UNUSUAL SOLDIERS BLOG
When Jesus asked a naked ravished man on a seashore who he was, the demons inside of him responded, "I AM LEGION." Jesus then casts the evil spirits out of him and into 2,000 pigs. The pigs run wildly to their deaths off of a cliff.
Takeaways from Jesus encounter with Legion.
after I have met so many people just trying find their next meal
after I have walked into a building of raped and abandoned women
after I have talked to victims of HIV
after I have spent time with people that are despised because of their tribal identity
after I have seen the smiles of poor shoeless children
after I have learned about rebels trying to annihilate a “low-class” tribe
after I have found out that their are numerous reachable tribes in areas of conflict
after I have discovered that a rebel group is killing people in the name of Christ
after I have been to a country notorious for kidnapping and brainwashing children
after I have stepped into a school of orphans that have lost parents in a senseless war
after I have felt the pain of genocide survivors
after I have spent the night in the decaying homes of the marginalized
…how can WE live “normal” lives in a world with so many needs.
I have recently been reading this scripture over and over and over. Its a great battle between “Foolishness” and “Worldly Wisdom.” This is a great chunk of scripture that empowers those of us that may feel like the “underdogs” when it comes to living for Christ. I would recommend reading this passage at least 4 times to get it to soak in, and don’t forget to circle the word “fool” as you come across it.
If God is looking for fools to impact the world, then count me in.
I have been wrestling how to do “confrontational” ministry the past couple years. I love meeting a stranger and just getting to the point, but there is a flood of people saying that the “confrontational” types need to chill out. Now, I have seen a few street preachers and I will admit that most of them have been pretty embarrassing to watch with all their shouts of damnation. Whoever all of them that have made me cringe have had a missing element…Compassion.
Imagine the impact these “crazy types” could have if compassion had led them to action rather than duty.
Check out this video of a famous loud-and-proud Atheist/magician, who recently got witnessed to in Vegas. He never came to Christ, however he had nothing bad to say about the stranger who shared Christ with him. Whoever this nameless follower of Christ was, I am convinced that he did it right.
Here is just a small example of just how far away from God this guy is (was).
I love this remixed Chinese Proverb I heard Pastor Mark Hughesshare a few weeks ago:
If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a week, go on a vacation.
If you want happiness for a month, get married.
If you want happiness for a year, win the lottery.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, [love God] and help others.
When it is all said and done. There are only three things that really matter and I guarantee that when your funeral rolls around people will be contemplating one (or all) of these three things about you.
1. Did you have a growing relationship with Jesus?
2. Did you live out your life with love, integrity, and character?
3. Did you help the lives that were around you?
Its amazing how those three things are not only what people talk about at funerals, but they are also what brings a person to the truest sense of happiness.
Your fortune won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your knowledge won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your fame won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your position won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
Your achievements won’t matter, but the lives you helped with it will.
I live in farm culture. A place where there is a strong ‘gitter done’ mentality. A place where if you’re not sweating then your not working. Infact, the idea of taking a rest, a hiatus, or especially a sabbatical is a foreign concept. Nobody out here wants to be that guy that was caught leaning on his shovel. There is some great strong truth in that mentality. It is healthy to steer clear from laziness and have a strong work ethic, but if a person never takes a break then eventually they themselves will be the one who breaks.
In college a couple of my roommates called me “Busy Biz” because I was always on the go, hoping to accomplish something for Jesus. Ministry became my obsession. I was always dreaming and even daring to push the boundaries, but after 14 years ministry began to loose it’s joy. I had a resume full of places I had gone and people I had ministered to, but it started to feel like a duty rather than a joy. The thrill of following Christ had faded. My emotions had gone raw. My wife took notice of my ministry fatigue and she began to encourage me to take a short break from ministry (a sabbatical). I initially laughed at the thought of taking an extended break, but she was persistent, and she won the tug-a-war match.
I spent 40 days disengaged from ministry. I still came up with a plan of things to do like: study my Bible, get healthy, cherish my family, house work, etc. But anything ministry related was out. No sermons. No planning. No dreaming. It was super hard at first because I felt like I was leaning on my shovel. But looking back it was one of the best things I have ever done. It gave me a fresh perspective and rekindled my heart for God an ministry. Its not the easiest thing for us driven types to do, but now something I plan to do every 7 years (Deuteronomy 31:10).
Why? Because in the long run it makes me stronger and my ministry healthier.
Are you one of those types who keeps pushing hard? Has it brought you to a place where you are starting to feel your passion fizzle? If that’s you then maybe its time to take a break and lean into God.
I remember the first time that I ever encountered a witchdoctor in Guatemala. I was terrified of him. He was in a cemetery chanting to demons (and God) on behalf of a suffering girl. He blew-up cans of beans in a fire, he spit alcohol on the back of the girl’s neck, he rubbed an egg on her head, and did many other things that I was not accustom to. I just sat there and watched – frozen in fear.
What could I do? Should I say anything? These witchdoctors were intimidating to say the least and watching them put this girl through this humbling process was heart breaking. I just sat there in disbelief for about an hour and walked away in fear. It is still one of my big regrets.
Last summer, I found myself at that same cemetery watching a witchdoctor performing witchcraft over a suffering woman. This time, I was determined to not let my fears get the best of me. After the woman was chanted over we literally chased her down a path in a cemetary. She said that she was late for something, but her ‘hurried behavior’ quickly went away when she heard the compassion in our voices. In the matter of seconds, her whole contenance changed. In desperation she asked us to pray for a skin problem that she had. Then as we were getting ready to go she urgently asked us to pray for her brother too. Our prayer time felt raw and real. Her eyes got watery as we prayed in deep faith that God would move in her life and her brother’s life. I conquered a fear that day, but reaching out to the witchdoctors would be a different story.
Later that day, I went back to the cemetery and just sat there watching a witchdoctor chant in front of a fire. I had no translator with me at the time, but I began to wonder what would happened if I just joined him. What would happened if I just went up and prayed for him out loud to Jesus while he was “praying” out loud to demons. As I placed my hand on his shoulder I prayed for him to find truth. He had no idea what I was saying and I had no idea what he was saying. According to this picture someone took, it actually appears that maybe he stopped chanting. It was one of the most bizarre and beautiful prayer “times” that I have ever had. My fear quickly vanished of these people while I was praying for him. It was a day that I allowed my trust in God to trump my fear of a people that I had become so intimidated by.
Intimidation sucks the life out of your God-given potential. Iv’e learned that the hard way numerous times. Even a few days after that moment in the cemetery, I missed opportunities because of fear. I have probably missed more opportunities than I have seized, because of my fear of people. And I hope to one day tip the balance the other way. May we as followers of Christ not let our fear of others keep us from stepping out boldly for Him. The love and truth that He has given us is for all to see and know and therefore the risks are always worth it.
I think that many people avoid Christianity like a plague because they think it requires people to follow a boring list of do’s and dont’s. If following Christ means us, Nebraska rednecks, transforming into a smiley Mr. Rogers, then lets be honest, its not that appealing. But I discovered that following after the cause of Christ is one of the most adrenaline packed adventures on the planet. Sure we value being good moral people, but scripture also tells us that Jesus has come to give us life, and give it to us to the full (John 10:10).
Last week I was at the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in Scotland. I am not sure how I made the inaugural team, but I got to be the first and only American on the six person team. It was a week full of adventure, survival training, and “Man Tests”. The guides were renown mountain guides who played major roles behind the scenes of Discovery channel’s, Man vs Wild. Even Bear Grylls, himself came to train our team for a day. We ate maggots, built shelters out of trees, made harnesses, crossed freezing rivers, climbed the mountains of Scotland, and eventually got “abandoned” on an island. My 35 year old body tanked hard and shivered all night, but that was what made it so much fun.
When the media was interviewing Bear Grylls, one lady turned to me and said why a “pastor” would want to do this survival course. I told her that it had a lot to do with my calling as a Christian to bring the hope of Christ, to dark, dangerous, and despised places. And that this survival training was not only beneficial for myself in those areas, but it could also benefit those that live in dangerous areas every day – I think it caught the reporter off guard. I hope she made the discovery that following Christ or even being a pastor doesn’t mean that we are members of a “Bored-in-the-Lord-Club.” Following hard after Christ gives believers a cause to engage that is full of love, adventure, and risk.
I was amazed at the spiritual conversations I was able to have with the other five team members. I guess, living in the wild away from technology has a way of making people do some intense soul searching. One student, decided to start opening himself up to Christ while another fellow student asked me for my Bible. The training I received at BGSA was fulfilling, but it was in those moments that I felt most full and alive.
Bear Grylls himself stated in his book, Mud Sweat and Tears, “Christ comes to make us free, to bring us life in all its fullness. He is there to forgive us where we have messed up (and who hasn’t), and to be the backbone in our being.”
If you have scrapped the idea of Christianity or church for of any number of reasons then I would encourage you to get involved with a community of Christ followers that is alive and active. Give it everything you got and you yourself may make the great discovery that living for Christ is everything, but boring.
Caleb Bislow the author of Dangerous and founder of Unusual Soldiers.