You Should Write a Book

by Guest Blogger David Wentz

You should write a book.

If you’re a Christian, you should write a book. In today’s world many people know so little about Christ that they truly wonder why a reasonable and intelligent person would be or become a Christian. They wonder what difference it makes in your life. They wonder a lot of things about being a Christian that have nothing to do with theology and apologetics and all the stuff you may feel unqualified to discuss. You are qualified to discuss what being a Christian means to you. People want to read that.

If you’re a pastor, you’re already writing. Every sermon is a potential chapter. Every series is a potential book.

Modern publishing is amazingly easy. The entire process can be done from your home computer at no cost. And people need to hear what Christians have to say. The question is not, “Should I write a book?” Your only question should be, “Which book do I write first?”

For me the answer came when I was leading workshops for pastors in Turkey. Many are converts from Islam who never experienced an established church. They knew how to evangelize, but then they were stuck. They needed practical pointers on the life and job of a pastor. That was the start of Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts.

They’re not alone. A Facebook group called Things They Didn’t Teach Us in Seminary has over 16,000 members. Knowing the Bible, theology ,and church history is vital, but pastors also need to know how to run a church.

Thirty-eight years pastoring experience plus a varied denominational and academic background added up to more than just teaching notes. I realized I had a book.

Experts say it’s important to expand your author platform. I started Facebook friending every name that popped up and offered to email my manuscript to anyone who would give feedback. I was blown away when a leader in Kenya asked to use it to teach his pastors. He turned it into a sixty-hour course of study. On August 25, sixty-three men and women received certificates of completion.

In Uganda, Pastoring was taught in a jail ministry. A superintendent in Kenya and a professor in Nigeria have used it. It’s been taught in India and Pakistan. All this just from the emailed PDF! Since it came out online in August, a publisher in India has asked for rights and I’ve had offers to translate into several languages. You never know what God might do with what you write.

You might think, “But I don’t have any great special knowledge. Why should I write a book?”

I thought I just knew what every pastor knows, but apparently not. One reviewer said, “I’ve been a pastor for fifteen years and I’m learning a great deal.” You have unique experiences, perspective and voice. Somebody out there needs that.

Here are some examples of my voice as I wrote to train and encourage pastors:

  1. A pastor’s job is to equip God’s people to do God’s work until they resemble God’s Son (Ephesians 4:12-13). Focus on that and God will take care of the rest.
  2. If you please your members, you will be popular and your church will be small. If you please outsiders you’re getting warmer. But if you please God, watch out – you might catch fire!
  3. God doesn’t condone human sacrifice. Don’t lay your family on the altar of your church.
  4. Your people don’t care about theology, so you have to. Nobody ever set out to invent a heresy. Your knowledge of theology and church history is your people’s spiritual safety harness.
  5. Never overestimate people’s vocabulary, never underestimate their intelligence. Some really smart people don’t know what “infralapsarianism” means. If you can’t put it in simple words, you don’t either.
  6. Learn from everybody. Worship as many ways and with as many kinds of people as you can.
  7. Sometimes God wants Lazarus dead. Jesus didn’t automatically answer Martha’s summons, he asked God what to do. Don’t let expectations drive your ministry.
  8. If someone can possibly find a way to misunderstand you they will. Vet your words for ways that might happen, before you put them out there.
  9. Your church sign is important, your name on it isn’t. Unless your name is Billy Graham, nobody cares who the pastor is. They just want to know what time to be there, in letters they can read at the speed limit.
  10. Have each other’s backs. Pastoring is a tough job. We may disagree on some major issues, but we are all in this together. We need each other.

These are things I’ve learned that might help other pastors. Of course there’s more to my book – 330 pages worth.

You’ve learned different things that might help different people. I bet if you started writing them down they’d come to many pages. Somebody needs to know them.

You should write a book!

Pastoring: The Nuts and Bolts available here!


About guest blogger David Wentz: 

Serving as a pastor since 1981 has honed David’s passion for helping people connect with God and make a difference.

Add a varied church background, a first career in engineering, and graduate degrees from three very different seminaries (charismatic, mainstream and Wesleyan-evangelical) and you can see why he expresses God’s truth in ways everyone can appreciate.

Raised in the Episcopal church, David has also been part of Nazarene, Pentecostal Holiness, and non-denominational congregations. As a United Methodist pastor he has served small, large, and multi-cultural churches in rural, small town, suburban and urban settings. David served as a regional church consultant in the Maryland – D.C. area and has led workshops for pastors in Turkey. In 2015 he retired to the rural Ozarks, where he writes, works in God’s great outdoors, and continues to pastor part-time.

David-Wentz
In 1974, David married his college sweetheart, Paula. They have five children, all with wonderful spouses, and fourteen grandchildren.

David-Wentz_2

David earned a B.S. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia; two Masters of Divinity, one from Melodyland School of Theology and one from Wesley Theological Seminary; and a Doctor of Ministry in Christian Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.

In his spare time David enjoys playing sax and flute in jazz and blues jams (though those are hard to come by in bluegrass country), and writing worship music with his guitar.

His heroes are John Wesley, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (And for you old baseball fans, Brooks Robinson.)



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Christian Editing ServicesCreating Christian Books for KidsPray for Ministries around the World, and Find Christian Links 

Questions? Email karen@ChristianEditingServices.com 

Weighing the Cost

by Guest Blogger Matt Giesbrecht

In His mercy, Christ bids us to weigh the cost to follow Him. However, those who respond to the free gift of salvation are those to whom Christ beckons to consider how to respond.

Jesus challenges His disciples in Luke 14:25-34 to weigh the cost of following Him, Matt-Gmaking sure to warn them with an illustration in verses 28-33 (New International Version):

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

I have a sinking feeling that many so-called Christians in our culture take little consideration of the calling that is the Christian faith. In many ways, it seems, Western Christendom (is that still a thing?) is treated more like a worldview, perspective, or philosophy, than it is a devoted, long-suffering commission. (Reducing anything to a mere worldview nullifies any real significance it has, making it one of many “options” among the plethora of competitive frameworks. This is a grave mistreatment of the promise of salvation through Christ Jesus.)

Christ calls us to discipleship, a calling to lose anything and everything that stands in the way of our devotion to Him. Twentieth century German theologian and martyr Diedrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “[t]he first Christ-suffering which [everyone] must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old [self] which is the result of [an] encounter with Christ,” (Diedrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, italics added). [Click here to read where else I use this quote.]

In His mercy, Christ bids us to weigh the cost to follow Him. This isn’t to say that we choose our salvation. Christ won salvation for all that are called by God. However, those who respond to the free gift of salvation are those to whom Christ beckons to consider how to respond. Those who respond in humility and lay down all else for the eternal gift of salvation commit to abandon earthly things (sin and anything that competes with God). These are chosen by the Heavenly Father and united in eternal fellowship with Him.

Christ is recorded in an earlier passage in Luke, speaking to this.

Luke 9:22-26 (NIV):

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

So what does it mean to forfeit one’s self? A common English definition of the passive verb “forfeit” is “to lose or to be deprived of something, (have something confiscated) out of consequence of wrongdoing.” So, Christ’s warning is to those who refuse to come under His Lordship and give up the things that claim allegiance in their own lives, in place of Him–the rightful claimant of their allegiance. These are the ones who shame themselves in the end and are rejected by Christ, as a consequence of rejecting Him.

However, the wellspring comes to those who, unlike the former, see the gain of surrendering to Jesus. I doubt this could be possible without them first truly understanding (and appreciating) salvation. This is, of course, our undeserved redemption from sin and bondage, but also our inheritance into the Kingdom of God and position as His holy stewards on earth–set apart for His mission.

Those who realise the gravity of their sins and understand the impact of Christ’s grace over them are those who are not only capable to weigh the cost to follow Jesus but also acknowledge the worth in doing so. They, not unlike their counterparts, forfeit their lives as well, consequently. However, theirs is an active forfeiting–out of allegiance to Christ. A necessary consequence of honouring Him. They have concluded that the world is worth losing in light of gaining much more: the abundance of knowing Jesus Christ.

My prayer is that more in this world would come to grips with this and surrender what can only serve as a loss in the end. I know that I would rather suffer earthly death than to give up eternal life with the God who loves me and calls me His own. The weight of losing this marvelous gift is far more than I can bear.


About Matt Giesbrecht, Guest Blogger

Matthew-Giesbrecht_FCL-8-22-19Matthew Giesbrecht (BTh) and his wife live in Southern Manitoba, Canada. They have two small children. Matt has always aspired to be a writer, and it is his greatest joy to use his talents for the goodness of his Heavenly Father.

Matt’s passions have led him to try his hand at blogging about his faith walk on his page Chronicles of a Broken Saint. He hopes that his inklings will inspire others to place their faith in Jesus Christ. Matt understands that faith in the One called Truth is not easy in our culture of so-called relativism, but that it is an exercise of surrender, humility, obedience and wonderment. Chronicles of a Broken Saint centers on these real life faith issues.

Touched by the Master

See the source imageby Guest Blogger Jason Moore

Many have outstretched hands reaching for a touch. In a recent trip to Asia, God made this thought of “being touched by the Master” personal to me.

We quietly entered the building under the cover of night. The concrete building had that familiar musty smell. We got into the elevator and went to the eighth floor.

As I entered the apartment, I glanced around the room. Many faces met my eyes . . . brothers and sisters with fervent hearts with one purpose—to hear the Word.

We were packed into this small apartment; the air was warm and stifling and most sat on the floor. The fellowship was full of joy and thanksgiving. Many had worked all day and were physically tired, but the anointing quickened.

The music began hushed, and eyes closed and hands rose. God was moving heart to heart, and strength was being administered. The sound was angelic as hearts reached for God in worship. Then silence and prayer began. Thankfulness and faith were dripping from their lips with tears of joy—the Father was there.

As the Bible was opened, focus was heightened and pens scribbled with the eternal word that touched their hearts. Time seemed to stand still as heaven came down; four hours seemed to be minutes.

My heart was touched to see the lives of these Chinese believers. This was an illegal meeting as far as their government goes, but to them, missing it was not an option. As we filed out quietly, the smiles and burning hearts were refining my heart. The Spirit seemed to say, “The fire burns till the gold reflects the face of the Refiner, vessels fit for the Master’s use.” As they passed by, I prayed, “Lord, please hide each one in my heart and cause me to remember the price of the gospel.”

The power of a touch. Jesus was in a great crowd and said, “Virtue has gone out of me, Who touched me?” The healed woman came timidly out of the crowd. “Daughter, you are made whole.” One touch.

The work of God is beyond anything natural, and it is not limited to our faith. His loving touch changes our world. “And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly” (Mark 8:23-25 KJV). The blind man, when he was first touched, didn’t see clearly, but the second time he saw with understanding.

We can be the same. In prayer, the blindfold comes off. The scales fall from our eyes. We begin to realize the power of a touch from God. Our hard heart can be made soft and receptive again.

Life doesn’t make sense unless the Lord touches us again and again in prayer and meditation. Prayer draws us into the limitless resource of the Eternal. Prayer is the breath of the believer, our weakness leaning on His omnipotence. Let’s discover His beauty and be renewed with personal power. Bow before God and let him put his hands on your eyes so you can see Him in action today.


Many thanks to our guest blogger, Jason Moore. Please visit his websites: jasonfmoore.com and About Me

About Jason Moore

family christmas.jpgPassionate about reaching people from all walks of life, Jason Moore has been involved in worldwide mission work and discipleship since the age of sixteen. While living in Ukraine, he completed his internship in church planting, resulting in three new churches that continue to thrive today.

As a graduate of Maryland Bible College and Seminary with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies, he leads the Pastoral Care team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore, MD. He serves as a guest speaker in churches throughout the United States and overseas. With his wife, Leah, and son, Carson, he is dedicated to guiding people in discovering the riches of God’s grace.

Overflow

by Guest Blogger Jason Moore

Jason-Moore_8-26-19_cup-overflowsThe psalmist shows us a life-giving secret to ministry. Overflow. He writes in Psalms 23:5, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Overflow comes as we receive and respond to the Lord in our lives. As our hearts are filled with his promises, we are prepared for what a day will bring. Just as an eight-ounce glass spills over when more in poured into it, when we are filled to overflowing with God’s love, it “spills over” on others.

Often we measure out what we think we need for ourselves when God wants to pour out in abundance. As we delight in the Lord, our ministry to the Lord ministers to people. In worship we honor him with thanksgiving. Our hearts get full. He anoints our head with fresh oil (Psalm 92:10) and it overflows to others. If we change the order of this equation, we run the risk of giving people the best of ourselves and our solutions but not God’s best. Overflow of God’s presence creates more than problem solvers—it is life-giving.  

In the kingdom of God, we are called first “unto” Christ before being called “out” in ministry. Christ’s life is what produces real-life and transformation. In this place of communion, faith is born. A personal encounter with God develops a personal ministry to others.  

God’s will is for us to enjoy a love relationship with him first; then the overflow of that relationship will feed our call to action. Notice this in Lamentations 3:24-26: “I say to myself, The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him, The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 

Live for the audience of One—this will have an eternal impact.


Many thanks to our guest blogger, Jason Moore. Please visit his websites: jasonfmoore.com and About Me

About Jason Moore

family christmas.jpgPassionate about reaching people from all walks of life, Jason Moore has been involved in worldwide mission work and discipleship since the age of sixteen. While living in Ukraine, he completed his internship in church planting, resulting in three new churches that continue to thrive today.

As a graduate of Maryland Bible College and Seminary with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies, he leads the Pastoral Care team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore, MD. He serves as a guest speaker in churches throughout the United States and overseas. With his wife, Leah, and son, Carson, he is dedicated to guiding people in discovering the riches of God’s grace.

 

Faith, Love, and Emotions

I meet with a group of pastors every Thursday for prayer. This is not just any prayer meeting. About six years ago, at a time when I deeply needed a group of people I could trust and be transparent with, God directed me to these pastors. And I’ve been with my band of brothers and sisters since. To me, the meeting is a life-line.

Last Thursday, I facilitated the meeting. Wanting to gather us around a subject to pray, I shared the following story.

 “Yesterday, I got this email from one of the underground church leaders in the Middle East telling me about this amazing house church that has become well known for her good works and tenacity. The members are true believers, whom in the midst of all kinds of hardship and persecution, are trying very hard to please God and stick to their Christian faith. If you knew their story, you’d see how much they have suffered for Christ and yet, they’ve not given up being faithful to their Lord and savior.

 Perhaps above all, they’re not only solid followers of Christ, they’re doctrinally sound. The teaching you hear out of that church puts most of us to shame. Throughout the years, this church has stood up to many bad teachers, but they have proven all of them to be wrong and have kicked them out of the church. What I mean is that their teaching is very biblical.

 Now, let’s be honest. How many of us wouldn’t desire to have a church like that? Is there one church in America that wouldn’t do everything she can to be known by these qualities? Yet, with all her fine virtues, this church has a major problem. Let me read you the email…”

 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.  I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Well, I tricked everyone. The church wasn’t in the Middle East, but Ephesus. There was no email. I was simply reading what the Lord told John about this church in the book of Revelation. What is troubling about this wonderful church is what Jesus says next,

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Rev. 2:1-5) NIV

 Apparently, according to the Cornerstone of the Church, Jesus, having all those wonderful qualities means nothing if you don’t have that first love. Without that love, the congregation in Ephesus is doomed/will cease to exist.

 But what is the first love?

 In all my years of being a follower of Christ, I don’t remember having heard too many messages on this subject. The ones I have heard always referred to the first love as witnessing for Jesus like you used to, reading your Bible like you used to, going to church like you used to, and so on. They completely overlooked the fact that according to Jesus, the Ephesians did not “used to” do all that, but were doing it at the moment, and yet they were in danger of being put out. In fact, one commentator says, “They had yielded to the temptation, ever present to Christians, to put all their emphasis on sound teaching. In the process they lost love…”

 So, what is this first love?

 To me it all goes back to the Greatest Commandment in the Bible.

 Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mk 12:29-31) The Message

 The love that God requires of us, that first love, is an all-consuming love. It’s a type of love that demands of you everything that makes you, you. It requests not just your actions, but your zeal, passion, and yes, YOUR EMOTIONS and FEELINGS. In this love, the Beloved is the life-giving center of the lover’s life to the point that without him, life for the lover is meaningless.

 If in loving us, God gave us of his own very essence, his only Son, then it’s only fair that in return, He requires the same from us, our very essence. This love demands that the lover becomes one with his/her Beloved. And in doing so, to wholly lose him/herself in him. His heart, his will, his thoughts, his strength, his feelings and emotions become yours and vice versa.

 Molana Rumi, the great Persian mystic poet of the 13th century, describes such a love with the following story.

 There came one and knocked at the door of the Beloved.
And a voice answered and said, ‘Who is there?’
The lover replied, “It is I.”

“Go away,” returned the voice;
“there is no room within for YOU and me.”
Then came the lover a second time and knocked and again the voice demanded,
“Who is there?”
He answered, “It is you” “Only you are at the door”
The voice said, “Now, since you are me, O me, come in,
since there’s no room for two ‘me’s’ in the house.

 And Paul, the Apostle puts it this way,

 I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. (Gal. 2:20) The Message

 As the author of The Cloud of Unknowing says,

Love is ‘ecstatic’ in that it takes us out of ourselves to live in the thing we love. If we love money, we live in money; if we love friends, we live in them, if we love them in God, we live in God. That means in love there is a real death.

 I’ve never claimed to be a theologian, but I’m convinced that what Paul is referring to is NOT some theological hypothesis, but an existential reality, which he has and is experiencing—a continued disappearing of Paul into Jesus. He realizes that to follow Jesus, it requires an actual dead to self/ego, a replacing of one identity with another, so that, as Rumi says, there are no longer “two me’s,” but only one “I AM.”

I believe the first love is the very river that guides every follower of Christ to strive to please him. Because when we learn to love with that intensity, we have no desire to do anything, but to please our Beloved.

 But how does one learn to love with that intensity? Be assured that it isn’t something you just conjure up by yourself.

 It first starts with God. He’s the one who initiates the relationship and comes after us. He’s the one who relentlessly pursues us until we are found in him. And as the Scripture says, He’s the one who first lavishes us with his unconditional love and makes us fall in love with him.

 Have you ever been in love? When you fall in love, your lover is the total objective of your living. Every moment that you’re awake you think about him/her. Every breath you take, you take in his/her memory. You eat and drink dreaming of being with your lover. More than anything else, you desire to be in your lover’s presence even if he/she doesn’t utter a word. There’s nothing you will not do to be with him/her. As the song says,

Ain’t no mountain high enough

Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep you from getting to your lover

I love what Origen, one of the early Church Fathers, says about this love affair. “Without ceasing,” writes Origen, “the soul searches after the bridegroom, the Word, and when it finds him, it looks for him again, like an addict, in other things as well.” That kind of love is an addictive love. All one can do is to cry out for more of it and like a deer that pants after water pants after the Beloved — the only one who can satisfy that thirst.

 Unfortunately, today, within much of western theology, this type of love is frowned upon because it is experiential and smacks of emotionalism. One of my Old Testament seminary professors used to say something like, “Through the influence of Hellenistic philosophy, we took a happy and emotion-filled religion (Judaism) and turned it into emotionless western Christianity.” And I can personally testify to that.

 For most of my Christian life, my mentors taught me that my experiences and feelings are of little or no value because they can’t be trusted. Yet, as I read the Bible, I noticed that it is a book of human’s experiences with their Creator. Without those experiences, there wouldn’t have been a Bible. And if God wants me to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, then my feelings got to fit in there somewhere. Is it possible that in our own western thinking we have created a type of love that requires no emotions or feelings? In his book, Surprised by the Presence of God, Jack Deer gives the following illustration:

Suppose a husband comes home after work and walks up to his wife, who is cooking in the kitchen and says, “Honey, I want you to know that I’ll always be faithful to our marriage vows. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will be your provider and protector for as long as I live. I’ll be a good father to our children. You will always have a roof over your head and food on the table. However, there’s one small issue that I hope you understand. I HAVE NO MORE FEELINGS FOR YOU!” How do you think the wife would react? One marriage counselor told me that he often hears wives complain that, “My husband is a good dad and provider, but he’s lost his passion for the marriage relationship.”

 Is it possible that the church in Ephesus was being rebuked by our Lord for being guilty of the same thing? Like the above husband, she could be a perfect church, but without any passion and feelings, much like a robot? Are we guilty of the same thing in our relationship with our Savior? What if you had the exact conversation with Jesus, our Bridegroom?  How do you think He would feel when you tell him, “But I have no more feelings for you?”

 I often ask people why they attend church on Sundays. They often give me sound theological answers:

  • “I went to church because it is scriptural.”

  • “I went to worship.”

  • “I went to fellowship.”

  • “I went to hear a message and get fed.”

  • “I went to find a mate.”

  • And finally, “I went to get away from my mate.”

 But I have hardly ever heard anyone say, “I went to meet with God.” Because as far as they’re concerned, their hard work, their refusal to quit, not stomaching evil, weeding out apostolic pretenders, their persistence, their courage in God’s cause, and not wearing out must be enough in serving Christ.

 Can we be honest here? Have you lost that first love?


Once again, many thanks to Shah Afshar for this guest post. Please visit his website.

ABOUT SHAH

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Shah Afshar

Shahkrokh “Shah” Afshar is an original. He founded and pastored the first Iranian Christian organization in the United States. Shah has been instrumental in reaching the Muslim world with the gospel. His work as a professor and as a Muslim world mission coordinator for Foursquare Missions International expanded his influence worldwide. As a former Muslim and seminary-trained leader, Shah shares unique insights with humor and wit. His passion is to communicate the relevance of Christ’s message to a skeptical generation. Shah is available to speak at conventions, churches, schools and for TV/radio interviews.

A Broken SAINT

by Guest Blogger Matt Giesbrecht

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines broken in various ways. In particular, it defines broken as “damaged or altered by breaking” and “made weak or infirm.” MW also defines broken as being “cut off or disconnected” and “incomplete.” In a word, to be broken is to be imperfect.

It defines saint as having to do with personal holiness and being “one of God’s chosen.”

The definitions of the former (broken) I look to as descriptors of myself and have done so for as long as I can remember. That of the latter, however, I struggle to identify with. From a worldly standard, I suppose all I have is my personal understanding of who I am and what I desire to be. The humanist raison d’être, after all, is exactly what set this standard. I cannot be more than what I am, but I can be the best of what I am. It seems like a virtuous standard, nonetheless. However virtuous, the fallout of my imperfection remains in some circumstances disastrous. I have hurt people by my choices. I have hurt myself. Surely my best has in some ways been less than virtuous.

This marks my first post on my new blog hosted by WordPress. I decided to make the change to WordPress for no particular reason other than to find out how different the experience will be. If anyone enjoys reading my posts and would like to read my previous entries, please feel free to read them here.

I figured I would start my blog by pointing out the meaning behind its name, or at least, it’s significance to me.

I am learning (I feel I must use the term “learning” loosely, as it seems I am a slow learner at things of life) to regard myself as a broken saint. Of course, this is a label I am giving myself. Let me explain its significance for me.

As a broken saint, I am both faltered and redeemed. Inasmuch as my brokenness is part of my spiritual and moral DNA, (I cannot be anything other than fallen from the heavenly standard set by an objective Creator-God) my saint-ness is bestowed upon me by a Salvific, merciful God. I have not chosen to be a saint any more than I have chosen to be broken. These are both things outside my determination.

Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human . . .,” which simply means that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, causes pain, and fails at keeping even their own standards from time to time. This is something all human beings cannot help. My brokenness comes as a result of simply being human.

Pope included, “. . . to forgive divine.” If the realization comes that we are in fact destined to imperfection (without changing some rule or set of rules to suit ourselves), it should dawn on us that there stands on objective standard or principle, and in order to allow hope beyond our failures, there needs to be some sort of pardon. Enter the cosmic plan of a divine Saviour.

From the onset of Creation, my Heavenly Father chose to make me part of His plan of salvation. I believe this plan is for everyone, whether they choose to accept it or not. Not only this, God-through-Christ has intended to include me in His Kingdom work, laying on me a responsibility to extend His rule in the world I live in. He chose this for me before I was born, before I knew Him, and while I was still His enemy. He tarried for me to accept this new identity until I did; and I believe He tarries for me still, as I continue, like Jacob, to wrestle with Him over Lordship of my life. He awaits for me to yield to His benevolent authority.

I’m a saint because God says I am and only because I have accepted my brokenness apart from Him. Without having made the choice to cling to the salvation offered me by the only One who can save me, I would remain lost in my brokenness, though still dysfunctional in make-up. I’m a saint who is being pieced together by my Maker. He fills the cracks, re-wires my character, restores my soul. For this I am thankful.

For as long as I live under the rule of Christ, I am a Broken Saint.

Journey to Jesus: Building Christ-Centered Friendships with Muslims

By Mike Urton

The Pew Research Forum projects that the population of Muslims in the U.S. will more than double in the next three decades.[1]   Muslims from around the globe are moving into our neighborhoods, working in the same companies and studying alongside us in schools.  This is an amazing act of God as he is bringing precious Muslims into our sphere of influence.

Image previewIn order to be prepared to engage this unprecedented opportunity, Christians in North America need training.  That’s why we developed Journey to Jesus: Building Christ-centered Friendships with Muslims.

There are many resources currently on the market which offer training and equipping for reaching Muslims living among us.  What makes this particular training tool unique is that it is centered on three true-to-life dramas, each of which demonstrates how Christians can invite Muslims into their relationships with Jesus. Each of the three Muslims depicted represent three types of Muslims Americans may encounter here in North America. The three dramas are:

  1. Kate and Saalima: mommies who meet at a local park. Saalima is a recent immigrant from Egypt.
  1. Larry and Azim: men who work for the same tech company and enjoy conversations over lunch. Azim is a liberal Muslim from India.
  1. Brian and Abdul: fellow students who meet on campus at an American university. Abdul is a conservative Muslim who likes debating apologetics.

These scenarios are accompanied by teaching curriculum in the form of narrated power points.  The teaching sessions explore Christian attitudes towards people of other faiths, the importance of extending Christ-centered hospitality, an introduction to Muslim beliefs and culture, as well as how to deal with barriers that Muslims have in trusting Christ as Lord and Savior.  Each teaching session also provides questions and significant small group discussion time so that participants can process what they are learning together.

Journey to Jesus is designed for group leaders to have minimal preparation time.  Each session has a leader’s guide outlining the flow for that particular week.  Printable student handouts are provided for each session.  Leading a group through this curriculum is really as simple as reading over the leader’s guide, printing the relevant student handouts, inserting the disc and hitting play on a DVD player.

It is our prayer that this highly accessible and quality resource will encourage many Christians to step out in faith and build Christ-centered relationships with Muslims, so that they too can know the joy of following Christ!  Begin your journey today by getting this resource here.

[1] Besheer Mohamed. 2018. New Estimates show U.S. Muslim population continues to grow. Pew Forum. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/03/new-estimates-show-u-s-muslim-population-continues-to-grow/ (accessed July 9, 2019)


Many thanks to Rev. Mike Urton for doing this guest post. To learn more about this much needed ministry and how you can get involved, please visit COMMA: Reaching Muslims Together.