Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mega-Excerpts: "Paradigm Lost" by Foltz & Ford

The following are "Mega" Book Excerpts from the book "Paradigm Lost" by Dr. Howard Foltz & Ruth Ford; Excerpts compiled by Nigel Barham on February 10, 2007

(This is a book of biblical lessons from agriculture, with a focus on the need to view evangelism and missions like the process of planting, nurturing and harvesting, etc.)

[All text is quotes except for text in brackets.]

I heard about a man who adopted an overgrown vacant lot in an inner city. With great personal sacrifice and care, he lovingly turned that eyesore into a colorful garden. One day, as he was cultivating flowers and pulling weeds, someone parked a car beside his paradise and came to admire his work.
“God sure did a good job of creating this beauty, didn’t he?” the visitor asked.
The gardener unfolded himself from a crouch. Placing his hands on his hips, he squinted at the guest. “Sure,” he said, “God did a great job. But you should have seen this place when he was tending it by himself.”
God alone is Lord of everything involved in the harvest, but for a reason only he knows, he invites us to participate in his project. We get into trouble when we try to take his place, assuming rights of ownership. We also leave him with a messy, unproductive vacant lot when we neglect to steward his land, his time, and his harvest into fruitfulness.
Stewardship responsibility is the underlying theme of harvest, and it is true in the spiritual realm as it is in the physical. Understanding our responsibilities, then, requires that we go back to the basics of farming. – p. 68

[Quoting Paul Borthwick: “we have become convinced that the mission of the church is to make sure that Christians are happy and content. We focus on our own fellowship and doctrinal purity, often at the expense of interaction with the world.” – p. 72]We could assume that God will take care of the whole harvest, from beginning to end, leaving no real reason for individuals to participate. Based on that assumption, if we pray at all, we might imitate a little girl whose grandfather asked her to say grace at the table. Holding his hand, she bowed her head and began to say, “A… B… C… D.” Her grandfather stopped her and asked, “Sweetie, what are you doing?” She replied, “I’m praying. I just give God the letters and let him spell whatever he wants to.”
It is a cute story that some have used to illustrate complete trust in God’s plan. Adults who imitate that kind of intercession, however, have fallen pray to faulty logic. Brother Andrew, who ministers primarily in regions that are hostile to the gospel, has a name for that kind of reasoning. He calls it Christian fatalism, noting that it fits more comfortably into Islam or Hinduism or Buddhism than into true, biblical Christianity. Brother Andrew believes that people who ascribe to that philosophy are “steeped in a false doctrine that has infected the thinking of an alarming number of Christians in our time.” He writes, “There is… no place for fatalism in Christianity. Quite the opposite!” – p. 86

Daily we hear of churches or denominations that refuse to work together because of theological disagreement. Some believers debate sovereignty and free will. Others argue over contemporary applications of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Still others discuss the timing of Jesus’ return to this earth. The list of disputes continues ad nauseam. In the meantime, we lose sight of the necessity of harvest, because we focus on proving our theological correctness. – p. 110

George Barna tells us that U.S. believers are having an identity crisis. Based on his surveys, he says they “think of themselves as individuals first, Americans second, and Christians third.” – p. 112

Dwight L. Moody recognized the value of prayer in planting God’s Word. Moody helped provide humanitarian aid in Chicago after the great fire. Then he went to England to rest. He was not intending to preach. Rather he wanted to listen to some of the greatest preachers of the day—Spurgeon, Mueller, and others. But Moody was invited to speak one Sunday in the northern part of London. He preached that morning with great difficulty. He told R.A. Torrey, “I had no power, no liberty; it seemed like pulling a train up a steep grade, and as I preached I said to myself, ‘What a fool I was to consent.’ As I drew to the close of my sermon I had a sense of relief that I was so near through.” Then he remembered—he had to preach again that evening.
Moody related, “I went to the evening service with a heavy heart. But I had not been preaching long when it seemed as if the powers of an unseen world had fallen upon my audience.” In the end, he asked all who wanted to receive Christ to stand—and about 500 people rose to their feet. “I thought there must be some mistake,” Moody said. “So I asked them to sit down, and then I said, ‘There will be an after-meeting in the vestry, and if any of you will really accept Christ, meet the pastor and me in the vestry.”
The people poured into the vestry. Moody, still not fully believing the results, told them he intended to leave for Ireland, but the pastor would meet with them the following evening. When he arrived in Ireland, Moody received a telegram from the pastor. “There were more people here Monday night than on Sunday night,” it said. “A revival has broken out here in our church, and you must come back and help me.”
… what made the drastic difference between the morning service and the evening service? Moody told Torrey of a pair of sisters who were church members. One was bedridden. The other returned from Sunday morning service and said, “You’ll never guess who preached this morning. Mr. Moody of Chicago.”
The bedridden sister turned pale. “I have read of him in an American paper,” she said, “and I have been praying God to send him in London, and to send him to our church. If I had known he was to preach … I would have eaten no breakfast, I would have spent the whole morning in fasting and prayer.” She quickly remedied the situation, telling her sister to lock the door and refuse to let anyone bother her as she intended to spend the afternoon and evening praying for that evening service. Moody said that was the difference. – p. 144

While the Reformation played a crucial role in purifying the church, and while it launched Protestantism, it did very little to propel any ongoing reinvestment of resources into God’s global harvest. In fact, Ruth A. Tucker’s book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, a standard text on missions history, notes very plainly, “World-wide missions was not a major concern of most of the Reformers.” They were busy “just holding their own in the face of Roman Catholic opposition.” Protestants had some practical hurdles in their access to travel at that time. But the newfound Protestant theology “was another factor that limited the vision of missionary enterprises.”
Tucker explains that Martin Luther was so convinced Christ’s return was on the immediate horizon, he overlooked the need for global evangelization. Furthermore, he cemented his position by claiming the Great Commission “was binding only on the New Testament apostles who had fulfilled their obligation by spreading the gospel throughout the known world, thus exempting succeeding generations from responsibility.” Although Calvin was the most missionary-minded of the reformers, his doctrine of election seemed to many people to nullify the need for missionary outreach, since “God had already chosen those he would save.”
Tucker tells us it wasn’t until the eighteenth century—two hundred years after the Reformation’s birth—that Protestants made their “first great thrust” into missions, “for it was only then that Protestants in any significant numbers began recognizing their responsibility in evangelizing those without the gospel.” It is perhaps significant that this advance began with the Lutherans, finally bringing the movement begun by Martin Luther to the place of reinvesting revival’s resources back into global spiritual harvest. – p. 186

[Many churches] consume their best resources, rather than investing them for future gain in God’s kingdom. They invest large sums of money to erect and maintain ornate buildings. They find their most gifted people and tie up their time and energy in ministry to other Christians. They assign their best teachers to their most mature believers. On the surface, it makes sense. They need a place for the congregation to meet, and mature Christians need to be challenged with material they haven’t already heard. But the end result is that evangelism and missions usually get the leftovers. – p. 187

[Quotes James Hudson Taylor: “The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.” – p. 199-200.]

Not all seeds germinate or grow that quickly. Some require a very, very long time to sprout and grow. The farmer who grows bamboo plants the seeds. He will water and fertilize them for as long as four years before he sees any visible results. Then the bamboo plant will finally sprout and grow, and it will become a picture of abundance, spurting up to ninety feet in nine weeks. Why? Because for all those years, the root system has been growing down and out, preparing for the eventual need for water and nutrients to support such rapid growth. – p. 205
ar TORONTO, CANADA | 2023+



27 Sat (1) 11am Commencement speaker at R. University, (2) ~3pm+ time w/ V/AR+
29 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer, (2) 3pm mtg DerCh - Mississauga
30 Tue (1) 10am ph call (AA), (2) 5:30pm video mtg (IsTan), (3) 8pm neighbourhood prayer mtg

1 Thu (1) 11:30am Zoom mtg (LM), (2) 4pm mtg (VS,KBr)
2 Fri (1) 10:30am ph call (PVDW; SL w/ boys; ~J working)
3 Sat SL w/ boys and MG
5 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer mtg, (2) 2pm Europe call, (3) 5pm mtg/walk (YM)
6 Tue (1) 11:30am lunch (GD) - St. Jacobs, (2) 4pm mtg (AF) - Cambridge, (3) 7:30pm worship night
9 Fri ~J's b'day
10 Sat North Bay trip
13 Tue 11am mtg (DAy) (~J school trip w/ ~Co | text BD)
14 Wed 9:30am time w/ BD
15 Thu 4:30pm video mtg (Paul T.)
16 Fri (1) 9am video med appt, (2) 15-km run (Prayer Journey "warm-up")
17 Sat Prayer Journey (my own: 50km GTA bike-ride; Jessie's: 5KM) and speaking at GTA after-party
23-25 Fri-Sat poss. SL
26 Mon 2pm Europe monthly call
29 ... July 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas

... 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas
~8-17 SA+ in Toronto; P/H Bell likely visiting too
15 Sat aft+ baptism (Saj; NaB may be coming)
17-21 Mon-Fri Kids Kapers camp
24 Mon 2:45pm med. appt
26 Wed (1) 11am video mtg (SM), (2) 3pm Zoom mtg (SMa,SB), (3) 7pm ~J speaking at Greenhouse/Zoe - UofT downtown
27 Thu 10am video MVT board mtg
31 Mon 3:05pm med. appt
July/Aug CCWM board mtg / AGM

2 Wed 11am video mtg (SM+)
6-12 Sun-Fri Cottage w/ O/DN+ and UB/AC - Windermere; plus Muskoka
19 Sat poss. ~J fam beach day - Brighton area
25-29 Fri-Tue MoveIn staff retreat - southern Ontario

Sep 21 Thu - MVT board mtg
Sep 23 Sat poss. date of GV memorial
Sep 24 Sun ~Ch's b'day
Sep ~26-28 Poss. time in Lushnjë, Albania
Sep 29 - Oct 6 MoveIn Europe Conference+ - Durrës, Albania
Oct 21 Sat poss./unlikely date of GV memorial
Oct 21-27 Dollar-a-Day week
Early Nov Poss. fundraising event - Niagara
Nov-Jan Poss. time in India - Goa; Philippines - Manila+; Indonesia - Jakarta/Bali; LA/San Diego