Mike Cope's blog

Friday, June 10, 2005

As the elders announced last week, I'll be gone more this summer than usual. Much of the time I'm away I'll be in language school in Central America, so I don't know how easy it will be to blog. While I'm gone Highland won't exactly be suffering. The preachers while I'm gone are Mark Love, Rick Atchley, Jerry Taylor, and David Wray. (Eventually some are going to figure out the truth: with the people at Highland, I'm extra baggage!) - - - - I'd like to ask for your prayers. Tomorrow morning a group of middle school boys from Highland leaves for a mission trip to Houston. As of this moment, Chris is going. Whether we can actually let him go or not I won't know until 7:00 in the morning. Diane hasn't slept well the last two nights just thinking about it. Of course, it has to happen sometime, but that doesn't make it any easier. Rationally, we know that the vast majority of people who drive from Abilene to Houston don't have wrecks. But then the vast majority driving on I-20 on a clear, sunny day don't roll over, either. Diane and I don't believe that prayer guarantees safe trips. Certainly many were praying for safe travel in January. But, like Peter in the gospel of John, we find ourselves saying, "Lord, to whom else would we go?" - - - - Several of you responded financially to the trips I mentioned -- grad students from ACU going to Sudan and Rwanda this summer for survey trips. Thanks so much. I believe Houston and Kelly Shearin still need $1000 for their trip to Sudan, as does Brian Harrison. Don't you love the thought of young Christ-followers heading toward a place of such great suffering (between the genocide in Darfur and the rippling effects of war and famine) with the message of the reign of God in Christ? One other thing. Billy Wilson is an amazing young man whom many have heard at the Pepperdine and ACU lectureships. He and his wife have a powerful ministry in Glasgow, Scotland. You can read about it at billywilson.net. Recently he's had to spend more time than he'd like raising support. Seems that Scotland isn't at the top of missions budgets these days. But what they're doing is vital. Check it out. - - - - "Justification by faith has come to be understood as the purpose for which Christ died and rose again, the end and goal of God's entire saving purpose. By extension, the central human problem is construed to be guilt, and the central human resistance to the gospel is construed to be the establishing of our own righteousness, rather than the receiving of God's righteousness in Christ as a free gift. Salvation is therefore achieved precisely at the moment of individual repentance and faith, when one is justified. Everything that follows after this in the Christian life is simply working out the implications of this climactic event. "When the gospel is understood in this way, the social and participatory dimensions of the gospel necessarily recede into the background. Particularly in North America, the receiving of the gift of justification is no longer clearly understood as an invitation to participate in God's life amidst God's people. In our American revivalist tradition, church membership is an experience subsequent to conversion, a step required primarily to sustain and preserve the new grace into which one has entered. By contrast, we would argue that justification and forgiveness are the necessary preparation for participating in God's life and mission. They are the means to a greater end, not the end in itself." (StormFront)


  • Mike, Funny - I used to actually think that prayer guarantees safe travel. It had so far in my life. I still picture the Winterfest adult sponsors (one from each car) standing in a circle in the parking lot in Arlington before we left to come home praying fervently for safe travel. What if we'd had all of us out there? What if we'd had all the kids involved? Crazy questions. Crazy thinking. Sometimes I still just can't help myself. I know I'll be praying for the boys and for you and (especially) Diane anyway. Surely it can't hurt. Like you and Peter said, "Lord, to whom else would we go?"

    By Blogger Candy, at 6/10/2005 06:16:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Where in Central America are you going for language school? I was in Antigua, Guatemala last fall and it was a great place. They have over 60 language schools in Antigua, that's why I ask.

    Take care!

    By Blogger slipperycatsanddogs, at 6/10/2005 06:36:00 AM  

  • God's Speed on your trip and time in Central America. Do these nations understand the hit their guacamole production is going to be taking? :) If the prices get jacked up here in the States, we will know who to blame. Hurricane Mike.

    The quote from "StormFront" is a powerful observation........and challenge! Thanks SO much for sharing that with us.

    Love you,

    By Blogger David U, at 6/10/2005 06:51:00 AM  

  • If we can't expect God to do whatever we ask whenever we ask, the world can be a scary place.

    What do we do with that fear?

    I'd like to hear what you think. Maybe a future blog post?

    By Blogger Matthew, at 6/10/2005 07:06:00 AM  

  • Mike, Good article from StormFront.

    I like to think of it this way. Traditionally, we have asked people to follow these steps in order to be "fully initiated": Behave, Believe, Belong

    I think that many of our churches expect people to be more or less "not a really bad sinner" to be a part of our communities. What's more, "outsiders" typically must believe what we believe in order to be an active part of the community. Finally, upon acting right and believing what we believe, they can "belong" to the community.

    I don't see this model in Jesus' ministry. Take Zaccheus, for example. Jesus clearly called him into belonging first, and it was in this close encounter with Christ that Zaccheus believed in who he was. He made the commitment to changing his ways only after feeling a sense of belonging with Christ and being convicted of Jesus' identity.

    Here's the challenge for the church in welcoming "outsiders" (I hate that word): Belong, Believe, Behave.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 6/10/2005 07:42:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    I was just wondering where you get the StormFront snips. I'm not familiar with them, but the words are powerful. Thanks for sharing.

    By Blogger Logan and Katie Brown, at 6/10/2005 07:59:00 AM  

  • Logan and Katie - StormFront is one of the best books I read last year. I've been going back through it again lately. It's available on Amazon.

    Slippery - As it worked out, I'm going to two schools. One is in Antigua, where I'm going with my older son (who has a break after his first year at Baylor Medical School).

    By Blogger Mike, at 6/10/2005 08:06:00 AM  

  • Prayers for Chris, Diane and you. Prayers for the mission in Houston and for your time in Central America.

    So, you are finally going to learn how to speak Spanish........ Felicidades!

    If you get stumped while someone is talking Spanish to you, a good rule of thumb is just to reply, "De veras?" (Translation: Is that so?)

    One guy did that for about 20 minutes straight one time and no one caught on that he didn't understand a word of what was said and actually thought he was rather fluent in the language.

    I know you have committed to memory all the essential phrases like, "Donde esta el bano" or "Necesito guacamole", so you should be a great shape.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 6/10/2005 08:52:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Excellent quote from StormFront. I think it points to an important paradigm shift that Christianity must undergo if it is going to be a faithful witness in the world.


    By Blogger Jared Cramer, at 6/10/2005 09:00:00 AM  

  • Whoa! Great quote. I will be going directly to Amazon, with a quote like that in it, the book must be worth at least one read. Thanks again Mike for all you do to minister to this cyber congregation.

    By Blogger TCS, at 6/10/2005 09:35:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Thank you for your thoughts on this blog. It means a lot to read your words of faith AND doubt.

    How much more effective could our missionaries be if they didn't have to scrounge around looking for support every few years. What are we saying when the most courageous among us spend their time "begging" churches for money here and money there. So often that money comes with many conditions and expectations that can be really unfair. People like Billy Wilson should be able to work without worrying about where their next paycheck will come from or if they can have health insurance for their family. Resident ministers are paid for the length of time they serve in their ministry at the church. Why can't that assurance be given to the missionaries that serve abroad and at home? ACU has made a big effort to help churches scale pay and benefits for resident ministers. This has been a huge benefit to resident ministers and search committees as they figure out their compensation packages. Yet, nothing like this exists for missionaries. It seems ridiculously unfair that as a youth minister at a church I don't have to worry about my salary or health insurance, but Billy Wilson has to go find support for a work that has broader influence for Jesus than my youth ministry. Where is the sense in that?

    An idea would be to have the missions departments at the various schools to work together on solidifying finances for missionaries. I know there is a big aversion to "mission boards" for numerous reasons, but there is something to the idea of providing more stable long term support for our missionaries through stable entities like our Universities. Every graduate in missions who goes through ACU, AIM, Harding, Lipscomb, or OCU who enters into the mission field should be given health insurance and a travel stipend for as long as they are doing missions. Of course that money would have to be raised, but let that be the schools problem. They have far greater contacts and access to money than missionaries do. Those mission departments need to help coordinate the raising of support, and set the pay standards for individuals and teams (and it should be generous, not minimalistic). In turn the missionaries are trained in theology and mission with follow up education every few years. When missionaries loose support and have to travel around looking for more at-least their health insurance won't lapse, and money won't be taken out of their pocket as they travel looking for support. This is of course the least we can do to support our missionaries. I do put it on the schools to do this since they are the only entities in our fellowship that a lot of churches and individuals can come together and work through.

    I know part of being a missionary is sacrifice and dealing with the struggle of God's call. But following the call of God to Darfur, Scotland, Harlem, Jersey City, Spain, The Bronx, Portland, Russia, Africa, and other places is hard enough without the church making it more difficult. We have people ready, willing, and able to go to the far reaches of the globe. We should find ways that keep them focused on Gods call instead of searching for their next paychecks.

    By Blogger J-Wild, at 6/10/2005 10:46:00 AM  

  • I think you should blog in Spanish from now on. It would force us Cope blog junkies to transcend our monolingaulism.

    And let's just say I need to be first in line. The fact that I am a guy with the last name Gonzalez and speak only English is a little humiliating. When I say I'm really Norwegian, no one believes me.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 6/10/2005 01:24:00 PM  

  • We've been teaching Julia all kinds of useful Spanish phrases to try on her Spanish-speaking friend, such as "Tengo un mono en mi nariz." No response from the friend yet.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 6/10/2005 04:45:00 PM  

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