#BagThePeak Challenge Coming Monday!

TRC Magazine and bagthepeak.com have come together to create this awesome challenge. A few people were let in on it early so we can make this challenge go viral. While ALS had their controversy with embryonic stem cell research being done and a small percentage of the donations being used for research, #BagThePeak challenge is about raising awareness for #missions (International Sports Federation) to raise funds for bagthepeak.com, but also to spread a positive message and help you see that the obstacles or fears in your life aren’t a roadblock, but instead, something you can learn from and overcome. This can be anything from trying a new sport, smashing a spider, climbing a new and difficult trail, or doing a creative project that requires skills you aren’t sure you have.

The fact that you tried says a lot about your courage. I hope you will join us. The challenge will go from Monday, September 1 til the end of the fundraiser on Saturday, September 27, when a group hike will happen to the top of Mount Humphreys in Arizona to celebrate sports missions and bagthepeak.com fundraising. Information will post tomorrow how to do the challenge. Please participate. Make this a fun way to spread a positive message and make people mission-aware, because missions is every Christian’s responsibility. Recognize your own apathy.

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Ex-Muslim Review

Diversity usually has a negative tone. One relates it to tolerance to everything except Christianity. It’s what liberals use, but indexEx-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever by Naeem Fazal gives a great definition of it through his actions without compromising the Gospel.

Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever is written in a friendly, warm, and conversational tone. The book begins with Naeem’s story in Kuwait before the war. As he tells his story, and how he came to know Christ, Naeem also goes into the beliefs of a Muslim. Naeem goes on to explain how he started Mosiac Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. People who attend are not necessarily believers, but from varying cultural backgrounds. As Naeem tells his story, he also teaches how to reach the lost, how the church confused him, and the bumps he experienced when he launched Mosiac.

I read this book during an electronic fast. Even as I prepare for my own ministry next year, I am encouraged by his words. A person always assumes people who attend church are saved, but that is not the case. Jesus doesn’t expect people to come to Him after first expunging their own sinful behavior; Jesus just says come, and if you come, you will change out of love for a Savior who first loved you. What Naeem writes about reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis:

No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.

—Letter to Mary Neylan (January 20, 1942)

What Naeem wrote helped me to clarify the vision of Cataclysm, and therefore, Ex-Muslim will remain in my library for re-reading as I grow to understand how to open the eyes of the closed-minded. I gave this book five stars.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Mission Strategy: Coloring Outside the Lines

19-08-6In taking the advice of a friend to further my education in Bible and Missions, I am reading Developing a Strategy for Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Cultural Introduction (Encountering Mission) by J.D. Payne and John Mark Terry. What strikes me is how it resonates so closely with my goals.

To paraphrase a paragraph I read at 4% through:

The Spirit interrupted Paul’s plans to plant a church in Philippi (Acts 16:6-7). I think immediately of my past ministries that had a short shelf life of 2-5 years. I was interrupted because, while these ministries were good, God had something better being planned. The writer continues on this subject:

“An example of this paradigm would include taking a tract-distribution strategy that the Lord used greatly in a highly literate part of the world and applying it in a predominately oral setting. Although the Gospel message contained in the booklet is God’s Word, relevant for everyone, the strategy would not be as effective when applied to a society primarily composed of oral learners.”

The Standard Solution the writers talk about appears to be a common exercise in church. Like what the authors conclude 5% through the book, the Standard Solution, “fails to take humanity and society into consideration.”

I’ve been hearing and reading how people are leaving the church. I’ve observed how church continues to work in a traditional sense to reach non-believers or the unchurched with programs, expecting people to come to them. It’s kind of like, “Check! We did this program! Evangelism effort done.” It’s evangelism on their terms without taking into consideration the need for love from the surrounding community; the gaping spiritual hole in the lives of the untouched and unsaved. The Standard Solution of church programs forget the relationship aspect of evangelism. Relationships take effort and time and is not age-restricted to young or old. It is not the responsibility of the leadership of the church to reach out, but rather the congregation. Neither do I see the mission quote, “Go where they are,” often exercised in the effort.

“Go where they are,” means becoming uncomfortable and learning the cultures in the people groups in your country and in foreign countries so the power of the Gospel in the lives of others becomes overwhelming, and not a barrier. That means the cultures of people groups in your own communities, whether they are white or some other race; people in our communities come from different backgrounds, both normal and dysfunctional. Going where people are means also going to the online world and engaging the culture who, like me, believe is another community; just as real as the real world. Going out of your comfort zone is not merely creating another church program in your building, but in physically seeking out unchurched and unbelievers in your community.

It means putting aside your pride and prejudices to learn new technology to engage others online, using your experience and knowledge to cultivate relationships; or perhaps, getting involved outside of your church in some secular position to get to know and learn the language of the world in order that you may help them understand the holiness of our Father. Church programs are okay, but it should not be the only strategy used for reaching people.

If we only have church programs, how is that challenging your congregation  to get out of their comfort zones? It seems to me that church programs keep congregations in their comfortable place rather than challenging them to do something non-traditional.

Let’s color outside the lines and think outside the box in our missions strategy. Jesus walked 13,500 miles before He began His ministry. After beginning His ministry, Jesus walked an additional 15,000 miles. He went where He was needed, and the online world needs a few hours of your time.

Cataclysm Missions International wants you. More information will be given to you later. Meanwhile, let me ask you: Is your primary reason for using social media to sell something or your church? Or is your first focus evangelism or discipleship? Are you in competition with other ministries and churches, or are you working with them for the greater goal of furthering the Gospel?

 Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Causing a Barrier to the Cross

Romans 14:13-23 is a familiar reference most use in regards to drinking alcohol in front of someone that suffers from alcoholism, but I was reminded of this scripture again when I read pages 22-23 of Ex-Muslim by Naeem Fazal:

“It would be easy for me to walk away from Islam and never look back, but looking back is precisely what I must do if I am going to engage Muslims with the gospel. I need to remember my heritage, and I need to be conversant with the belief system my culture is founded upon. This knowledge enables me to have intelligent conversation and to keep the dialogue going toward truth.”

Muslims are offended by images of Christ on a tract. Naeem said he wouldn’t give a Muslim a tract because Muslims look at representational art as idolatry. Jesus is a sign of my faith. Naeem says they would think we are worshiping an idol if we gave them a tract. It reminded me of the above scripture in Romans how we shouldn’t cause someone to stumble on the way to the cross. There are many ways to talk to others about Christ, and I would never have thought about educating myself on other cultures or beliefs as a way of reaching others for the gospel. By understanding what offends, instead of learning in order to defend, doors previously closed to the gospel may open.

Especially when we take the time to get to know the people and speak from a place of love. Over and over again, Naeem reminds us that we need to get to know people on a personal level. People aren’t a project or a ministry. They have histories and Jesus loves them.

Perhaps I need to contact a missionary friend and make a visit to him in Phoenix, to spend some time with foreign students? I have so much to learn before the launch of Cataclysm in 2015.