Season 2, Episode 2: Challenges of Transition

In this episode of Life On Mars, Don and Todd talk to Darrin about the challenges of transition. Darrin spent a year in the 10/40 window with a church-planting team, is a brilliant writer and thinker, and now works in marketing in the Chicagoland area.

We talk to him about the before and after – both the fears of moving overseas and the challenges of returning to America. If you’re a missionary, considering going overseas, or involved in a church that sends workers overseas, Darrin’s perspective will flood you with helpful insights and things to consider.

Subscribe to Life on Mars by searching for “Life on Mars podcast” on iTunes or by clicking here. You can also listen to this episode below!

One Strategy for Cross-Cultural Evangelism

When you are given the chance to tell an unbeliever about the hope you have, where do you start? Do you talk about being guilty before God but now being made righteous by Jesus? About once being far off from God but now being his beloved son or daughter? About your deceased father or your chronic bodily pain, but how the resurrection of Jesus promises a resurrection to a glorified body for you and all who belong to Jesus?

A few years ago, I listened to a talk by Tim Keller, “Writing from a Christian Worldview,” which gave me an exciting new paradigm for thinking about sharing the gospel. Midway through the lecture, Keller brings up 1 Corinthians 1:22–24, which is part of Paul’s discussion of the apparent folly of the cross:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Keller points out how, according to this passage, Jesus both contradicts and completes the longings of any culture. First, see how Jesus contradicts. “Jews demand signs [i.e., power] and Greeks seek wisdom,” and for these power-seekers and wisdom-seekers, the crucified Christ is nothing more than a “stumbling block” or “folly.” Jesus offers neither the Jews nor the Greeks what they in their own cultural milieus particularly prize. He contradicts these cultural longings.

At the same time, though, Jesus completes these longings. For Paul goes on to say that “to those who are called,” Jesus is in fact “the power of God” (for the Jews) and “the wisdom of God” (for the Greeks). In other words, no, Jesus does not embody power or wisdom according to the worldly or idolatrous standards of the Jews and Greeks. However, neither does Jesus altogether abolish these longings. Rather, he takes the longings of “those who are called” and transforms them such that they find their true fulfillment in him.

Parts of Keller’s foundation for reading 1 Corinthians this way are the doctrines of total depravity and creational good. Total depravity says that, after the Fall, everything is corrupted by sin, but as Keller points out, this doctrine does not say that everything in the world is completely, utterly, 100-percent corrupted by sin. If that were the case, that would mean that unbelievers never do or say or think anything that is less than utterly and completely wrong. Your neighbor ever mow your lawn for you while you’re on vacation?

Given that nuance, we can acknowledge the creational good that is still in our world, even after the Fall. There is a glimmer of goodness in every corner of creation, however heinous and hostile to God that person, community, or society might be. The Jewish longing for power and Greek longing for wisdom, however idolatrous apart from Jesus, is not so completely and utterly perverted that those longings cannot be transformed and realized in Jesus.

What this means for us in our evangelism is that we have an opportunity to meet our unbelieving friend where his or her heart is. We can try to identify our friend’s idolatrous longings and show how Jesus might be the unexpected answer to these longings.

After all, the gospel is a many-faceted jewel. To belong body and soul to Jesus, God’s Savior-King, brings us a wealth of different blessings. Why wouldn’t we begin our evangelism by turning toward our unbelieving friend the facet which might at first be most beautiful to him or her? Over time we can show the fullness of what it means to belong to and follow Jesus.

I serve in a culture that, like many in the world, operates largely out of a sense of honor and shame. Thus, I am trying to learn how to express the good news of Jesus more in terms of honor and shame, knowing that these are major, fundamental themes in Scripture and may make more immediate sense to the people I meet here.

What do the unbelievers you know long for? How can you show them Jesus as the better, unexpected answer to these longings? Answer in the comments below!

Season 2, Episode 1: Long Distance Relationships on the Mission Field

How do you navigate a relationship that spans across oceans, time zones, and borders? In the season opener of Life On Mars, our good friends John and Kelly walk us through their experience dating while on opposite sides of the globe. Now married, John and Kelly discuss the challenges and joys (but mainly the challenges) of their long distance relationship.

Subscribe to Life on Mars by searching for “Life on Mars podcast” on iTunes or by clicking here. You can also listen to this episode below!

Why I Go: Romans 10

As I have lived overseas, my work on the mission field has become more normal. For better or worse, it has become like my job (and it kind of is)! Others who share my desire to go out and share the good news, especially from groups who have very little access to the gospel, surround me.

But this mission-minded environment hasn’t always been normal for me.

What changed in me? Sure, the missions conferences and missions classes taught me about the world and connected me with a lot of like-minded people. However, my desire to go to the hardest-to-reach places had to ultimately come from the Word of our God and Father.

One of those passages that stood out to me was Romans 10:14-17.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Paul is in the middle of talking about the complicated relationship between God and His chosen people, Israel. Paul says that Moses preached righteousness through the Law, but now, righteousness based on faith is through the heart in believing and the mouth in confessing.

What is even better is that all can come to the Father to be saved. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

That’s great news, but there are so many people who have no idea of their need to be saved!

Another passage in Paul’s letter, Romans 1:20, reminds us that all can see God and His attributes, but that does not take away from our responsibility to share this good news with the whole world. From Romans 10:14-17, you can clearly see that God has ordained us to preach the good news.

Their faith comes from hearing the word of Christ, not from doing. This puts the responsibility solely on us to be the ones spreading His word. God’s Spirit will be the one who changes and molds the heart of people to receive this message, but we must be the ones to give that message to them.

In some cases, God uses dreams, visions and other supernatural phenomena to introduce Himself to the lost. I have heard countless stories of this in the Muslim world. Yet, these people who have these dreams still eventually clearly hear of their need for a Savior through His people preaching His Word.

At times, this can lay a heavy burden on our backs if we let improper thoughts enter our minds: We MUST do this, or no one will be saved. God NEEDS us!

In reality, he does NOT need us. He chooses to use us. It is important to keep the perspective of verse 15. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” It is a privilege and a joy for us to be a part of God’s great plan to bring the nations to Himself.

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