A Mission Challenge.org

"Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.' II Tm. 4:2



Chaplain's Notes


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From CNN to Mexico to Maras 18 and Back Again.

Posted by danaduanecraft on July 13, 2017 at 7:05 PM

While undergoing a pair of operations on my spine earlier in the summer I was able to watch some TV. Being forced into some bed-time actually provided some fruitful insights. I saw an episode of Reza Aslan’s CNN series, Believer, where he discussed Santa Muerte [Saint Death]. At issue is not the validity or controversy over this propagandists’ intentions, after all, out of the mouths of babes often comes some of the most revealing truths. Beyond my yelling at the screen over the questions he would not ask when speaking with Santa Muerte’s devotees another perspective come to mind (Lev.19:31; Isaiah 8:19). In the middle of the program he went to have dinner in a private home in Mexico City.


Within this humble kitchen he sat at the table ringed with transsexual Mexican prostitutes. Obviously, they represent a subset of a subculture in every aspect. This marginalized and utterly disenfranchised group of twenty-somethings each professed their adoration and assurance in Santa Muerte’s unconditional love, protection and guidance over them in their high-risk daily lives. However, what stood out the most to me, while simultaneously breaking my heart, were their unanimous reasons for fleeing the Church in order to be embraced by the “Boney Lady” (a euphemism for the Saint of Death). They decried that the Church had closed her doors to them because of “who” they were and “what” they did (Lk. 5:31-32). Aslan, being not a Christian, never followed up with the pertinent questions which would have revealed the Church’s great error, and thus, our greatest of sins. 

Christ Jesus clearly meant for his earthly body to be a place of healing for the sick and not merely a museum for hypocritical and self-righteous saints. Unique to Latin America is the truncated gospel of one having to already be purified in order to enter our King’s earthly palace; for the sanctuary doors remain closed and tightly locked to all those whose sins are still fresh [cf. Rm. 5:8]. These precious beings made in the image of God have been so plagued by the sins in their lives and so broken in despair that once the Church had rejected them they willingly fled to the anathema of the Light (Jn. 1:4). This is more than an enigma. These transsexual prostitutes are not the problem, they are not the disease. But rather, they are the symptom of the cancer which has eaten-away at the Church’s core. Please note, I am not advocating in the Church accepting their unrepented sins…it is just the contrary. What the world needs most is not food, health, wealth, miracles or even freedom. What we need most is forgiveness. In the order of salvation, it is forgiveness that must come first and it is from this well that all the inhabitants of earth dream to drink. By both instinct and necessity, if the Church is not where a sinner can encounter forgiveness then they will search elsewhere.


I preached on this topic during my first sermon upon returning to Guatemala after my medical leave. I shared how, in just the past two decades, no other religion or group has grown faster in Central America and among Latinos in the U.S. than those worshiping Santa Muerte. This expansion includes street level gang members and university students along with doctors and attorneys on both sides of the border. I would like to explore the contexts for the reasons another time as they are not complex nor diverse but are, in staggering reality, painfully simple and clear as I touched upon above. They Church has lost her way and has occupied itself in working to reflect the very world she was called out of in vain attempts to gain more converts (Jn. 17:16). She has busied herself with programs, campaigns and PowerPoints while replacing Holy Scripture with slogans and false prosperity doctrines; while leaving behind the radically forgiving and ultimately saving power of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.


Pastorally speaking, when one preaches the Word it is not theirs to own nor to direct how it will be received. Lord willing, it will have the power to transform those who hear. I wove the story above into the fabric of my sermon nearly a month ago. I called out the Guatemalan Church, and ourselves, for truly not welcoming our neighbor nor loving those who do not love us and of our lack in offering true forgiveness to others (Mt. 5:43-48; 6:15). One of the sisters came up to Damaris after service this past Sunday to share what had happened over the past couple of weeks after feeling convicted of abandoning Jesus’ words during that earlier Sunday’s sermon. She related the following testimony to my wife.


Her son owns a car repair shop in rough area of Guatemala City choked with auto mechanics and chop-shops. He kept allowing one of the local young men to hang around his shop and even let him sweep the floors for a little pocket money. One day our dear sister stopped over for a quick visit. She was shocked and scared to see the young man whose body was covered in the black tattoos of the infamous Maras 18 gang. She immediately scolded her son while demanding that he tell this man to leave and never return (Lk. 6:37). She yelled and screamed, asking him how he could let that thief and murderer hang around his shop? “He a Christian after all,” she told my wife!


Our sister, continuing, telling my wife that the very next Sunday she heard my message and she felt the sting of truth and remorse piercing her broken heart (Heb. 4:12). She asked herself how she could have been so calloused towards the young man in the words she screamed towards her son. That same afternoon she took the bus over to her son’s shop and apologized for her coarse words and cold heart (1 Jn. 4:19). Our sister told her son to go and find this man and allow him to come back. Sometime on Monday afternoon, heading his mother’s advice, he found this tattooed young man and offered him a job doing odds and ends around his shop. Over the next two weeks this ex-gang member was the first to arrive and the last to leave. Our sister’s son told her that he had never had an employee work as diligently as this man nor listen so intently to his instructions in all the years that he had owned his shop. They even began to share their break times together and during those cups of coffee her son began to evangelize the ex-gang member. As the days turned into a week and then another one, their relationship grew deeper. Amazingly, in those brief few hours of sharing the Gospel, this ex-criminal’s heart soften and he came to know Christ (Js. 1:21).


Our sister came to service this past week with both the look of profound sadness juxtaposed against extreme joy. Her expression is what sparked the conversation after service with my wife. She explained that one late afternoon when waking home from her son’s shop the young man was gunned down. He was murdered right in front of his home presumably for the sins of his past. Yet, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit to convict, inspire and direct, she asked her son to hire this young man. And his last conversation, in this life, was about Christ Jesus’ heart to love the lost and the repentant.


While listening to my wife’s cracking voice and in seeing her joy filled tears in retelling me the details of this most powerful event, I could not help but give thanks to the Lord our God for blessing us to play such a minor role in his great work!


Turning back to those Mexican transsexual prostitutes, I imagine how their lives could be transformed if they could only hear the true Gospel of forgiveness in being welcomed into the King’s sanctuary (1 Jn. 1:9). I imagine the peace upon their faces when freed of their personal demons as they lay their sins at the feet of our merciful and gracious Christ. This young man was shown the Gospel of Jesus and he now sits at Father Abraham’s table awaiting the Second Advent (Lk. 16:22) instead of in the bones Death’s false saint.


In the Lord’s great providence, I watched this single episode on CNN, and was given a fresh perspective on where the Latin American Church is today and how her frail health is drastically effecting the lives, and very souls, of those who are so desperately in need of her. May we not become blinded by the symptoms but may the Lord give us the theologically critical eyes to see the tumor, to see our sins, at the heart of his earthly body; and may he give us the courage to excise this malignancy while allowing our Lord God to guide our hands.

Our Costly Entry into the Heavenly City

Posted by danaduanecraft on June 28, 2017 at 8:45 PM

Whenever someone is passing through a difficult or painful challenge it seems that there are always a large number of Christians who incorrectly focus at the end of the tunnel because they see the victory in overcoming and entering into the calm waters while fighting to ignore the actual struggle. Obviously, no true follower of Christ should go out seeking trials and tribulations. However, just as true, is the fact that we are intimately partaking in Christ when we follow in His footsteps (1 Pt. 4:13), and when we try to overlook these painful times we are actually robbing Jesus’ invitation for us to know Him deeper along with ourselves. For an untested faith is a weak faith. Charles Spurgeon wrote "No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”

Now let us take a look at what God’s Living Word tells us. I have always told anyone who is willing to listen and truly dive into the deepest of Scriptural waters with me that no greater depth exists than what can be discovered in the Bible. That being said, there is also no superfluous word or letter contained within it. Every detail and verse reveals a new perspective on our realities…or opens a new window for our souls. When passing through the great dark times in our lives, I have yet to find more beautiful and comforting words to aid me and heal my wounds than those word’s John records at the end of Revelation.

In only one verse, John’s vision puts all of our suffering into perspective. After carefully recording numerous details about the New Jerusalem he shares one specific detail which needs to grab our attention (Rev. 21:21). In verses 18-20 we read about different kinds of precious stones used in its construction. We even read about “pure gold, like transparent glass” (v.18, 21). He begins verse 21 by writing that the Gates were each made of pearl. More precisely, each door was made out of a single large pearl. I always wondered about this strange detail. Most people would think that the “entrance to heaven” could be made out of something far more valuable than pearl. Yes, pearls have great value but when compared to transparent gold or diamonds they fall short. But, remember, God sees thing much differently than you or I see them. Why then pearl?

The Lord is always revealing Himself to us in the natural word. Theologians call this type of revelation as general revelation, or natural revelation and the apostle Paul mentions it in the first chapter of Romans. This is what He has done in Revelation 21:21 and it is ever so beautiful and encouraging once you see it.

Have you ever looked at an oyster? I do not know about you, but as for me, the simple oyster reminds me of myself. It is nothing spectacular to behold. Many would even say that an oyster is actually pretty ugly. It is hard and small and dark with a rough and irregular surface. But something miraculous occurs on the inside…just like within us. This miracle begins with how it forms a pearl. When the oyster is still quite young, a small grain of sand enters its shell. This seems like nothing to the human eye. But to the oyster, the crystalline structure of the sand is like a ball of outward pointing knives against its insides. A single grain of sand brings an incredible amount of pain to the soft insides of its flesh. The same happens to our own flesh when the pains of life and a fallen world enter inside us. It does not really matter how the pain enters us, wither through the acts of others or our own brokenness. All that matters is that it’s deep within us and it provokes the greatest of pains.


The oyster is all alone under the water dealing with and fighting in private against this great pain emanating from its center.* And yet, the oyster perseveres. However, we are not alone, we have the Savior of the universe who has promised to take all our pain and all our tears (Rev. 21:4). I feel that the Lord has revealed to us, in this humble little oyster, a great key to life which goes against everything the world tells us. The world tells us that we need to be perfect, healthy, wealthy and beautiful along with a host of other superficial things. But the Lord tells us to relay upon Him. He tells us that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” To which Paul replies, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9). How wonderfully inspiring and counter-cultural!

Obviously, a follower of Christ should never seek something which will cause him or her to suffer…the world will force pain upon your soul without you or I looking for it. But do not lose courage or faith. The simple fact that we know this suffering is not “right” is confirmation that our natural citizenship is not here but in the Lord’s kingdom to come.

Looking at the oyster once more I have to ask? After an entire lifetime of slowly excreting mucus to cover the knife-like edges of the grain of sand what is its end? The oyster has produced a hard and smooth pearl but has lost its life. When we persevere through faith through depending upon Christ to take away those razors of pain in our lives, how do we end up? We receive our entrance into the New Jerusalem as we pass through its gates made of peal which are our award for persevering the great trial and pains of this fallen world.

Or looking from another perspective, I believe that if one does not pass through the pains and hardships of this life-while depending utterly upon Christ, then they will never gain citizenship in the Heavenly City in the next.

*(Special thanks to Dr. Warren Gage for opening the connection to me via his OT studies course at KNOX Theological Seminary)

Loving the Triune God with Our triune Selves

Posted by danaduanecraft on May 18, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Loving the Triune God with Our triune Selves

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37; cf. Deut. 6:5).

On this late Spring Ember Day, let us pause to ponder the most important words relating to the nature of God (which gives profound insight into our own nature as His earthly image bearers) and upon Christ Jesus’ commentary on them.

In the twenty-second chapter in the Gospel according to Matthew, he writes of a series of encounters, or rather, attacks made by the very ones John the Baptist called out as a “brood of vipers” (Mt. 3:7). Beginning in verse twenty-three the Sadducees (who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead) begin attacking Jesus’ eschatology as they confront Him with a preposterous question pertaining to death, brotherly obligations and marriage in the afterlife. During His giving of a uniquely Christ-like answer, the Pharisees were listening in. “One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law’” (Mt. 22:35-36)?

May I first put our Lord’s answer into a larger context by looking into all the profundity of His Jewish heritage by turning to The SHEMA: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4).

The SHEMA is the central prayer in the Jewish prayer book (Siddur) and is often the first section of Scripture that a Jewish child learns. It sets their perspective on who God is for the rest of their earthly lives. During its recitation in the synagogue, Orthodox Jews pronounce each word very carefully and cover their eyes with their right hand. Many Jews recite the SHEMA at least twice daily: once in the morning and once in the evening. It is also sometimes said as a bedtime prayer. Thus, for the devout Jew, this three-dimensional view of God is central to their lives.

Perhaps it’s the fought of our early Sunday school teachers, or even those of us behind the pulpits, but we must remember that Jesus was born a devout Jew and He went to the cross as a Jew, along with all His disciples, and it is from this perspective that we must begin our search to know God. Christ Jesus answered His tricksters with, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt. 22:37).

As Christians we know that the Godhead consists of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and that this Trinity, is in fact, One. The SHEMA affirms this and our great Creeds further identify and break down the Trinity in all its glorious Triune nature. In our Lord’s answer, I want to point out that Jesus is commanding us to love the Triune Lord our God with our triune selves. How? Looking past the depth of man’s depravity, a result of Original Sin (Gn. 3:16-17), we must challenge ourselves to see, to actually come to grips with this immense reality, that it is only Man who walks the earth as God’s image bearer (Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 8 ) and it is upon this incredible fact that our Savior is touching. The SHEMA has defined the Triune God, separating our Jewish forefathers from every surrounding people group and radically personalizing who God is. Now, in this magnificent response, His only Begotten is giving us the key insight to overcoming all of life’s struggles and strifes. Once again, how?

When we truly and deeply love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls and minds where is there room left for any of life’s vices which falsely attempt to fill any of those spaces connecting the two triune natures? There simply and elegantly exists no void for these counterfeit gods to dwell.


When we love the Lord our God with all of these three parts of ourselves then there will be no room for the addictions, lusts, sins, etc. whish sit as imposters and thieves of our affection.

Instead of all the energy, time and monies spent on attacking all these various vices which plague our world, we should be teaching others how and in what ways they should be understanding who God is and how to love Him. If each of our three parts, created to individually and uniquely sell-out all of their love and adoration solely to our Creator, are actually allowed to love the Lord in the profoundly personal ways they were created for, all of our human nature will perfectly fit into all of God’s nature just as it was designed to do so.

The Enemy has come only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and it is upon this perfect union of our two triune natures which the Devil has drawn his evil focus. Whenever he can draw apart one aspect of our human trinity, our mind or heart or our very soul, he can cause us to become unequally yoked to a counterfeit god of our own making. This lie robs us of fulfilling and living out Christ’s words in Mt. 23:27 resulting in one or more of our parts of our triune nature becoming over or under developed. The great Reformer, John Calvin, wrote that our hearts are factories of idols and it is upon our earthly ability as creators (imitating our Creator) that the Satan has taken us captured. Knowing that we, in our fallen condition, are susceptible to falsely adorning anything and that we alone (apart from God) have been blessed with the ability to create (the Devil has no such power), the Enemy has fought to tear-away this ultimate truth on how we should both view and love the Lord our God.

This has left us in a weakened condition as we are only partly connected to God and partly connected to the created things in this world (Mt. 6:24; cf. James 4:4). May we come to approach our false gods from this new perspective. Instead of attacking them head-on, let’s first look to see which part of our triune selves is bowing in their temples. Is it our hearts, minds or souls which are giving adoration to the addictions or vices of our own making? Let us instead focus on attaching that wayward part of ourselves to the very part of God for which it was originally made in the beginning of beginnings.

This is not some new age gobbledygook nor an avant garde type of pseudo-Christian thought. Rather, this is the very perspective which first separated our Jewish forefathers from their pagan neighbors and the bases for which our Savior builds His entire theology: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt. 22:37).

 

 

 

True Discipleship

Posted by danaduanecraft on April 24, 2016 at 2:40 PM

Chaplain Dana D. Craft -San Cristobal, Guatemala, Guatemala City (4.18.16)

Hermana Noemy’s Story

Standing back, in the shadows of humility, behind those of her neighbors who were sitting atop the broken plastic stools or overturned cinderblocks, I remember seeing sister Noemy for the first time. Why? Even though she stood just far enough away to not draw attention to herself while yet remaining part of the group, I remember her not because of her simple but clean dress nor because of her children clinging to its worn edges, but because of the tiny tan Bible she held in her hands. There are a great many things that I do not know in this life…but I can most certainly spot a well-used Bible. Now hers was one with the tattered and dog-eared corners one only sees when someone is reading the Lord’s word with passion and voracity. Its spine and cover had the scars and wrinkles of being overused far too many times. The edges of the text block were covered in the dust and dirt of the street and not from merely sitting on a table safely in her home.

It was in that very first service, some two years ago, that I happened to glance over in her direction as another sister was reading a Psalm that I saw the many stains of tears and how the ink had smudged from her finger’s passing over the same lines countless times that I knew she belonged to God. Only later did I come to discover that, like the Ethiopian Eunuch (Lk. 8:31), she had loved God but had never understood what the Holy Scriptures were telling her. Why am I sharing this part of her story? Because it will put into context the rest of what I am about to share.

She wasn’t out front trying to get a look at the new Gringo pastor and his Guatemalan wife; to see what donations we brought to give out. Nor were her kids overly rambunctious and boisterous ones. They just seemed to stand in the back, like foreigners, within this ragtag group of a dozen or so garbage workers, scavengers and the simply lost.

From that first day, when I announced that I had come to share something of eternal value with them, something which would go against everything that they had come to believe was of importance in their dog-eat-dog world and that I was giving it away at no cost, she has never missed a service or activity.

Hermana Noemy is the mother to six children ranging in age from 13 to just 4 years old. On any given day, when we are not holding services, she can be seen on the dusty corner behind a tiny wooden table sitting on an overturned milk crate selling tiny pieces of charbroiled chicken she cooks over an open flame back in the middle of her living room. Her youngest children are quietly playing in the dirt about her feet. She sells a single portion of chicken for Q6.00 (.76 USD). She needs to sell fifteen portions merely to break-even. Many days she sell only a handful of plates. In the late afternoon, her older children arrive back home. Their modest home consists of a single room measuring 12’ x 10’ and is made from corrugated aluminum pieces and discarded wood planks and decorated with items they salvaged from the trash of Guatemala City’s more fortunate inhabitants. She spends the late afternoons sitting with her kids as they cut up the soda cans, which the older ones gathered earlier in the day, to sell to the local recycling plant. By early evening her husband returns from work, where he recycles garbage for twelve hours a day for less than a few dollars a week. He is actually a butcher but has been out of work for too long for anyone to remember the exact amount of time.

Out of the 500+ families who live in their community, only a handful are actually living with their marriage partner. Again, Noemy and her family truly live as foreigners within the violent, noisy and chaotic mass of utter mayhem.

Here comes the part that has profoundly encouraged me to keep working so hard. Hermana Noemy, who, from the perspective of most, has every excuse to curse God or at least be running from Him. Yet, whenever you see her sitting behind that uneven wooden table quietly selling portions of chicken, take a good look at what she is doing. She is not making eye-contact with prospective clients, her children are supposed to be doing that. Instead, her head is down and she is reading her Bible laid open on her lap.

And now after approximately a hundred sermons, including a few lessons from the great creeds, she has come to know who the Lord our God is along with the unending love of His only Son. She can recite more verses than nearly anyone I know, which includes those I went to seminary with! She has now begun to also join us for Sunday worship at the second church plant in another part of the Guatemala City. This other congregation is composed of lawyers, a doctor, a judge and many other professional elites. Her children are now playing with their children during service. She is asking and answering questions after the sermon with all the others and, somehow, her clothes are clean and fresh and she fits right in. The others have no idea of where or how she lives. Upon her first time with this congregation my wife simply introduced her by name and said she was from here in the city.

However, the others arrive in air-conditioned cars, a few in SUVs or by bus, hermana Noemy and her six children (and occasionally her husband) walk nearly two hours, each way, to worship the Lord with us. Let me repeat, our beloved sister is walking in the dirty-smog-filled and steamy air of Guatemala City every Sunday for four long hours just to be in the “Lord’s House” for two.

Additionally, now that she knows who God is, she has become the Salt and the Light of the whole community. She is fielding theology questions from her neighbors when I am not there and she is living out Christ’s Sermon on the Mount as best as anyone can. All she needed was someone to come and unlock the door with the key which the Lord had already given her from before her birth (Jeremiah 1:5).

Many times, among those of us who plant churches, it is all too easy to get lost in the endless details, to lose the forest for the trees. We were never commanded to go out into the world and plant churches but rather to make disciples. Our dear sister Noemy has become one of the greatest disciples of Christ I have ever met. And she goes home each night to sleep within the Guatemala City garbage dump while holding that same little tan Bible.

 

 

Earth 2.0...?

Posted by danaduanecraft on August 3, 2015 at 9:30 PM


Alien Life? So many questions, but, in the big picture, who cares? Unless you're living on another world, no one has missed the big story on NASA's discovery of, as they named, "Earth 2.0" -within minutes of their announcement came the usual questions about God and what does this mean for believers. As interesting and as captivating as these issues are, and they truly are fascinating, they have no connection within the Biblical narrative other than confirming the Psalmist's words, "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him...?" (Ps.8:3,4). The Biblical narrative connects God to man and man with God and any other reading commits a grave injury upon the living Scriptures. Had NASA reported that "Earth 2.0" was aglow from the lights of skyscrapers, would that have stopped the theater gunman in Louisiana yesterday or the sins that each of us committed today? Perhaps we should lower our gaze from peering off into the distant heavens and try peering into the hearts and faces of those nearest to us while hearing Christ's words, "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness..." (Mt. 6:33).

Look Towards the Sleeping Face of Christ in Times of Trouble

Posted by danaduanecraft on August 3, 2015 at 8:00 PM


“… A Great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion” (Mk. 4:38).

The Lord gives us our daily bread afresh each day (Mt. 6:11) while rarely, if ever, providing for tomorrow’s bread today (Ex 16:16-21). Our wonderful Lord seems to apply this same “methodology” when it comes to answering my personal prayers. Additionally, it seems that the more urgent the petition the more His provision seems to come at the latest hour possible. Yet, He always does provide even in spite of my disagreements or grumbling (Ex. 16:2) and His provision is over and above anything I could have brought about through my own strength or effort.

This faithfulness was recently revealed with a clarity, to the point of surprise, in the answering of a petition for pastoral guidance as I have sought to help another servant through a profound and life changing trial. His particular challenge forced me to dig deep into countless different texts, articles and commentaries as I searched for answers.

The answer came not through conquering endless reading lists in seminary or even as revealed in the dirt under my fingers from being in the trenches of full-time ministry in the third world but in the simple beauty of the face of my own son.

It’s easy to preach about truly trusting in the Lord’s meeting of our daily needs yet it’s quite another “Goliath” to face while standing (seemingly alone) in the Valley of Life.

This morning Jesus gave me my spiritual and pastoral bread in blessing my heart with an incredible answer to my urgent petition. This fellow servant has been fighting the good fight of faith while trying to summit a great mountain (1 Pet. 5:8) confusion and disorder. He’s been valiantly swimming against the overwhelming and flooding waters of the LGBT’s political, social and religious charges. This tsunami has inundated his small Mid-West Baptist church-going family at its very core in the life of his beautiful and extremely gifted daughter.

My dear brother has sought help, and at times refuge, from many a saint and even from some of the best of the secular world’s Freudian devotes. Yet the storm continues to amass more strength each day. The waves are now regularly breaking over the bow of his metaphorical boat. As a father myself I have empathized with his pain since first hearing the news. My knees carry the calluses from spending so much time upon them before the Lord petitioning Him for guidance. Finally, just this morning, He answered this simple servant (Heb. 4:16).

Each morning I lay down next to my two year-old son. Pausing and taking out this half-hour to begin each day has become one of the greatest blessings our Father has ever given me. Watching him sleep, this overly-curious, bright and exceedingly sweet reflection of the All Mighty (Ps. 8), brought to mind an image of what Christ’s disciples must have seen as they were caught in the midst of a great and super-natural storm (Mt. 8:25).

These brave men, most of whom had been professional fisherman, whose families gave birth along the Sea of Galilee’s shores and who lived, worked and anonymously died there for generations, were scared for their very lives. This water had always provided for them afresh each day and now its waters broke over the bow of their tiny boat to the point of swallowing it, and all of them, into the dark depths.

In this moment, while looking upon my little Noah asleep on his pillow and listening for the slightest whisper from the Lord (1 Kings 19:12), I could feel myself being inspired by the innocence, peacefulness and sweet handsomeness which gently rested upon his profile. I thanked our wonderful Lord for his life and confessed that, in his sleeping face, I have taken in the most beautiful image my blue eyes have ever seen. However, I’m certain, that when my time comes to actually gaze upon His face … the face of the Risen One, everything else will simply fade-away like a pleasant memory.

Laying there gazing upon my sleeping son’s face and with my prayers still hanging in the air I found my answered petition in how to help my dear brother navigate through this tempest of pain in simply imaging that stormy night atop the Sea of Galilee. Thirteen men confined to a tiny wooden fishing boat, twelve of them scared beyond words, and one asleep in the stern, only the one was the One and only begotten of the Lord. I could see the broad-chested Peter angrily peering out into in the ragging sea from the tip of the bow as he was desperately trying to read the waves. Once true fear had thoroughly gripped him, he turned towards the miracle worker asleep on a cushion. I’m sure that Peter, too, had never seen a more beautiful or peaceful image up to that point in his life.

Just like the faithful Apostle, when the storms of life threaten to overflow the gunnels of our life’s tiny boat we need to pause, while turning our squinting eyes away from facing into the storm, while looking behind us to the peaceful sleeping face of our Savior. His “slumber” is not as one who neglects but as one who is confident in our Father delivering us from the crushing onslaught of crashing waves (Jn. 16:33) and our confidence must be in His deliverance and provision.

His surety and confidence in our ultimate victory allows Him, not only to be our passenger, but to actually be asleep in the stern.

Once again, I’m sure that when Peter saw the beautiful face of our incarnate Lord, his heart skipped a beat or two and he knew all would be well. Just as Christ rebuked the wind and the waves (v. 15) and they instantly ceased their raging, the fear in Peter’s heart ceased to breathe just as when snuffs out a candle with their thumb and forefinger.

Now I knew the words to share with my tortured and exhausted brother in Christ. Jesus has not, nor will ever, abandon him and all he has to do is shift His focus from trying to read the waves and trim the sails, to land upon the resting face of our Lord. In that moment, the highest seas of life’s storms will be instantly stilled and the “Liberal Winds of Change” will be silenced.

 

Thoughts on our decesion.

Posted by danaduanecraft on February 10, 2014 at 4:15 PM

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Thus far 2014 has started with a flash of lightning and a clap of Thunder! Let me start by giving a great “…shout to God with cries of joy,” (Psalm 47:1) as we embark on this New Year! .As you can see from the pictures below the new Temple unto the Lord has erupted out of the fields of corn and wild ayote! Merely having up the four concrete walls; with the door and windows cut out, has dramatically impacted the moral of the other missionaries as well as fueling a great fire [of the Holy Spirit] within the entire mountainside community.  Just for all these “Baby Christians” to finally see the new house of their Father, and thus their new home as well, has affected us deeply.  I had not expected such fervor of intensity.  Now, whether out of simple human curiosity or a form of “need” many other residents are now pursuing us instead… quite a nice change (James 2:5).  We are continuing to work ever so hard to meet the countless challenges of being able to begin holding services by the end of February.  Please keep this tiny and remote community in prayer along with our team of missionaries as we continue to search for the pastor & family who the Lord has already called to meet this greatest of challenges.

Our family spent the end of November and the first part of December back in the United States, the first time Noah and his grandparents have been able to share love and the tears of joy together since this wonderful child came into our lives.  While there I couldn’t escape the opportunity to do some real soul searching amid all the holidays celebrations, which were always accompanied by seemingly endless tables of food, forced me to really think long and hard about the kind of “life” I was striving to provide for my family…especially our young son.  Time again and again I kept coming back to one single word:  “Why?”

Sure, all of us know, by heart, our Lord’s commandment  to spread the gospel of salvation (Matt 28:18-20) to the very ends of the earth.  But was there more? Every time I looked into those ever so beautiful dark and deep eyes of my son I couldn’t help but to ask if the life we are presenting to him is correct, worth it, or even relevant  any more.

The original question began and ended in one word, “why,” and after countless hours in prayer at the feet of Christ, accompanied by at least two dozen, “brushing my teeth while looking at the man looking back out at me in the mirror moments,”  I finally had my answer to, “why,” and it too came down to a single word, “Love.” Interestingly, this single word is expressed over & over again and again and upon many different aspects of my life as the head of this tiny family, and also among my many brothers and sisters within the Kingdom (I John 4:19). Even greater sill, this single all significant word has been and is poured out upon me from the very creator God Himself. Not because I am special or even unique. But rather because He is! And this blanket of love is free to all who are cold in this harsh world. It is abundantly given to all who seek regardless of any Earthly categories where one may find themselves. While pondering this new insight I realized that our Savior’s love for me, while still in a sinful condition (Romans 5:8 ) has so changed and overwhelmed my life thus so that I cannot do anything other than to spend every waking second sharing and telling others about this love.

 

For those who know the details of my journey thus far in life know, quite well, that I wasn’t just knocking on death’s door but I had actually crossed the  threshold!  Now, while holding my wife’s hand as we watch our sleeping angel in such peace, I again return to that one word answer: LOVE.  I take in each new day as a sprinter takes in air! Gasping for and pulling every molecule of air to fill his lungs with each new step.   Every day we have, every moment of that day, we owe to the grace of our Lord God, for everyone dies, eventually.  Death seems to be the Great Equalizer in life.  And I have a choice; we have a choice of how we choose to live in this light.   We can die today by sharing the love of Christ with the societal disenfranchised or in 30 years of Leukemia or 50 years of Alzheimer’s.  To put it frankly, it doesn’t much matter “how” we die for dying is a must for all.  As theologian D.A. Carson says, “If  you live long enough you will get  cancer, longer still, you will lose your mind so what does it matter?”  What matters is “how” we live and if we have come to know God’s love for us (Jeremiah 29:11)and His promise of a better life after this one (in the new heavens and new earth) it matter, as nothing else in the world, that we share his offering to everyone we meet.

The great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, while addressing a graduating class of university students in England, only months before WW II, spoke of war and death and its relation to the Christian faith.  He remarked that war forces us to look at the “reality” of death which, in turn, dramatically changes the way we live.  Now applying that to our lives right now, in this very moment, we must realize that we will die and that only in Jesus Christ is there hope … a hope we must share.

Back in Guatemala, looking at our son sleeping again in his own bed, I now know, without any doubt, that he is growing-up in the exact place he needs to be, the place where the Lord want him to be.

Please take the time and share this message with others.  Or better yet, share your own love of Jesus with someone, anyone, you see today and search your own life, its values and your goals, and see if helping us spread  the Living Word of Jesus Christ here in the mountains of Guatemala is something you and your family would want to do.

 

"What 'is' and is 'not' the Christian Bible?"

Posted by danaduanecraft on September 10, 2013 at 5:50 PM

What ‘is’ and is ‘not’ the Christian Bible By Pastor Dana Duane Craft

I doubt that anyone ever stood up in front of an audience, with all their eyes glued intently upon them, or even one on one with a close friend, and “quoted” significant or profound statements about Melville’s, Moby Dick, or Garcia Marquez’, One Hundred Years of Solitude, without ever cracking the cover of either one. Yet alone, would they even pick up a random sentence from their twelve year olds’ American History book and proclaim it as the Ultimate authority on the American story. However, sadly, this is exactly what is being done countless times across the world every hour of every day with regards to the Bible. And the worst part about it is the very people who profess to be followers of Christ haven’t the slightest idea of what this God-man meant to His first century followers nor what He means to those of us alive today. But they are professing His teachings; as with authority and conviction, all the while not having a clue to their profundity. Hence, the lives they lead are far from the true Gospel of Christ and those around them, instead of being edified, are hardened and angered by their hypocrisy! Since we know that far too many people, who “religiously” quote from the Bible, have never really peered within its pages, let us first take a look at what the Christian Bible actually is and is not.

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To begin, the Bible is not [what we in the West] would openly call an Icon.  Yet for most people, both Christians and non-Christians alike, the Bible; while aided by mega-secularly owned and operated- “Christian” publishers, have undoubtedly come to see it in such a way.  There are, defined, two distinctly differently related, or types, of icons.  Firstly, there are traditional Icons which are referred to as, “Particular material objects that are believed to mediate a transcendent reality, and their ‘power’ to do so is created and maintained by various rituals people practice in relation to them.”

Secondly, there are Cultural Icons.  The defining of cultural icons are not nearly as precise as they represent something far less tangible, albeit, just as real in the sense that they are an anmorphism, of a belief, or system of values. They are not handcuffed to any particular material object (or person), visual image or, even, a ritual practice.  It [a Cultural Icon] can be related to a seed, encapsulating the beliefs, morals and/or judgments of the various supporting peoples who formed it.  Then, as almost always, it is planted into the most fertile of soils where it takes root and grows into something larger than life.  Let me place the two icons into contrasting analogies to better gain a foothold on where in the 21st Century Bible fits in.

In this violent, antitrust of the government, the fear of a coming police state and vigilante “Bernhard Goetz”1 type, Post-Modern America, the assault riffle (for better or worse) has become a, “Cultural Icon,” representing the fierce independence, raw power and a kind of twisted beauty which reflects America’s [assumption of the] Founding Fathers or even the extremism of the Tea-Party and its religiously devout conservative enlistees.

Given that a normal Icon has gone through a, sort of, distillation process, it is acutely adept at representing a certain segment of people at large.  A powerful reflection of this intoxicating phenomenon is to look at any major U.S. city who hosts a dominating professional sport franchise.  Take for example Pittsburgh, PA. What comes to mind first, one might hypothesize, would be; icy rains, coal mines and rusty factories long past their glory days.  In fact, most will likely, at first, think of the head smashing and bone breaking of one of the NFL’s toughest and most celebrated teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their hallowed halls are home to multiple Lombardy Trophies, busts of Hall of Famers and their stadium is full of bare chested fans, braving the cold, whose self-worth is measured by each Sunday’s performance on the Gridiron, from September through December.  They actually “live” in and through their Icon…or rather their Idol.

Unfortunately, the Holy Bible has become such a relic of a fallen society.  It has become the epitome of a Cultural Icon, in fact, an “Icon of Faith.”  To quote Timothy Beal, “The cultural icon of the Bible represents religious faith as what ‘closes the book’ on [all] questions about the meaning and purpose of life.  It puts them to rest in the name of God.  Faith is about ‘believing the right things,’ and the Bible is the place to find them.”2  No wonder when I preached this past week, in a large colonial style church here in Guatemala City, I had the audio/visual assistant project, on the suspended screen hanging behind me, and image of a large black leather Bible emblazoned with “Santa Biblia,” in gold foil, on the front … and it was standing upright yet closed…very sadly closed tightly! And, it is this, an unopened and unread Bible which is all too common among the followers of Christ Jesus today as the icon of our faith.

While a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life3 recently stated that 78 % of all Americans say [and] believe the Bible is the “Word of God,” and over half of those say that it should be taken literally.  Compare that with a study done by the Barna Group4, among those claiming to be, “Born Again,” and that number grows to nearly 9 but of 10 people (who believe the very Words of God are to be found in the Bible).

 

·        Yet (as of 2012) less than half of all adult Americans can name the first book of the Bible.

·        The same percentage number applies to those with the wisdom to name even one of the four Gospels. (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

·        More than 80% believe the Bible actually states, “God helps those who help themselves,” (which is the very antitheses of the Christian World View).  They also believe that, “The Serenity Prayer,” is actually present in the Bible and not merely beautifully crafted words of an American theologian (Reinhold Niebuhr), and commonly used by Alcoholics Anonymous.

·        Greater than half of High School, graduating seniors, believes Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife … and Joan of Arc was Noah’s Wife. 

·        Greater than a third of Americans cannot name even half of the Ten Commandments, including many Senators/Representatives and, to the surprise of the obtuse, even many Tea Party number.

 The reason(s) for these profound and discouraging facts are multifaceted and complex…far too detailed to go into here.  But in brief, this “idea” of the Bible as a Cultural Icon stems, in a great part, to a reactionary move within the Fundamentalists movement and their fear of a growing rise of Evolutionary Theory along with the propagation of German and British “Higher Criticism” of the Bible and, finally, the public spectacle of the 1925 case of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes5, aka, The Monkey Trial (please look it up).

All this head -butting and jockeying for pole -position caused a split, or  rather, a new Fundamentalists movement, to take on as a rallying cry a slogan from way back among the Reformers, “Sola Scriptura,” or, “Scripture alone.” Only this time in a dangerously radical and extreme form!  This “new” literal word-for-word interpretation has flattened the mountains, while raising the valleys, of the greatest literary work ever composed; a unifying book which unites 66 individual books [31,101 verses], written over 1,500yrs by about 40 different people ranging from kings, shepherds, attorneys, an army general, fishermen, priests, and a physician, to name just a few, and within varying cultural & historical contexts, however, ever so beautifully, conveying one universal theme: “The world is not condemned by it’s beginning to a certain ending, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”6 

Now, ordinary people, who had a natural hunger and thirst for God’s Word (yet, no structured theological education) came to expect that the Bible was merely, “An index for, easily, finding the solutions for life’s most difficult questions.”  They, unfortunately believed, that being good Christians meant that they had to believe in and follow this new trend [a consistent literal interpretation] even when the Spirit within them urged them otherwise. Interestingly, this myopic lens for viewing Scripture has only been around since the mid-nineteenth century. 7 Thus, they assumed, life’s difficult questions could always be quickly broken down into basic words and then applied to Scripture the way Google is utilized in our own culture. However, the Bible contains poetry, prophecy, narrative, epistles/letters, genealogical, history, laws, parables and wisdom literature. (It is truly a sin to apply this kind of interpretative technique as a blanket to all of Scripture) and it is impossible to feed upon God’s living Word in such a generic means. Then upon actually picking up the Bible, they quickly became discouraged, frustrated and eventually used it solely to list familial births and deaths or as a fancy bookshelf adornment. All the while they were left on their own in this harsh world to seek out varying deceptive religions, or spiritualisms, to be their guide instead of the true Word of God.

Thus, the relatively recent Fundamentalist approach has caused dire cultural damages way beyond anyone’s dreams (except for the Devil himself), and as Biblical literacy has plummeted the major publishing houses have made a killing, in revenue, by recklessly offering “newer” and “easier” to read and understand Bibles tailored to one’s specific needs and wants. 8 The reason seems quite clear for most…since the Bible can’t be copyrighted9 publishers have been forced to seek alternative avenues to allow for humanity’s natural hunger for God’s Word to become the motor to drive an incredible revenue engine.10 Thus, we now have for example, “The Manga Bible,”11 (by the Christian publishing giant, Zondervan-owned by News Corp., who IS Rupert Murdoch), see image below:


 Also, among the “new take on God’s timeless Word,” we now have, The Bride’s Bible, The Celebrate Recovery Bible, The Strength and Honor Bible for Young Men of Color Bible,” etcetera.  Their profits lines are in a direct inverse proportion to our societal ills.  People are still hungry for God’s unadulterated word and while reading some spoon-fed, specialty bible, driven by money-hungry publishing giants…which are telling them in what way and how to interpret God’s Word, they “think” they are satisfying that appetite, but they are starving to death!   All they are doing is filling up on hollow calories, like eating a candy bar when your body need actually wants/needs fruits and vegetables to fight-off cancer.

I’ll take a look, in greater depth on these various issues in future blogs. For example, I hope to expose, “how” so many of these highly specialized and nitch-marketed bibles offer hundreds of pages of “notes” supposedly to illumine the text for us. Or in other words, to spoon-feed our Souls the water-downed Word of God as, in His ignorance, He chose to communicate to us in a method which is way above our heads. I have read countless “synopses” of incredible biblical events summed up in a mere (21st Century) sentence or two. Where is the “space” for the Lord to speak to us or to show us a different/unique or even an unseen point of view? Is the story of King David and Goliath only about a young boy’s bravery against an ignorant brute…or is it way deeper than that? Let’s take the time, and effort, to explore these issues together.

 

I’d like to end this blog with a quote from Annie Dillard, which seems to sum up this incredible (and intimate) journey each of us undertakes each time we pick up God’s Word…and open its cover, “…trusting that it’s not about the end product but about the process.” Doesn’t this represent our authentic walk through life’s ups & downs with Christ? Why shouldn’t we think that an infinite Creator and Lord wouldn’t chose to provide us with just as profound a text with which to seek Him out?

                         

NOTE: As this began as a simple blog entry & not a thesis, the footnotes are brisk and somewhat lacking in detail. However, for anyone interested, I will happily guide them in the right direction…thanks for understanding.

 

1  http.//eightiesclub.tripod.com/id311.htm

2  Timothy Beal, The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book. (Boston, MA: First Mariner Books, 2012).  Beal continues, “...so the cultural icon of the Bible often becomes a substitute for a vital life of faith, which calls not for the obedient adherence to clear answers but thoughtful engagement with ultimate questions. The Bible itself invites that kind of engagement. [However] the iconic image of it as a book of answers discourages it. Pg. 21.

3  http.//www.pewforum.org/

4  https.//www.barna.org/

5 Ray Ginger, Six Days or Forever? Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes. (Oxford University Press, 1974).

6  Peter Leithart, 1 & 2 KINGS. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006).

7  Timothy Beal, “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book”. Pg.8.

8  2005- there were 6,134 different copyrighted Bibles sold. (600 more than in 2004)  -Timothy Beal, “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book”. Pg.49.

9  2007-over 25 million Bibles were sold, producing revenues of $770 million (US) this equates to a 26% increase since 2005. (I believe the financial shock, unpopular & immoral wars along with the rise of grave domestic social ills played a major role in this increase, thus, in 2008 alone, revenues of $823.5 million! [While all other revenues on books sales declined] -Timothy Beal, “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book”. Pg.34.

10 The Bible itself is not copyrighted, but many translations are, such as the Phillips, NIV, Moffatt, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, Amplified, The Message and NASB. According to US law, a work is automatically in the Public Domain if it is pre-1923. Thus, the only way for a publisher to profit from printing & selling Bibles is to “somehow” alter them. In layman’s terms, to create a Biblical text which can be placed under the protection of a copyright a new paraphrase, or translation, must be written. (I will speak, in a future blog on the distinct differences between a translation based on a purely “Functional Equivalence “vs. one done under the guise of having a “Meaning Driven” translation philosophy. 

11 Shin Lee, Brett Bumer, Bud Rogers & Jung Sun Hwang, Manga Bible, Vol. 1: Names, Games, and the Long Road Trip (Genesis, Exodus), (Zondervan, 2007).

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"Lost" Within Only Two Generations."

Posted by danaduanecraft on August 23, 2013 at 8:25 AM

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“Lost” Within Only Two Generations by Dana Duane Craft

 Imagine, for a moment, a world wide event so urgent, so powerful and so dangerous that its rage was sufficient to, literally, pull everyone “out” of their day to day lives and be torn from their families, dreams & hopes. Now imagine that his event became the personification of evil and all were commanded to drink from its cup.  Women, children, grandparents and newlyweds, gypsies, Jews, and Christians, the brilliant as well as the not-so bright, the rich and especially, the poor … for no one had immunity.

 This evil demanded the attention of men and the sacrifice of their very lives. This darkness exploded up over the horizon in the West while ulcerating among our brothers and sisters to the East. The First World War, also called the Great War - The War to End All Wars; turned out to only be the appetizer to a much larger entree to come.

 The apostle Paul, in his passionate letter to the struggling Christians in Rome, speaks of ‘how’ the hearts of men, when cut off from God, turn to envy, murder, inventors of [all kinds] of evil … and the world witnessed this from the ‘ovens’ throughout the forests of Poland and Germany as the ashes of God’s chosen people drifted painfully  up and away on the winds.  As mighty King Nebuchadnezzar once did, now a “king” of a new Babylon tried to erase any trace of the once mighty people. The people from whence God, incarnate, would come in order to offer eternal salvation.

 As great armies were amassed to fight along the coasts and in the air and across the farmlands and oceans the tides and streams turned red as from a chapter of the apostle John’s Revelation. More than [conservative estimates] 65-85 million men poured out their souls to free the world of this darkness’ grip. (These numbers include not the innocent lives of women & children).  So great was this fight that a whole generation of men and women, forever, became known as “The Greatest Generation.”

 This brings me to the reason for this post; Edmund Burk said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Growing up in the heartland of America and seeing all the veterans, on holidays, and the ‘old guys’ all hanging out at the local V.F.W. ,I had always assumed that the terrors of WWII would not, nor could not, ever be forgotten, or lost to the memoirs of time.  Yet, last Sunday I found myself in complete & utter shock when speaking with a group of young adults here in Guatemala.

 A mere three hour flight from Miami, even shorter from Texas or California, were a couple of dozen (future) leaders who hadn’t even heard of the Holocaust, the propaganda machine of the Third Reich nor the Empire of Japan or the “Little Boy,” nor his brother, “Fat Man,” who between them, instantly vaporized 128,000 Japanese civilians and tormented another 120,000+ with burns and cancers in the ensuing months!   Granted, Guatemala has recently come out of a 36 year civil war (which, incidentally affected very few who lived outside of the indigenous villages in the mountains), and they experienced their own hoard of war crimes and even had a general convicted of “Crimes Against Humanity” [Rios Mott].

 Yet, I wonder how many back in the States, under 24, live under this cloud of ignorance? I wonder if such a close neighbor to the United States, and [who] make up such a high number of new immigrants will not spread this dangerous lack of an awareness of history.  For the past year I have preached all over Guatemala that, as we see Western Europe today, that will become the United States in less than five years…referring to its secularization. And what/where America is today will be what will be Guatemala in no time at all. But, perhaps, in this instance, I’ve been dead wrong.  For the Guatemalan youth of today represent the (near) future youth of the United States…and what will that entail for the rest of the World?

Our "REAL" Need

Posted by danaduanecraft on July 16, 2013 at 8:15 PM

I have found that the, "Great Revival," of Latin America, which everyone said would even eclipse the Reformation, hasn't panned out as expected! A great many have, thankfully, left the Roman Catholic Church to join Evangelical circles...yet they are now listed among the growing number of the, "Non-religious," as they found their way into congregations where the pastors is  either ill-prepared & undereducated, or an opportunists looking to turn a quick Quetzal.  Painfully, I have come to hear a common chant down here which goes, "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life!" Aside from the obvious theological problem(s) of this mentality is that a flock cannot be sustained merely upon the miraculous only; as the supernatural occurrences, though real, are all too infrequent! Thus, after a year or two, the famished congregants flee the church broken hearted & embittered.  And just a short distance down the path, from which they walked “out” on Rome, they arrive in the midst of a Spiritual wasteland.  A desert of lost souls searching inside every new-age fad, or as in the case in Central America, even going back to a romanticized pagan heritage of the once mighty Maya.

This rapid, “Neo-Pentecostal,” movement, as I refer to it, has quickly placed a great many men behind the pulpit who are ill-equipped, though many are without doubt, authentically called. Yet, because of this lack of having so few church leaders having spent any time under the roof of a Seminary, or even holding any thirst for any sort of real Biblical study, an overabundance of great heresies have entered the Guatemalan  church! Let me add, the "health-and-wealth" gospel spewing out of the States with the likes of Copeland, Hagin & Hinn has found very fertile soil here in the Land which I love! We now even have our own version of the leader of the whole Oprah crowd-Joel Osteen, in a prosperity preacher by the name of Cash Luna. “How” could anyone go wrong with a name, which in Spanish translates into [the] Money Moon!

Granted, Christianity has now over two millennia’s worth of rich history behind us. And, to the surprise of those of the far-left (and now the far-right), along with other critics, the Christian church has brought with it countless blessings to those lands in which it has taken root. Far more “good” than “bad.” But as with anything involving fallen man, there will inevitably be sin running within its veins. However, just take a look at how Christians worship across the globe…it is as varied as the skin tones & the languages the hymns are sung in.  Now contrast this kaleidoscopic-reality with the picture most people paint of the indoctrinating and dehumanizing image of the Christian missionary.

The reality of a “Global Christianity” is far, far removed from those darken ideas perpetrated by the lost. It is a beautiful image, way beyond words, to think of this grand world…a gem of God’s creation, all worshiping our Creator together in our own ways. Anglicans and Baptists, Methodists and Greek Orthodox, and  be it from the towering cathedrals of Europe, thatch huts in Swaziland or from store-front churches in Guatemala City, all of us as true Brothers and Sisters. As each culture adds its own layer upon the intricate fabric which is the living faith of Christ we must take great care and go to the utmost of extremes to insure that this living tapestry remains strong, orthodox and true. And the only way my son and my son’s son will still have this lively faith to build their own lives upon is if we, in the here and now, do all we can to be true teachers of the Gospel and undertake the long-term task of disciple making within the correct doctrine, the common and true apostolic doctrine from the times of old. If not, then in places where the people’s faith is the strongest, in Third-World, then the likeness of Jesus will end up replacing the face of Coke-a-Cola’s red and white Santa Clause for the next generation.

 


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