Books I’ve Read Recently

41Lj7+G9HnL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Pleasing People by Lou Priolo. I ran across this book back in college but never took the time to read it until recently. In this book Priolo addresses an issue the majority of us struggle with – the desire to please other people. The first half of the book is dedicated to helping the reader see why this is such a problem. What many will find in this section is that even people who say “I’m not a people-pleaser” usually are to some degree. Priolo does a great job at pointing out how we all struggle with this issue to some extent. The second half of the book deals with the solution to this problem which is to be a God-pleaser. This section, and throughout the entire book really, is a call for Christ followers to be driven by the desire to please God rather than man. This is a solid book I’d encourage every Christian to read at some point.

41dlBhPCZiL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_God Space by Doug Pollock. This is by far one of the best evangelism type books I have ever read. Pollock offers us an approach to sharing the Gospel that I believe is highly effective and needed in our culture today. In this book Pollock helps us see how conversations with people open the door for us to share the Gospel. His aim is for Christian to create what he calls “God space” through intentional, spiritual conversations. This book serves as a guide to having those types of conversations. It’s extremely practical and easy to follow. I was also encouraged by the amount of stories and illustrations Pollock used to show how this method works. This is a book that will reshape how you go about sharing the Gospel. I’d encourage every Christian to take a peak into this one as well.

701142Secret Power by D.L. Moody. I’ve never read a book by Moody until this one. I enjoy reading classic books written by men and women of God who have gone before us. Like most of those books, this one didn’t disappoint. Throughout this book Moody helps the reader see how the Holy Spirit works in and through the life of the believer and the church. It almost serves as a doctrinal book on the Holy Spirit but doesn’t just stay in the “theological” realm but spends a good bit of time in the practical realm as well. Moody points us to timeless truths about the Holy Spirit that where not just needed in his day but ours as well. Readers will everything from some characteristics of the Holy Spirit to how the Holy Spirit works in our witness for Christ.

Another book I read recently that I chose not to review was Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul. I am currently reading The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, Kingdom Come by Sam Storms, and The Skinny on Communication by Jeff White.

Thoughts on Kony 2012

A few days ago I decided to watch the Kony 2012 video that has been showing up on everywhere on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (If you have not seen it, click here to watch it before you take the time to read my thoughts). I enjoyed the filmed and walked away with very mixed emotions. Instead of blogging right away I decided to wait a few days and let my mind process the film and the whole Kony 2012 movement all together. Because of the mixed emotions I have for the Kony 2012 film and movement, I am going to share my initial  thoughts on here.

1. Kony 2012 shows the power of social media and how we can use it for good. The film made it clear that social media was the main hub for growing the Kony 2012 movement. The video alone was making waves on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter the day it was posted. Kony 2012 shows us that social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can be used to harness a world-wide movement for something good.

2. Kony 2012 shows us that young adults will rally around a cause. This movement should teach us something important-young adults and this younger generation is not apathetic. They are looking for a cause to fight for and something to rally together for. The question is-what are we telling them to fight for? Social justice? Freedom? Poverty? These are all good things, but these are not the things that will truly change the world. This leads me to my third thought about Kony 2012.

3. Kony 2012 is not the Gospel. I’m not saying that we should not join movements such as Kony 2012, but we shouldn’t allow these movements to take the place of evangelism and rallying around the Gospel. My fear is that social justice, such as Kony 2012, are becoming a substitute for the Gospel. For example, I believe we should raise money for clean drinking water for those in third world countries. But providing just clean drinking water is not going to truly bring change. Yes, they will live a bit longer and maybe be more healthy, but they will die and spend an eternity without God. We must provide them with clean water in order to share the life changing truth of the Gospel with them. Social action should be done for the opportunity to intro the real message-the Gospel of Jesus! Rich Yauger makes the point about Kony 2012 not being the Gospel like this:

Social action and justice-driven activity is NOT the Gospel. Those who receive salvation are not always those with the most banners flying. Tons of people will climb aboard the Kony Express and never know the love of Jesus and the power of His forgiveness. Likewise, tons of people will love and follow Jesus, and not participate in the KONY 2012 campaign. I know that seems harsh and I’m not at all saying that social issues don’t matter or that Joseph Kony should be left alone. Of course not. But we need to understand that you can love Jesus, watch the KONY 2012 video and choose to not sign the petition. You can know nothing of Joseph Kony and still be welcomed into the family of God, the forgiveness He offers, and the eternity He has prepared. I’ve seen the enemy use campaigns exactly like this to drive wedges between Christians because some feel passionately about a particular issue while others don’t.

I hope I am not coming across too critical or negative about the Kony 2012 movement. I believe in justice and believe we should seek to see it in our world, but we will never see it happen apart from the Gospel. Once you have seen the movie, take some time and pray. Don’t jump on the Kony 2012 bandwagon without first taking some time and allowing all the details and facts to sink in. If you feel the desire to be apart of Kony 2012, by all means go for it and have passion for it! But if not, it is not the end of the world. Make sharing and promoting the Gospel something that is a part of your life, not just when a new movements pops up on your Facebook timeline or Twitter feed.

Here is the link to the video: Kony 2012 video on YouTube

Here are some other great thoughts on Kony 2012:
Rich Yauger’s guest post about Kony 2012 on
Tim Challies thoughts on Kony 2012
Vernon Burger thoughts on Kony 2012

3 Practical Ways to be Missional

Over the past few months the Lord has been working in my heart about being more missional as a Christian. What I mean by being missional is living in such a way that Jesus lived. He was sent into the world to serve and save others (Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10)  and now, as believers, we are sent into the world to do the same (Matthew 5:13-16). After spending four years at a Bible college and now (and will be as a vocation) working at a local church, I spend most of my time around Christians. The Lord has convicted me of this because He did not save me to just sit in a Bible study or a worship service, but saved me to go out into the world and be missional! I believe most Christians struggle with this idea because we think as Christians we are supposed to be totally separate from the world. We need to remember we are called to be IN the world, but not of it. Here are three simple ways God has helped me be more missional and I believe they will help you as well:

1. Join the local gym. There is a YMCA or rec center in almost every community. One simple way to be missional is to join your local gym or rec center. This will not only help you exercise, which is something that honors God, but it will help you be around people who need the Gospel. As you work out, play pick up ball, or swim you can build relationships with people who may never step foot inside your church. I recently joined the rec center in the community I am living in right now and God has allowed me to connect with other guys by playing basketball.

2. Do your work at a local coffee shop. The local coffee shops will attract a different crowd than the gym, but it still will attract a crowd that needs the Gospel. If you’re a college or seminary student, you MUST do this! Don’t just sit in your dorm room or the library on your Christian school campus, go to the local coffee shops so you can build relationships with unbelievers as you get some work done. My fiancée and I do a lot of our work at a local coffee shop here in Medina. There is always a ton of people and it is a great way to be out in the world.

3. Get a local part-time job. Obviously this isn’t for everyone, but if your working part-time for a church or a Christian business, think about working a secular part-time job. Furthermore, if God has called you to work in a secular field, embrace it! God will and can use people working in a secular field! He doesn’t need and want everyone in full-time ministry. Currently I am only a part-time, unpaid intern at a church. Because of this I believe God is wanting me to work a part-time job here in the community. This will allow me to be more missional and build relationships with people who need the Gospel.

In Jude 1:23, the Bible tells us to “save others by snatching them out of the fire…” This is a vivid picture of what we are called to do as believers; live a missional live so we can save people from eternal separation from God in hell. We will never snatch people out of the fire by spending all our time in church. We will never snatch people out of the fire if we are scared to go out into the world. I believe too many Christians are so worried about staying “away” from the world they never become missional. Or maybe it’s a lack of concern for the lost. Maybe we are not missional because we scared, but because we simply don’t care about the people in the world headed hell. Either way, God has called us to be about His mission. Go out into the world and be missional!

Related posts/articles/book:
3 Ways to Love Your City
Defining Missional
Missional Christianity Series by Resurgence
What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung

Evangelism Principles from Jesus

This past Sunday Dan Jarvis, lead pastor of Weymouth Community Church, preached a sermon from John 4 about evangelism. As he was preaching through the passage a few evangelism principles stood out to me. These principles come straight from how Jesus shared the Gospel with the Samaritan lady at the well. If you are not familiar with what is going on in John 4, I would encourage you to read it before you read the principles I am about to share. So, let’s get to it! Here are three evangelism principles we can learn and apply from Jesus in John 4.

Intentionally go where no one else will go. In John 4:3 the Bible tells us that Jesus was leaving Judea and was heading to Galilee. Between these two places was Samaria. The Jews and Samaritans did not like each other and most Jews would totally avoid Samaria if they were headed to Galilee. But not Jesus! Jesus intentionally went straight through Samaria. Jesus knew there were people in that area that needed Him and He was not about to avoid them just because most Jewish people do. When it comes to evangelism, we often do not think about going to the places that need it most. We stay away from the inner city, the projects, other races of people, and even unreached tribes in other countries. Jesus intentionally went where others did not. We should do the same. It’s easy to evangelize people like us or people we are “comfortable with,” but there are cultures, places, and people who need it just as much. Will you intentionally go where others do not for the sake of the Gospel?

Break cultural norms. There was this cultural norm that Jewish people do not talk to Samaritan people. Jesus was not about to abide by that stupidity. He already broke one cultural norm by going into Samaria, now He was going to break another by talking to a Samaritan woman. If we want to evangelize like Jesus, at times we might have to break cultural norms. These cultural norms can be within the church. You might come from a church that is very “high standard” and would not be to happy with you bringing a drunk or a drug user to church with you. But you might have to break that stupid (yes, not allowing those kind of people in church is stupid!) cultural norm by bring that person to church. Or maybe people in your church, or the Christians around you, are not ok with going into certain places to evangelize. Jesus did not let that stop Him, don’t let it stop you!

Use something relevant to connect and share the Gospel. In verses 10-15 of John 4, Jesus uses water to explain the gift of salvation (the “living water”) to this lady. Why did He use water? He was at a well! Wherever you are, use something the person will understand when you share the Gospel. Stay away from the Christian words only Christians understand. Don’t use illustrations and examples that only you understand. Use something they will understand and present the Gospel through means they will understand. Be creative when you share the good news of Jesus!

Two books I would recommend on the subject of evangelism are Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay and Evangelism Handbook by Alvin Reid.

180 the Movie

The video above is Ray Comfort’s (Way of the Master) newest endeavor to share the Gospel with people in a way that works. Basically, what he does in the 180 film is share how abortion in America is just like the Holocaust in Germany by Adolf Hitler. What is shocking is that most of the people he interviews, mostly younger people, have never even heard of Hitler or even know a thing about what he did. Ray then puts them in a corner and ask what they would do if they were told to bury innocent Jews alive. Almost all of them said they would not. What Ray does next is great, he then asks what do they believe about abortion. Is it murder? Is it wrong? Most of the people say it’s the “women’s choice” and Ray points out how their inconsistency. They would not kill Jews, but would kill innocent babies inside their mother’s womb. Of course this discussion leads to right moral and the existence of God. Whats great about this video is that you actually see people change their mind on the spot about abortion and more importantly about Jesus Christ! Here are a few other great things about this video:

Shows that evangelism, at times, should be done with intellectual conversations. The world will not respond to the Gospel if we just yell Bible verses at them and tell them to “turn or burn.” This is why I have a big problem with street preachers who show more anger and hatred rather than a love for the lost. Ray shows us in this film that by having intellectual conversations and talking in terms people will understand can open the door wide open for sharing the Gospel. Use the Bible, but don’t start with it. Most non-Christains don’t even believe the Bible is truth so it will not work if you start with it.

Shows logic behind the fact that abortion is murder. Many times we just tell people abortion is wrong because it’s murder and don’t take the time to explain why that is the case. Ray shows us in this film that by using examples like Hitler and the killing of the Jews that abortion can be explained as murder. If you are a pro-lifer out there (don’t worry, I am pro-life) please don’t stand on the street with a big sign saying “abortion is murder.” Drop the sign and have a real conversation with people about why abortion is wrong. If you do the sign thing, don’t stop there, have a conversation!

I highly recommend everyone to take 30 minutes and watch this film. It will make you think and will help you understand how we can share the Gospel with others. If you are a youth pastor, this would be a good film to show your youth group that will certainly strike up good discussions. If you are not sure where you stand on abortion, PLEASE WATCH. I pray and hope this film will help you make a discussion on that matter.

Not everyone is a big fan of this film and some college students feel they got it pushed into their face. Read about that here.