Free honor-shame training webinar November 16th with visionSynergy

Webinar title: “Giving Honor: Key to Healthy Cross-Cultural Partnerships”

Healthy cross-cultural collaboration is vital to the witness of the gospel in a lost and fractured world (John 17:21). However, collaboration in partnerships or networks is a lot harder when questions about honor status—whether spoken or unspoken—create stress or division. Honor status is not a small issue; it impacts trust, leadership, who has a voice, who is validated, how success is shared, and more.

This webinar will bring to the surface the problem of honor competition, rivalry, and honor status—common in the New Testament church. We will examine the Spirit-empowered solution of “giving honor” (Rom 12:10, 1 Cor 12:21–26 )—across cultures and across different levels of social status. Together, we will explore various ways that “giving honor” can help make our own networks or partnerships more healthy relationally—and more fruitful for the gospel.

Presenter: Werner Mischke, Interim President, Mission ONE
Sponsor: visionSynergy
Date: Thursday, 16 November 2017
Time: 7am PST / 10am EST / UTC-8 (Convert to local time)
Duration: 60 minutes
Cost: Free

» CLICK HERE to learn more or register »

Synergy Commons (a ministry of visionSynergy) will be co-facilitating with me a five-day online group discussion (i.e. Burst group) on this topic following the webinar. More information will be provided by Synergy Commons as we get closer to the webinar. –Werner

Is the Honor-Shame Conference about evangelism and discipleship in America?

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Yesterday I received an interesting email from a missiologist/author/trainer. His question was about the Honor-Shame Conference, June 19–21, 2017 at Wheaton. He asked:

“… what percentage of the June conference will deal with the application of honor-shame thinking to evangelism and discipleship in America, and which presenters will be hitting it?”

As Coordinator of the Honor-Shame Conference, here (below) is how I responded to his question; the text has been edited for clarity in this blog post.


Overall, I think about 50% of the conference—and maybe more—is applicable to “evangelism and discipleship in America”. Of course this also depends on your context in America. There are so many different cultural contexts, so to generalize about “evangelism and discipleship in America” is fraught with the risk of over-generalizing and subjectivity. Having said that …

First of all, there is the hermeneutical grounding of honor-shame. The honor-shame paradigm is first of all about hermeneutics (Scripture interpretation)—and second of all about anthropology (better understanding of ourselves and other peoples).

We believe that through honor-shame, we are getting closer to the way the original authors and hearers of Scripture understood the Word of God. So this is first of all about good interpretation of Scripture; you might even say we are grounded in the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura. It is secondly about better contextualization.

The double-benefit of honor-shame

This points to a double benefit—better hermeneutics and better understanding of non-Western peoples. The double-benefit is inherent in the principle, “The gospel is already contextualized for honor-shame cultures”, quoting Jackson Wu. But even in saying this, I grimace a little, because it is not merely non-Western peoples who will better grasp the gospel through honor-shame; I so firmly believe that Western peoples also really benefit from a gospel that is infused by the Bible’s own honor-shame dynamics. We could discuss sometime the range of books that point to this reality.

So concerning the hermeneutical priority, let’s consider first the plenary sessions. In my opinion, about 80% of the content in the plenary sessions is about hermeneutics enhanced by honor-shame—how this is part of theology, how it relates to the gospel and to church life in America. (Click here to see the six plenary sessions in the Honor-Shame Conference.) If you look at these plenary sessions in totality—in my opinion—you are seeing an overall emphasis on the role of honor-shame in theology, Scripture interpretation, and the gospel. Also, in the list of workshops, one of the workshops seems to focus exclusively on hermeneutics—Dr. E. Randolph Richards: “Honor-Shame in the Gospel of John”.

Now let’s get beyond hermeneutics to whether the presentations address an “American” or Western audience:

Here are the workshops which I think which will relate specifically to an “American” or Western audience:

  • DJ Chuang: “Towards Erasing the Shame of Mental Illness”
  • Steve Hong: “Unlocking Evangelism in our Cities with an Honor-Shame Framework”
  • Jeff Jackson: “Honor-Shame as a Crucial Component of a Local Church’s Ministry to Current or Former US military Members and Their Families”
  • Mako A. Nagasawa: “How to Bring About Personal Healing and Social Justice Using Medical Substitutionary Atonement”
  • Robert Walter: “Grace in the Face of God: ‘Seeking God’s Face’ in Prayer as Cleansing for Toxic Shame”

The next list of workshops, in my opinion, are mostly rooted in cross-cultural ministry in overseas, non-Western communities. But I believe the relevance of these workshops is significant for many Americans and Westerners. There is cross-over impact here:

  • Sam Heldenbrand: “Honor, Shame, and the Gospel: Reframing the Messenger”
  • Dr. Katie J. Rawson: “A Gospel that Reconciles: Teaching About Honor-Shame to Advance Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation”
  • Randall Spacht, Lacides Hernandez, Juan Guillermo Cardona: “The 3D Gospel in Latin America”
  • Joyce Jow: “From Pollution to Purity: The Restoration of the Hemorrhaging Woman”
  • Dr. Steve Tracy: “Abuse and Shame: How the Cross Transforms Shame”

Because of the fact that there are so many non-Western peoples in the USA, there is a need for preaching, evangelism, and discipleship that is conducted without a Western theological bias (see this post about theological bias and contextualization). This makes all of the workshops relevant, because we have so many Asians, so many Latin Americans, so many peoples from Africa and the Middle East living among us.

I also suggest you read the 14-page Workshop Descriptions document to get a fuller understanding of the 28 workshops offered at the Honor-Shame Conference.


Conclusion

How do I summarize the points in my email to my friend the missiologist?

  1. America is increasingly a land of diverse peoples and cultures—and this represents a major Great Commission opportunity for the church. Understanding the double benefit of honor-shame—1) better Scripture interpretation, and 2) better contextualization of the gospel for people in honor-shame cultures—may represent a strategic advance for the Church. This is valuable for all Americans—whether their background is Christian, nonreligious, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or other.
  2. Come to the Honor-Shame Conference, June 19–21, 2017 at Wheaton!

The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet in Japanese—FREE copies available

Good news—200 copies of the Japanese version of The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet are available for free.

This is the booklet based on the Prodigal Son story (Luke 15:11–32) which allows you to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Bible’s own “language of honor and shame”.

Click here to visit The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet website page, to learn more about this resource. Note: you won’t see anything here about the Japanese version. But you will see all the pages, the drawings, the questions designed for interaction—and how we make a bridge to the atonement of Christ.

  • 20 pages, 4.125 x 3.5 inches, fits into a shirt pocket
  • Designed for interaction and easy conversation
  • Lovingly designed for people whose pivotal cultural value is honor and shame—to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ

My friends at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville have been involved in blessing many Japanese in Middle Tennessee. They took the English version of The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet … had the translation work done … had the new page-layout work completed in Adobe InDesign … and got it printed. From their print run, an extra 200 copies were left over—and these were recently given to Mission ONE. Many thanks to Mike McClanahan and the missions department at FBC Hendersonville!

So for the cost of shipping, you can get these 200 gospel booklets for no additional cost. Interested? Write to me at werner@mission1.org.

Available now—200 copies of The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet in Japanese.

Christmas is good news about a King and His Kingdom

christmas-king-and-gospel-of-the-kingdom

“And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’”
–Luke 1:30–33 ESV

We are joining Christians all over the world in celebrating the miracle of the birth of King Jesus.

Christmas is a time to wonder. It was a divine miracle that Mary, the Jewish teenage virgin, conceived a baby boy who the angel said “will be called the Son of the Most High”. The little baby Jesus is none other than the King and Savior of the world. How can it be?!

Christmas is a time to celebrate. It is the fulfillment of Israel’s ancient story and the prophesy given to Israel’s King David (2 Sam. 7:16–17). This “Son” will reign forever, “and of his kingdom there will be no end”. All other kingdoms and earthly powers are under the ultimate rule of God. Therefore, no matter the social, political, or economic circumstances, by faith we as believers celebrate that our eternal honor and salvation is secure in King Jesus and his kingdom. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Christmas is a time to worship. Jesus embodies beautiful humility—and regal eternal power. He is exactly the kind of Savior we need. He is the One we can relate to because of his humanity and vulnerability. He is also the One we worship—He is our Creator King and Savior—absolutely worthy of our loyalty. O come, let us adore him!

Christmas is a time for mission. As followers of Jesus, we serve in many ways with our various gifts and talents to extend the “gospel of the kingdom” to all the peoples of the earth. In fact, preaching “the gospel of the kingdom” is essential to fulfilling God’s global purpose (Matt 24:14). We want to be part of this unfolding drama—this great mission—of sharing the good news that Jesus is the King who fulfills the Bible’s ancient regal story! He is our Savior! He is the Lord!


NOTE: If you want to look up verses about the “gospel of the kingdom”, you can start here: Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16; Acts 8:12; 28:31.

Honor and shame in the book of Genesis––#2: The honor of work

honor and shame in the book of genesis2

This is the second in a series about honor and shame in the book of Genesis. You’ll benefit from reading this in your browser. I encourage you to read all the way to the bottom—where you will be rewarded with a video and movie trailer.


In our first post in this series, we examined Gen. 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. We considered the honor of God as Creator, summarized below. This summary serves as an essential foundation for this second post concerning the honor of work.

God is Creator-King, and creation is his temple. We see this plainly in Psalms 96–100:

  • God is King—enthroned, majestic, glorious, infinitely honorable (Ps. 95:3–6; Ps. 96:6–10; Ps. 97:1–2; Ps. 98:6; Ps. 99:1–5; Ps. 100:4).
  • God is Creator of the earth—and thus deserving of worship from all the earth: (Ps. 95:4–5; Ps. 96:1, 9, 11–13; Ps. 97:1, 4–5, 9; Ps. 98:3–4, 7–9; Ps. 99:1; Ps. 100:1).
  • The heavens and the earth are a templesacred space in which all peoples, nations—even all nature—rejoice together in worship of the Creator-King (Ps. 95:1–7; Ps. 96:1–13; Ps. 97:1–9; Ps. 98:1–9; Ps. 99:1–5; Ps. 100:1–5)

It is unmistakable—the heavens and the earth do not comprise a “machine” devoid of sacred honor; no, the heavens and the earth comprise sacred space—an honorific temple of the Most High God, the Creator-King!

The author of Genesis and the Psalmist agree on ‘the nature of nature’—the essence of creation: There is no separation between natural and supernatural, or between secular and spiritual. There is a unity between matter and spirit. Why? Because it was all created by a glorious God for a glorious purpose (Rom. 11:36).

Darrow Miller LifeWorkIn his book LifeWork, Darrow Miller says it this way:

Scripture does not divide existence into separate natural and supernatural, or material and spiritual, realms. The separation that the modern world tends to make is utterly foreign to the biblical worldview. It is doubtful that the people of the Bible could even have wrapped their heads around the way we tend to see our lives and the world now. The Bible reveals that God is Creator of both the heavens and the earth.[1]

Work as sacred honor

Inside of this sacred, most honorable framework for all creation, let’s examine what Genesis 1–2 says about work. Below are five observations.

  1. When God created, God worked. Notice the description in Genesis 2:1–2. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” God’s work in creation was to create highly ordered, “very good” (Gen 1:31), sacred space. We affirm that it’s not just the result of God’s work that is sacred (that is, creation); no, the work itself was sacred. God is holy; therefore, all of God’s work is holy—including the work of creation. Moreover, we see God pictured both as a craftsman (Gen. 2:7; 22) and gardener (Gen. 2:8). God himself is at work!
  2. God gave man work to do. Genesis 2:15 makes this plain: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” In the sacred garden of Eden, God gave man work to do. Since God made humankind in his own image (Gen. 1:27), it is a reflection of the honor of God that he gives man work to do in the garden—“to work it and keep it”. Man’s work is not the result of the Fall. Work is not a curse. No! For man to work is to live in the image of the Most High God! Of course, the Fall made work harder, more painful (Gen. 3:17–19), but in God’s original design, work is good, honorable, sacred.
  3. God gave regal responsibility to humanity through work. Notice the word dominion in Genesis 1:26; 28. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” The word dominion implies regal oversight and supremacy (Ps. 8:5–6, 145:13). Darrow Miller also says that dominion is tethered to stewardship:

    Because God is a working God, when he makes man in his image, part of what that means is that man is to work as well. We find in Genesis the first job description. The nature of man’s work is to have dominion (stewardship) over creation. This is not only the first job description but also the job description out of which all other legitimate job descriptions come.[2]

    Later in his book, Miller speaks of the link between a high view of humanity, a high view of work, and the unusual prosperity of nations influenced by a Christian worldview. Miller points to the scholarship of Jeremy Landes in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor.

    So, the difference, according to Landes, was religious worldview: the dignity of labor, humankind having dominion over creation, history that is going somewhere, and a free market. Landes got the first three right but, in my opinion, got the fourth point backward. The high view of man was not a result of enterprise; it was the biblical concept of a high view of man—the image of God—which led to enterprise. Man is the secondary creator, innovator, inventor, and artist. It is these worldview elements and others that raised nations out of poverty.[3]

    Humanity is made by God in the image of God. And since God works, God also gives humanity work to do. It is not meaningless, dishonorable work. No, it is the grand work of having dominion with and under God’s kingly rule over all the earth (Gen. 1:26; 28).

  4. God gave humanity the honor of providing for oneself through work. In Genesis 1:29, God speaks to humanity, “…‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” God does not say, “I will feed you.” Rather, God says in effect, I am providing plants, fruit and seeds by which you can make gardens and develop agriculture—and out of your work you will have the food to sustain you. God provides the resources for humanity to provide for themselves. This is nothing less than the honor of providing for oneself through work under the kingship of Creator God.
  5. God gave creative work to humanity. In Genesis 2:19–20 God gave man the distinction of language—distinguishing man from the rest of the animals. And with that language came the responsibility of creative work: “… And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. …” Darrow Miller calls this “making man a word maker” and a culture-maker.

God established man’s dominion over nature by making man a word maker. Part of the image of God in us is our ability to reason, make words, and understand created distinctions. As man follows God in using language, he is separated from the rest of creation as the maker of culture.[4]

I asked my wife Daphne, how does honor overlap with the truth of God as creator? Daphne is a piano teacher and a great cook. She said something like this: Whenever you create something you just feel good. Whether it’s a work of art or a piece of music or a meal—creating is inherently honorable. And the honor one feels is even greater when people you love also enjoy what you have created.

The point is simple: God gave work to humanity—work that was regal, honorable, expansive, enjoyable—inside of God’s sacred creation. This is an incredibly high view of work. Work is about more than surviving. Work is about more than productivity. Work is about fulfilling God’s good purposes on the earth.

What does this mean for the mission of the church?

Here are a few principles that can be applied to the work of international missions—locally and globally. These principles have been stated by many others. I want to specifically connect these principles to the honor of work.

  • All work done to the glory and honor of God is spiritual work and sacred work.
  • Full-time ministers and missionaries are not more honorable—spiritually speaking—than any worker or professional who also does their work with all their might to the glory of God (Eccl. 9:10; Col. 3:23). We all stand equal at the cross, and we all have honor in our respective vocational callings.
  • Believers of virtually every vocation—and in their vocation!—are needed in God’s honor-sharing story of blessing the nations (Gen. 12:3, Acts 1:8) through Jesus Christ.
  • Providing good jobs to the poor and facilitating the honor of work can be integral to—and highly strategic for—making “disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19).

Five suggestions for resources concerning work, honor, mission

1) At Mission ONE, we’re engaging in a Missional Business vision with our international indigenous ministry partners. Learn more here, and watch a one-minute video.

2) Read a book on the theology of work. Darrow Millers’s LifeWorkmentioned above—is a comprehensive treatment on the subject. Two other books, much shorter, but compelling in how they tie together business and missions, are:

3) Attend a conference on Business As Mission. The BAM Conference is in Los Angeles, September 16–18.

4) Watch a video. The 5-minute video below by Skye Jethani is excellent—“Recapturing a Theology of Vocation”. Click here to see it in your browser.

5) Watch a movie: Poverty Inc. is on Netflix and Vimeo. It’s an amazing documentary—so worth watching! On the one hand, this film shows why traditional forms of charity often do more harm than good—while dishonoring the very people and communities who are being “served”. On the other hand, the film amplifies the honor of building businesses and providing good jobs through small to medium sized businesses. This is vital in fighting poverty and transforming communities around the world. Watch the trailer below (or in your browser):

Poverty, Inc. from Brainstorm Media on Vimeo.


1. Miller, Darrow; Newton, Marit. LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (Kindle Locations 665-668). YWAM Publishing. Kindle Edition.

2. Ibid., Kindle Locations 3591-3593.

3. Ibid., Kindle Locations 5049-5053.

4. Ibid., Kindle Locations 2207-2209.

Save the date for the 2017 Honor-Shame Conference

Honor, Shame and the Gospel conference banner

Don’t miss the first Honor-Shame Conference!

Honor-shame networkYou are invited to the inaugural conference of the Honor-Shame Network—a community to learn and work together for the sake of the gospel. Professors and educators, pastors and thought leaders, cross-cultural workers and creatives, professional practitioners and others will gather at Wheaton College in June 2017.

Can the gospel of Jesus Christ better engage today’s world—from unreached people groups to secular postmoderns to global refugees? Could the gospel receive a better hearing with people caught in a world of sin and shame … cynicism and alienation … violence and displacement … defilement and exclusion … consumerism and emptiness … lostness in all its dimensions? 

How might we reframe the gospel in a way that is both biblically faithful and culturally meaningfulThis is why our conference theme is, “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message for 21st Century Ministry”.

Mark your calendars: June 19–21, 2017

HS conference pageWhat are the aims of the conference?

  • Facilitate a networking and learning environment with leaders from a variety of disciplines and nations.
  • Seed new teams and projects around the world—to engage in research, experimentation and the development of new ministry resources.
  • Move toward normalizing honor-shame as an essential component of theological and missiological discourse—and gospel contextualization. 

Join us to reflect upon and explore what “honor-shame” means for a range of Christian disciplines—from theology to missiology, from pastoral ministry to orality, from counseling to the worship arts. The network conference will feature plenary sessions, round-table discussions, workshops, and collaborative learning experiences.

“In order to truly reflect the promises of Christ in a contextualized manner, we must use the keys to each culture in our gospel witness. Honor/Shame cultures are all around us. The more we understand those who embrace this worldview, the better we will become at engaging them with the hope of the gospel in ways they will most respond to. This conference is very timely as our world becomes more globalized and pained under the weight of sin.” –Laurie Nichols, managing editor, EMQ; communications director, Billy Graham Center for Evangelism

Learn more at the conference website:
» honorshame-conference.com »

Honor and shame in the book of Genesis––#1: The honor of God as Creator

honor and shame in the book of genesis1


With this blog post I begin a series on what I call the “top ten honor-shame dynamics in the book of Genesis”.

#1. The honor of God as Creator

We begin with the Bible’s first verse.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

What is the honor-shame dynamic contained in this verse? On the surface, there is nothing that seems honorific here.

So I will turn to one of the great evangelical scholars on Genesis—John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. His book, The Lost World of Genesis One, offers a helpful beginning point. This beginning point is not about honor. This beginning point is about context, that is, the intent of the original author of Genesis to communicate in his context, with his audience.

Lost World of Genesis One John WaltonSome Christians approach the text of Genesis as if it has modern science embedded in it or it dictates what modern science should look like. This approach to the text of Genesis 1 is called “concordism,” as it seeks to give a modern scientific explanation for the details in the text. This represents one attempt to “translate” the culture and text for the modern reader. The problem is, we cannot translate their cosmology to our cosmology, nor should we. If we accept Genesis 1 as ancient cosmology, then we need to interpret it as ancient cosmology rather than translate it into modern cosmology. If we try to turn it into modern cosmology, we are making the text say something that it never said. It is not just a case of adding meaning (as more information has become available); it is a case of changing meaning. Since we view the text as authoritative, it is a dangerous thing to change the meaning of the text into something it never intended to say. …

We gain nothing by bringing God’s revelation into accordance with today’s science. In contrast, it makes perfect sense that God communicated his revelation to his immediate audience in terms they understood.[1]

Walton says much, much more about these context-based truths in his book. Walton argues for a literal interpretation of the Bible in such a way that it also frees us from having to retrofit modern ideas and beliefs—whether “Young Earth” or “Old Earth” science—into the ancient text of Genesis. Yes, we believe the book of Genesis was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; we equally affirm it was written to an ancient audience for whom science had not yet been invented. As Walton says, “We therefore recognize that although the Bible was written for us (indeed, for everyone), it is not written to us. In its context, it is not communicated in our language; it is not addressed to our culture; it does not anticipate the questions about the world and its operations that stem from our modern situations and issues.”[2]

The “cognitive environment” of the Ancient Near East

In Walton’s The Lost World of Adam and Eve, he comments on the “cognitive environment” of the Ancient Near East—and how radically different it was from that of our modern world.

Lost world of adam and eve john waltonAs an example of the foreign aspects of the cognitive environment, people in the ancient world had no category for what we call natural laws. When they thought of cause and effect … they were more inclined to see the world’s operations in terms of divine cause. Everything worked the way it worked because God set it up that way and God maintained the system. They would have viewed the cosmos not as a machine but as a kingdom, and God communicated to them about the world in those terms. His revelation to them was not focused on giving them a more sophisticated understanding of the mechanics of the world. (bold emphasis mine)[3]

Not a machine, but a kingdom and a temple

Here’s a key statement. “They would have viewed the cosmos not as a machine but as a kingdom.” Of course there is no kingdom without a king—the regal Person enthroned and ruling over that kingdom. And this is the beginning place for us to observe the regal honor of God as Creator.

Before we turn back to Scripture, here is one more quote from Walton; this builds on the idea of creation as a kingdom, and elaborates on the sacred, honorific purpose of creation.

It would not have been difficult for a reader from anywhere in the ancient Near East to take one quick look at the seven-day account and draw the conclusion that it was a temple story. … the temple was the center of God’s rule. In the ancient world, the temple was the command center of the cosmos—it was the control room from where the god maintained order, made decrees and exercised sovereignty. Temple building accounts often accompanied cosmologies because after the god had established order (the focus of cosmologies in the ancient world), he took control of that ordered system. This is the element that we are sadly missing when we read the Genesis account. God has ordered the cosmos with the purpose of taking up his residence in it and ruling over it. (bold emphasis mine)[4]

This idea of all creation as a temple for God was a jolt to my thinking. I’m not used to thinking that all nature is sacred space. But this is the assumption often made by the authors of Scripture—as you will see below. The heavens and the earth are sacred space—a royal temple for the Creator-King who is dwelling in and ruling over all he has made.

The Psalms give witness

In particular, the Psalms give witness to this honorific nature of the LORD as Creator-King. In the selection of verses from the Psalms below, take note of two things. First, observe the frequent occurrence of the words earth and heavens—clearly echoing Gen. 1:1. Secondly, observe the frequent use of honorific words: glory, name, majesty, worship, praise, exalted, King, reign, throne, etc.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. (Ps. 8:1)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Ps. 19:1)

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. (Ps. 22:27)

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. (Ps. 24:1–2)

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Ps. 46:10)

Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. (Ps. 47:6–8)

God has not merely created a material universe. No, God has created the heavens and the earth as sacred space—a temple for worship of the one true God, King of creation!

Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. (Ps. 69:34)

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! (Ps. 72:19)

Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth. (Ps. 83:17–18)

Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy. (Ps. 96:10–12)

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! (Ps. 123:1)

God is Creator-King, and creation is his temple

For a more extensive proof-text, consider Psalms 96–100. You’ll see for yourself a continuous revelation about the Creator-King.

  • God is King—enthroned, majestic, glorious, infinitely honorable (Ps. 95:3–6; Ps. 96:6–10; Ps. 97:1–2; Ps. 98:6; Ps. 99:1–5; Ps. 100:4).
  • God is Creator of the earth—and thus deserving of worship from all the earth: (Ps. 95:4–5; Ps. 96:1, 9, 11–13; Ps. 97:1, 4–5, 9; Ps. 98:3–4, 7–9; Ps. 99:1; Ps. 100:1).
  • The heavens and the earth are a templesacred space in which all peoples, nations—even all nature—rejoice together in worship of the Creator-King (Ps. 95:1–7; Ps. 96:1–13; Ps. 97:1–9; Ps. 98:1–9; Ps. 99:1–5; Ps. 100:1–5)

It is unmistakable—the heavens and the earth do not comprise a “machine” devoid of sacred honor; no, the heavens and the earth comprise an honorific temple of the Most High God, the Creator-King!

A prayer: Lord God Most High, we join the chorus of saints from across the earth and across the ages—“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” (Ps. 95:6) It is you who has made us and not we ourselves (Ps. 100:3). We submit ourselves to you in love and obedience—returning blessing, honor and praise to you—Creator-King of the heavens and the earth!


1. John H. Walton: The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2010), p. 16–17. Kindle Edition.

2. John H. Walton: The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate (InterVarsity Press, 2015), p. 19.

3. Ibid., p. 18.

4. Ibid., p. 49.

Jesus Makes Us Clean

I’ve just redesigned my blog. I wanted a new look, and also wanted it to be easier for readers using tablets and smartphones. Hope you like the new design. The banner photo comes from our trip to Spain in May; it was taken on a country road between Malaga and Ronda. Loved the ancient arches from the Roman Empire—and the symbolism of a modern road that leads you toward the ancient.    This post originally appeared at Gospel-Life.net. It has been slightly modified. —Werner


I had just preached a sermon on how God covers our shame and restores our honor based on the Prodigal Son story. Afterward, a smiling elderly Christian woman came to me and shared how the sermon had blessed her. Wonderful!

But I was especially startled when she said. “You know, when I was a little girl, something happened to me, and I’ve never been able to get rid of it. Until today.”

It seems she knew she was forgiven of her sins, but because of the sins of another against her, she had felt defiled—literally for decades.

Sexual abuse has always been with us, but it seems more rampant and ubiquitous today. In fact, one in four women and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.

In May I had the privilege of speaking at an international Baptist church in Spain. My sermon was “Jesus Makes Us Clean.” At the end of the service, an individual was crying. Like me, she had grown up with a mentally-ill father. For years, she and her sister had been deeply embarrassed and ashamed. They felt defiled.

She was involuntarily stained by the effects of a sinful fallen humanity by a father who involuntarily suffered from schizophrenia.

Is relational pollution getting worse and worse? Maybe it’s just always been this way.

What is sin to a post-Christendom world?

Alan Mann Atonement for a Sinless SocietyIn our postmodern secular world many people no longer believe in the reality of sin. Alan Mann writes in his book, Atonement for a Sinless Society, that “geneticists, sociologists, and psychologists increasingly … allow us to live in the confidence that we do no wrong.”[1]

And as for the death of Christ, “To twenty-first-century sensibilities, the crucifixion of Jesus [is] nothing more than a primitive, barbaric, pointless death.”[2]

Part of Mann’s thesis is that the best way for secular peoples to come to terms with sin is to be presented with this: Sin is relational defilement, uncleanness, pollution.

Consider the relational defilement that most secular peoples readily acknowledge: poverty of all kinds … racism and bigotry … sexual trafficking … an epidemic of addictions … the persistence of slavery … institutional greed and corruption … violent nationalism … honor-killings … bloody culture clashes.

What does it all add up to? A dirty, traumatized, defiled, relationally polluted world!

In this world of sin, I am unclean. Isaiah observed: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and dwell among a people of unclean lips …” (Isa. 6:5).

Sin is personal—for I am an agent of sin having fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

And sin is social—for I am also a victim of the sins of others. I’m defiled by living in a world-nation-community-family of fallen humanity. Am I “playing the victim card”? No. I’m describing the complexity of the effects of sin. When it comes to sin, we are all both agents and victims.

Is Christ’s death sufficient to cleanse us from being both agents and victims of sin?

agent and victim of sinThe Psalmist David reveals this agent-and-victim duality about sin: “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions” (Ps. 65:3).

On the one hand, I am the victim of the sins of others (“iniquities prevail against me”). On the other hand, we are all responsible agents of sin (“our transgressions”). But David’s song to God contains good news concerning his sinfulness both as an agent and victim of sin: “You atone for our transgressions” (Ps. 65:3). There is an atonement-remedy for both!

The writer of Hebrews said of the death and atonement of Christ: “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order that he might sanctify the people through his own blood” (Heb. 13:12). In his death, Jesus became unclean—he “suffered outside the gate.” Why?  “…in order that he might sanctify the people”—in order to cleanse the people. Through His death, Jesus became unclean in order to make believers clean forever.

“When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions” (Ps. 65:3). When Jesus made “purification for sins” (Heb. 1:3), He made provision to cleanse us from sins committed by us—and from sins committed against us.

Hallelujah, what a gospel! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

For more about the power of the gospel to make us clean—and how this relates to ministry among Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim peoples, see my article, The Gospel of Purity for Oral Learners: Bible Dynamics for Blessing the Unreached. See other articles at my Resources page.


1.  Mann, Alan (2015-12-18). Atonement for a Sinless Society: Second Edition (Kindle Location 121–122). Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

2. Ibid., Kindle Location 94.

Quick video: Body language


right hand and feet

Here is a quick description of the honor-shame dynamic that I call “body language”.

In the world of the Ancient Near East and Roman Empire the most honorable parts of the body were considered to 
be the head, face and hands. One of the most shameful body 
parts was considered to be 
the feet.

One of the most significant theological expressions of this honor-shame dynamic relates to a psalm of David in which he prophesies of the future reign of Israel’s Messiah-King. .

The LORD says to my Lord: 
“Sit at my right hand, until 
 I make your enemies your 
 footstool” (Psalm 110:1).

This verse speaks of the supreme honor of Jesus Christ—and is referenced in the synoptic Gospels, in Acts, in four of Paul’s letters, four times in the book of Hebrews, and 1 Peter. The sheer frequency of the reference signals to us its theological weightiness. Click here to watch the video on Vimeo.

Learn more—free chapter from The Global Gospel on the honor-shame dynamic of “body language”

Free resource1The free resource available with this post is an excerpt from The Global Gospel—Chapter 2.6: Honor/Shame Dynamic #6: Body Language. The chapter is four pages long. Explore how “right hand” and  “feet” speak of the supreme honor of King Jesus and his conquest over his enemies.

Enjoy the next quick video: “Body language.

Free article, free chart: Five levels of awareness of honor-shame in cross-cultural ministry

H-S-1 to H-S-5.a
H/S-1 to H/S-5: Levels of awareness of honor-shame in cross-cultural ministry

In April 2015, Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ) published my article H/S-1 to H/S-5: Levels of Awareness of Honor/Shame in Cross-Cultural Ministry.

A year has passed since the article has been published. So now it is freely available outside of the EMQ online environment. (CLICK HERE to download 3,000-word article.) The article is still available at EMQ’s website, of course.

Levels of awareness of honor-shame chartThe article is based on a diagram-chart of the same title which is Addendum 2 in The Global Gospel. The article examines five levels of awareness of honor-shame:

  • H/S-1: Unawareness
  • H/S-2: Ethical
  • H/S-3: Functional
  • H/S-4: Evangelical
  • H/S-5: Teleological


“H/S-1 to H/S-5”
—in the forms of both the article and the diagram/chart—are intended to help Christian leaders 1) examine default attitudes about honor/shame relative to the Bible, and 2) consider alternative beliefs and practices in the light of the Bible’s negative and positive! renderings of honor/shame dynamics.