Friday, June 24, 2016

Engaging Our Culture

A lot has changed since I (Brittney) wrote this but I wanted to share it anyway…

Funny story:
So in Thailand in almost every big parking lot you have to stop at the entrance and exit to get a card (sometimes you have to pay if you stay over a certain amount of time). Last week we were out for a family day at the mall and as we were leaving the parking garage, we started playing Toy Story on the DVD player for Josie. (It is in Thai) We pulled up to the lady and as we rolled down the window the first line plays of the move and the volume was really loud. (in English the line says “All right everyone, This is a stickup! don't anybody move!” but it is speaking in Thai and an old man voice) The lady’s eyes got so big and a really confused look on her face!! I cannot imagine what she was thinking obviously this young white guy (Brandon) was behind the wheel and surely that didn’t come from him!!! haha as we drove away we just laughed…oh the memories we have made!!

As you all may know we have been thinking and thinking about what Baby Lingle #2 will be named. I thought I’d share with you a few of the silly ones Brandon has come up with. He has been searching for English names that sound like Thai words…here are just few. 
Hugh sounds cute right…in Thai its the word for hungry! 
Jet…is the number 7 in Thai
Jep…means hurt or sore 
Juan…sounds like the word for ‘day’ 
JD… is what they call the top part of the temples 

**Baby boy has come already and we chose the name Judson James Lingle (JJ). 
You may be wondering if his name has any meaning or significance to us. Judson came from Adoniram Judson (1788-1850). He was a very famous missionary in Burma for almost forty years. He translated the Bible into the Burmese language that is still being used today. Brandon and him have some things in common. They have the same birth date (August 9), and they were the same age when they left for the mission field. And James is one of favorite books in the Bible. And JJ is easy for the Thai people to say. 

I just wanted to take a minute and thank everyone that took time to pray for our family and for Judson during this time. I truly believe it was the power of prayer that God had mercy on us and saved our son. So thank you for going before to God in prayer on our behalf! 
This may sound strange but I wanted to mention a good book if you have time to read, even if you are not in a parenting season, it was an excellent reminder of how understanding the gospel effects every aspect of your life (especially parenting). The book is called “Gospel-Powered Parenting” by William P. Farley. I was able to read this book right before on our son was born, and I know God used it to comfort me during the tough times. Some of the chapters discuss things like the holiness of God, having a healthy fear of God, and God’s graciousness. Even in such a dark time when Brandon and I felt alone and helpless not knowing if our son was going to make it, we still knew God is good. Never once did we question God’s goodness or faithfulness because even if we had lost our son, God is still worthy of all praise.

Engaging our culture:
This past week I was listening to a really good sermon on Engaging Culture. I just wanted to share some of the things I was reminded of while listening. 
The speakers name was Lecrae (He is a rapper that is Christian and reaching the hip-hop culture by engaging a specific people group). He began the message by stating that many of us don’t engage culture because we are scared of it, we often remove ourselves from it and stay in a safe place where we can be around people like us (Christians who only stay around other Christians). It’s comfortable, they think like us and we often have more things in common with them. We sometimes have this mind set that we don’t want to be around non-christians because they might “get on us” or rub off their sin on us. Lecrae makes the point that we are not going to be able to be engaged if we are avoiding them. He goes on to explain that things in themselves are not inherently bad, all that God made was good. He gave some examples (sex- inside of marriage is a good thing) but The Fall/ Sin contaminated things. Culture directs the way we think. He gave some examples of the stereotypes we have today where you see something that could be used for good but our culture has directed us to think it is probably evil. So we must find ways to engage the culture, how can we direct it in a good way. If we just live safe lives never engaging people, they will never hear the truths God has invested in you and me! Thats why we are here, as Christians we have a mission. Glorifying Him with every aspect of our life. 

So how do we engage culture…
(1)get to know the people you are trying to reach (example: don’t talk to someone just to try to evangelize them, take interest in them show them you care about them and that they matter). Learn their language (this isn’t just for Christians in other countries! I remember when Brandon and I first got married we come from families that communicate and speak in different ways…matter of fact we are still learning some of those styles! lol).Bottom line…Be interested in people. 
(2)Another way to engage culture is to Love the people. Don’t just see them as projects, they are souls that matter! 
(3) And lastly Rehabilitate the culture/ Redeem it. Go and paint a picture of what it looks like when Jesus changes people, go love people that don’t expect to be loved! All this to say ….It’s a process, but we must engage our culture!
Here is the link for the sermon if you have time I challenge you to listen to it. It’s a good message for all Christians not just pastors and missionaries! 

Now after hearing all this I was trying to take it in and make applications to my new culture we are surrounded in. As I was thinking some of the things that came to my mind were times when  I feel scared to let Josie see and observe things in this Buddhist nation. Sometimes even scared to engage some people in fear that they may try to teach Josie their ways. I am scared when I let her play with the kids at the playground and she sees their Buddha necklace and wants to wear it.  As a matter of fact shortly after I listened to this sermon Josie and I went for a walk and as we passed a spirit house in our neighborhood, a lady was out bowing to it, and the next thing I knew I looked at Josie and she was copying the action of the lady (she is at that age where she copies everything we do). My heart was burdened for this woman and I quickly began explaining to Josie we do not do that and that we only bow to God. (It’s so important to take times like these and use them as opportunities to share the gospel with Josie.)
I had a similar experience a few weeks ago, I shared in our newsletter about the Thai New Year ceremony going on in our neighborhood. Many of our neighbors had gathered to pray and ask blessing from a monk for the new year. As Josie and I were out walking we passed by and as we stood to the side I was able to talk to some of the people about what was going on. As we left we kept walking out of the neighborhood out to some of the street venders and when we arrived one of the people noticed Josie only had one shoe on. l started to get upset, how could I have not seen her lose a shoe (she had just got them in a package my mom sent because shoes her size are hard to find here). Before I got too worked up about it, I saw it was the perfect opportunity to show Josie we have a God that hears our prayers unlike what we had just observed the people praying to these dead gods. (It seems so small and insignificant) but i stopped and prayed with Josie that the Lord would help us find her shoe. Sure enough on the way home we were looking and looking and there it was randomly place near the road. We praised God! 
As fearful as I am about this culture directing our thoughts (it’s a dark place here, sometimes it can feel like we are the only Christians for miles), I am reminded that Jesus came and dwelt among us in order to reach us. And what an Amazing God we serve, if I can display even the smallest picture of Christ to the people around me it’s worth it! By no means do I plan to take on any of these practices that the culture teaches, but I do hope to engage and interact with the culture in such a way that the people are reached for Christ!

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