The first feeling embraces me in October; with the smell of mandarins. It’s like I’m carried through time and can touch some of that special season of the year. Why is it that the month of December is so much better than all the other “cold” months of the year? Surely, we all enjoy the traditional food that follows, not to speak about the cakes, drinks and sweets that we devour in our nicely decorated homes. Still, within there is something more that is stirred up…
I remember how I would wake up the 1st of December and run towards the calendar that my mum had carefully made. Small gifts wrapped up in shiny paper and attached to a green board with red flannel hearts. At school, my favorite teacher would start the day by letting us light the advent candles and singing: “…waiting for the small child in the manger”.
My grandfather, the best and funniest old man I know, lives in a big house with a lovely garden and his own forest. On the 23rd we would bring a sledge out into the forest where the trees were loaded with snow to find a spruce. I still remember how fun it was to be able to decorate it with my older sister, and how it was to be pinched by the pines from time to time. The smell filled the living room, and when my father would turn on the small lights, Christmas was at the door.
Then finally it arrives: Christmas Eve. Excitement, keen impatience and butterflies within. I could hardly wait for the unwrapping of all the gifts that caught my attention under the tree. My grandfather or one of the grandchildren would read the Nativity story from the Bible before we prayed and thanked God. My thoughts, I have to admit, were mostly on what I would unwrap in a few moments.
This year, I decided to reflect more on why we actually celebrate CHRISTmas. And that is partly why I write this article. It is easy, at least for me, to set my mind on all the things associated with Christmas; food, gifts, decorations and so on. All these things are nice and I will still appreciate them, but at the same time ponder more upon the real Father Christmas. To thank Him for giving the most precious He had; His own Son. The greatest gift of all.
As of late, I have been digging into some Norwegian culture, and more specifically “Sophie’s World” by Jostein Gaarder. This book is an absorbing introduction to philosophy, that has caused me to consider different areas of life. One of the sentences that had me cogitating was one by David Hume, describing some of what is happening in our minds as:
a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed one another with an unconceivable rapidity, and are in perpetual flux and movement. Sophie’s World p272
Well, if this is happening in me, then my goal in life is to include, or rather acknowledge Jesus in as many of these perceptions as possible. Another person to have voiced this thought is Frank Laubach, missionary in the Philippines (only American missionary to be honored on a US postage stamp). In his pamphlet “The Game with Minutes” he invited Christians to attempt keeping God in mind for at least one second of every minute of the day.
You should try it! It is a challenge to keep up, but it is a great blessing! Here is the pamphlet for you to download:
[a href=”http://hockleys.org/wp-content/uploads/Game_with_Minutes.pdf” style=”small” title=”Download The Game With Minutes – PDF” target=””]Dowload the Game with Minutes – PDF[/a]
What would happen if youth groups around the world started uniting, and going out into the streets to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What if, through the means of social networking and internet, they would share ideas, testimonies, building each other up, pushing each other to go forward with the Gospel. What if tools were put into their hands, enabling them to communicate spiritual truths in a relevant way to their generation ? What if they would learn how to disciple, and include new believers in the church?
There is much more to it, but these are some of the thoughts behind the Jesus People project that we have been working with in Oslo, producing teaching manuals, a website, teaching DVDs’ and a book, to equip the youth to reach out. Whereas in the past, we have concentrated on training people in bases, our focus is now: “how can we start, and sustain these evangelistic groups around the world?” The official start should be sometime in 2009.
Here is a little video of the group in Oslo:
Do you have any thoughts or ideas that could help us? Are there things we should do, or not do?
Guro and I have just come back from holiday in Spain. Coming back to work is an amazing blessing when you love the work you are doing. Here is a top 10 list of reasons why I love working with missions:
Getting to know God more – I have definitely discovered amazingly much about Him through spending time with Him
I found my amazing wife in missions
Seeing others finding God – One of life’s greatest experiences is being with someone that feels God’s presence for the first time, or that understands the message of the Gospel, or that get healed by God on the streets
All the friends with a heart for God that I have made
Traveling and getting to know different cultures, meeting new people, making new friends, eating new kinds of food
Inspiring other young Christians to live for God, and being an example for them
Spending my time meaningfully, impacting eternity and living for something greater than me
Being constantly challenged in different ways. This enables me to grow!
Walking alongside great leaders, people that I can trust and be inspired of.
Living by faith financially – Maybe not something that I always “love”, but a blessing for sure!
With our Mission Training School underway, I have been reading about leadership, and particularly a book by John Maxwell called “Relationships 101”, a great book about becoming a servant and living for others.
A mistake that I tend to make as a leader is that I think too much in terms of influence and impressing, rather than in terms of investing into people’s lives. That usually reveals one thing: insecurity. Have you ever noticed that the people that encourage others the most are the most secure? When we feel the need to elevate ourselves above anyone else, it is because we base our value upon what other people think about us. In the same way, if we are unable to encourage, it is because we are unwilling to consider others more highly than ourselves.
Show me someone who thinks he is too important to serve, and I’ll show you someone who is basically insecure. John Maxwell
So are you a servant, are you investing into people’s lives, releasing them to be all God wants them to be? Or are you insecure? Part of the cure is just to start serving in small things, and your heart will follow you mind. Use every opportunity you have to encourage the people around you, and to make them feel important!
A new season is starting at Jesus Revolution’s base in Oslo. Tomorrow our new missionaries are coming from all over Europe. Three of my heroes, Vidar, Kristine and Guro will lead the mission training school.
An interesting question is raised up every year when I see that there are many more young women than boys coming. This is reflected in every other mission’s organization that I know.
Here are some of my questions on the subject (*updated from the comments):
Girls are more sensitive to God’s calling?
The evangelism methods used by our organizations tend to be artistic in a way that appeals more to young women than young men?
This is simply a reflection of a more general trend in the church today where women are much more involved than men?
Young men love Mama’s cooking too much?
A lack of masculine examples?
Queen Victoria’s influence over the church of England and methodism in the 19th century.(*updated from Joshua’s comment)
The increasing depreciation of men in society which has come into the church (*updated from Magnus’ comment)
Our home church in Oslo, Jesus Church, has just organized it’s first festival called “Jesus Festival”. I estimate that about 2000 different people turned up during the week to celebrate Jesus, be equipped, and learn about reaching the nations. My flesh didn’t like the festival so much, and here is why:
It reminded me of who I should be and the work to be done
Ron Luce was one of the guest preachers at the conference. He also held a youth ministry leader workshop, and depicted the condition of the world’s youth. This reminded me that I cannot have a self-centered, comfortable life; I have a great responsibility as a leader for young people, a fact altogether too easy for me and many of us to forget. If I am going to be a part of reaching this generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I need to dream, to plan, and to work more than ever before. Painful stuff for the flesh, but so good to hear.
Too much focus on Jesus and Missions
True to modern Christianity, my flesh would have liked to hear Ulf Ekman and Denis Rouse, the other guest preachers, share about how to be a successful middle-class Christian. Unfortunately, one preached about the Holy Spirit, and the other about value transformation, how to deny yourself and be more like Jesus. On Saturday, Jesus Revolution celebrated its 10 years with a MEGA concert, putting together many great songs from these last years. Again, the need for workers in Europe was preached. My flesh didn’t like it, but I loved it! Added to this, great worship and fellowship finished the work. I look forward to next year!
A revolution caused by Jesus. That is what I have experienced in my own life, seen in many young people’s lives and desire still to see in lives all over the world. For this is true: when Jesus is preached, He is able to act, save and heal.
These last 6 years I have been able to receive wonderful, transforming and inspiring teaching and to travel around in Europe seeing people touched by the love of God. He is madly in love with us! His hands are stretched out all day, all night to people that right now don’t even care about Him. Our task is to let them know. And as we do this we are changed too.
One of my best years
One of the greatest years I had in Jesus Revolution, was in 2004. I was asked to be the team leader of a concert team going to the north-western part of Europe. Knowing I was inadequate in myself for the huge task, I cried out to God for His help and wisdom. As Jesus Christ said…, I did receive. Ideas, help and wisdom. It was a wonderful team, a wonderful tour and a wonderful bonus; I got to know Paul, who has now been my husband for two years, and I am extremely thankful to God for this precious gift. I learned many things throughout the year, also from mistakes. We all experienced that as we stepped out from our own comfort, we saw God working through us.
I still remember a concert in Holland as if it was last week. We were all very tired and ready for Easter holidays. A girl in the team was injured and I felt as if I had no strength for another concert. As we stepped out in front of the people, I felt God’s Spirit in a powerful way, many responded to the gospel and we were all amazed. Truly, “it is not by might and power, but by The Holy Spirit.”
One thing is sure; God can use anyone who makes themselves available for Him. It is up to us. Not to accomplish, but to be willing.
Lesson 1: The place in Europe where people are the most closed to the Gospel is in the brains of the Christians.
Wherever I have been, in the north, the south, east, and west of Europe, there is openness to the Gospel among the youth. I have yet to come to one place where more people are not interested than those that are. When I am out on the streets, I tend to be very selective as to who I would like to speak to depending on people’s appearance. However, I have discovered that frequently, those that are very interested are those that don’t seem to be on the outside.
Lesson 2: People want the supernatural — pray for the sick.
All over Europe, many of the people I have met recognize the genuineness of my experiences with God, but then go on to affirm that they need their own experiences to be able to believe. I have found out that asking people if they have pain anywhere in their bodies, and then praying for them, is a great way to witness. When Jesus heals them on the spot, they are immediately interested in hearing more. Try it out for yourself! The more you pray for the sick, the more you will see healed…
Lesson 3: People need to dissociate their thoughts of Jesus from their thoughts of the church.
I admit that this is a trickier one. The church has not always been a great example of Jesus’ love; as the DC talk song intro puts it: “the greatest cause of atheism in the world today, is Christians.” You can use this simple example that I was taught: Christianity can be assimilated to an orange. If you bite straight into it, it is very bitter. But if you take away the peel, the inside is very sweet. Often, if people look at Christianity, it looks rotten or bitter. This is because of the peel of man-made religion that has been put around the inside: Jesus. He is the very heart of religion, and will never disappoint. When people get this, their picture of God changes.
Hope this was helpful for you! Do you agree? Do you have any tips for witnessing?