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, April 30, 2010

Islam In Africa

Of all the nations on earth, Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims. About 86% of Indonesia (nearly 200,000,000 people) claim to follow Islam.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of studying the history and culture of Indonesia as part of my studies at Bakke Graduate University. I spent ten days in that country with Ray Bakke and about a dozen other graduate students. During our stay, Ray pointed out that Islam did not come to Indonesia through Muslim clerics. It came via business and trade.

Michael Baer, in Business As Mission, writes: “I once asked an Indonesian Christian why the country had become so predominantly Muslim…She said that when the Western Christians came...they built missionary compounds and missionary churches and expected the Indonesian people to come to them. The Muslims, on the other hand, came as traders, farmers, merchants, and businesspeople and simply lived among the natives.”

Dr. Darrell Furgason, an expert in Islamic studies, says: “In places like Africa and Indonesia, the church has been intellectually crippled, with one hand tied behind its back. Western missionaries generally brought the Gospel in the way they learned it, as a purely soul-saving faith, with no real bearing on anything else—religion was a mostly personal matter, nothing to do with things like politics, science, law, economics….African people were given the Gospel, but not how to build a righteous nation, how to apply Christianity to everything….Muslims see their faith as all-encompassing…”

This leads me to follow-up on last week's post about what I learned from African educators earlier this month.

You see, while I was in Indonesia, one of my fellow doctoral students was an African by the name of Aila Tasse. Aila told me of the spread of Islam in Africa via business. His comment to me was: "The Muslims are winning."

When I returned home from Indonesia, I called Aila by phone and asked permission to record his comments for the benefit of others who need to know what is going on.

While in Kenya just a few weeks ago, I played Aila's comments for African leaders from Uganda, Nigeria and Sudan, and I asked if they concurred with Aila's report. Without hesitation, they all replied: "Yes! Absolutely! He is 100% correct!"

I urge you to take 2 minutes and 49 seconds to listen to Aila for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJppIj-Fnmc


Friday, April 23, 2010

African Reformation?

Educators from Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and other African nations came together April 1-4 in Kenya to focus on Christian education.

We met at the International Christian Educators Conference organized by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), where I was invited to teach on the topic of biblical worldview integration.

One leader said that what he hears most from African Christian educators are: "What is a biblical worldview?" and "How do we teach Christianly?"

This same African leader said: "Africans have understood the Gospel of Salvation, but not the Gospel of the Kingdom."

Biblical worldview, the Gospel of the Kingdom, and "teaching Christianly" are closely linked. Why? Because an understanding of biblical worldview opens up an understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom, which in turn motivates discerning educators to "teach Christianly."

What is the difference between the Gospel of Salvation and the Gospel of the Kingdom?

The Gospel of Salvation helps people understand how to become born-again believers through faith in Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. Through this door we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, and we can know we will go to heaven when we die.

This is critically important. But the Gospel of the Kingdom helps us to understand what the door of personal salvation leads to. We are not just saved from something, but saved for something!

Actually, the Gospel of Salvation is part of the Gospel of the Kingdom. There is only one Gospel. But personal salvation is not the whole picture. The Kingdom is much bigger.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is about the on-going life of Christ being lived out through the work-lives, civil-lives, and relational-lives of His redeemed people in the here-and-now, as well as in the then-and-forever.

This is what African educators are seeing. The African Christian school movement is burgeoning, not only in numbers, but in the vision of what distinctly Christian education can be.

Many African leaders see distinctly Christian education as a means of enabling the next generation to seamlessly integrate the all-encompassing biblical worldview into the totality of their social, economic, and civic lives.

This is the most hopeful thing I have seen in a long time.

Is this part of an African reformation? African Christian educators are smelling it. They want to carry the life-giving power of Christianity beyond the saving of souls to the transformation of nations.


Friday, April 16, 2010

He Flew Into The Presence Of The Lord

Last week, the soul of Dr. Albert E. Greene took flight from his 93-year-old body and he flew into the presence of the Lord.
Apart from the influence of Dr. Albert Greene on my life, it is safe to say I would not be doing what I am doing today, helping people to grasp the meaning and significance of a biblical worldview.

Apart from Dr. Greene, I doubt if I would have come to understand the breadth and depth of that treasure myself.

I first came to know this gentle giant of a man in 1959, as a 5th grade student at Bellevue Christian School, which Dr. Greene founded in 1950, and where he served as Principal and then Superintendent for many years.

In 1979, I took the role of Principal in a Christian school myself. To sharpen my understanding of what Christian education is supposed to be, I took graduate level courses in the philosophy of Christian education from Dr. Greene, who was then teaching part-time at Seattle Pacific University.

It was during this time that he asked me to stop calling him "Dr. Greene," and to just call him "Al." It was something I found extremely difficult, and never did feel comfortable doing.

It was through Al that the "worldview puzzle" fell together for me. I can tell you what room I was in on the day Al talked about the myth of the "secular world." I remember coming up to him after his talk, and sheepishly asking, "Are you saying the 'secular world' doesn't exist?"

I can still hear the inflection of his voice, as he simply stated, "It really doesn't." You could have knocked me over with a puff.

Al was one of the most intelligent men I have ever known. Yet, at the same time, he was one of the most humble men I have ever known. I was mentored as much by his kind spirit as by his brilliant mind.

The last visit my wife and I had with Al was a year and a half ago. His mind was sharp. As always, he suggested more books for me to read, as was captured in the photo that accompanies today's post below. Al's care-giver, Michelle Taylor, snapped this picture on that day.

Thank you, Dr. Greene, for mentoring me, and for your priceless encouragement and faithful support over these many years.

We'll talk again, my friend.

My wife, Kathy, and I, with Al about a year before he passed through the veil.

Friday, April 9, 2010

It Happens Every Summer

I believe any legitimate job can have extraordinary meaning when it is aligned with a biblical worldview.

This is why worldview matters, and why I believe it is critically important to understand how our work can be aligned with a biblical worldview.

The process starts with an understanding of what a biblical worldview is. Therefore, any effort and time we spend bringing a biblical worldview into focus is time and effort well spent.

While it is never too late to learn, it makes sense to get some worldview training as a young person, before entering the workforce. The problem is, few schools offer courses in biblical worldview.

Self-study is one way to learn about biblical worldview, but most young people are not likely to do this until they develop an internal motivation along these lines. Gaining that initial motivation is the real challenge.

One way for a young person to gain such a motivation is to spend some time with a group of other young people who are focusing together on biblical worldview training--and enjoying it.

But where does this happen?

It happens every summer, during 2-week summer camps for students hosted by Summit Ministries.

I can vouch for this program because my wife and I spent two weeks at one of their student summer camps about ten years ago. We wanted to get an "inside picture" of what the Summit program is all about, so we asked if we could come as participants, even though we were long past the target age. We were kindly allowed to participate.

My friend, John Stonestreet, the Director of Summit Ministries, is one of the most able teachers of biblical worldview I know, and is particularly apt at connecting with young people. Many other nationally-recognized experts in biblical worldview come to the Summit summer camps as guest speakers.

While most readers of this blog are already through school, I suspect you know of students who would benefit greatly by a 2-week focus on biblical worldview. This summer, camps are being held in Colorado, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Here is the link to the Student Summer Conferences: http://www.summit.org/conferences/student/
The application is downloaded from there.

I encourage you to pass this information on to students you know who are of high school or college age.

By the way, Summit also hosts worldview training conferences for adults. See http://www.summit.org/conferences/adult/

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Makes A "Good" Job "Good?"

What makes a "good" job "good?"

Pay is not the most important factor for most people. Of course, having a job that doesn't pay enough for basic necessities is a problem. But pay alone does not determine whether a person feels the job he or she has is a "good" one.

Matching one's strengths and abilities with one's work is a factor. Booker T. Washington, who was George Washington Carver's boss at Tuskegee Institute, remarked that Carver was a poor administrator. It would have been a mistake for Booker T. Washington to have "promoted" Carver to an administrative role. His best fit was in the lab.

But is it possible for a person to have a job that matches one's strengths and yet still not feel he or she has a "good" job?" Yes. Other factors come into play.

One of the biggest factors is meaning. Working with no sense of meaning can be drudgery, even if the job fits one's strengths. Making progress at work (although this is a vital factor in job enthusiasm), may not be enough either. Making progress toward something that has meaning, however, is another kettle of fish.

The big question then becomes, "How can work have meaning?"

Bonnie Wurzbacher, former Vice-President of Global Accounts for The Coca-Cola Company, once told me, "we don't find meaning in our work, we bring meaning to our work." This is a profound truth. She went on to say, that until she understood  

Carver's work had meaning because he brought meaning to it. He understood what the biblical worldview is about, and how his work fit into it.

The amazing thing is, a biblical worldview provides as much meaning for the work of retail clerks and taxi cab drivers as it does for chemists and college professors.

This is why worldview matters. Hear Bonnie's comments in the video below:

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