Knowledge is Power

Raphael_School_of_Athens(School of Athens- If you get it you get it. Sorry if you don’t.)

“Knowledge is power.” This popular phrase is attributed to the famous British philosopher Francis Bacon. Other variations of his phrase are: “wisdom is power” and “knowledge is His power” (referring to God’s power). Any translation of FB’s Latin will lead you to his conclusion that God’s Word and God’s creation reveal His power. A study of history and science, paired with diligent study of scripture, could/would open our minds to the power of God in a way that we could never merely understand through daily observation.

Romans 1:20 states that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” At a glance, this passage from the apostle Paul might seem to say that we don’t need to study to know God. God is obvious. This is truth. Yet, a deeper look only teaches us more about God’s eternal power.

I am continually surprised by the schism of scientists, historians, and the religious. As if our fields of study were exclusive and hindered by the other. Indeed, they are not. Learning more about the human body, animals, and nature has obviously changed our understanding of history. Any forensic show proves that point. Yet, people groups of various religious categories seem critical of the scientific method. The idea of having a testable hypothesis seems to threaten their faith. Because what is faith? “Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see “(Hebrews 11:1). I think Galileo addressed this issue best when he said: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” Faith is important, because we cannot know all things, but it does not excuse us from using the very faculties God has given us.

The other side of the coin is this: “science is not our only means for accessing truth.” This was recently stated by a lesser known, but highly respected, professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. (Click HERE to read the rest of his article about science and the resurrection). Historical record is also an important means for truth. In today’s world, we don’t reject history. We just do our best to interpret history through our own worldview.

What does this have to do with power? Knowing God more completely, through every sense, reason, and intellect He has given us reveals His power. The human body, for example, is beautiful to the eye and easily observed as an amazing work of art. To look deeper and see how EVERY bit of our body works perfectly to maintain life puts me on my face before God, in absolute awe of His brilliant creation. Likewise, when I read my Bible, I feel enriched by truth. When I dig deeper and understand the cultural context, the real meaning of the original language, and fit each passage into the framework of the entire Bible and the history of the world, I’m in tears. I’m overwhelmed and I can’t get enough!

In today’s world of resources, we have no excuse for laziness. In 2 minutes, we could download an app that explains the anatomy of the human body. For $12.99, we could upload the Archaeological Study Bible to an e-reader. In 20 seconds, we could Google free resources for just about any field of study. It’s all right at our fingertips. The question is, are we using our resources to learn/access God’s power?

Just this morning, I was reading from the book of Esther and I decided to Google “Cyrus and the Diaspora,” on my phone. Instantly, I found myself entangled in an article posted on The MET website which made mention of the cuneiform tablets found amid the ruins of ancient Nippur. These same tablets were mentioned in the notes section of my Archaeological Bible, which I had open on my tablet. In my lap sat my leather bound Bible. Every resource I opened pointed back to the historical authenticity of a story of God’s sovereignty.  My heart burst with excitement!

Day by day, I have to challenge myself to be a student of God’s Word, a student of life. Knowledge IS power. It’s God’s power. We could spend our entire lives gaining knowledge, but it’s meaningless without Him. Every field of study comes alive when we have a relationship with Him. He is the one who gives life and purpose. The more intimate our relationship with God, the more clearly we see his eternal power and divine nature. Being a student of life and a student of God’s Word only increases that intimacy. It’s not enough to be an observer.

Proverbs 1:7- “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

 

Go Be

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Go to the Nations. Be the body of Christ.

This is the motto of The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). The idea is simple. We are a group of people that have committed to leaving our home countries, for the sake of the Gospel. We recognize the global need for the message of Jesus (Romans 3:21-31) and believe the message is most effectively received through relationship. Therefore, TEAM focuses their efforts on being the body of Christ within foreign countries.

GOing involves a certain amount of sacrifice. It means we must leave the comfort of our home, our culture, and our loved ones. It means going on adventure, engaging with a new culture, and making a new home. It’s exciting! It’s not without it’s challenges though.

BEing is about existing. A huge part of missions is simply existing in another culture. Christians worldwide are meant to be a witness where they live and move. Missionaries exist as ambassadors of Jesus in a culture that is not typically aware/accepting of Him.

While this motto of going to the nations and being the body of Christ is particularly fitting for our mission, it is not an exclusive challenge. All believers are called to go (Matthew 28:28-20). They may not be called to go across the world, but they are meant to go to their neighbors- across the street, at work, and in their community. It’s about being intentional in our relationships.

In that sentiment, I am selling red leather bracelets/bands which bear the phrase “Go Be.” They are meant to serve as a reminder to be intentional about leaving our comfort zone for the purpose of living incarnationally among those who don’t know Christ. All of the profit will go directly into my TEAM account for long-term missions in Germany. This product will help me go. Please show your support for what God is doing in Germany by purchasing this reminder for yourself and sharing my link with others.

http://www.leximcnair.com/merch/

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UPDATE: My sending church just finished a series on the book of Jonah. I have been convicted by this book every time I have studied it. This concluding sermon was particularly challenging. If you are willing to be challenged to have a missionary mindset where you live, work, and play, click HERE.

Vision

I am not a church planter. Why? I’ve just never done it. I know church planters though, in the US and in Germany. Right now I’m learning a lot from the church planters I know in Florida, but not everything can carry over cross culturally. The one concept that I’m discussing with my pastoral friends now is the simple idea of becoming a part of a community that already exists, rather than inviting people to a become a community. That’s pretty simple, right? A friend of mine lived this out when he became a part of a group of guys who play basketball at a fitness center instead of trying to have a basketball night at the church, to which he would invite people.

I believe this concept is practical for Germany. Why? The church planters I am joining, in Dresden, share the same vision and they have already successfully planted churches. Before I committed to joining their team, Jeff (team leader) told me about an instant community that already exists in German culture. It’s called a Stammtisch. A Stammtisch is a table where a group of like minded people meet regularly to discuss the thing which they have in common and/or to get to know one another better. For example, a friend of mine was invited to join a hunting Stammtisch. All of the hunters in his area gathered at their table weekly to enjoy one another’s company and to discuss hunting. Jeff suggested that this would be the kind of automatic community that he could become a part of, or even create, for the purpose of building relationships. This is something I can do!

Believing that this was something I would learn more about when I moved to Dresden, I put this thought out of mind. It has recently come back to me, as I consider things that I saw when I went on my vision trip to Dresden last summer. I will explain briefly: One night, Frank took me and my friend Roger down to a part of town called the Neustadt. He wanted to share a drink with us at one of his favorite bars. We ended up getting a late night tour of that whole part of town. The streets were filled with bars and various night life scenes. The area of the Neustadt that struck me the most, however, was an intersection where University students had taken over the sidewalks. They were sitting everywhere, enjoying beers and conversation. Apparently, this was a common occurrence. Being that it was only midnight on a Monday, I figured this was a smaller crowd.

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Looking back, this path was not coincidental, nor was the friendship I began to build with Frank that night. (Read his story here). Frank is now meeting with Jeff and Anne Ingram weekly to learn about God. Over Christmas break, he told me that he wanted to love Jesus as much as I do this year. Some of you have been praying for Frank. Please keep it up! During our discussion over drinks at the Neustadt about life purpose, I kept thinking: “Frank would be an incredible missionary!” I think God was the one speaking, not me.

My vision is this, I would like to visit the same Neustadt intersection weekly to mingle with University students. After meeting people, I hope to join or start a Stammtisch. As a matter of protection, I hope to get Frank and Jule to come along. I’ve already emailed Frank to ask him what he thinks about this. This could bridge into the church plants that the Ingrams are working on or it could become its own ministry. I don’t know, but I think God is the one revealing this vision to me and I’m excited to see what He does!

I’m not a church planter… YET. There are many steps that have to be walked through before I get to the point where I can put this idea into action, but they are equally important. 1. I must raise funds. This is an opportunity for me to get others involved in what God is doing. 2. I must complete language school in Berlin, so that I can be conversational in German before I move to Dresden. 3. I must be a part of Jeff’s team. I need to learn through observation and through internship. I can’t just jump into a new culture and do what I want to do. I have to be culturally intelligent.

Please jump on board with step 1 and help me get closer to this vision!

(If this is your first time hearing about what I hope to do in Dresden, you should visit leximcnair.com. I do have a desire to work with refugees in Germany as well.)

Click HERE to learn how to give

If I had it my way…

Frank

If I had it my way, I would be in Germany right now. I would already be done with language school. I would be settling into a small apartment, in Dresden, and getting ready for the challenge of a lifetime. I would have several videos of my journey recorded and posted. Hundreds of people would be praying daily for God to move in Germany. They/you would be waiting expectantly for my next blog/email/web update. They/you couldn’t wait to see what God was doing!

Alas, I am writing this blog from Orlando, Florida. Not too shabby, I know. There are worse places to be “stuck.” Worse people to be “stuck” with. Don’t worry, I appreciate the time I get to be with my family and the exciting city of Orlando. I am, however, writing this blog from my childhood twin bed, in a small room filled with packed suitcases. I’m ready to go.

I’m in a place of waiting, but not really. I’m still moving forward. What do I mean by that? Well, everyone says that God’s timing is perfect. The tricky thing is ACTUALLY believing that. When I hear the question “So, when are you moving to Germany?” I sigh. Truthfully, I want to know the answer to that question more than anyone else. If you have been the one to ask this question, you know that my answer is something like: “whenever the money comes in.”

I’m learning, again, that this time of “waiting” has to be a time of learning as well. I’m learning to be thankful in all things. I’m learning that God is my provider. I don’t gain financial supporters because I am cool, because I am fun, or even because I am the most equipped person to reach the nations for Christ. He is the one who laid out the mission. I will move when He tells me to move. Until then, I will spend this time in preparation.

A wise missionary once compared missionaries and their support teams to NASA. Thousands of people worked for NASA, but only a few actually went to space. Astronauts were the ones to go into the unknown, but the thousands of other NASA employees made the mission work. The astronaut could not work alone.

This analogy has been expanded for me recently. I’ve been struck by the short amount of time that astronauts actually spent in space. They spent most of their life training and working as scientists. This is not completely unlike the life of a missionary. While I do plan to move to Germany for good, I see how important this time here in Orlando is. I would have missed so much if I had things my way.

Right now I am serving as the interim youth pastor for Westwood Alliance church. I’m teaching through 1 Samuel and the book of Psalms. I love it! I get the chance to teach God’s Word! I get the chance to get to know some awesome teenagers and step into their stories. I get to be a part of their lives! I cannot express how much I love this. I wouldn’t be here though, if I had things my way to begin with.

If I had my way, I wouldn’t have had a year with the most awesome kids in the world at Westwood Alliance Church. When I first moved back home, I anticipated working with the youth. The church leadership asked me to work with the children’s ministry instead. If I had done things my way, I would have missed out on building relationships with some of my most favorite people on this earth.

If I had my way, I wouldn’t even be at Westwood Alliance Church. When I first prepared to leave for the Black Forest Academy (in Germany), I thought my friends at East Lake Community Church would provide the funding I needed in a short period of time. I didn’t anticipate ANY struggle with fundraising. Things didn’t come together like I thought they would though. Instead, I struggled financially and moved to Germany without the proper funding. God had a different plan. Instead, I learned to be dependent upon Him. Instead, God brought Westwood Alliance into my life. I wouldn’t have this incredible family if I had had things my way.

I’m learning, yet again, that my way is not the best way. Rest assured though, I am moving forward. I’m at about 64% monthly funding. I am in need of about $1,450 a month to be at full funding. I am hoping to move in June. Would you please keep me in prayer? Pray for God’s way, not my own.

Isaiah 55:8-13

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace.
    The mountains and hills will burst into song,
    and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
    Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
    they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”

Click HERE to learn how to give

Pre Departure Orientation

(PDO in Chicago, 2011. This was my short term PDO for my first move to Germany)

I am an appointed missionary with The Evangelical Alliance Mission, TEAM for short. TEAM requires missionaries to raise support funds that match their projected budgets. This budget covers benefits (health insurance, retirement, etc), work funds, and my living allowance. I’m not able to move to Germany until I have enough donors to cover 100% of the budget. I am also required to attend a Pre-Departure Orientation week in Chicago before I am able to move. This PDO is a week of training and meetings related to moving and living overseas.

At the end of 2015, my mission coach informed me that there were only going to be 2 PDO opportunities in 2016. He also mentioned that I had to have 60% of my funds committed/promised before I was able to attend. The first PDO would be in February and the second would be in July. After PDO, I would certainly have work to do before being able to leave the country. In scenario 1, I would attend February PDO and spend the next 4 months accomplishing those tasks and finishing my fundraising. This would get me to Germany this summer, if the funds were raised. In scenario 2, I would attend PDO in July, miss English camp in Dresden, and would possibly have to wait until 2017 to move.

TEAM originally gave me two budgets, a low budget and a high budget. They suggested that I raise enough funds to live off of the high budget. When I learned of my PDO deadline of 60% by January 15th (for February PDO), I had 40% of my lowest budget figure raised/promised. Getting to 60% of my highest budget seemed unlikely. God is good though and brought in several friends who joined my support team. By January 11th, I had reached 68% of my lowest budget and 49% of my highest budget. Not knowing which budget would be considered for my PDO clearance; I prayed that God would work things out.

After a lot of discussion with my mission coach and the TEAM finance department, I learned that I was able to adjust my own budget. I was not previously aware that I could do that. So, I spent time carefully adding figures based on what I knew of Germany. Emails went back and forth between Jeff (Dresden missionary), Carl (mission coach), and Kristen (TEAM accountant) for a few days. Jeff was able to help me sculpt my budget. Being the ministry leader in Dresden, he also approved the adjusted budget. This brought me to EXACTLY 60% on February 13th.

Praise God for His provision! I am so stoked that progress is being made and that I’m within months of being able to move. I’m so anxious and excited about getting started.

What now?

I still have 40% of my monthly funding to raise. I also have to raise $20,000 to cover moving and language school costs. Monthly support that comes in will chip away at that expense, but it could take a year to raise $20,000 that way. Therefore, I still have a lot of people to speak to about financial support.

I am confident that God will arrange things perfectly in His timing.

The Goal

A goal of most Christians is to convince others of truth. In the world of missions, the traditional goal is to make the truth available to every nation. Wycliffe and New Tribes Mission have the specific goal of translating Scripture for all people groups. Passages like Romans 10:14-15 often motivate us to these goals.

Romans 10:14, 15- But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

My agency, TEAM, states that their purpose is to establish reproducing churches among the nations. It’s a relational goal. Church itself won’t save anyone. A church, however, is a community of people that learn together, care for one another, and work together to care for others. Our goal is to reveal the truth of the Gospel through relationships.

To emphasize the importance of relationships in the process of hearing, understanding, and embracing the Gospel, I asked 25 missionaries a series of questions related to their own process of embracing the Gospel. I chose to ask missionaries these questions because these people are some of the most successful people I know, in relation to sharing truth with others. They aren’t “super Christians,” but they do live the victorious Christian life.

Results

This was not a large study and it did not include a diverse audience. However, it did prove a theory that I had. Many of the Christians that I have known, who were actively living and speaking the truth of the Gospel, have known the Lord from an early age. They had several relationships and programs encourage their faith through adolescence and young adulthood.

Consider your own story. When did you make the decision to follow Christ? How many relationships have contributed to your faith? What programs have encouraged your faith and challenged you?

While Germany is a nation that has free access to the Bible in their own language, they are a nation with very little evangelism. Only 2% of Germany are evangelical Christians. My goal is to move to Germany and begin a ripple effect. I hope to multiply that statistic through evangelism and discipleship of young people who will be the church in the country of Germany.

If you would like to help me multiply that statistic, please give a tax deductible donation through TEAM: Give (enter:Lexi McNair) or give to my crowd funding campaign: GoFundMe.

Frank

     I went to Germany, recently, to determine my purpose in the Dresden initiative. To do this, I needed to observe, learn, pray, and process what God was doing in Dresden. Events, like the DASS Camp (Blog) were part of that process. I hoped to begin friendships with teenagers and to be a part of what God would do through camp.
     DASS Camp went smoothly. One family even had us (the American team) over for dinner when camp was finished, to thank us. Rico was a teenager who attended camp. His mother Jule attended the Evangelical Free Church of Dresden. The man who grilled the pile of wurst we consumed was named Frank. He is Jule’s boyfriend. Of the three, Frank spoke English best. During dinner, the Ingrams translated for me and for Roger, but Frank willingly spoke to us in English.
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     Frank was very outgoing, open about his thoughts, and willing to answer just about anything we asked him. It wasn’t long before Frank told us that he was an atheist. This was a little surprising at first, as Rico and Jule both seemed to have faith. However, in the context of Germany, where religion is often seen only as history, this fact and declaration were not surprising at all. Like other atheists I had met, Frank was comfortable discussing God with curiosity rather than contempt. His curiosity about our culture grew, while our curiosity about his story grew.
     After 11pm, Frank brought his prized alcohol and did just about anything he could to get us to stay. We thanked him for his generosity, but reminded him that we had church the next day. Not being content that this departure would mean “goodbye,” Frank arranged to take me and Roger out on the following Monday. We happily agreed.
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     To our great surprise, Frank came to church the next day. I believe that he had never been to the Evangelical Free church of Dresden before. Wanting to hang out with us again, Frank came willingly. Roger caught up with him right away while I found a seat with Jule. Unlike the previous Sunday, Roger and I chose to sit apart from translation, since I wanted to experience the German service fully. For a short time, Frank took a crack at translating for us, but this quickly became awkward among the silent members on every side. Instead, we told Frank to listen carefully and share the sermon with us later.
     As soon as the service was over, I asked Frank what he thought of the message. He smiled and said that the message was very important for him. Not wanting to discuss it further at that point, Frank promised to discuss it with us the next evening.
     The next evening, Roger and I met Frank outside of the church. Together, we hopped on a tram heading to the part of the city nobody else cared to show us- the Neustadt, or “new city”. Quite honestly, this part of the city was known for its bars, which was exactly why Frank was excited to take us there. Most of his favorite places were at the Neustadt. Excited to experience a different side of the Dresden culture, we followed Frank’s lead straight to a hole in the wall pub, with a small garden seating area.
     Eager to find out what Frank thought about the sermon, I jumped into my questions right away. I wanted to know why he had found the sermon particularly applicable for him, and what had caused him to say that it had been important for him. I had recognized some German words during the sermon, which lead me to believe the pastor was reading from the book of Isaiah. Frank explained that the service had been about our purpose.
     When I asked Frank about his purpose, he launched into a series of humorous and surreal stories about his past which truly seemed meant for a movie. If you message me on Facebook, I will share my favorite story of his days spent as a “security guard” and “collections agent” for a group he says were not technically the Russian Mafia, whatever that means. Other interesting stories included Frank winning and losing large amounts of money through online poker, and so forth. Now Frank is a high school math teacher, which he finds very fulfilling.
     Frank shared with us that he desired to be a teacher in the juvenile prison system. He said that he wanted to do this because it was important that somebody believed in these teenagers and taught them that their mistakes didn’t have to determine their future. This was Frank’s purpose. I was stunned by his beautiful sentiment. I couldn’t decide where to go with conversation, though I had hundreds of responses to choose from. We discussed Isaiah. We discussed the gospel. We discussed what our calling/purpose was. Since our conversation was limited by language, we weren’t able to go too deep. Frank was sharing his heart though and I was overwhelmed by the fact that Roger and I were given such a privilege.
     Finding the right way to end our evening was difficult. Roger and I were tired. We had been through a lot in 3 weeks, but Frank had become very important to us.  If we had the energy, we could have easily stayed out all night talking with Frank. Yet, 1am came quickly and we were spent. We exchanged hugs and promises to stay in touch.
     Since that evening, we have all kept in touch through email. Frank is gracious and writes to me in English. I just received an email from Jule today, in English. I almost cried because I knew how hard it was for her to put it together. Google Translate does not help as much as you might think it would. I have a thank you card that remains blank because I am still trying to properly translate a few paragraphs for someone who hosted me in Germany.
     I am overjoyed by this growing friendship with Frank and Jule. I am also frustrated by the way we always close our emails to each other: “I hope you return soon” and “I hope to be there soon.” I want to be there! I want to get started on language learning, so that I can be the one to speak outside of my comfort zone. Friendship can only go so far through email. I want to be with these people.
     This is my calling. This is my purpose. I have many ideas about reaching out to the youth culture of Dresden. In reality, I want to reach families with the Gospel and to build the church through them. My prayer is that one day Frank will be the church. God has given him the desire to offer hurting teenagers hope and redemption. This is Frank’s purpose. Mine is not unlike his.
If you would like to hear more about what God is doing in East Germany, please email me: leximcnair@gmail.com
I would LOVE to get together to talk.
To read my personal prayer requests, join my Facebook Group: Lexi’s Germany TEAM
A Quick Look at Dresden
(Including a glimpse of walking through the Neustadt with Frank)