For the first time I heard things like people are not poor because of a lack of money. People are poor because of the way they think. I was floored, I'd never heard this before.
As Christians, our mission is to spread the gospel around the world to all the nations. But our mission also includes to transform the nations to increasingly reflect the truth, goodness and beauty of God's kingdom. Tragically, the church has largely neglected the second part of our mission. And today, Christians have little influence on their surrounding cultures. Join us on this podcast and rediscover what it means for each of us to disciple the nations and to create Christ honoring cultures that reflect the character of the living God.
Hello, everybody, and welcome again to another episode of Ideas Have Consequences, the podcast of the Disciple Nations Alliance. I'm Scott Allen, president of the DNA with my dearly beloved co-workers, Dwight Vogt, Darrow Miller, Luke Allen, and today we are with a former co-worker of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a dear friend, Pastor Gary Brumblelow, who's joining us from Oregon, near Portland. Gary, it's wonderful to have you with us, thanks for joining.
Oh, it's a real privilege. Thank you for inviting me.
Oh man, we're so glad to have you back, Gary. And just for our listeners a little bit about Gary. And then of course, Gary would love to have you introduce yourself more fully. But Gary has been a friend and a blessing to our ministry for a number of years.
Yeah, exactly 11 years.
A part of our team.
And recently, he's been by-vocational working with the DNA, helping us with a lot of our writing, co-wrote a number of books with us, Gary's incredibly gifted writer, but also a pastor. And so the pastoral work at, I believe it's Troutdale Community Church, is that correct?
That is correct.
Troutdale is a suburb of Portland, Oregon. And so that work was demanding more of Gary's time. And so sadly, we are not working daily, like we used to. Gary's, in addition to being a pastor, he's a husband, and a father, and a grandfather, as well, and a missionary, he's, I think, at his heart, his calling is in missions. And he's a very gifted guy in a lot of ways. But that missionary calling is very close to your heart, Gary. I thought today, Gary, it would be great to just have you tell your story of just how the ministry of the DNA impacted you and your understanding of missions and just Christianity. And to me you're a very inspiring story of what we're hoping a lot of other people can experience as well. And I think your story is very powerful in this regard. But to begin, maybe you could just go back and just tell us about yourself from your early days, Gary, give our listeners a bit of context in terms of who you are.
Thank you. So I was born into a family with a dad who was a new believer and had a calling of a sense of ministry, and some of my earliest memories, this was in Dallas, Texas, are being in the chapel of what was then called Dallas Bible Institute, standing in the back of the chapel with my dad, and everyone is singing Great is Thy Faithfulness, and that is still imprinted on my little psyche. I was just a little guy. So it's still one of my favorite hymns. And I grew up in that kind of environment. I came to Christ, I was blessed to come to faith in Christ at a very early age. Not quite four. But I still remember very clearly, the experience of being in church on a Sunday night, a little Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. And I was told later that preacher was a fella named Brother Fred Billings, who is a Baptist evangelist, I think is the right title, and hearing him preach the gospel and I don't remember anything he said, but at the end, he said, "if you would like to become a Christian tonight, would you raise your hand? I want to pray for you." Well, I was not quite four, I didn't know very much, but I knew two things. I knew that I was naughty. And I knew that I needed what Jesus had done for me. And I was naughty. I had an experience, in one experience, I broke three of the 10 Commandments. My little friend took me in his room, and I saw a little rubber knife on his shelf. And the instant I saw it, without moving a muscle, I broke the 10th commandment, Thou shalt not covet. And as soon as he turned his back, I broke the eighth commandment and put it in my pocket. And a day or two later, he said to me, do you see that boy over there? I think he stole my knife, help me throw rocks at him. And this was my opportunity to come clean and say, it wasn't him. It was me. The ninth commandment, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. And I picked up rocks and threw at that kid, what I was guilty for. So I was a naughty boy.
Oh, you were naughty!
That's an interesting story. I've never heard that actually. When did you become aware that these things were wrong, that you were violating commandments?
Well, I knew at the time because in our house, we read the Bible. We heard of Jesus. And I had a conscience, right? The gift of a conscious.
So I was violating my conscience all the way through that.
So you knew even without referencing 10 commandments that hey, this is really wrong.
I think most people who have come to Christ, there's a moment in which they realize the gospel is about me. I remember at Wheaton, we studied with Jim Engel, and we looked at that conversion process, and what you first hear is a kind of a vague idea, oh, there's a God and all of that. And then you get a little bit more clear. And then there comes a point, you realize, oh, my goodness, this is about me. And I've seen this happen in people's lives. And that was the moment for me. I knew I was naughty. I knew I needed what Jesus had done. And I had this stirring, I know now it was the Holy Spirit, my little hands shot up and after the service, my dad and I went in the pastor study with him, and he opened the Bible, to John 1. And he read to me, Jesus came to His own people, and they did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave them the right to become children of God. And he looked at me and he said, Gary, do you believe in the name of Jesus? I said, Yes, I do. He said, Do you want to receive Him into your life? I said, Yes, I do. And he led me in some little simple prayer. I don't remember the words of the prayer, but I remember that moment. I remember walking out of the church with my dad, our family over there in the car waiting for us, and I knew something was different in my life. And I've never doubted since that day that I belong to Jesus Christ. Obviously I sinned. Although I was kept by the grace of God from any huge besetting sin, I grew up in a loving home my dad was a pastor, consistent life I was never a PK rebel, because there was nothing to rebel against.
But what's a PK?
Sorry, shop talk there, PK means pastors kid, and my boys were MKs, missionary kids.
Well, thanks for sharing, just that story Gary, really touches my heart. It reminds me of just how the gospel and the Bible, the biblical worldview is so deep, it's so profound, you spend your whole life and you feel like you're just scratching the surface, and yet as a little boy at age four, you know enough, God speaks to you and reveals to you enough to be saved.
As the theologians would say, the effectual call of the gospel reached me. The gospel call goes abroad, like Jesus's parables, everybody hears them, but they don't land on everyone's heart the same. Many people heard the parables, "Oh, that was interesting, what's for lunch?" But then some of them came to Jesus and said, "what was that about?" And the theologians tell us it's the difference between the universal gospel call, but the effectual call that reaches the hearts of some of us who are chosen by God. So anyway, that was my moment. And I grew up in this home, we live in little towns, my dad pastored small churches, one in the panhandle of Texas, and then when I was about 11, we moved to Nebraska, a little bitty town there, agricultural settings, and I almost finished high school on that, but the whole 60s, all of the rebellion in all the 60s just went way over our head. We didn't know really anything about that.
You never made the journey to to San Francisco Gary.
I heard some of the music, the flower child, stuff like that. And I say, Okay, I was blessed by that. I'm not sorry that I missed it. Another defining moment for me then came when I was 17. I think it was the summer of my 17th year. So I'd grown up in this very godly Christian environment. And now I was coming into adulthood, and I was realizing and grappling with for the first time. There are millions of people in the world who don't believe the same thing I believe. And these beliefs are not compatible. Somebody's right and somebody's wrong. Who am I to say I'm right, and they're all wrong. I really was hung on that. And that summer, I was working for the highway department, Missouri. And I was the flagman. And we were working on these little rural roads. And I had lots of time to think.
that's good money, though. Gary.
Oh yes, it was great money! And the flagman is supposed to be, I read one time on the instructions on the bulletin board, the most senior experienced person is the flagman, because everyone's safety is in his hands. Well, I was the summer hire and I was the flag, well that's interesting. And I had lots of time to think. And I was choking that down. And I was reading the Bible, but I was also, this was my introduction of Francis Schaeffer in his book, The God Who Was There, which the Lord used very powerfully in my heart. And that summer, I came to resolution about this. Again, it was another anchor point, after I came to faith in Christ as a little guy, I've never doubted that I belong to Jesus. And since this 17th summer, it's just never troubled me since then, because I came in that summer to recognize the answer to this question, "Who am I to say that I'm right, and everybody else is wrong?" That's not my burden to bear. The fact is, Jesus himself says, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me. All I have to do is hold up Jesus to folks, I don't have to say, hey, you know what, you're wrong, and I'm right! I just need to introduce them to Jesus, for there is no other name given among men under heaven by which we must be saved. So that was another clench point for me.
It sounds like you're saying, Gary, that you came to recognize that Jesus Himself is the great evangelist in some ways. I can relate to that, just a quick little bit on my story, because I had a missionary call to when I was similar age, and ended up going to Japan and serving as a missionary in Japan. My exposure to missions was with people that said, hey, there's so many people that have never heard the gospel, and essentially they're lost, and they're going to hell, and it's on us, we've got to go over there, and we've got to let them know the truth. And so I felt this incredible burden. And when I got there to Japan, and I saw how hard soil it was, and difficult it was, I felt incredible anxiety, guilt, it was a real burden for me, and I had a similar thought that you just shared there, Gary, that God can use us and wants to use us in this process of seeing people come to Christ around the world, but he's not up there in heaven, on a couch, waiting for us to get the job done. He's down in the trenches, calling people to Himself. So that was a huge relief for me anyways.
This truth is still with me. I like to use a question when I'm on a plane, as I was about a month ago, to turn to my neighbor and say, after visiting a little bit, and establishing a little bit of rapport to say, can I ask you a personal question? Sure. Do you know Jesus? Because it's really about Jesus, do you know Jesus? And so principle that was established, well, I'm 69, so this 52 years ago. It's still very helpful to me. I felt a call to missions, although it was kind of a back and forth route to get there. My bride of almost 50 years now was a year ahead of me and she went to Moody Bible Institute when she graduated. And so I went to Moody the next year and it was kind of the thing our youth group, my dad actually influenced a lot of us to go to Moody and I landed there as a music major and then switched to evangelism. And then we got married after my second year and they had a rule at the time, if you get married before you graduate, you have to drop out for a year, which is a rule they made to encourage people to finish their education before they got married. But we were ready to get married. So we got married, and ended up back in Texas for a little bit. I was at Texas A&M university, I was thinking, I've always been interested in ranching, especially Wild West kind of adventure. And so I'd kind of wandered a little bit in this call. And I was at Texas A&M University, and I was telling somebody this just the other day, there was another pivot point in my experience, I was sitting in one of those big freshman classes on a theater, it was Intro to Chemistry. And I was listening to the students come in before class, and listening to these conversations. And this was such a God moment, I'm hearing people describe their goals. They're in school, they want to do a good job, get good grades, they want to graduate get as good a job as they can, make as much money as they can. And I didn't have any objection to that, but what am I doing here? That's not my goal. I never had been that. And I realized on further reflection afterwards, it was God again, coming into my life. And he said, I need to prepare to do ministry, what happened to that missionary call? So I decided right then and there, I'm gonna go back to Bible school and finish. So I went to the registrar and switched my classes. It was early in this semester to classes like philosophy or logic. I don't remember, something that I could use against a degree at a Bible school. And we finished the semester and went back to Nebraska, and I enrolled at what was Grace College of the Bible at the time, and I finished in Christian Ed. And we heard about Arctic missions towards the end of that time. And that was the thing for me because I was always fascinated with things in the north, and I came home my wife had spent a summer in Venezuela and really was very interested in the Latin speaking world. But I wanted to go north, and she was loving and gracious enough to come along. So we went to Canada, and we served in native communities in Canada for about nine years. And after that all of my 32 year missionary career was in administration. But for the first nine years we were involved in direct, face to face evangelism, church planning kind of ministry in native communities in Canada.
Tell us a little bit more about that Gary. And was Wheaton before or after that?
No, Wheaton was after. So when I finished the church planning phase of my career, and I had been invited to come on and do recruiting for the organization. I knew that my gifts were in the whole area of communication. So I went to Wheaton, I had the chance to go to Wheaton, and did an MA under Jimmy Engle, and communications. So that came in between. So now it's where really the DNA story really starts to pick up speed in my heart. The world that I had grown up in was was very strong, biblical, high view of church, not high church, because it wasn't Baptist, but really kind of Baptistic in a lot of ways, but a high view of the local church, a high view of Scripture, a high view of service, my dad was a wonderful Shepherd, very hardworking pastor. But we never really gave a lot of thought to God's original intentions, or the significance of the first two chapters of Genesis, this came rushing back to me about 10-12 years ago, when I was at seminary and I heard a professor say, the Bible starts with a story of sin, in the Fall. And he was a graduate of a leading evangelical seminary, had his PhD. And I immediately thought, No, that's not! That was the world I was from, and when I went up to serve in these native communities, we didn't know anything about the culture. So we were blessed to have a missionary training program that was 14 weeks at the time, we were on Thetis island off the coast of Vancouver Island, beautiful setting. And we heard lots and lots about Native culture, which I would boil down like this. You are going as an outsider into a culture you don't know anything about, you're an outsider. And you don't have any right to challenge anything you see, your job is to develop relationships and to find ways to speak the Gospel, to win people to Christ. And of course, the goal, eventually is the church, and all of that. And there's some good stuff in there, anybody that's been a cross-cultural missionary will identify with a lot of that. Nevertheless, I came to see eventually when I read Chapter Eight of your book, Darrow, I'm jumping ahead here, but when I sa,w oh, I knew something was wrong with it. But that was what we were ingrained with, that kind of cross-cultural sensitivity.
It's just not cross-cultural sensitivity, but your job isn't to change culture. It's to just leave it alone, or maybe respect it. It's really to get people saved out of it, or into church. Is that the way you would describe?
I would tweak that a little bit because at this point in the history of the missionary enterprise, so this was the late 70s. There was recognition that we don't want to pull people out of the culture, in fact, we kind of recoiled when we heard people say, Oh, as soon as I became a Christian, I stopped being an Indian. Indian was still a politically correct term back in those days. And we knew, no, that's not right. Because Jesus comes to us where we are, and Jesus can redeem the culture and you need to not throw off all that is good in your culture. So I wouldn't say we want just to get them out of the culture, but the main thing is to become Christians. And so it was really after these years, we were the couple who moved more than anybody else for some reason in this organization. We were in central British Columbia for not quite two years, and then we were in Thunder Bay, Ontario for four or five months, and then we were in Winnipeg for not quite two years, and then we were in Edmonton, Alberta for about four years, where we worked in a church that had been started, a native church. And it was after that I went to Wheaton and got involved in administration.
I want to go back because we're getting too far away from it, when you had this professor say that the Bible began with Genesis 3. And you, Whoa. Why did you Whoa, what were you understanding at that point that you gave that reaction?
Well, what I was understanding is that the first two chapters of Genesis are enormous in their implications, and characteristically, so much of the evangelical world just act as if they aren't even there. And that's the world I grew up in. And oh, you have something in there? Oh, yeah. It's great. He talks about creation. And we talked about young earth versus older earth and all of that. But we don't see the principles of God's intentions and how the Bible, there's these bookends! It starts with God's intentions at creation, and the beauty of all that, and the perfection of all of it. And it's going to end up in that! A good friend of mine has written about this extensively, you, Darrow. That these bookends are there, and it's going to end up where it started out only even better. All of that had fallen off the basically off the radar in my world.
But when you heard the professor at Wheaton, were you still in your head in that world? Or were you in a different place and why?
So this wasn't Weaton. This was a Bible seminary. And it was later, so I had kind of jumped ahead and gave a glimpse of what it was going to be for me after being exposed to the DNA. So back now, so I finished these years of cross cultural ministry. I go to Wheaton, I come back, I'm working out of the Canadian office and recruitment and church relations. And then actually end up down here at the home office in Oregon. And I was being given more and more responsibility. And in this process, I had access to the fields and access to the missionaries, and it was in those years, and I thought about this, when we started this interview, Darrow, you said something about, "what leads people to the readiness to hear the DNA message?" And I don't know, I can talk about it. But it's an interesting question. This is what I can say, I was increasingly restless, which is part of my psyche, I tend to be a restless person. But I was increasingly restless about the impact on the community of what we were doing. We were having ministry success, although it's kind of like your story in Japan, Scott, that it's not an easy culture in which to minister, a lot of barriers and a lot of history, of course, and a lot of that has come out, even more in the years since I have not been involved, with the stories of the abuse of native children in the parochial schools, and the Pope actually coming to Canada and apologizing. So all of that complicates ministry, especially from a Caucasian missionary to a native person, and those things were just kind of starting to develop on I was there. But this question increasingly fixed itself on my mind. When the Gospel goes into a community, shouldn't it make a difference that everyone can see? And sometimes that was happening, but it wasn't important to us, we had never really wrestled with that. And I know very fine, biblically prominent preachers, biblically, faithful, prominent preachers that I can name who are in this same place. Our goal was to start a church, and it was almost as if, nobody would say this, but sometimes it almost felt like, well, as long as there's a group of people meeting on Sunday, we're successful. And I don't know how this got on my radar, but I started asking this question, well, but shouldn't it make a difference in the level of alcoholism in the community and in the health of families, maybe I don't remember if I had this on my radar then or not, but the level of poverty, about levels of abuse, which can be pandemic in many of these communities. So I started asking those questions, and I went to the annual conference of the Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches, which was what I was ordained with, a little group of about 40 churches in Canada and the US and, and some down in South America, just two or three. And at that annual conference, I heard for the first time, a piece of the DNA message. I don't know if the name Dwayne Holsapple will mean anything.
It will to you, Darrow.
He was with Food for the Hungry up in Canada, British Columbia, during that time. And daughter gave a poem that's in the book. Nurturing the Nations, it's in the back of the University of Nations. Yeah.
So he had been a pastor, I think he had just recently transitioned. He had been a pastor of one of the leading churches in this conference of churches, and they had their annual conference that summer in Saskatchewan, and I was there. And I was looking across the workshop list, and his workshop title jumped out at me. Why are People Poor? That's not it verbatim. The Causes of Poverty, I think that's what it was. Poverty was not a really big value of mine. I would have said spiritual poverty is more important, and I still would say that. I was curious about what he had to say about this. And for the first time, I heard things like people are not poor because of a lack of money. People are poor because of the way they think. I was floored. I had never heard this before. And I had a little bit of a relationship with Dwayne, I think I had been in his church, I think I'd spoken at his church. And I asked him after the session, I said, Dwayne, I need to hear more about this. Because here's the thing: From my perspective, a person's theological underpinnings were really important, and I still would say that, and so I had started reading about relief and development. But I couldn't find anybody whose theology I could trust. But Dwayne Holsapple was a graduate of Dallas Bible Seminary. So I knew Dallas Theological Seminary. So I knew I could trust his theology. And I said, Can you put me on anything I can read? And he said, Yes, I'll send you something. So we parted ways. I came home a few days later, this book arrived in the mail "Discipling Nations, the power of truth to transform cultures" by Darrow Miller. I had never heard of Darrow Miller. But this was the book he gave me. And I sat down and I had a job that at that point, I was free to sit and just read. I'm actually a pretty restless person, it's hard for me to read for very long because I think I need to get up and do something. But for a day and a half I didn't do anything but read this book. And it just blew me away. One moment was chapter 8. I remember clearly reading this, it's the original, I've marked it up here, I still have the old edition, of course, I've got the new edition too. But it says "cultural relativism poses one of the greatest challenges to human development in our generation, as taught in the soft sciences of psychology, sociology, and anthropology. It holds that the values in one culture are no better or worse than those in another." I read that and I was struck. I couldn't believe I was reading this in print, because it was articulating what I had not been able to articulate. But somehow I had faintly begun to recognize that we were missing a central piece of truth that needed to come to bear. And here's an example, here's a perfect example. When I was in Edmonton, we were in the native church in Edmonton, a guy came down from way up on the Arctic coast. And he called himself Eskimo Fred. And that was his name for himself. And he was he was an Eskimo, we would say now Inupiat and he found our church somehow, a little native Christian Fellowship Church. And as so many people, they came in, they found our church and said, Wow, I didn't know there was a church like this, because we sang country music, we played guitars, country Christian music is what I'm trying to say, and played guitars. And we sought to communicate. We used one point sermons, and some of the stuff that we had had on our training. That was very, very helpful. And so people gravitated to us. And that's where he was, he found our church. And he sort of started hanging around, and he was looking for a job. And I didn't know any employers, but I had a couple of phone numbers. I don't remember the specifics. But I said, well, here's a couple of places you could call. And so the next time I saw him about a week later, I said, So Fred, anything happened on those phone calls? And he said, No, I haven't called him it. I don't like to get in a hurry about these things. Well, it never even occurred to me at that point, to do anything but listen, it would have never occurred to me to challenge him and to say something like, What are you saying, Fred? I didn't know that there was such a thing as a biblical theology of work, of economics. I knew what I heard from my first nations brothers, and from our trainers, that yes, white people are greedy, and selfish, and they're all hung up on time, they'd starve to death if they didn't have a watch, whereas the native people, they enjoy their day, that's their value, they just want to enjoy their day. And if they want to go fishing, they just go fishing, they're gonna lose their job, but they'll get another job and they've got enough money for a while, whereas the white man he wants to go fishing, but he goes to his job because he's so insecure. And that was my view of all of this based on my training and experience. So when he said, "I don't get in a hurry about these things." It never occurred to me to say to him what I would say today, and that is, let's talk about this friend. Have you ever noticed that God gave you a body with muscles and hands and legs and and you were created to work? And when you work, you can earn what you need to take care of yourself and your family and give to others. That's how things work in God's creation, I encourage you to make it much more of a priority call and get a job,but I didn't have any of that on my radar. So when I read that book, Darrow, when I read that chapter, these things started popping out at me. And I realized, Oh, my goodness, we were missing that. And this whole thing about time.
Go ahead, Gary.
Well, I'm talking and talking.
Oh, go ahead.
I just want to interject really quick for listeners, because we talk a lot about this on this podcast in our ministry. Gary, what you are suffering from, if you will, is the sacred-secular divide. And in that way of thinking, so many Christians are still trapped in this way of thinking, the Bible has to do with things like salvation, you know, spiritual salvation. Of course it does. But it doesn't have to do with things in the secular world, so to speak, things like economics, work. There, this idea of cultural relativism hold sway. People do things differently, just let them. And that's an example, by the way of, that's not a biblical idea. Cultural relativism is not a biblical idea. But you had learned it in your missionary training! And so it's the idea that if the church isn't discipling the nation, these ideas that aren't Christian are going to come into the church, into our theology, in our thinking.
and so much around what you just read, Gary, anthropology, sociology, psychology, are all modern soft sciences born out of an evolutionary or atheistic paradigm.
And those things are taught in missions school.
So Bible doesn't have anything to do with those. So we take our cues from those the people that teach those things in our universities.
And those are rooted in cultural relativism. We would in our minds as Christians say, Well no, there are moral absolutes. But when we go to the university, or to the Bible school and study anthropology, though, then we accept the dogma of moral relativism and cultural relativism.
And just to underscore something else you said, Gary, I think is important. It changed that mindset that we're speaking of the sacred-secular mindset, changed the way that you saw your purpose, or goal, in ministry in these communities, it was to see people saved. Now we would all say, that's really important for Christians, to see people come to faith in Jesus. It's fundamental. No one's gonna argue with that. But what was off your radar was any kind of change in the community itself, especially around a lot of the brokenness in the community, that wasn't as much on your radar, seeing change in that way, whether it was alcoholism, or abuse, or violence, or lack of a work ethic, or whatever it was. And so I just wanted to underscore those things. I think that's really important. So many Christians, even to this day, I speak with the people that are involved in funding missions work. And they still will put money into church planting and evangelism. But many of them are wrestling with that same thing, that they've seen massive church growth because of the help that they've provided in places like Zimbabwe, or Rwanda, or Guatemala, or Haiti, lots of churches now. And they can say, hey, that was very successful. We've seen lots of churches planted, lots of people saved. But then they are uncomfortable with this idea that still these are very poor, very corrupt, very broken countries. Something's wrong with this picture. Like you were saying you were struggling with that. So I'm sorry, I don't want to take away your story. I just want to underscore some of the things you're saying because they're so important.
Thank you. And I think Darrow, the point you've made often, that we have more churches than ever, more big churches than ever, even in our own nation, look where we are as a result of the neglect of these principles. Here's another little story from the missionary world that I was part of this was years before a missionary was in Alaska. And he was he was walking through the village with his rifle, and some local fellow on his porch said, Oh, where you going? And he said, I'm gonna go hunt a moose, I'm gonna go shoot a moose. And he called, so this was the new missionary in the village and he called him over and he said, never say that out loud. Because when you say that out loud the spirit of the moose will hear you and you won't be successful. In fact, I heard another story related to that this guy went out and shot a moose, and he went back and bragged about it. And the next time he went out another moose almost killed him. So what is the message there? The spirit of the moose, animism is the reality and this missionary had no basis by which to challenge that at all!
It's their fundamental worldview.
And so the thing about worldview is, there is an important level of worldview that I was being exposed to, and we've got books about it and stuff and that is the need to understand the difference in worldview so you can make the connection. But where we had never gone was worldview in terms of lies versus truth. We just understood worldview, the help that we get from worldview is so we can understand. But the idea that the lies are trying to influence the culture at the level of worldview, and they are influencing the culture. And so that was the perfect opportunity for the missionary to say, thank you for saying that. And here's another way to think about that. Somebody is lord of the moose, the moose, and all of the creation is subjected to the Lordship of somebody who loves you. Because by not challenging it, basically, we're affirming those strong beliefs. So that's just another example.
Hi, friends, I hope you're enjoying listening to this interview with Gary Brumbelow. I know many of you also have a similar story to Gary, where you were a believer for years, but didn't have a biblical worldview yet. And then the Holy Spirit changed your mind the paradigm shift that Gary mentioned, which changed the way you started to see everything through a biblical worldview. I know for myself, this shift happened about two years ago. And I know it's an overused phrase, but it genuinely changed my life, in the way I see the Bible, people, work, family, art, politics, really everything I interact with. And that's because it's all created by God. And thus, he has a way of approaching all of it, which he lays out for us in His Word. This paradigm shift happened for Gary when he was reading Darrow Miller's book, Discipling Nations. And for me, when I was taking the course, based off that book, the Corum Deo Basics Course. If you'd like to take a look at either of these resources, they're linked down in the show notes below. Or you can go to our episode landing page where you can learn more about either of them. Thanks again for joining us on Ideas Have Consequences.
And again, Gary, I think what you're speaking to, one of the shorthands ways we say it is, as missionaries, or as Christians, we aren't just stewards of a message of salvation, as essential as that is. We're stewards of a comprehensive worldview. It's a worldview that changes everything, not just souls or spirits, but it changes everything. And it's just a different way of understanding our ministry. And you're awakening to that right now. And your story, so to speak.
So keep going with your story, Gary.
Okay, so I started in my circles asking these questions. And sadly for me, it was kind of combined with, I was a pretty useful person, I was a very young person when I was appointed to be the director of this organization. And I didn't have the grace sometimes to understand what the change process looks like. So that complicated things. But after I read your book, Darrow then I started sort of preaching this in the organization. The first one was one we arranged for you to come speak at our Alaska conference, Darrow. And I don't remember what that year would have been between 2002-2010, probably between 2005 and 2010. Mid of the first decade of the 2000s, to expose folks to it. And then we had invited Bob Moffitt to come to the candidate conference, I think it was the same year, it might have been the next year, and he got sick and John Woods filled in for him. And then we set up over in Siberia where we had a different ministry context over there of influencing pastors, because there were churches, there were more churches there. And pastors, most of them we're not tribal, even our work in Siberia was among tribal peoples, but we were all we were working alongside Russian speaking missionaries from from western Russia and Ukraine. So what I'm trying to say is they weren't all national pastors, but we had an opportunity to influence them. And so we have the coldest, probably coldest, Vision Conference you've ever had, right?
I remember the temperature had raised from I think, 60 below the 50 below.
Oh, my gosh.
And the people that live there, had taken off their parkas, and were wearing like, wool, wool sweaters, and they said, Oh, spring is coming.
That's a balmy -50!
I'd flown in from Phoenix, and from there, I had a gig in the Dominican Republic. So those are the worlds I know, and in Siberia, I wore long underwear, big sweater, ski parka, wool boots. And I was friggin cold and all these locals are walking around with just their wool sweaters on, talking about how it's warming up.
You somehow missed that first waft of spring.
Gary, I want to ask you about something. First of all, I think we went to Bible school about the same time, because I remember the same ideas, same concepts coming out. And the comment was always cultural bridges, or communication bridges, contextual bridges. The idea how do you look into a culture and figure out ways to communicate the truth of the gospel.
Yeah, and McGavin was very good at that. And there was validity to that, because you look at Paul working with Gentiles, and he would always go in and connect to local culture and communicate things using local illustrations, and Jesus did the same. So that all made sense. But the idea of challenging culture, Jesus also did, and Paul's did. Here's my question. You start going that route. The next thing is, well, now you're just delivering an American culture. You're preaching your Western culture, and not knowing how your western culture has been influenced by the gospel. I talked to a young man two days ago. And basically he said, he didn't realize that, I said, Yeah, but there's a kingdom influence in our culture, it's still there, even though we're not Christian culture anymore. How did you work with that? Or did you get pushed back on? Now Gary, you're just trying to push an American culture on us.
So I did get pushback. Well, I'll tell this story, I as the Director of Mission, I was part of a group of missions that the directors would sit around a table a couple of times a year and talk about the ministry and common concerns. It was not anything formal, but it was a very organic and helpful association of about 10 agencies, one or two of which were actually first nations staffed and lead but the rest of us were expats. And so I kind of started talking about this, and some people see it as an insult to their friends. When you're talking about the problems of animism they hear you criticizing their friends. And so there's some nuance there, just the whole idea of how to bring change. There's some important nuance there that I could probably do better, I don't know. But I tend to be enthusiastic when I have an idea, and to some people, that's great, but other people it's no way! And I remember one of these guys across the table really pushing back, because he felt like I was putting down his friends. And this kind of came clear to me later, and I wish that I had said something like this: Well, here's an idea, how about the next time we get together, we bring a paper. And I will bring a paper that defends the concept of biblical theism, and all of the implications of that with reference to culture and cultural change. And you can bring a paper that defends animism and what that does for culture. I don't know that it would have been welcome, but that, at least in my mind, it clarified what we're talking about here. I'm not talking about individuals, I'm talking about a way of thinking that has infected many individuals. And as for my culture, we obviously have issues, we clearly have issues. But in the providence of God, we have the blessing of about 1000 years of Christian influence that has shaped our culture. It's not a matter of superiority of a culture, but it is a matter of well, you go on in that chapter to say it like something like this Darrow, "Cultures have different effects. And we need to look at the things that are happening in the culture." Yes, you guys love to say that white people are so hung up on time. And in that environment, you learn to kind of be sort of apologetic about it, or whatever, and just don't expect people to be on time, etc. But time is the most precious commodity in the universe. I heard Howard Hendricks say years ago, if time is the most precious commodity, it's waste is the greatest prodigality. So it matters. But again, these are biblical things. These are not inventions of European culture. They are long term effects of the influence of the Gospel on these cultures over 1000 years.
Yeah, just again, to underscore the importance of what you're saying here. And this is very relevant to our discussions today, especially around race relations in the United States. And I just I remember seeing the infographic that the Smithsonian Institute of African American History put out, and it talked about whiteness, kind of white culture, if you will. And it talked about the same kinds of things, this kind of value of time and being prompt or being precise, scientific, mathematical. And of course, my thought on all of that was that these have nothing to do with white people or white skin, if you were to go back to Europe during the their tribal times. When Scots were running around as barbarians with tattoos, I'm sure they didn't have a high view of time. These are ancient biblical ideas that come out of Judaism and the Bible, but over years, over centuries, began to shape Europe. And of course, that's the whole point of missions, in some ways, is to bring these truths into the nation. But now they get associated with a particular group, white or whatever it is. I mean, this is kind of your point, so we can't we can't impose our culture.
And that's an historical thing. I've said many times when I was working in those circles, The people that I come from, they weren't always Christians. 1000 years ago, my ancestors were somewhere in Northern Europe, sacrificing, doing human sacrifice and worshipping trees and rocks,
Just as animistic.
And the Gospel came to them, and praise God, the Gospel came to them and some of them said, what are we going to do with this new teaching? And praise be to God, some of them said, we think there's something here we need to pursue. And the culture began to be shaped by the gospel at that point, and in a way that is hundreds and hundreds of years of accumulation of that. Obviously, complicated more and more, by what we say in the DNA circles is Neo-paganism now. But that's kind of another subject. There's still the vapors, at least in the recollection of Christian principles in these cultures that that need to be teased out. Another thing that I really learned from the DNA is the importance of recognizing that every message has an agenda, somebody is going to be shaping the culture. And if if the church doesn't do it, Darrow, your wonderful statement, if the church doesn't disciple the nation, the nation will disciple the church, and how much that is happening. And that if we just think, Well, we don't have to worry about that. We've ceded the discussion, and we've ceded the ground for how the future is going to be shaped in our society, because somebody is going to do it, some thought system is going to influence the culture.
I want to back up a few minutes to something you said. And it triggered in my own mind two things. In every culture, there are good things, because we all live in God's world. We live in reality, there's a general revelation through creation. And so in every culture, there are good things, in every culture, there are bad things. In every culture, there are things that can contribute to a people's development, and there are things that hinder that development. So we need to say that very clearly. So it doesn't become an imperialism, a cultural imperialism. And someone who drove this home for me was at Biola University, I was at a missions conference there 30 years ago. And I think it was the President of Biola at the time, was talking and said, We need to be careful, is everything that we are exporting worth exporting? Because we take our culture with us as missionaries, and not everything that we're taking is the gospel. And we need to be conscious of the things that we take that we should not be exporting.
Yes, absolutely good, balanced statement.
Yeah, it's a good balanced statement, and that's where we need to critique ourselves with the same standard, the same biblical standard and Biblical worldview.
We have to be very humble, because all of our cultures need to be held up as a mirror, to what we learn in the Bible to the biblical worldview, and they all need to be critiqued. Just because we in the West have been shaped over many millennia by the Bible, doesn't mean that everything from the west is is good or biblical. We need we need to be changing ourselves.
Or that our culture isn't shaping the church. And we are changing doctrines today, Orthodox doctrines, for the sake of fitting into the modern culture.
Gary, sadly, time is a bit of an issue here. We're kind of running up against the end of our time together. But I would love to hear if we could, and I don't want to cut your question short, it's like Darrow had another question too. This shift happened for you, now it's been about what, 15 years? How has it affected you since then, in terms of kind of understanding biblical worldview, seeing faith as a worldview and all that that means for for ministry?
Well, I think one of the answers to that is when I started and Troutdale Community Church, one of my convictions as a pastor is to preach expositionally, not 100% of the time, I do preach topical sermon sometimes. But my default is to preach expositionally, go through a passage of scripture, go through the book, really. And it was delightful to me because of the influence of the DNA, to begin the very first book I did expositional preaching on was Genesis, and I spent lots of time laying the foundation not just to understand the book of Genesis, but to understand the whole Bible by recognizing God's original intentions and the power of that. And I remember I put together graphics, I use PowerPoint mostly to show the outline and quote scriptures and stuff, but I do sometimes do a little bit of graphical stuff, and I showed a fulcrum and lever and a great big ball, the fulcrum was all the way almost on one end of the lever. And there was a great big ball on this one, and that represented that the first two chapters of Genesis that show God's original design, we can't treat those as the same as we might just grab two chapters out of Ezekiel or something, you can say, okay, look at these, well, it's all the Word of God. It's all the inspired, authoritative, accurate, and all of that, I have a very high view of Scripture. But to read through the Bible without recognizing what's happening there in those first two chapters, and then eventually tying it into the last two chapters, is such a huge thing. So right off the bat, it was the influence of the things that I learned from working with you folks at the DNA, that's how it took off from me, was the way I treated Genesis.
There's so much there, Gary, in the first two chapters, that if your starting point is the Fall, and then the goal of Christian missions is salvation you just kind of gloss over those first two chapters, it kind of gets things started.
And you gloss over the end two chapters too, the coming of the Kingdom of God and the nations coming into the city of God.
And you lose really important things, you lose the Dominion mandate, you lose imago dei, what it means to be human.
You lose relationship, in terms of Adam and Eve and why they were created.
And marriage and the importance of marriage? So much of the social kind of trajectory of the Bible gets lost.
You lose the object of worship, which is the ultimate, the creator.
Somebody said to me before, the whole biblical worldview is laid out really in those first two chapters, and much of it in the first verse: In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. And when you think of our faith, not again as a message of salvation, which it includes, but as a worldview, that changes everything, because that worldview, what is real, what does it mean to be human? All of those questions get unpacked in the first two chapters of Genesis.
Yes, yes, very much.
Go ahead, Gary, you were?
I was just gonna say, in my preaching ministry, I have found ways to include some of these important principles where a text touches on them. I've been doing this now 11 and a half years, I'm still learning how to do this, frankly. But for example, I talk a lot about the Kingdom. That was a thing that I grew up with: Well, we don't talk about the Kingdom. But the word shows up in the Hospels 100 times. So it's an emphasis of Jesus and His teaching. That's a result of the DNA. Also, I love to quote Abraham Kuyper, and I like to use his actual language, it's usually modernized. But what he actually said was, there is not one thumb-breathd of the universe over which Christ is not declared as mine. We used the word square inch but I like that kind of language. That was before they had square inches.
That's great. The Lordship of Jesus over everything, not just over the spiritual dimension.
Yes. And I remember I was challenged one time, around the table of some Sunday school class or something. Well, how can you disciple a nation, you can't disciple a nation, and I found help in your bullseye diagram Scott, of well, it begins at the heart of an individual, but it goes from there, it shouldn't ever stop there, it needs to go on there until it's influencing a society. Stories from the, I don't know if it's legal or beneficial to hide the name, but the country in Southeast Asia, where so much of their teaching has changed the cultures in these communities in terms of the education of children and the strength of marriage and the way they build their houses and understand that those are great stories to share along.
There's so many stories and in fact, Dwight and I are now reading a book by an author named Tom Holland called Dominion. He's not a Christian. But he's stunned by the depth and the profound influence of Christianity and the Scriptures. And it's everywhere. It's far deeper, it's far more profound than we can think or imagine, because we just grow up in it with these ideas, assuming they've always been there. No, he says they have not always been there.
And the contrast is always darkness, which is a little unnerving, because it's a really dark book at times.
I'd like to, before we sign off here, Gary, to take you back to before, what was it in your mind that prepared you to have the aha moment? Because I've noticed with people, there are some people, that they hear the DNA message, and bam! They've got it. And other people hear it? And they say, well, that's interesting. What can we learn from what was going on in your mind that made you so receptive to that moment?
I wish I could distill a crystal clear answer to that question. I can only say Darrow, that it was God preparing me in my mind and heart, by putting these questions in front of me. And it relates to a characteristic that I mentioned earlier, I was restless, I'm always looking for, okay, what am I missing? So to some extent, it was a personal thing. But I wish I could give you a repeatable, reproducible answer for that. But all I can say is that in the providence of God, he brought me to a place where I was ready for that message. And when it came to me, it was just this huge aha. It was like the sun, I was seeing the sun come up for the first time.
I want to probe. You had questions, you were questioning. Was it a willingness to question, to critique? Was that part?
Oh, yes. People would say, that's almost my middle name when I was in this leadership position. I was constantly doing that. And, it's hard on relationships, and all of that, and I work with some wonderful colleagues. And I had a chance to say to them a few years ago, thank you for your patience with me and your love for me and all of that. But that's just my nature. It's my nature to say, okay, we can do better. I'm sure we can do better. Praise God for all that's happen. But don't rest on our laurels, to use a tired metaphor. Let's be alert for what the Lord may say to us in terms of how we can be more effective. One of my daily prayers is, every day I remind Jesus that He said, if you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. And I think, wow, is that? Can that be such a thing? We have legends about magic lamps, and genies that say that. But you said it, Jesus. It's conditional, if my words abide in you, and you're abiding in me. So I say everyday Lord, to the extent that I'm abiding in you, and your words abiding me, this is what I wish for, your suggestion to bear much fruit! Because then the next verses is, you could say it's your suggestion, he says, By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. I want to be fruitful. And in that desire to be fruitful, I think is when I received the DNA message. I think maybe we've missed something brothers and sisters, what can we learn from this? So I guess, maybe the takeaway for you is just keep doing what you're doing, because that's what worked for me.
Let me just summarize something that could be for a future podcast to reflect on. We talk sometimes at the DNA about the necessity of critical thinking, and we need to think critically. And that's what science does. Science asks tough questions. And without the tough questions, science would not move forward. And the concept of critical thinking, it's not just a few people who should be asking questions. God has given us minds to ask questions. And when we ask the hard questions, instead of hiding from them, because we're afraid, then there is a place for us to have aha moments, because we'll discover things that we never would discover if we hadn't asked the hard questions.
Gary, one of the questions I heard you asking at that time, I think this was really important for you was, shouldn't the gospel, shouldn't it have an impact on these communities?
That's a tough question!
Yeah. Shouldn't it change these very broken. And Native American communities, First Nation communities, North and South America alike, are some of the most broken communities. I say that with a real heavy heart, because we want to see those communities flourish and thrive desperately! So you were asking that question, and that created, it seems to me as what I heard, that created a bit of an openness to this.
But the sacred-secular divide is afraid of that question. Because that's a secular question. No, if we preach the gospel, people come to Christ and we plant churches. That's our task. And to ask the question, well shouldn't there be change in the community? Well, that's for the government to figure out or that's for someone else to figure out.
Or it's going to lead you astray, essentially. It's going to lead you down a road that's going to end up where you forget the Gospel, and you've abandoned the Gospel.
And people who do ask tough questions, sometimes walk away from church. But we need to be people who ask the tough questions and create a space for God to reveal things to us that we wouldn't otherwise be able to see.
I would just interject here. My integrity says we still need to wrestle with that as a local church and a community that's not characterized by the same level of brokenness, but Oh my word! The need for the transformation of the gospel is so clear in my own community, and of course, at the level of our whole nation, but it requires thought and energy and hard work, and of course, the provision of God. But those are still important questions I need to be asking as a pastor of a local church. Absolutely.
Well then we see, to take it from the micro-level of the local church to the macro-level of the nation. We see our nation increasingly broken. Everywhere you go, things are fragmenting. Kids are committing suicide, the drug epidemics, the broken marriages, even broken marriages within Christendom. Everywhere there's this brokenness, and it exists because the church has not discipled the nation.
And the church hasn't done that because it hasn't seen it as its role.
And why? Because of the sacred secular divide.
Well, I was just gonna say, the effects of it are so ubiquitous. Just last week on Friday. One of our young women was in our, we have three buildings on campus, as you will remember, Darrow, and one of our young women was in the fellowship hall, doing some work and thankfully had locked the door. And an intruder showed up, jumped over the fence, sat down at our picnic table and was doing meth. And so the Multnomah County Sheriff's office responded quickly, we're very thankful for the relationship we have with those guys, did a great job. But this guy was a bad dude, and there he was on our property. So we have to put up "No Trespassing" signs which we don't like to put up as a church. Because the world we live in, they can't enforce the law against a trespassing prohibition if we don't have those signs on the church grounds that says no trespassing, that's really not very acceptable. It's just a little picture of what you were talking about here. And we were just talking last night with one of her sisters about the whole idea of Christian Dominionism. Was that what I'm trying to say? Christian nationalism. And, and we're not talking about Christian nationalism, we're talking about the influence of love. We don't fight with bullets and bombs. We come with love. And as a result of that, we should see changes in the culture.
I remember my thought now. I want to push back. I don't think that pastors and churches are intentionally preaching a secular-sacred divide message. I really think that it's more, it just is. They don't see it. That's it, they don't see it.
We don't see our worldview. They're the glasses on our face.
It's just not seen. And Gary, I go back to something you said, you were listening to this guy, and then you found out, first of all, you were questioning, and then you realize he's a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, and you go, I can trust his ideas. Because there are other people with other ideas out there. Pantheism is growing in the church, and panentheism, as NT Wright would put it, is growing in the church, this idea that God is everywhere, and God is in everything, and everything is God or something. And I know people who are turning to that route, Christian brothers and sisters, so there's aha's happening out there, because people are asking questions, but there are right answers. And I'm glad that you as a pastor, continue in your vocation. Because people look to you as a pastor, and you have authority, and this is from Gary, so I can trust him. And so I would encourage pastors to take the role, plunge in, learn this.
Gary, this has been wonderful. And I just want to thank you for your friendship and just for the way that God's made you it's very refreshing, this restless inquisitiveness, that's going to really get at what's true and what's good. And to seek that. So anyways, thanks for being our friend and joining us and helping us just sharing your story of how the ministry has impacted you.
Thank you for the opportunity very much.
Thanks everyone, for listening to another episode of ideas have constantly.
Yes, thank you for joining us. This podcast is brought to you by the Disciple Nations Alliance. To learn more about the DNA, you can find us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or on our website, which is disciplenations.org. As always, if you'd like to take a deeper dive into today's topic, feel free to visit this episode's landing page which is linked in the description below. On that page, you can find resources and tools that will help you continue to learn about today's discussion with Gary Brown below. Thanks again for listening!