Psalm 139:9-10

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:9-10

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Jesus was not a Christian

Recently I read a book that has gotten me thinking; Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis. The book is a discussion about how Christian approaches to evangelism can cause more harm than good at times. One theme that kept repeating itself was how if Jesus is lifted up, then He will draw people to himself. The point is merely to reveal Jesus to people, to show them who he is and to speak about him, without arguing theology, defending Christianity or using christianese.

In my own life, the word evangelism has caused me lots of stress. My mouth goes dry, my palms get sweaty and my mind goes blank when I think I have to evangelize someone. Why is that? Why should speaking about Jesus, the one who provides life and peace cause so much stress? 

Image result for nervous

Because all of the pressure is on me. 

I need to defend my beliefs, to be able to reason and verbalize such complex ideas such as sanctification, redemption and justification. I need to prove that my God is greater than Allah, or Krishna, to explain why evolution  is not scientifically sound and why a homosexual lifestyle is not God’s plan. I need to know what the original Quran says about violence, I need to understand the fine details of every world religion and be able to explain the mysteries of why God would order the Israelites to kill nations, or why God lets bad things happen to good people. Not to mention defending or justifying the horrors that other Christians, Constantine, the Crusaders and even Hitler did to people who did not believe what they did. But if I am not an extremely convincing orator, than the person I am supposed to evangelize will be lost forever to eternal suffering!

Hold up a minute! 

Who saves people? Laura the master debater? Not at all! Jesus is the one who saves. How could I even try to compete with the king of kings, who even as a twelve-year-old boy was confounding the smartest scribes in Jerusalem? (Luke 2:47

I don’t have to defend the theology and history of Christianity at all, I only have to show them who Jesus is!

One thing Carl brings up in his book is various interviews he’s had with people. Fifty people he interviewed said that they did not agree with Christianity, and they had problems with various Christians they had met. But fifty of those people also said that they would like to hear more about Jesus. How mind-blowing is that? The fact that the world has a problem with Christians, but is open to Jesus is extremely freeing for me. All I need to do is show them who Jesus is without letting my Christianity get in the way!

Don’t get me wrong, I think that theology, apologetics and knowing what you believe and what others believe is important and can all enrich your walk with Jeus. BUT those things were all created to give deeper understanding to who Jesus is and it can never be healthy the other way around. Spending time learning these things should never be a substitute for spending time with Jesus and learning who he is.

In the words of Paul, probably one of the most educated of Jesus’ followers in the early church and a very eloquent and intelligent orator "For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified." (1 Cor 2:2)  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Everyday Opportunities

I have friends who can bring up spiritual issues in any kind of conversation. A friend of mine was selling something off Kijiji, the people came to his house, started talking to him and now they are attending our church regularly! It seems so natural for him, but sometimes I have no idea what to say to even bring up the subject, or if the opportunity is there I shirk it, or the words will feel awkward coming out. 

Sometimes I like to do ride shares through an app on my phone. It helps to cover my gas and passengers help me stay awake when I'm driving long distances. There is also great potential for sharing the love of God with them, and have spiritual conversations when you're together for several hours without any distractions, which is my greatest motive for driving, but like I said, things can get a bit awkward for me.

The other day I was scheduled to drive someone from Edmonton to Calgary and before I picked her up, I asked Him to turn the conversation in that direction, and particularly to make it seem totally natural and not forced. 

I picked up this person, and found out that she grew up in Southeast Asia and was raised Muslim. I talked a bit about my trip to Asia and we were chatting a bit about our different cultures and different holidays we celebrate. 

Then out of the blue she asks "What is the meaning of Good Friday?" 

How clear is that? What a cool opportunity! Thanks God for giving me a natural way to share your entire story with someone, in a casual laid back setting. 

God is faithful! Pray for opportunities and believe that He will provide them. Nobody has ever asked me that question, and it seemed like such a great way to talk about Him, He definitely had a hand in it, and I was able to tell her the whole story :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back From Another World

When you think "missions work" what do you normally picture? 

I normally picture somewhere warm, somewhere expensive to fly to, somewhere most people speak a different language, food I'm not normally used to, exotic culture, hosting a service, encouraging long-term global workers and making new friends.

We just got back from a trip to the North where it was definitely not warm, but everything else matches the description for a mission trip! I haven't left Canada, and yet I'm experiencing culture stress coming back! Here are some things I saw/experienced in Fort Smith:

Average October Temperature: 4 degrees C

Flights to Edmonton (I didn't fly, but there's one airport in Fort Smith that only flies to Hay River and Edmonton): $1,500

Spoken Languages Heard: Chipewyan, Cree, Inuit & English

Common Food Eaten: Moose Stew, Bannock

Cultural Experience: Went to an Aboriginal church service, which was structured very differently than most services we went to.

Service: Ran a church service for the Pentecostal church in town (1 of 3 church buildings)

Encouraging Global Workers: Hung out with a few people in the community and were able to uplift them and encourage them.

Making New Friends: Met some young adults, adults and lots of youth who we hung out with and were able to share our testimonies with and provide a "safe place" where they could hang out and have fun.

Want to see some cool moments?

 Our team with our "Fort Smith Swag"

The Slave River... ft. Krystal slipping hilariously

Hanging with the buffalo!

Freestyle rap is the best way to end youth group!

Prayer Request: I'm starting up a Skype Bible Study for some of the youth in Fort Smith and would appreciate prayer for wisdom, that it would run smoothly on a technical level, and that the youth would be impacted and grow in their faith.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why Praise?

Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! (Ps 150:2)

I've been reminded lately of how important it is to constantly praise God for the good things He does. Some reasons I think this is important:

1. It strengthens our faith
When we can reflect and see the good things He does, it reminds us that He's there and taking an active part in our lives. It helps us to look forward to His goodness when we're going through trial.

2. It encourages others
Some of my greatest "WOW" moments are when I hear other people's stories about what God's done in their lives, which inspires and excites me to keep persisting in prayer or suffering through trials.

3. God loves it
He's our good Father and wants to hear us speaking of the good things He's done for us. It's a form of worship to Him to speak of His influence in our lives.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. (Heb 13:15)

Now here are some of the good things He's been doing around me lately!

1. My friend's Dad (a Global Worker), who was imprisoned on false charges has been released and is safely back in Canada now. Praise God!

2. My roommate is able to live with us all year round now when she was unsure at the beginning of the year. 

3. A friend from Thailand's mother and brother got saved!

A video of our Beach Day during the Asia trip, when we took two buses of students to the beach for Shaokao (barbecue), swimming, games and chatting.