SEND U blog

Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

A Preventive Guide to Raising Healthy TCKs

Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids: A Practical Guide to Preventive Care by Lauren Wells is a preventive guide that offers a whole toolbox of practical helps for parents of TCKs. Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids: A Practical Guide to Preventive Care by [Lauren Wells]This book is a recent addition to the SEND U wiki MK/TCK Resources page for the parents of MKs/TCKs. A few weeks ago, Sharon Wicker reviewed another resource from that wiki page.

Filling a gap

On this page are several books that have been go-to resources for years. They are tools that are great for helping parents and others to understand what a Third Culture Kid is. These books help us understand how growing up in a culture different from one’s parents will shape and impact who we are. Two books in particular do a great job describing what a TCK is. They are Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth Van Reken and Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century by Tanya Crossman.

These books and many others explain who the TCK is (the good and the bad), so that others can understand them better. But the whole emphasis is on the TCK. It is important to understand your TCKs and to be aware of who they are. It is also very important to be aware of both the challenges they face and the benefits they can experience as a TCK.

Learning by doing
Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Is learning by doing better than learning through courses?

Recently I reacquainted myself with a common formula used among trainers. It is the 70-20-10 model for learning and development. The model is based on research back in the 1980s on what were the most significant learning experiences for effective leaders.1https://trainingindustry.com/wiki/content-development/the-702010-model-for-learning-and-development/.

The research showed that leaders learned most (70%) through hands-on-experience at work when they accepted challenging assignments and worked on problem-solving. This included learning from taking risks, experimenting and making mistakes.

The next greatest source of learning (20%) came from working with others. This would include collaborating with others, giving and receiving feedback and receiving coaching and mentoring. The last 10% was learning through educational courses, seminars and books.

Partnership in the Gospel
Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Follow-Up: Partnership in the Gospel

How does Paul follow-up with the church at Philippi? We have been asking this question in previous posts about Galatia, Thessalonica, and Corinth. Our source of information has been Paul’s letters to these churches. Today we will look at his letter to Philippi.

Philippians, a Friendship Letter

Many commentators have noted that Philippians has features common to friendship letters in the Greco-Roman world.1G. Walter Hansen, The Letter to the Philippians, Eerdmans: 2009, p6f. and Gordon Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, NICNT, 1995, p 2f. For instance, expressions of affection and terminology like “yoke-fellow” (Phil. 4:3) were common in letters between friends at that time. Yet the letter is more than just communication between friends. Gordon Fee writes:

But “hortatory letter of friendship” is only part of the story, and in many ways the least significant part of that. For in Paul’s hands everything turns into gospel, including both formal and material aspects of such a letter. Most significantly, friendship in particular is radically transformed from a two-way to a three-way bond – between him, the Philippians, and Christ. And obviously it is Christ who is the center and focus of everything. Paul’s and their friendship is predicated on their mutual “participation/partnership” in the gospel.2Gordon D. Fee, p 13.

Partnership in the Gospel

In Paul’s opening thanksgiving for the Philippians (the saints and leaders, Phil. 1:1) he acknowledges the partnership in the gospel (Phil. 1:5). The word translated “partnership” in Phil. 1:5 is the Greek word koinonia which is often translated “fellowship.” It is deeper and more intense than coffee and donuts on Sunday morning. For example, included in this partnership is being “partakers” of grace with Paul. Furthermore, this partnership was evident “both in my (Paul’s) imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Phil. 1;7). So, partnership in the gospel meant that the Philippians were active in sharing the gospel with others from the beginning of their Christian life. Likewise, partnership in the gospel seems to be central to Paul’s follow-up with the church at Philippi.

Later in chapter 1, Paul continues this partnership in the gospel. First, he informs the Philippians how his present circumstances have “served to advance the gospel” (Phil. 1:12-26). Second, he expresses his desire to hear that they are “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27-30). In this way Paul’s letter is an example of partnership in the gospel. We see then that advancement of the gospel is a shared responsibility of the church planter and the planted church.

Do we cultivate partnership in the gospel with the churches we plant? Remember Paul’s partnership with the Philippians was “from the first day” (Phil. 1:5). So, it’s never too early to begin. The following components of partnership in the gospel observed in the letter will provide some guidelines for practicing partnership in the gospel.

Christian Growth is part of Partnership in the Gospel

After acknowledging their partnership in the gospel, Paul expresses his confidence that God will complete his work in their lives (Phil. 1:6). He prays that their love will grow “with knowledge and discernment . . . [to] approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9-11). In addition, he urges them to grow because God is at work within them (Phil. 2:12,13)). This growth includes their lifestyle (Phil. 1:27). Paul, likewise, continues to grow (Phil. 3:12-16) providing an example for the Philippians to follow. So, as we seek to nurture partnership in the gospel, we need to practice and encourage growing in our walk with Christ as Paul did. For example, the Learning Communities section on the SEND U wiki would be a good format for this.

Suffering is part of Partnership in the Gospel

Paul is writing from prison so suffering is inherently part of the partnership in the gospel (Phil. 1:7). In fact, life or death may result from his imprisonment (Phil. 1:20). In the midst of this suffering, Paul’s confidence is firmly in Christ (Phil. 1:21). The Philippians are also experiencing suffering (Phil. 1:29). So, Paul encourages them not to be frightened by their opponents (Phil. 1:28). Instead he points them to the resurrection (Phil. 3:11, 20-21) and prayer (Phil. 4:6-7) as a source of comfort and peace in the midst of suffering.

Unity is part of Partnership in the Gospel

Paul’s desire was to hear that the Philippian’s participation in the gospel was characterized by unity (Phil 1:27). In fact, their unity would complete his joy (Phil. 2:2). This is so because unity is grounded in “encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, participation in the Spirit, affection and sympathy” (Phil. 2:1). Further, Philippians 2:5-11 gives an extensive explanation that unity in the church follows Christ’s humble example. Because Christ is central to the gospel, his example provides a powerful motivation for the church. In his appeal for unity Paul mentions individuals who need to “agree in the Lord” (Phil. 4:2,3).

Joy is a part of Partnership in the Gospel

Paul frequently expresses his joy in the partnership in the gospel with the Philippians (Phil. 1:4, 18, 25). The “affection of Christ” fuels this joy (Phil. 1:8). This is because Christ is central to partnership in the gospel and creates the bond between believers. They rejoice when Christ is proclaimed and even suffering does not diminish that joy (Phil. 2:17,18). Also, joy accompanies their prayers (Phil. 1:4; 4:4-6). When our partnership centers on the gospel of Christ, our relationships will be joyful.

Giving and Receiving is part of Participation in the Gospel

Part of Paul’s purpose in writing this letter is to thank the Philippians for their recent gift (Phil. 4:10-20). Yet he makes it clear that he is most interested in “the fruit that increases to your (the Philippians) credit” (Phil. 4:17). Yet, we should not be embarrassed that financial sharing is part of partnership in the gospel.

Standing firm is part of Partnership in the Gospel

True partnership in the gospel stays committed to the Lord. Twice Paul writes about standing firm (Phil. 1:27; 4:1). He also commands them to “hold fast to the word of life” (Phil. 2:16). So, there is no partnership in the gospel when people depart from the message (Phil. 3:18-20).

Conclusion

In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is a fellowship of the ring that brings together hobbits, elves, dwarfs, and men. Interestingly, the fellowship breaks down the barriers between these groups and unites their purpose and energy on destroying the ring and restoring peace to middle earth. The fellowship (partnership) in the gospel, in a more powerful way, brings people together from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). While the fellowship of the ring in the Lord of the Rings is fantasy, the fellowship in the gospel expresses God’s purpose in restoring mankind and creation. Hence, the advancement of the gospel is the purpose of the fellowship in the gospel. In his summary of his introduction to Philippians, Gordon Fee writes:

In sum: Our letter invites us into the advance of the gospel, the good news about Christ and the Spirit. It points us to Christ, both now and forever. Christ is the gospel; Christ is Savior and Lord; thus Christ is our life; Christ is our way of life; Christ is our future; Christ is our joy; “to live is Christ; to die is gain”; and all to the glory of our God and Father, Amen.3Fee, p 52.

So in our follow-up with churches let us cultivate a partnership in the gospel remembering that it needs to start “from the first day” (Phil. 1:5). Let our relationship with churches we plant be characterized by mutual growth, shared suffering, unity, joy, giving and receiving, and standing firm.

Bearing much fruit
Photo by David Kohler Unsplash

Exploring Spiritual Formation: Fruit – Part 2

This is the second of two posts that explore the growth of fruit in the life of a believer. Part 1 presented biblical fruit and focused on the fruit of the Spirit. In Part 2, the post will present three necessary components for bearing the fruit of the Spirit. It will also touch on fruit and disciple making, and fruit and cross-cultural considerations.

Dwindling Fruit

Somewhere in the second month after the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic, I began to notice a slow eroding of my peace of mind. By the end of the third month, I discovered my quotient of joy was diminishing as well. Then, during the fourth month, several incidents severely tested my patience. While any of us may find ourselves with varying quantities of the fruit of the Spirit in a particular month, the decrease of so many in a relatively short time concerned me and prompted me to explore the subject.

Where does love, joy, peace, patience (long-suffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control, come from? And how can we bear such fruit, regardless of our circumstances? As I studied God’s Word, I learned that the production of good fruit is dependent on three components: abiding in Jesus, acting in concert with the Holy Spirit, and pruning.

Book Review: Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture

Too often, in my opinion, books on spiritual warfare start from experience and speculation and then hunt through Scripture for proof texts.

Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach takes a different approach. It begins instead by surveying the Bible’s teaching on spiritual warfare from Genesis to Revelation and then develops practical applications. William F. Cook III and Chuck Lawless are both professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with extensive pastoral experience. Their book not only contributes to our understanding of what the Bible teaches about spiritual warfare but also provides a model for exploring any topic for those who believe the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice.

Promising Endorsements

As the reader opens the book, the endorsements and forward raise one’s expectations for what lies ahead. Clinton E. Arnold (who has written a few books on spiritual warfare) has this to say about the book:

Many Christians do not realize that the theme of spiritual warfare pervades the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Bill Cook and Chuck Lawless develop and explain this crucially important theme and draw out numerous practical applications. This well-written book will change your perspective and it will motivate you to a greater dependence upon the Lord through prayer. I only wish they had written it thirty years ago when I started my teaching career.1William F. Cook and Chuck Lawless, Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture, B&H Academic, 2019, 1.

Telling a Better Story is about listening to the stories of others and telling the Gospel story.

Telling a Better Story – a book review

What does telling stories have to do with apologetics?Telling a Better Story: How to Talk About God in a Skeptical Age by [Josh Chatraw]

My interest was sparked when I saw this new book on apologetics focusing on telling stories earlier this summer. Apologetics has traditionally been oriented to philosophy and logic. Yet most people understand life through stories they seek to practice. Expressing the reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15) is best communicated through stories. People relate to stories better than to formal syllogisms. Josh Chatraw’s new book, Telling a Better Story: How to Talk About God in a Skeptical Age (Zondervan, 2020) reimages apologetics for today’s context. The book is divided into three parts: Part 1 – A Better Story About Apologetics; Part 2 – Offering a Better Story; Part 3 – Objections to the Story. He writes the following about apologetics:

Once viewed as a tool to win debates, apologetics is now becoming more focused on generating productive conversations that open doors for people to consider the gospel. Rather than encouraging others to use what Charles Taylor refers to as “conversation-stoppers” (e.g. “I have a three-line argument which shows that your position is absurd or impossible or totally immoral”) or what Alan Jacobs refers to as the habit of “militarizing discussion and debate,” many apologists are emphasizing the need for Christians to become better listeners who seek to understand the person thay are speaking with before making appeals. This enables us to meet people where they are and find points to affirm before finding points to challenge.1Josh Chatraw, Telling a Better Story, Zondervan, 2020, p 19.

Listen to their stories

The author wants us to listen to their stories because they are windows for understanding. Stories, both big stories and little stories, are purveyors of culture and worldview. Stories explain life. They answer the big questions about the meaning of life and how to live well. Chatraw writes:

Khan Academy helps home-schoolers

Khan Academy – a resource for MKs

A new page for MK/TCK resources has recently been added to the SEND U wiki. One of these resources, Khan Academy, is particularly helpful for parents and students alike as a tool for supplemental learning.

What is Khan Academy?

It is NOT: training to join Genghis Khan and his Hordes of the 1300 and 1400s.

It IS: a FREE online personalized learning resource for all ages.

“Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. We tackle math, science, computing, history, art history, economics, and more, including K-14 and test preparation.” (from their website)

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