Why Germany?

A question I get asked a lot is why do I have to go to Germany to create an online course. That is a fantastic question and in fact the answer is quite simply I don’t have to. So why am I raising support to go to Germany when it would be so much cheaper to raise support to live in Colorado (our main headquarters is located near Colorado Springs) or even Toledo? The answer to that question is a little more difficult to answer than a simple yes or no. Technically I could do part of my mission in Toledo, Colorado Springs, or Timbuktu for that matter, but that is only part of the reason I will be living in Germany.

So why Germany?

I feel called by God to Germany. I believe He had me take German in Middle/High school so that I could have a base of knowledge of the language before I go there. I also have always had a love of Germany that stems from my time learning the language and culture. There really does not need to be another reason other than God is leading me there, but I will share a few things that show a great need in Europe, but specifically Europe.

Another reason, albeit a very minor one, is a financial/time reason. In order to do my work well, I need to interact with the partners that I will be working with to create courses for them. Could this be done over the internet? Sure, Skype is a fantastic tool, there are meeting software out there that could also facilitate this, but honestly a face-to-face meeting over a couple of days would probably accomplish more. That and the fact that there is a 6 hour time difference between Ohio and Germany (who gets the joy of meeting early or late?), it costs at least $700 per flight and then I would also be sitting on a plane for a good amount of time which would be at minimum partially wasted. All that makes it more feasible to be effective if I am in Europe as opposed to the US.

Then there is the fact that my creation of online courses is only a part of my mission in Germany. I will be a resident of some neighborhood in some town in Germany which may or may not have many Christians. I can be a good example of a Christian. I will get involved in the town, meet my neighbors, invite them to dinner and start conversations that will hopefully lead to discussing Christ and his impact on my life so that they can understand the impact that He can have on theirs as well. Here are a few stats that may help you understand how much of a need for Christians there really is in Germany.  Over the Christmas season, a poll was taken that showed over 53% of Germans did not wish to attend church at all. That is a stark contrast to the American church where people come out of the woodwork to attend church on Christmas and Easter. Now obviously Christmas church attendance does not mean anything in regards to peoples’ relationship with Christ, but if more than half of the population are not attending Christmas services then the odds are they are not attending most of the rest of the year either.

I hope this helps explain why I have been called to Germany and why every day that passes I am getting more and more excited to get to that wonderful country full of lost people. I hope you will consider joining with me, helping me to get there all the sooner.

Resolutions, shmesolutions!

So I’ve been debating writing a resolution blog since Sunday. I thought, well maybe it would be good to talk about the desire to change, the want for a better you or world. Then I thought maybe I would write about my specific resolutions to maybe inspire others in a new fashion. Then I did a complete 180 and said I wouldn’t write one at all because everyone is writing one. Now, here I am, writing one. So which thought process did I follow? I chose option D, most of the above.

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. Colossians 1:6

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spiritfrom me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Psalm 51:10-12

Whenever the New Year happens, people start talking about all of the grand plans they have for themselves in the New Year, as if by some magical changing of the digits we write for the year will allow them to have the drive, desire and fortitude to do something they have wanted to do for who knows how long. Does that even make sense? All of a sudden are you going to like food less, or like working out more? Are you going to love your family more or hate your job less because it is 2012 instead of 2011? Somehow I doubt it. No offense, but there is a reason that gyms have their highest attendance in January for the whole year. I have been going to the gym for a few years and every January it is a pain to go to the gym, but by February all is normal again.

Alone we have no strength and yet most of our resolutions start with the word I. Like we can do any of this on our own. I only have one resolution this year and that is to lean on God to constantly change in the way He wants me to change. There is nothing in me or you that is perfect so why limit ourselves. God has a plan for our lives and trying to make our own plan, just leads to disappointment when we fail.

I want to seek God daily to find out what His plans are for me each day, each week and throughout the rest of my life. I cannot hope to predict His plans for me, but I can seek His wisdom to know what next step to take. That is my only resolution, but not for 2012. This resolution is for the rest of my life, however long that is.

I wish you all the best this year and I hope that you are listening to the creator who changed you so much already and is the source of strength for us all.

Glo Bible: My thoughts and reflections

I opened up the Glo Bible the software for the first time and I was immediately amazed. It was pretty, it flowed well and it had a plethora of resources available to check out. I was excited to really start studying the Bible with my new study tool. The next day I started in my study of Ecclesiastes and I immediately became slightly disappointed. I wanted to do an in-depth study of the book of Ecclesiastes and unfortunately there wasn’t enough there for me to do that with the software alone. I still like the program, but I was hoping it was going to be a more inclusive software bundle than it is. Let me highlight a few of my favorite things and a few things I’m hoping get added either by paying slightly more or in a free update (obviously my preference). Glo Bible has a series of lenses that allow you to look at different aspects of the Bible. There are five lenses: Bible, Timeline, Atlas, Topical and Media.

Favorites:

1. Glo Bible has a very intuitive interface. It takes a little getting used to, but after you watch the tutorials it shouldn’t be too difficult even for technology newbies. No matter what you want to find it is just a couple of clicks away.

2. Very specific searching allows the user to find exactly what they are looking for. An example from the tutorial shows how to search for the words of Jesus found in John in the city of Jerusalem during the Passion Week. I know for me, I would have no idea how to find that unless I flipped through the whole book of John and that is a little annoying. With this software you can do just a few clicks and let the software do the “flipping” for you. In order to do this all you would need to do is click on the Topical lens. Then you zoom in a right click on Words of Jesus and “send” it to the Biblical lens. This shows you all of the words of Jesus throughout the whole Bible. You then zoom in to the book of John and drag a box around the book of John and “send” it to the Atlas lens and select Jerusalem and “send” it to the Chronological lens and select the Passion week. Trust me it is a lot easier to do than it sounds. The last tutorial video shows you how to do just that. This is a very powerful tool that will make finding specific verses much easier.

3. Custom reading plans allow you to pick exactly what you want to read and then either pick how many days you in which you want to read or how many minutes per day you want to read. Then when you read it counts down how many minutes you have left to read for that day. There are also some pre-set plans that give you a variety of options as well.

Not-my favorites:

1. The software does include the NIV study study so while you read the notes are at the bottom and you can sign in with your YouVersion account and see notes written by others as well. Those things are nice, but what I really want is some in-depth commentary. I would be willing to pay for an additional update with a full commentary that way this software was all I would need for in-depth study. I wouldn’t care if it was each book of the Bible that I had to purchase an add-on for or one add-on with the Matthew Henry Commentary or something like that. Additional resources like Bible Dictionaries or Word studies would be nice too.

2. On slightly older computers the software runs a little slow. I know they have the option of running the media off of the discs, but that is cumbersome if you are traveling.

Overall I really like the software. It allows me to have a Bible study tool unlike any other where I can search for very specific topics or find out where certain events happened or pieces of art that relate to stories or verses in the Bible. There are many tools in the software that I am still investigating and will probably be investigating for a long time. I would recommend this software to any one I know, but if they are looking for commentary I would tell them to buy one of those in addition to this. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this is something that they are looking to expand upon in the near future.

7 billion people, 6 billion phones

As you might know I was at a mobile ministry conference last week down in North Carolina. This was my introduction into one of the many ways that GEM eDOT is trying to spread the Gospel throughout Europe so I was very excited to learn as much as possible. I quickly learned that there is much to learn about media in missions. The other people there were throwing out letters like it was an advanced lesson in Sesame Street. I was so confused most of the time, so I wrote down a lot of acronyms and other things that it was assumed everyone knew and I have been delving into them slowly trying to get a handle on what I will be doing.

The point of this blog though is the stat from the headline. One of the things I pulled from the training was the number of mobile phones in the world compared to people. We just recently passed 7 billion total people in the world and we also passed 6 billion mobile phones too. Now you have to assume that some of the 7 billion are a wee bit young to own a mobile phone and that some people own two phones, but even if 1 billion people own to mobile phones that still leaves us with 5 billion people in the world who own a mobile phone. That flat out shocked me. I was completely surprised that there were that many mobile phones out there.

In the conference they were excited about this because it meant that if we can deliver content to all types of mobile phones then we can reach more people for Christ than ever before. We spent a lot of time talking about different techniques to get content to the phones, but the main idea was that with the increasing number phones out there the more we could do. The number of phones are only going to increase so developing a strategy to get the Gospel into the phones now will only decrease the time in which it takes to get the Gospel into the hands of every single person on Earth.

This is what our goal at GEM eDOT is. It is not always with mobile phones, but we are trying to get the Gospel into as many peoples hands as possible. This is what I am going to be a part of, and that excites me…..now I just need to learn what they heck they were talking about at the conference.

Go, not come

I went to a training this past week near Chicago that was based on a Church planting movement that is doing amazing things all over the world. While there I was reintroduced to the Great Commission. Just as a quick reminder here is the Great Commission:

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

I have probably read this a bunch of times and yet the way it was presented to me at this conference smacked me right in the face. One of the presenters pointed out three parts to the Great Commission and he believes that these three things are at the core of what makes the commission so great. He said the three parts are:

1. Go – Jesus didn’t say make the people come and then make them disciples, he said go to them. Too often churches only invite people to them and don’t spend a lot of time going to the people. If we spend our time going then people will start coming to our churches more and more importantly their eternal lives will be forever changed.

2. Everyone – Jesus said go to all nations, not just the nations that were wealthy or strong or attractive. He said go to all nations and baptize them. Haven’t we all decided not to witness to someone for some reason or another?

3. Disciple – We aren’t supposed to witness to them and then leave them to fend for themselves, we are to disciple them and bring them closer to God through teaching. I remember going on a missions trip when I was younger and we claimed to have “saved” a specific number of people. I kept thinking to myself, that’s great, but what did we do for them now that we are gone? Did we set them up with a church? With other Christians? Did we do anything? We definitely could have done some of those things, but I knew at the age of 14 that we should be doing that. Why is it that people forget that once they are adults?

If we stay where we are, if we are selective about who we talk to and if we leave new Christians to fend for themselves then we have not fulfilled the commission that Jesus himself told us to fulfill. Let’s change the way we think about witnessing to people and really start changing this world.

Strangers on trains, planes and automobiles

On my recent trip to Maryland I had the pleasure of going to my sending church (well, that is once I leave they will be sending me), South Potomac Church. I love that church, but that is not the point of this blog.

Right before Pastor Dave Huffman talked about passing out invitation cards he showed a video from Worship House Media called “Strangers.” The idea behind the video was that you never know who you might be impacting when you share the gospel and that you could be sitting in a room with someone who was impacted by someone else who was impacted by someone you led to Christ. Let me explain it a little differently. In the video it shows a guy working at a coffee shop and a lady who is a customer of that coffee shop. The lady was the reason that guy accepted the Lord, but they had never met. It goes through the story of how the lady led her college roommate to Christ who led a coworker to Christ who became a public speaker and through a webcast caused a guy to come to Christ and then that guy witnessed to/mentored the guy in the coffee shop. I’m not going to lie, I cried a little. I didn’t sob, but a tear did squeek out of the corner of my eyes. Only one tear though. 🙂

Here is why my eyes watered. I don’t know how many people I have led to Christ, it is an unfortunate reality that I am not exactly proud of and I am working on changing. While watching the video I got a major urge to start a chain reaction of my own. The best part about it, is these chains do not glorify the person who started them because they may never know all of the people they impacted. Therefore the glory goes only to God and that got me even more excited.

After I watched the video I went to a training in the Chicago area and we talked about church planting movements and going beyond evangelism. That encouraged me even more to start with evangelizing right now, and not wait until I’m in Germany. There are lost people on trains, planes and automobiles who might just believe in Christ because of my story. So, I need to get that story told to as many people as possible and you know what? I think we all could share our story more than we do more and start some chains of our own.

Upcoming trips

Hey everyone,

I just thought I would update you all on some trips that I will be taking this month. If you are anywhere in this area and want to catch up or meet with me to learn more about my mission then please get a hold of me any way that you can.

Here’s my itinerary:

Nov. 30-Dec 4th – Waldorf, MD – running in a 5k on Saturday, catching up with supporters and visiting South Potomac Church

Dec. 4th-8th Wheaton/Hinckley IL – T4T (training for trainers) training and visiting family

Dec. 10th-Dec 14th – North Carolina – My first set of meetings that directly deal with my mission. Meeting with other technology in missions people to collaborate and come up with the best ways to work together to further spread God’s kingdom. I’m totally excited about this.

I definitely could use your prayers as I am traveling more than I am used to. Thank you so much!