Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jesus to the Nations 2013: Lessons in Missions

This past weekend was the weekend of Jesus to the Nations. In case you don't know, this is a missions conference held in Halifax on an annual basis. This was the fourteenth year that this conference has been happening in Atlantic Canada, and has been my second experience attending so far. I definitely enjoyed last year's conference, learning a bit more about what missions are all about and how to intercede on behalf of others. Not to mention the fun concert put on by Fresh IE.

This year, I checked out two different seminars at J2N 2013: one was on indigenous missions, which discussed the differences and similarities of working both cross-culturally and non cross-culturally, and how both methods can coincide with each other to make an impact on places about which Jesus has not been heard. The second seminar that I checked out was conducted by Simon Guillebaud of Great Lakes Outreach (in Africa, not North America), and he talked about some of his more recent and life-changing experiences while working in Burundi. His seminar was rather interesting, as he discussed about this war-torn country plagued with AIDS and other diseases, as well as hearing some of the rewards that has come to him as he ministered in there. He was also one of the plenary speakers during the weekend, the other two being Nik and Ruth Ripken, who go out to areas of persecution. Through these speakers, God has given me a bit of a clearer picture as to what the ministry of the Apostles was like during the beginning of the Early Church, and how it applies to us today.

The music for this conference was also quite phenomenal. We had Chelsea Amber and Fraser Campbell join us that Saturday for a concert night. Both had quite some amazing talents and were aiming to worship God. One of the coolest things that I noted was that they were both from opposite coasts of the country, Chelsea being a Haligonian and Fraser, a Victorian. But they were very good, both separately and together. God was definitely working through them.

In short, I'd just like to say that I had enjoyed the weekend. It definitely gave me some new insight about missions and some more thinking to do. I'm hoping to apply more of what I learned from the weekend on campus and see what God will do through me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Bible: Language of the Jesus Culture

Do you know what I like about studying French? I like how I am able to learn not just a language, but a set of cultures based around the language, each with its own rich history, customs and contemporary habits. I find that learning French has opened doors for me, allowing me to be more aware and appreciative of the ethnicity of other people. God has gifted me to learn French for a reason. Part of it might be because I need to be in a certain job where a knowledge in French is useful or even necessary. Studying languages like French can be rather beneficial, especially in the mission field.

In a way, you could say that the Bible is written as one of God's "special languages" that was designed for us while living on the earth. Unfortunately, this particular language is the most difficult to learn, especially when you have never lived in its culture before. Yet some pastors will tell you that reading your Bible is easy.

Why would pastors say this? Well, they do have a point; reading the Bible is easy, but understanding it is a whole different story. I think that if we are going to bring the Bible to our spiritually seeking friends, as I am learning to do through the book that I am reading, we should at least let them know that really reading it is not going to be as easy as it may seem.

A verse in the Bible that I see involving words is Psalm 119:105 (taken from the NIV): "Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path." It means that the Bible, as God's word, is a key piece to living an abundant life with him, another one being prayer. It appears to be part of a prayer of joy and promise toward God which can be applied to us today. By allowing Christ to take over that abundantly promising life will be more realized, and sharing the experience with a friend will also be very rewarding, not only for you, but your friend as well.

I think that a good challenge for me would be to go out and actually apply the principles of inviting a friend into spiritual conversation, or even just continue to be a generally good friend to him or her. That way, sharing things like faith would be easier to come around. Perhaps this is a good challenge for all of us Christians. You can consider this one for yourself along with God.

Take care and may God continually bless you along the way!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saint Patrick: A Man on a Mission

This image can be found on Wikipedia.
With today being Saint Patrick's Day, I thought that I would share a few things about who Saint Patrick was. I know this seems to be rather unrelated to the book, but bare with me.

Saint Patrick was originally from Great Britain but first arrived to Ireland as a slave at sixteen years of age. At this point, while tending his master's flock, he prayed to God for salvation and freedom. This came in a rather unusual way when sometime around his early twenties, he hears a voice that tells him to go on a ship, which he did after fleeing his master's house; he returned to his hometown and family, and he studied to become a priest, later becoming a bishop. Sometime when he's in his forties, he receives a vision from God to return to Ireland and preach around the country. He remained Ireland up until his death on approximately March 17, 490, though this date may be wrong.

Why bring up Saint Patrick? I believe that we can learn a few things from Patrick. For one thing, he is probably the most well-known of all the Irish saints. It is through people like him that Christianity had expanded further from England. Patrick was known for travelling around from town to town, preaching the Gospel as the Apostles had done in the past. Essentially, Patrick is continuing on the Great Commission as Jesus gave out to his disciples here:

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation'". -Mark 16:15, NIV

Like Patrick, we need to have faith and trust in God in order to complete his will for our heart. We need to have a life built with prayer and devotion to him. Evangelism is not very easy to do, but it is rewarding when we do that which we are called to do.

I hereby encourage you, this Saint Patrick's Day, to look further into the history and and wonder of this man and this holiday, so that you too can see an appreciation of what a "man of God" can do. If this inspires you to share with your friends, feel free to do so. I pray that you will remain blessed to know that God loves you and has a plan for your life.

Take care!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lost (Not the TV Show)

Taken from: Wikipedia
Today's Bible study with Mount Christian Fellowship has brought up a rather interesting topic. We talked about the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin (Luke 15:1-10), which made me reflect from More Ready Than You Realize a little bit and about being lost (I'll get into that later). What exactly do we learn from these parables? There are a few things that have stricken us.

First of all, taking a look at the first two verses, we see that Jesus is being welcoming and teaching sinners and tax collectors and the Pharisees and teachers of the law are rather disapproving of this ("But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'" - Luke 15:2 TNIV). I think that the Pharisees believe that Jesus is upsetting the status quo and they're rather uncomfortable with what Jesus is saying, even though what Jesus is preaching may be considered as a new way of interpreting the Old Testament texts. I don't blame them. But God doesn't want us to be living like lumps on a log, but to be active, learn and grow. So by looking at this reaction, what exactly does Jesus do? He creates parables to teach the importance of life.

Taken from:
 The Lost Sheep and Coin help us to see that God loves and values everyone equally. After all, he did make us in his image. They explain that when a sinner repents, all of Heaven rejoices, or celebrates because there is now one more life being reserved to have a heavenly home in Heaven. To me, that gives a sense that as a father, God knows what's in our best interests, and loves us enough that he would sacrifice his son for us, so that we can have that better relationship with him.

Now, how does this passage relate to the book? If you took a look at what I mentioned from my previous post about being lost, you would remember that the author wrote about how we often refer to our Non-Christian friends as "lost people" and he wondered if the adjective of lost could still be applied to us. I think he's on to something as I compare the two texts as well as what's happening around me. Many of us are trying to understand our purpose in life, and have yet to reach where we fully need to be. So let me conclude by asking you these questions: "Are you lost? If so, shouldn't you pray that God gives you vision through the Holy Spirit so that you know where to go next?"