Archive for December, 2016

Dear Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family! May you be blessed to be surrounded by those you love and also comforted by the peace of God if you’re missing someone you love.

Each year, many of us say goodbye to a loved one. There are no words to help us cope with the pain and suffering but the hope that we shall see them again in heaven is what comforts us—when we believe in the promise of the Gospel.

Today I want to share a story with you that happened on my way to Kigali, Rwanda this past August on my first mission trip:

On the plane ride from Boston to Amsterdam, an eight-hour flight, I sat next to a young man, native of Amsterdam, who had spent seven weeks in Boston doing an internship. If you have flown a trans-Atlantic flight, you may remember seeing the picture of the plane on the screen of the person’s seat in front of you showing the trajectory of your trip. After about an hour of friendly chatting with each other I noticed the little plane on the screen was crossing the middle of the Atlantic, and I made the comment to my new friend, “You know… if this plane goes down now, we’re for sure going down. We’re done… But that’s okay because I know where I’m going.” He replied, “Where are you going? Back to Nicaragua?” “No” I said. “Where do you think you’re going?” I asked again, he said, “To the bottom of the ocean?” “No” I said, “That’s where your body is going. As a Christian, I believe I’m going to heaven… What do you believe in?” He then said, “I believe in nothing… Besides, if there is a God, then He’s a bad guy. There is only evil in this world.”

In a calm way, I simply responded, “Oh, I’m so sad that you think that way. You think He’s bad because all you see is evil and you’re not seeing the other side of the equation, which is God.” “How is that?” he replied. I said, “Let me tell you a story. Would you believe with me, for a moment, that God created everything? That God is the creator of all, so I can tell you a story?” He agreed with a serious look in his face. “Okay” I said. “Once upon a time…” and I smiled, looked at him and he was also smiling. I said again, “Once upon a time, God created Adam and Eve… But even before that, God created angels, beautiful angels. And the most beautiful angel was named Lucifer. One day, Lucifer thought he was better than God and he became proud. In that very moment, God cast him into this earth and made it his territory. God kicked him out of heaven and sent him to earth. That’s why you only see evil in this earth. The devil, Satan, Lucifer, is within his own right to create evil in this world.” Then, I said, “God created Adam and Eve and it was Satan who deceived Eve into believing that she could have the knowledge of God by eating the forbidden fruit.” Then I stopped to make a little joke and said, “Yes, it was the woman who screwed up first. Sorry!” and he smiled again but continued listening attentively.

Then I asked him if he had heard of the concept of the Trinity and I think he said yes but I continued the story and said, “Well, then God, the Father, sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins, so we could have eternal life and so our relationship with God could be restored. When Jesus left this earth, He left us with His Holy Spirit so we could communicate with Him, because, as you know, we all have a spirit. When the Bible says that we are ‘created in His image’ is because we are spirit beings… So that’s it. That’s the whole story of salvation.  The gift of salvation is free and all we have to do is accept it. And that’s why I believe, as a Christian, that if I die right this moment, I will be in heaven immediately with Jesus, for eternity.”

He was still listening with a serious look on his face and then after a long pause he said, “Wow, no one has ever explained that to me. No one has ever told me that story.” And my heart broke. I thought to myself, “How can a young twenty-six year old man from Amsterdam have never heard the story of salvation?” We, Christians, are not doing our job in bringing the Gospel to the entire world. We have much work to do and the sense of urgency sunk in my heart more than ever. My job in this mission trip had just began and we weren’t even in Kigali yet. Wow! I was overwhelmed with the love of God for this young man. I told him he could be my son and that I would love to stay in touch. So we agreed to be friends on Facebook. When I arrived in Kigali, his Facebook request was awaiting me and I was so happy. I feel privileged to have sown the first seed of the Gospel in his heart and hope that others will water it so he can someday too enjoy the free gift of salvation and spend eternity with His creator. So even though I didn’t get one minute of sleep during this flight, that’s okay. It was totally worth it. This story is one of the highlights of my trip and I will never forget it.

So, today I encourage you to share the story of Jesus with others. The gift of Salvation is the ONE GIFT that we cannot keep to ourselves. Everyone deserves to hear the good news!

Merry Christmas!

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Dear Friends,

I know here in Minnesota most of us complain when the snow comes and fills our driveways and roads with its beautiful, fluffy whiteness, slippery self, while also creating dangerous driving conditions. Unfortunately, we only focus on the danger side and the inconvenience the snow brings to our lives. Today I want to challenge you to focus instead on the beautiful and refreshing hope that the rain and the snow bring to us. Besides, snow is simply a beautiful manifestation of nature.

Without water from heaven, our nature would die and we would eventually perish too. The Scripture that comes to mind for today is Isaiah 55:8-12:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

For you will go out with JOY and be lead forth in PEACE; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

I encourage you to change your perspective. Every time it snows going forward, don’t think of the inconveniences or dangers that come with it. Of course, you have to be careful and take necessary precautions, just don’t make that your focus. Instead, focus on God’s Word. Imagine all the people that are hearing the Word of God for the very first time. Pray that those seeds get planted in their hearts and that others will come along and water the seed so it produces fruit. God’s Word promises us that His Word will NOT return to Him empty and that it will produce fruit in the lives of the people who will listen to it.

So if you’re wondering, how do I “plant” a seed into someone’s heart? You do that by sharing the Word of God with someone. How do others “water” that seed? Every time we share the Gospel with someone, pray that God sends another person to also share about Him so the enemy doesn’t steal and destroy that little seed. That’s why it’s important for us to encourage new believers to get connected to a church so they can continue to listen to God’s Word.

My prayer today for you is that you find opportunities to plant the seed—share the Word of God with someone. If you are the one who is a new believer, then my prayer for you is that God will send people to you to remind you of what you learned, of His love for you, and to help you grow in Christ.

Next time it snows, think of snow as “A Little Reminder from Heaven.”

Merry Christmas!

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