End of 2016 and Looking Forward

I have to admit, I had a lot of concerns about 2016. But God has been good, and 2017 looks to be an interesting (dare I say ‘exciting’?) year. Here are a few year end review items:

  1.  14,483 views in 2016 (as of December 20). That is pretty trivial by some blog standards, but it is a record for me… so I am very happy.
  2. 784 posts since the start in October 2010. That averages out to about 1 post every 3 days. Since only a small percentage are reposts from other people, and since I almost never have a post that is not “wordy,” that is a lot of writing. I have found it to be a great learning experience. Blog posts have also helped me in my book writing. Last Sunday, I even used a blog post from 3 years ago as the basis for a sermon.
  3. My most popular Post in 2016 is an oldie: “Cults: Good, Bad, and Ugly.” It develops quadrants based on two axes Cult ChartUse of Power or Control, and “Theology Orthodoxy.” I still pretty good about that one. The most popular post that I had posted this year is “But is it Biblical?” It is a good post, one of a number of posts that I have done challenging the penchant of Christians to prooftext or verse drop to support their own pet beliefs or prejudices, rather than taking a “canonical” approach to Scripture, where one accepts the whole of Scripture our guide— seeking a theological integration of the Word. However, with this second one, part of its popularity is that there is a Ponzi scheme called MMM-Global. Because of the similarity to my website MMM (Munson Missions Musings), search engines sometimes direct people asking “Is MMM Biblical” to that post.
  4. Finished the book “The Art of Pastoral Care” with my wife Celia. Published it in June and have been using it for CPE, CPO, and Intro toArt of Pastoral Care Cover Pastoral Care and Counseling courses. Even have sold a few copies here or there. We are around 30-40% done with “The Dynamics of Pastoral Care” that is an advance ment of the first, with greater emphasis on relational dynamics, such as Group Dynamics, Family Systems, and the Supervisory Relationship. I am also 10-15% done on a book that reflects on the interaction between Theology and Missions (still haven’t settled on the name). It is likely, however, that I will finish that before the one on Pastoral Care. Pretty sure that  at least one of those books will be done in 2017.
  5. I guess there are three areas that I am particularly interested in exploring. (A) The use of the Case Study Method and Group Dynamics for effective theological reflection in missions. (B) How does one evaluate theologies in terms of both contexualization and orthodoxy. (C) The effective use of Inter-religious dialogue— particularly in the middle ground between dialogue that is highly relativizing at one extreme, or devolved into debate at the other.

Thanks for taking the time to visit. You are always welcome.

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.”