Thursday, January 31, 2008

I used to hate English class, now, not so much!

This was written by one of the students in my youth group about Nicaragua and a child that had a huge impact on me personally, but our group as a whole. She chose to write the story from my perspective for her creative writing class. It is pretty cool. Shannon Rosedale is her name.

How could he ever trust me? I'm just some stranger. He doesn’t know who I am or what I’ve done or haven’t. I could mean nothing to him, but if he takes my hand, I could change his world. That’s what I am here for right, to help change the world. Maybe that’s where I’ve been wrong. Maybe the world was meant to change me. How could it be that, that little boy, that innocent, harmless soul change a man like me? Those eyes though, oh boy those eyes. Just look at them. You can almost see the waves crashing down in them, carrying all the fear and sorrow. He must leave behind it all, everything, his family, friends, home, culture, everything. But he will gain so much. If only I could tell him, if only I could make him see, if only I could let him know its ok, I won’t hurt you. Trust me. That hand there it is. Slowly yes, moving, fingers interlocking, storm in eyes clearing up, yes! He is looking at me no longer a dull brown filled with pain but a new life that had begun to be tendered with love and care and yes, trust. Trust in me, trust in my safety, trust in me to lead him to a future, to change, to opportunity. Yes, at last this is it. Finally, the world I see, no I was never sent here to change it but this boy, this fragile, resistant, angel, nice and kind and yearning. Eager for a chance at a new start believing and putting his faith in what, a newly wed youth pastor fresh on his own path of trust in the world, a man who has dedicated his time and life to helping others, a man who simply wants to care. Is no, not saving the world, but in fact being saved, by innocence, by love, by peace, by trust, by Franky.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Incarnational and Informational

In reaction to the article on "Incarnational Apologetics" how does this approach impact the way evangelism is taught and acted out in daily life? How do you balance "incarnational" and "informational" approaches to evangelism? Is there a connection?

I believe both are important to have. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 tells us that one of the effects of following Christ is “the old has gone, the new has come.” This speaks of a change and an “Incarnation” if you will for the message of Jesus. In Jude 1:3 we are urged by Jude to “contend for the faith.” In this we can find basis for why we must be “informational.” I think it is important that we keep a healthy balance of the two. It is very easy to spot the person who has nothing but knowledge and only wants to share how God created the world, Jesus was perfect, the Bible is infallible, and more. This person may have great intentions, but James tells us “faith without deeds is useless.” Surely we understand the other side of the spectrum doesn’t work either. It’s equally unhealthy to have only deeds and no knowledge of the foundations of our faith. My personal belief is God teaches us a lot when we do good deeds for the work of His kingdom. True religion isn’t something we have to defend. It is an action like James tells us. Do you ever think we are to busy reading a book to get the answer on how to defend our religious believes when the answer is maybe “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”?

Success in Evangelism

Bill Fay states that "success is not bringing someone to Christ, rather success is acting out your Christian life, sharing the Gospel and trusting God for the results." Do you agree or disagree? How does this affect the way one should do evangelism?

I believe in the statement “Preach the gospel always. And when necessary, use words.” I would assume that this statement somewhat agrees the question asked. I believe we are called to follow Christ. During our journey we are called to care for the poor, orphaned, and widowed. I believe there is a way to preach the love of Christ without using words and we as the American church have lost this art. I hear many people tell me that they hand out tracks downtown as evangelism. My mind wanders as I think to myself “has anyone ever accepted Christ from reading a track?” I believe in the power of the word and if the track contains scripture then I believe it has the power to transform someone’s life. On the other side of the coin I see how our culture has so many advertisements coming at them everyday. When we hand out a track are we just marketing Jesus? Why not market Jesus with our lives? Tony Campolo once asked, “Even if there were no heaven and there were no hell, would you still follow Jesus? Would you follow him for the life, joy, and fulfillment he gives you right now?” If you answer yes, then why in the world would you print a piece of paper or tell someone about Jesus when you could show other people the love of Christ through your life?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

God is the tortilla that holds us all together

So I recently camped out all night for free burritos for the whole year (totally worth it). Anyway right before we went in and recieved our free burritos for the year, there was a reported that wanted to interview me and I said some quite funny things that were qouted in the Washington Post (Sunday, January 20th issue). The quotes were also put on the Washington Post blog.

Just remember that I was cold and looking to make everyone in laugh (which they did) too take our minds off the cold.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

dirt and sweat

"dealing with lost people will cause us to get our hands dirty and sweaty just like tending to yard work. Part of evangelism is to clear up misconceptions and misperceptions people have about the gospel. Dealing with with people and evangelism is often messy." Discuss your reaction to this statement as it pertains to doing real evangelism in a contemporary world.

It's hard for me to believe that you haven't felt dirty in a literal or metaphorical way if you are a follower of Christ. I went to Nicaragua this summer and it was a life changing experience. I have so many stories about how sometimes you have to get dirty to show the love of Christ, but one in particular sticks out. We traveled to an Indian village called Krin Krin. It was a four-hour bus ride and a six-hour boat ride up river. Once we arrived in Krin Krin you could see the immense amount of joy and excitement because the gringos had arrived. Once we entered the village we as a group could tell that this village had many needs. All of their crops had been destroyed from too much rain. They were all hurting and looking for someone to come and take their mind off of the hurt. We were there for two days and on the last night we had a huge concert/party and invited the whole village. Everyone knew that we were going back the next morning and many were sad to see us leave. I was holding one of the girls who was probably six or seven years old and was talking to her through our translator Sheldon. She told me that she wanted to go with us to Puerto Cabezas in the morning because she needed to learn Spanish. I asked Sheldon how I should respond and he said that her family has probably seen a lot of poverty and knows that if she was to learn Spanish she might survive. I was literally at a loss. The fact that a six or seven year old understood they needed Spanish to get a job and be able to eat and survive astonished me. I held her as we talked through the translator and as I began to get more and more of her story I understood how much hurt she had. At one point during our conversation as I held her up on my hip she began peeing. At first I thought "€œoh my gosh she is peeing on me." Then I thought to myself if I put her down and shun her for this she will not see my testimony, but she will see in me what she has most likely seen her whole life.

Whether it is a metaphoric or a literal dirty, why do we always hesitate to get dirty for something we claim to believe so much in?

relationship and community

God created us to live in "relationship" and "community" with Him and with each other. Briefly discuss the importance of both terms and how they affect the way we do personal evangelism in a contemporary world.

Everyone, everywhere is looking to find relationships and build community. We all want to feel loved and significant and that tends to occur most when we are in community with others. If you take a look at all aspects of our current culture you will find community as much in culture as in the church. Why do you think sporting events and concerts are so popular? Some people find significance in large communities. I think it is awesome that XBOX 360 just came out with a new game called Rock Band. This game requires four players too each play a separate instrument, but play together in one band. Even the video game industry is grabbing a hold of the idea of community. Some people find significance in the smaller communities.

We as followers of Christ have many things in common with the world. We have a choice to ignore these things or to embrace them and quite honestly use them. I am a youth pastor and the first thing I do when a new student comes to church on Sunday morning is ask them what school they go to and then introduce them to the students we have that attend the same school. After this I will show them our game room and gym and explain how there is so much community here on Sunday nights and they are welcome to come join the community. There is comfort in community. So much of our world is looking for comfort from the pain they are going through. If we can create a sense of community (comfort) in our evangelism, and not stray from the fact that we were made for community, then we as followers of God may begin to see lives radically transformed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

the glass can only spill what it contains

Liar, Teacher. Lazy, Servant. Prideful, Humble. Angry, Patient. Complainer, Content. Worried, Peaceful. Sinner, Pastor.

How is it that I tend to live in separate worlds as a Christ follower. It is hard when you teach students to be the same in their schools as they are in the church, but you can't even do the same. Part of me wonders why I sin when I am told to "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Obviously perfection is a hard goal to achieve, but am I even striving for it?

I have heard many students say, "I respect your choice to be a Christian, but I don't think it is for me." Almost every time I hear the students say those words they have a tone that says, "I am not willing to change my habits." There is this concept out there that says in order to be a Christian we have to change all our habits (sin) before we can follow Christ, but yet as Christians we agree that we all sin. It's a pretty weird concept if you ask me. I look at the disciples and see how Jesus asked them to follow Him and their change was a process. Is this how our changes are suppose to occur?

We have made the two worlds just that, two worlds. We have not realized that while we strive for the perfection of our heavenly Father, there are lessons to be learned from our weaknesses and struggles. I am beginning to wonder how we can truly come to God just as we are when we are expected to change before we ever get there. Isn't it God's power that changes us and causes us to avoid sin and temptation?

I continue relying on God to change me and bring me through the process of sanctification and teach me so much about Him along the way. Part of what makes me strive to learn more about God and become more mature in my relationship with Him is that "the glass can only spill what it contains." I can only model for students the areas of my life that I have let Christ into.

Thanks to mewithoutyou for the inspirational line "the glass can only spill what it contains"

Justin Douglas