Memories Left Unfinished.

On Saturday, April 21, 2012, my grandfather passed away.  His name was J. Walter Hackman.  He was an entrepreneur, salesman, church planter, prison missionary, theologian, camper, cook, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend.

I was the youngest grandson, and because of this, I do not have as cherished memories as I could have had, simply because I was too young to remember. But I do remember some things.

One night, I slept over at grammy and grandpop’s house in allentown.  I remember watching the classic “herby” movie with both of them and laughing together at whatever that comedic automobile was up to.  I also remember the snacks offered to me: triscuits, pretzels, a diet coke, and if I was lucky…. Cantaloupe and vanilla bean ice cream.  After the movie was over, I remember sitting together and having a devotional just before bed.  This happened another time when I was older and slept over at Grammy and Grandpop’s apartment at Souderton Mennonite Homes.

Looking back at this, I really think that the devotionals that they would have every night was a great way to spend time with your loved ones.  I hope that someday I am as blessed as they were to be able to do the same with my wife, and possibly our children if and when they come along.  Obviously, I have a long ways to go until either of those things become a reality, but it is something good to aspire towards. To be able to discuss things with your wife and children about what you just read is something that must grow the family closer together in so many ways.

I also remember Grandpop grilling quarter pound hotdogs, burgers, steaks, and sausages on the grill. He loved to grill, and we were all aware of this.  The evidence was in the excellent taste in the meat which we ate, which experience could only make his skills all the more better.  I too have a love for cooking; my family can attest that I always have, although I may not have always made the best meal choices.  Today I can pan-sear chicken, cook pasta, make Alfredo and red pasta sauce from scratch, add ingredients to any type of “cream of..whatever” soup to make it taste great, and I can make many other concoctions on the whim, with no recipe. Maybe its just in the genes.

Grandpop also loved to sing, and he also loved to hear people play musical instruments and sing as well.  As soon as my grandparents found out that I could sing in an operatic style(I was classically trained in high school), my grandmother would attempt to draft me multiple times to sing a song(or two) at family gatherings, and at the retirement home.  I was always reluctant to accept because singing classically makes me nervous, especially if it is not at some sort of a recital or something, but grammy won out quite a few times anyway.  The last time was when I sang at the retirement home because Grammy wanted me to sing for Grandpop because, to be blunt, we didn’t know how much longer he had left, and what my schedule would look like later on.  I sang “O Holy Night”, which I also sang at the family Christmas dinner.  And I am so glad that I did sing it.

The day after my Grandfather’s death, the family had to meet to discuss the details of the funeral.  It was a sad time for me because it only proved to sink in the fact that my beloved Grandpop is no longer living on earth.  My grandmother, in front of the family present, turned to me and asked if I could sing “It Is Well” as a solo at the funeral.  As soon as the question was uttered, I already knew my response, but I said that I would think about it to be polite in front of the family.  When it came up later in the discussion, I just came right out and said that I couldn’t do it.  This broke my heart.  I looked over to my mom as she was mouthing the words, “It’s okay” to me, but in my mind all I could think of is how disappointed I must have made Grammy.  After I said no, Grammy offered that I could just lead the hymn in congregational singing…but I could not even take up that offer.  The hymn “It is well” was one of my late Grandpop Bauman’s favorite Hymns, and it still makes me cry on occasion.  To have to sing that in front of a congregation that has gathered in memory of my Grandpop would absolutely break me before I would get past the first verse.  It was a terrible experience to say “no”, but it may have been worse if I would have said “yes”.

My Grandfather was a great man who stood by his principles, who was willing to listen, who was a model on how to love your wife, children and extended family, and who always seemed to have a witty saying.

One of these sayings was this:  “Service is the rent we pay for our stay here on earth”.

Well Grandpop, you paid above and beyond what was owed, its time to collect on your investments.

Love,

Jon Bauman

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Evangelism: Where is the love?

Evangelism:  Why is it that when many hear this word they think of people shouting from street corners that the unbelievers are all going to hell, and that Jesus is the answer?

There are a few problems that I see with this method:

-The “unbelievers” that they are trying to reach have NO authority of Scripture, and therefore, quoting the bible and telling them that they are going to hell will do little to NOTHING for the intended audience.

-By doing this type of evangelism they are already setting themselves up as higher then the intended audience. Some even take it further and literally stand on crates and shout into a formerly quiet park.

-Even if they say that they are a sinner as well, how many Christians actually admit to currently struggling with sin?  Not too many. So no, the audience wont believe that the person condemning them actually view themselves as sinners.

-By starting off their “Gospel message” with statements that the audience will go to Hell if they don’t have Christ, is automatically going to turn the “unbelievers” away, and it would also turn me away.  How is that showing love?  How is that showing humility?

Its not showing Love because they seek to convict their audience. Thats not their job, its God’s.

So, although their hearts are right in wanting to share the good news of the Gospel…I really don’t know how effective it is to the majority.  I really don’t know if the majority will even have respect for these types of street preachers.

What if we didn’t have to do ministry this way?  

I am not trying to say that preaching in public areas is wrong; in fact, I would like to see it continue…but maybe we could try for a better approach. There has to be a better way of telling people about Jesus…

What if, instead of quoting scripture and condemning people to hell upon meeting them, we actually tried to talk and listen to our intended audience?  What if instead of reading bible passages, we Tell them?

People love stories.  Just look at how Jesus taught in parables quite frequently.  He told these stories without quoting the old testament(which was then the Tanakh) often, and the people listened to Him. Some even understood Him, and He had a way of saying these famous words, “He that has ears, let him hear”, indicating that He was not forcing it, He was telling it.

So, what if we broke down our self-righteous pride…and met people where they were at, instead of trying to force them to come up to where we are?  Jesus met with the worst of sinners, why can’t we do the same?

If we want to preach on the streets, then lets talk about our testimonies. Lets tell some stories.  Lets try to meet the real needs of people around us as well. And lets preach the Love of God, instead of starting out our message with a message of the wrath of God.  People are tired and fed-up with the “fire and brimstone” Gospel message.  So instead, lets give and show them the real Gospel through our actions and words, and that Gospel is the message that Jesus Christ is Lord, Messiah, King, Friend, Brother, and a lover of our souls who earnestly desires us to become more like Him.

By the way, no, you can’t just forget about the truth that Christ is who saves us from hell.  Hell is real, and so is the individual “hells” that people deal with individually; so lets try to address both of those problems with genuine Love.(This idea was taken from Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”).

In addition, how about we do relational ministry in our everyday life as well.  Instead of getting mad at the waiter for bringing you a coke instead of a pepsi, show him love and respect even if you don’t always get what you want.  In your friendships and campuses, show love to all, not just the people you “prefer”.  How do we show Love?  Show respect. Listen. Care. Cry. Pray.

How does this minister to people?  It shows that we are different.  It shows that instead of having an agenda to save, we have an agenda to genuinely Love, and through that we may be able to talk about Jesus when they actually want to listen.

I love Jesus with all of my being.  I have a desire to let others know.  All I am saying in this post is that maybe we are doing some things wrong…maybe we are turning more people away than welcoming them. NEVER water down THE Message, but you may have to adjust your message because just as Paul says, some need milk, others need meat. And just like what Paul did at Mars Hill, we should try to convey the message in real and relevant ways to our intended audience.

Let Love Live.

-Jon