preaching in Ireland

The Media Missionary

Source: The Media Missionary

The Friend Request

It was a dark and windy Halloween. But the church was bright and bustling with activity. It was our annual Harvest Festival, and I was in charge, which is not uncommon. I was going to and fro making sure all the details were being executed efficiently. Kids carnival on one side of the sanctuary. Buffet and pie baking contest on the other side. Cake walk in the middle. And in a little while we would clear the center and have some Irish folk dancing lessons. It was an international theme, so everyone was encouraged to wear costumes that reflect an international flair.

I was at the buffet, and suddenly there was this man next to me with flaming red hair and a bright smile.

“Hello!” he bellowed with a chuckle. “Just in case you are wondering who that crazy man with the red hair is who sent you a friend request on Facebook earlier today, that’s me!”

My thought – CREEPY!

But what I said was something like, “Oh…really. That’s nice.”

“I’m Carl,” the redhead said, “It’s our first time here and I thought I would introduce myself. I came in my Scottish scarf for the international theme. It matches my hair.” I made some polite response. Then I slowly… backed… away. Through the rest of the evening I am pretty sure that Carl proceeded to introduce himself to every person in the room. You see, Carl Anderson is what one might call an extreme extrovert.

When I got home that night, sure enough, I had a friend request from Carl with a message saying he knows a few people from the church and he is looking forward to getting to know more. I toiled over my response. I didn’t want to offend him. But I have a few rules about Facebook. So I finally answered to the effect of, “It was nice to meet you at the festival. However, it takes me a little longer to get to know someone before I am friends with them on Facebook. I hope you understand.” Carl’s response was, “I guess I am a little different. I am friends with everyone!” And that’s the truth!

Fast forward to the present. Carl and his wife Sarah and three wonderful kids have been a part of my church for over 7 years. I consider them dear friends. After church recently, I said to Carl, “I would like to interview you for an article.” Carl got a big smile on his face, “For Time Magazine?” he said jokingly. “No, for my blog. Maybe like 50 people read it. But if I tag you on Facebook than maybe your 900 friends will see it!” “Actually, it’s closer to 4300 friends now,” he replied. That was no joke. One of those friends, of course, is me!

carl family

Brother Carl

I admire Brother Carl, as we affectionately call him. Rev. Carl Wesley Anderson has a big personality, a big vision, a big heart . . . and I say this with true respect…a big mouth. He is not afraid to speak words that are challenging and bring you to another level of understanding and experiencing God. Always humorous, always dramatic, always passionate. He is the Braveheart of evangelists.

ireland preaching

Preaching in Ireland

Our pastor recognizes Carl’s gifts as an evangelist and asks him to speak and teach on a variety of occasions at the church. The last time Brother Carl spoke at church, at the end he had the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders come to the front and pray for people who needed healing. The children had been learning about praying for people and practicing in their Sunday school class. Now they put it into full action. After church my 10-year-old said, “I really liked that.” He liked Carl’s presentation, especially an anecdote he shared about praying for someone’s butt. A 10-year-old boy can totally relate to that! But he also liked praying for people. He is my sensitive, caring child. He would not have been willing to pray for people on his own, but Carl inspired him to step out that day. I can see that my son has a gift in this area. He has a sensitive spirit. And it is so exciting to see him learn this at the age of 10!

That is Carl’s calling and his great passion – equipping people to work for God. Everyday people, all people, have gifts that God has placed in them to be used to help one another, encourage one another, love one another.

Carl is using his powerful gifts to impact people around the world through his ministry Born to Blaze. He has been invited to teach and equip Christians in over 20 different countries over the last 20+ years.

But all that came to a screaming stop about two years ago.  Our extreme extrovert got an extreme blow – cancer. A rare cancer in the upper leg. The treatment involved painful shots every other week, resulting in flu-like symptoms for 5 days following. This aggressive treatment laid Carl out on his back, stopped the world travels, made the most social person I have ever met retreat to the safety of his home. Illness is miserable. Illness steals your joy and your strength. Joy and strength are two of the qualities about Carl that have always stood out to me. Joy and strength pretty much defined Carl for me before the cancer.

But Brother Carl has risen to the challenge. He has fought like a champ. I am sure that I am not privy to the low moments. I am sure there were discouraging moments. Jesus helps us in our low moments. And if there was an opportunity for Carl to practice what he preaches, it has been this fight against cancer. Brother Carl is an open book. He is open to letting God use whatever is in his life to help and inspire others.

Cinematography that Inspires

Carl has always loved the cinema. The drama. The message. The beauty. At the age of 15 his entrepreneurial spirit and creative mind combined to start a business of wedding videography. As a young adult he and his bride createdPrincess Bride Cinematographic Videography. It is wedding video on steroids. The videos they produce are cinema quality. I love to go to their website and watch the videos they have there. After watching a 5 minute video I feel like I know these couples! The videos are so well produced. Carl and Sarah have a gift. I wish I knew them when I was planning my wedding! Seriously, people, you need to watch! It is so much better than TLC.

Here is a little sample for you to enjoy. It is a 5 minute Short Film “Life is Beautiful”:

ashley + tony // life is beautiful from Carl Anderson on Vimeo.

Recently, Princess Bride has begun to shift their focus in another area – Life Stories. These beautiful films combine interviews, photographs, music, and great story-telling to capture the life moments of people most dear to us. Parents, grandparents, couples, the possibilities are endless.

Here is a look at the Life Story of my sweet friend Ruby. It is just precious. You may have read my article called “The Fisherman” about Ruby’s husband Ted.

life story documentary // ruby kjeseth from Carl Anderson on Vimeo.

For a special treat, watch this Special Feature from Ruby called “What Color Hair Does Jesus Have?”

Special Feature // What Color Hair Does Jesus Have? from Carl Anderson onVimeo.

Media Missionary

About 10 years ago, this lover of cinema was watching a documentary and “something clicked” he told me. “This is what God wants me to do.” Carl loves history, he loves story-telling. And through telling these historical stories of faith, he hopes to inspire people of this time to see that God could use them in the same way for their generation. The same anointing with a different expression.

In a recent trip to Ireland for evangelism, Carl began his first video project to this end. A documentary about the ways God has spoken to us through history and is still speaking. I cannot wait to be able to view it. Using his gifts, his passion, God is leading Carl in this new direction, in the midst of continuing cancer treatment. Cancer can’t keep this extreme extrovert, this passionate man of God, this gifted communicator and creative genius, from completing his heavenly assignment.

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Zoe Life

I asked Brother Carl if he has a life verse, a scripture that inspires and gives him vision for what he does. John 10:10 was the verse he quoted me where Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Then Carl gave me a little lesson in Greek. The Greek word for “life” is “zoe”. They actually named their little girl Zoe from this verse. This “zoe” life is not just the everyday, hum-drum life. It actually means “life as God knows it”, a “heaven-born life”. This zoe life is why Carl does what he does. His desire is that Jesus would use him to help others receive the zoe life that God offers. Whether preaching at his home church, or ministering across the world, whether creating a cinema of a life story, or filming historical and spiritual documentaries, Carl’s vision is to inspire others towards the life that Christ offers.

I am so thankful that Brother Carl and Sarah are part of my faithful village. I am sure I will share some thoughts on Sarah sometime as well! She is fabulous and inspiring all on her own! They are such a beautiful part of my life. And it all started with a cold Halloween night and a Facebook friend request.” Written by Kelly Dima.

Will the REAL ST. PATRICK Please Stand Up?

The river that flows through Chicago, U.S.A. is about to become green once again. The annual celebration of St. Patrick’s Day brings flowing toasts of green beer throughout America, and strange rituals like this one. The Irish descendants of Chicago might go a little too far in their celebration of Irish Heritage, but it still begs the question:

Who was the real St. Patrick, and what are we REALLY celebrating?

I first arrived on Irish shores at the age of 22 as a young, idealistic missionary and evangelist. I soon realized I had a lot to learn (from the Irish)!

One of my invitations was to join a leader named Raymond who had purchased a large bus, called the, “Tea Trawler” and turned the back of the bus into a portable stage. We would drive into poor areas, or small towns, and begin to worship God in praise from the platform to attract a crowd. Then I would bring an evangelistic message to those who had gathered, and close with an invitation to come into the bus and enjoy a cup of tea and discuss spiritual matters and receive prayer.

Ministry002

I remember one night I was preaching on the 10 Commandments, and a rude man from an upper window yelled at me, “this is the 11th Commandment: thou shalt shut your *&^% mouth so we can go to sleep!” and he hurled a potato or some vegetable at me. I continued preaching, in the love of God, anyway. Several people came in for a cup of tea, and prayed to receive Christ that night.

It was a combination of bold witness and relational/conversational evangelism, and very much in the spirit of St. Patrick.

So WHO are we really celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day?

  1. We are celebrating a man of God who was an apostolic missionary and a bold preacher of JESUS.
  2. We are celebrating someone who introduced a whole “new model” of evangelism, relational/conversational evangelism, to a culture.

First, he was an apostolic missionary and bold preacher; he was NOT IRISH!

Really?

Yes, really.

He was originally from the region we now call England, taken captive as a teenage slave to Ireland by raiders. He escaped slavery to freedom, only to feel a calling to ministry and return.

The LORD gave him a dream one night and he saw the very people who once had held him captive, calling him back over to help them and introduce them to Jesus.***

In modern times, imagine you are German and living in Germany, and taken captive by ISIS as a teenager. You then escape from the terrorists, only to return to Germany and be called by God to return to Iraq and give your whole life as a missionary to the families of the terrorists. THAT WAS THE REAL ST. PATRICK!!!

He trained in the south of France and began his mission in the North of Ireland. He wrote in his journal,

“I felt no fear, because the Spirit of God was so fervent within me.”

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His bold preaching included sharing God’s love everywhere, by seeking out those who were steeped in spiritual darkness. People followed the cults of the Druids and their teachings that “god” was ANGRY with them. The ancient belief was that to appease “god’s anger” one must sacrifice an animal or even a firstborn son.

The blood must be shed upon the altar, and then the priest would either drink the blood, or pour it upon the land, and in that act they believed they became somehow “one” with god, and god would not be angry anymore with them.

Patrick, and for many centuries, other disciples of his who carried on the mission, brought the truth:

God was not demanding these sacrifices out of “anger” for them; the opposite is true: He took the initiative in sending His One and Only Son to become a once-and-for-all sacrifice FOR THEM; indeed Christ offered His body & blood as the sin-bearer, in love.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us, for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

And in being covered by His “holy” blood, and receiving the power of His Holy Spirit released after Christ’s resurrection, you can truly become “One” with God, forever.

Second, he introduced the love of Jesus Christ through relational evangelism. The Roman model of the day was “forced conversion to the State religion of Christianity.”

Think of Ireland not with large cities, but small groupings of family units. Patrick and the monks would form communities, usually consisting of 12 monks, who would create a base of operation to both pray/worship and grow food and give it away.

People were converted by this unique approach of having their “felt needs” met and also being welcomed in an atmosphere of the very Presence of the “High King of Heaven” through prayer and worship. Just like the “Tea Trawler!”

Hallelujah!

In Dublin I remember spending the night on the couch of a remarkable lady: Lilian Rowe. She was all afire for Jesus. She owned a car, but so she could be active in evangelism, she hired a Taxi every morning for work, just to give an earful of the gospel for 10 minutes to the Taxi driver!

On her mantle, above her fireplace, was a picture of BONO of the group U2.

I asked her about it, and found out that she, and her husband Chris, were one of the Christian influences for Bono himself, and helped disciple him in the faith in his early years before all the hit songs and records came.

I remember Lilian’s passion for Jesus which overflowed into her passion for the lost. This, too, was very “St. Patrick” in influence.

So this month on St. Patrick’s Day, and then leading forward into Easter, let’s remember, not St. Patrick, but Jesus Christ, whom Patrick preached: whose blood was shed upon the cross as He offered God’s once-and-for-all sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.

Let’s remember the examples like Raymond’s “Tea Trawler” or Lilian Rowe, and all the lessons that the Irish can teach us: like becoming sold-out missionaries, like joining in real communities of love and service, and like sharing the Good News in a relational fashion, whether that’s over a cup of tea and prayer for others, or simple conversations in taxi’s, (or with our co-workers or family members).

So, who is the real St. Patrick? Click below to watch a short documentary I made about 10 years ago to learn more. Filmed on-location on actual sites of Patrick himself, I share some history and more teaching about this remarkable missionary.

“Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

-from St. Patrick’s Breastplate, 5th Century.

***Sources: “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill & “Celtic Saints” by The Pitkin Guide. Chicago foto courtesy of Flickr.

What is your favorite word

What Is Your Favorite Word?

Welcome to my introductory blog post! A journey of a 1,000 blogs has to start somewhere. This is my first step on that journey. I hope you will find these posts to be filled with themes you can personally and practically connect with in your relationship with God.

Do you have a favorite word? I do (besides “Jesus” of course; He is my ultimate favorite word because He is the word of all words).

My favorite word in the English language is the word, “BUFFET.”

Whenever I see that word, I get super excited! It’s a buffet! WooHoo! My wife and my kids know that this is my favorite word. That word changes everything when it comes to food.

“Dad, it’s a BUFFET!” My kids love to watch my reaction when they announce this word. I suddenly turn into a carnivore with no culinary limits, and tend to make an absolute fool of myself within minutes.

Let’s be honest. As a man, my stomach is top priority to my daily existence.

So the images that the word, “buffet” conjure up instantly bring me great joy. Don’t ever come between my stomach and a buffet. You will not like what happens if you try and stop me!

Why do I love this word? Well, the choices are limitless! All the food groups are represented, and when I want a “balance” of nutrients on that day I might try them all. Other days, (especially if my wife is not looking), I can ignore the “healthy” stuff and load up on all the “good” stuff! I love variety. I love to eat all I can and then go back for more.

So in the next 1,000 blogs, my aim is to create a kind of “spiritual buffet” for you as the reader. I will place in front of your eyes a wide variety of choices. Some will be “appetizers” of personal history and stories about my relationship with God. Others will be “main courses” of deeper Christian thought. And some will be sumptuous desserts that tend to exist just to, “keep God in the conversation.”

All of them will combine PRACTICAL thoughts and illustrations, including looking at current events around the world and interacting with those events based upon scriptural truths, and current happenings in my life and my family.

Now you know my favorite word.

Let me also share my favorite word in THE WORD.

I’ll bet each of you has a favorite Scripture. I do too. My favorite is from John’s gospel, chapter 10. Here it is,

“I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).

So simple, Jesus! Jesus = life! Heavenly life! A champion’s life! Eternal life pulsating in the Spirit! The best definition for that word, “life” that I have found goes like this:

LIFE AS GOD HIMSELF KNOWS IT.

So that’s the secret! He is seeking to pour out a daily life in the Holy Spirit that He is Himself experiencing: a whole new level of life.

So as I begin this blog, it is my prayer that you will catch some of my personal excitement to be living a life full of the life of Jesus Christ! That you will catch my enthusiasm for Jesus and all that He is personally teaching me as He walks with me through my own struggles of faith, failures, and daily trials of real life.

He came that you might have “LIFE as HE knows it” and that life actually starts now, today, and then follows you into eternity.

I hope you will subscribe to these blogs and find the same excitement for Jesus revealed in them that I feel in my stomach, every time I hear my favorite word spoken.

Did somebody just say, “BUFFET!”?

Let’s get the conversation going together. Do you have a favorite scripture? Share it with all of us!