The Next Adventure

10 06 2010

I’m currently planning an adventure for me and Rebekah. (Can you really plan adventures? Isn’t spontaneity the main ingredient in an adventure?) Anyway, she decided she wanted to try her hand at backpacking. I used to backpack some when I was a teen in the Boy Scouts and with my dad, but that has been quite sometime ago! We are planning on doing the Art Loeb Trail. It will be a 3 day, 2 night trip. Hopefully my sister and her hubby will be joining us on this trip! Do me a favor and comment if you have ever hiked this trail or are an avid backpacker and give us some tips please!


Surprise Evangelism

20 04 2010

God gave me a new term based on John 4 and I want to share it here. Surprise Evangelism. This is only a synopsis of a sermon that I have developed around this passage. I have been wanting to teach evangelism to my youth group, but there are so many different methods available and most of them are great: Share Jesus without Fear, Evangelism Explosion, Faith, Roman’s Road, etc. They all involve certain questions to ask and steps to take. I’m so thankful for such methods because I certainly believe that they are necessary, but when I look at Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in John 4 I don’t see Him using any of these methods. Actually all I see Him doing is surprising people.

First, Jesus surprised the woman (vs. 9) when she came to the well at noon, but all He did is speak to her. He didn’t beat her with His big Bible, and He didn’t preach to her or condemn her. This is what many lost people expect evangelicals to do. It’s an unfortunate stereotype, but Jesus didn’t fit the stereotype. He simply opened His mouth and spoke to the women about physical water. Once Jesus had begun a conversation with the woman He was able to talk to her about spiritual things.

Next, Jesus surprised the disciples (vs.27). The NLT says they were “shocked.” Again, all He was doing was talking to the woman out of a spirit of love, but because society said that He ought not be interacting with her for various reasons, she and the disciples (Christ-followers) were surprised.

Application: When you love people like Christ did, you will not only surprise them, but you will likely surprise fellow believers. Many times Christians are intimidated by evangelism because they have been led to believe that they have to memorize so many questions and scripture references. While these questions are helpful at a certain point, and scripture is completely necessary, evangelism begins with love. If you do not know the Roman’s Road, it’s OK! All you have to do is love people and act in love towards them. The lost will be surprised and unfortunately many Christians will be surprised. Hopefully, you will be an encouragement to other believers. I encourage you to surprise people with the love of Jesus today!

I. The Surprising Jesus [use the map provided in a power point presentation]

[Read verses 1-4] At this point in Jesus’ life He desires to travel to Galilee from Judea (vs. 3). Due to the history of the development of Samaritan race, the Jews (Jesus’ people) took every possible means of segregating themselves from the Samaritans. Samaritans were a mixed race (part Jew, part Gentile) and because of this Jews hated Samaritans. Of the three possible routes that Jesus could have taken (one being up the coast line, another being crossing the Jordan, going up through Perea, and then crossing the Jordan a second time) Jesus chose to go straight through the center of Samaria.[1] Jesus chose to ignore the societal segregation in order to minister to people. Certainly His disciples that were traveling with Him would have been greatly surprised by the route He chose. Knowing the disciples, they probably even suggested that He go another route so that He could avoid interaction with the Samaritans. Jesus though followed the path that was most pleasing to God the Father and in doing so surprised a lot of people. Let’s see who else He surprised by His actions.

II. The Surprised Woman

[Read verse 5-9] When Jesus came to the well in Sychar He sat down because He was tired. When the woman came to fill her water pots, Jesus spoke to her. That’s it! He simply opened His mouth. It wasn’t something that caused Him a great deal of pain. He asked for a drink of water. He didn’t preach an entire sermon to her. He did not give her a lecture on the Bible. He did not tell her that she was going to burn in Hell if she didn’t accept Him as her savior. He simply asked for a drink of water.

Many times we think of evangelism as telling people that they have to get saved or they will go to Hell. While this is true theology, it is not how evangelism is done. Evangelism is accomplished through loving people and meeting them where they are at. That’s exactly what Jesus did. He met this woman exactly where she was at. She did not have to go to Jesus. He came to her.

Lost people expect Christians to “preach” at them and condemn them to Hell. That is an unfortunate stereotype that some misguided self-professing Christians have earned for Christianity, but we know that Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17). Therefore, when you simply reach out to people and try to meet them where they are and meet their current physical needs, you will surprise them. Surprise lost people with the love of Christ! He cared about this woman and He carried on a meaningful conversation with her about her current life situation [Read verses 9-26]. I also want you to see who else Jesus surprised.

III. The Surprised Disciples

[Read verse 27] When His disciples came back to the scene they were what? They were SHOCKED at what they saw! What did they see? Did they see Jesus beating a sinner woman with a Bible? Did they see Jesus making the woman cry out of shame for her sin? No. They saw Jesus, a Jew, talking to a Samaritan woman out of love. They would have expected Him to have ignored her and possibly even to have separated Himself from her with as much distance as possible, but Jesus spoke to her.

When you show people the love of Jesus, not only will you surprise lost people, but you will surprise your friends too! You will surprise fellow believers. Why? Because Christianity has been so infiltrated with society that we often take on the same actions as the culture. If the culture is segregated, then often Christians are too. If you rebel against societal norms, such as segregation and cliques, then you will not only surprise the lost, but you will surprise fellow believers.

Ideally, by you being like Christ, rebelling against societal norms, and surprising fellow Christians, then you will also encourage them in their faith to do likewise and act like Christ. Imagine if all of your friends and your entire youth group broke free from cliques at school and loved people like Jesus. What would happen? What would happen if you chose to sit with a completely different group of people at lunch tomorrow? What if you sat with the one kid that nobody liked, the one that didn’t fit into any clique? What if you simply spoke to them? Isn’t that what Jesus did? Wow! Imagine if your youth group did this together in your school or in your city. What if you surprised the people of this town with love? It would absolutely rock this town!


Now, I want you to partner up and come up with some different ways to surprise people with the love of Christ. I’ve already given you a few ideas to get you started. Come up with some ways that you can surprise people by yourself and some ways that you can do it with your youth group. In a few minutes we will come back together and share our ideas.

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, New Testament. Vol. 1 (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1989), 299.

Beach Week and the best concert ever!

15 04 2010

Rebekah and I were fortunate enough to take Avery to the beach with Rebekah’s family for week. It was a great trip! Avery really enjoyed her first trip to the beach. She wanted to eat the sand, which (“sandwich” lol) was a problem! She absolutely loved the water even though it was very cold. She wanted to run straight towards it. I have posted some pics below from beach week.

We came back from the beach in time to take our youth group to a concert at the Asheville Civic Center. It was by far the best concert I have ever been to, and I’ve been to many! TobyMac and Skillet were the headliners on the Awake Tonight tour. House of Heroes opened up for them. This was the third time that I had seen Toby and I had previously thought that he put on one of the best shows ever (and I still do), but Skillet totally topped him! Toby is very energetic and the Diverse City band is too. They do flips on the stage, crowd surf, etc. They have lots of lights and it’s kinda of a non-stop energy. Skillet has all of this, plus incredible pyrotechnics. They have explosions of fire, smoke, and elevating stages. The cake topper for the entire show is that both bands are unashamedly, unapologetically there to glorify God. They use hard rock (Skillet) and hip-hop/rap (TobyMac) to have a worship experience. It was truly an incredible time of head-banging and worship! I would definitely encourage you to check out these band if you ever get the chance!

Here’s  a slide show of pics from beach week:

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Hallelujah update

22 03 2010

So two weeks ago I informed you of our decision to try the Hallelujah diet (see my previous post for info). We have been fairly successful at keeping this basically vegan diet. However, we have decided to scale back and not be completely vegan for the time being. No, it’s not because we don’t like the food. We actually have really enjoyed some of the meals we have had, and I LOVE carrot juice (which we are going to keep doing). The problem with the Hallelujah diet is the expense. It took nearly 4 weeks of budgeted grocery money to buy 2 weeks of vegan groceries. It is unbelievably expensive!!! So, until we can afford the Hallelujah diet as is, we will be on our own modified version which will include some meats (chicken and turkey), and some dairy products. We are not completely abandoning this endeavor, only modifying it fit our budget. Thought you might like to know! 🙂

Oh yeah! I haven’t had coffee in 2 weeks! That is a major accomplishment for me!!!

Hallelujah…I think!

8 03 2010

Rebekah and I are embarking on a new lifestyle, and frankly, I’m a bit scared. We are attempting the Hallelujah diet together. She actually was on it faithfully for about six months, but then she got pregnant with Avery and gave it up. Now she and I both are going at it. If you are not familiar with it click here. It is actually based out of Shelby, NC where the Hallelujah Acres are (Rebekah and her mother took a class there on Saturday).

The Hallelujah diet is basically a totally vegan, raw food diet. 85% is raw and 15% is cooked. Nothing that comes from animals is permitted. Unfortunately this includes dairy products. [I’m getting depressed writing this!] We went to Ingle’s yesterday and bought a 25lbs. bag of carrots and the bag boy asked me if I had horses! Embarrassed, I told him ‘no’, that the carrots were for us. I get a glass of carrot juice for breakfast (instead of coffee – bye, bye, starbucks), but it was actually pretty tasty this morning. Rebekah’s mother and step dad have lived this way for about 3 years now and are very healthy as a result. Despite my negativity, I’m actually excited about living healthy. I have wanted to do this for quite sometime in an effort to be a good steward of the body that God has given me.

Anyway, I’m sure you will hear much more about this lifestyle change as I get more into it. Please pray for us as we do this, especially me!

What I’m Reading

16 02 2010

I want to take a minute to update you on what I have read and what I am currently reading. The last book that I finished was Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I highly recommend this book to those of you claiming to follow Christ. This book completely rocked my world.  Chan is an excellent, down-to-earth, communicator. He seems to have a tight grasp on what it means to love Jesus. No matter where you think you are spiritually, I encourage you to read this book!

I am now reading a book that is assigned reading for Theology 525 at LBTS. It is God in the Wasteland: The Reality of Truth in a World of Fading Dreams by David F. Wells. I am about a third of the way into the book. It is a much to challenging read to be considered pleasure reading, though it may be enjoyable to you if you appreciate theological study. I am personally enjoying it so far, although it quite slow.  Wells is basically identifying the hijacking of the evangelical church in postmodern America. It seems that it might be a profitable read for pastors and church leaders. I will try to give more information about this book when I finish it. Until then, happy reading!

“There’s God!”

22 01 2010

I have been wanting to write about this all week, but I’m just now getting a chance. This past Sunday, after church, Rebekah, Avery, and I went to the local Mexican restaurant, EL Pobre. As expected, when we walked in we saw several families from our church there. We were led to a table that was right beside one family from church that has two young boys. These boys are great kids and are very involved in our children’s ministry at church. The youngest shouted, “There’s God!” when he saw me. I couldn’t help but laugh! I think his parents were a bit embarrassed. He later said, “God has a mohawk,” again referring to me and my hairdo. I thought about the incident for a little while and I was deeply humbled. I have always known that children look up to me, but this made realize how elevated I am in some of there young minds.

The application that I gleamed from this event is simple: What impression do I leave on people? A child might mistakenly believe me to be God, but can an adult see God in me? They should be able to! Do I live a life that portrays Christ? Pastors: the kids in your congregation know who you are! They know that you are God’s messenger! You and I both better make sure that we are living like it! It was a humurous expeirience, but it taught me a valuable lesson!

I Hate Religion

14 01 2010

A few weeks ago I made this simple comment on Twitter and Facebook, “I hate religion.” I intended to draw a few questions from the curious, but it turns out that people with questions don’t ask them online (I don’t get that). Anyway, I want to explain that comment in this post.

Some question this comment simply because I am an unashamed, unapologetic Christian. However, I only mark Christianity as my religion on official documents. Christians are defined as Christ-followers. In order to be a follower of Christ one must have a relationship with Christ. Religion is a man-made concept that is filled with restrictions in the form of  do’s and don’ts, but a relationship with Jesus offers freedom. Religion is based upon man’s righteousness, and in a relationship with Christ is based upon the righteousness of Christ. Religious people perform good deeds in an attempt to merit salvation; Christ-followers perform good deeds out of a growing love for Him. Religion produces self-righteous hypocrites and I have grown to hate religion.

When God created Adam and Eve, He never intended for them to have religion, but He did intend for them to have a relationship with Him. Jesus had many dealings with religious people during His public ministry and His feelings towards them were not very pleasant either. In fact, He used very harsh words with them and was always extremely blunt about their hypocrisy and sin. In His day they were called Pharisees, and unfortunately, Pharisees can be found in 2010 in every denomination. I just finished an excellent book by John MacArthur called The Jesus You Can’t Ignore. MacArthur does an excellent job analyzing and studying each of the major confrontations that Jesus had with the Pharisees and His attitude towards them. If you doubt what I say about religion, I suggest you begin reading the Gospels and then as an aid to your study in God’s word, read The Jesus You Can’t Ignore.

Let me clarify further. I hate religion; I do not hate religious people. In fact, I love them with the love of Christ. I actually love them enough to explain the difference between what they have and what I have to them. I hope that I have successfully clarified my statement.

Book Recommendation

10 01 2010

Earlier this week I finished an excellent book by John MacArthur, “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore.” I have both negative and positive criticism about this book.

Its positive features are its theology and purpose. The book is actually a great commentary on several passages from the Gospels. MacArthur seems to me in my finite mind to be exactly right in his theology and Christology. The purpose of this book is to present the true identity of Jesus to Christians and so called Christians that have a much different image of Jesus. MacArthur addresses a post modern world and post modern preachers that want to paint Jesus as being a peace loving hippie who wants to get along with everybody and “agree to disagree.” MacArthur uses nothing but scripture to prove that Jesus was completely opposite of this. He had no interest in getting along with Pharisees and post modernist would strongly disapprove of the methods that Jesus used.

The negative aspect of this work is the language that MacArthur uses. He is obviously a brilliant man and he chooses to use a vocabulary that displays his education. I don’t think he wrote this way to be arrogant or to show off, but simply to produce a scholarly work. The book is obviously intended to be read by the academic circles. In other words, it is not very “lay-person friendly.” It was a very challenging book to read. He used many words that caused me to stop reading and look up. Reading this way simply means that it will take you a little longer to get through this book than normal (if you’re like me, but you are probably much more intellectual than me and have no problem handling this book).

If you are up for the challenge, this book will completely rock your view of Jesus and your view of conflict with false religions. I highly recommend it for pastors and ministers.

John MacArthur, “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore.”

Climate Change

27 12 2009

I have attached two photos to simply demonstrate climate change in my life in the last week. One is from last Saturday, Dec 19, and the other is from yesterday, Dec 26. I love it!