Yummy Raw Lamb

Today I went out for food in Troy, Michigan with a bunch of my J-Thugz from the Gospel Odyssey and some others.  We decided to go out for Lebanese food – a first for many of them.  I had heard about some awesome tasting raw lamb meat from this restaurant from Jeff Friess & Peter McNaughton and knew that I also had to have some.

Our posse went to Anita’s Kitchen on Maple Rd.  I ordered spicy Kibbeh Nayeh (spicy raw lamb) and it was truly delicious.  It looked like the equivalent of two hamburger patties in size and yet I could only eat about 3/4 of it before I was full.  I guess you scoop it on pita bread, put a slice of raw onion on it along with some olive oil and chew away.  Did I mention that it was delicious?  Even the most scared person of non-American food ate some and said it was good.

I also had a small bowl of Lemon Lentil Soup which was also very scrumptious.  Just enough lemon to add flavor but not too much that it causes you to pucker.

The service was great, the food (including everything else everyone else ate) was outstanding, and the price very reasonable.  A+ all the way!

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Book Reading Suggestions

Hey all from Gospel Odyssey, especially Team 1.  Some of you have asked me to put a “fall semester/quarter reading list” together that may be helpful to you in your gospel adventures on campus this year.  I have listed them is various categories that may be helpful to you.

“If I Were Only to Read A Couple Books” Reads:

These two books will give you an excellent view into the postmodern &/or post-Christian mentality that exists in many places (especially campus life) today in the US & Canada.  They both show how people are thinking, where the logical inconsistencies are located in that thinking, and  address ways of handling those thoughts from a logical & biblical point of reference.

  1. What’s So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza
  2. The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

Highly Recommended Reads:

These books will give further insight into the workings of people’s minds.  I have listed them in an order that I would read them.  I placed Welcoming on this list because homosexuality is such a hot topic that it is good to know ways of handling it without compromising the Bible and yet without coming across as a “hater”.

  1. Can Man Live Without God by Ravi Zacharias
  2. Welcoming But Not Affirming by Stanley Grenz
  3. Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias
  4. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  5. Choosing Your Faith by Mark Mittelberg
  6. The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel

Good Resources:

These books will give you a good background into the statistics of the religious backdrop of America today and why it is important to understand this trend of thinking.  They will also provide some answers to some provocative and “hard” questions you may face in the gospel.

  1. UnChristian by David Kinnaman
  2. Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay
  3. Who Made God by Ravi Zacharias & Norman Geisler
  4. Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias

Special Interest:

These came at the request of some who desired a couple different scientific views of the creation of the universe that don’t conflict with the Bible.  I have also thrown in a book by John Myer which I highly recommend as a shepherding tool, especially for those new in the faith.  For those who have read John’s book already I also added in a book by J.I. Packer.

  1. The Language of God by Francis Collins
  2. God’s Universe by Owen Gingerich
  3. Solid by John Myer
  4. Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Gospel Odyssey – August 8

Today, August 8th, was the finale of the Gospel Odyssey…aka the Watermelon Fest.  It was geared to be an outdoor festival at a local middle school with a few indoor activities, but due to crazy amounts of rain many of the activities moved indoors (though some were still held outside under tents).  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s go back to the start of the morning’s events.

We were scheduled to go canvassing for the Watermelon Fest but due to the crazy rain only three cars went out while everyone else made signs and stood on street corners under umbrellas.  My car, with 4 other J-Thugz went out to get soaked for Jesus and canvas.  We decided that those guys – Enoch Kuo, David Kim, Duc Luong, & Sam Huoh – all got at least 20 swagger points for each house they put an invite on.  Since we covered eight streets right by the school they got a lot of points…and soaking wet.  After we got done with the canvassing I treated them all to grande hot chocolates at the B&N’s Starbucks.  After drinking our beverages we toured the Christian section of the store and I was asked to post a “J-Thugz” fall semester/quarter book reading list that would mainly focus on helping equip us for the gospel.  That is going to be coming in an upcoming blog.

After heading to the middle school for lunch and setting up for the Watermelon Fest I got to play a few games of cornhole and basketball before the singing & gospel message.  My team won both times in cornhole (mainly because of the clutch 3-point shots of my teammate).  In basketball I was likely having the best game of my life.  I was making shots, getting rebounds, making steals & strips, & blocking shots.  Now, I’m not claiming to be the Midwest Shaq Diesel (aka Jeff Friess), but I think I did a good job of representing the Buckeye state in Ann Arbor.

Amy Strieter put on another great drama that introduced Mark Miller’s message.  His message was excellent.  Mark effectively portrayed the fact that a person cannot say that Jesus was just a good guy, a good teacher, or a spiritual person.  That is not an option.  Based upon His own words and claims to be the Christ (Messiah) and Son of God we must either call Him the most evil deceiver of all time, a lunatic, or believe that He truly is Lord.

Over all, I must give major props to the Christians in Ann Arbor who helped put on and support the Gospel Odyssey & the Watermelon Fest.  Also, those who labored to design & carry out the concepts, practical labors & details, hospitality, music, speaking, etc… you all deserve a big hand of applause.  We cannot forget those who participated in the Gospel Odyssey & Watermelon Fest as well – your heart for the gospel and concern for the lives and souls of those around you and in Ann Arbor is to be much celebrated.

Gospel Odyssey – August 7

Before talking about what happened on the 7th, I think I’ll mention a bit more about my time on the Michigan campus on August 6th.  At one point I went up to three boys who were probably about 12-14 years old and offered them some “gospel cookies” as I figured it would be easy to bust out the gospel with the three of them.  I mean, they are younger than me, they weren’t doing anything, and they had numbers on me, and I was offering free food – all good reasons that they might give me an ear.  When they asked me why I was giving out cookies, I handed them each an invite and a tract and started to tell them about Jesus.  One kid immediately said that he already went to church (though I’m not sure if he was saved), the boy in the middle got really excited and started asking me about my favorite book in the Bible and what his and his mom’s are (he was certainly saved), and the third boy looked scared to death that I was talking about God (he I felt was certainly not saved).

Apparently the second boy was so excited that I was talking about Jesus that he kept interrupting any attempt I made to share the gospel with his friends.  Eventually I wished them a great day and walked away.  I came back around later on and saw/overheard the kid in the middle explaining the tract to the third kid (the scared one) and the first boy listening intently.  Even though I didn’t get to preach the gospel to the boys, it was cool to see that the door was opened for one of the boys to tell his friends about Jesus.

On August 7, there was a lot of sharing about Jesus.  During the canvassing time Brian Bowman talked with a college-aged guy doing yard work as a summer job.  Brian asked him if he was a Christian and the guy hedged about and said that he had gone to a Christian school but he himself wasn’t a Christian.  Brian led him through the “hope” tract which hit home with the guy and he received the Lord.

The evening ended in a bbq and a gospel meeting with Peter McNaughton speaking a powerful message on hope.  He addressed the topic from showing that there are a lot of problems in the world – something that everyone agrees on.  Then he went to show that the problem is people and then that the problem is within us.  That provided a case to show that the solution is only going to be something that can change our heart from the inside and that Jesus is that Person.  It’s not good enough to have God around us, but we need Jesus in us.  The drama of Halli Levine & Christine P’ng was really good too.

There were about 200 people there with ~50 of them being guests invited by members of the church in Ann Arbor and through the Gospel Odyssey.  We even had some repeats from the last bbq we did.  It was cool to see about six people that I had some part in inviting show up for at least part of the time tonight.

Gospel Odyssey – August 4 (Part 2) – August 6

I have been away from internet for a while, so I have a little blog catching up to do as well as some work to do.

As for August 4th (Part 2) I did learn of one more salvation that occurred.  So that is pretty sweet.

August 5th was a day on the campus doing some creative gospel outreach.  There were at least 4 different things done: (1)We brought two couches onto the diag and had signs saying “Pray with me”.  The thought being that if you want to pray about something, sit on the couch with one of us and we’d pray for you.  Apparently it was very effective in Cleveland Heights.  I don’t know how it went at U of M.  (2) We took video cameras &/or digital cameras out on campus and interviewed people.  Either doing a survey, going through a Bible verse, or some other means.  (3) One-on-one gospel and handing out tracts and invites to the bbq’s.  (4) Passing out some of the free cookies on campus along with invites and seeing if a conversation would start.

I did number four.  I would ask people if they wanted a free cookie and about 60% of the time people said “yes”.  Oh, the cookies had the verse, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger –Jesus Christ” [John 6:35].  Usually people would ask why I was handing out cookies and I would tell them to show God’s love.  Just as God freely gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, we are giving out free cookies.  Like the cookies, all we need to do is choose to receive Him.  People, Christians & non-Christians alike, mostly said “thank you” or some other polite expression of thanks.  I only had one college girl pick up the cookie, read the verse, say “*%$*#&% you” after reading the verse, through the cookie down and storm off.  I didn’t even get to mention Jesus’ name, all it took was for her to read the Word & see His name to violently react.

After the day of invites and such we had another gospel bbq at another park.  There seemed to be at least 30 friends and people from the neighborhood show up.  Most seemed to be from the neighborhood, which was really great to see.  Ian Konopinski shared an excellent gospel message about forgiveness based upon Romans 3:23 & 6:23.  Again, Amy Strieter set up a great short drama to start off the message.  I am not sure if there were any salvations but at least one guy from the neighborhood who was already saved said that he wanted to get baptized at Friday’s bbq.

Today is August 6th, and I am blogging quickly while most people are out canoeing.  I thought I’d try to get some work done in the couple of free hours while they are having fun.

A new gospel topic, hope, was introduced today.  They key verse being Colossians 1:27, “To them God made to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”.  We did some canvassing in a new area and then went to three separate nursing homes.  In the nursing homes we sang some hymns, then a person preached a message on hope (Peter McNaughton, Ian Konopinski, and I did this), and then we visited with the people there.  The people at the nursing home we visited seemed to very much enjoy all three aspects.  It was very sweet.  The home even had a dog who lived there as well…kind of a house pet.

Now they are off canoeing while I blog and work.

Gospel Odyssey – August 4 (Part 1)

Today we had a bit of a break half way through the day which was a good thing because it was really hot and I think our legs (at least mine) were feeling some pain from all the walking earlier this week.  Though we got a couple hours of down-time physically, we didn’t take a break in our gospel fervor.

We canvassed a new area of the city with brochures, went door to door with surveys, and went out on the U of M campus in the gospel.  During the door to door venture Enoch Kuo and I prayed with a guy for his father who has prostate cancer but has yet to believe in Jesus.  We talked to a lady who goes to a Unitarian group (basically they believe in everything but the Bible) who believes that it doesn’t matter what we do in life because the God-like force out there isn’t going to punish anyone.  When we asked her how Hitler and other mass murders fit into that she said that her god was ok with them to and that she’ll be spending eternity with them (if she doesn’t believe in Jesus, she’s right; but it won’t be in the “happy place” that she imagine).

David Kim & Jerome Espiritu prayed with a guy (I think to receive the Lord) who had a friend recently die.  They also ran into a former OSU student, Thomas, who went to Oasis and then New Life OSU for a couple years.  Apparently he still remembered me and mentioned me by name so I was called over to catch up on life with him.  He’s now going to Michigan for grad school this fall.

I look forward to hearing more stories of what the Lord did today.  I’ll be able to fill in the gaps some time tomorrow when people share their stories.  Stay tuned : ).

Gospel Odyssey – August 3

This morning we did some canvassing in the same neighborhood as yesterday.  Afterwards, we had lunch and a little “gospel training” at the Boy Scout headquarters of GO.  During that time I found out about two other salvation events (in addition to the one mentioned in my August 1 GO entry) that have happened so far.  One was from a door to door survey and the other from a gospel event on the U of M campus.

The survey salvation story was prompted when the surveyors asked the woman how she dealt with stress.  Her response: Ironing.  They asked about God being a means and then the gospel opportunity opened up and she was saved.  Then they prayed with her for a family member struggling with cancer.

The campus student was asked what he thought about Jesus.  He replied that he went to church and stuff to please his mother but that’s about it when it comes to anything Jesus related.  After later conversation, the student said that he wanted to fix up his life and drinking problem before he felt he could come to God anyways.  This opened the door for Romans 5:8 to be preached, “But God demonstrates His own love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.  The student was told to come to Jesus as he was, problems and all because Jesus died for him even though he had all those problems.  The student then received Jesus as his Savior.

For our creative gospel session we made tons of cookies that will be passed out to those who serve the community some future day from now.  Our first batch or two did not turn out well at all.  We ate most of those cookies as a form of “quality control”.  But by the third batch we were rolling.  We made close to 300 cookies with lots of dough left over (we had to get going before 5pm and ran out of time).  Most of us were feeling a bit sick because of all the “quality control” cookie eating we did.  But the upcoming walking helped a lot.

Doing door to door surveys was a bit more eventful tonight.  We ran into some Christians who we simply asked to pray for us and for the gospel, which they said they would.  Then my group of three entered into a conversation at one home with a guy who was about to leave for his freshman year of college.  His mom seems to be relatively newly saved but he and his father are agnostic at best.  As we talked about his beliefs and Jesus and the Bible he mentioned that he really does believe that the Bible is accurately recorded and historically upheld.  He has a hard time believing in the more miraculous elements and that God inspired the writing of the Bible.  We talked more and I recommended a book to him, which he said he would add to his stack of John Piper books that he is currently reading in his research and seeking out of God.  In the end I told him to keep it up and that he was lucky to have a mom who was praying for him and his salvation.

Later that night we had a bbq at Gallup Park centered around the theme of “God’s Love”.  In addition to the GO people, it appeared that about twenty people who were high school, college, and co-workers of people in Ann Arbor came out.  Plus a few people from the neighborhood.  Ben Carbrey gave the gospel message, possibly his first, and portrayed that God loves us even if we don’t reciprocate that love.  He described God’s love in Christ’s sacrifice.  Ben’s use of a short skit and video was also well done.