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

For Other References To Christianese Click Here

SAVE THE DATE!

Lebanon Send Off & Launch

Phoenix:

April 27, 2014
5:00 PM
St. John’s Lutheran Church

 

Tucson:

May 3, 2014

11:00 AM

Mt.Zion Lutheran Church

Come and bring anyone who might be interested in partnering with us to fund our mission work in Lebanon or find out more. Our team is desperate for us, and we are leaving this May in faith that God is going to provide the remaining funds.

Our team leader sent us a list of just a few of the things happening there and we want to be able to tell you the stories first hand from that country. So, the week following this Launch we are getting on a plane and leaving. (I am publishing this blog post as we are looking at plane tickets.)

Pierre, our team leader just sent us this encouragement in our email correspondence with each other:

Once you arrive you will be able to send back tons and tons of stories of God doing miracles and changing lives. This week a man’s shriveled hand was mostly healed and he’s writing with it, which he couldn’t do before , a woman’s face that had been saggy from her stroke was restored , a kid came out of a coma, Jihan came to Christ 6 days after she came from Syria and is eating up the word if God. A teenage kid named Roksha prayed to accept Christ last week, Boutros has a carpenter’s assistant named Ahmed who came to Christ a couple weeks ago, my dad preached last Thursday and over 30 people responded to the altar call. There are more new believers than we can follow up on.”

We need to be there. Right now those are just stories that are happening there, but that is just a taste of what is happening and our team needs us. We have a heart for discipleship to follow up with these people. We are being called, and we are changing our strategy from asking for money to just leaping out in faith. God will provide. Plenty of people know the need, and it is time to GO!

For many of you who have been with us along the way you are sharing our mix of emotions: Excitement, apprehension, nerves of all sorts. We are finally going! Now is the time to pledge a monthly, quarterly, or annual amount. We are running low on time for one on one meetings, and if you want to meet or visit with us, please contact us!

Many of you are giving to other short term missionaries, and we are thrilled because we have not been able to pour into those people (e.g. Charlie Wheeler). Please continue the commitments you have made. If you are considering giving to us after these short-term commitments end, let us know so we can keep track of the pledges.

Referrals

Maybe you cannot give at this time, or you wish you could give more to our ministry. You are a vital part of our work through your prayers and encouragement. Financially we are relying on God, and praying for people to be drawn into this work. At church this past Sunday one man encouraged me greatly when he said, “You are doing work that we should have been doing for a long time now.” Ministry to Muslims is relatively new work. As recently as fifteen years ago people thought Muslims could not be converted. When Louis and I were at our first training held by the founder of Horizons International, he said, “There are more people sitting in trainings about how to reach out to Muslims than there are people doing ministry to Muslims.”

So, we need you. We have been asking everyone who is willing to help us to pray about five names to refer to us. What this means is praying about people you know who might be interested in partnering with us financially. These would be people, churches, or groups who have the financial means, or who have an interest in global evangelism or working with Muslims. There are many ways you can refer them to us:

1) Plan an appointment where we can meet an individual or small group.

2) Invite us to an event at which people you think may be interested will attend and introduce us there.

3) Write a letter of introduction to the person whether by email, written, phone or in conversation. Then give us the information to follow up with that person.

4) Give us the name and contact information for a referral and we will tell them you referred us. Or, if preferred we can just use the names without telling them that you referred us.

As you can see there are many ways you can help us to get that last 60% of our budget in the next month. We really want to be fully funded by the end of March.

January Prayer Letter: Updates Galore! Baby Pictures, Middle East Update, and Funding Updates.

Funding Update

Monthly Pledges: $140
Total In Account: $1032
(These amounts place us at almost 3% of our goal) 

We need about $5000 per month in order to do all the discipleship, Bible studies, evangelism and other activities we are hoping to do. This will allow us to be full-time in ministry without having to find a job in Lebanon. Unlike our trips to Michigan in the past where we had a set amount needed by a certain date, we are in need of a salary based on our supporters.

Click Here To Donate To Louis & Annie Liss

If you have been with us from the beginning you may notice that we are struggling to bring our funding numbers up. You are our prayer support and our family, so we need to be transparently honest with you. Fundraising has been very difficult for us. We have repeatedly said that we are beginning, but were truly more invested in preparing for the baby. Now that David is here we have begun meeting with people and looking toward going to Lebanon. Please lift us up in prayer. We need your support now more than ever.

Christmas Baby

An Open Door

In an honest effort to help America grasp Christian persecution in the world, a terminology was developed describing countries as either “Open Countries” or “Closed Countries.” The former describes areas where the gospel can be openly proclaimed in public and the latter are those in which it cannot. Noam Chomsky posed this question: “Do our thoughts create our language or does our language create our thoughts?” As a linguist Chomsky was noticing that our words and rhetoric dramatically affect the lens through which we view the world. The problem with these terms is when we hear closed country it is subconsciously drawing our minds toward the belief that this location is without access. Yet God says in Revelation 3:8, “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Though missionaries may be hindered physically, legislatively, or financially from preaching the Gospel amongst a certain people, God beckons us, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chr 7:14). The prayers of the people have been penetrating the hearts of the lost for millenia and it persists today. 30% of Christians with a Muslim background profess to being visited by Jesus in a dream or vision. We are so thankful that in Lebanon we are able to stand in the streets and openly preach the gospel, but we are aware this could change any time. The prayers of the saints are rising up to God and He is responding to these humble cries of intersession. Remember, if God opens a door to a nation, to a people group, or to a person’s heart no one can close is, and the door to the hearts of Muslims around the world is swinging wide. Please persist in your prayers.

Happy New Year!

David Ezekiel Liss

Baby David is almost two months old now and is smiling all the time. He also can roll over half way, which is exciting and nerve-wracking. He is an amazing baby and we are thrilled to have him. We are reading to him a chapter of the Bible each night, and are now into Exodus. Every week he has gotten to hear his daddy preach since he was born, which is an amazing blessing.

Still, the most often asked question is if we are still planning on going to Lebanon with this little guy. People who have held him and seen him fall desperately in love with him and, understandably, become protective. You have heard us say that God sent his only son into the mission field as a baby. You have read Louis’ Middle East updates, which are full of hope for these people. But then you flip on the news and see the wars literally surrounding our little country. As the mom I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t concerned for my baby; however, I am not concerned to take him to Lebanon.

I was asked while 8 1/2 months pregnant what was the most important thing I wanted my baby to learn. My answer. “I want him to love Jesus.” Upon further questioning about schooling and other mental and academic goals I had for him, my answer remained the same. Jesus is what is most important to us, and we need our son to know that first. No matter where we are, that is our focus. We don’t want to protect him from God’s calling, and that is what is truly scary. We know he can change the world, and as much as people are concerned for us and our future we know that God will call him even further than we take him. Your fears are noted by us and by God. We are following God’s calling, and as we are raising money we are fully aware of the fragility of our plans. That is why we repeat to ourselves and to you, our supporters, God has a plan. When you are concerned for us, just pray that God makes his plans clear step by step and that we may remain in His will at all times.