Theology book #5 – Speaking of Jesus by J Mack Stiles

I am still recovering from my trip to Alaska so I will keep today’s blog nice and short. Short in length, but hopefully not in content.

I’ve talked about evangelism before and my struggles with making this a regular part of my life and not waiting until I get to the mission field to start so Speaking of Jesus by J Mack Stiles was a natural fit for my current season in life. I liked the book, but often times found myself thinking that the book made it sound much easier than it really is. Even though Mack Stiles repeatedly said that it takes work to become comfortable with talking to people about Christ, I still kept thinking that he made it seem simple.

I guess it is simple though. When you get an amazing present from someone is it hard to share with anyone and everyone that will listen? I know it’s not for me, I even have a hard time keeping to myself a great gift that I am going to give to someone. Why are we, and i am definitely including myself in this one, so slow to share what Jesus has done for us? I mean, seriously, can you get better than the gift He has given us, life eternal? How does your new video game system, piece of jewelry, trip or other temporary gift stack up? Don’t get me wrong, I still love presents, giving and receiving, but do they compare? If they don’t compare to the gift God has given us then why aren’t we will to share it with others?

I want to highlight a few interesting things that Mack Stiles says in the book that I hope will pull on your heart as much as it has mine.

God asks the same of us in evangelism. God wants us available to people, not shouting instructions at them. (They often can’t understand what we’re talking about at first, anyway.) He wants us to get into others’ lives. He may not ask us to steal a boat, but he may ask us to cross some conventional boundaries. If we are willing to risk our comfort to get into other people’s worlds with the truth we bear, we’ll be a more powerful witness than all the instruction manuals in the world.

Availability-mental and physical is the first step of evangelism. Christians need to go physically and mentally into all the world: to Africa and non-Christian cubicles at work, to Congress and smoking sections of restaurants, even to Florida beaches.

When we come to know the love of God, we want to share our faith.

But here’s shocking news: our comfort has a very low biblical priority. Jesus doesn’t seem to care much about our comfort.

 

I know I have been plugging my indiegogo project a lot on this blog and that’s because I want to get to Germany as fast as possible, but that is only possible if I have your help. Please check out the project and share it with your friends. Even if you can’t donate money, maybe someone you know can. Any help I get is greatly appreciated!

Prayer Monday – Austria

I have talked several times about why Europe is in need of missionaries and why I am going over there to do my part, but I thought it might help if I highlighted more specifically what is going on in each of the countries in Europe. So, my plan for the next year is to share some data with you all about one country in Europe every Monday. The data I will be getting will be from Operation World. Operation World is an evangelical Christian organization that is concerned about fulfilling the Great Commission. They have compiled information on every country in the world and I want to share it with you so you can be praying for Europe specifically. I will also be using a book put out by Greater Europe Mission called “Prayer for the Nations.” Inside the book it has a guide for each country that makes up Greater Europe. There is much more detail then I will share, but if you want a copy of the book for your own prayers please let me know and I will get you one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austria, the setting for the Sound of Music (which is how most people know this beautiful country) is home to 8,387,491 people, 6,925,551 (82.5%) Christians and a meager 40, 524 Evangelical Christians. According to Operation World, the total number of Christians is in decline every year by .4%, but the good news is that Evangelicals grow by 2.1% every year.

Prayer insights:

Pray that God will continue to use the Evangelikale Akademie, a ministry training school, to equip Austrians for church leadership. Pray for more Austrians to be drawn to this school so people will come to Christ and be discipled through them.

Pray for new initiatives to reach hundreds of thousands of unreached Austrian youth.

 

 

 

What if the next five years were your best five years?

Here is the second Friday question. I have to admit, I stole this question from someone. I can’t be too honest about it though, because I have no idea who I stole it from. So if you see it somewhere else don’t think they stole it, because they probably didn’t.

What if the next five years were your best five years? What would that include?

Ever since I heard this question I have periodically thought about what would happen in the next five years if I looked back on my deathbed (morbid I know) and said these were the best five years of my life. It is a tough question for sure and could encapsulate a lot of things, so I will provide only the highlights and not go in detail at all.

  • Married
  • One or maybe two kids (hey it could happen!)
  • Have a major impact in Europe through my ministry, whether I get credit or not
  • Visit as many countries as possible in greater Europe

That’s about it for me. Please comment below giving me one or a few of the things that you would do to view the next five years as your best ever!

Back to Church Sunday – A little rap goes a long way!

I don’t have a lot to say in this post, but I did want to share a video I stumbled on that was posted at this blog, but it originally from Back to Church Sunday, a group that is trying to get people back to church. They have a specific day, September  16, where they are encouraging participating churches to have their congregation invite someone. If that sounds like something you want your church to do, talk to your pastor and have them check out the site.

I want to show you two videos, one that is incredibly silly, featuring some pastors rapping, that definitely made me laugh and another one that is a little more serious and gave me goosebumps. Back to Church has a Youtube channel that has a bunch of videos worth checking out. As soon as I am done writing this blog I am going to let my Pastor know about this plan and see if he is willing to get my church to do this.

Here is the rap video I promised.

 

and the more serious question video

Prayer Monday – Armenia

I have talked several times about why Europe is in need of missionaries and why I am going over there to do my part, but I thought it might help if I highlighted more specifically what is going on in each of the countries in Europe. So, my plan for the next year is to share some data with you all about one country in Europe every Monday. The data I will be getting will be from Operation World. Operation World is an evangelical Christian organization that is concerned about fulfilling the Great Commission. They have compiled information on every country in the world and I want to share it with you so you can be praying for Europe specifically.

There are two new things this week. The first you may have already noticed. The highlighted country for today, Armenia, is not a European country. It’s in Asia. Greater Europe Mission works in some Asian and African countries (they put the “er” in Greater). The second change you might not notice too much. Greater Europe Mission has put out their own book called “Prayer for the Nations.” Inside the book it has a guide for each country that makes up Greater Europe. There is much more detail then I will share, but if you want a copy of the book for your own prayers please let me know and I will get you one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a country i know very little about, it is a pretty populous country. There are 3,090,379 people in Armenia, 94% (2,918,245) of which are Christian. Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as the official religion in 301 AD. It is not a whole lot different than the other countries I have touched on so far though in that a small minority (268,186 or 8.7%) are evangelical. I don’t mean to be stressing so much about that, but honestly with Operation World’s definition of evangelical, they are the one’s trying to reach other’s for Christ. The Great Commission says that is what we need to be doing, so that is the number that I hope to see increased.

Some prayer insights for Armenia:

Pray that God will give Armenian believers wisdom, courage, and creativity to reach out to their people.

Pray for unity among the churches in Armenia.

Pray that young adults will become catalysts for renewal and spiritual awakening in the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Dream vacation, what is yours?

So I’m going to try to be a bit more consistent with my blog posts. I am going to continue doing the Prayer Monday’s, Wednesday’s I will be doing a serious topic of some sort and Friday’s I will be trying something new starting today. Every Friday I am going to post a question, answer it for myself briefly and then encourage everyone who stops by to answer it if they feel so inclined. The more comments we get the better this will work so lets start a conversation.

I actually wrote this two days ago, because as some of you know I am in Anchorage, Alaska for 10 days and so I pre-wrote blogs for the next week and a half. Since I am in Alaska, I thought I would start off with a vacation question.

What is your dream vacation? Have you already been on it or is it a “maybe in the future” kind of thing?

Ever since I started studying German in Middle School I always wanted to visit there. I had no specific place in mind, but I kind of expected to see people in lederhosen. In 2009 I got to go to Germany and then followed it up with a second trip the following year while determining if God was calling me there with GEM. Unfortunately though, I did not see any lederhosen.

My other dream vacation may not sound like what most people think of when they think vacation spots. I really want to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo (not going to happen until the fighting stops) because my great-grandpa was a missionary there. He built a church which I would love to find, but I highly doubt it is still there.

 

I would love to hear where you want to go and why, so comment below and feel free to give others some tips if you have been a place they want to go.

I’m not the best model in the world

I don’t have the body for regular modeling, my hands have too many freckles for hand modeling, my second toe is longer than my big toe so no foot modelling for me  and my hair is too nonexistent to be a hair model. That’s not really what this is all about though.

Back in May I was visiting South Potomac Church in Waldorf, MD. Other than the fact that I love this church, the people and the pastor, the sermon was pretty good too. It was so good that it only took me two months to write about it. The truth is I misplaced the bulletin insert from that sermon and just stumbled on it when I was packing for my trip to Alaska.

The sermon was titled “Raising Amazing Kids” so at first I was so tempted to tune it out completely seeing as I have zero kids with little chance of having one in the near future, but then Pastor Dave Huffman started talking about modeling for your kids as the best way to raise them the right way. On the back of the sermon notes were things that parents need to model for their kids and i realized it is more than that. This list shows the things that every Christian should be modeling for other Christians and non-Christians alike. We are to strive to be like Christ and walk like he walked (1Jn 2:6, Titus 3:1-15, Eph 4:1-32).

Here is the list:

  • your language
  • your faith and prayer
  • how alcohol is used
  • the level of honesty
  • the value of education
  • your work ethic
  • your level of generosity
  • your level of spending
  • the value of physical fitness
  • the movies you watch
  • the places you go
  • your commitment to church
  • the priority of friends of character

If you are like me, and I am sure you are, then you probably did a mental checklist of all the things in this list that you have failed and if you are like me you probably failed every single one of these at some point. I’m not going to go into details about how I have failed each and every one, but I do want to share what I thought about after I got over the fact that I suck.

Matthew 9:12-13

12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

We are sinners, there is no way around that, but thank goodness, Christ came specifically for us because of our sin. We will probably fail daily in one of more of these facets, but its what we do in response His forgiveness of those sins that actually matters. I cannot say it better than Paul so I will end with his words from 1 Timothy 1:12-17

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.