This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Archive for May, 2014

Numbers Matter at the Porn Show and in Pakistan

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called followers-are-not-fruit. Numbers do not necessarily indicate success. We so often get that confused. That being said, I would not liken that to numbers being unimportant. They are important because every number represents a person and people are VERY, VERY important.

It’s been 5 years now that I have lead a team for outreaches at the porn show in Vancouver. Each year we set up a booth, talk to entertainers and patrons, and hand out thousands of Bibles. It’s not just the numbers of Bibles that we hand out that is impressive – it’s the fact that a high percentage of people we give them to have conversations with us, and year after year many come back to talk with us more and tell us that they have read or are reading the Bibles. I am sure many end up in the garbage, but I am also just as sure many don’t, and lives are being changed as a result.

I recently reconnected with a pastor from my childhood. He was the pastor of a dear friend of mine that has gone home to be with Jesus. He has been telling me about his missions work in Pakistan. It’s not a place I have ever felt called to go but I love to hear about God working in and through others in their unique callings.

There were three things that really got my attention from his stories. The first was that there was a festival and some Christians had set up a booth to hand out Bibles – sound familiar? Some members of the team however were beaten by people who didn’t like what they were doing and then the police arrested those team members, thinking they were causing trouble. After some incredible time at the police station that emulates the story of Paul and Silas, the police escorted them back and assisted them by providing protection while they handed out their Bibles.

I am so grateful that our team has never been threated, let alone the victims of physical violence while handing out Bibles. Also the amazing story they have of then receiving police protection is so encouraging.

The second thing about his stories was the actual numbers. At our church’s last Easter service we had baptisms for 5 people (one being my daughter, proud mama here). Those 5 are extremely exciting! The area where the pastors have been ministering takes 8 hours to get to by bus and they were going to make another trip there once 100 people were ready to be baptised. I’m not sure how long that would be but I will say it would be less time than if we waited for 100 people here in Canada. Again the number itself isn’t important but the fact that each number represents a life is! 5 is exciting – so is 100!

Through their missional efforts they reached 400 hundred families – not just people, but families. This leads me to the final thing that impacted me; they only had 200 Bibles to give and so 200 Bibles were given to 200 families and 200 families who want a Bible are without. It’s hard to imagine as I look at the 7 on the shelf in front of me now, what life would be like to want a Bible and not have one.

Just as I have asked people to help us pay for the Bibles we give out in Vancouver, I also implore you to support this team and help them give out Bibles in Pakistan. You can learn more about what they do and donate here at: Bibles for Bahawalpur.

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The Bible has Easter Eggs

I remember over 10 years ago when DVD’s first came out. I can’t remember which movie it was that we had watched but when it was over my girlfriend said, “Let’s find the Easter eggs.” I thought she had gone crazy. She explained to me that Easter Eggs were these hidden features you could find on the disc. They were actually really cool.

Daring to be called sacrilegious, I will suggest to you that the Bible if FULL of Easter Eggs. You can read it at face value, cover to cover and miss so much. Honestly some passages are outright confusing when you read them at face value and do no further investigation.

For goodness sake look at 1 Corinthians 14:34

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
Churches are overwhelmingly failing at upholding this law that the Bible is VERY CLEAR on!
 
Most people understand that there is obviously more here than reads the eye. There is background, contextually, culturally and geographically, there is translation to consider (Greek has 5 words for love, we have 1 -come on!) etc. etc. This is one of the beautiful things about the Bible. It doesn’t just sit at surface level – you have dig. If you do not dig, your theology will be very contradictory. There are Easter Eggs that need to be discovered by you. It means you have to reach into the letters and punctuation and find out what was the original meaning and how do we apply it to now.
 
The Bible was written thousands of years ago and I passionately believe it is still relevant today. Yet another beautiful thing about God’s love letter to His people, that He wrote through His people.
 
What do we do when we read through the very same passages and arrive at different conclusions? We tread humbly and respectfully, showing love to each other. We listen and re-examine. Sometimes we will have to agree to disagree and work through how to do life together with differences.
 
It doesn’t mean you have to be a theologian to understand the Bible but it does mean you need to work at it. This leads me to believe that Jesus never wanted followers who are happy being spoon-fed and have things laid out like underwear with the days of the week on them. He wants thinkers. He wants people who aren’t afraid to question. If only our church leaders wanted the same thing.

Followers are not fruit

This morning I was reading Matthew 7:15-20 about good trees being only able to bear good fruit and bad trees only being able to bear bad fruit. It is by this fruit that we should know a false prophet.

I found this very difficult before, because there were some people I thought were very fruitful and later discovered they were people I would put in the category of false prophet. This left me confused. I think there may be others out there who may be confused as well so I am writing this for anyone else like me.

I would see a large church and think -wow, they’re fruitful! I mean they clearly are having a large impact for the kingdom so they must be good right? If size were the indicator of fruit, look how many followers the Unification church has, or other cults. People can be mislead. Maybe that’s why there are many warnings about being mislead in the Bible. I have seen leaders justify themselves based on their numbers alone. Just because you have followers doesn’t mean your on the right path – maybe your just leading a lot of people to the wrong place.

See we mistakenly define success by the numbers. It is certainly an easy measurement and clearly you want to bring as many people to Jesus as you can, but as Christians we’re missing what success really is. It’s not actually about the numbers for us because salvation is not our job – it’s Gods. Our job is to love people like He does, the rest is up to them and God.

Success is doing our job and love is not measured in numbers. Some people are more difficult to love than others so you can’t say one person is more loving because they handed out 1,000 Bibles or sandwiches to the homeless verses someone who had tea with their grumpy, embittered neighbour. Both actions are loving, period = success.

A healthy church should grow in numbers (and then get smaller because they are planting other churches) but as outlined above the numbers are not the success, the fruit is:

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 Be careful not to jump to conclusions because someone can appear to have this fruit but only be going through the motions. It takes time to see if the fruit is just an appearance or comes from deep roots within.