Thursday, April 14, 2016

Preaching as Book Report

My mom and I occasionally talk about her experiences of churches. She has bounced around a lot in finding a church home since she became an empty nest parent. These days she is living in Phoenix, and attending a nationally known non-denominational mega church. It seems to work well for her and her boyfriend, who recently made a commitment to Christ followed by being baptized in this church.

Mom and Hal go to church on Saturday nights most of the time. Then they go out and socialize after church. I giggle when they say they show up late on purpose so they don't have to listen to the "rock concert" style of musical worship.

They really enjoy the messages of this nationally renowned preacher and leader. When they first began attending this church, the church was working through "The Story", which is a large-scale campaign based out of what used to be Max Lucado's church in Texas and a mainstream publisher. My mom's boyfriend especially enjoyed becoming grounded in the basics of the Bible's narrative arc.

A couple of months ago, mom told me about another sermon series that they were concluding. They were excited because the author of the book that the pastor was preaching on was attending their worship service. I asked, "Mom, does this guy basically preach book reports?" She laughed.

"I suppose," she said, "well, not always," she went on, "I really enjoy the way he speaks and what he has to say, I think you would too."

I have mixed feelings about book report sermons. I have done sermons, generally one or two short series' a year, based upon the content of a book. This is most common with our stewardship campaign. This year I also borrowed from a book for Advent. However, mostly when I do this, I just borrow a few chapter titles, and maybe one or two good stories from the book in a two week span.

Good reading informs preaching, but should not be the foundation of it. That is my opinion anyway. What is yours?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Sympathy for the Pharisees

I lead two bible studies on Wednesday afternoon. The first place I lead Bible Study is at the Brookside Apartments. They are a part of the Hot Springs Housing Authority, and that organization receives funding to rent to tenants on a sliding scale based upon their income. The second place I teach at is at Pine Hills Retirement Community, which is a little less than two miles away, up on top of the hill overlooking the town. Pine Hills is privately owned, and provides independent living and assisted living apartments for seniors, as well as housing an Alzheimer's unit. They are both fun groups, although the Pine Hills group has been more exciting for me the last few months. Both groups are now in different stages of studying the gospel of John.

One of the unique characteristics I have noticed among my Pine Hills group is that as we have studied the gospel of John, they have developed a sympathy for the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of their day. They were at one time, leaders of the church and political leaders of the Ancient Israelites, who were at the time occupied by the Roman army. They were the Moral Majority leaders of their days, calling the people to a renewal of holiness in the private and public spheres.

This sympathy began to develop in John 6, where after feeding the 5000, when Jesus begins to engage in a series of confrontations with the Pharisees regarding Jesus' moral authority. Jesus says things like "I am the Bread from Heaven" (John 6:52) and later goes on to say, "before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). The ladies assure me that their faith is not in doubt, but also assert that if they had heard what the Pharisees had heard from some fellow claiming to be the Messiah, they would have had their reservations about believing in his claims as well.

This Wednesday we discussed John 9. In John 9, a man born blind is healed. The Pharisees are still threatened by Jesus, this time by his healing on the Sabbath, They are also concerned in making sense of what Jesus is doing. What are the implications of a healing of a man born blind? Does this demand our opposition of him, or our support of his ministry? It is a fascinating chapter in Scripture.

We discussed for a while why the Pharisees might be concerned about this fellow that was healed. I explained that the Pharisees had put a lot of time and effort in organizing and controlling the behavior of the Israelites, and that Jesus, both by his teaching and his miracles, was beginning to unravel that sense of forward direction and control of religious practices and authority.

Then it was time for me to confess my sympathy for the Pharisees.

I told them this story. "It is like this in a way, " I said, "there was this gentleman that visited our church on Easter...."

William was the name of our visitor. He had first visited our Bible Study that meets before church. Then, he made his way into the sanctuary. I was setting up on the platform before the service. William called to me. We spoke. It was about 20 minutes before the service started. He engaged me in an empassioned, franetic, and difficult to track conversation for about 10 minutes. He used to live here in town nearly 20 years ago he told me. He was up at the VA Hospital in Sturgis, and after running several tests on him, they sought to admit him to the psych ward. He refused to go. "I am just full of the Holy Spirit," he said jumping up and down, shaking, a bandage over his head, and wires attached to monitors on his body. "I am pastor of the Universal Church of (something), I am a shepherd of about 2 million souls."

I smiled and visited and attempted to disengage from the conversation several time. Eventually I got him comfortably seated, and then went to the back of the sanctuary. "Jerry, we have an adventure for you today," I said to our usher for the day, "there is a rather interesting fellow sitting up front that appears to mentally ill. I may need your help with him."

"What do you want me to do?," Jerry asked.

"I don't know. You guys will know how to handle the situation right if it comes to needing to ministering with him in other ways. Just wanted to give you a heads up."


My anxiety level was pretty high by the time the service started. We began with singing. No problem. We had a responsive call to worship. He began to shout out the "leader" portion after the leader, instead of reading the response in the responsive reading. All the while, I am at one time trying to lead with enthusiasm, but also saying to myself, "How am I going to manage this problem?"

I like to love people as unique people made by God, and brought into my life for a reason. This man was beginning to be a "problem to be managed." I don't like that attitude. But I wanted to have at least a few people return after their annual Easter visit. I had sympathy for the Pharisees.

Somehow, as he began to shout out his need for an apartment during announcements, I had to move along to the next song, and then sit down behind him, and tell him that I could introduce him to people in the rental business after the service. "Thank you. And ok, preacher, I will try and be quieter." I felt bad. But I was doing what I had to do.

Later in the service he threw bread at my object lesson with the children, among other things. I tried to be understand and tried to be open to how the Spirit was working among us with this curveball that had been sent our way. But I was not about to let go of control of the service. I had an event to manage, constituents to serve, a sermon to preach. Instead of leaving the 99 sheep for the one lost sheep, I had sympathy for the Pharisees. I did my religious duty, I managed the problem.

But that does not mean I don't wonder whether I did the wrong thing or the right one.....

New Beginnings: A little devotional YouTube I do for our church

Friday, April 01, 2016

Lost and Found: A Poem

It is in the confusion
of a lost moment
where your habits
are stripped
like threads from a screw
that you might find the new you
that went missing
in the chaos
of the human zoo

It is in the dark room
of fumbling confusion
where the beautiful
glimmers of light
begin to form a picture
that can shape
the rest of your life
reborn in the
everyday world
of light

Despise not the dark
or the lost times
that may
bring you home
or beyond home
to that place
you are determined
destined to go
a mystery made
for you to abide in

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Therefore, Run: An Easter Sermon

Therefore, Run
When Jennifer and I were dating, there would be moments, when she was wanting me to hurry up or stop being distracted in the office supply section in the store, where she would urge me to hurry up and move along. And, at some point, putting on my best Forrest Gump voice, I would yell at her from down the aisle, in an embarrassingly loud voice, “I am running Jenny” and then I would awkwardly run to catch up with her. I have made a habit of doing this kind of thing as we have went along in our marriage, even when I was training for my 5k last year and the year before. Why not? Making a fool of myself is one of my most endearing qualities.

The act of running has an interesting story in Biblical history. I did a word study on the concept this week. For the average Jewish person, running was not behavior that was engaged in for sport or to maintain or build physical health. Sometimes running was done to flee temptation (Joseph), and was often engaged in with military conflict. Running was often used metaphorically for something that was done in haste.
One of my favorite Scriptures says that young men will be able to “run and no be weary”. (Isaiah 40)

Yet, there was a sense, especially by the time of Jesus, that running was often considered undignified. You see, you would be wearing a robe, and in order to run and not trip you would have to pull up your robe and expose your legs, which was considered a little shameful, a little embarrassing. This is one of the things that makes the parable of the Prodigal Son so powerful. At that point in history, if a son was discovered to have squandered his inheritance among the Gentiles, he would be drug in front of the leaders of the community, they would grab a bowl, break it, and tell the young man that he was now cut off from his people for his shameful behavior. Public humiliation. Yet, with the Father’s running to the prodigal, the Father short circuits the shaming of the Son by taking the shame upon himself.

In Christ, God has come running to us. Stooping to us. Taking our shame upon himself, so that we can have a new life, a renewed hope, through placing our faith in him, trusting him with our lives by surrendering our lives to his authority.

Anyway, all of this is helpful to know when we get to resurrection accounts in the Gospel of John. Why? Because everyone is running with the accounts of the resurrection. John 20:2 says that Mary Madgalene runs from the empty tomb to find Peter and John. She tells the men about the empty tomb, and they run as well. John tells us that he got there first, but tells us that Simon Peter goes barreling into the tomb as soon as he gets to the scene. Then they leave. The grave clothes are there, but the body is not? What are they to make of this?

We are left to wonder that too. And part of what we are to make of this event has to do with the response of those first three witnesses of the resurrection: Mary, Peter, and John. When they hear of the open tomb, they cannot help but run. They run from the grave, and they run to it.

Are we to believe that this running would have been shameful? I don’t know. I think what we are to hear is that they simply did not care. This news that Jesus’s tomb was empty, that he may have been risen from the dead, that God has turned the world rightside-up through raising Christ from the dead, this was worth running to, even if they looked goofy, embarrassed or shamed themselves.

Two thousand years from that first Resurrection morning, to empty tomb, my friends, is still worth running to. It is the pivot point in history. The message of new life, of hope, of life after death, of the victory of our conquering King Jesus is still urgent for you, for me, for our friends and our family, and for our world. It still has the power to set prisoners free, to make the broken whole, to reconcile enemies and to bring joy from ashes, and hope from despair. The empty tomb still has the power to change lives. I know, as imperfect as I am, it has and is changing my life.

During Lent, we have been studying Hebrews to immerse ourselves in understand the greatness of Jesus Christ. We have learned over and over again, our need for the Jesus who loved us enough to come to us in human form, to live a perfect life, to die on a cross, to rise again in victory, and to ascend to sit at the right hand of God.
We have contemplated all of this, and now on Easter morning, we are confronted with Hebrews 12, and the “now what?” in light of the resurrection. Jesus has died and risen. He has suffered for us. He has offered us new life. Now what?

The author of Hebrews invites us to get running!

Now, Hebrews is written to Hellenistic Jews. Jews that were not native to all of the national history and customs of the Land of Israel, but folks who had tried to follow the Scriptures in exile spread out all around the ancient world. In the Greek world, athletic competition was common. And one of those competitions had to do with running. Running competitions has ties to military in ancient Greece and Rome.

Marathon, for example, was a messenger who ran from the battle field to announce the victory of the Athenians over the Persians. He came bringing good news. There were no phones or television then of course, so news of battle news was passed on through messengers that relayed the news, running from place to place. These messengers were called evangels when they had positive reports. Thus to be an evangelist is a person relaying good news about a victory that has been won. And evangelical is one who is a person who believes in the good news of victory in Christ, and lives in faith about that good news.

He compares the story of faith among God’s people to a relay race run in full view of all of the people of history. In Hebrews 11, as we looked at last week, the preacher who preached the content of the book of Hebrews gets on a roll. He begins to recount the history of the people of God. They have followed God in faith. Seth. Moses. Abraham. Noah. Isaiah. David. The prophets. The judges. Each ran the race. The lived by faith. Like relay racers, they passed the baton to the next generation. And each generation, one way or another, lived carried on that faith and passed it on to the next generation. Sometimes better. Sometimes worse.

And now, having the benefit of knowing about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the baton is passed to us. And all of the saints that have come before us make up a cloud of witnesses. And that cloud of witnesses shouts to us, in light of the good news we have to live and to share about Jesus Christ, they shout RUN!

How are we to run?
The author of Hebrews gives us some very helpful advice of how we are to live, of how we are to run the race, in light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

1.    Fix our eyes on Jesus
The resurrection reminds us that our faith is not in religion, or an organization, it is in the leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ. In light of the resurrection we run to him! We fix our eyes upon who Jesus is. We say, because Jesus died for me, I am going to live for him. Our life becomes about loving the way Jesus loved, being strong and bold for truth the way Jesus was, and remembering that Jesus is the standard that we hold everything against. His resurrection proves he is greater than anyone. His resurrection shows that he has power over sin, death, and the evil one. So our focus should be on what he wants us to do, and where he wants us to go. Get focused on Jesus and what is going on around him.

2.   Throw off sin
Jesus died so that you can be victorious. Not so that you could wallow around in sin, and have it tie you up and tie you down. If we have faith that Jesus is risen, that trust then spurs us on to living with a trust that God’s way is better than our way, and that the wisdom of the Word is greater than the wisdom of the world.
If you truly trust, believe in, and love Jesus, your life will be marked by eliminating the self-centered, destructive, sinful life you have left behind. You will begin to trust that God knows what is best for you better than you think you do, and you will begin to eliminate from your life those things that stand in opposition to Christ and your soul.
3.    Throw off anything that gets in the way

In the movie UP!, there is this endearing dog that is devoted to the main characters in the story. Unfortunately, what happens is that the dog is easily distracted. He is puttering along, doing good things, and then he sees a squirrel. And he goes chasing after that squirrel and gets distracted from the things he is meant to do.
In light of the resurrection of Christ, your life is about one thing. Sometimes sin gets in the way. Both other times we are just so easily distracted with a million different things that we are impeded from being the transforming, world-changing, neighbor-reaching, community building people Christ has called us to be. We can be like the dog, that lets the squirrels around us get in the way of truly living a victorious life in Christ.

We get stuck doing things in our lives that keep us from private devotion or worship, or public worship here. We get distracted from the needs of our neighbors with our own business and our cell phones. Sin is always gets in our way of running the race well. But there are good things that can steal our focus too.

4.   Persevere

A life lived trusting God means that we need to persevere. There are times when walking with Christ is just difficult. Maybe we experience a dark night of the soul. Or maybe circumstances steal our motivation to stay faithful to Christ. Remember, at this point, that we are running a race. There are moments that we may want to quit. It is imperitive we don’t. We have a great cloud of witnesses cheering for us. We know through the resurrection that victory is ours. Let us not abandon trusting the Way of Jesus because of temporary discomfort. Persevere!

5.    Endure opposition and hardship
Both from the evil one, and from others around us, running the race of faith is difficult. You will be attacked for doing what Jesus tells you to do. They attacked him too, the author of Hebrews says here, but stand strong. You will endure suffering for doing the right thing. Your kindness will not always be returned. You will be pushed aside. Keep pushing. Keep running. If you are doing anything important, there will be people who will oppose you, who will stand against you, who will seek to drag you down. RUN. KEEP RUNNING.

6.   Consider who you are running to
Run to Jesus. Consider what he went through to win you, and how little you endure in comparison. Consider what Christ did for you, and how much loved you. And then remain faithful, remain loyal to him by believing, trusting, and living for him, under his authority, in obedience to him

7.    Run!
Run to Jesus. Easter shows us the war is won. We still face battles, obstacles, and challenges. But Jesus is our champion. Run with him. Run to him. Run for him. Run to Jesus and live victoriously.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Message: At the Foot of the Cross

At the Foot of the Cross
What would you say at the foot of the cross, as Jesus breathed his last? The air having left his lungs. The spear having pierced his side. What would you say when this nearly naked man was being drug down from the cross, his blood still drip, drip, dripping from the wood into a puddle by your feet?

What would you say?

What would you say at the foot of the cross? What would you say there after you watched this man who you had heard of as a great teacher of his people was arrested, betrayed by one of his own disciples? This Jesus, having being grabbed from a graveyard as he prayed, the residue of blood on his brow from him having sweat blood in prayer? What would you say?

What would you say as you watched the faithful followers of Jesus move away from him after his arrest? After you saw them run away, some of them, if you trust in the truth of Mark’s gospel, as I do, without their clothes. These disciples, that he had poured his life into, when he asked them to pray for him, they kept falling asleep. What would you say?

What would you remembering that Jesus was brought before the Jewish authorities, them seeking to undermine his ministry? What would you say as you observed all the obviously false accusations about him? What would you think when they asked him if he was the Messiah, the Son of God and he said, ““You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” And then they said they were going to kill him. The gave him the death sentence? What would you do?? What would you say?

What would you say at the foot of the cross having watched all of this happen as the blood drip, drip, dripped down in a puddle by your feet.

What would you say? What would you say as you watched the Jewish leaders bring Jesus before Pilate? As Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews. And Jesus says, “you have said so”. Pilate has reservations and gives the people a choice on who to crucify, a criminal named Barabbas or Jesus? And the crowd, under the influence of the religious leaders among them cries for Jesus to be crucified, and for Jesus to set free.

What would you say?

Pilate’s wife comes to Pilate. She begs and pleads with him not to kill Jesus. Not to send him to the cross. She has had a dream. The dream told her he is an innocent man.
What would you say, knowing all this, if you were that soldier at the foot of the cross? What would you say as the blood came drip, drip, dripping down from the wood of the cross into a puddle by your feet as the people are taking Jesus’ lifeless body off of that cross.

What would you say as they whipped Jesus on that whipping block with that cat of nine tails, with pieces of bone, and rock and metal embedded in that whip, pulling out pieces of flesh each time they whipped him. Whipping him 39 nine times because if they whipped him 40 times it was supposed to be fatal? What would you say if you were a soldier there, watching all of that?

What would you say if you saw him attempting to carry his cross, not complaining, as he went through the streets walking toward Golgotha, the place of the dead. And then as Simon, the Cyrene, was pulled out of the crowd, began to carry the cross for Jesus as he stumbled up to the top of that city? What would you say?

What would you say as the placed his battered, beaten, and whipped body upon that rough hewn piece of lumber, slivers embedding themselves in the scars and the sores, blood spurting out as they nailed, nailed, nailed him to the cross. His hands and feet pierced. And then they lifted him up into the air.

While he hung there he breathed heavy. Most people on the cross die of suffocation. Their bodies slide down the cross and compress their lungs, making them incapable of breathing. In order to survive, they must push themselves up the cross, scraping themselves against the wood, in order to catch a breathe. This is why the other men at the cross had their legs broken. Once their legs were broken they can no longer push themselves up, and they suffocate. By the time they get to Jesus, he was already dead.
What would you say if you were at the foot of the cross, the blood of Jesus drip, drip, dripping on the ground next to you, forming a puddle at your feet?

What would you say as you listened to Jesus at the foot of the cross?

What would you think as you watched him suffer and he said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” As they mocked him, spat at him, gambled for his clothes, and sentenced him to death. Perhaps he was even speaking to that soldier at the foot of the cross, stoicly doing his job, and perhaps he was even speaking to all of us as we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? What would you say at the foot of the cross?

What would you think at the foot of the cross when you heard Jesus say to the thief crucified next to him that, “Today you will be with me in paradise?”

What would you say?

What would you say at the foot of the cross as Jesus told the disciple John and his mother Mary that they were now Mother and Son, seeking to take care of his mother and his friend as he hung up on the cross, hardly recognizable, barely able to sputter out the words he needed to say?

What would you say?

What would be going through your mind at the foot of the cross of Jesus when he cried out from Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Praying faithfully the prayer of the suffering he learned as a child.

What would you think when Jesus said that he was thirsty, there at the foot of the cross?

What would you say as Jesus proclaimed that he accomplished all that he wanted to do, as he looked up to heaven and said, “It is finished”?

What would you say as you heard Jesus say “Into your hand I commend my Spirit” as he was up there on the cross, and he had his last, wheezy death rattle and then froze stone cold dead on that cross?

And then, just when Jesus stopped breathing, the earth shook, the rocks began to split in two, the veil of the temple tore in two, and graves began to split open, and dead people began to start walking around, temporarily alive again. People that had been dead for a long time. Appearing to loved ones. Perhaps proclaiming Jesus as Lord.
What would you say if you were at the foot of the cross, with the dead body of Jesus hanging over you, and blood of Christ drip, drip, dripping down below you on the ground into a puddle by your feet.

Because, in a way, we are all today, at the foot of the cross. We are all observing Jesus’ death, even from several centuries distant from that moment. We all come to Christ through the cross, if we are to know him at all. We all must deal with what to say, what to do at the cross.

We all need to come to the cross, and take stock of our lives here, where Jesus died for our sins while we were still opposing him. And we need to ask ourselves, what really matters here.

Do our worldly accomplishments, how much money we have, how many trophies we have, how many titles we have really matter when we are standing at the cross? Is that really going to matter as Jesus is crying out, suffering to pay the price for our sins?

Take your petty arguments and grudges that you have had with your friends and family and neighbors. Take them to the foot of the cross. And as Jesus is wheezing and bleeding and a drop of his blood falls on your face, as he suffers and dies to give you new life and to teach you how to love God and your neighbor, take your arguments and grudges to the foot of the cross, and ask yourself, do they really matter there, as Jesus is dying for your sins and your transgressions, even as you turn away from him.
What would you say, as you stood at the foot of the cross, Jesus’s blood dripping down from the cross, forming a pool of blood at your feet?

I hope you would, and I hope I would, as I saw Jesus pay the price for the world’s sin, as he gave his life for a sacrifice for all of humanity who would believe, as he gave his blood to give you the free gift of salvation, I hope you would look up at this forgiving and suffering savior, who could have conquered the world but instead gave his life as a ransom for many, I hope you would say, I hope you will say with me and saints throughout the ages as we join our voices with the soldier at the cross, “Surely he was the Son of God”.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review of 40/40 Vision by Greer and Lafferty

40/40 Vision: Clarifying Your Vision at Midlife
by Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty
ISBN 978-0-8308-4434-0
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

As evidenced by previous posts, I am in my forties. Although I have yet to buy a convertible, and I have no desire to trade in my forty-something wife in for two twenties, there is a sense in which I am beginning to think about where my life is going to be headed for the second half of my earthly existence.

In 40/40 Vision Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty speak of the 40 year mark and the midlife stage as a crossroads. How people like me navigate this stage, they argue, is imperative. Midlife, the authors argue, is a crossroads that defines the narrative of a person's life. For those who have struggled, it is a time to pull life together and move in a different direction. For all persons, it is a time to reevaluate the trajectory of one's life, and make the necessary adjustments for the future.

Each chapter in this book, after the introduction, focuses on a different issue in midlife. Each chapter encourages the reader to evaluate, adjust, and make the most of their lives in the present and future. Even more, as the title communicates, the authors want people to stop floating along, and move forward in the second half of life with vision, purpose, and passion.

Book Review of Changing World, Unchanging Mission by M. David Sills

Changing World, Unchanging Mission: Responding to Global Challenges
by M. David Sills
ISBN 978-0-8308-4430-2
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

The world is not the same as it used to be. Although our call as Christians to "go into all the world" is unchanging, the world that we are going into is changing exponentially. Because our world is constantly changing, the craft of missionary outreach must adapt some of its methods to continue to communicate the ancient message of Jesus. M. David Sills addresses some of the challenges that missionaries are facing and will be facing, and offers insight on how to address the concerns those new issues in Changing World, Unchanging Mission. 

As a person that loves, supports, and advocates for missions, I find this book interesting and informative. If I were a international missionary dealing with the rapid changes on the global mission field, I would find this book indispensable. It is well written. Sills approaches concerns in different regions of the world (the southern hemisphere for example), in adapting for different educational levels (oral learners), as well as different methods of relating to supporters (churches as sending agencies).

I am so thankful that there are people out there thinking about such matters, about how to communicate about them to the Christian community, and I am thankful to IVP for publishing a book about this aspect of mission work as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Book Review of Great Commission, Great Compassion by Paul Borthwick

Great Commission, Great Compassion: Following Jesus and Loving the World
by Paul Borthwick
ISBN 978-0-8308-4437-1
IVP Books
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I have read several books on united God's command to be compassionate through acts of mercy and justice with the command to make disciples and evangelize. I applaud them all, although after reading many of these kinds of books, I have become overly familiar with the material they share. Great Commission, Great Compassion, however, is different.

One thing that I noticed about this book is that its target is more formational that informational. While sharing the biblical foundation for both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, Paul Borthwick also give word pictures and numerically organized practices to form his readers heart to live out the call to share the gospel in word and deed.

Then, after communicating need and forming the hearts of its readers Great Commission, Great Compassion moves its readers toward an concrete action plan. This action plan, called "lifestyle imperatives" combines spiritual disciplines of folks that are truly mission minded with concrete lifestyle changes that allow persons to engage in mission. Starting with simply being teachable and looking at the world differently, Borthwick moves people toward hospitality, generosity, advocacy and action.

This would be a great resource to teach from. Points of the book can be easily committed to memory, and the processes here are helpful in developing a step by step plan of growth in a "whole gospel" Christian. Great Commission, Great Compassion deserves a wide readership.