Monday, May 29, 2006

Proud People vs. Broken People

I just finished re-reading Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book, Brokenness: The Heart God Revives. There are few books that I have found as convicting as this one. She goes into great detail about what makes a person's heart proud and how brokenness before God and others is a necessary reality in order to truly experience personal revival.

DeMoss recounts the story of the revival that happened among Campus Crusade staff out at staff training in the summer of 1995. I didn't join the staff of Campus Crusade until a few months after this happened so I wasn't there, but DeMoss shares about how God met all those present in a deep way. Sincere awakening happened among those present as many people confessed their sins. And trust me, those of us that are missionaries struggle with all the sins everybody else does... we just attempt to do a better job of acting like we've got it all together.

DeMoss provides a list of the different characteristics of "Proud People vs. Broken People." There are over thirty areas on the list so I won't list them all, but here is a sampling:
  • Proud people focus on the failures of others; broken people are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need.
  • Proud people have a critical, fault-finding spirit and look at everyone else's faults with a microscope, but their own with a telescople; broken people are compassionate and can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven.
  • Proud people are self-righteous and look down on others; broken people esteem all others better than themselves.
  • Proud people have to prove that they are right; broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.
  • Proud people desire to be served; broken people are motivated to serve others.
  • Proud people desire self-advancement; broken people desire to promote others.
  • Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated; broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness and are thrilled that God would use them at all.
  • Proud people feel confident in how much they know; broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.
  • Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin; broken people are grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.
  • Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor; broken people compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.
  • Proud people don't think they need revival, but that everyone else does; broken people continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.
I don't know about you, but after reading this list, I'm confronted with the fact of how filled with pride I am. I frequently blame others instead of accepting my own wrongs. I want to be served instead of serving others. I want to be recognized above others. I justify my own sin, but want to bring others' sins out into the light. I tell myself how much better I am than others, but fail the test when compared with God.
After reading through this book, I've begun again to pray more consistently that God would root out the pride and sin in my heart and replace it with brokenness, humility and grace. If you'd like to order a copy of this book you can follow this link.
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Friday, May 26, 2006

Asian Americans on Campus

The influence of Asian American students continues to grow across America. Christianity Today recently had an article focusing on the growing number of Asian Americans at our top colleges and universities and how this is translating to increased numbers involved in evangelical ministries. The Epic Movement is mentioned and friends Dennis Chen and Tommy Dyo are both interviewed in the article. You can read it here.

And Jaeson Ma, a great young leader that a number of our leaders in Epic and the Campus Ministry have become familiar with in recent months, was featured in an interview on The 700 Club. You can read the transcript of the interview here and you can learn more about Jaeson's ministry at his website,

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Religious Affiliation of History's 100 Most Influential People

I came across this ranking of not only history's most influential people, but also their religious affiliation. The list comes from Michael H. Hart, whose book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, is what the list is based on. His top five, in this order, are:

1) Muhammad
2) Isaac Newton
3) Jesus Christ
4) Buddha
5) Confucious

Here is the explanation on why Jesus Christ was not ranked first,

"It is not uncommon for people to wonder why Jesus is not ranked first on this list. As far as the way the list appears on this web page, the answer is simple: We have reproduced Hart's list in exactly the order he wrote it. But it is true that many people, both Christians and secular historians, would have ranked Jesus first on a list of the world's most influential people. Hart said that he himself would have ranked Jesus first, if all the people who today identify themselves as Christians actually followed Jesus's teachings more substantially. He considers contemporary Muslims more influenced by Muhammad than contemporary Christians are by Jesus.

Also, Hart's outlook was essentially secular in outlook. He did consider the doctrinal role of Jesus in human salvation as taught by Christianity. Muhammad, on the other hand, carved out an actual, geographic empire during his lifetime. Christians as well as historians agree that Jesus himself conquered no lands and led no armies during his lifetime."

Did you catch that? If people who identified themselves as Christians actually followed the teachings of Christ more substantially, then Jesus would be considered more influential. Of course, this list means nothing in the whole scheme of things. It is merely one man's opinion, but it does get you thinking.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Principles of Crossing Cultures

One of the scariest things that people can do is interacting with people of another culture. The differences in language, food, customs, values, music, humor and dress can all be so intimidating that it's hard for us to get up the nerve to travel to another country, much less spend time with other Americans of another ethnicity. There are some similarities between crossing cultures in other parts of the world and in doing so here in the U.S., but there are some significant differences.

Most notably, those of us that are Americans have a shared history and are raised with certain prejudices towards others that are different than us. In our own country, we have strong convictions about how people should act, dress and talk. Whereas when in another part of the world, we are more likely to try to adjust to the dominant culture rather than requiring them to conform to our way of life. For those of us in the majority (white) culture, we can neglect to reach out cross-culturally for fear of offending or of being rejected. We allow fear to dictate our actions rather than living by faith in how God would want us to live.

In order to cross cultures, there are a few fundamental principles that we need to live out in order to be effective in befriending those of a different cultural background than our own. Though these principles apply to anyone, they are written with the majority culture in mind. Since ethnic minorities have to interact with the majority culture on a regular basis, many of these principles have already been learned. Here are six areas that, when put into practice, can help us have more positive experiences in cross-cultural relationships within the U.S.:

1. Sincerity - The most important element to crossing cultures is to just be yourself. Don't try to be someone that you're not. Don't change your language, clothing, etc. to just try to "fit in." If you come across as not being genuine, others will see right through it and your credibility will be lost. So don't try to do a complicated handshake with an African American if you don't know what you're doing; don't try to rap or "beatbox" if you don't have experience with it; don't comment to Japanese-Americans how much you like Chinese food. As you build friendships with those different than you, you need to be vulnerable in asking questions. It is within those "safe" relationships where you can ask questions that will help you gain greater insights into their culture.

2. Emphasis on Relationship - Family connectedness is a high value within Latin, African and Asian cultures. Tasks are not nearly as important as relationships. If people feel like you're trying to befriend them simply so that you can be their "cultural tour guide," they will feel more like an experiment than a friend. You can't really call someone a true friend if you've never spent time with them in their world, with their family, in their home or if you don't even know their last name. No one wants to be your token black, Asian or Hispanic friend. Please do not utter the phrase "I can't be a racist. One of my best friends is (fill-in-the-blank)" if you just happen to have a co-worker or teammate of that ethnicity. My question is: "Would they say the same about you? Would they consider you one of their best friends?" True relationship and friendship involves you being a part of someone's world, not just them always meeting you on your "turf."

3. Trustworthiness - Due to historical oppression of ethnic minorities in America, there can be a distrust towards those of us of the majority culture. As a white person, it's really not me as an individual necessarily that has caused mistrust, it is what my face represents. Therefore, it's important that others know that you are not spending time with them for personal benefit (i.e. to alleviate white guilt), but rather because you really want to get to know them. You may have to go out of your way to demonstrate that you are trustworthy. Inevitably, as in any relationship, conflict will arise in cross-cultural relationships. Will you stay and work it out when the going gets tough or will you end the relationship because of a disagreement? You can earn trust by working through conflict and, again, by spending time in your friend's world.

4. Sensitivity - You can be sensitive to those of other cultures by getting to know the history of their people and their way of life. Find out what things are important to those within their culture. Spending time with them in their world is the most tangible way to learn about their values, but you can also learn a lot through reading books and articles, visiting websites, and watching movies pertaining to their culture. Find out if there are certain words or phrases that can be "hot buttons" to them. Ask if there are ways that you come across that can be demeaning. There is a plethora of little things that happen each day that can rub ethnic minorities the wrong way. By learning about these things and avoiding them, you can demonstrate a sensitivity to them.

5. Teachability - Be willing to learn from their culture and their experiences. American history does not just involve those of European descent. We have a rich history that is represented through many different people groups. Most children are required to learn about European American history, but do you really know the history of other people groups that helped to build this country. Do you fully appreciate the role that African Americans played in what America has become? Do you understand how Asian immigrants helped to build this great land? Do you know about the things that Native Americans taught the early colonists? We need to be intentional about learning about other ethnic groups and the current social and political issues that affect them. We all have a lot to learn from one another and no one people group contains all knowledge and wisdom.

6. Servanthood - Having an attitude of service can help counter any tendency towards superiority or ethnocentrism. An attitude of servanthood says that I am making myself available to you to help you meet your objectives and goals, not my own. You're asking, "How can I serve you?" instead of, "How can you serve me?" There is probably no greater contemporary example of this than the response among college students in coming to the gulf coast to help serve the residents there who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Instead of years past when black New Orleans residents were forced to help clean out the homes of white people, thousands of white, college-educated students willingly gave of their time, energy and money to serve the black residents of New Orleans.

I hope these principles will help you as you step out in faith to befriend those of different cultures than your own.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Looking For a New Church?

Thanks to my friend, Rob, who found this through his friend, Paul. I really don't watch "King of the Hill," but the insights into church culture here seem astonishingly accurate. Unlike the often biting critique of Christianity that shows like "South Park" display, this seems to be pretty right-on-the-money...unfortunately.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Back to New Orleans

I've just wrapped up another week in New Orleans. I wasn't there for recovery efforts this time, but for a "Planting and Growing Movements Training" conference. I joined with about 70 other Campus Crusade staff from around the country to discuss what it means to plant and grow new movements on campuses. The conference was made up mostly of staff who are new to our Catalytic ministry, which is comprised of staff who lead ministries in metro, state and distance situations. I was able to lead a session on "The Basics of Crossing Cultures" and also participated in some Q and A sessions.

One of the best parts of the conference was the lift that we were able to provide to our staff here in New Orleans. We have not had a staff team there for some years, but have a team that will be in place for the upcoming school year. We will be able to capitalize on the contacts that we made with students and churches through the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts as the team seeks to help launch a number of ministries in the fall. We spent Wednesday this week out on the campuses of New Orleans -- Xavier, Tulane, U. of New Orleans, Dillard and Delgado Comm. College -- doing what we call "decoding."

Decoding is when we take time to prayer walk a campus, learn about the demographics, gather valuable information and talk with students and administration. I joined with a few others to go to Dillard University. Dillard is a historically black college that was severely hit by the flooding after Katrina. Having a normal enrollment of 2,200 students, only about 1,000 students are now attending. Students have classes at a hotel, some of the administration meets in one building and the top officials meet in another.

We met with some of the administration in the downtown building that currently houses their offices and got some contact information of some leaders on campus. We then drove over to the actual Dillard campus to walk the grounds and pray for the students that would be on the campus in the fall. After that, we drove through some of the areas of the city that have yet to recover from the hurricane. None of those that were with me had seen the city since Katrina, and we prayed for the residents and the city as we drove through the neighborhoods.

When faced with realities like what currently exists in New Orleans, you wonder what you can do. Campus Crusade has contributed significantly as we've sent over 10,000 people to the gulf coast since the hurricane, and these thousands of workers have gutted over 3,000 homes. Our efforts have saved residents literally millions of dollars in costs of what they would have had to pay professionals to gut their homes.

In addition to the manual labor that we've provided, the prayer walking we've done is also significant. God hears our prayers and answers and it is a valuable way that we can contribute to the spiritual renewal of New Orleans. And that renewal is needed. I spent one evening this week in the French Quarter on Bourbon Street and I couldn't believe the sin that is there. I can't imagine what it must be like during Mardi Gras. Without going into details, the debauchery there is severe and the move of God's Spirit is certainly needed. Please continue to pray for God to move among the heart's of those in New Orleans and those that will be moving back into the city.