Friday, January 26, 2007

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

Beautiful. Handsome. Precious. Munchkin. My son. Adorable. Wow. How Cute! Whoa that's a full diaper! Is this for real? What a blessing! Being first-time parents is so much more than we ever dreamed, both the joy and the challenge. But do we ever love this little boy. We're actually starting to find something that looks like a schedule and perhaps a slice of sanity, too. Here's a few more pics.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Zechariah Ivan Otte

On January 14, 2007 our son Zechariah Ivan Otte was born into this world, safe and sound. He weighed 6 pounds and 13ounces and measured in at 20"! Heidi and I are overcome with love and adoration of him and wanted you to share in the joy with these pictures. Thanks for praying for us and continuing to pray for us as we enter this thing called parenthood!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Baby...already, but not yet!

Just in case you were wondering, nope, no baby yet! The past month has reinforced my belief in inaugurated eschatology: "I am ALREADY a father, BUT I am NOT YET a father in the fullest sense of the word! The tension can be almost unbearable. At times I'm presently consumed with the joy of talking to my son while he's still in the womb, feeling him kick and turn, and sympathizing with him when he's got the hiccups. Yet, there's more to come, a lot more than I can possibly imagine! Someday, I will see him face to face, and the thought of that makes me tear up, makes me exult in this gift of life that God has entrusted to Heidi and me. Of course, Heidi's not so sentimental about the inaugurated state of motherhood. As painful as the birth pangs will be she want him out! (This is where I tell myself "Self, just shut up. You cannot even begin to understand what she's going through. Tell her you love her and she's doing a great job!")

But as crazy as it sounds, the privilege of loving my son while he's still in the womb balanced by the confident hope of his soon arrival has been a great picture, almost a parable, to help me better understand how Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God at his first coming and how he will consummate it at his second coming. He was vindicated the Messiah, God's King, when he rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God (Romans 1:4); he is King right now! Yet his kingship will not come in its fullness until the King returns, when the last enemy, Death, is destroyed and robbed of its captives, when Satan if vanquished and the presence of sin removed forever (1 Cor 15:20-58).

Of course I'm not equating the coming of Zechariah Ivan Otte to the coming of King Jesus, but I can't help but notice how the arrival of my son is preparing me for the arrival of my Redeemer King!

"Maranatha! ...and while you're at it, Jesus, could you please speed my baby boy along!"

1 Peter 1:8-9
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

Friday, January 05, 2007

An Upside-Down World

"The question is not, 'Where does God fit into the story of my life?' but, 'Where does my life fit into the story of God's mission?'"

Those words by Christopher J.H. Wright have helped me better understand "mission"/"missions". The article caused me to see afresh the biblical reality that missions is not so much what we do for God and His Kingdom, but what God is up to in the world and how he brings us alongside of his redemptive purposes for his creation. Every Christian and church should ask "What is God's mission?" and "Am I on God's mission?" As a pastor, I am struck with the question "What's the difference between a church with a mission's program and a missional church?" Chris Wright points me to God's mission as the starting point. This article has confirmed in my mind that we serve a God with a mission and that it is in the "DNA" of every Christian to be on mission with God. Anything less is sub-Christian.

Here are some snippets from his article called "An Upside-Down World" that just appeard in Christianity Today, January 2007. (If they post it online, I'll add the link later.)

"The map of global Christianity that our grandparents knew has been turned upside down. At the start of the 20th century, only ten percent of the world's Christians lived in the continents of the south and east. Ninety percent lived in North America and Europe, along with Australia and New Zealand. But at the start of the 21st century, at least 70 percent of the world's Christians live in the non-Western world--more appropriately called the majority world."

"More Christians worship in Anglican churches in Nigeria each week than in all the Episcopal and Anglican churches of Britain, Europe, and North America combined."

"Christianity has never had a territorial center. Our center is the person of Christ, and wherever he is known, there is another potential center of faith and witness."

"Already, 50 percent of all protestant missionaries in the world come from non-Western countries, and the proportion is increasing annually."

"So another piece of unlearning we must do is breaking the habit of using the term mission field to refer to everywhere else in the world excpet our home country in the West."

"The real mission boundary is not between 'Christian countries' and 'the mission field', but between faith and unbelief, and that is a boundary that runs through every land and, indeed, through every local street."

"The whole Bible presents a God of missional activity, from his purposeful, goal-oriented act of Creation to the compeltion of his cosmic mission in the redemption of the whole of Creation--a new heaven and a new earth."

"All mission or missions that we initiate, or into which we invest our vocation, gifts, and energies, flow from the prior mission of God. God is on mission, and we, in that wonderful phrase of Paul, are 'co-workers with God.' This God-centered refocusing of mission turns inside-out our obsession with mission plans, agendas, goals, strategies, and grand schemes. We ask, 'Where does God fit into the story of my life?' when the real question is, 'Where does my life fit into the story of God's mission?'"

For an in depth study on the biblical theology of mission check out Christopher Wright's most recent book The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative

And if that book floats your boat, you'll want to get Andreas Kostenberger and Peter T. O'Brien's Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A biblical theology of mission.

And by all means don't forget John Piper's Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions.