Christianese -Written by Louis Liss

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

I adore intellectualism. I lavish wading in the waters of hyper-cognitive conversations and am filled with a bolt of adrenaline at the opportunity to debate any given topic that pops up in daily dialogue. So when the Holy Spirit illuminated the Great Commission for me in high school as being imperative for my life, I felt uniquely equipped to stand in the middle of the courtyard and watch as my words brought down tongues of fire onto the campus. You can imagine how stunned I was when my incredible oratory and prowess in verbal sparring bore no fruit and sowed a lot of dissension towards not only myself but God in general. For some bizarre reason my puffed up pride did not convey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beyond my arrogance, the greatest barrier to Jesus was the language I was using, which to me was clear and deeply significant. To my post-modern classmates the words, “Justification by grace through faith,” not only had no meaningful impact, but had no meaning at all. Though I had a comprehensive command of the theological principles of the road to salvation this did not impress my classmates enough to give their lives over to Jesus nor did they appreciate being dragged brain first across the threshold of salvation. So I stumbled through constant clumsy evangelism into college. It was there at our InterVarsity campus ministry that we played a game where we had to make a list of words that meant nothing or something completely different to our non-Christian neighbors. We made a long list of words including, for example, atonement, sanctification, and blood. Then we were asked to flip over the page and answer the following question without using any of those aforementioned words: What is the significance of the cross in your life? Jesus’ death on the cross was and is the most important manifestation of Christ in my life and so I feverishly began to write with growing fervor. I soon found that I was doing far more erasing than I was writing. I realized that I had become fully dependent on explaining my deep and passionate love for Jesus in a way that only I and those select few fluent in Christianese could understand. I then received a far deeper revelation from the Holy Spirit. I had been clinging to these insider terms during evangelism because I had placed my identity in my intelligence and not in Christ. I thought that it was more important that people were impressed by my knowledge of God than by God, and to bring the illumination to its completion the Holy Spirit finally told me that my amazing oration had drawn many people to myself but very few were then drawn to Him. So I began to take a John 15 set of shears to my language. I started to systematically reevaluate all of my beliefs about God and if it included any of the post-modern taboo words that I had listed then I moved it from the evangelism part of my brain to the discipleship section. I began to realize how deeply difficult this truly was. I found my post-modern friends were in no way interested with whether or not Jesus was true in what He said, but they were intently fascinated by whether or not these truths worked practically in my life. With my high church armor stripped I found myself exposed. These words had protected me from having to engage about my own struggles and failures. I now stood bare before the world with nothing but Jesus and my personal stories of his daily actions in my life. I sat one day in my hockey locker room surrounded by several guys I have known for well over 15 years. They would frequently recount the debaucherous exploits of our youth. After several months of stories a newer player who knew that I had been present for all of the depicted events asked me how it was possible that I could be a character in these stories from the past and now be a pastor and missionary who continued to consort with my former teammates. The characters in these tales were comprised of heroin addicts, a multiple rehab attender, a drug dealer whose family had to flee the state because of death threats, a prisoner for illegal pornography, adulterers, drunkards, three lifetime ban holders, and a rap sheet full of assaults to round out the tales that come to mind. Even as I began to speak I looked at my teammates through a haze of pot smoke. “How did you end up like you did after spending your life with these guys?” he asked. “I was lost, running in darkness and filling my life with anything that could make me not think about the pit I was in. I tried to pull myself out so many times and never could shake the darkness. Then I was invited to come to a youth retreat where Jesus met me and broke in with such amazing light that all of the darkness in me fled and all the venom in me was drained out. I was a new person with Jesus in my heart, and as for these guys. There’s no place that Jesus would rather hang out than in a hockey locker room. We all need that light in our lives.” The locker room that usually sounded like, well, a locker room was silent. One of my old friends leaned over and said, “Thanks Lou we need someone like you in around us.” Everyone agreed and as we were going out to play the game the new guy approached me and asked if we could talk more at the bar after the game. Of course I agreed and we had weeks of amazing conversations about Jesus and His light. While I am amongst someone who hasn’t yet taken that unfathomable leap into the arms of Jesus I now confess to know nothing but Christ and him crucified. It has transformed my life, my ministry, and truly proven to me that God was right when He spoke about all we need in Revelation 12:11, “They overcame [the accuser] by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.” Amen and Ahmeen

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One Month In Lebanon

The day I am writing this post marks one month from when we were sitting in Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix ready to leave, but stuck in limbo. Writing this update brings perspective to our time so far. It feels like we have been here a year, and it feels like we have been here a day. It’s a paradox! Don’t worry, this is not a Yuck Duck post. Great things are happening that we want to share with you.

We Are Pleased To Report…

Davy is doing amazingly! He is adapting well and back to learning like a rabbit, with great energy, enthusiasm, and speed. He is already able to say words in French, Arabic, and of course English. When he is tired he asks for a nap! When he needs a diaper he tells us. He can count to 2 now! If asked how old he is he holds up one finger and says, “One!” So Cute, So Smart. He is still in love with Jesus and God and prays by himself as well as reading his storybook Bibles by himself. His main prayers right now are to ask God for a cat and a car. He misses going for drives with us. He also thinks that getting a car will mean we can go visit people back in the States. He misses people a lot, and often asks about them by name, which shows an excellent memory, too. There are so many cute things he does that it is impossible to name them all. Make sure you check out the page on our blog filled with pictures of him. The newest ones are pictures of him at Four Corners, playing with Rami here in Lebanon, and playing in our apartment.

Language Learning is going fantastically! We have a language teacher that is coming to our apartment four hours a week (soon we will be increasing to six hours a week) to teach us. We are so blessed by her, and we thank God for her on many levels. First, her mentality is the same as ours, to learn what we need to get into conversations ASAP. Secondly, we get to keep Davy at home with us because she comes to our house during his naptimes. Third, she is a believer and she is amazingly nice and understanding and sweet. These short sentences do not even put into words how glad we are to have Abla as our teacher. Please take some time today (and any day you think of it) to praise the Lord for her, too!

In addition to this private tutoring, we have been able to begin work on our language route. We have made several great connections within our neighborhood. Our apartment sits right above quite a few shops, so we are using them to begin our route. As we said before we are taking our time to work up to our goal of going every day to practice Arabic with our neighbors. Now we have several shop owners (the snack shop below us, the dollar shop across the street, the “pizza” bakery, the produce stand just down the street, and a second “pizza” bakery across the main road just past our immediate neighborhood, and just further than that the grocery store has a few people who regularly help us practice our food words) giving us approximately ten people. In addition we are beginning to go to the Refugee Center and work with the Horizons team there, so we are able to practice some with them, too. Soon we will have enough conversational capability to share what we want to practice with people so they can help us.

Prayer Requests

Louis and I have been extremely hard on ourselves over the past month. We have not handled the unrelenting stress well. Please pray that we will be able to step away from the bombardment of culture, decisions, noise, time, and the 6,724 tabs open in our heads at all times to spend time with the Lord. Pray also that we would show ourselves the same grace that God has shown us. We are doing well, and we sometimes don’t see that. As I wrote at the beginning of this post, writing this puts it all into perspective. It has only been a month and we have done so much! It has only been a month, and we have many routines in place. It has only been a month and we are able to play with our healthy baby boy! With that in mind, continue to pray for healing of our hearts. Our grief in almost losing Davy has compounded our feelings of guilt and failure and loneliness. Thank you for all of your encouragement, prayers, and love. Please feel free to Skype and email us any time.