“Consider your ways” KJV
“Give careful thought to your ways.” NIV
“Carefully consider your ways.” ISV
You get the idea. One of the dumbest things that evangelicals have done for years is ‘navel gaze.’ They bow their heads and, instead of praying, they gaze at their navel and marvel at how full of lint it is. “Woe is me! For I have an unclean bellybutton!” At the other extreme, they look at their navel, and exclaim “my navel may be dirty, but I’m accepted just the way my bellybutton is, so, stop judging me for my excess lint quotient!” Those who are more astute theologically may offer an equally silly diagnosis; “stop looking at yourself and look to Jesus!” Actually, this is great advice… up to a point. We are commanded to consider OUR ways. Or, to put it another way, to consider our WAYS. If we ONLY look to Jesus we are disobeying a direct command, and take ourselves and our mind out of history and off our job, which is on the earth.
Navel gazing, of whatever variety, focuses on our being, our selves, and usually without any frame for objective judgement outside our existential selves. To “consider our ways,” is a call to look at ourselves, the course of our lives, in terms of God’s word, with particular reference to our unique God-given callings. With this in mind, I want to riff off a recent title on GaryNorth.com “Three Years Back, Three Years Ahead” to consider my life. My aim is to do some constructive navel gazing, I hope this inspires you to do some constructive poking around with your bellybutton too, to the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom.
Three Years Back
CELTA, The ESL Journey Begins
August 2011 was a significant milestone for me. I had just finished taking a professional qualification CELTA, for English Teaching. This would prove pivotal for the following three years. It’s only a month-long course, costs around $1500, but it is, believe it or not, one of the premiere ESL teaching qualifications and, should your calling be education, will open the doors to thousands of teaching opportunities around the world. I started doing volunteer teaching amongst immigrants of all hues, in Belfast, Somalians, Eritreans, Poles, Lithuanians, Chinese, the usual suspects. This was good, but was never going to be feasible long-term, so I looked for opportunities around the world.
Ethiopia: Not Very Bright, But Not the Worst Idea
I am not that bright, I must admit. What I had known for a long time was the missions life. So, I thought “CELTA + Missions contacts, I could do something here!” The Church I was attending at the time were sympathetic, but not quite as missions focused as previous Churches, the result was that I had to pay most of my own way to teach. I taught English for three months at Evangelical Theological College, Addis Abeba, which was mostly a pleasant experience, but did not give me the teaching experience I needed, nor the money to live on, and their internet was RUBBISH! Plus, the immigration control people turfed me out of the country after three months.
I had a project I was working on, an E-Library of theological books. I spent thousands of hours collecting, categorizing and naming theological books, and preparing them in such a way that anyone with a computer on their intranet could access it. This was a good idea… but not the best.
- Because the denomination that contributed to some of my expenses would only contribute if I were to remove all Reconstructionist/Theonomic books from the eBook / audiobook collection.
- Because, Ethopia’s main language is Amharic, not English.
- Because theological students are constrained in their reading, their reading is assigned, if the college was not theonomic, I was whizzing in the wind.
- The curious few may delve deeper, but they are very… few.
The conclusion to that episode was, if your funders are in opposition to your core mission, the application to the Word of God to all of life, then you need to fund yourself in a different way. Also, you should really think more strategically about how you spend your time. We are called to be fruitful, not just busy busy.
Korea: Much Better, Apart from the Hair Loss
The wicked don’t know at what they stumble, so too the foolish. I had imbibed, somehow, the crazy, pagan, evil idea that the only good work was ‘Christian Work.’ This has led me to England, Switzerland and East and West Africa, not bad, but maybe not as good as it looks on paper. It took me ten or fifteen years of reading Reconstructionist and Theonomic literature to realize, practically, in my life, that this was a big fat lie. I finally! Realised that I needed to do more than NOT teaching in state schools, but to actually start teaching in Christian schools. Negation played a big part in my life, I found it hard to tell the difference between doing good and not doing bad. Moving from 21st Century evangelical Christianity to Biblical Christianity is rather like recovering from drug addiction. So, I took a job in Korea, in a Fundamentalist Christian school. I got paid, I had my own 16 square meter place, and had plenty of work to do. I taught the whole range of ages, from Kinder, to Primary, to Middle school to Adults. The food was great, I eventually found a Church and a network of friends, it was, probably, the best decision I had made since I left school. I wonder why I didn’t do it 15 years earlier, but, we must trust the providence of God.
The funding was sorted, but nothing was terribly Theonomic or Reconstructionist about things, apart from the fact that I was in the workplace, actively serving people in my chosen calling.
I don’t know if it was the noodles or the Kindergarteners, but I lost a heap of hair, in short order.
Another extremely significant thing that happened to me in Korea was… I started taking an interest in my health. I believe you can, all things being equal, increase your productivity substantially with the right health information. You need to watch this video.
Dead Doctors Don’t Lie
Then You need to Join Youngevity for Free and Order 3 tubs of Beyond Tangy Tangerine, wow! You WILL thank me.
LRNteach.com: One Good Decision Facilitates Another
I subscribe to GaryNorth.com. People think I’m crazy for that, I am crazy, but that’s not the main reason why. He kicks his subscribers around very badly, berating them constantly for not starting a YouTube channel and a blog and doing book reviews in their chosen field. September 2013 I touched base with a friend of mine from Bible college, Khuram, from Pakistan. I was impressed with the mission he was involved with. I wondered how I might best help him, and so, I thought, “why not interview him on Skype, I put the interview on YouTube!” This was the start (revival)of LRNteach.com. Through this effort, humanly speaking, my network was extended to Christian authors, pastors, missionaries, businessmen and more, who were aligned in my camp, theologically speaking, and were all role models for how to apply the ‘faith for all of life’ in practice. Through this one effort, I have found a work place in a Theonomic school in Mexico, teaching English, I have met some wonderful people, and am beginning to secure funding for this position from like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ.
The conclusion for this episode, is “whatsoever you do, do it on the internet,*” *if you can. Also, have the courage of your convictions, and ‘come out of the closet’ as a Christian who believes in the uncompromising application of the Word of God to all of life. You will begin to attract like minded people, and stir up the wrath of the Christian champions of tyranny, homosexuality and other weird things that your Evangelical friends are in to, shudder.
The Fundación Pierre Viret, Puebla Mexico
I teach 6, plus one-ish classes in a school of 81 students in a large city near the capital of Mexico, Puebla. Roger Oliver was my contact for this opportunity, another friend, Laura Vaivada, suggested Roger as a potential interviewee for the LRNteach show. I quit my job in Korea, flew out here, and have been here for almost six months now. I have committed myself, funding permitting, to 5 years here, based on an Observation noted on GaryNorth.com that it takes 5,000 hours to be competent in your profession.
What I have learned here, is that;
- You can get so much more ‘bang for your buck’ if you are working with like-minded people.
- Go to somewhere where there is some momentum, where your impact can have an exponential , not just an additive influence.
What enabled me to take advantage of this opportunity was.
- I had chosen an aspect of teaching that was within my reach, ESL teaching.
- I had made a choice to pursue opportunities that would be in line with my goals.
- I had invested in my chosen branch of teaching, ESL.
- I had started a show, a website and a Facebook page, LRNteach, that gave me exposure to people whom I would never have met, had I still been a closet Reconstructionist.
- This is a great beginning, here, briefly, are my goals for the next three years and how I plan to meet those goals.
The Next Three Years
- Read and blog on the principles and practice of language teaching.
- Build up a repertoire of my own, original, language-learning videos and matching exercises and diagnostic tests up to upper intermediate level.
LRNenglish.com, LRNenglish on Youtube. Subscribe to LRNteach on YouTube.
- Prepare a curriculum for use in other ‘learning centers’ in Mexico that can be delivered 100% through the internet.
See number 2.
- Build up a side business teaching English on the Internet, earning at least 50% of my income from the internet.
- Build audience on LRNenglish.com, LRNenglish on Youtube.
Read and blog HowToTeachLanguages.com and implement marketing, sell other language-learning products through these channels.
- Become Fluent in listening, speaking, reading and writing in Spanish, to the level where I can blog and podcast in Spanish.
By remaining in Mexico and continuing to learn the language.
Summary of my Godly Navel-Gazing
- We must consider our ways.
- We are called to be fruitful. Fruitfulness requires planning. So plan.
- The pagan presuppositions that undermined my effectiveness may be undermining yours and the missionaries you support. Learn and share as much of the ‘Faith for all of Life’ as you can, you can save otherwise wasted lives. Also, consider funding missions that are Kingdom of God focused.
- Whatever you do, do it on the internet, you can reach out and touch somebody, and be God’s instrument for changing the course of a life. What if Luther had his works hand-copied. Duh!
- If you really want a free voice, your method of funding is crucial, aim to be self supporting, but, remember, we recovering Evangelicals are rebuilding our lives after decades of pagan dualism, we may need some assistance in reaching our goals.
- If you want influence in your profession, you got to start thinking, writing and book-reviewing. It’s hard work, but it will give you a fighting chance of steadily increasing effectiveness and influence.