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Evangelism begins with Updog!

May 20, 2010

E-Dub sporting the Updog shirt

As the summer quickly approaches it feels like only yesterday I was in Haiti post-earthquake. At times I feel ill-prepared for what’s coming over the next 10 weeks–6 camps and 3 Haiti trips.

Somewhere along the way the world kept spinning and LIFE continued. Funny how during ties like this I tend to get self-consumed. I tend to focus on the things that are affecting me in the moment and sometimes lose sight of the big picture…just being honest.

The cool thing is, this summer has something new. Our BGM office has designed a new shirt (more appropriately I had Boo design it)! I am so excited about it because it communicates the message I’ve been sharing for a few years now.

Having worked at churches for almost 15 years I have seen a lot of things. One thing that I have always battled has been the way we as Christians (ad more specifically those in evangelical churches) do evangelism. I believe most evangelicals believe in evangelism. The truth is I know some don’t ad others are petrified of it butthe majority (whether yet practice it or not) do believe in evangelism.

I have seen evangelism done in many ways. I have seen it take place from the pulpit or stage, through drama, teaching, skit, sketch, and song. I have seen it done through classes, with training, visitation, and mentorship. I have also seen it done around the globe through teams, individuals, and groups going door to door, hut to hut, and setting up on street corners all over this planet. I have also been able to see evangelism done through relationships.

I have seen men, women, teenagers, and even children tell their friends about what Jesus Christ means to them. I have watched those people (and myself) pray for an search for opportunities to share what they believe. I have seen churches encourage Christians to share their faith in ways that begin with relationships…and I have seen churches require people to take classes on evangelism.  I have even heard church staff members comment on the “untrained” people in the church…those who haven’t been through classes on evangelism.

Let me say this…I don’t think it’s EVER wrong to prepare the church for action, but when I hear people (especially church staff people) discredit someone for sharing their faith because they didn’t use the proper outline, plan, or because they weren’t certified, I have to laugh…or cry.

So, what I think about it is simple.  The best way to begin ANY evangelism strategy is simple…with one word…HELLO.  That’s right, Hello.  Can you imagine building relationships with people?  Can you think of a better way to start a conversation with someone…even someone you don’t know?

That’s where the Updog shirt comes in.  It’s self-explanatory.  Maybe it goes like this, you walk up to someone.  They notice your shirt.  You nod that nervous smile and watch their eyes.  They have that puzzled look and you have them where you want them.  You say, “Hello.”  They say, “What is that?”  You reply, “What are you talking about?”  They say, ” What’s Updog?”  You say, “Not much, what’s up with YOU!?”  They shake their head in disbelief because they just fell for some silly 3rd grade humor.  You smile and say, “Gotcha.”  Then…the rest is up to you.  You can begin the conversation, talk to them, or even take time to get to know them…you’ll be surprised at what happens.

Praying that Updog helps you.  You can get your own shirt if you want it…hope it helps.

Check out Acts 9…Saul became Paul and Ananias had to begin a conversation with one of the most threatening murderous people in the history of the early church.  Think you have people in your LIFE who intimidate you?  Just imagine having to chat with the hardest man in the world…makes Updog look simple doesn’t it?

Get your own Updog conversation starter!

Dear President Obama and Healthcare Reform:

May 4, 2010

This is an open letter…a rant more honestly…addressed to President Obama specifically.  Why you ask?  Because of healthcare reform, I have to be able to give this frustration to someone and he is the champion.  You sit in the big boy seat, YOU get the direct response.

Dear President Obama,

I feel it necessary to tell you something.  I am NOT political.  I loathe what politics does to people…to good people.  I despise it with all that I am.  In fact, you can check my Facebook profile and under political views, I am an avowed Political Atheist…stating I don’t believe in Politics.  I know it’s a stupid argument, but it’s what I choose.

I also want you to know I didn’t vote for you.  Not because you were a dem or because you were an African-American…trust me, that doesn’t bother me in the least.  I didn’t vote for you because I didn’t agree with anything you stood for, I think you represent the political smugness I so despise, and because I didn’t see any of the CHANGE people would come to HOPE for.

Mr. President

All that being said, I would like you to know about our experience.  We are one of those families that “benefited” recently from changes in our healthcare.  This is how it went: our son, Lane, has severe special needs.  He has been on TennCare (Tennessee’s version of Medicare) since his birth in 1997.  When he was born, he was 16 weeks early and wasn’t supposed to live.  You can check it out here: myLIFEspeaks.

Recently, Lane was dropped from his TennCare; not because he is no longer special needs, but because he was one of the latest of those removed from TennCare.  He does not receive SSI, has his own insurance, and his mother and I both work to provide for him.  He wasn’t qualified any longer.  We had tried to get him removed years ago, but were told his qualifications for this state-funded insurance were not income related, rather they were related to his permanent disabilities.  That proved to be wrong.  Lane was on TennCare because he received an SSI check when he was first born and once someone receives even one check, they are on TennCare for the remainder of their lives, or until the bill is repealed (January 2010 by the Tennessee State Legislature) that provided that insurance.

I know how you feel…trust me.

I say all of that to set the picture for you.  We work hard for what we have and do our best to provide insurance for our family.  There have been days when our insurance was equal to our house payment, but we survived.  We have worked hard to get Lane taken care of, regardless of what his “disability” status is.

This morning I received a call from my wife.  She was crying.  I don’t like it when my wife cries just like I’m sure you don’t like it when your wife cries.  My wife doesn’t cry often.  She only cries about a couple of things, her family here in the states and our family in Haiti.  Not much else gets her.

When she called this morning, she explained the bill (WITH OUR INSURANCE) to pick up Lane’s medicine was going to be $663.  You can surely understand my amazement. “NO WAY!,” I cried, “we have insurance.”  That’s right…we do have insurance, and it saved us $400!

Are you kidding me?  I called our neurologist’s office and was amazed.  That was right.  The name brand medicine really is that much.  The generic? $10.  Yep, it’s a $653 savings to go generic.  So guess what, we’re going with the generic.

I have a suggestion for you.  Check out the drug company that just attempted to molest my wallet.  Never mind we KNOW the name brand works to control his seizures, we are going with the generic…same medicine, just without the research costs and corporate payouts. We’re willing to make sacrifices, but I’m putting my child on the line.  This generic medicine might work and I might never have a problem.  His seizures might be under control and everything could be fine…or we might be in for a long haul.

Is this what you were thinking?  Is this what you were hoping for?  Is this Healthcare Reform working as you imagined?  I’m not being political on this, I’m being practical.  I don’t see the CHANGE so many put their HOPE in at this moment.

Hope you understand,

–mike wilson

A Tale of Two Cities…my version

May 3, 2010

This is my Tale of Two Cities that have my heart.  I could start this out with the most popular line ever…but I refrain.

Downtown Nashville--1st Avenue. Monday, May 3. Photographer unknown

I sit here today watching one of the most beautiful blue skies I have seen in a while.  I have watched the last couple of days as the local and national media have covered the recent flooding here in Middle Tennessee.  I have watched and realized we are being inundated by coverage.  We can watch via HD or cell phone coverage.  If the media can’t get a picture from their HD cameras they’ll uplink via ustream from a cellphone.  It’s amazing.

I saw this picture today.  It’s pretty wild to think how many people were down in that area on Saturday night not knowing they would be one of the last ones there for a while.  I’m hearing today, downtown businesses like the Wild Horse Saloon and Joe’s Crab Shack (both popular tourist spots) will be down for a while.  No one expected it to be THIS bad…currently the Cumberland River is over 50 FEET ABOVE FLOOD STAGE!

My little town of Franklin has seen neighborhoods flooded, roads turned to rivers, and water supplies being threatened due to the inability to properly treat and clean the water.  It’s amazing how much power water can have.

Haiti...Port au Prince

Then I remember back to what I saw on January 13.  I was in Haiti the day after the earthquake. I remember looking at a city where I was less than a week earlier.  I was there signing papers for our adoption and remember thinking to myself, “This place is really looking better.  I can see why the people from the countryside want to get out and move to Port au Prince.”

I never imagined an earthquake would do that much damage in such a few short minutes.  I knew when I saw the devastation first-hand I would never be the same.  I remember the sights, the smells, and the sounds of people crying.  I remember the feeling of helplessness as I rode by those who had lost loved ones, those who were without shelter, and those in sheer shock of the situation at hand.

From Jeremy Cowart's Voices of Haiti website...check it out...this is a local pastor who lost daughter in the quake...WOW

As I thought about the hours after the earthquake and the unending coverage on the news this weekend, I couldn’t help but think about Haiti.  i hope and pray on a daily basis that we as Americans don’t forget those in Haiti who have been affected by the earthquake.

Unfortunately LIFE happened and Haiti was no longer important to the media.  I think also about my friends and neighbors surrounded by flood waters, wet houses, and missing cars.  I pray their nearness to us keeps them in our thoughts, prayers, and minds in the days to come.

Hopefully God will continue to break our hearts for those around the world…Haiti is MY place in the world where He has parked my heart.  Where is YOURS?  When you find it, you’ll know and you won’t be able to stop.

Find your place, find your city, find your heart!

I forgot…

April 27, 2010

Ever been reminded of something, only to find yourself blurting out the phrase, “I forgot…”  You know how it goes, you find your old favorite shirt and exclaim, “I forgot how good I looked in this!”  You find tupperware in the back of the fridge and regretfully say, “I forgot that was in there…why is there mold on it?”

I had one of those “I forgot” statements a couple of weeks ago.  I was at church on Palm Sunday and our pastor showed a clip from “The Passion of the Christ.”  You know the movie, it’s the one that caused Christians and non-Christians around the globe to argue over the “R” rating it received…but I digress…

When I watched the clips from the movie in front of me, the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion came on, and I watched intently.  As they came to the point where they nailed Jesus to the cross, I remembered watching this movie and thinking about the relentless pursuit the religious leaders had and the determination to stop Him.

The scene changed to the moment where they had to dislocate Jesus’ right arm in order to get it nailed in place on the cross…then they flipped the cross over.  That’s when I exclaimed, “I forgot that part.”

It was a harmless statement.  The truth is, I HAD forgotten about that part, but the reality was much worse.  In reality, I had gotten to the point where my faith had quite a few, “I forgot” statements.  I was in that area of LIFE where, things aren’t as bright and shiny as they once were.  LIFE had taken over and it was running me…so I had forgotten so much.

The scene in the movie immediately made me think about the things along my faith journey that have been forgotten over the years.  I realize God used that very moment to remind me of Himself and His love for me.  I remembered the LIFE, death, and resurrection of Jesus at that very moment.  I remembered that EVERYTHING else pails in comparison to knowing Christ and to fellowship with Him is eternal.  I remembered the call to be like Christ, not to act like Him (there IS a difference).  I remembered the call to fellowship with Christ in His sufferings…not something I really ever wanted to remember.

So, next time you utter those words, “I forgot,” take a moment to think about what you have in Christ and who you are because of Him.  Remember Him…

End of an era

April 20, 2010

My Dad is selling his truck. It’s been in the family for years, since 1965 to be exact. Since I was a child he has owned this truck. It took me to football and baseball practice and has hauled tons of mulch, dirt and more. I drove it as an underage driver up and down the driveway at their house more than once.

I hate to see it go, it’s really like family, but that’s how LIFE is sometimes. It’s time to let the truck go. It has memories attached to it, but it’s just a truck…not eternal…at all.

Thank you God I can’t be bought and sold o the highest bidder…because I know there is a bidder willing to pray the price!

BGM in Haiti

April 19, 2010

Hey boys and girls, checkout this new vi

April 16, 2010

Hey boys and girls, checkout this new video! Its just a glimpse at what @theBGM is doing in Haiti!!! Hopefully we’ll… http://bit.ly/dcmsOq