Bridge Cultural Gaps

We all have to bridge cultural gaps. Sometimes they are small other times gigantic. Please see this 2-minute video right now.

My first attempts.

My first cross-cultural jolt was when I spend a few days in Cairo Egypt. The streets we cluttered with shiny new Mercedes Benz cars and buses. As well as beasts of burden carrying heavy loads and pulling carts. But also people were carrying huge loads and even pulling ox carts.

The next major jolt came many years later in Hatti. Only this time I began attempting to bridge some of the gaps. Here my focus was on spiritual as well as the economic differences.  When I got home, I recognized that working in corporate America was for me a waste. It was not having a positive spiritual impact on others. And I had just had the thrill of seeing lots of it.

My experience in Alaska. I was invited to teach a seminary class. Everyone spoke English, and we all wore about the same clothes. Even the food at school was much the same. So I assumed that most everything was the same. Wrong! Just one example. They asked me to explain Psalm 23. I asked “What in particular about that psalm.” They said, “The whole thing. We know it is important and we quote it at funerals. But we just don’t get it!” The next day I started explaining how and why you tend sheep. The blank faces told me I was not communicating! They agreed with that. At that point, I said, “Taking care of sheep is like taking care of a tiny child. But they never grow up.” With big smiles, they replied, “Oh, ok NOW we get it!”

My suggestions on how to bridge cultural gaps
  1. Realize there is a gap! Think there is one. Most differences are not visible. Just keep all of your senses active including your spiritual insight. You will soon spot some divides.  Remember the iceberg illustration in the video. There is a lot that is not visible.  That hit me big time when I started in Alaska.
  2. Be quiet, Just actively listen to the other person. This article has suggestions.  Also, see my post his need to talk. This kind of attention even includes positive non-verbal expressions and low vocal sounds that show you care.  The same sort of advice applies to using all your senses.
  3. Observe, Notice what they like to do. When others do something differently, see if you can imagine why. Think about it. When they sense you are curious, they may explain why. When all else fails, carefully, respectfully ask an individual who now know.
  4. Participate, Join the people from that culture in their activities. If they survive and you are in good shape so will you. I have a few boundaries. One is I will not permanently mark or disfigure my body. That may block me from having a good relationship with some other culture. Second, I will never worship any god other than the Ultimate Creator God.  A name He gave Himself is Yahweh meaning “I am.” See Exodus 3:14-15. He is the God described by the Apostle Paul to the men of Athens. See Acts 17:22-31.
  5. Ask questions only when necessary. Learn by listening, observing and participating. After doing that for a long time then ask a friend from that culture. Just do not be like the little girl in Kipling’s famous poem.
  6. Touch them. Notice in the video how often the speaker is in, physical, cross-cultural contact. Touch demonstrates personal acceptance and care. I believe there is some energy exchange or spiritual transfer between people when they have physical contact. I often feel it.
  7. Never see yourself as superior to anyone else.  But view others as brothers. If your ways, even spiritual ways, are better your brothers will, in time, adopt yours. If theirs seem better to you, then do not be afraid to try theirs. Feel free to share your ways. They may be better, but each person needs to make that decision without undue pressure.
Now it’s your turn to Bridge Cultural Gaps.

Have an adventure. Step outside your social comfort zone. Enjoy the experience as you bridge cultural gaps. Bridging those differences will mature you and educate you more than you might imagine. It will also help your brothers across the cultural or spiritual divide choose what is best for them.

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Hi there.

Hi there. My name is Frank. In-depth one-on-one ministry to men is what this website is encouraging you to do. Here are my recent posts.  Please see the Contents page to learn what is here. Also, see the About Me and  Mission pages.

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He needs to talk

He needs to talk. You need to listen. It is more fun for you that way too.

He needs to talk about 90% of the time. Most men seldom get to talk about his concerns, his hurts, and frustration. Often your most significant service is to just, actively listen to him. That is a profound ministry.

He needs to talk example

Not long ago I sat with a Christian brother for three hours in his apartment. He talked non-stop the whole time. He talked about family issues, personal economic issues, workplace issues, and more.  All I did was look at him, nod on occasion, and make some hopefully well-placed sounds and non-words like Umm, ahh, ouch, etc. Well, there were a few words like “How is …?”, “What is your next step?” We did get some water to drink and relieve ourselves of the same. But that was it!

At that time he had to go to work. So I was getting ready to leave. Then he stopped and looked intently at me. “Thanks so much for listening!! I am feeling a lot better now.” Finally, with a long hug, we were both on our way.

My reflections

My thoughts later that day included:

  • He was sure thankful!
  • I was not bored because I was always busy processing his issues.
  • Nothing overtly spiritual had come up.
  • But I am sure he knew I care about him and his issues.
  • I am sure there was more on his mind or soul that he did not have time to say.
  • He had not wanted to leave.
  • Neither had I.
  • He looks a lot more relaxed now.
  • I felt satisfied.
Some things to notice

First, we had already developed a friendship relationship. He opened up because he knew he could trust me. That is to become transparent. Fully listening without any judgment or critique deepened that transparency. The more he shared, the more he felt free to share. Probably, he was sure I would not criticize him.

Second, my focus on him was undivided. Neither of us took phone calls or text messages. It would be even better if we turned our hand-held devices off. If had to look up something for him, I could power it on then. Better yet tell him what you remember and if necessary correct it later with a text message, email, or phone call.

Third, I felt great. My friend’s gratitude was my reward.  Also rewarded by noticing the release of tension in his voice and body.

In conclusion

Build a friendship. As it matures, your friend with feel free to share his innermost thoughts, fears and feeling with you. As he shares, he will relax. Your listening helps him unscramble his thoughts and see his situation realistically. And you did not have to say anything!

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Condemning Others

A gal who grew up in a church that seemed to all about condemning others gave a TED talk. It came to my attention today, and I like it. Please see all of it before we apply what she learned in our ministry among others.

The Greek word most for “condemn” means to pronounce a sentence upon after determination of guilt (BDAG). The root word here is “to judge.” So condemning is the outwork of judging. In Bible times a convicted person was usually excommunicated or executed. However, after the death and resurrection of Christ, we seek to restore the guilty. Notice how Paul had the Corinthians deal with the man in both First and Second Corinthians. He was to be brought back into the fellowship. Also, notice the basis Paul used for his judgment. (Hint: It was not a quote from the Old Testament.)

Let’s go back to the  TED talk. Here are her four suggestions and my comments.

  1. Do not assume bad intent. Most likely that person means no harm to other person or group.
  2. Ask questions. Ask open-ended questions. Like “Why.” “How do you know?” “To what extent?” Take the time to review Kipling poem or this video of it.
  3. Stay Calm. Never interrupt. Never shout the other person down. What you need to make your point is a civil dialog.
  4. Make the argument. In my terms start your case for your perspective.  State why you believe what believe. Be sure that you can support your claim from multiple outside resources. Do not invent “facts.” When using Bible verses make sure you fully understand the entire paragraph that contains each verse. Also the full context of the passage and culture of the time and place of the author.

See the posts listed below on hate.

We often condemn others based on our political views. Our moral standards. Our own spiritual and religious convictions. We have judged people based on these things and declared them guilty.

What does Bible say about our condemning others?

See what Jesus says and Luke 6:37. Try reading that whole passage. In it, Jesus describes what life in His Kingdom.

John 8:10-11. Since Jesus had that attitude then maybe we should too.

Even the angels do not do pronounce a railing judgment on problem people but leave that decision up to the Lord. Now look at Jude 9 Point: God will judge those who think and do unrighteous things. It is not up to me to say all kinds of nasty things about them. Or to condemn them.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” Mt 7:1 (Remember that condemning others is the result of judging them.

Rom 2:1-4. These verses are my central passage on this topic.

If you want more look up every place “condemn” or “condemnation” is mention in the New Testament. I think you will find that the exercise of condemnation is only for the Ultimate Creator of the universe. That is to say, God.

Condemning Others is often an outworking of hating other. Therefore be sure to see that post. Also, check out the post on being hated.  Another post that might help is 1 Thess 5:14  it is the more loving approach.

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1 Thess 5:14

1 Thess 5:14 reads:

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995),

This verse is one of a string of verses in this chapter that are important to one-on-one ministry. Check the index to see which other ones I detailed.  In any case be sure to read all of 1 Thessalonians 5.

I am sorry for this longer than usual post. There is just too much in this passage.  And to get the overall impact I wanted to show it as an entire unit.

1 Thess 5:14 in Real Life

Let me attempt an expanded paraphrase of this verse.

Now for those of us who are devoted to Jesus. Here are some life principles.

  1. Help refresh the memory of those who are not living out brotherly love or otherwise disturbing the harmony among local Christians. Some ways to do that include sharing with them how what they are doing is hurtful to the others. And note how this has negatively affected others in the past.
  2. Encourage those Christians who are cowardly about accepting persecution or losing their dedication to Jesus. Comfort those who despondent or depressed.
  3. Show your strong attachment and devotion to and in that way help others who are not doing well.  Including those who are physically sick, or have no way to provide for their own needs, or helpless because of some addiction  Maybe they are unsure about their dedication to Jesus.
  4. In summary, be patient with each follower of Jesus and the group as a whole.   That is we need to bear up under the provocation of another believer and that without complaint.

In other words, there is not any room for hate in the character of the follower of Jesus.

Keywords in 1 Thess 5:14

I sent a fair amount of time researching the keywords in this verse. I feel that it is imperative to see the understanding of words at the time of writing. And not some new opinion resulting from current translations or the cultural shifts of nearly two millennia.

  1. Brethern: BDAG notes that Jesus calls everyone who is devoted to him brother Mt 12:50; Mk 3:35, especially. his disciples Mt 28:10; Jn 20:17. Hence used by Christians in their relations with each other Ro 8:29, 1 Cor 5:11; Eph 6:23; 1 Ti 6:2; Ac 6:3; 9:30; 10:23; Rv 1:9; 12:10.  So in this passage, the apostle Paul is appealing to his fellow believers. He sees himself as on the same level as his readers.
  2. Admonish: The TLNT notes that it is a compound of nous and tithēmi, the verb noutheteō means “put something in someone’s mind,” hence “instruct, lecture,” sometimes by way of refreshing the memory, sometimes by way of making observations or giving warnings. BDAG defines it as to counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct, admonish, warn, instruct. Check out Ac 20:31; 1 Cor 4:14;  Col 1:28; 3:16; 1 Th 5:12; 2 Th 3:15; Tit 1:11 and Ro 15:14. Notice this much softer approach then is common in the western culture where we are inclined to condemn or even hate someone we think is unruly.
  3. Unruly: This is the only place this word occurs in the New Testament.  It is a compound word its root word means fixed or appointed with a prefix meaning “without.”  So the question is what should be “fixed” or “appointed.” The TLNT suggests the “ataktoi” Thessalonians free themselves from the rule of community life. One thinks of sins against brotherly love, a propensity to favor discord, a refusal to accept the customs or discipline of the church. The church here would be the local community of believers, not some larger organization.
  4. Encourage: The underlying Greek word occurs four times in the New Testament (Jn 11:19; 11:31; 1 Thess 2:11; 5:14). The word comes to us in English as “console” or “encourage.” Either word will work in this passage.
  5. Fainthearted: This again is the only place this word occurs in the New Testament. However, it is used in the Greek translation of Old Testament (Prov 14:29; 18:14; Isa 25:5; 35:4; 54:6; 57:15).  Suggested translations in the TDNT include “those faint of heart”, “to be cowardly”, “to lose heart”, “despondency”, “crossness” and “impatience”. I think any or all of those suggestions can work in this passage.
  6. Help: BDAG suggests it means “to have a strong attachment to someone or something,” “cling to,” “hold fast to,” “be devoted to” and “to have a strong interest in,” hence “help.” It is this second set of meanings they suggest for 1 Thess 5:14. Again I think any of those definitions can fit in this passage.
  7. Weak: There are many ways a person can exhibit weakness. BDAG finds support for the following.
    • Suffering from a debilitating illness
    • Give up too easily
    • Relative ineffectiveness whether external or inward – feeble or ineffectual
    • Helpless in a moral sense
    • Weakness of faith for any reason
    • Without influence
    • Economically weak or poor
  8. Patient: There a place in both Hebrews and James where the word means to remain tranquil while waiting or to have patience. In Matthew and Luke, it indicates a delay. However, it often indicates to bear up under provocation without complaint (1 Peter 3:9) or forbearing. Bearing up under provocation is the meaning here.  (See BDAG)
  9. Everyone: This word is used over 1,200 times in the New Testament. In this case, the sense is about the totality but with focus on the individuals. (See BDAG). So we are to be patient with each person without qualification.


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Romans 12:4-5

Romans 12:4-5 reads:

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995),

As always we need to read the broader context which is Romans 12:1-8.  Also read cross-reference passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 20, 27 and Ephesians 4:12, 15, 25. When one looks at the book of Romans as a whole we see how these two verses fit in the literary structure.

Discussion on Romans 12:4-5

The human body often is a metaphor used in Scripture to illustrate spiritual concepts.  Even God who is a spirit being is commonly described using the human body as an illustration.  In this case, we call them “anthropomorphisms.” In this case, the spiritual assembly of believers in Jesus is like a human body. Each member of that Christian meeting has different vital things to do.


In our one-on-one ministry, we must realize that the other person has a different role in the Church, the Body of Christ. Having different functions means we will not see things exactly alike. We will have various functions. (Note I said “various functions” not “different roles to play.” To me, a role is an acted part in a play not what the person is in real life.) What is highly relevant to me may seem less critical for my friend or brother. We each need to accept these differences.

For example one of us may be focused on spreading the Good News about Jesus. The other may focus on clearly understanding difficult scriptures. Another brother maybe concerned with caring for the daily physical needs of those who can not help themselves.

So when you meet with someone this week realize these differences and lovingly accept one another. Doing this is practicing Romans 12:4-5

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Do Not Brag

.Luke 9:18-22 has an impressive command. Peter has correctly stated that Jesus is Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one of God. Immediately Jesus commands the disciples not to tell anyone. Why not? It is because Jesus must suffer, be rejected, and die. Then raised from the dead. If Jesus wanted this widely know at that point in his ministry, He would be bragging.

How about us? Do we seek attention for the unique things God has done for us? Maybe we should not. Who knows but what we too, like Jesus, have many things to suffer, rejection to face and even killed. When we brag about a special relationship with God, The name of God will be slandered when we suffer? People will think that either we have lied about this relationship or that God is not able to protect His own.

We should keep quiet when God shows himself to us in unusual ways.  Or He uses us to do His work in some unique way. For we do not know what will happen in the future.

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Who to Pick

 Knowing who to pick is easy.

You just reach out to someone.  Let your heart draw you. It knows who to pick. Someone with whom you click. Let the Holy Spirit within you prompt you.

  • Jethro to Moses Saw a need
  • Paul to Timothy Saw potential
  • Eli to Samuel Get dumped on you 
  • Plus others in the Bible and my experience.
  • Notice in the first three that the older man helps, the younger man.

Assignments seldom work well. Especially if you are dumb enough to say something like Pastor Aaron Gance wants me to disciple you.” That is the opposite of friendship or brotherhood. It makes him feel like some welfare project,  or that you are his parole officer. 

I got picked when I was about 14.

I was in church with my mother some 20 miles from home. However, my father wanted to stay in the community instead of driving to the city. Soon after we started a man in the church introduced himself to my mother and me. That man invited me to attend a boys club meeting at the church. I loved being with that group. I would never miss a meeting. The best part was the whole-group huddle at the end. With arms around each other’s shoulders, we repeated a motto or “watchword.”  That 10-second interaction signaled support and unity that was uplifting. I could not wait to get back to that group where I felt I belonged. And valued as a person. I continue in some way involved in ministry to other men. It all started about 60 years ago.

Now you

You find someone your heart draws you to and look for a way to do something together.

Stick man who decided who to pick

Follow your heart.

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1 Samuel 30 – The Wicked and Worthless Appeal to as Brothers

From 1 Samuel 30 we learn that we should appeal to the wicked and worthless as brothers.

Background of 1 Samuel 30:22-25

David and his 600 men returned from the Philistines. Their city is burned. Their wives and children are captives. All their goods are spoil in the enemy’s hand. 200 of David’s men are tired and stay to protect the baggage. The 400 others go and bring everything back and more. Some of those 400 were wicked and worthless. They did not want to share the spoil with those who stayed to protect the baggage.

Application from 1 Samuel 30:22-25

When David appeals to these wicked and worthless he calls them “brothers”. And so should we.

The wicked and worthless
Appeal to as brothers

Think about it. Calling someone wicked, worthless, lazy, good for nothing, stupid, whacked, or some other negative thing is not good. It will not encourage them to improve. It may harden them. Speaking to them in a friendly way will encourage them to improve and do what is right.

Supporting Passages

These passages talk about dealing with an enemy. Are not the wicked and worthless in our groups really an enemy? If we are to treat outside enemies this way can we not call those in our own groups “brothers”?

  • 2 Kings 6:20-23 Elisha on how to deal with an enemy
  • Proverbs 25:21-22 Direct command to care for an enemy
  • Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount
  • Luke 6:27-38 Sermon on the Mount in Luke
  • Romans 12:17-21 Part of Paul’s application statement for the book of Romans

Years ago I assisted in a popular public speaking course. One of the textbooks had a helpful slogan. “Give a dog a bad name and you might as well hang him. But give him a good name and he will strive to live up to it.”

The NET Bible translation of 1 Samuel 30:21-25 is easy to read.

30:23 But David said, “No! You shouldn’t do this, my brothers. Look at what the LORD has given us! He has protected us and has delivered into our hands the raiding party that came against us. 30:24 Who will listen to you in this matter? The portion of the one who went down into the battle will be the same as the portion of the one who remained with the equipment! Let their portions be the same!”
30:25 From that time onward it was a binding ordinance for Israel, right up to the present time.

Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), 1 Sa 30:23–25.

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Call them brother

As the provider” consistently view and call the receiver” a brother or friend. How you label your relationship to another person controls how you think and behave toward him.   You do not want to come on to the receiver as being superior. Note the passages below. Notice what Jesus starts calling the disciples in John 15:12-17 (NASB).

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another”

If Jesus called his disciples friends, how dare I assume a prideful title!

Here are some common terms that are problematic.

  • Discipleship Has a Teacher and disciple(s).  That is a superior to an inferior relationship. It is not friendship or brotherhood. Yes, we are to make disciples but that is not a license to look down on those we help. To look down on someone is prideful. Pride is not a Christian virtue. 
  • Mentoring Has the mentor and the mentored. Again it is a superior to an inferior relationship, not a friendship.
  • Training Has a trainer and trainee, Yet again it is a superior to an inferior relationship, not a brotherhood.
  • Pastor In my sub-culture, that term often signals a paid superior. Which is a privileged relationship, not a friendship or brotherhood. If in another culture pastor” means the servant of those in his charge then that term is biblical. See 1 Peter 5:1-4.
Each man in the relationship often has a different term for it. Those terms may change over time. That change will signal changes in the relationship.
Let the younger receiver call you and your relationship what he will. That is his freedom.  You as the older person should consistently use brother” or friend” of the other person. Hopefully, your relationship will mature to the point that he will you call you friend or brother. 
Both of you should ponder and apply Matthew. 23:8-12. (NASB).
  • “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

Example of using “brother”:

An actual dialog I recently had:
  • Him: I am glad I have you as a mentor.
  • Me: I love having you as a friend and brother.
  • Him: I love it when you call me that. 

So truly see your service (ministry) to younger men as both friendship and brotherhood. Do not view yourself as a father figure. 

 Stick figure brother with arm around brother
This even applies to bad guys.

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