Lofstofan – a family of believers authentically following Christ seeking to make him known
I am struggling to find the words to really describe this morning’s church service.
Amazing … but not because it was big or emotional or had amazing lights and technical support, in fact the pastor was apologizing for the struggles they were having. Gunnar (the pastor) had just returned from the United States raising funds for a Children’s Bible Story book to be printed in Icelandic. He himself is fully supported by a church in Virginia. This church has approximately 25 people who are trying to make a difference in Iceland. And he has a huge ministry ahead of him.
We got to the church early and the worship team was practicing. It was very relaxed. They have had such bad weather that the church has had to cancel for a few weeks, too dangerous for cars to be out in the wind. So today maybe 12+ of his people were there. The children’s leader had to work so the kids needed to be in the service. The pastor’s son rode his horse (stick) up on the stage … and during worship he and his little sister were comfortable going up and standing by their mother who was helping lead worship and holding her hand.
It was such a relaxed *personal intimate setting that the children were not a distraction at all.
Because most everyone there spoke English, they did most of the worship in English and Gunnar gave the message in English.
The message was based on James 1:18 Of his own will he gave birth to us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
John 3: 1-8 – the story of Nicodemus.
Gunnar briefly shared his testimony, how he came to pastor this church.
Some of the challenging statements Gunnar made
- We create God in our own image. We say it with our life. The way we live. Our lives tell others, “God likes what I like, the Bible isn’t up to my views”
- God gives us freedom of will “My will is often to do what I want” but when the spirit of God moves we become born of spirit John 3:1-8 My will starts to change as the spirit of God moves … I become more like him
- We like a God that is a concept and we can tweak that concept and make it into whatever is comfortable to us
- Pimp my ride – We do this to the image of God – make HIM into what we want – he becomes Frankenstein God – a concept instead of a person
- Jesus said, If you want to follow me (God in flesh) take up your cross and follow me. Jesus then becomes your anchor. When you have him (fully who He is) you already have everything
- Our lives will be a reflections of either Judas or Peter
Sorrow vs Repentance
- Love is best shown when I see my failures and I realize He has come and saved me
- Man’s chief end – To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
He closed his sermon with this quote.
”God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” John Piper
At the end we had communion and then sang 2 beautiful hymns in Icelandic. (We didn’t do half bad)
It was an amazing, personally intimate morning with a message that was applicably impactful.
I asked Miss Smith and Abigail, “If you could describe this morning’s service in one or two words what would you say?”
A *personal intimate time (Abigail) Applicably impactful (Miss Smith)
After the service we headed to lunch and then an hour at the Iceland Museum. Very interesting.
Then we headed back into town and walked around and did a little souvenir shopping then dinner.
Back to the hotel and Gunnar joined us. He shared with us for an hour and half the plight of ‘the church’ in Iceland.
My heart is broken. What a huge task is before Gunnar and his congregation, however, their hearts are big enough. I think of the prayer of Jabez where he asks God to enlarge his heart. I believe God has and will continue to bless Gunnar and his family. They have 3 little children. The oldest is a boy and is fighting leukemia (on my facebook page he’s in the fedora on the stick horse), the middle little girl has struggled with epilepsy, and the baby is on the extreme autism scale. The baby cannot swallow and will possibly never be able to have the ability to hold his head up. He had a rare disease that as far as they and international doctors know, he is one of three in the world. But to see the joy and patience in Gunnar and his wife, it is confronting, humbling and amazing.
God has given them favor with people so they are given interviews on radio stations by the Atheist leader of Iceland, they are holding training seminars for business people, by fb and youtube posts.
The hope is that a church will be planted in the northwest part of Iceland. We are headed there Wednesday to prayer walk.
The state of the church in Iceland – dire
Statistics say that 86% are Christians – that is because the law requires you to put on the birth certificate the religious beliefs of the mother. So the child takes the mother’s religion, therefore it is put in statistics how many Christians there are in Iceland. In reality. Not really very many.
There is no separation of church and state. This has been disastrous because the church hires the pastors. All you have to do is study Theology, get your license and then you can be employed by the state to preach at one of the Lutheran churches. Because it is a really nice paying job, there are many agnostic professors and businessmen or women choosing to pastor a church because of the money they can make.
The picture of the giant church on Summit’s fb page. It only has about 25+ people that attend. The same size as Gunnar’s church. When we visited it yesterday a small group of us stood close to the pulpit and prayed for God to do something in that church. That his presence would be felt. That the minister would preach the truth. That as he prepared the message that the Holy Spirit would reveal truth and it would open his/her heart to the truth and change them. Little did we know what we were praying is a desperate prayer that desperately needs to be answered.
A young college student from Oregon is coming this next year to go to college and begin a small group bible study at the Iceland College. He will be the only Christian on the campus.
Prayer: Please consider praying for these requests
- For the community of believers of Lofstofan to stay encouraged and to be brave and creative in their sharing of the gospel (one gentleman has been fired 2x because he loves sharing the gospel)
- For the resources to do the seminars, videos, etc. that will draw others to come and ‘check out’ authentic Christianity
- For Gunnar’s family and his son’s treatments for Leukemia – for his newest son and all the complications. With only 3 in the world, there is not a lot of help or understanding on how to help or treat him
- For the church plant in northern Iceland
- For the college student coming to start a Bible Study group on the college campus
- Pray against the struggle of loneliness because there are so few with a task so large
- Pray that the joy we sensed within their community and just sharing with Gunnar tonight will not be robbed from them but will grow and will be contagious to others, drawing them to the person of Jesus Christ
- Pray for more ministries and people from America or anywhere will partner with and/or come to Iceland to partner with Gunnar to make His name known and bring the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ to Iceland.
Before Gunnar left three of our students prayed for him. It was an amazing time.
Tomorrow we are going to do what is called the Golden Circle: Pass through glaciers, Thingvellir National Park a World Heritage Site – where the tectonic plates of Europe and America meet together, the Geysir and the Gullfoss Waterfall.
After dinner we are hoping to go on an Aurora Borealis Tour (if not Mon night then hopefully Thursday night) Please pray we get to do that!
It’s almost 1a.m. here! The alarm is going to go off in just a few hours. Just like the 11th grade trip, prayer is now our main focus. The weather is too cold and windy to do any work projects. But as Gunnar told us, prayer is far more valuable.
In our debriefing, many said this morning’s service touched them. Please pray that we ‘think on these things’ and it changes us. From here on out!
Relationship evangelism. Prayer walking.