GenY Missionary: Share the Gospel Without Even Leaving Your Computer!

I just did a Google search of “gospel” and I saw, on the right sidebar, the “sponsored links” section.  The second link down said, “Spread the Gospel,” with the subheading, “Without leaving your computer sponsor a witness for Him now.”

It’s bad enough that we have teenagers who sit in the living room full of friends and text-message the ones in the kitchen.  It’s bad enough that blogs have become a pseudo-community for Christians who no longer “need” to go to a Bible study or seek face-to-face fellowship (not all of you, only some).  But, now, we are teaching people that it’s okay to not get up off your butt and spread the gospel with your mouth!  You can be a missionary — from the seat of your pants on the computer! 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all about giving money and supporting missionaries.  I am a missionary and have financial partners.  However, people who support me are also called to be a witness themselves.  What does the ad on Google communicate though?  To me, it communicates that you can sit at your computer, punch a credit card number in for a missionary you have never met and call it “missions” and “evangelizing.”

I’m sorry, but it is neither of those.  You know what it is?  It’s getting out of doing the dirty work.  It’s getting out of being in the mess of people’s lives and sharing and being the gospel with them.  It’s getting out of being the hands and feet of Christ to the impoverished and uneducated in third world countries and giving them a living hope for this life and the next one.  And honestly, that’s a tragedy. 

 

Jesus Came to Heal Us

From John Piper’s book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die

One day all disease will be banished from God’s redeemed creation.  There will be a new earth.  We will have new bodies.  Death will be swallowed up by everlasting life (1 Corinthians 15:54; 2 Corinthians 5:4).  “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 65:25).  And all who love Christ will sing songs of thanks to the Lamb who was slain to redeem us from sin and death and disease (p. 55).

In my last post, I wrote about Dave Jones, who went to be with the Lord today.  Right now, he is experiencing complete healing from all the painful effects of sin.  Truly, to die is gain. 

Even in Death, Jesus is Enough

Dave lived most of his life in opposition to God.  For over 60 years, he did what he wanted, how he wanted, and when he wanted.  My dad had known him for quite some time and when Dave became a Christian, Dad was awestruck.  Dave started coming to my dad’s men’s group on Saturday mornings.  One time, Dad called and said, “James, I never thought I’d be praying with Dave Jones at a small group.”

It all started Easter Sunday 2007.  Dave was sitting in the pew at church.  He said, “I just finally got it.”  Dave wasn’t saved and he knew that he needed to be.  God drew Dave to himself and saved him.  Dave received Jesus into his life for the first time.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  And I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44).

Dave had battled with cancer before becoming a Christian and this past winter, around late January or early February, the cancer returned.  He wasn’t in good shape after a few weeks.  His voice was raspy and fading due to a paralyzed vocal chord.  His strength was failing.  His energy was lower.  Still, Dave clung to Jesus.  He had a strong desire to live and he was learning how to desire heaven at the same time.  It’s human nature to keep fighting and be healthy.  We run from pain and hurt to safety and security.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9a).

I met Dave at one of the men’s times in Omaha.  Here was a 60-some year old man, yet a spiritual baby, conversing about life, cancer, holiness, and pursuing God.  It was beautiful.  Before I met him, I knew he had been fighting cancer and I told my dad to send him an article by John Piper called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.”  Piper had prostate cancer a few years ago so I knew it would come from first-hand experience.  After reading, Dave said, “I don’t know if I see cancer as a gift yet, but I’m learning.”  Dave was learning that Jesus was there for him, though for some reason he designed for Dave to have cancer.

The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21b).

Last week, Dave was hospitalized because his cancer was spreading and wreaking havoc inside his body.  My dad went to the hospital to see him two days in a row.  The second day, I called home, “How is he doing?” I asked.  “He’s 100% worse,” Dad said matter-of-factly.  As our conversation continued, I was so touched as my dad told the story about what happened in the hospital that night.  Here’s the e-mail he sent to his men’s group:

I visited with Dave for a couple of hours on Wednesday at the hospital.  Although he was very weak and in pain, he communicated very well.  We had a great conversation about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We read passages, talked about their meanings, and prayed.  Dave has concerns about his family and friends, especially Steve, his mentally retarded son.  I could tell that his heart and soul was ready to meet his Lord, because his concerns are focused on others and not himself.  Out of the blue he asked me about a mutual friend.  He asked if this person was where they needed to be.  “What do you mean by that?” I asked.  ”Spiritually,” Dave replied.  I told him probably not and he asked if I could talk to this person about Jesus.  Then, I told Dave, “I just talked to [this person] earlier in the day and discussed your life.  I shared the saving grace of Jesus Christ and how it [has] made all the difference in your life.”  The Lord is awesome!  But, I promised Dave I would talk to our friend again the next day and I did…As our visit came to a close, I wondered what I should say to him since I may never see him again on this earth.  So, in my mind I decided to say, “Brother, I love you and I will see you on the other side.”  But, before I could say my goodbye, Dave said goodbye to me first: “Tim, I’ll see you on the other side”.

That night, my dad sat next to Dave’s bed and read John 14:1-6.  Dad read, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  When he finished, Dave said in his raspy, cancer-stricken voice, “Read it again.”  I’m sure is nothing more special and comforting than to hear the words of Jesus being whispered into your ear when you are facing death.  It was the last time my dad saw him.  Today, Dave Jones died, and yet he lives because he is home with Jesus.

I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (John 11:25-26).

As I was reflecting on Dave’s life and death tonight, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why did God save him, give him cancer so quickly after, and then die very soon?  The only answer I could think of is that Dave’s life, despite being finished on this earth, will be used by God to reach others.  Dave did not get saved in vain and he did not die in vain.  Dave’s salvation experience is not a reservoir of spiritual residue.  Rather, God will use it to be a pipeline of blessing to those who knew Dave in order to draw people to his Son.

Dave’s love for Jesus, concern for others, and God-centered attitude in suffering will inspire others to consider this Jesus he surrendered his life to. Though his time as a Christian was short, it was not wasted. And for that, I praise God.

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Love Non-Christians, No Matter How Different They Are

I was looking through some documents on my computer and I stumbled across one with this single quote from a non-Christian friend of mine:

Christian people will welcome you with open arms into their congregations and make you feel special.  You will experience their friendship, love, and camaraderie.  That is, if you are also like they are.  If you share the same age, the same ethnic background, the same economic background, and the political views, they will accept you into their churches and religious groups.  If you do not have the same characteristics as they do, then they will ostracize you.

I can’t say I agree with that fully, but I can’t disagree with it either.  I know that Christians aren’t just “not perfect.”  We, like every other human, are infinitely far from perfect.  So, inevitably, we make mistakes and discriminate just like everyone else.  The only difference is that we have the power of the Spirit to overcome our selfish and prejudice tendencies.

Though this can be true, I feel that in Christianity today, there is a resurgence of putting actions behind our words in order that we can help others see and experience the kingdom here on earth as well as looking forward to the eternal reign of Jesus upon his second coming.  This happens so that they can “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).  The actions behind our confession doesn’t provide justification; they simply give evidence that we are in fact justified.  Otherwise, our faith is demon faith (James 2:19).

I want to live my life so that this quote is disproved.  I want to glorify God in all I do so that everyone would see the supremacy of Christ in my life and the genuine love I have (though not perfectly) for every person, no matter what differences exist between me and the other person.

PostSecret, at its Core, Shows the World’s Need for Redemption

I don’t know how many of you have heard of the book series PostSecret by Frank Warren, but I’ve read all four books available and let me say, it’s quite moving, disturbing, breathtaking, and spiritually heartbreaking.  PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.  People are mailing in secrets from around the world.  The rule is, the secret has to be true and never been told to anyone else.  The books simply consists of postcard after postcard of people owning up to their deepest, darkest, worst secrets.  Some are lame like, “I love you and I don’t know how to tell you.  I hope you read this.”  Others are serious wounds that are planted deep in the soil of people’s souls.  Here’s an example of one of those deep wounds:

In the original book, there is a red stamp above the title which says, “Free your secrets and become who you are.”  The link above is a blog where people can comment on the postcards.  I’ve read comments (in the books, too) to the effect of: “Since I’ve shared my secret, I have experienced so much freedom.  I feel so much better.”  If you feel as if you aren’t in the loop about this, don’t worry.  It’s not overwhelming society, but it is quickly become a cult-icon.

If these books have taught me nothing else, it teaches me even more the depravity of the human soul.  As I sat and read these postcards last night, I couldn’t help but be convicted at some of my own sins.  I couldn’t help but pray for some of the people.  I couldn’t help but cringe at the fact that human beings are capable of some of the things I read.  You can’t read these books if you can’t stomach some awful words, terrible pictures, and graphic illustrations.  This book, in a nutshell, shows us the need we have a for a Savior. 

You are waiting to hear what I think, probably.  Well, I think it’s good and bad.  It’s good in the sense that people are being vulnerable with others (even anonymously).  It’s good that people can express their secrets artistically and hopefully develop avenues to talk about them and “get it out there” instead of simply having it published in an “art” book.  With that said, there is a good-bad split here.  The book’s not all bad, but it’s not all good either.  It’s bad for one primary reason: there is no redeeming quality. 

People say they feel better and that their lives are “getting in order.”  Some even say this postcard has liberated them from fear, addiction, etc.  But what about the deep emotional scar tissue that continues to build on a person’s heart from a life-altering experience?  A simple postcard does not take away the wrongs committed by the person or to person.  I don’t mean to talk down on the people who wrote in to Mr. Warren — I could have written some of the secrets! — but I say this in so much love because people need something that can take away their sins, pain, tears, worries, hatred, frustration, and fears.  The only thing that is capable of doing that is Jesus.  Jesus is the only one who has righted wrongs and taken people from utter despair to abundant life.  The Bible puts it this way: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Everyone who sent in a postcard is a sinner.  Frank Warren is a sinner.  I am a sinner.  And the only thing that can take away these sins is Jesus.  The happiness that people feel when they write a secret on a postcard is so temporal.  The happiness that people will feel, apart from Christ, is simply a momentary burden lifter.  On the other hand, the Bible says, “You make known to me the paths of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).  If someone remains without Christ, no matter how much they change their life to be a “better person”, they are still in rebellion against God and need to be reconciled to him. 

Only Jesus provides the redemption, grace, comfort, security, and love that is longed for by every person in the world — and that is searched for with earnest by every PostSecret sender (otherwise they wouldn’t have sent in their secret).  Only Jesus can take the deepest, darkest, vilest, most wicked sins of a person and make them whiter than snow.  During his conversion, Charles Spurgeon listened to the minister as he looked right at Spurgeon and said, “Young man, you look miserable.  And you will always be miserable — miserable in life and miserable in death — if you don’t obey [the Bible]…Young man, look to Jesus Christ.  Look!  Look!  Look!  You have nothing to do but to look and live!” 

So if you are reading this and have sent in a PostSecret, or even if you haven’t, then I ask you to look to Jesus so your happiness can be secured for eternity.  Only he can take away your pain once and for all

A simple paper postcard cannot, nor will not, ever do that.