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14) The BackPage: More on “Small Unreached People Groups”

We’ve got a great friend who does research on unreached peoples. He saw our item about unreached people groups with smaller populations in the Apr. 14 edition (“The BackPage: Your Thoughts about the “Small Tribes”).

http://www.brigada.org/2013/04/14_11350

He wrote this past week, “I am the researcher for many people groups with my org. A couple of years ago we put out a warning… If you field people do not validate ZERO population people groups by X date we will delete them from our list. Deleting does not remove them forever. It just takes them off of what is visible to people. I personally am thinking this way. If it is a people group that does not exist anywhere else then a population of 1,000 is a good cut off point. If the group is over 1,000 then we need to look harder at them now. But if the PG is a diaspora group like the Persians in Belgium then 5,000 would be a better cut off amount. If you take a mega-city like Moscow or Istanbul and you allow for 50 member people groups to make our list then suddenly a hundred people groups might need to be added to current lists. The larger question that the above research exercise underscores is “Does this people group warrant a unique CP strategy?” That is a hard judgment call that few want to tackle. It looks bad to ask that question. But field experts need to share what they think on that question to help steer pre-field people or senders. A diaspora portion of a people group of 2,000 may not need a unique CP strategy because they can be reached via the city strategy. But a unique people group in its homeland that is 1,000 members may be overlooked or not naturally welcomed into a local CP work.”

Actually, now that I’ve considered it, I think his thoughts are right on track. Your thoughts???

He added, “And about your person. That person investing time researching becomes a front liner for research. Most of us field people will do the same steps your friend did. Cleaning up an old entry and suggesting they be deleted is valuable service in the Kingdom. Why not encourage your friend to suggest that the people group get deleted from the lists. Joshua Project and others like me listen to such advice.”

Do you agree or disagree? Should we begin recommending that JoshuaProject.net “clean out” people groups that are 1000 and down? I’m leaning that direction. I’m afraid they will be just too hard to find — unless there is very specific documentation in existence about them. Your thoughts? Please click “Comment” below the web version of this item.

14) The BackPage: Your Thoughts about the “Small Tribes”

A great and faithful friend of mine recently shared with me that, upon learning about unreached people groups (UPG’s), he committed to pray for one. He confessed, however, that he hadn’t been able to learn a lot about his group yet. I offered to help and immediately went to work tracking down stats. I soon learned that the group was a small one consisting of only about 30 members in all. In spite of my best efforts, I was unable to learn much about this tiny UPG — so I finally wrote the guys at JoshuaProject.net. They were very responsive, though they admitted that they didn’t have a lot of additional data beyond what was on the page. Their answer kind of surprised me. “Why don’t you suggest to your friends that they choose another group.”

According to JoshuaProject.net, some 3500 of their 7165 UPG’s are fewer than 10,000 in population, meaning that there is ALMOST a 1 out of 2 chance that the group will be small. Bill Morrison, a professional researcher for JoshuaProject.net, is sobered by the challenge of smaller tribes, castes, and kindreds, but he insisted that the data were not fictitious. “I’m always skeptical of groups this tiny,” He wrote to us this past week, “as to whether they could even be found these days.”

Though sobered by these stats, still I remain a fan of JoshuaProject’s decision to let the data be the data. After all, any serious researcher should, in my opinion, always be reluctant to discard data points. Let the data speak, I say. What’s more, Jesus himself had something to say about small groups. In Matthew 18:12-14, he asked, “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wonders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wondered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wonder off. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Sparse UPG’s take note: Jesus loves you too.

At the end of the day, however, the whole discussion might not matter that much. You see, although another 1400 or so groups are said to have fewer than 50,000 members, over 2000 unreached people groups have populations of 750,000 or more. These groups are hard to miss. So what I now tell the skeptics is this: Blow them off, if you dare. You still have plenty of work to do with the remaining challenges in our world today. After all, a list of 2226 mongo groups is every bit as sobering to me as a list of 7,165 groups of all sizes. Either way, we still need a planet-wide mobilization of hundreds, if not thousands of new missionaries from a wide array of cultures and occupations. Either way, we’d better pray to the Lord of the Harvest like never before, asking the Lord of the harvest to raise up a new force of goers, senders, and pray-ers. That’s what we need today. Let’s make it happen.

14) The BackPage: Lessons in Leadership from the Movie, “Argo”

ArgoOK, before I go any farther, I have to say — the language in this movie is horrific. On the one hand, it’s what I hear 3 times a week when I go play soccer with a couple of dozen international friends of mine from all over the world. They cuss, swear, and utter some of the worst words I’ve ever heard. It’s horrible. That’s what this movie sounds like in certain segments. Well… LOTS of segments. Don’t take your family to this movie. Don’t rent it for anyone else on Redbox until you’ve watched it yourself. But if you play soccer with the same guys I do, these words won’t be new. You just won’t like them. Honest. (Am I getting my point across?)

Having said all that, if you can get hold of an EDITED copy of this movie… like … maybe something they show on an airline?… then there are indeed some redeeming values. The story is all about a cooperative effort between Canada and our own CIA to free six U.S. State Department employees who escaped the Iranian embassy just moments before it was stormed by mobs of irate Iranians on Nov. 4, 1979. The rest of the drama describes the CIA’s attempt to free them. The title of the movie, “Argo,” gets its name, of all things, from a movie WITHIN the movie — because the lead CIA operative, Tony Mendez, comes up with a zany idea [which echoed the real life events of 1980] of trying to exfiltrate the 6 hostages by convincing the Iranian government that they’re scouting the country for a movie set — a movie entitled, “Argo.” If you want the complete plot-spoiling description [warning: Don’t read this until you’ve watched the movie], visit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argo_%282012_film%29

OK, so now the scene is set. And now we ask about the redeeming values. If you can get past all the obscenities, it seems to me thatArgo training there are several lessons in leadership found within Affleck’s portrayal of Tony Mendez and the dynamics of the entire drama. I’d like to propose four lessons, then ask you, the Brigada audience, what further lessons YOU can find in Argo.

*** Leadership, at the end of the day, is believing so strongly in an idea — a big idea — that you’re even prepared to die for it if you have to. Once you reach that level, you can truly rise to heroic status. Anything less than that and you’ll probably be relegated to a medium performance, at best. Affleck’s portrayal of Tony Mendez has received broad acclaim partly because Mendez was indeed a leader willing to die for his cause. (Note: This Mendez guy is the real deal. Argo got a few things wrong, but MANY things it got right — and Mendez is one of them. One of the reasons the movie works is that Affleck helps us see that this guy labored over his integrity: In the movie version of the story, he realized that he had ‘outed’ these six hostages. He HAD to carry through with the rescue now. So… the question we have to ask ourselves as leaders is this: Are we willing to give our LIVES for the cause. I don’t mean — are we willing to leave our wives and children (we should be willing to take them with us). I mean… are we so passionate that this ’cause’ is more than a job. Is it a dream to which we’ll commit ALL of ourselves.

*** Secondly, there will be times, as leaders, that we will have to be so sure of our cause that we have to articulate it even when others believe it’s a dying cause. And part of the MAGIC of leadership is effectively convincing others that the cause is worth living for… and that it will succeed. My buddies and I have several friends who have  said it this way: You’ll know a leader because there will be people following her — or him. Affleck’s depiction of this in the movie is spectacular. In the movie version of the story, [plot-spoiler] the CIA calls off the rescue all together. Affleck’s character at first seems to relent and obey the order. But in a long and lonely night, he inwardly battles through the inner conflict: Does he follow through with his personal convictions even though it risks certain death, being fired and released when he returned (especially if he fails), and the possibility of being made a complete fool if his headquarters doesn’t reconfirm the airline tickets, for example. The upshot for you and me, as leaders: Can we pick our battles? Can we grow the intuition to know when to campaign for follow-through, and when to let go? Can we sort out when to stand up for what we believe and when to walk away. Those decisions, little by little on a daily basis, help shape the successes, or the failures, of us all.

Argo-the_movie*** Third, can we as leaders keep secrets? Mendez pulled all this off in 1980 — but then he couldn’t tell a soul. He couldn’t even tell his WIFE! It wasn’t until the whole thing was declassified in 1997 that the story could finally come out. Can we muster that kind of confidence and humility? “Loose lips” not only “sink ships,” as the old WWII poster says, they also can sink churches and mission agencies too.

*** Fourth, in the movie version, what did it take for Mendez to convince all six hostages to play along — especially the character, “Joe Stafford,” who said, in the movie version, ” You really believe your little story’s gonna make a difference when there’s a gun to our heads?” Tony Mendez replied, in the movie, “I think my story’s the only thing between you and a gun to your head.” [plot spoiler] 48 hours later, as they attempt to board the plane, Joe Stafford steps up to the plate and uses his language skill to tell the story of the movie to the guards, complete with story boards and sound effects. Thanks to his willingness to join the team, they make it through the gate. Our task as leaders is no different. We have to persuade those who aren’t on board either to get on board or to get off the ship. No small task. It takes constant vigilance. But if we’re successful, some of the very people who didn’t want to be involved might mean the difference between success and failure.

Now what about you? What lessons do YOU see in Argo? What did YOU learn about leadership, followership, and mobilization. Just click “Comment” below the online version of this item. Thanks in advance for your thoughts. And remember, please beware the bad language in the movie.

Doug

14) The BackPage: Elements of a Great Agency Web Site

This morning, a Volunteer with our agency sent me a URL for a missions website that she felt was exceptional. It got me to thinking: What makes a great agency website? What are some of the components that set a great website apart, for you? And likewise, what are the elements or components that turn you off? I’ll share some of my own thoughts; you agree, disagree, expand, ok?

What makes them great? The best summary I’ve found actually comes from (Small Business Marketing, Feb. 28, 2012). Find it here.

http://www.webs.com/blog/2012/02/28/6-key-elements-to-a-good-website/

The article concludes that you need good visual design, great content, simple yet effective navigation, a clear call to action, credibility, and viewability from a mobile phone. (By the way, have you looked at your site on a mobile phone? :-) )

The website-killers were stated as stale content, too much content, no photos, looking illegitimate, and being bland.

Find the slide presentation for these items at…

http://www.slideshare.net/WebsInc/6-key-elements-to-a-good-website

On the screencast, there are lots of great examples and colorful case studies. It’s great.

So what’s your take? What makes a great site for you??? Please find the online version of this item, using the link below, and click “Comment” and speak up for your opinion. Thanks in advance.

14) The BackPage: Feedback from the Field

Visiting the field helps keep one fresh and “plugged-in” to the issues affecting our global workers. These past couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling through Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Here are three sample issues I’ve picked up on. Are these affecting your field too? What’s your take on them?

*** Living in an age of political uncertainty — It’s always been dicey out there in certain fields. However, since the terrorist bombings in Kenya and the attacks on 9/11, since Afghanistan and Iraq, and since the so-called Arab Awakenings, …is it my imagination, or are we living in a time more unstable, politically and economically, and ever before? This creates added stress for cross-cultural workers, who already had more stress than they needed just dealing with language, culture, and strategy.

*** Will community transformational ministries speed up or slow down the establishment of strong church-planting movements (CPM’s) — In the CPM’s that Garrison studied, he concluded that they seemed to swirl around the “10 universals” that he discovered. (Read more at…

http://simplechurchathome.com/PDF&PowerPoint/ChurchPlantingMovements.pdf )

At one point, he even went so far as to say that the movements that he studied didn’t result from community projects. Do you have any experience with CPM’s that DID come about by transformational service projects?

*** Paying nationals — Is it my imagination, or are more and more churches (in missionary sending lands) wanting to support the work of nationals from other countries rather than sending out members of their own homeland? In their zeal to do so, are they sometimes resorting to the equivalent of paying the salaries of national pastors and, if so, is this bad strategy for growing the indigenous church?

We appreciate your feedback and input on these issues. If you have an opinion, please click “Comment” in the online (web) version of Brigada and tell us what you think. You can always do so anonymously if you choose. Thanks in advance for participating!

14) TheBackPage: What’s Your Purpose in Life?

The members of the group, Casting Crowns, seem to have the answer to that question figured out, at least for their own lives, that is. Learn more about them at…

 

http://castingcrowns.com/

 

You’ve probably heard their tunes, but what you might NOT have heard is that, all the while they’ve been churning out the music, they’ve kept their jobs serving their local churches. The stuff they sing about is the stuff they’ve taught about in real youth group meetings and student home Bible studies. And if you’ve ever read Matthew 24, you know why they wrote, “Until the Whole World Hears.” Listen to the songwriter’s intro of it here…

http://youtu.be/PD_1CAt3dEI?t=2m32s

Now listen to the whole song with new insight:

Until the Whole World Hears — Casting Crowns

 

14) The BackPage: “No More Tunnel Vision”

This past weekend, I did a missions presentation at a church involved in a series entitled, “No more Tunnel Vision.” I loved it. The particular song they shared regarding missions and global outreach was one by Matthew West — and you can hear it at this link…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR57M80-rzE

The basic concept was — the church is a “community” with great togetherness, and that’s a great blessing and an important dynamic of church life. But with that blessing comes a danger: One can get carried away with togetherness and forget the importance of relating to those outside the fellowship. Jesus arranged a mountaintop rendezvous to make this clear (Matt. 28:19-20). He wanted his disciples to have a global perspective. He wanted ‘no more tunnel vision.’ These words, in Matt. 28:19-20, are the words of Jesus, and they explain what he wants us to be doing between his first and his second coming. They apply to all Christians without exception — to all Christians, at all times, in all places. Note that he commands us to be involved in this process as we go to all nations. Thus, he mandates that we take the initiative, instead of expecting them to come to us. That’s not just the Great Commission. It’s also Christ’s expectation for the church.

Cool concept. Difficult message. Kind of similar to the “top line blessing, bottom line blessing,” that you hear in Perspectives and Kairos. Supreme importance. We’d better get busy, eh? :-)

14) TheBackPage: Assessing Your Threat Level Awareness Color

Last week, I traveled through Haiti with a new friend who happens to be a law enforcement officer. It had been a while since I traveled with anyone quite so aware and in touch. When I commented to him about it, he explained a “threat level awareness color” system that they had taught him at his police academy. You can see a very similar presentation at…

http://www.seawired.com/Docts/SitAware.htm

As you can see, the principle behind the color metaphor is that we don’t want to walk around at condition “black” unnecessarily. We’d eventually burn out. But the implication is that we probably SHOULD consider perking up to condition “yellow” a lot more often than we do.

As I watched my friend at work, I realized that I had probably been very lucky in my life (maybe guarded by angels? … and, certainly, the recipient of a lot of prayer). I determined to learn from his example and open my eyes and scan my horizon a lot more often than I ever had before.

As you’ve traveled cross-culturally, have you experienced “condition orange” circumstances? If so, without revealing any sensitive information (feel free to speak anonymously), can you tell us how you reacted, what came down, and what you learned? Just use the comment box following the web version of this item at Brigada.org. Thanks for sharing

Doug

14) The BackPage: “Why Do you Raise Funds?”

Someone this week asked the question, “Why do you Raise Funds for Brigada?” This was the answer we sent:

“We send (via email) and post (on the web) Brigada Today each week, January through mid-Nov. without any financial appeals whatsoever. (We only say thank you to those who give gifts.) For the 6 weeks between mid-Nov. and the end of December, we ask people to pitch in $17,120 to cover the cost equivalent to half-a-secretary, pay for web-hosting, and some light marketing costs. We feel this is fair, since we invest between 10-20 hours per week (never less than 10, sometimes more than 20), on average, preparing Brigada, communicating with the Brigada audience, and serving the Brigada community. Brigada, then becomes a means of promoting evangelism and missions on both a national as well as an international level. It also helps provide for the base of support that enables us to do a ministry among unreached people groups personally. As president of Team Expansion, I lead 350 missionaries in 46 different countries. In reality, the organization doesn’t pay me. I have to raise funds just like all the rest of our missionaries. Brigada helps provide for our annual program and salary needs.

But please rest assured — come the first edition of January, there are no more appeals for another 10 1/2 months.

Does that help?”

The inquirer wrote back almost immediately with these exact words:

” Wonderful! Thanks for explaining and for a quick response!!
Keep up the good work”

Thank you for getting us VERY close to our budget needs for 2012. Though we have just one more week to make up the remaining $2600, we’re grateful for all those who WERE able to give and we trust that God has provided according to the needs that He, in his providential wisdom, wanted to supply. We praise Him for that and thank you for the part you played!

And, in addition, we thank you for your prayers. This week, we’ve been writing, sending, and posting Brigada Today every week for literally 18 years. We’re told that for internet websites and e-zines, that’s like an eternity. We couldn’t do this ministry without your prayers, partnership and encouragement. You’re a great bunch of friends and we appreciate you!!!!!

Doug

14) The BackPage: Help Update “Cool Tools for Travelers”

Cool Tools

Cool Tools

Have you ever noticed how Wikipedia succeeds? They have a ton of volunteers who edit pages, that’s how. You could help a great deal with a similar situation. Every year, we assemble a list of “Cool Tools for Travelers — and those who love them.” Find it at…

http://www.brigada.org/cooltools

Please read the Cool Tools, then help us round out the list so that it includes YOUR favorites. You can also comment on the ones we supply, giving alternatives and options. Together, let’s make it a great list.

Thanks for any help you can give!

Doug

14) The BackPage: Your Best Christmas Memories on the Mission Field

Doug Lucas

Doug Lucas

My wife and I have some great memories from Christmas on the mission field. Obviously it’s painful to be away while family and friends are gathering for special holidays back home. But still, there are some great memories there from our times away. One year, while serving as missionaries in Uruguay, we left on Christmas Day with a teammate who was like a brother to us. We headed off by ferry boat across the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires where we watched a premier showing of “E.T.” in Latin America. It was a memory we’ll hold dear forever.

Do you have a special memory — or, at least, a time you’ll never forget? If so, would you please jot a note about it in the comment box following the online (web) version of this Brigada today? Thanks in advance for your help!

14) The BackPage: “More Progress than Ever on Unreached Peoples”

Last week, I shared some great progress being made by those focusing on unreached peoples. It’s encouraging news. In fact, it’s so encouraging that the Director of Research for one of the largest missionary-sending agencies in the world (the Southern Baptist International Mission Board or IMB) concluded in his summary statement that he’s “seen more progress in fulfilling the Great Commission in the past 5 years than throughout his entire 30-year career as a researcher and missionary.”

I trust this is as exciting for you to hear as it was for me. The bottom line on his numbers: His research is showing 3142 remaining unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPG’s) of all sizes. (This number differs from Finishing the Task’s (FTT) current number because FTT is currently looking only at groups greater than 25,000 in population.) The IMB, for their part, is asking their regional leaders (referred to as Affinity Group Leaders) to submit a plan or explanation of literally each of the UUPG’s in their region. This plan could propose any number ways to handle each individual group, but it must address each group intentionally. Some groups might be dismissed (either because, in the opinion of the regional leader, they don’t exist or they’ve now been engaged or they’re no longer “unreached” — meaning that enough have been evangelized). But for the groups that remain, the Affinity Group Leader must either write a plan for the IMB to embrace and launch a plan to evangelize the group — or they must hook up with another Great Commission agency (another mission agency or church) to do so.

I like this approach for several reasons. First, it’s intentional. Second it’s strategic. Third, by doing so, the IMB is indicating all the more its profound commitment to interact and integrate with other “Great Commission Christians.” This posture seemed to become even more profound following Avery Willis’ now-famous address at the Global Consultation on World Evangelism in 1995. By the grace of God, it happened that I chose to attend Avery’s session. Without knowing what I was about to hear, I wandered in, seated myself, and began to listen to this great man of God as he was, at first, repenting for his previous sin of excluding others from data-sharing and assuming that Southern Baptists had to “go it alone” in completing the Great Commission. That one talk seemed to do more to bring evangelical unity (at least as it relates to the Southern Baptists) than any other talk in the last century.

So this Christmas, I’m praising God not only for unity, but also for the progress that it is observing. I’m thankful to be on the side of the guys who are definitely destined to win the battle for right and not-so-right. Because, you see, I’ve read the last chapter of the book, and the guys covered with the blood of Jesus win all the battles — because Jesus wins all the battles for them. God be praised or unity and progress!

Merry Christmas!

Doug

14) The BackPage: Eric Whitacre’s “Virtual Choir”

This past week, a Brigada participant asked if I had ever seen Eric Whitacre’s “Virtual Choir” talk at TED. I must have been on another planet. This is one of the most interesting and intriguing concept talks ever. It’s 14 minutes — but believe me, you won’t regret it

 


After I watched his TED Talk, I had to go find the full 2.0 version…

And then I had to go find the video by Britlin Losee that, according to Whitacre, started it all. She was the little girl who sent him the video-letter, explaining that he had inspired her to become a composer. What a great story — that she, then, inspired him to create this “virtual choir” that connected a couple of thousand voices from dozens of countries all over the world. So here’s my question: What triggers inspiration? And how can you inspire others? Here are some shooting-from-the-hip theories that I have:

  • *** Inspiration often comes from the place in which you least expect it. A successful high-brow composer gets an idea from a little girl, alone in her bedroom, with a teddy-bear on the shelf behind her.
  • *** We often glean inspiration someone unlikely to have ever earned the platform to grant it. Think about it — we often catch insight not from those who are normally speaking, but from those who have little voice: The under-dog who wins over the champion, the disadvantaged one who somehow overcomes all the odds, or the person in the midst of pain from a terrible life-threatening illness who takes on the world.
  • *** Glimpses of inspiration happen from the top of a mountain, or on a canoe trip in the canyon. To get ideas in here (our hearts or heads), we sometimes have to get out there (on the streets or among the poor).

Can you see the trend? If this is the case — if my hunch is correct — the one thing you need, if you’re going to inspire others, is “voice.” You don’t need riches. You don’t even need a ton of talent. You just have to care. You have to endeavor. You have to be exceptional in your effort. If we could learn how to inspire others (and how to be inspired by others), something tells me there would be a lot more cool insights by future Eric Whitacres.

Your thoughts? Just click on the comment box below. And thanks for your contribution.

14) The BackPage: It’s That Time of Year

Wilson

Wilson

A couple of years ago, we tried a dare. We decided to remove all financial appeals from Brigada until the last 7 weeks of the year. For our participants, this resulted in a much more pleasing Brigada experience. Let’s face it: financial appeals can get old very fast. Being asked every week in every single Brigada Today was something like a drippy faucet driving you batty through the whole night. The funny thing was, the giving for unreached peoples through Brigada’s global publishing ministry stayed pretty much even. For many years now, we’ve capped our appeal at $17,120. A couple of years we’ve made it. Most of the time we hit very close. Last year, you gave $16,471.92. God be praised. With the refreshed publishing approach in the web version at Brigada.org and the stepped-up linking provided in the email version, the publishing of Brigada is taking longer than ever. We use the gifts to pay for the expenses of running the site, as well as for part-time secretarial help. Beginning January 1st, it’s our goal to hire an assistant full-time. But for that to happen, we really need to make our goal — the same goal as ever — $17,120. Note that we’re not asking for more. We’re asking you to consider just helping us meet the same goal we’ve stated all along.

The good news is, the giving thus far in 2012 has been robust. Brigada participants like you have already given $7077. The bad news is, we have just six editions remaining, meaning that, on average, we would need 17 givers per week to give $100 each for all six weeks.

So here’s the question: Would you consider becoming a True Friend of Brigada? The concept of “True Friends” started several years back. A great friend of Brigada sent $100 and dared other readers to match his gift. That dare still stands today. For this very edition, the one you’re reading, would you consider becoming one of ten True Friends to send a $100 gift, either by check or by online giving? Think of your gift as sponsoring 10% of the world. Or would you ask your church missions committee to make a $100 or more donation to Brigada? Giving is easy. Just click “Donate” in the upper right and follow the instructions. By the way, you don’t need a PayPal account to give. If you reach a screen asking for your PayPal I.D., look on the left side of the screen, about halfway down, and find the prompt which says, “Continue without a PayPal Account.” If you’d rather send an old-fashioned check, just make it payable to Team Expansion and send it to:

  • Team Expansion (Brigada),
  • 13711 Willow Reed Dr.,
  • Louisville, KY 40299
  • USA

(And by the way, Team Expansion is a 501(c)3 incorporation so for USA citizens, your checks made out to Team Expansion are tax-deductible.)

We’re grateful for any gift of any size. If you can sponsor an entire week with a $1700 gift, you’d be underwriting the entire world of Brigada. Thank you for your partnership and vision!

Doug

14) The BackPage: Teaching our Dog a New Trick

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to teach our dog, Gabby, a new trick. Whenever I take her out for a walk, I offer her a tiny dog treat when we come back into the house. So each time, I’ve just been holding the treat up in the air above her head, then gently applying pressure on her rump until she sits, then I’ll say, “Gabby, Sit.” Time after time, she just never really got it. She’s gently resist having her rump pushed to the floor. She’d even move her head around behind her body, as if she were going to bite my hand. (She never tried, by the way. Good thing.) But I could tell, she was just a bit annoyed by all this pressure. Finally, I’d get her into the right position, and just pause everything and say — “Gabby, Stay.” And for that moment, she’d look up into my eyes, as if to say, “You know — I just don’t get this.” I’d say to my wife, “You know, she just doesn’t get it, does she.”

This morning, just a few minutes ago, we came in from her walk and I started to go through the whole routine again. I held up the treat and sighed, knowing I was going to have to go through all those weary steps again, and suddenly, right there in front of my eyes, I could see her little mind steaming. She dipped in front a bit… like she was going to bow in submission. It was as if she was saying, “Now was this the position he wanted me to take in order to get that tasty treat?” But then I could see that she was pondering, “Nope — that wasn’t it.”   And then, all of a sudden, she lowered her rump, all by herself, and just sat there, then looked away for a moment, then looked back into my eyes, as if to say, “Was this it?”

I nearly fell over. She got it. I gave her the treat and we repeated the whole thing twice more, and two more times, with no assistance at all, she did it. I rolled in the floor laughing. (I think my wife got a bigger kick out of my reaction than I did out of the dog’s.) I just couldn’t get it out of my mind, the way she started to bow in front, … trying to think through, “Now what was that pose again?”

You know, God isn’t a dog trainer, … and we aren’t dogs. But I began to think — there was a ton of joy, just with the respect that Gabby showed me this morning — and it was really all about a dog treat for her. But she still sowed that submission. And I just loved on her to the point that she was nearly beside herself with joy. Her tail was wagging a mile a minute. She KNEW she had done something right. (I just hope she remembers next time!)

I’m thinking… if we could just figure out what behavior God wants us to live out… What’s that pose again. We start to bow, then — we ponder — “What is it he wants us to do?” If we could just get it, I have a feeling He’d be so pleased. And the funny thing is, we’d not only get the treat (Heaven), but more importantly, by finding our purpose in submission, we’d find true joy and meaning for life as well.

What behavior is God hoping YOU will learn today? … this year? … for life?

14) The BackPage: Replacement Referees in NFL, A Valuable Lesson

Brigada participant, Chris, wrote this past week, steamed about American football. Now I had to confess — This entire series of events has completely passed me by (I don’t follow American football — and I now regret that, because this entire snafu sounds incredibly engaging. Chris wrote, “The final play in an U.S NFL match-up between the Packers and Seahawks seemed to expose to the nation why the real referees are so important to maintain the integrity of the game from an officiating perspective.  Just ask Roger Goodell who reportedly received 70,000 voicemails overnight as a result of the decision to award the Seahawks the touchdown and win.  I challenge all followers of Christ reading this article to first rid themselves of this ‘replacement god’ and to put the real God in His rightful place.  I also encourage readers to take action and let your family, friends and churches know that you will not tolerate this compromise of integrity to the Christian faith. Read the full article here…

http://christianpf.com/replacement-referees-in-nfl-a-valuable-lesson-for-all/

Now I still have to confess, I don’t know what the fuss was all about. Apparently, my American football-loving friends are going to tell me that the replacement ref missed a critical call. But Chris’ point is — we’ve replaced the “real” God with a God of wealth. Perhaps you see other parallels. Perhaps you’ll tell us what the missed call was all about? :-) Perhaps you’ll draw your own lesson here. Either way, please click “Comment” and help the rest of us get on the same page with the “other” football-loving friends. And thanks for being part of a global Brigada audience that can pick up on this kind of thing when the rest of us miss it! :-)

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