I received an e-mail the other week from a supporter who had some questions about my mission. They had some vary valid questions that I probable should have addressed at some point, but either failed to, or didn’t know that I should have addressed them. At first I got a little upset, because I felt like I had the answers, but didn’t know the questions. Then I realized, with some help, that it is my job to answer your questions to help you better understand God’s mission for me so that you will have the same passion I do to team up and help reach the people of Europe! I am grateful now to that supporter for raising good questions so I can help others who might have the same questions.
I am going to add a question and answer page to this website. Here is the thing though, I don’t know what questions you have. I have a few to start the page off on Wednesday, but I will quickly run out of questions to answer if I don’t get any more.
Here is what I need from you:
- Ask me questions about what I’m doing now, what I’ll be doing in Germany, etc.
- Respond to this post
- Send me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Find me and ask me in person
- Ask questions you had, have currently or you think others might have.
Here is what I promise you:
- I will not be offended, no matter what the question is or how hard it might be for me to hear.
- It will be completely anonymous (unless you post it here with your name obviously).
- It will be completely truthful (unless I can’t discuss details about “creative access countries”).
- It will be completely exhaustive – I will find the answer and do my best to answer the question fully.
Apparently way back in the day “We’re strong for Toledo” was a motto for the city. There was a song of the same title and it is pretty cheesetastic, but I love it! I am a big fan of Toledo. When I was growing up I never thought that I would leave Toledo. I always imagined staying here, raising a family and retiring here too. Obviously God’s plan was a little different since He had me move to Maryland and now to Germany, but I still love this city and would be perfectly content with living here on a permanent basis if that was what I was called to do.
The other week I had the pleasure of going to a local charity that is doing some amazing things for this city and that got me excited. I am so happy to see people excited about this city and helping those who live here and are in need. Not only that, but this charity was also helping people see God’s love through their work. That got me thinking about local charities who are helping this city in whatever way they can while also trying to spread God’s kingdom. I am grateful for these charities and I wanted to highlight a few. This is not an exhaustive list at all so feel free to comment with any organizations that you know who are helping this community and reaching people for Christ too!
Pregnancy Center – The Pregnancy Center has served thousands of Toledo area women since 1984, and we’re here to help you! Dealing with a pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion can be tough, but you don’t have to do alone. At the Pregnancy Center, you can discuss your fears, options and questions with someone who cares about your needs. Your choices today will affect your tomorrows; you owe it to yourself to get the best information to protect your health and your future.
Journey of the Heart – Journey of the Heart’s mission is to provide a way for women whose hearts are wounded and broken to discover HOPE and Healing in their everyday lives. Journey of the Heart was created to meet the needs of struggling women in communities throughout the United States and around the world.
Young Life – I grew up going to Young Life and love this organization. For more than 70 years Young Life has been reaching out to junior high and high school kids around the world. Annually, Young Life impacts over 1,000,000 teenagers making it the largest ministry to adolescents in the world. They are in over 25 schools in the Toledo area.
Church of the Cross – Church of the Cross is the church I grew up in. In edition to the weekly services they offer a weekly program for preschool-6th grade students called B.L.A.S.T and a young adult worship experience called Quest.
North Point Church – In edition to being a church with multiple campuses North Point also serves the community through projects like Food for Thought which provides weekly grocery assistance in Toledo. Most weeks they serve an average of 400 people which amounts to 115 families.
Thank you to these organizations for serving the needs of this community that I love!
Originally my second book was going to be Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, but after six weeks of reading it and only being through about 30% of it, I decided I needed to find something else and I can come back to that book if I have time at the end of the year.
The next book on my list was Buck Naked Faith: A Brutally Honest Look at Stunted Christianity by Dr. Eric Sandras. I have to admit I was curious to read this book primarily because of the title. I did not know who Eric Sandras was, but I did know I liked his style!
Here is the summary from amazon:
Drop the layers of make-believe nonsense that stunts our spiritual growth. What emerges is a positive alternative to life-crushing counterfeit faiths many of us are trying our best to work through.
To do this, men, women, and teens need the vision and encouragement to take the risk and get dangerously real with God. He exposes the naked truth: We need to dress our lives with a real friendship with God and nothing else.
In keeping with my self-imposed theme of gratitude this month I looked back at my highlights from this book that fit with the theme. I’ll share a few quotes and my thoughts about each.
Often the temporary satisfaction of minimizing my flaws and maximizing my giftedness seemed appealing, but then Pastor Rick’s wisdom would push me further: “Eric, God doesn’t build a man, he breaks him.”
A lot of the times when I think about the bad things that have happened in my life I tend to dwell on the negative outcomes only, like when my dad died I thought about how he never got to see me graduate from college and if I get married he won’t be there or if I have kids he can’t be the amazing grandfather that I know he would have been. Or when I think about the fact that I am a 30-year old single man who has a major desire to be married I could I think about all of my friends getting married (4 this summer alone).
Sometimes, and unfortunately too few and far between I am grateful for these things because of the positives effects on my life. Yes, my dad did die and he won’t get to be a part of those life events, but how about the fact that I got to have a Godly man as my father for 22 years, or all of the life lessons he instilled in me? I know too many people who were not blessed with one good parent and I got two amazing ones! I am grateful.
Yes I am single, but would it have been as easy for me to make the decision to be a missionary in Germany to spread Gods kingdom if I was married? Maybe, but then again maybe not. I am grateful.
That quote at the end could have been written to me, “Jake, God doesn’t build a man, he breaks him.” I have been broken many times and I know I will be broken many more before my time is up. I am grateful.
We followers of Christ have such potential to participate in something much bigger than ourselves.
Too many people live life for themselves and end up filling alone, worthless, tired and they feel as if all that they have done in this world is worth nothing. Isn’t it awesome that what we, as Christians, get to do is beyond us and has eternal consequences. I mean think about that, eternal, forever, unending, for all time. Sink in yet? Yeah, it’s that important and for some reason God has chosen us to play a part. That is pretty darn awesome!
I really liked this book. It compared our faith life to bonsai trees. It talked about how we are often restricting our faith life so we will never grow and how we make it appear as though we have weathered storms, but in reality we couldn’t survive the smallest sprinkle. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a unique take on spiritual growth. I want to leave you all with the following quote. I cannot add to it, so I will leave it as it is.
God’s love is not that narrow; it is wide, so wide that you have never met a person God does not love.
All quotes are from Sandras, Eric (2011-09-09). Buck-Naked Faith: A Brutally Honest Look at Stunted Christianity Navpress. Kindle Edition.
Last Wednesday the owner of Plate 21 asked me how many people were coming to my fundraiser and I wasn’t quite sure what to say to her. I told her that around 30 people told me they were coming, but I honestly had no idea how many would come beyond that. I was a little nervous about how many people were going to show up. I was a little nervous until I just felt a peace about the whole thing wash over my body. I knew God had it and no matter how many people showed up it would be a success. Little did I know how much of a success He was going to make it.
I’m not going to go into every detail about the fundraiser and why I viewed it as a success, but the success of the fundraiser did inspire me to dedicate the month of April’s blog posts to one topic, gratitude. If you are like me, you view gratitude similar to the way Randy from the Christmas story viewed meatloaf. My all-time favorite line from that movie is “meatloaf, shmeatloaf, double beatloaf, I hate meatloaf.” I can’t personally understand his hatred of meatloaf because my mom’s meatloaf is literally the best meatloaf I have ever tasted. It’s just plain delicious! That aside though, I have been known to view gratitude this way. I mean, how can I be grateful when I’m sick, or when a family member dies, or even when I want to be in Germany and yet I’m not. How could I have gratitude during these times? I am more likely to hate the idea of being grateful, so I want to take this month, no matter what happens, and view everything with gratitude and look to the Bible to see just how I have been directed to do so.
Today is purely an attitude of thanks like the Psalmist says in chapters 106, 107 and 136:
Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1)
It is easy to praise God for the good times and that is what today is, a good time. It is easy for me to praise God for the large number of people who came to my fundraiser to show their support of God’s mission for me. It is easy for me to praise Him for the new recipients of my newsletter. It is easy to praise Him for the donations that were made at the event. Just because it is easy doesn’t mean I always do it, or that since it is easy it isn’t necessary. It is necessary and I will say:
Praise the Lord! For He is good and His love endures forever! Amen!