End It Movement

Today, February 27th, is being used as a day to highlight the scourge of modern day slavery.

Why the 27th?


For starters, best estimates of the number of slaves right now is 27 million.

That is 27 million people that don’t have the freedom to come and go as they please. People that live under fear and coercion, who suffer violence or the threat of violence daily.

They may be child sex slaves in southeast Asia or eastern Europe. It might be a family stuck in bonded labor in India, trapped on a brick kiln. It could even be an immigrant held against their will in the United States.

I’ve long advocated for the fight against modern slavery. It breaks my heart to know that their are people caught in such a horrible web. It hides in the dark, so it takes a lot of people shining the light to help expose it.

Please take a moment today to educate yourself a little on this issue. In my sidebar on the right I have listed several organizations that work in the fight against human trafficking and modern slavery.

Twitter is a great place to find organizations that fight this. Some that I know about are:
@IJM – International Justice Mission
@EndItMovement
@NFS – Not For Sale
@SavingInnocents
@AgapeIntMission – Agape International Missions
@TraffickingEnd
@TheSoldProject
@TheA21Campaign
@ECPAT – ECPAT International
@F2W – Free2Work
@SomalyMam
@Polaris_Project
@Love146
@FreeTheSlaves
@GEMSGirls
@CNNFreedom – CNN Freedom Project

There are others out there. It only takes a minute to look one up and find out what you can do in daily life to make a difference. If nothing else, put a red “X” on your hand today. When people ask you what it means, tell them you’re shining a light on modern slavery.

Most of all, pray for the victims. Pray for those on the front lines of the fight. Pray for justice from the God of justice.

We can make a difference!

Let’s do it.
—-

Is Missional “The New Legalism?”

There’s a post from World Magazine making the rounds in Christian circles by Anthony Bradley entitled, “The New Legalism.” He wrote it in response to a tweet he sent out that said:

“Being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matt 22:36-40).”

 He goes on to decry the people that call for Christians to live missional lives and to walk in a radical Christianity. He makes a case that it comes from Millenials disdaining the suburbs they were raised in and the narcissistic world we live in now where everyone is special and needs to do grand things for God in order to be fully walking as Jesus walked.

I saw it posted by Mike Duran and Jaime the Very Worst Missionary, both mentioning it as an interesting read. It is a thought-provoking piece, but I think it is a flawed premise that misleads by focusing on a few points in exclusion to the whole context.

There are some areas where I agree with Anthony. I came of age in Christianity in the Charismatic/Third Wave movement of the 80s and 90s. Well-meaning preachers would call us the Joshua Generation (Psalm 24) and proclaim how we would do great things. Prophecies were made (it was Charismatic after all) and I was encouraged that I could be a leader/teacher/missionary and so on. I believed I had a call to missions, and I did two stints with Youth With A Mission in their Discipleship Training School and School of Biblical Studies.

Something happened in Bible school. God told me to get a skill. I went into medicine, thinking it could open doors for the mission field. Except…I got married. Now, I married my best friend who had also been in missions, and she taught school which would be another great tent-making opportunity. Except…we started having kids. And I had school loans. We bought a house.

All of a sudden I was settled down into a suburban life. I went to church on Sundays, tried to establish my career, coached kids in soccer, and wondered when I would get into missions, my real call.

This is where I agree with Anthony. In the Charismatic stream I came from, greatness was the promise we were told God had for us. I could see myself traveling and teaching, ministering in different countries. There was some narcissism there. Prophets never seemed to say, “You’re going to live a boring life in the town you grew up in.” There was always more suggested.

The problem was that basic commitment to serve the Lord in whatever way He called us. I was always willing to do whatever, or at least that’s what I said. Still, I had my idea what that meant, and I struggled when things didn’t go that way. If I had a heart for missions, why was I still in the U.S.?

Then last year things were turned upside down in our lives.

We found ourselves in a like-minded group that didn’t have expectations of going to a regular church and doing the “typical Sunday things.” We asked God what we could do. He gave us the Outreach Saga, where we met locally in the midst of a low-income housing area and worked with people that felt on the outside of church.

In the midst of this upheaval I’ve started following people like Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Francis Chan, and David Platt, people associated with groups like the Verge Conference. Verge talks a lot about missional, radical Christianity. And Anthony wonders if too much pressure is being placed on young Christians, teens and college students, to do something extraordinary in their lives. If they don’t do certain things, they aren’t being the best Christians they can.

Anthony creates a straw man argument here. Yes, if leaders are telling people that you can only live for God if you do a certain set of things, it is a form of legalism just like the Pharisees. The problem with this is that it is an extreme and not the norm, as far as my perspective goes. I think Anthony has a particular theological slant against David Platt as evidenced by his review of Platt’s book. I don’t know all of Platt’s teachings, so there may be more here than I realize.

However, Anthony’s article makes it sound like every Christian is being told by the missional/radical movement should move to the inner city, do social justice and artistic work, and give up worldly possessions to proclaim the gospel.

You know what. Why not?

I think it comes down to being obedient to what God calls you to do. If it is to work in a successful law firm and make money so you can support other ministries and causes, that is great. If it is to volunteer your law skills to help victims of trafficking, great.

Anthony seems to be asking for a corrective. Americans are very into themselves, and I know that some of the theology and teaching/prophecy from my early years tickled my ears more than spoke of true discipleship. But doesn’t the church in America need awakening?

I have many friends that give up so much for the sake of the gospel. I have other friends that love God but segment their lives and don’t live in the fullness I believe God has for them. They travel out of town to a large, fancier church with a gifted teacher as the pastor to worship and get fed…and that’s it. I know they go there so it can be no muss, no fuss. They don’t have to get involved with the church, because it is large and they are anonymous. They don’t have to get in the midst of people’s messy lives if they don’t want to.

I fear this is a large segment of American Christianity. Thus I believe a call to discover missional living, where people are intentional in all they do in order to be used for the Kingdom, is sorely needed. I see the need for Christians to be called to “radical” Christianity. The issue is that it shouldn’t be radical in the first place – it should be common-place of a disciple of Christ.

The intro to Anthony’s article states:

Is Paul’s urging to live quietly, mind your own affairs, and work with your hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11) only for losers? Do you feel that you’re wasting your gifts if you “settle” into an ordinary job, get married early and start a family, or live in a small town or suburb?

I did struggle with this for a time. I knew God was an extraordinary God, and I wondered if I was missing out. I was faithful serving in my local church, and walked with Him the best I could. Slowly I realized there are seasons of testing or training, and there are seasons of adventure. I knew in my head that we are all missionaries wherever we are, but now I am living it in my heart as I work among the people at the housing complex. I don’t have to travel or speak to large groups. I am allowing God to use me to target a small, specific group of people, and it is right where I am supposed to be. I don’t worry about not fulfilling my call, because I know I am now.
God can use us in so many ways. But “living quietly” in the above verse also must be alongside “take up my cross and follow Me.”
I’m glad I read the article. It sharpened my thinking in this arena. But I disagree with the premise that a missional or radical emphasis is inherently legalistic. My blog is called Spoiled For The Ordinary. We may live an “ordinary” life. But our God is anything but ordinary, and I believe all Christians would do well to see the crazy love He gives us and then go and do likewise. 
 —

Special Offer From Frank Viola

Hey, I’ve been following a lot of stuff by Frank Viola in the last year, and I’ve been tremendously blessed by his work. His latest book just came out. Check out below for more information and a special offer if you order it before May 7th.
Frank Viola’s new book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, has just released. If you get the book between May 1st to May 7th, you will also receive 25 FREE books from over 15 different authors.
Click GodsFavoritePlace.com to ordering information and easy instructions on how to get your 25 free books.
GFP3Dlarge
Recommendations
“In Frank Viola’s hands, the story of Lazarus—like Lazarus himself—once again comes to life. In a world where hope is battered and life can so easily beat down the human spirit, we are reminded once more of the possibility of becoming a host of Life.”
John Ortberg, pastor and author of Who Is This Man?
God’s Favorite Place on Earth realigned my heart toward Jesus and His mysterious, confounding, surprising, beautiful ways. It’s not often I learn something new when reading a book, but Frank Viola’s sharp storytelling and insightful interpretation made me hunger for more of the real Jesus.”
Mary DeMuth, author of Everything: What You Give
“God’s Favorite Place on Earth is the kind of book I’ve discovered I need to periodically find and read. Frank Viola’s pen and voice are consistently both penetrating and trustworthy. Beyond his invitingly beautiful writing skill—which makes reading a joy and a sight-seeing tour that brings God’s Word into 3-D when he relates narrative passages, I’m grateful for the depth of his themes.”
Pastor Jack Hayford, Chancellor of The King’s University, Los Angeles
“This is a masterfully engaging book that distills the vision of the Christian life into one focused quest: To be God’s favorite place on earth today. I recommend this little volume to all Christians and Christian leaders.”
Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker
“Combining masterful storytelling, historical knowledge, biblical insight and practical wisdom, Frank artfully uses the Gospels’ depiction of Lazarus and the small town of Bethany to lay out a beautiful and compelling vision of a God who longs to make every human heart and every church ‘His favorite place.’ This is a beautifully written, timely, prophetic work all would benefit from reading!”
Greg Boyd, pastor and author of Benefit of the Doubt
“A lot of people write books, Frank writes stories and in this one we once again see why he’s such a master. Honored to call him a friend, excited to call him an author I love to read.”
Jon Acuff, bestselling author of Start, Quitter, and Stuff Christians Like 
“Frank Viola surpasses himself in his best book yet—a work of serene, soaring magnificence. Part novel, part biography, part theology, part Bible study, Frank’s imaginative touch and command of prose haiku leaves the reader resolved more than ever to be a Bethany—God’s favorite place on earth.”
Leonard Sweet, Drew University, George Fox University, sermons.com
“Reading God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola, my soul began to burn from Chapter One. To delve into Lazarus’ heart and thoughts … I received a beautiful glimpse into the life of Christ on earth. Lazarus’ stories make a perfect foundation for God’s truth, God’s intimacy. I can’t wait to share this book!”
Tricia Goyer, USA Today best-selling author of 35 books
“In spite of my Ph.D. in Theology, I had never considered the importance of Bethany in the life of Jesus.”
Phil Cooke, media consultant and author of Unique
“The best thing I can say about Frank Viola is this: When I read his books—and I read them all—I don’t think much about Frank Viola. I think about Jesus. And I learn to love Him more. This book is no different. Read it, and you’ll find yourself thinking, if you’re like me, ‘I knew Jesus was great, but… Wow!’ And that, at least from me, is as good as it gets.”
Brant Hansen, Radio personality and blogger 

CSFF Tour – Broken Wings Day 3

Day 3 of the CSFF Tour – the wrap up day.

We’ve been featuring Shannon Dittemore and her latest book,  Broken Wings, second in the Angel Eyes trilogy. I introduced the book on Monday, and gave my overall review yesterday.

I wasn’t quite finished though.

Being a Christian novel, there is another layer to consider when reviewing or discussing a book like Broken Wings. There are the spiritual underpinnings of a CBA book to explore.

Faith can be applied as one layer of a multi-layered story. It may be more of a base layer, the foundation of what happens, but not as apparent on the surface. This would be a book where a character is a Christian, but overt aspects of faith aren’t featured in the story. Or it may be a novel written with the idea of a Christian worldview without explicit statements or actions of Christianity. I wouldn’t say these are any less of a Christian novel, but the story has another purpose. It isn’t dealing with the specifics of faith and belief.

Other novels are Christian from specific content. Whether it is set in a church community, a crisis of faith, or a conversion story, the author wants to explore themes and ideas of faith and religion. The layer of faith is close to the surface, easily discernible.

Since Broken Wings deals with angels and demons, it is not the former.

It is a criticism if a book forces the faith aspect when it isn’t natural to the story. It comes across as preachy. Thankfully, Shannon has created an organic exploration of faith, fear, and living for worship in her series. Brielle is on a journey of faith, and throughout she has ups and downs. She can see into the spiritual realm, what Shannon terms “the Celestial.” It is the crux of the plot.

It doesn’t become a gimmick. The spiritual life is a beautiful thing in Broken Wings. By ascribing colors to emotions and spiritual aspects of life, it allows for imaginative descriptions of what happens in the unseen realm. Worship shows colors dancing in ribbons and waves that captivate Brielle. More than having “angel eyes,” she can sense the spiritual. She can smell worship. Rich scents accompany worship. Hearing the angelic worship draws her and calls to her. Brielle may not be a singer, but as a dancer she expresses her feelings in movement, and this is a precious depiction of a way of worship that is not always appreciated in church today.

The descriptions are rich and varied, but the themes resonate with power. I don’t want to spoil things, so I won’t explain each one, but one theme is sacrifice. As the little cherub Pearla notes toward the end:

“It’s the greatest expression of love, she knows, to lay one’s life down. But she wonders if humans know just how unique the ability is to do that. Death is not something an angel has to offer her loved ones. How glorious it must be to have one’s days numbered by the Father.

How precious it makes each and every one.” (page 259, emphasis mine)

What a statement to consider. Wow.

In short, Broken Wings is exactly the type of Christian YA fiction I would want my daughter to read. Now, she’s only four, but I will be saving these for her.

That’s all I have for this tour, but there are other great people talking about this book – just go to Becky Miller’s page to find other posts. And remember how precious each day is.

Escaping The Zombie Life

The Walking Dead just ended.

I actually can’t watch horror shows with things like zombies. My imagination is too active and too sticky – I will retain what I see and it will keep coming back to me. Don’t like it, so I don’t watch them.

But in honor of the cultural zeitgeist that is The Walking Dead, let me share some thoughts on zombies. And yes, this is for Mission Mondays!

Zombies are such a big deal in pop culture right now. I did try to watch Zombieland in the past to be up on things. In the movie the main guy, Columbus, has an attractive neighbor in apartment 406, whom he silently crushes on her. As things start going crazy in the world, he finds her banging on on his door, asking to stay with him. She barely escaped an encounter with the undead, and wanted some company after her trauma.

They dozed on the couch, but Columbus woke up just in time. Miss 406 apparently had a closer call than she let on, because her eyes were sunken, her skin was pale, and she hungered for more than his company.

He jumped away just before he got more than a playful nibble on his ear. I suppose he got away as it was too early in the movie for the hero to die, but I couldn’t deal with the suspense and violence of her chasing him around.

This is something I can control – whether to subject myself to something like that movie.

Still, the zombie theme makes me think of the struggles we have in the Christian life.

See, she didn’t come in to his apartment intending to munch on him. She was infected by a virus (as most zombies are) and she was driven to fulfill her flesh. Desire for flesh. Whatever.

Have you ever felt like this – not able to control what you want to do? At least we’re not alone. We have good company in Paul.

Romans 7:14-24
     We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
    So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

The sin nature in us is powerful. Paul is talking to Christians in this passage. These aren’t people who need Jesus – but people who have already found Him. In Romans 1-8 Paul talks about the three stages of Christian life – the full process of salvation.

  1. Justification – The initial entrance into the Kingdom (what most people think of as salvation, when our debt is paid).
  2. Sanctification – Discipleship; growing in Christ. 
  3. Glorification – Eternal life in heaven.

So how do we get out of walking in the sin nature?

Galatians 5:22-25 tells us about the fruit of the Spirit. Beautiful attributes are listed: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. However, as my pastor has said recently, we are not responsible, nor are we able, to live the Christian life.

We can’t manufacture the fruit. I have an apple tree. I can talk nice to it. I can encourage it, exhort it, but I can’t get a nice red apple unless – there is death.

I’m amazed at my compost pile each spring. The dead leaves and grass make rich soil, helping life come to my garden and fruit trees. So it is in the Christian life. We live by dying.

Francis Shaeffer says in his book The Finished Work of Christ says, “Jesus didn’t die on the cross just to die on the cross. Jesus died on the cross in order that we might be redeemed. Likewise, we are not called upon to die daily just in order to be dead;, we are called upon to die daily in order that we might experience the reality of being alive with Christ” (p155).

We will see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives by dying to ourselves.

Romans 8:10-13 says:
    But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
     Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

I’ve heard this termed the “resurrection life.” If we can submit to the Holy Spirit day by day, we can walk in the life intended for us – not the life we struggle through.

Schaeffer says, “It means that, through faith, I am to die to all things both good and bad, but then to take my resurrected body, as though I had already been raised physically from the dead, and step back into this present world, to serve in the power of the indwelling Spirit” (p188).

We won’t be these physical bodies that are shuffling around waiting for the grave. Salvation is not waiting to get into heaven. Like I said, that is the third aspect of salvation. As Schaeffer said, we can live as if we’re already in that state. It becomes a battle to submit or yield everyday.

Romans 6:12-14
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

“You and I have the possibility every moment of our lives to hand ourselves to the Lord, to be that out of which He will bring forth all that is wonderful. ‘Yield yourselves’ (the phrase from Romans 6:13 in the King James for ‘offer’) is an ‘active passivity.’ People are naturally afraid of that which is only passive, but we should be afraid of that which is only active as well. Our calling is to active passivity. God will bring about our sanctification, but we are called to be active partners in the process as we yield ourselves to Him” (Schaeffer, p172). 

This is a major challenge to us as modern Americans. We like our individuality and our own initiative to carry us. I wake up most every morning with an agenda, whether it is to work hard, play hard, or even veg. If we can learn to submit day by day to the Spirit’s leading, we won’t be mindlessly shuffling along in our lives, but we can truly walk in the glorious adventure God has for us. Even if we have to do something – work, care for family, etc. – if we give it up each day. He can make something new with it.

Our fruit will grow as we let the Spirit lead. The fruit will come in season, and provide what we need at that time. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)

I didn’t intend to follow a zombie metaphor through my whole sermon. I was going for a hook, but it certainly is one that can be used to speak Kingdom truth. Not that I’d recommend any zombie movies as spiritual guidance.

Most Influential Book of 2012

In my last post, I shared my favorite fiction books from 2012. Fiction books can be very influential as well, but there was one non-fiction book that helped with a paradigm shift in how I thought about church and its mission.

The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating The Missional Church by Alan Hirsch was recommended to me over a year ago by my friend and former pastor Brian Harrison. I didn’t read it until this year when my friends and I started into our Outreach Saga. A group of us had left our former church and were looking into what God had for us.

As we started to meet together and tried to hear from the Lord each week, I was also reading this book. It truly opened my eyes to ideas that I hadn’t considered in a fleshed out manner before. Sure, through intuition and talking with other people I had touched on ideas from The Forgotten Ways but I wasn’t getting the full picture.

Hirsch discusses how the model of Christendom we operate in nowadays in modern evangelical culture (for the most part) is not necessarily how the early church (up to 300 AD) did things. From 300 AD to now the church developed hierarchy and structure that was adopted from Roman systems. They worked in a Christian culture context of Europe in the Dark and Middle Ages, even through the Renaissance and Reformation. However, now that our culture is post-Christian and pluralistic, it cannot meet the changing forces in the world in an adequate way.

The majority of the book describes his theory on how church should operate. Through the complex diagram to the right, he shows how the church needs to function. Stemming from the Lordship of Jesus are the five hubs that continue to expand out and encompass the life of a Christian and the community of believers.

Hirsch has worked in missional fields for a long time and has spent a lot of effort into this study. From the Biblical basis to historical activity and modern theory involving organic systems, he brings a thorough and convincing argument for the need to discover forgotten ways and to fully reactivate the life believers need to have today to fully reach the people out there.

In writing this post I am not doing the book justice in a short summation. Perhaps my testimony will help spell it out. As I read the book, I realized that as we tried to reach out to a needy sub-group in our community, we needed to be willing to risk and try new things in order to touch the people. Instead of being a controlled environment where one person (the pastor) speaks and runs the meeting, we’re developing a time of sharing with each other from the Word and our own testimonies. In this way everyone in the meeting has the potential to share something that another person may desperately need. I know I don’t have all the answers in life – that I don’t have the exclusive on God. In relying on the body of Christ to be the body, I’ve seen the strength it brings by allowing others the opportunity to step up when they have what is needed at the time.

I had a reawakening through reading this book and studying Scripture alongside it. I haven’t had a book challenge me like this in many years. It is an easy choice for me to recommend it to anyone who’s wondering if there are better ways of doing “church.” There are better ways, but we’ve just built human structures onto things that should be organic and not just formed into boxes. For an introduction into this, I can’t do better except to highly suggest reading The Forgotten Ways and seeing if it speaks of His truth and the reality of the world today. I think it does both.

So here’s to 2013. May there be many excellent books in your future, and may you dare to take a risk for Jesus in your life in the coming year.

Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Tebow Haters

Here we go again.

I’m a big football fan, but I generally try to keep it off this blog. I’m not willing to turn this into a sports yak place.

Still, I have to comment on the continued hubbub that surrounds the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Tim Tebow. #15.

The man is polarizing. That much both fans and detractors can admit. I can see the points on both sides as far as his football acumen goes.

His throws are often inaccurate. He runs at the first sign of trouble. The offense generally looks miserable for a good portion of the game. Still, he is 4-1 as the starting quarterback. His late-game heroics against the Jets were amazing. You can’t deny the kid’s will to win and competitive attitude. And I suggest people compare Tim’s stats to those of John Elway in his first starts – interesting to say the least.

If you’re picking on him for his unpolished football skills, I say that’s fair game. But the people that spew personal venom and attacks at him are boggling my mind. I’ve seen comments on the internet (by people hiding behind anonymous “screen names” I might add) that hope he is caught with a prostitute or some other compromising situation.

Why is this?

My opinion is that he is not afraid to stand up for what he believes. And some people are not comfortable with that. Jake Plummer, the ex-Broncos QB, complained this week that people get that Tebow loves Jesus, and he shouldn’t keep mentioning it. So self-promotion is acceptable, but when someone wants to mention Jesus, that needs to be kept private.

There are many people anymore who think faith is fine for others, if they keep it to themselves. You can believe in Jesus, but don’t wave it my face. It has gone from don’t talk about religion and politics in polite conversation to not bringing it up at all. Don’t witness to me, don’t even bring it up.

Then Tebow walks what he talks. I don’t blame our culture for being sick of Christians who spout religion and don’t actually follow through with it (this could be considered “taking the Lord’s name in vain”). But Tim Tebow is a man of faith. He has spent time volunteering in orphanages oversees, he has a foundation that supports numerous worthy causes, and he is never negative when discussing his attackers or those who spew hate toward him. He is a good witness to what he believes.

Personally, I think Tebow brings conviction to people. They are not living the life that they should, and they know it. When you see someone like Tebow come along who is bold in his faith and lives it even bolder, it strikes at their own failings. Instead of listening to the message, they attack the messenger.

I think Tim is strong enough to handle this – not because of his power, but because of the Savior he lives for. I’m tired of seeing it though. People are entitled to their opinions, and if Tim doesn’t pan out as an NFL quarterback he will have more to live for than most people who ever don a pro uniform. But be real if you’re going to criticize him. If you don’t like him because of his faith, why is that? Don’t go with the surface answer – that you don’t want to hear others’ religion. Why do you REALLY dislike it? Is there a deeper reason?

I dare you to be honest. 

Tebow Haters

Here we go again.

I’m a big football fan, but I generally try to keep it off this blog. I’m not willing to turn this into a sports yak place.

Still, I have to comment on the continued hubbub that surrounds the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Tim Tebow. #15.

The man is polarizing. That much both fans and detractors can admit. I can see the points on both sides as far as his football acumen goes.

His throws are often inaccurate. He runs at the first sign of trouble. The offense generally looks miserable for a good portion of the game. Still, he is 4-1 as the starting quarterback. His late-game heroics against the Jets were amazing. You can’t deny the kid’s will to win and competitive attitude. And I suggest people compare Tim’s stats to those of John Elway in his first starts – interesting to say the least.

If you’re picking on him for his unpolished football skills, I say that’s fair game. But the people that spew personal venom and attacks at him are boggling my mind. I’ve seen comments on the internet (by people hiding behind anonymous “screen names” I might add) that hope he is caught with a prostitute or some other compromising situation.

Why is this?

My opinion is that he is not afraid to stand up for what he believes. And some people are not comfortable with that. Jake Plummer, the ex-Broncos QB, complained this week that people get that Tebow loves Jesus, and he shouldn’t keep mentioning it. So self-promotion is acceptable, but when someone wants to mention Jesus, that needs to be kept private.

There are many people anymore who think faith is fine for others, if they keep it to themselves. You can believe in Jesus, but don’t wave it my face. It has gone from don’t talk about religion and politics in polite conversation to not bringing it up at all. Don’t witness to me, don’t even bring it up.

Then Tebow walks what he talks. I don’t blame our culture for being sick of Christians who spout religion and don’t actually follow through with it (this could be considered “taking the Lord’s name in vain”). But Tim Tebow is a man of faith. He has spent time volunteering in orphanages oversees, he has a foundation that supports numerous worthy causes, and he is never negative when discussing his attackers or those who spew hate toward him. He is a good witness to what he believes.

Personally, I think Tebow brings conviction to people. They are not living the life that they should, and they know it. When you see someone like Tebow come along who is bold in his faith and lives it even bolder, it strikes at their own failings. Instead of listening to the message, they attack the messenger.

I think Tim is strong enough to handle this – not because of his power, but because of the Savior he lives for. I’m tired of seeing it though. People are entitled to their opinions, and if Tim doesn’t pan out as an NFL quarterback he will have more to live for than most people who ever don a pro uniform. But be real if you’re going to criticize him. If you don’t like him because of his faith, why is that? Don’t go with the surface answer – that you don’t want to hear others’ religion. Why do you REALLY dislike it? Is there a deeper reason?

I dare you to be honest.