Five-Fold Ministry: Evangelist

Synonyms: gatherer, revivalist, etc.

Characteristics: Convicting communicator (which gives power to influence people), has a deep concern for the lost, and has a deep love of God and his people.

Responsibilities: Brings the gospel to nonbelievers and training the saints to effectively evangelize them.

Abilities: Influences people and are adaptable, able to thrive in any situation or culture.

Passion: Winning the lost to Jesus.

Examples: Jesus, Peter, Paul. Who else do you know in this role? Some people from my life in this role include Pastor Rich Holmes, Dusty Hoffman, and Luke Rhoorda.

Evangelists can come in many different forms of people. Dr. Coyote says that he sees our pastor as an evangelist because he passionately talks about being saved and being welcomed into the Lord’s family. Every week, there is a chance for salvation, and whenever somebody makes the decision to ask Christ into their heart, the entire church prays with them. This is not only and evangelist thing, but evangelists are indeed passionate like none other—this is where their heart breaks the most.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I were both involved in Cru, a campus ministry on our campuses. Cru is a ministry that is passionate about the lost. Not only did we learn how to share our faith while involved with Cru, but our own faiths grew a ton, as well. There are ministries such as this all over. They do not exist to condemn, just as Christ did not come to condemn. They simply want everyone to have the chance to hear this eternally-saving gospel. Maybe you are a Christian and aren’t being treated as such, but the other person isn’t sure. While involved with Cru, I met a ton of people who didn’t like God, or hadn’t heard the entire gospel plainly before. They never understood it. Or maybe they had grown up in church, but their hearts hadn’t been as involved in church as their heads. It is not our place to judge; that is for God alone to do. I met international students who had never even heard what this Christianity is all about, and I learned about the faiths they grew up with, as well. As I said: the goal of ministries such as Cru is to ensure that as many people that can have the opportunity to know Christ as their savior and Lord.

Anna E. Olson

Do you know of other ministries or people that display this evangelism? Where those without Christ in their lives cause heartbreak and a reason to do what they do?

Reblog: My Wife Has Tattoos: Marriage, New Birth, and the Gospel

This relates to what Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I are learning in the book “The Momentary Marriage” by John Piper. And this guy’s post is pretty cool. Less than two months!

Unspoken

Image Photo credit: Todd Balsley

by Spencer Harmon

Today is the day of my wedding.  And I am not marrying the girl of my dreams.

If you would have told me when I was a teenager that my wife would have seven tattoos, a history in drugs, alcohol, and attending heavy metal concerts, I would have laughed at you, given you one of my courtship books, and told you to take a hike.  My plans were much different, much more nuanced with careful planning, much more clean-cut, and much more, well, about me.

You see, it wasn’t my dream to marry a girl that was complicated.  I never dreamed that I would sit on a couch with my future wife in pre-marital counseling listening to her cry and tell stories of drunken nights, listing the drugs she used, confessing mistakes made in past relationships.

This isn’t my dream – it’s better.

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My Senior Sermon

On Friday, I gave my senior sermon in chapel.  As many who wanted to be there couldn’t, and as I am proud of what I wrote on my own, I am sharing it here.  The only requirements were to keep it scripture-based, put in part of my story, and to end with a call of what the listeners could do (which, I had pretty much written already before I knew the requirements).  Hope it speaks to those who read it here as I hope it did to those who heard it.

 

2 Corinthians 11:21b-31, 12:5b-10:

     21bWhatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

5 bI will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Although verse 9 was my confirmation verse (But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me), I never really understood it.  I mean, I got it, but I didn’t get it.  And what did Paul mean by “a thorn in his flesh?”  I once saw a meme that showed Spongebob Squarepants sitting in the jail with Paul, saying, “Hey, Paul!  What are you doing?  Are you writing a letter, Paul?”  The caption underneath shows what Paul was writing, “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me.  Three times I…”  But seriously.  What did he mean?

Breaking it down.  Dictionary.com defines weakness as “an inadequate or defective quality, as in a person’s character; slight fault or defect.”  Since the beginning of ever, God has used weakness.  All of the characters in the awesome Bible stories most of us grew up learning have weakness (except Jesus—but he’s God, who is the creator and initiator—we’ll come back to him).  Look at Jacob and his relationship with his brother Esau.  Scheming to take his inheritance and the blessing that was supposed to go to Esau?  We’re always told of the good things that came from this and the godly characteristics of Jacob, pushing Esau down into the “bad” category.  Or what about David, who was the youngest of his brothers (and there were a lot of them)?  His father didn’t even bring him to Samuel to be blessed—because he was obviously not the man to be king of Israel—look at him!  Watching sheep, singing and playing his lyre—who does that?  Surely, not a king.  But God uses unlikely people and really turns things upside-down.  The weaknesses, both seen and invisible…can be good?

And that brings us to Paul.  He was the greatest evangelist, like, ever.  Pretty sure it’s because of him that you and I know Jesus.  Crazy, right?  Paul has quite the resume—he’s a Hebrew, an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham; he has suffered for Christ as Jesus said Christians would, and his heart aches for all the churches to know and thrive in Christ, that they might pray and edify, and do all a church is supposed to do, according to Christ’s teachings.  But Paul feared what I’m tempted to do next: to COMPARE myself to him.  Surely I will never be as good a Christian as Paul, but I can try.  Do you see what’s happening here?  I’m looking down at ME.  Paul feared self-glory because in doing so, his eyes are taken off the Lord.  I was recently taught the term “naval gazing.”  We take our eyes off Jesus and look down at ourselves.  In an article entitled “Are You Content with Weakness” that also looks at this passage, author Jon Bloom writes that “our fallen natures crave self-glory.”  We like attention and stepping into the spotlight.  We want our strengths to be known and our weakness to be hidden.  But Paul isn’t doing that; he’s doing the opposite.

We aren’t told what Paul’s thorn is.  A temptation?  A sickness?  Probably not an annoying talking sponge.  Whatever it was, the thorn was used that he could depend on God more.  Bloom states that God “gifted” Paul with this messenger from Satan.  A thorn in the flesh a gift?  Seriously.

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  I have been battling with it in my head for years.  Sometimes I’ll be okay, and then I’ll get mad at the MS and that I have it.  Why do I have it?  Why do I struggle everyday doing things that a majority of the population doesn’t give a second thought to?  I am positive that God gave it to me for a reason, but I can’t find that reason.  I have determined that through the MS given me, I want God to be glorified—but I don’t know how.  What can I do with it besides struggle?  But this thorn in my flesh—it makes me depend on God more.  The physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of my life are so interconnected, I’m surprised sometimes.  My biggest weakness is depending on myself, and thinking that I can do it all.  But with the MS, I have realized and acknowledged that I can’t.  Within the last few years, I have learned to ask for help when I need it, despite the pride of being independent that is far too big.  This is especially a struggle when moving percussion equipment, as I always want to do as much as I can, but I have realized that I can’t do it.  And I have stepped aside.  What surprises me continually is that people are understanding, and they help out.  God uses my physical weaknesses to teach me lessons in other areas of my life.

So, all of these things are pretty upside down.  Weakness, good?  A thorn, a gift?  Jesus taught things like “the first shall be last and the last will be first” in Matthew 20:16.  In a culture that fought so much for status and looking better than everyone else, Jesus fought for the opposite.  He showed the world everything upside down.  Len Batterink, a pastor at a Christian Reform Church in Canada talks about this in a sermon.  He refers to the kingdom of heaven as the “Upside Down Kingdom.”  Jesus is 100% God.  The creator and orchestrator of all things, he who knows every hair on our heads and every thought that enters it and loves us still.  But he became 100% man.  He saw our weakness, our sin, that kept us from a relationship with him.  So he became a servant; scandalous; poor.  He did this so that “through his poverty we would become rich.”  The Messiah was supposed to be a military leader, but he was physically abused.  “Save us!  Hosanna!” cried the people who thought Jesus was he.  Yet he died on a cross.  He paid the penalty for our sin—mine and yours.  And then, he rose again, victorious.  He took the very wood used for killing—used to kill him—and turned it into the very thing that saves.  Talk about backwards.

There are many thorns in life, not all so dramatic as this MS I have.  A thorn can come in the form of a break-up, the loss of a loved one, or a temptation such as lust or idolatry.  And it is even possible that there may be an annoying talking sponge in a small space you’re stuck in.  Recall a scene from Dark Night Rises.  Batman has cornered Bane and has broken the thing that is on his mouth.  He totally has the upper hand.  Batman tells Bane he knows all about him.  And then, Miranda, the girl who we think is simply a love interest, says that she’s actually Rosuils’s child.  And then she stabs Batman in the side with a small blade.  “It’s the slow knife that cuts the deepest,” she tells Batman as she turns the blade in his side slowly.  That is a dramatic example, but Satan attacks us similarly.  He tricks us and then surprise attacks.  But the best thing about it is that every blade (or thorn) that finds its way into our sides is orchestrated by God somehow.  That may make God look like a bad guy from up close, but he sees the bigger picture.  Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and into jail after he was wrongly accused by Pottifer’s wife.  Up close, it looks like everything is pretty terrible.  But then Joseph is taken from jail by some pretty weird events and eventually made the number two man in Egypt and saved thousands during the plague; something that never would have happened if life stayed dandy.

What do we do when things are bad?  When there is a prick or a thorn in our flesh?  First of all, we probs shouldn’t dwell, although mourning is okay.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  It doesn’t say that when the sun is out to rejoice and when it’s snowing to pray; it says to do both all the time.

I have learned to see the MS as being a gift—but that doesn’t mean I like it.  I hope that my poor walking is visual evidence of my weakness, that Christ might be glorified.  If it is, I say: bring it on.  I have been overwhelmed to experience God’s grace in a physical way, when I seriously have no energy left but still move forward.  Sometimes, when we ask God for strength, he humbles us.  Sometimes, I find, he provides this energy or helps me to find where it’s hiding, and sometimes he brings in a friend or even a stranger to help me walk or to pick me up when I fall down—literally.  It’s crazy, and I have been so blessed to see this.

Bringing back the early examples of Jacob and David—Jacob became Israel, the father of the twelve tribes.  David became the greatest king in Israel’s history, and the man after God’s heart.  The two struggled with temptation still, and we see David’s fall to lust in 2 Samuel 11.  But God’s grace is seen through this weakness.  David cries out to the Lord in Psalm 51 after this disastrous weakness and God lifts him back up and uses him still.  That’s called grace.  God is seen in this weakness; it draws David closer to himself.  For when we are weak, he is strong.  (David and Bathsheba have another child, Solomon.  We know what becomes of him.  But that’s another story.)

The Piece I Wrote, “This is for My Father’s Glory” (An “About-It” Post)

Last semester, I took a class called “Instrumentation and Arranging.”  In it, we learned techniques to write music and to write for different instruments.  As a music ed major, I had been learning a lot of these things in music theory classes and pedagogy classes, but with this one, we got to apply and write and experience it.  I loved the class, and the final project.  What was this final project, you ask as I put words in your mouth?  Well, I’m gonna write about it.

The final project was to arrange or write a full-length musical composition or arrangement ourselves.  It was really fun!

I had wanted to write music for a long time, but I didn’t really know how to go about it.  This class not only gave me a place to start, it gave me motivation I needed to actually write and finish the piece.  So, the idea of the piece was to share the gospel without using words. I grew up in a Lutheran church, singing hymns that are quite familiar to all of us, so I took themes from hymns and then wrote original themes to represent sin and transitions and everything.  Each theme was representative of something.  For example, “This is my Father’s World” is the theme of God, that he is ultimately in control.  “Crown Him With Many Crowns” represents Jesus’s victory, and “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” represents the relationship we can have with God.  Feedback told me today (because I presented this piece at my college’s symposium this morning) that the lines play just long enough to get the tune in your head, but then it moves to another.  In the end, none of the songs were left stuck in the head because they fit together just so.  I used techniques I have learned like augmentation and diminution; I paid attention to articulation and dynamics.  I was intricate and through all the detail, everything fits together.  I was really excited to present today, and with the handful of music illiterate audience members paying attention and interested, maybe, I feel I did well.  I hope I communicated in a way that was understood to even them.

Music is a powerful medium; it tugs at emotions.  I truly hope that when listening to this piece, others can hear the gospel in it, as well: God’s being before everything, man’s sin, Jesus’ arrival and his crucifixion, his resurrection, and the fact that we can have a relationship with him.  It is all so great!

Last night, I met with my fabulous musicians for a run-through before this morning’s presentation, and I brought an extra person to video tape us.  I uploaded it to YouTube this morning, so you can hear it!  🙂  The full title is “This is for my Father’s Glory: Music of his Love Story.”  Comment below and tell me what you think!

 

Anna E. Olson, as I’m learning to compose/arrange music (it’s super fun!)

The Great Author

In the last year or so, I have discovered that my friend Amy is as much of a writer as I am.  Writing/English is not the major either of us has pursued, but we both love to write.  We both like to write fiction and tie Jesus into it a ton, that the reader might learn about Jesus from a different schema as he or she reads about this character’s experiences or that character’s life.  Last weekend, Amy and I FINALLY had an opportunity to get together and bounce story ideas off of each other and write and encourage each other in our writing.  We had been trying to get together since the beginning of November, and now that school is finally winding down, we found a time!  We laid out our story skeletons and asked each other for input.  We added to our own stories, and checked in to make sure that it was making sense.  For each of our stories, we have been doing research and reading and writing a ton, and before the story is even begun, we know what is going to happen.

The greatest author of all time is God.  Since before time began, God knew all the things that would happen.  He knew me, and he knew you.  He also knew the climax of his story, how the plot would move forward to get there, and how the story would find a resolution.  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Since the beginning, God has known the end of earth’s story, and all the stories of humankind.  He knew that our world would be broken, and that there wouldn’t be any way he could have the relationship with us he wanted so badly.  He knew that he would have to send his son to become flesh, be born into poverty and in this broken world, surrender everything, and die.  God knew that in his death, Jesus would be taking on the sins of the whole world, and through it, we could find redemption.  The greatest author of all time began foreshadowing in the beginning, and uses language we can understand but that’s so complex and its meaning so deep, that we have to keep searching over and over again.  I am talking about both the Bible and real life, here.  Everything that happens does so for a reason.  Good prevails, even if it doesn’t feel like it from our end.  The bad things that happen to us are what keep the plot moving forward, it’s what develops character.  And if we’re looking for it, we may realize that God is saturated in everything and has been guiding us and teaching us the whole time.  We don’t get to see the whole picture until we reach the end.  But we can TRUST that this divine author knows what he’s doing.

Which brings me to another matter: sometimes, I try to write my own story.  Which is dumb, because there are things I can’t control, and compared to God, even the greatest award-winning author here on earth can’t come CLOSE to his awesomeness.  When I take the pen and barge in, I feel like I have control.  But I also am overwhelmed with worry and anxiety.  However, when I give God the pen to my life and let HIM write it, I feel much better.  And, more than feeling, because basing things on feelings isn’t always smart.  I think that life in general is a lot easier to live when you’re just living it and not trying to take on responsibility that isn’t yours.  This was my biggest struggle in high school, I think.  The whole control thing.  Which is trying to write your own story.  So I’ll just say it: as a writer, you suck.  So do I.  God does things that aren’t even imaginable!  Also, he didn’t have to spend weeks planning what he was going to “write” before he began.  He just IS.

That’s not to say that you’re living in a storybook, but it is to point out that you aren’t the main character.  Neither am I, neither is anybody but Christ.  And since it’s his story that you play a significant supporting role in, why not live out the part?  But don’t worry, God is taking care of that, as well.  You don’t have to try too hard.  You just have to be willing.  Which leads me to the greatness of God.  What?  We don’t even have to do anything we don’t think we can?  Just ask Christ to help us out?  (Disclaimer: Jesus won’t do your homework for you.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  But if you ask him, he may just give you motivation and focus, which is what we need!  Grr, finals.)

Another note about God’s awesome writing: he includes every genre in one story.  How cool is that!?  You say it can’t be done, but alas, look up. 🙂

After finals, I think I’ll be writing.  But in the meantime and every time, I will admire and worship the divine, the Great Author.  I surrender the pen and write my story. (I’m in suspense– what will happen next!?)

 

Anna 🙂

A Testimony of the Beauty of the Gospel filled with Analogies =)

I’ve always known God loves me; I’ve been surrounded by it always.  I grew up going to church and praying every night before I fell asleep.  He was my best friend in school when I didn’t seem to have many others.  When I was thirteen and diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, he told me he’d always be here for me.  God has been pursing me ever since I can remember.  Even after I put my faith in him and accepted him as my savior when I was a child, he’s been going after me!

I was a sinner, “control” and “worry” being my most common offenses that often overtook.  When one gets too many tickets for speeding, they get their license taken away.  No matter how good of a driver or even a person you are when you get a ticket, it is still there until you pay it.  Even after, it stays on your record.  But Jesus took all my tickets and took them upon the cross.  I have no record of them.  There are tickets for all sorts of my sins on Jesus’s cross.  So many tickets stacked up and walled together that it makes the cross made of wood.  (I just made that up, but it makes sense, right? =))  I cast off my old self and followed Jesus.  Even though I had accepted Christ as a child, I was still acting of the world.  I was following the motions of a ghost.  When you are tied up, you are restricted.  So why, when the ropes are cut off, are you still acting like you’re restricted?  I was acting like a criminal, restricted for her crimes.  “But Anna,” the Lord told me, “you have been freed!”  At first, nothing changed on the outside, but on the inside I was becoming a different person.  God’s grace has been changing me from the inside out.  I am continually growing, and I realize the beauty of the cross.  Because God wanted me his daughter, he sent his most priceless possession: Christ.  Think of the most special person in your life and imaging them suffering of the worst kind and then being taken away from you.  Take that feeling and multiply it times a hundred, and that is only part of God’s devastation.  He did that for YOU.

God’s been pursuing you since before you can remember.  Did you know that?  It’s like a guy who comes up to a girl and says, “I love you SO much!  I want to spend the rest of my life with you and take care of you and try to show you how much I love you!”  Too often, the response isn’t a “yes” or “no.”  When the guy proclaims his love for the girl, she responds, “I understand” and goes on with her business. People, the gospel is the proposal!  Do you UNDERSTAND the gospel?  Or do you accept the gospel and let it TRANSFORM you?

The gospel is beautiful, and I’ve fallen in love with God, who proclaimed his love to each and every one of us. He is my passion, and I live for him!  I am passionate about the gospel and desire for all the world to hear it.  I encourage you to go forth and share it, as well!

Grace and peace to every person who reads this post,

Anna Olson =)^2