Quotes for Reflection

I like quoting other people a lot. However, at risk of being a bit self-indulgent, here are some quotes that I have written in http://www.munsonmissions.org from April 2015 to today, that I feel are worth repeating. Feel free to agree, or disagree.

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  • I am a Christian, not because of Christians. I am a Christian, not because of Christian leaders. Both of them fail— miserably and consistently. I am not even a Christian because of the Bible… despite the fact that I find it a great and inspiring documentation of God’s work in human history for our benefit. I am a Christian, and not some other faith or ideology, because of Christ.
  • In Acts, the Holy Spirit did not call Paul and Barnabas to be missionaries. He told the church to call/affirm them. God calls all Christians to ministry. Recognizing our divine call is not (or should not be) the problem. It is recognizing our ministerial identity. This is found in honest supportive dialogue in a (healthy) mutual faith/ministry community.
  • I have great freedom to do as I wish in Christ. However, I support and build up members of my church as they, likewise, support and build up me. So I exercise freedom as it is healthy for myself and others. And I limit the exercise of my freedom, not out of coercion, but out of love.
  • Missions is to be done:    Where the Local Church Isn’t.  Where the Local Church Hasn’t.  Where the Local Church Can’t.’

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  • A better question than “Why would God have allowed the Holocaust?” might be “What does the Holocaust (occurring in 20th century “civilized” culture) reveal about ourselves?” While the first question may lead one to doubt that there is a loving and powerful God out there, the answer to the second question points, I believe, to the conclusion that we truly NEED such a God to exist.
  • It has been said that “Necessity is the mother of invention,”  … It might, however, be argued that “Protest is the mother of invention.” The scuba aqualung (developed by Jacques Yves Cousteau and Émile Gagnan) was not really a necessity…. It was a protest against the natural constraints of the human body underwater.
  • If leaders recognize themselves as responsible to God and mutually indebted to the people as fellow members, I think we may be able to embrace a healthier, more theologically sound understanding of vision in the church.
  • But another flavor of pessimism is hopeful. Such a person recognizes the failings, the flaws of the NOW, and anticipates these flaws, these ills, are pushing the world towards more misery and pain. Yet, as a Christian one is aware that God is committed to redemption of His children and His world. This commitment gives us hope and helps us to interpret the present from a less myopic perspective. That perspective does not eradicate pessimism… we still see the institutions and powers of this world that perpetuate sin and misery. In fact, a clear-eyed recognition of the NOW can better give us the heart that makes us all the more long for God, and to pray, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
  • To support implies to hold accountable. Otherwise, one is not a supporter, only a fan.
  • Perhaps we can say that God is Ethically Immutable, but not Immutable overall. I think we should see God as Empathic rather than Impassible. And perhaps above all, God is Ineffable. Some day, prayerfully, we will truly know Him, for we will see Him as He truly is.

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  • Don’t Pray for Power. Rather, Pray to Handle Rightly the Power One Already Has.
  • We still have reasons for concern for the future, but we have a better perspective on God’s faithfulness when we see it through the lens of adversity rather than through the lens of prosperity.
  • When Christ ceases to offend on some profound level… we are following the wrong Christ.
  • Unfortunately the motive, “a passion for souls,” has proven inadequate. One might surmise that passion for souls would necessitate love or concern for people. But that has not proven true. We find many who tirelessly share the word of God seeking conversion, who show little to no concern for the social, economic, psycho-emotional, plights of the people they share with. To ignore these other areas may be consistent with a passion for souls, but outrageously dissonant with genuine love or concern for people.
  • Sometimes we need to be available, even if grudgingly faithful, when God needs us. God used Jonah, a very grudging servant. Jesus called His disciples and pushed them to their limits and beyond with regards to their comfort zones as well. God can use us in these grudgingly faithful moments. God can still change others through us. And God can also change us.
  • The definition of ‘Theo-storying’:  “The act of creative reflection on God, and our associated relationships with Him and each other, crafted artistically into the medium of the story, so as to allow the listener to join in the reflection through experiencing the story, being challenged by the story, and inspiring further questions.”

Adventures in Typing

I have had to cut back a little in blogging. Part of it is because of a lot of stuff going on this Summer. We have a Disaster Response Symposium that our group (Bukal Life Care) is putting together in partnership with Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary and Virginia Baptist Disaster Response. We also will be doing our first medical mission in two years (definitely out of practice). And we have 16 CPE trainees at our center right now and for the next several weeks.

Additionally, though, trying to do some book writing.

90% Done. “Ministry in Diversity.” Book on Applied Cultural Anthropology, for Missions. Technically, it is done. I used it for my Cultural Anthropology class. I have to finish footnoting and indexing., Also the students wanted more examples (I can get too focused on information at times). This book is for Bible schools… particularly in the Philippines or Asia.

70% Done.  “Foundations of Community and Clinical Pastoral Care.” This has been a slow one. I had it listed at 30% for ages. Many of the chapters are done. Still a fair bit of work in the Pastoral Supervision section. Actually hope to finish it before the anthropology book. To be used by Bible Schools and CPE centers, especially in Southeast Asia.

5% Done.  “Adventures in Theostorying.” The title may change. Have 2 or 3 chapters kind of done. But still a ways to go.

My two fully complete books are:

Theostorying   and   Principles and Practices for Healthy Christian Medical Missions

Feel free to check them out on Amazon… if you have time.

Theory and Personal Stuff

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I save this webpage mostly for theoretical topics regarding ministry, missions, and theology. There is a saying that “One cannot philosophize on an empty stomach.” We have been blessed for 11 years of good support so that we could minister and study here in the Philippines. That is a privilege…

…but it can also be a trap. Sometimes, as an introvert, I can get caught up in theory, concepts, models… and not deal with people. My wife, Celia, is a Pastoral Counselor and Clinical Chaplain. Her work with people has helped force me to seek to work more relationally, and less theoretically. That’s good because we will be going through some transitions soon. Our finances are in decline… due to financial problems in the US, as well as some new models of mission work being popularized there and in Europe. While these new models have some fairly clear and obvious problems (or more accurately, limitations)… their popularity will be affecting many missionaries for the next 5 to 10 years, at least.So I may have to find ministry work that can actually support the family soon.

The main point is that theory-driven conversation is cognitive, without being affective… or making it personal— theory-driven conversation is an exercise of individual minds, not the drawing together of various hearts.

Theory, Models, Theology, Concepts are okay… and I believe that is still what I am going to use this particular blogsite for. It is an exercise that helps me learn and clarify. But I have to recognize the inadequacy as well. In line with that you are certainly welcome to look at a couple of other blogsites I do. Both are ministerial… but both are also closer to the heart (even if they still have my low-emotion style of writing). Blessings

Blogsite for BUKAL LIFE CARE

Blogsite for BOB AND CELIA MUNSON AND FAMILY

End of the Year Thoughts

2013 has come to an end. I am just going to throw out some fairly random items to close out the year.

Maligayang pasko!
Maligayang pasko! (Photo credit: gwen)

I.  The following shows the top posts over 2013. I am not sure what to make of them. “St. Boniface and the Peregrini” seemed to be caught up in some search engines for those who had interest in the term “peregrini” disconnected from its Celtic missions roots. “Cleansing the Church’s “Court of the Gentiles”?” seems to be because it became a popular tie in to a huge number of spam messages. Why? Don’t know. “Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon” get’s triggered every holiday season since it is Tagalog for “Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.” I am sad that “Prophecies and Typhoons and Plagues (in no particular order)” has gotten so many hits. Unfortunately, there seems to be a morbid fascination in Evangelical (or at least Apostolic) Christianity for doomsday prophets. For outsiders, it is fun to point fingers at others and say “See… that’s what you get when you mess with God!” It lures people into trying to link bad news to divine judgment and the end of the world. I still believe that Jesus call to be faithful to the end rather than trying to time God’s coming is the best advice. I wrote a joyous post on God’s protection of islanders in the face of almost certain devastation… got very few hits. Sad.

St. Boniface and the Peregrini (Part 2) 320
Presentation. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership (book summary) 185
About Me 179
Cleansing the Church’s “Court of the Gentiles”? 177
Medical Mission Events in the Philippines, Part IV 177
Medical Mission Events in the Philippines, Part I 169
Fallacies and Questions Surrounding Redemptive Analogy 142
From Power Encounter to Love Encounter 123
Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon 116
Prophecies and Typhoons and Plagues (in no particular order), Part I 105
Quotes from George C. Hunter III on Evangelism and Church Growth 84
Church on a Mission (Two Quotes from David Bosch) 78

2.  It is likely that before year’s end, this blog will reach 20,000 hits. That may not be that impressive for some, but as someone who makes no real attempt to optimize SEO, and one who doesn’t make much of an attempt, normally, to be topical, it kind of feels good. However, it is still true that I write more for my own benefit. It helps me clarify my thoughts. I think better through the keyboard than through the weird meanderings of my mind and voice. If someone benefits from it other than myself, that is great. If not… well, I hope none are the worse for the experience.

3.  I feel like it is time to move to the next step of sorts. I have been asked to write an introductory book of missions. I suppose that it is time to do it. The Philippines doesn’t have that much on Missions that is locally produced. We tend to recopy what others have done elsewhere. I believe that a Missiology built on local church foundation rather than an international or ethnological foundation, would be more functional (and perhaps even more “accurate”) for Filipinos. Philippines is growing as a mission sending nation but is limited somewhat by external models of mission on one side, and post-colonial/missions attitude in churches on the other side. I am not at all sure that I can fix that. If I can help add to the early stages of dialogue, it would be an effort well invested.

4. I pray that Christians worldwide would embrace Interdependency rather than dependency or independence. That they would see wielding love as more Christlike than wielding power. That they would not fear doubt but grow in faith through doubt. That they would see right doctrine, right ethics, and the fruit of the spirit (Mind, Body, Spirit) as different facets of the same jewel that is a godly life.

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon.