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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Reformation Of Merry Olde England

William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833) [Public domain.]

Two weeks ago, I mentioned Wilberforce's influence on Wes Lane in starting the SALLT Academy in Oklahoma City, where modern-day Clapham Circles address specific needs in the culture-at-large. What I didn't have space to say is that in Wilberforce's day, 25% of the single women in London were prostitutes, and liquor flowed so plentifully that the day became known as the “Gin Age.”

Chuck Stetson, in his Foreword to the 2007 reprint of Wilberforce’s manifesto, A Practical View of Real Christianity, writes that “gambling was a national obsession and ruined thousands.” Stetson goes on to say, “daylight fornication [was practiced] on the village green,” and he tells of "auctioning one’s wife at a cattle market.” On top of this, Stetson reports, “executions, known as Hanging Shows, attracted huge crowds.”

But that's not all: “…murder, general lawlessness, thieves and highwaymen were so prevalent that Horace Walpole warned, ‘One is forced to travel, even at noon, as if one were going to battle.’” And there's more: false signals were lit at night on the seashore to lure ships into rocks where the wrecks were plundered, with no regard for drowning sailors.

Merry Olde England? Indeed.

As a young member of the British Parliament, Wilberforce was active in politics when converted to Christianity in his 20s. At first, he thought about leaving politics and going into “the ministry.” But John Newton, the former slave trader who wrote the words to Amazing Grace, persuaded Wilberforce that followers of Christ were needed in Parliament. Thank God for Newton’s wise counsel to Wilberforce!

Wilberforce is famous for his tireless efforts to abolish the slave trade. But Wilberforce had a second great goal: “the reformation of [British] manners.” He was not talking about British table manners. He was referring to British culture. The culture described above. No doubt this was another reason Newton urged Wilberforce to use his influence as a follower of Christ in Parliament.

But there is more to the story of the reformation of Merry Olde England. God raised up another man for such a time as that─just prior to Wilberforce.

We'll get to him next week.


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Friday, February 21, 2014

Coram Deo: A School for Discipling Nations


When it comes to bringing the Good News of the Kingdom to communities and nations around the globe, the Disciple Nations Alliance, co-founded by Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt in 1997, has its "boots on the ground." They are friends of Worldview Matters, and we are partners in the common cause of the Kingdom.

The Disciple Nations Alliance began as a joint initiative of Food for the Hungry and the Harvest Foundation. Its mission is: "to envision and equip local churches worldwide to fulfill their strategic, God-given roles in the transformation of communities and nations, through wholistic, incarnational ministry."

Miller and Moffitt began the work of DNA by teaching five-day Vision Conferences. The first Vision Conference was held in Lima, Peru, and since then, hundreds of Vision Conferences have been held in more than 60 nations throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

As the Vision Conferences multiplied, local leaders emerged with a passion to spread the training in their own communities and nations. Today, local, self-governing DNA networks exist in more than 45 countries, including a prominent African network called Samaritan Strategy Africa.

I'm very pleased to let you know that DNA recently put the content of their Vision Conference into video format for use by churches and individuals. This 12-week course, called Coram Deo: A School for Discipling Nations, will be available in April

The Coram Deo teaching series is for people longing to see more evidence of the Kingdom of God in their own nations, cities and families, as well as in themselves. As the DNA website puts it, "It is for the NGO executive, the stay-at-home parent, the business leader, and the young college grad ready to change the world."

Darrow Miller is the author of LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Everyday. I have made this excellent book required reading in our distance-learning course for Christian educators: "Increase Meaning: A Wholistic Approach to Christian Education."  

For more details about Coram Deo, visit: coming in April.  Consider using this series as a Sunday School class in your church, or with a small group in your home.

This photo was taken last June while Darrow (center) and I were team-teaching at a YWAM base in Guadalajara, Mexico. Our interpreter, Nicole Curiel, is on the right.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Current Clapham Circles


Where can Christ-followers be trained and encouraged to engage with the pressing issues of our day, as Wilberforce's "Clapham Circle" did 200 years ago? Actually, there are more groups focusing on how to do this today (for good reason) than you might think. One such group is in Oklahoma City.

Several years ago, I was invited by the former District Attorney of Oklahoma County, Wes Lane, to spend a day teaching at the Salt And Light Leadership Training (SALLT) Academy. Among those present that day were two sitting Oklahoma senators (one was running for Lieutenant Governor), the County Commissioner, the President of Oklahoma Christian University, a former Miss America, an owner of the city’s baseball team, a member of the Oklahoma City School Board, the Director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, as well as prominent business leaders (including the CEO/founder of Hobby Lobby, David Green), and numerous lawyers.

The SALLT Academy is a nine-month training program. Members come together one day per month to receive instruction, pray, and focus on specific issues in light of the biblical worldview. They gather for the purpose of leveraging their passions, skills, and influence for the common good.
learn how to leverage their passions, skills, and influence for the common good. - See more at: http://www.sallt.com/#sthash.XjJfvuVD.dpuf
SALLT curriculum to learn how to leverage their passions, skills, and influence for the common good. - See more at: http://www.sallt.com/#sthash.a1ZYcFai.dpuf

Wes Lane's model for the SALLT Academy is William Wilberforce and his "Clapham Circle." Wilberforce was the 18th Century member of the British Parliament most famous for his tireless efforts to abolish the slave trade in Great Britain. The Clapham Circle was a group of Wilberforce's friends and associates living in the village of Clapham, near London. These businessmen, bankers, and politicians came together to focus on key issues of their day. Not just to talk about the issues, but to put their hands to the plow, and affect change. 

Wes's vision for SALLT continues to unfold today, not only locally, but globally. What began in Oklahoma City in 2008 is now a model for other cities. Pray that God will guide Wes and his team as they continue to inspire influential followers of Christ to put their faith to work in the context of their culture, for the common good, and the glory of God.

For more about current Clapham Circles started by SALLT members, visit Clapham Circles.

Members of SALLT putting their hands to the plow during a Worldview Matters training day.

With Wes Lane while teaching at the SALLT Academy in 2009.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

The Contaminated Kingdom of God


Have you thought much about the contaminated Kingdom of God? The what!? Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it. 

I'm not talking about the perfect expression of His Kingdom yet to come, but the present condition of God's Kingdom, infected by a malicious enemy (Satan), who came in the night and sowed bad seed into the Lord’s good field (Matthew 13:37-43).

Yes, the field is the Lord's. All of it. It's His stuff, and we're living in His space. It all belongs to Him (Ps. 24:1). Jesus is Lord of all. And the domain over which He is King includes every square inch of both temporal and eternal reality─even if those who live within that space don't acknowledge its ownership.  

The fact that we presently live in a contaminated field may be the crux of the reason why so many Christians tend to withdraw from this world, and why some see the work of a pastor or a missionary as the only eternally worthwhile occupation.

We don’t like to think of God's stuff as infected, sick, and broken. Furthermore, we tend to think that because the field is infested with weeds, it isn’t worth a dime to God or anyone else.

This may be the reason why some Christians seem to focus more on the after-life than the current life. Not only do temporal things decay, but when we see so much human activity contaminated by pride and greed, the natural tendency is to distance ourselves from those occupations that are characterized by manifestations of infection.

Politics is a case in point. “It’s dirty.” Indeed it is! And when we see big business infected by mammonism, we tend to think devout Christians should disassociate themselves from occupations dealing with large sums of money.

Really?

While there are certain occupations that can never be pleasing to God (such as human trafficking), there are many occupations waiting to be redeemed [restored, renewed] by the grace of God, through His people acting as His agents in the world, yet not of the world.

As followers of Christ, shouldn't we be heading into the problem areas, rather than away from them?

There will come a day when "The Son of Man will send out His angles, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness (Matt. 13:40)," but until then, let's occupy the entire field.

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