Daily Archives: December 30, 2004

Assurance Cloaked by Mystery

“God is our mystery, and at the same time, He is our assurance.” – youth speaker, tonight at 180

These profound words brilliantly capture much of my journey over the last year. The more I dive into my relationship with God, the more I discover that I don’t know.

With every question, I become more resolute in my faith. I can’t explain it. But I just know that I know that I know that the Christian faith is true. It is the only way to live life as God intended. God is connecting the dots through Scripture, current culture, nature, life circumstances, and His Church. I can’t wait to see where the future goes!

Rethinking Evangelism

The other day I had the opportunity to have dinner with an old friend. His name is Ryan, and he is working as a producer and video editor in Hollywood. Ryan and some friends are about to launch a movie project. I asked him if it was going to be a Christian movie. He kind of smiled and said, “No it’s just enough to be a Christian in Hollywood.”

As we talked about his life in California and what God had showed him, I was struck by his clear understanding of how to engage the culture. Instead of make a cheesy, B-grade movie with an evangelistic theme, Ryan believes that God has called him to impact the culture in Hollywood by simply being like Jesus. Ryan never passed judgement on evangelistic films or the typical outreach playbooks used by many Christians. But he does seem to be taking them to task by his lifestyle.

In many circles, modern evangelism seems to center around an event, ministry, service or program. Evangelism must be pre-meditated, convenient. Typical evangelistic outreaches include some kind of performance, free food, “Christian” music, free childcare, activities, etc. People come, give their hearts to Jesus and go. It’s so efficient. While there may be follow-up, most people focus on the event and the connection is typically lost. It may have been a great thing. But it could be so much more.

By comparison, Ryan’s approach is more relationship based. It is slower and may not be easy to quantify. But it makes a long term difference in a few lives. This could produce a ripple that impacts thousands.

It’s not that one approach is right and one is wrong. They both have their place. But I do feel that the modern Church has ignored relationship evangelism in favor or evangelistic events and crusades. Quick shots are not what many need to really hear the message of Jesus.

Thinking about the Hollywood that Ryan described. It is a place were celebrity is everything. There is very little loyalty and no real sense of family. He wants his production company to be a place for people to encounter a better way of doing business. Instead of yelling at people and using intimidation to get things done, which evidentally is typical for Hollywood, Ryan hopes to bring a sense of respect and community to his work. In Hollywood where there is a lot of fear because people mainly work on projects and have long period of unemployment or odd jobs, Ryan hopes to model a life of faith. In an industry full of drugs and escapism, he intends to show these things as mere counterfeits for the Holy Spirit and God’s power.

Our coversation is really making me rethink evangelism. Maybe my mission field might have been under my nose all along. Maybe it is every place I go and encounter that I have. Evangelism is not an event or campign. It is a way of life.

You can find Ryan’s Web site at: Tandem Arts

What Does It Look Like to Live by Faith?

Delving into the past can be a very dangerous thing. This is especially true when the past belongs to a stalwart in the Christian faith. Sometimes these heros of faith seem larger than life. They lived in a sphere that I wonder if I will ever reach. I have been thinking about faith today as I have been reflecting on the life of George Muller. Here is a man who truly lived by faith. And my best attempts at living by faith seem like faint shadows by comparison.

Mueller walked away from financial security to follow the dreams that God gave him. In college, Muller walked away from a woman that he loved to answer God’s call. From moment to moment, God continued to sharpen Muller’s vision and faith. Muller left sure things time and time again for the unknown of trusting in God.

Muller became a preacher and immediately went to work tearing down things He felt were not Biblical. He convinced his newly married bride to give up all of their fine things to provide for the poor. He abolished the practice of pew rent where the rich families paid a fee for the best seats. Muller did this because he thought the practice was favortism which went against the practices outlined in James’ epistle.

Muller took such a bold move even though it could his largest source of income. He had to trust that people would freely give. Some did. Some did not. Muller’s decision has a profoundly negative impact on his salary. But he continued resolute in his decision. One time he and his wife sat down at the dinner table with nothing to eat. They went ahead and prayed thanking God for His provision. After they finished praying, they heard a knock at the door. There was a man standing there with a ham for them to eat.

A few years later, he ups and moves to Bristol after hearing from God. In Bristol, Muller goes to pastor another church. This time he takes no guaranteed salary, splits the pulpit with a dear brother in Christ and abolished pew rent there too. God provides turn after turn. Then George gets a “crazy” idea to start serving breakfast to homeless children and share the Bible with them every morning.

Before long, the Muller household is filled with homeless, poor children each morning. George and his wife did this in faith even when they barely had enough food for their family. God always provided. Money and food came from nowhere. Then George had his wildest idea yet. He opened a school, orphanage and missions fund. Each of these endeavors took off even though there were a lot of naysayers along the way.

Through losing a child to enduring his own personal health problems, George Muller trusted God. He went and ministered among the sick in England when a bad cholera epidemic broke out. He did so even though it presented great risk to his own health. Reading about someone like Muller helps me see how small my faith is and how bit it could be.

I will never ever be George Muller. And I should never really compare myself to other Christians even though it is perfectly safe to be inspired by them. My only measuring stick is Christ. And while nothing I do is more than enough, He is everything I will ever need.

I am both humbled and challenged by Muller’s story. And yet, I must be careful. Muller’s story could condem and crush me if I am not careful. The devil would love that. I should not use it as fuel to go off and show God how serious I am about doing stuff to please Him. Earning God’s approval is something that I can never do. Instead, I should see it as a marker of God’s faithfulness and provision.

Muller’s story shows how much God believs in us. God invites us to be part of His miracles. I should recognize that Muller could have done nothing significant without God. My God is really just that big. And there is nothing impossible for those who believe.

Jesus, I believe. Help me with my unbelief. Forgive me for fearing man, debt, failure and the future. Build up my faith in You. Thank You for believing so much in me. May I hold nothing back from You. Keep me from being double minded. May I have singular vision, walking in faith and not by sight. May this all be done to Your glory. Amen!