Becoming a Gospel Ninja

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On Wednesday I met with a group about the possibility of volunteering with their prison based literacy program. As usual one of the first questions asked was “what do you do for a living?” and I explained my calling as a Missionary to Australia.

After discussing their goals (and how that would fit with me) one of them asked how my religious background would affect this ministry.

I am actually very glad they asked this question (and bring up the subject myself if they don’t) because it’s important they understand how the Gospel will be shared [1]

Actually explaining this to the organization is the easy part…the hard part is actually starting those gospel conversations.

For that you need to become a Gospel Ninja

A gospel ninja is someone who is constantly looking for opportunities to share a truth of Scripture [2] in a relaxed way that isn’t confrontational (the person initiates, or God just opens a door for the truth to be shared, the message of course will be confrontational)

My number one rule for being a gospel ninja is I will only answer questions that people ask me about religion

Sadly in todays culture openly sharing the gospel in places like work or school can get a person into trouble. However if we are simply answering a question then there will be little or no consequences.

“Okay” you may be thinking, “how do I get them to ask the questions?.” While nothing works all of the time, here are some lessons I’ve learned about becoming a gospel ninja.

1.  Make sure they know your a Christian: This isn’t done in an arrogant way, you simply make Christianity your identity so that everyone realizes your a follower of Christ.

2.  Live a Godly testimony: Unfortunately many of the unsaved have met Christians who don’t live for Christ at all so they are going to be watching you very closely [3]. Living a consistent testimony in front of them is one of the gospel ninja’s most powerful weapons 

3.  Get involved in Conversations: Conversations where others are sharing their views on a subject are great opportunities to be a gospel ninja. While this isn’t answering questions, since everyone is sharing their own views it’s unlikely giving a Christian perspective will create issues.

4.  Offer to Explain Your Views: I like to tell individuals if they ever want to learn more about Christianity I would be happy to explain it to them. This is especially useful after you’ve gained thier trust with a Godly testimony

(“I live this way because I’m a Christian, if you ever want to understand what that means then let me know”)

5.  Show Genuine Concern: We all have bad days (or crisis situations) and this is a great opportunity to show them the love of Christ. It also allows a Christian to give a personal testimony of how the Lord helped them in that kind of situation [4].

6.  Be Patient: The most difficult part of being a gospel ninja is waiting for God to open a door instead of forcing it open ourselves. While waiting for that opening fill your time with prayer, relationship development, and Scripture.

It truly breaks my heart that we live in a culture where sharing the Gospel openly can lead to a reprimand. The good news is with some work and patience we can be an awesome witness for Christ.

And of course the best news is the Gospel always works.

  1. I have learned groups are open to the Gospel being shared through ministries as long as I am honest about it, not telling them and doing so makes it look dishonest  ↩
  2. I’m not saying you can’t share the whole Gospel at once of course, but have found sharing truths a little bit at a time helps an unbeliever understand Scripture better  ↩
  3. especially on bad days  ↩
  4. at this point your simply “telling a story” which of course also shares the Gospel  ↩

When You Can’t Fix the Problem

I’m normally a pretty happy person so it takes lot to get me down. However when I do get depressed it reaches pretty intense levels (we are talking jelly beans, pepsi, french fries, and way too much Netflix.)

I went through a couple of these phases last week (which hasn’t happened in a while) because my return to Australia continues to be delayed.

Please understand this frustration isn’t directed towards Immigration because they are just doing their job. What breaks my heart is not being able to help the people of Australia who have become so precious to me

More than anything else though depression comes from the fact that I cannot fix the problem

Many people (men especially) embrace the role of dealing with or “fixing” their own problems. While part of this is pride, it mostly comes from the natural desire for independence (taking care of things on our own).

Eventually though we are going to run into a problem that cannot be fixed. And what we do then truly defines us.

Obviously discouragement and frustration in situations like this are natural…the problem is when thats your ONLY response

I mean seriously watching Greys Anatomy on Netflix only helps so much
just kidding…I prefer Gilmore Girls

Though painful those depressing experiences help us understand reality (in my case returning to Australia is going to take a while). The good news is this allows us to find things that we CAN FIX instead of trying to fix problems outside of our control.

For me personally this means becoming a positive role-model to children (young men especially) who need guidance and help

It’s amazing what doors open up when you start focusing on things you can do.

In the last month I have begun.

1. Mentoring a High School Senior
2. Giving personal tutoring to kindergarteneres and first-traders
4. Getting involved in a reading help program
5. Helping in an after school program with twenty-four first graders
6. Starting a fitness program for elementary age children
7. Training for a reading program with inmates in a local prison
8. And will soon start one on one computer tutoring

Is this what I want do for the rest of  my life?  No of course not.

I still wake up every morning wishing I was in Australia

And go to bed every night dreaming of my return

But until that day comes my heart will actively pursue doors opened by God instead of trying to force ones the He has closed for the time being.

So when facing a problem that can’t be fixed do yourself a favor;

  1. Put down the jelly beans
  2. Pour that pepsi down the drain
  3. Turn off Netflix (unless it’s Gilmore Girls)
  4. And find the ways that you can help others

I’m not promising that everything will suddenly become perfect…but it will ensure when that opportunity does come, you will be ready for it.

How I Broke My Stubborn Attitude

How I Broke My Stubborness

Okay I have a confession to make…I’m a very stubborn person [1].

My father used to talk in his sermons about having two sons; one of them would be disciplined with a simple look, while the other required a more “direct approach.” For weeks I asked him which one of the two sons I was, and finally one day he told me “you don’t want to know.”

Thankfully this has changed a lot since childhood. However there are still moments when I still find myself being a stubborn child.

Sunday was one of those moments

The sermon that morning was on Psalm 20, which includes one of the most often quoted verses in all Scripture.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God

There are some very powerful (and convicting) truths in this verse:

  1. God is the source of all victory (not me)
  2. The world is not on my shoulders
  3. All I am asked to do is my best
  4. And I was never designed to do all things

This takes a sledgehammer to an attitude of stubborness (relying only on ourselves) that beleives:

  1. I am the source of all victory
  2. I have to take care of everything
  3. I cannot let anything go wrong (if I do it’s the end of the world)
  4. And I am the only one who can take care of my problems

Instead of expecting us to take care of all lifes problems God calls us to simply obey Him [2]

God as a loving father doesn’t want to take the “direct approach” for discipline [3] but as my dad will first give us a look that says “what your doing is wrong.”

*Obviously we don’t see the eyes of God in these situations. I’m referring here to subtle warnings He will give us when we stubbornly rely on our own strength.

As a child my parents used many kinds of discpline to break my strong-will 🙂 but it wasn’t till I got older that this attitude was truly broken.

not by using physical discipline
or grounding
or taking away television
but as I understood how much my stubborness hurt my parents

In the same way it’s helpful to remember that our moments or stubborness bring great pain to our Heavenly Father, who sent His son to die for our sins.

  1. I prefer the term strong-willed  ↩

  2. because we don’t have the strength to care for those problems anyways  ↩

  3. bring situations into our lives that force us to rely upon Him  ↩

What Running 146 Miles in a Month Teaches Me About Life

By this Friday I will have run 146 miles during the month of October [1]. This experience has taught me something very important about myself.

I mean other than the fact that I’m absolutely insane

As a child I was one of those kids who was always saying “I can’t.” This began with refusing to play sports, but soon anything that could possibly end in embarassment was avoided.

Thankfully the list of things I couldn’t do has gotten smaller since then. However running a marathon was near the top of it since my last attempt didn’t end well [2].

After going through a humbling experience we have a few choices:

  1. Use it as a learning experience and try again
  2. Become a stronger person because of it
  3. Never try again and destroy any photographic evidence of it ever happening
  4. Can you guess which one I chose?

I approached the training program in July with lots of skepticism (thinking it would end just like last time) but around mile 100 something occurred to me…my body can do a lot more than I think

Every Saturday morning we have a weekly long-run in preparation for the marathon…over the last four weeks this has included

  1. Eighteen miles
  2. Fourtee Miles (seven of which were uphill)
  3. Twenty Miles
  4. And Twenty-Two miles

Understandably we took it slow and easy during last Saturdays run [3] but as the finish of our last really long run came up members of my group started running faster.

As they pulled away my legs said to me “seriously dude just let them go” but a little voice in my head responded “hey you have enough to keep up.”

So I sprinted in mile twenty-one
After running more than 100 miles that month
And caught up with them.

So don’t listen to that voice that says you should quit

Keep pushing
Keep working
Keep trying
You will be amazed at the results

  1. It would have been more, but I took five days off following dental surgery  ↩
  2. To make a long story short I didn’t train properly or with a group, so not being used to running with other people I started way too fast  ↩
  3. it still hurt quite a bt trust me  ↩