A Broken Foot.

Last night I was driving home and noticed a man walking on the road. It was a residential area so I thought maybe he was just taking a walk, but nevertheless I just rolled the window down and yelled, “Hey, do you want a ride?”

He quickly agreed, although he only needed to get a few blocks. I introduced myself, and he responded. His name was Kyle. He quickly told me that he appreciated the ride because he had a broken foot.

I probed and asked some questions. I learned he went to the ER and got the X-Rays to know it was broken, but couldn’t afford to go to the Orthopedic doctor and get surgery. I asked, “How broke is it?” He responded, “I broke it pretty good.”

When I dropped him off, I naturally offered to pray for his foot before he left.

He not only agreed, but took the chance to ask for more prayer. “Yes,” he said,” and would you please also pray for my grandma? She’s not doing very well.”

I prayed and then wrote my name, phone number, and email on a napkin in my glove box and said, “I’d love to hear what happens to your foot and your grandma. Keep me posted, Kyle.” If he does, I know he’s even more receptive (a person of peace).

It’s amazing how much people want Christians to pray for them if we just offer.

At our county fair a few weeks ago, I was involved with a prayer booth in the merchant’s tent. We set up a booth with a large sign that said “Free Prayer” and a smaller sign that read, “We are Christians that want to pray for you – no strings attached.” Lots of people stopped by asking for prayer.

Think about that – we just identified ourselves as Christians, and people were receptive and wanted to ask God for help by asking complete strangers to pray for them.

How much more receptive will people be if we make our Christianity known to our classmates, coworkers, or friends?

I Shouldn’t Have Been Surprised.

Today, I had an hour to blow before a product I purchased was ready for me to pick up. I ran over to Petco to get some dog food for my huge dog. I knew I still had 55 minutes to blow after that so I was going to run to Starbucks and chill on my laptop.

As I was backing out of the parking space I prayed, “God let my hour be useful for you – let me run into somebody that I could minister to and be a shining light for you.”

I put my truck in “Drive” and began to move forward and made eye contact with a Hispanic man that was walking right in front of me in the parking lot. I waved him on and he moved the direction I didn’t expect him to like he wanted to talk to me.

This is right after I prayed and asked God to let me connect with someone and minister to them. hmmm…. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I rolled down my window and talked with the guy. He asked how far away another town was, because he was expecting friends to come from there and pick him up. I told him how far away it was, and then he asked for money for food – he hadn’t eaten all day.

Okay so I’m not trying to paint myself as a Saint or something. Of course I was skeptical. Is this guy just trying to get a freebie? Is he just some illegal alien leeching off the system? But especially since I had just prayed for God to do something like this, I took the bait – cautiously.

“Sure. I’ll buy you food – but I won’t give you money.”

That didn’t phase him one bit. He said, “Okay, that’s great!”

So we just drove over to McDonald’s and I bought him a value meal and sat and had a conversation with him. More than I thought possible I spoke to him in Spanish, believe it or not. His name was Romero. Born in Texas, raised in Mexico. I asked him a million questions about where he was from, how he got here, where his family was, what he’s doing here, etc. I will admit for the first 5 minutes I was expecting him to stumble over his answers and get caught in a lie. But he didn’t. I really believe he was telling the truth. I really enjoyed meeting him. In the discussion I became aware that he was nominally “catholic” (like many Hispanics who grew up in Mexico), but from my perspective his religion wasn’t any deeper than “his parents were catholic, so he must be, too.” And that’ not really anything at all.

Romero was someone I wanted to help, and in this situation I considered him a Person of Peace. That’s what Jesus called it. The idea is that wherever we go, we should be ready for a person of peace, someone that shows some receptivity to the gospel. These are generally people that are going through a challenge, crisis, or change. When we encounter someone that might be a person of peace, we should bring up the Gospel in a small way to see if they’re interested — which really isn’t that difficult considering how applicable the Gospel is in situations like these. If they aren’t interested or show no signs of receptivity, forget it (shake the dust off your feet). (A person of peace is often someone that you already know, but suddenly becomes more receptive to the gospel. My situation today is my situation. I kinda have to be more outgoing if I expect to find a Person of Peace because I work in a church. Your person of peace might be some guy in the desk next to you who is going through a divorce or some other challenge, crisis, or change. If you want more examples of people of peace in the Bible – check this out).

So there I sat with Romero. I told him that I know God loves me, and I believed God loves him. I wanted to demonstrate the love that God has for him by purchasing his meal, “This food represents the love that God has for you.” (I said it in Spanish! You should have heard me habla!)

Keeping in mind the discipleship process discussed in my previous blog, I believed I was a part of God’s bigger plan for Romero. We said our goodbyes and I told him I’d pray for him. And we left.

And then I came here to this custom coffee shop to review it! In hindsight, I really wish I had prayed for Romero right there before leaving. He shared a hundred things I could have prayed for with him. No reason I shouldn’t have.

I’m living a mission! Join me!

Your Mission.

I almost titled this blog “Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept it.” Then I erased the second part because if you chose to follow Christ, this is your mission. Today I’m going to re-examine the great commission, because I think we may have limited it; our perception might be off. (Many thoughts in this blog were inspired by content in Alan and Deb Hirsch’s book, “Untamed”).

First let me provide this visual of the “Engels Scale.” It acknowledges a process people undergo in coming to faith and growing in Christ (don’t get caught in the details, the point is that there is a PROCESS):
-6 Awareness of supreme being
-5 Initial awareness of gospel
-4 Positive attitude toward gospel
-3 Personal problem recognition
-2 Decision to act
-1 Repentance and faith in Christ
+1 Post-decision evaluation
+2 Incorporation into Body
+3 Growth in Jesus
+4 Communion with God
+5 Stewardship
+6 Reproduction

Our mission comes directly from Jesus. Summarized, our mission is to make disciples. In other words, our mission is to help people along towards a +6.

I think we err when we consider discipleship (or the Great Commission) as only getting the unsaved to Christ; getting people to a “0” on the scale.

I also think we err when we consider discipleship as only what occurs after we receive Christ. I think discipleship is the full process from -6 to +6. I am arguing that we have two types of discipleship: (1) Pre-Christian Discipleship and (2) Post-Christian Discipleship. This is our mission; and what Jesus modeled with his disciples.

So what’s that mean for us?

1) I think we should be discipling everyone we come in contact with; truly living out the Great Commission every day and in every place. We should be discipling people even without them knowing; showing God’s love in every situation.

2) I think we need to recognize the value in our “neighbors” moving from a -5 to a -4 without being disappointed that they didn’t make the jump all the way to “0” after one conversation.

3) I think we need to live and think like we are on a mission. Because we are. Living with this perspective is really kinda exciting! What will God do with people who are willingly ready to disciple?

You’re a Christian? Prove it.

I believe that being a Christian requires faith and actions. That’s not to say we’re not saved by faith alone — we are. But faith that saves us is never alone. Faith without actions is dead, and isn’t going to save anybody. With that said . . . .

A few weeks ago as I went to bed it occurred to me that there was absolutely nothing about my life that day – other than my job – that would have been Christ-like. I didn’t consider God at all in my day. I didn’t help anyone. I didn’t pray for anybody. It was a pretty selfish, Godless day. There was NOTHING about my life that day that was different than someone else who wasn’t a Christian. (I also believe that true Christianity should revolutionize your life; so this really bugged me).

I began asking myself almost every day, “Did you do anything today that would demonstrate Christ’s love in action?” or “Did you do anything today that any other ‘good person’ wouldn’t have?”

This has been a good check for me – and has caused me to seek God more than before. It’s also causing me to live more like I’m on a mission. Christians are — you know — on a mission. I’ll write more about this soon.

Tonight my pastor posed the question: If you were accused in court of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Ponder that. How is Christ changing your life?

Exactly What DOES Jesus Look Like?

I am reading a book right now called “Untamed” by Alan and Debra Hirsch. In the first section, they make a case for “Untaming” (our perception of) Jesus. I thought this was very interesting. (For the record: I think Mark Driscoll is the man! But I also agree with this excerpt).

A recent example of reimaging Jesus was supplied by Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll. He has become somewhat infamous for his portrayal of Jesus as some sort of ultimate fighter. But in attempting to “butch up” [our perception of] Jesus and make him appeal to “real men,” has Driscoll come close to creating Jesus in his own image? Consider this from one of his sermons:

“Latte-sipping Cabriolet drivers do not represent biblical masculinity, because real men — like Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist — are dudes: heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes. In other words, because Jesus is not a limp-wristed, dress-wearing hippie, the men created in his image are not sissified church boys; they are aggressive, assertive, and nonverbal.”

Now we don’t believe Mark’s original intention was bad. What he was trying to do is rescue Jesus from the overly feminized ways in which Jesus has been portrayed. We would agree and also want to rescue the image of Jesus from this. … But the problem with Driscoll’s ultimate-fighting Jesus is that Jesus has been freed from one distortion only to be captured by another.

It cannot be but a distortion. Is Jesus really some “punch-you-in-the-nose-type dude”? And is that really the model and type of Christlike masculinity to which every man should aspire? We think not.

I’m in full agreement. I prefer not to sweat when I work. I’ve never been in a fight. And I like lattes.

Was Jesus a manly man’s man? – You bet. But he was also kind and gentle. What if an effeminate man (with or without same-sex attraction) wanted to find salvation through Jesus? Does this demonstrate that our Jesus isn’t okay with him?

Jesus came to identify with all of mankind. Let’s be careful never to tame that.

The Bible Is NOT Authority.

Okay I’m so glad the title got you here.

But before I get lynched for heresy, please allow me to explain myself.

When it comes to discipleship, growing, sanctification, and discovering ultimate Truth – the Bible IS the authority. Hands down.

Let me digress for one moment with an illustration: Imagine a blended family in which a child looks at his new step-dad trying to give guidance and yells, “You’re not my dad!” In this instance, the step-father has authority, but he doesn’t have authority. The new son doesn’t recognize it yet. The father yelling back, “I am too your father now do what I say!” isn’t really going to help anything. The child needs a relationship with the (step)-Father first before he’ll recognize his authority. Okay now back to the Bible thing . . .

What about when we are sharing Christ to someone that doesn’t believe the Bible? It used to be that Billy Graham could preach an evangelistic message and constantly say, “The Bible says …, The Bible says …” and people came in droves to get saved. The Bible held authority to them (they grew up saying it in school, for crying out loud). But that doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. We’re beginning to work with a post-Christian society that doesn’t give a hoot what the Bible says.

If we expect our unsaved friends to accept Jesus we need to speak to them with authority they’ll recognize – our experience. Our experience with God — how God has changed us — that’s authority to our friends that ignore what the Bible says. It’s pretty hard to argue your experience. Share it with someone!

Once you’ve shared your experience and your friends are interested in more, bust out the Bible. 😀 Through the authority of your first-hand experience, they’ll be more willing to accept what you place authority in. And just like a step-father and son, once there is a personal relationship, it will be much easier to rely on the authority of Scripture.

Once again, for the record, I am in no way saying that the Bible is not the authority for Christians. It absolutely is. The title of this blog was intentionally misleading. I feel a little bit bad for that … but not too much because it did get you to read this all the way through. 😉

Napoleon Dynamite Evangelism

I was listening to a podcast the other day of an interview with the president of a large publishing company. He said that their new marketing technique is “good product.” He says that the communication between customers has become so great, their advertising is less effective than ever before. Check out his example:

If a bad movie gets a ton of hype before its release, it still won’t do well. There will be a few people that go and see it, but after the first night, they’ll Tweet, Facebook, text their friends, and “Rotten Tomato it” about how much it sucked and the movie will become a flop.

Conversely, a good movie with NO HYPE at all can still do pretty well and gain a cult following. Like Napoleon Dynamite. I think that movie might have done better on DVD than it did in the theater! Think about your own experience with Napoleon Dynamite (if you’ve seen it). Did you see an advertisement or did someone else tell you? As I think about it, I was told by my brother, who was told by his brother-in-law, who was told by several other people I’m sure. I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a Napoleon Dynamite advertisement — but I sure have heard a lot of people talk about it!

In the same way, the publishing company believes their best method of marketing their products is to just make a good product. Once someone uses a great product, they’ll spread the word. And its working quite well for them.

That got me thinking about Christianity. (I hate to think of the idea of Evangelism as “marketing” and “selling a product” because its NOT that — but nevertheless I think its a good analogy and illustration to communicate another meaning). Is the best “marketing strategy” for Christianity a good product?

Kind of a funny question – but it is something to think about.

Here’s what I think: Yes, the best “marketing strategy” (evangelism method) IS a “good product.” I mean if people are searching for Truth, they’re GOING to find the “best product.” However that’s not all. I mean – Jesus put together the “good product” already, and it can’t be improved upon. The only reason the “good product” will “sell” is because people spread the word about how great it is — just like the Bible says.

Boom – and that’s the key. Spreading the word. Fortunately, never before in history have we been in a better position to do it. Unfortunately, we often “weenie out” and don’t say anything.

There ARE many groups that aren’t scared to share what they believe. Here’s a great example!

The Greatest Hope for the Future of Christianity.

I was recently asked, “What is the mission field of your church?” (In this post I am referring specifically to our local mission field).

I immediately thought, “That’s easy – DeKalb County.” Others from my church would probably give a similar answer — a geographical location. Perhaps you might give your church the “mission field” of a demographical target – like “young adults” or “Hispanics.”

Dr. Hunter of Church Doctor Ministries showed me how wrong that was. Let me quickly explain why.

Firstly, these answers are incredibly institutional, and the days of the church functioning primarily as an institution are numbered. Church must become less of an institutional organization and more of an organism; a family. You see, if you declare your “mission field” as a location, you’ve immediately cut off all personal relationships.

Secondly, the Bible doesn’t say anything about the Church Leadership/Organization having a mission field. The instructions for Church Leadership/Organization is to equip the people. The command for Christians (the real Church, not a building) is to go and reach the lost.

With that said, I would like to join Dr. Kent Hunter in redefining our church’s mission field:
Our mission field is the sum total of the networks of every individual in our church.

That leads me to the topic of this post: The Greatest Hope for the Future of Christianity. It’s the contacts list in our cell phones!

Cell phone, tweets, Facebook, blogs. Mankind has never been THIS networked ever before in history. The mission field of my church is my network! Your network! I have an unsaved friend in another state – THAT’S our mission field! I have no idea who you are, but my subscriber list keeps rising and rising — I’m networked with you declaring Truth and we don’t even know each other.

The greatest hope for the future of Christianity is the Church (the people) being networked together with more people (many who are searching for Truth) than ever before. Our networking makes the future look bright — if we use it.

Please understand the greatest hope for Christianity is Christ. Period. I am in no way denying that. But I’m talking about the greatest hope for the FUTURE of Christianity – the spread of it.

The White House.

Isn’t it interesting how one thing can represent something else much more specific?

Think about it. We may hear, “The White House says ….” is this a modern day miracle? Did a building miraculously grow lips and begin speaking? Of course not! We know this is refering to what the president and his policies have said.

There are lots of examples. “Washington” often represents the legislators, the individuals. “the pentagon” is another place yet it often refers to the generals and military officials. The employees at the Fort Wayne GM plant refer to their bosses at corporate headquarters by saying something like, “We will wait to hear from Detroit.”

And when [insert your name] says or does anything those around them should know that they’re representing Jesus.

Wouldn’t it be cool if our names were synonymous with “a word from God”.


Okay so Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in Redding California) got a phone call from a rather upset lady who said, “Ugh, I’m down here at the mall and nobody’s prayed for me yet. A friend told me that if i just went to the mall someone would be here to pray for me and I’d be healed. I’m here- nobody’s prayed for me yet.”

Bill Johnson had to give her directions to the church (his church prays for people to get healed A LOT… they literally are the healthiest county in the nation – nobody is sick – for real). lol.

another group came to Bill Johnson and said, “We want to be a part of your mall outreach ministry.” Bill replied, “Mall outreach? What are you talking about?” They said, “You know … all those stories you’ve told about people getting healed at the mall…”

Bill Johnson replied, “oh, our church doesn’t have a mall ministry. We just have people who shop.”

Welcome to NORMAL Christianity!

I dream of the day when someone asks if they can be a part of New Hope’s Evangelism team and I’d just have to say, “Sorry, we don’t have an evangelism team, we just have Christians.”

I dream of the day when someone asks about our student ministry healing program or our school outreach program that initiates evangelism activities in schools … and I can only say, “Sorry, we don’t have those. We just have Christian teenagers. They just do all of that on their own.”

I dream of the day when a Christian can pray for someone to be healed, or pray for them to receive Christ, and when the other person asks “Are you a Pastor,” they Christian can just respond, “Nope. I’m just the run-of-the-mill Christian.”

I’m not just dreaming. I’m praying. And I believe that day is coming very soon.