Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Power of Stories

Stories come in many ways, and out of anything we encounter in our lives, stories remain with us the longest. I doubt I will ever forget the story in the Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, or Shakespeare.

Stories are especially prevalent in Arab Culture. The more details, the more visuals the better. And in Arab Culture, stories are the highest form of truth.

So when I found myself sitting in an open garage/patio with two friends talking to a family of Muslims, I told a story.

"Yes you're right, we do have similar commandments. Let me tell you a story from the Injil (New Testament)"

I then led in to telling the story of the Rich Young Ruler who came to Jesus and asked "What must I do to gain eternal life?" Jesus asked him if he kept the commandments, then told the prince that he must go and sell all his possessions and come and follow Jesus. The prince left. I then switched gears and told the family of the story of Nicodemus and how he came to Jesus and asked what must I do to inherit eternal life. Jesus' reply "You must be born again."

The family listened intently to every detail I related from the two passages, and also to the explanations I gave. Later after more homemade cookies and lemonade we left.

We then had a story to tell others about the way the Spirit led us and set us up that night.

Monday, June 14, 2010

With courage and boldness

This week I’m in Michigan with a team from NC and Indiana. We all came here from various backgrounds to engage Jesus through intensive training. Each morning we’ll be absorbing teaching and in the afternoons we’ll be heading out to parks to use what we learn to share Jesus with people of other faiths.

Many of us have never attended a seminary, Bible college (Bridal college, great nickname Lauren) served as missionaries or taken courses in persuasion and evangelism. Neither did the disciples.

Imagine this scene. For three years the disciples followed Jesus, eating, sleeping and moving from one town/village to another. Then in a whirlwind, Jesus is suddenly arrested and days later crucified. The followers scatter like leaves in the wind. Then just as suddenly news is spread by witnesses that Jesus is alive, risen from the dead! Soon after he appears before the very men who he spent three years of his life with. After an all too short time, Jesus then ascends into heaven, leaving them with the great commission to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

The greatest task entrusted to humans was first entrusted to fishermen, and a tax collector, among a few other vocations. No charismatic political leaders, or men of brute strength and size here. Just ordinary every day folk.

The church then exploded, three thousand joining their number in a single day, another two thousand join days later after the healing of a lame man. The disciples quickly gained the attention of everyone in Jerusalem, even the very people who crucified Jesus.

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

Peter and John were certainly not of the same caliber as say Abraham Lincoln, but became the instruments the Holy Spirit used to spearhead the greatest revolution on the face of the earth.

How in the world did this happen?

“…they took note that these men had been with Jesus”

The disciples lived and breathed Jesus for three years of their lives, then beyond that as well.

Brothers and Sisters, for us to also share the Good News, we don’t need to be a minister, to have studied public speaking at a college, or any skill for that matter. We simply need an intimate walk with Jesus himself. Not once a week, but every day. Jesus isn’t some wise old timer sitting on top of a mountain waiting for those who climb up to impart bits of wisdom. Jesus is mobile, only by following him closely daily can you remain by his side.

Spend time with Jesus today. Now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I planted watermelons about the beginning of April. Since then, the seeds I planted have come up, and so have the weeds. I used the same seed as last year, but didn't plant quite as many. Half of the seeds were probably past their time, as they failed to sprout, but the rest did, and currently the best of them have vines spreading out, and probably within another 3 weeks I'll begin to see some melons starting the size of a thumb growing. I expect to have a few ripe around the end of July and the rest in August.

Two weeks ago I started carrying water out to them in a cooler with a spout that I can then pour the water out with, my makeshift watering can. Carrying water became necessary because we've been dry here in Carteret. Most of the rain always passes us to the north.

I've also started trying to keep the weeds at bay, which is quite a task even with a garden hoe. Working to oust the weeds has kept me thinking about the parable of the weeds. You can find the Parable here.

It is quite true that had the workers pulled up the weeds they would have pulled up the wheat too. I myself found this out first hand. Some weeds had come up encircling one of the watermelon plants and were threatening to choke it out. In puling them up to save the plant, I unearthed the watermelon root a little. The damage wasn't bad I believe, but I replaced soil around the plant as best I could. When last I checked the plant was thriving.

I've also learned that taking care of small weeds prevents bigger weeds from cropping up. This bears a lot of truth for the Christian. We cannot allow even little amounts of sin to take root in our lives, and remain. In time each will grow and take deeper root, until they are hard to purge, requiring force.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:14-16