Thursday, July 16, 2015

Don't be Ashamed of the Gospel Part 2

By: Daniel Martin

Now I look back and see this with a bit more clarity. I understand the problem. I didn’t know enough, about people. I thought I could just go in with a formula and it would work.  I had heard that everyone knew they were sinners, and if they heard the gospel it would all make sense. I couldn’t see anything wrong with this girl, and she couldn’t see anything wrong with herself either. I didn’t really understand that the gospel meets individuals where they are at.

I feel bad about how it all went, but at least she has had the chance to hear the gospel. She had worked at that business for two years before I met her, working with a Christian manager. I don’t know if she would have ever heard it from him. That is really very strange to me. This was a poor attempt, but I don’t understand people who carry the name of Christ and make no attempt. Why are we so ashamed? Is it because we don’t actually believe the scriptures? I have asked this before and I will ask it again.  Do you care more about what others think about you than you do about people’s souls?
If you were aboard a cruise ship and you crashed a party by saying there is an iceberg ahead, then showed people to the life boats.  Those people will be upset that you interrupted their party, they may even hate you at the time. That is until they find out they are actually heading for an iceberg. At first you are an unnecessary villain, and then you’re a hero. But it’s not you that’s the hero, it’s the life boat. You are just telling them where the lifeboat is and making them aware there is a problem.  I think there will be allot of people who might give me a big hug in heaven, which gave me harsh words and an angry look on earth. I don’t know what they will say to the person that never said a word.
God loved us enough to die for us. You may say you are brave enough to die for another person but are you brave enough to lose your social standing?  To be seen as crazy? I tell you the truth, before the ship hits the ice burg.  For many it will be too late, like the story of the sleeping virgins on their wedding night in the gospels.
What about the other guy?  When in agony for eternity in hell are they going to be thankful for the Christian that didn’t have the guts to share? What will they think of the man who said nothing?  The man who cared more about what they thought about him? What about God?  Do we dare live our life here on earth sitting on our rear-ends knowing we have a home in heaven waiting for us and not letting anyone else know. What is God going to say, to that person? A hard question to ask is does such a person really know the love of Jesus, if they think it is only for them? Can we know the love and mercy of God and actually not know the love and mercy of God for others too?
I will leave you with those haunting questions because you already know the answers to them. They are all in scripture, and your heart knows them as well. I don’t want you to be ashamed. I don’t want you to be afraid. I want you to see how much God wants us to see life through His eyes. That he would have none parish, and that you might share that kind of heart. I have to borrow Gods view because it is something I don’t fully understand. There are people at times in my life that I actually wouldn’t mind God pouring his wrath out on. That isn’t the heart of God. God asks us to bend ours to His compassion and reach out to people with the gospel.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Don't be Ashamed of the Gospel Part 1

By: Daniel Martin

When you start doing evangelism, you might jump in with both feet like I did. I think that is a very wise decision, however Jesus also called us to count the cost. When you start taking chances for Christ you might think ahead to the kind of work you are about to embark on. It is easy to avoid the hard work but we will never be fruitful without that hard work.  Our minds tend to cultivate the ideal only and not anything long term. When I started doing evangelism I never thought that I would see the people I met on the street again. Finding out I was really good at telling people about Jesus was a real ego boost. I didn’t really plan on hearing questions I didn’t have the answers to.
Once while doing evangelism with the team, I went into a candy store with one of my evangelism partners. There was a Japanese American girl working there. I remember it as being the first time I had shared the gospel with someone who was near my age. I stood there awkwardly waiting for an opening to talk. She asked me if I wanted any candy.  I awkwardly gave her the gospel, and then asked her, what she believed? She was confused and really flustered. I got into a semi long conversation with her and gave her my bible with my phone number in it.  I am sure it just seemed to her like a very, very, awkward way to ask someone out.
I told her to call me later so that I could get it back. She did.  Two days later she called me and I asked her more questions about what she believed. She said that she really hadn’t given it much thought she said probably Shintoism because her grandmother was a Shinto. I remember telling her that if Christianity was true she could die at any moment and end up in hell. I remember her crying on the phone and saying “I don’t know” before she hung up. The truth was, I didn’t know. I didn’t know what Shintoism was, I didn’t know if I was saying the right things.  I went back and got my Bible.
I lost some of my courage that day. I didn’t want to ever see her again because I knew that I had made a fool of myself. I felt like I was trying for God and utterly failing. The Bible told me to go make disciples. I knew I needed to go back. What I said was actually true. All non-believers could spend eternity in hell whenever God decides their time on earth is up. That doesn’t make God bad it makes Him just. And Jesus’ death is because of His great love. God doesn’t lose anything by losing any of us. He does not need us, He loves us.
I knew I had to go back and try harder or try something different. I came in again and met her manager. He said that jade wasn’t at work that day. I probed a bit and found out he was a Christian. I felt relieved, but he was very cross with me because I had told Jade about Jesus the way I did. I already knew I had done it the wrong way, even if it was out of a good heart. I really want her to be in heaven. I really wanted to know her sins would be forgiven. She seemed so sweet and like a nice person. I hope that he shared more of the gospel with her. I think I encouraged him to.
Now I look back and see this with a bit more clarity. I understand the problem. I will share that in the next blog.  Look for it in two days or so.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sightings in Mexico

By: Rachel Martin

I know this is a departure from our normal blog ideas but it struck me as funny the other day.  There are things I have seen in this country that people in the US will never see or only saw many years ago.  Someone told me once that Mexico is like the U.S. 50 years ago and I would really agree with that statement.  In some ways I would say for the better and in some ways for the worse.  I am not making a judgment here just listing off some funny or interesting things I have seen living here.

People riding in the back of pick-up trucks.  Teens 10 crammed into the back of a small Toyota on their way to the beach.  Whole families, babies sitting on their laps in the back of open truck beds. One time shortly after moving here I saw (I swear I am not making this up) an old grandma in a rocking chair in the back of a truck bed.  I saw a construction worker just last week riding on the running board of a dump truck driving down the road at regular speed.  Why he was not in the back with the other guys I have no idea.  I have a picture I will include of a bunch of pre-teen boys riding all over the truck that delivers our washing and bathing water.  Honestly I thought it looked like fun.
I have seen kids here play with everything from broken pieces of glass, plastic bags, broken bits of toys, pieces of trash and even,  yes it’s gross, spit and some gravel.  And be happy about it!  Remember the time when you were young and asking your mom if you could play with something like a broken pop can and her saying no.  Maybe they just don’t ask here or maybe parents figure they will learn. Either way I have seen some crazy things go as toys. 
We went to the local fair here a few weeks ago.  It was my son’s first real attempt at a real carnival ride.  He was on one of those little car rides that go round and round in a circle.  For less than $3 we both got on and waited.  The ride started and then operator just walked away!  It appeared as though there was only one operator per section so maybe 3 ride operators for the whole place.  OK it’s a kiddy ride no big deal.  Well until I looked down and saw that most of the cars had no wheels and some were held on by bits of rope.  Well OK it’s a short drop if we fly out I am sure we will be OK.  Unlike the ride two over from us, one of those around and around at super-fast speeds type of ride, where the operator was actually using man power to get it going and stopping it.
I love living in a different country.  There are time it is just like you see on movies and travel shows.  Every time we drive through Tijuana I feel just like I am in a movie.  Cars cutting people off, horns blaring, busses loaded with people black smoke belching out of tail pipes hanging half off.   Shacks standing right next to store fronts signs all in Spanish and people talking with hand gestures and laughing and visiting.  I love that even though it is home to me it still on occasion still feels like a foreign country.   

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Personal Devotions

I grew up in a Christian home where my father was the Pastor of a small church. We spent allot of time studying scripture as a family and on most mornings with my mother. As a young child it was something I dreaded, having to sit still for 20 minutes. We would listen to scripture and sing songs and as a child it felt almost unbearable. This wasn’t anything different than any other scenario where lack of motion was required. My mind would drift around, I would start to fall asleep, really have to use the restroom, basically do anything but listen. I know I drove my mother crazy.  If you are reading this mom I am deeply sorry, and I want thank you. The establishment of me spending time studying in scripture probably had a lot to do with our times as kids in the front room Bible Lessons.

I repented of my sin and turned to Jesus for salvation at the age of six.  After that I always had an internal relationship with God. God was always there and I would pray for just about everything. Winning at a video game I was playing, praying for my sister and brother, and help sleeping when I was scared. But I didn’t read much all growing up. When we moved to Oregon I started school and developed a crush on a girl in my grade. We were at a Christian school and I noticed her one day reading her Bible at recess.  In fifth grade it encouraged me and made me think. I had always thought before that the curriculum of Christian School was enough Bible stuff. I had to do church stuff all of the time so I didn’t think that I needed really much else.  Seeing that girl reading her Bible really struck me.  She wanted to spend time with God.  It was not a chore.
When I was in Jr. High I went to Bible camp. I had a camp counselor, who put forward a challenge. It was to read your Bible every day for a month or something like that. I started, mostly because I said that I would, and then just kept going. I read my Bible near every day for many years and I grew in the Lord because of it.
I didn’t know at the time but I had obsessive compulsive disorder. After being so faithful it became a ritual. I was worried about what would happen on the days I didn’t do devotions. I thought if I missed a day I would snap and start spiraling into sin. Or that in some sort of strange way like Karma if I just read enough scripture maybe it would stop bad things from happening.
This was a long and hard period of my life that only got more complicated as a young adult at missionary school. There we had mandatory quiet time. For some this might be a great blessing, for me it just compounded a problem. God felt like a task master of whom I was too unholy to measure up too. This was a great struggle I had to work through. When I got married it was my wife that started talking about God in a manner of his compassion again.  That God wants us and not a better version of us.
That long story is to encourage you to read your Bible.  Don’t allow apathy, nervousness, thinking you are not good enough for God, or just plain laziness to keep you from your time in scripture.  I would like to encourage you to read scripture and to spend time talking to the God of the universe. He cares about you and wants to be your good shepherd and guide you through life. Don’t let it become something you have to do, but that you get to do.  Let the Holy Spirit give you new eyes on all of those little things you have been ignoring. When we step out in faith God helps us stand. God communicates most of all in those times.  In times of personal one on one with Him and His word.  Jesus had to constantly get away from the crowd to spend time with the Father.  
Even when I didn’t want to as a child or felt compulsion to do it my personal devotions always made a difference.  We are always talking about striving for Godliness.  You can’t be Godly without God.  You can’t even really enjoy life or come to understand what that means until you spend time with Him.  He left behind an amazing array of learning tools for whatever you are going through or whatever you need and it’s just a short read away.