Friday, January 28, 2011

The Cape Town Commitment: Articulating our Christocentrism


A Christocentric communion should result in discernable corporate commitments of both belief and action. A lack of such commitment betrays a lack of true Christocentrism, for where Christ is present there must be transformation. Knowing this, the historic gatherings of the Lausanne Movement have always produced documents of profound significance in terms of both their theological affirmations as well as their practical, missional commitments. The Lausanne Covenant has stood as the pinnacle of these documents since its writing in 1974, the crowning achievement of a gathering that has been said to have ‘saved the unity of evangelicalism’.[i]
Now, out of CT2010, a third great Lausanne document has been produced that stands in harmony with its predecessors, the Lausanne Covenant and Manila Manifesto, but which engages the burning questions and issues of a new generation. Furthermore, it builds and arguably improves upon the examples of those earlier documents in its representative nature as a truly corporate document, in its skill in marrying theological conviction to practical commitment, and in its value as a confessional and pastoral guide. The Cape Town Commitment is the new banner for Lausanne and models for the global Church what the literature of a movement should look like.
A Corporate Document
The Cape Town Commitment may be said to be a truly corporate document. It is presented in two parts. The first is entitled, ‘For the Lord We Love: Our Confession of Faith’. It consists of an articulation and affirmation of a number of key doctrines including the existence and triune nature of God, the deity and uniqueness of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture and more. The primary work on this section was initiated by a diverse group of theologians from around the world. The longer and second part of the Commitment, ‘For the World We Serve: Our Call to Action’, arose completely out of the content and proceedings of Cape Town 2010, the several hundred remote GlobalLink sites, the Lausanne Global Conversation, and other related sources. This has been called the ‘listening process’ of the Congress[ii] a process that has included a careful and tedious gathering and mining of data from presenters, delegates, observers, and others. The work was entrusted to a small international group of men and women, the Statement Working Group, led by Chris Wright. 
 Chris Wright, chair of the Lausanne LTWG, has served as the principle architect of the Commitment and has testified:
The Cape Town Commitment is not just the memorial of a moment—however significant that moment was, at Cape Town 2010. It is, I think, the conviction of a movement and the voice of a multitude - not only of those who were there at the Congress, but also of those who participated through the Global Link and in the Global Conversation. It distils a vast quantity of input and I am grateful to all who contributed - the team of theologians who began the process, the army of presenters at the Congress, the Cape Town Statement Working Group, and the many unknown friends who emailed helpful comments. We profoundly hope and pray, however, that in this statement we are hearing not just the voice of Cape Town 2010, but to some degree also the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ who walked among us there.[iii]
Literature that Facilitates Movement
Most statements of faith are merely that—statements. They are essentially static recitations of theological convictions. In my denomination, they play an important role at the incorporation of a new church into the broader association but are soon shuffled away into a new member’s orientation packet or posted to an infrequently visited ‘About us’ page on the church website. Even in churches where creeds are utilized regularly in the liturgy, they function only to affirm doctrine. They are, by definition, what we believe. They say very little, if anything, about what we should do. The Lausanne Movement has helped the global Church see its need for a different kind of creedal literature—literature that facilitates movement in Christ. The Cape Town Commitment has modeled this in three primary ways.
First, the commitment has married doctrinal affirmations with missional commitment through the covenant language of love. We do not simply believe in the Trinity; we love him. We do not simply believe the Bible; we love it. And loving leads to concrete action. So for example, the expression of our love for God the Son—his birth, sinless life, ministry and miracles, death on the cross, resurrection, ascension, and return—leads naturally to committing ‘ourselves afresh to bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching in all the world, knowing that we can bear such witness only if we are living in obedience to his teaching ourselves’.[iv] This ‘love language’ facilitates movement by demonstrating that a biblically-based theological foundation that is loved is truly a springboard for gospel living.
Secondly, the Cape Town Commitment recognizes that movement in Christ requires a laying aside of ‘every weight and the sin which clings so closely’ (Heb. 12:1) and has thus made confession and repentance a vital part of the content of the document. Language of confession, lamentation, and repentance appears more than 25 times in the Commitment and includes lamenting the ‘scandal of our shallowness and lack of discipleship’ and calling for ‘explicit repentance where Christians have participated in ethnic violence, injustice or oppression’.[v] Thus humbled before Christ, the forgiven and unentangled Church can move forward in its mission with freedom and grace.
Finally, the Commitment models for the Church the literature of Christocentric movement through its intentional instruction to Christian leaders. It is a kind of modern day, pastoral epistle in that it actually gives clear, specific direction to local church leaders. Pastors, in particular, are encouraged to ‘facilitate more open conversation about sexuality’, to ‘teach and preach the fullness of the biblical gospel’, to equip all Christians apologetically and evangelistically, to ‘teach biblical truth on ethnic diversity’, and more.[vi] Such clear instruction shows the way forward, providing a kind of roadmap for our movement in Christ.
 The design of the Cape Town Commitment is worthy of prayerful study. I believe it stands as one of the great contributions of CT2010Missiologist and Congress delegate Stanley Green was correct in saying that if embraced by the evangelical community, ‘the Commitment will reshape that community in ways that auger well for the health and unity of the church and for the advance of God’s mission in the world’.[vii] Together, the three historic Lausanne documents have shown us that statements of faith need not be mere static recitations of doctrinal beliefs divorced from action, commitment, worship, and discipleship. The Commitment may even have eclipsed the Lausanne Covenant in its ability to promote movement through theological affirmation and commitment, confession, and instruction.
[i] T. Houston, ‘Cooperation in Evangelism and the Lausanne Covenant, online:http://www.strategicnetwork.org/index/php?loc=kb&view=v&id=4651&fto=1701&sfto=lausanne%20covenant&, 1 January 1989 [accessed 5 January 2011].
[ii] The Lausanne Movement, ‘The Cape Town Commitment’.
[iii] C. Wright, Email to Cody C. Lorance, 7 January 2011.
[iv] The Lausanne Movement, ‘The Cape Town Commitment’.
[v] The Lausanne Movement, ‘The Cape Town Commitment’.
[vi] The Lausanne Movement, ‘The Cape Town Commitment’.
[vii] S. W. Green, ‘Report on Cape Town 2010’, International Journal of Missionary Research (35:1, 2011), 7-10.

The Cape Town Commitment

The long-awaited Cape Town Commitment has now been officially released. Let the discussions begin!


The Cape Town Commitment

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Indigenous Jesus: Contextualized Henna Art

Check out my friend Scott Rayl's post on using Henna design to communicate the message of Christ. Great stuff!

Indigenous Jesus: Contextualized Henna Art

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Heuertz's "New Ecumenism" Sufficiently Christocentric?

I've just finished reading an article by Chris Heuertz called "The New Ecumenism: Becoming the Living Body of Christ."  Chris is one of a growing number of self-proclaimed Evangelicals I know who are more or less championing a kind of ecumenical spirit. I'm doing my best to listen to them and understand what they are saying, but I'm still struggling. I'm not fully on board at this point.

In Chris's article he speaks mostly about traditional divisions between Catholics and Protestants. He shares some personal experiences within his family and ministry and how working through and joining together with each other, they've been able to move closer to Christ as the center. But I have a few honest questions:

1. Chris speaks rather negatively about "doctrinal lines" as if to suggest that none should exist. He describes this as an essentially evangelical effort to determine "who's in and who's out." I want to agree to a point that the demand for absolute theological conformity has often been taken to ridiculous and sinful extremes. But is Chris suggesting that no lines be drawn at all? Perhaps such talk appears safe enough when speaking of Protestant/Catholic relationships, but what about Mormans, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Oneness Pentecostals? Is Chris suggesting that we throw the flood gates open for any and all who call themselves Christians? And if not, on what basis would he exclude some and include others?

2. Chris shared that the incorporation of some Catholics into his ministry resulted in a strengthening of it. I don't want to challenge that; however, he continues to say, "The only hurdle we really experienced was at the communion table. Other than that, community carried on . . ." I find this a troubling statement to simply breeze by. The indication I get is that the incorporation of Catholics and Protestants together in a mission agency resulted in conflict around one of the central aspects of worship -- Communion. I wish Chris would have elaborated on this. I'm not sure how a group of people could be said to be experiencing truly Christian community without taking the Lord's Supper together.

3. Why does Chris label the "tendency to reject other traditions" as a Protestant one? Weren't Wycliffe, Huss, and Luther excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church rather against their will? Aren't Catholic and Orthodox leaders every bit as dogmatic and "divisive" as Protestants?

4. In speaking about the idea of moving towards theological unity, Chris asserts that reductionism is bad, but I'm not convinced that he doesn't go on to do just that. For example, he writes, "We can all agree that God doesn't want children's sexuality exploited and commodified in the commercial sex industry. Discovering theological unity in that tragic space is easy. So we stay in those obvious places and inch our way closer to one another based on what else we can agree on." But Chris doesn't do anything to explain what makes such an issue an "obvious place" theologically. What makes this "easy" and another issue difficult? Is it simply deemed easy on the basis of a kind of straw poll among self-proclaimed Christians? I understand the practical draw to such thinking, but I'm unaware of any Biblical justification for it. And then what happens when a professing Christian suggests that he/she doesn't exactly agree with this "obvious statement"? It may seem far-fetched, but we're having to deal with something very near to that right now. What does Chris's ecumenism do with such a person? If the answer is to throw them out, upon what basis? If its only a matter of majority view, then we're no better off than when we started.

So, I'm left at the end of Chris's article feeling that he simply hasn't provided a sufficient Christocentrism to build a real Christian unity. To simply say that Christ must be the center doesn't mean that He really is. For it means something to be a follower of Christ. It has doctrinal and theological ramifications as well as necessary practical and missional commitments.  I don't claim to know for sure what those are but sincerely believe that the Lausanne Covenant goes a long way in capturing these.  Anyway, my mind is not at all closed to the pursuit of ecumenical unity and I deeply appreciate the heart behind what Christ has shared, but I'm just not convinced that he has done enough to really show us the way forward.

Thoughts?

Aradhna - Mukteshwar Music Video

I love this video. Check it out!

YouTube - Aradhna - Mukteshwar: ""

Saturday, January 22, 2011

James Lankford's Pro-life Speech at Congress

This was good to hear.  Thanks, James!



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hope for Scattered People

A couple days ago, I watched with watery eyes as the body of a recently deceased uncle was slowly pushed into a crematorium by wailing mourners.  Two women screamed and passed out as the door of the furnace was closed.  The man's three sons collapsed to the ground in tears.

Today, I visited the house to see the bereaved family.  The sons sat stripped in a nearly empty room while their wives were compelled to stay in another part of the house in a similar state. For 12 days after the death of their father, they will remain in this state, avoiding salt and meat, not venturing out of the house.  Considered unclean and polluting during this period of time, they will not be touched by anyone else until the 13th day.

Here in one of countless apartments on some forgotten street in Chicago, the family repeats a tradition passed down to them by elders in Nepal and Bhutan.  Performing it correctly, they believe, will ensure their father's successful transition to his next life.  Mistakes can result in him becoming stuck in the inauspicious liminal spirit stage indefinitely -- he'll become a ghost.  But guarantees are hard to come by.  The family members long for success, but hope they do not have.

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." (1Th 4:13)

Let me be clear about something, folks.  The Lord has chosen to bless and increase this little ministry of Trinity International Baptist Mission in powerful ways.  Ours has, by God's grace, developed into a ministry that is all about bringing the hope and wholeness of Jesus to the scattered people of the world.  I cannot even begin to tell you all that God is doing in and through this team right now.  I wish I could.  I wish you could sit with me in a Nepali house and watch the scales fall off the spiritual eyes of people who've for generations sat in darkness.  I wish you could spend a day with Pastor Talargie as he ministers among the Ethiopian community here.  I wish you could have sat among the more than 300 Karen (Myanmar) believers that celebrated the new year together this year in our Karen church plant.  I wish you could be a fly on the wall at the College of DuPage or at our ESL ministry and just watch God work.  

And it stretches beyond that.  Beyond Chicagoland.  Soon more visitors will come here to see what we're doing in our cross-cultural work, seeking to learn and apply in their own context in another state.  I received a letter just the other day from a cross-cultural worker in another country who has been using our online resources in their work among Nepalis.  The coming months will feature great opportunities as members of our team equip and dialog with others about diaspora missions in France, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, and elsewhere.

And I share all this because, to put it plainly, we need additional financial support.  We need many, many of you to give.  We need one-time support of all shapes and sizes along with regular supporters who will give monthly, quarterly, etc.  If you've made it this far in today's post, I want to ask you to please go the extra mile to make a quick, secure online donation to our ministry.  We use the very secure PayPal for all our online giving.  Your gift will be fully-tax deductible and will be put to work for the Lord right away.  Our ministry is small and focused on doing the work of bringing Christ to all nations.  You can have confidence that any gift you make, whether $5 or $5000, will be put to use in supporting the growing mission of TIBM.  At this point, we know that thousands of people are impacted every week through the work of Trinity International.  Many have come to Christ.  Churches have been planted.  Christian leaders have been raised up and sent out.  Countless have been discipled.  

I want to encourage you to give in any of the following ways:

1. We have an immediate project that we are raising money for.  This involves sending me (Cody) to France for an international consultation on missions to scattered peoples.  You can learn more about this opportunity here.  You may make a donation of any size to this project by clicking the widget below.


2. We have a number of different needs that you can give to by following this link.  This will take you to our PayPal-based donation center on the TIBM website.  From there you can explore a variety of needs or simply make a general contribution of any amount.  

3.  As always, you can make a general contribution to the work of TIBM by sending a check to the following:

Trinity International Baptist Mission
112 Horizon Circle
Carol Stream, IL 60188

We really need your support right now.  When the economy is bad, often it is small ministries like ours that suffer most.  Yet, I can tell you with certainty that much of what we are doing is not being done by anyone else in God's family.  I can now say that many, many times I have shared Christ with someone who has never, ever heard the gospel before.  God is with this work and I believe you will be blessed as you join with us financially.

Blessings and thanks!

Rev. Cody C. Lorance
Senior Pastor & Church Planting Leader
Trinity International Baptist Mission

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This is what we've been searching for!

In the shadow of Duke University is a thick forest of tall pines, lush magnolias, and naked winter oaks.  Dispersed among them is a surprising band of bamboo trees -- yes, bamboo.  I've found this to be an apt metaphor for the hidden diaspora of Bhutanese-Nepalis that now call Durham, North Carolina, home.  Six or seven houses are hardly enough to capture the attention or imagination of many followers of Christ, but they are here.  Like those bamboo trees, overlooked and unexplainable.

Symbol of God's Omnipresence
Our couple days here have been enlightening.  As many of you know, I have been blessed to have been welcomed into the inner sanctum of the family relationships of many Bhutanese through the formation of numerous brother-sister covenant bonds.  I get to be a strange and surprising brother, son, uncle, nephew.  From this insider perspective, I've learned so much and have become privy to a point-of-view that few Americans get to see.  I very frequently get to hear how the Bhutanese talk about their American and Christian contacts after the latter have left the house.  And, well, I have some stories.

The other day I heard from a family that had deep interest in Christ.  They strongly considered following Him when they arrived in the US but backed away after an encounter with one Christ-follower who, in their minds, had called them "Satan."  I assume the Christian had no idea he had come across in that way.  But so he did and the family's interest in knowing Jesus ceased.

Today, another conversation with another Bhutanese man.  We spoke for only a few minutes as I presented an incarnational message about Jesus.  Instead of attacking his culture or worldview, I presented a positive view of Jesus in Nepali cultural clothing.  We entered into dialogue together.  After some time, the man said the following:

"You have said only a little, but I have understood a lot.  This is what we've been searching for."

This isn't the only time we've heard such sentiment on this trip.  The Spirit of God has worked very powerfully to tear down walls of misunderstanding and, through the pursuit of contextualization, Christ has walked right into the homes and hearts of people who've previously never let him anywhere near.

As I contemplate it all, I am convinced that God's Spirit desires to do much more.  Pray for us that we may discern His will as we move forward as a ministry.  Also, I must remind you of how important it is that we have your continuing financial support.  The widget below is one of many ways in which we need your support:



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christocentric Bhutanese- A Diaspora Journey

Well, I can't really share much information in this forum.  I will say that, in case you didn't know, I'm in the midst of a kind of missionary journey right now.  Couple days in.  Packed up my car with stuff, my son, my co-worker Sarah, 2 Nepali sisters and 1 Nepali father and left the Chicago area on Monday.  Spent the day in Louisville, KY.  House to house among several Bhutanese-Nepali families with a local cross-cultural worker.  Did a Christ-centered worship service in the evening.  We followed the pattern of a Nepali-style "satsang." You can learn more about that by clicking the keyword "satsang" below.

Anyway, it was a great joy to worship along with some wonderful families last night.  Mostly, they had little experience with Christ before, so it was a great introduction for them.  We have many invites to return.

Now we're in Durham, NC.  I have a sister (Bhutanese) here.  Tomorrow, we will have a special time to pray for, thank God for, and bless her new baby.  The family here is very, very excited that we've come.  I've even been asked to repeat the same ministry for a relative of theirs in another city.

I'm excited always to be with new Bhutanese-Nepali families and to love them and be loved by them.  Introducing them to Christ through incarnational, contextual means is a delightful experience that always leaves me feeling tremendously blessed.  I remember Christ's own incarnation.  Through the incarnation, God was able to walk right into town, right up to the door, right into the house, hearts and lives of people.  Defenses down, they are able to just have an honest and intimate encounter with the Lord of the universe.  The incarnation still seems to work that way.

Well, enough.  As I engage in this diaspora-focused missionary journey, I want to remind you that I need your help to get to the upcoming Global Diasporas Network meeting next month.  This international consultation is by invitation-only and I am excited to bring our ministry to the table.  Please support me going and partnering with these brothers and sisters from around the world for the cause of Christ among the people on the move.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Global Diasporas- Biblical Highways and Missional Opportunities

So as my wonderful wife works to edit my paper on Cape Town 2010, I'm now shifting my attention (academically, anyway) to my next writing project -- diaspora missions. I'm really interested in the theology of diaspora missions, specifically. And, theology for me means Bible. So, I'm digging in to Scripture, intentionally reading with my eyes on the concept of diaspora.

Yesterday, I sat down with a friend and discussed the whole Bible - diaspora connection and we came to the conclusion that diaspora, the scattering of people or (as Sadiri Joy Tira likes to say) the "people on the move" are a major highway of biblical thought.  It is no side issue that boasts of only a few poignant texts.  Rather, consider the "fill the earth" command given to Adam and repeated to Noah (Gen. 1:28, 9:1), the "Tower of Babel" scattering which we've already discussed, and the wandering patriarchs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Consider the huge diaspora themes permeating the story of Joseph bringing Israel into Egypt and Moses leading them out.  There is also the Jewish diaspora resulting from the exile and practically the entire New Testament mission that is built upon the infrastructure of that diaspora (including the Pentecost of Act 2, the Great Persecution of Acts 8, and the launching of the gentile mission through the great diaspora realities of Cornelius, Antioch, and Paul's missional strategy of utilizing the scattered synagogues of the Roman Empire).

So, it is something I'm thinking much about and don't know exactly where I'll end up.  A next big stop will be traveling to Paris, France, to the newly formed Lausanne Global Diaspora Network consultation. I am humbled and thrilled to have been invited to attend and to serve as a part of the network.  I consider it a huge opportunity to serve the global body of Christ as well as to enhance what our ministry, Trinity International Baptist Mission, is doing here to bring the hope and wholeness of Christ to people of all nations.  I believe strongly that we are sitting at the brink of the unfolding of some exciting days ahead in our local-global ministry.  I do, of course, need your help with a couple things:

1. Please pray for me and the entire Trinity team.  Our work among diaspora peoples never stops and neither does our need for prayer.  In particular, I have a lot of travel coming up. Tomorrow, I'll be taking a group of people to Kentucky and North Carolina to conduct Christocentric satsangs among Bhutanese-Nepali people in those places.  Next month is the meeting in Paris, France. Also in February, I'll be presenting on diaspora missiology at the Evangelical Missiology Society North Central Regional Conference.  In March, I'll be traveling to Nashville to help conduct some training in ministry among Bhutanese-Nepalis at LifeWay.  In April, I plan to be in Orlando, Florida for the U.S. Lausanne Committee's National gathering.  In between it all will be the daily, ongoing needs of our local mission field here.  So do pray.

2. Some of our upcoming travel will require raising additional funds.  Most immediately, I need your support to help me cover the expenses related to the Global Diasporas Network meeting in Paris.  The couple dozen of us that have been invited from around the world are all committed to raising our own support to get there.  This is in keeping with the Lausanne spirit of volunteerism.  You can find some more information about the gathering here or click the widget below to donate now through our secure, online donation system.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

3 Crucial Things that are Impossible Apart from the Body of Christ

     Some of you, it is conceivable, may be waiting for me to post something to this blog.  I've not been doing so lately because I've been buried in writing for a couple projects.  Anyway, I do want to share something with you to kind of tide you over until I can get back to regular writing.  The following reflects some of the thoughts that I shared last Sunday night in house church at TIBM and is actually an excerpt from a chapter that I'm writing for a book the will come out next year.  I hope you're an Ephesians fan! Enjoy:

-----
     
     In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which served as the primary Scriptural focus of Cape Town 2010, one gets the impression that if a follower of Christ wishes to have anything approaching a meaningful relationship with God, they must become deeply enmeshed with the life of the Church in its wholeness.  It is, in the language of the Apostle, the Church who has received “every spiritual blessing” (1:3) and that has become “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:23).  The Church is his “body” (1:23), his “workmanship” (2:10), a company of “fellow citizens” and members of “the household of God”(2:19), a “temple” in which the Holy Spirit dwells (2:21-22),  and Christ’s own bride, the object of his tender care and nourishment (5:32).
 
     What is more, it is clear from Ephesians that at least three things, and those of paramount importance, are possible only within the context of the whole Church.   First, making known the “manifold wisdom of God” to the invisible realm of evil spiritual “rulers and authorities” is something that God has purposed to do “through the Church” (3:10-11).  This is accomplished as peoples from many divergent and often mutually hostile nations and cultures become one body through the peace-making cross of Jesus Christ (2:12-3:10).  Consequently, the more wholeness is realized among the nations and peoples of the earth through the blood of Christ, and the more he himself is manifested as the peace of the Church that truly joins us together as one new humanity, the more awesome the resulting display will be of God’s wisdom to the demonic spiritual realm.  According to John Piper, in his exposition of this passage at the Congress, “There isn’t anything greater that can be said about the global Church of Jesus but that, through the death of the Messiah, God has created a people in whom he means for his infinite wisdom to be manifest to the cosmic powers of evil” (Piper, 2010).

     Secondly, it is only “together with all the saints” that Christ-followers can find the strength to comprehend the multidimensional love of Christ and, through that, to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (3:18-19).  Such love, we are told, “surpasses knowledge” (3:19) and thus lies outside the grasp of a divided and fragmented Church.  But when Christians from every family on earth, “rooted and grounded in love” and indwelt by the Spirit, join together in partnership and communion, the breadth and length and height and depth of divine love is brought into full relief, God is glorified, and we are filled (3:14-21).

     Finally, we see that outside the context of the whole Church, genuine spiritual maturity is likewise impossible.  Paul exhorts us to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” for a very practical reason (4:3).  There is a single, universal Church and only one Holy Spirit (4:4), but the grace-ministering gifts of Christ are varied and have been distributed to Christians (4:7) far and wide.  Doug Birdsall’s vision of Cape Town 2010 being an “international gift exchange” (Birdsall, 2010) is exactly what Paul argues is always and at all times required.  He says that all the saints are to be equipped.  All are to attain to the unity of the faith.  All are to become spiritually mature.  But this is possible for none unless the whole body is “joined and held together,” “each part working properly” and thus promoting the growth of the Church in the love of Christ (4:16).  I dare not presume that all the gifts and manifestations of God’s grace exist within the confines of my own local, denominational, or even national church.  I need the whole body.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Biblical Definition of Stealing

I like to compile definitions of familiar terms from looking at the whole of Scripture.  I often find myself doing this when teaching the Bible through a translator.  I find that important often because the terms can have slightly different nuances of meaning from one language to another.  So, by looking at the whole Bible on a topic, I can be very clear about what I'm trying to say and don't have to worry as much about what is getting lost in translation.  Moreover, the process is actually very helpful to me as it invariably expands my own understanding of the term as well.

Today, I am working on a Bible study on the 8th command, "Do not steal" for our Nepali Sunday School program. I will be meeting tonight with our three Nepali Bible teachers, who are still relatively new believers and will be encountering this subject in the Bible for the first time.  So, I began my preparation by going through the whole of Scripture to seek out a full, Biblical definition of "stealing."  This way, I will not have to worry about how the Nepali term "चोराइ" relates to the English "steal".  I can instead focus on exactly what the Bible is speaking out against.  The following is the definition that I have arrived at:


To steal is to either dishonestly take what does not belong to you or to unjustly withhold what belongs to someone else.  This includes the property or wages of another, offerings to God, and even justice and compassion to the poor.  The Bible calls us to live in an opposite way, doing honest work, sharing what we have with those in need, and giving generously and cheerfully to God.
(Ex. 20:15, Gen. 31:30, Gen. 44:8, Lev. 6:1-5, Lev. 19:11-13, Mal. 3:7-10, Ps. 35:10, Pr. 22:16, 22-23, Isa. 10:1-2, Eph. 4:28)

Okay, back to study.  I know it is a bit random today.  But, thought I'd share anyway.  Be blessed in this new year!