20pluscommunitydigestion

There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

Archive for February, 2006

Int’l Justice Mission Trip’s first communique:

here’s the latest from Victor Boutros and the IJM team bound for India:

Friends,

We completed the first leg of our trip with the International Justice Mission team in Mumbai, India yesterday. It has been a study of contrasts – of rays of divine hope penetrating places of unbearable darkness. On Friday, we helped the IJM legal team prepare for a hearing in an ugly case where IJM undercover operatives captured video footage of four mothers attempting to sell the virginity of their underage daughters to two men. Later that evening we went to Mumbai’s red light district, littered with the brothels where so many young girls are abducted, raped and beaten. Words cannot describe the oppressive darkness of that place, where pimps and Madames aggressively cursed us or fled angrily from the light of our cameras. “For every one who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed.” (John 3:20). At the red light district in Mumbai, the Fall is not being managed. It is an open mouthed grave (Rom 3:13) devouring the lives of those who fall in its trap.

And yet there were moments of joy that pierced the darkness. Even as we experienced the ugliness of the red light district, we passed street after street where brothels had been shut down, sparing hundreds of girls from thousands of rapes, thanks to the courage and faithfulness of a few Christians. Perhaps most moving was the transformation God has worked in the lives of those young women IJM has rescued. We spent Saturday at a Christian aftercare facility for victims of forced prostitution where girls as young as 13 smiled, sang hymns in Hindi, shared their dreams for the future and generally got to be girls again.

The team is so thankful to have a support team praying for us every day! We covet your continued prayers as we begin the next phase of our work in Chennai. We look forward to sharing a full report with you when we return.

Joyfully,

Victor Boutros

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prepare to prepare

March 1st is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent: the 40 days prior to the celebration of Resurrection Day. For most of the history of the Church it has been a time of preparation during which pilgrims refrain from certain pleasures to turn their attentions instead to the sufferings, privations, and purposes of Christ.

You don’t hear much about the observance of Lent within Reformed circles, partially for historical reasons. The Reformers, their name derived of course from their desire to re-form the Catholic Church, became particularly averse to anything that may have smacked of empty piety. So many things that invoked ritual or forbearance, as Lent did, came to be marginalized (to some extent unconsciously) within Reformed piety.

But despite the potential for using ritual as a buffer against real repentance–that is, reducing the work of sancitification to scattered acts of unconsidered sacrifice–who would deny the benefit of withholding from some things, even good things, for a season to focus on what is of more lasting and satisfying value?

I think we might do that within our 20+ Community in this season, so often overlooked. I’m waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail of The Great Lent, by a Russian Orthodox theologian named Alexander Schmemann. (Nod to Disciplemaking Coordinator, Brandon Eggar, for the recommendation)

Schmemann means to chart a course for a believer in his or her journey through Lent, to reawaken (or awaken for the first time) a new appreciation for our Savior–appreciation that translates into concrete action.

If you should yourself obtain a copy, to be clear, there are some theological differences between Orthodoxy and Reformed Doctrine–notably in the views of what happened in the Fall and what the nature of the Atonement was. And while those issues are not peripheral, the Orthodox observance of Lent is not unlike what Dallas Willard instructs in his books on spiritual disciplines: putting our bodies to use in the service of our souls through the denial of certain things for a season is as orthodox (little “o”) as can be. We might go this direction not to lay undue burdens upon us, or to suggest that through our personal privation God is somehow obliged to bless. Rather, whatever we can do to wrestle against the flesh, the world, and the devil by the intentional refocusing of our attentions upon our Lord and His claims upon us can only glorify Him and fortify us in the process.

Details to follow. In the meantime, if you can find other background information on Lent you think helpful to our consideration and preparation for it, pass along the links!

heard and noted. . .

this uttered yesterday by our own Erika McIntyre while lunching with 20+ at the Angry Dog in Deep Ellum:

“I’ve never been to more bars since I started coming to this church…”

black and white

By this time you’ve likely read plenty about what to think about the response to the cartoons. I think Piper’s comments here are helpful.

Religious sensitivities are to be respected, but you see in this whole debacle a stark contrast between Christ’s response to vilification (to be sure, to a far greater degree than anything that’s been published in newspapers of late) and this response.

Anyway, as always, the invitation to discuss remains open!

This Just In….Christian Kitsch Lives


ugh. Click here.