing behind curtain number three. How reckless!  Why would anyone do such a thing? It seems almost inexplicable.

This same personality quirk attracts me to grab bags filled with unknown items. Grab bags are an imaginative way to sell odds and ends or mismatched items. But as a buyer, you’re paying for unknown contents. It’s the mystery inside the bag that provides this rather peculiar attraction for people like me.  Grab bags possess an odd desirability that can’t fully be explained…

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Fact Checker: Do Faithful Christians Take the Bible Literally?

<Reblog of post by Glenn T. Stanton.  Click on the link below for the rest. Nice readable article about Bible Interpretation.>

One of the things I enjoy most in my work at Focus on the Family is the opportunity to speak at secular university campuses and to organizations that are indifferent or opposed to orthodox Christianity. Most of my colleagues are sane enough to avoid such invitations, but I relish them because they allow me to mix with folks who see the world very differently and it’s intellectually and rhetorically stimulating to interact with them in a meaningful way. I also get the opportunity to correct lots of misunderstandings about what Christians actually believe.

One of these common misunderstandings is not even presented as a question, but an assumption. It typically goes something like this: “So Mr. Stanton, taking a literal view of the Bible as you do, please explain to me . . .”

I usually answer my questioner, to their great surprise:  “Well no, I don’t take the Bible literally.” I then pause for effect, both for the sake of the non-faithful as well as for the Christians in the audience.

Fact Checker: Do Faithful Christians Take the Bible Literally?.