Maraca with Bible Verse

Maraca with Bible Verse
1 Timothy 2:5

Good Reads From Amazon

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Winter Park Christmas Parade - From Disaster to Success

I don't want to spend a whole lot of time writing about this, but today was the annual Christmas parade in downtown Winter Park and I was in charge of the evangelism part of it for those in this group who like to go to parades and evangelize. In a parade though, it is a little different. It is fast paced and there are tons of people and tons of printed up tracts to give out, with the hope that some will read them and God will make His word alive and convict them of sin and they will repent and come to Christ. It is harder to talk to someone individually about the Gospel because the goal is to pass out as many tracts as possible. I have been doing this for about the past 6 years or so, and, to be honest, I am not as envisioned to do this as before. I would rather take my time and talk to people about the Gospel as well as give out tracts. But, I am the person to head this event up right now. For starters, only a handful were going to come. I received a call from one person saying they weren't going to be able to come, but we would still have about 5 or 6 if everyone who said they would be there came. Well, only 1 person besides me and my son were there. It was the three of us, but finding a parking place was impossible. I don't know if it was because they closed down some of the parking or if more people are coming to the parade. We finally, after sitting in stopped traffic for a long time, found a place, several blocks away, to park. Since the only guy that was there was my son, it limited the amount of tracts we could actually carry with us, and we wouldn't be able to go back to the car because it was too far away, so we bagged up as many tracts as we could take. My bag was extremely heavy. I also had beach balls in it and as I got out of the car, they kept falling out. One fell under the car and I couldn't get it out. After our long haul to the bench by the bandstand, I needed to use the restroom which was a few blocks away. When I got there, it was locked and you had to go into one of the stores to get the key. I said, 'forget it' and as I was leaving the area, the parade was starting. I saw one of our friends who also was looking for a parking space, and when I got back to the bench, I called her. She showed up immediately and found us. I could tell already by the amount of difficulty that either I was going to never do this again, or, that I would remember and take into consideration the fact that we are in a spiritual battle and that anything that is of value will be attacked. Could this be an attack from the Enemy or was it just God's way of saying, 'Why are you doing this? Did I tell you to do this?'. I believe in faith that God does want us to promote His word and share it with others, and that this difficulty was an attack from the Devil himself. I never found a restroom. I never saw the others who were with me on this event. There were the usual mockers of course. We even had one woman who sounded like she was from Westboro. I gave her a tract and as I was talking with another group, she came up and told me that we were all going to hell. She was mocking so I thought it was interesting. But then I heard some of her other conversation in which she talked about God's hatred for people. As the parade went on, and I gave out a lot of tracts, most people were friendly. I also gave out all the beach balls and coloring books, as well as a couple of decks of cards and mood cups. All have Scripture on them and most have web sites people can go to if they are interested or have questions. I would have also given out balloons, but I couldn't find them in the garage as I was leaving the house in the morning. It got really hot and I needed to sit in the shade for a while. Then I got up and gave out more tracts and then the parade ended. I was on another street when I gave a tract to a young man. I started talking to him and before long we were in a conversation, that led to the Gospel. He seemed unfamiliar with it, to a point, but I think he had some correct information but didn't know how to put it together. Please pray for this young man if you think of it. I will be in touch with him and continue to help him understand the Gospel more. If all the trouble we went through in this parade led up to this conversation with this young man, and if he comes to know Christ, then all that trouble will have been worth it. Also, God is helping me to look at my own heart. I was angry because things were going opposite my way. Everything about this parade was hard, but if God is in it, it will be worth it, and the results are His. One day in eternity, we will see the fruit of our labors. Someone might be there because they found a beach ball in the road with a Gospel message on it. Another one could be there because they received a cute tract that serves as a post card, that has the Gospel message on it. Still, some could be there because someone actually explained the Gospel to them. We will only know what really happens in the spiritual realm when we are there. But for now, we live in faith, and we trust in the True and Living God to do whatever He wants to do in our lives. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's Exciting To See God At Work

    I think so many times, we take God working in our situations for granted. But when we see things happen that we know could only be from Him, it is exciting to see.
   I loved listening to 'The Cross and the Switchblade' because it involves a man who heard from God and acted upon what God spoke to his heart about (yes, I am aware that some Christians do not believe that God speaks to our hearts today, but, He obviously does and this is very evident).
   God is a supernatural being who does things human beings cannot do. He also knows the future and enables people to carry out His works of service, whatever He has called people to do.
   In 'The Cross and the Switchblade', God directed David Wilkerson to talk to certain people in New York City. God arranged for David to meet these people and work with them, and eventually a ministry was born out of his obedience to God. God also put a love in David Wilkerson's heart for the lost boys in New York City. God is not limited though to David Wilkerson's ministry. God wants to work in all of our ministries, if we are serving Him.
   Tonight, on my way to The Conversation ( a 7 week class exploring the Gospel with interested people), I went to Lowe's to pick up some Jiffy Pots. I planned to go to Lowe's this afternoon when I was in another section of town, but ran out of time, so, I went to the Lowe's I go to on the way to the church building instead.
  A few years ago, I was in this particular Lowe's, and I was able to talk about the Gospel with a young man who was a cashier. He seemed to have some understanding of the Gospel, but was off in some of the key areas, and had his own opinions which he seemed to want to stick with. Tonight I went into Lowe's with my tracts, and a couple of the cashiers, who were also young men, saw the tracts and wanted them. I gave them the tracts and explained what they were. I went to get the Jiffy Pots and came back to pay, when I got the same cashier I had a couple of years ago, only this time, he was asking me questions about repentance, eternal security, and related questions. So, I talked with him for a couple of minutes (good thing no customers were waiting behind me). He seemed to want answers to his questions. At the end of the conversation, he actually told me something that he said was just his opinion, but what he didn't know was that it was right out of the Bible. He said that if a person was really saved, that person would be willing to give up everything because of the value of salvation. Those were not his exact words, but that was the point he was trying to make. So I thought that was pretty cool that he still remembered about the conversation we had a couple of years ago, and now was asking some pretty good questions.
   Then at the Conversation, we have one young man who has attended the church for a couple of years, and even went to the Conversation before, but has admitted that he doesn't get it yet. He keeps trying to understand, but nothing happens. Each week we try to explain it again to him. He is honest and really wants to learn the Gospel, but we felt stuck for a while. He feels like he is in the dark, and yet, we feel like God has placed him in the exact place that he is now in, in order for him to see his own need for a Savior. But I am happy to report that he is showing some signs of understanding God now. He is asking good questions and we are there to try to answer them in such a way that will help him understand the Gospel. We are grateful for all of the guests that attended The Conversation this time. Like I already mentioned in one of my blogs, three of the people who formerly attended The Conversation, are no longer with us. Two of them went to be with the Lord, and the other lady was an Atheist. I pray that she had considered what she had heard while in the classes. Perhaps this was the only way she would have been reached. We never heard though, that she came to know the Lord. But we hope that in her final days she would have repented and turned to God.
   I have been trying to come up with a place or find some places where we can effectively share the Gospel with people, and haven't been real successful at this idea. We used to go to Park Avenue, but the people there were very resistant to the Gospel. It got to the point where very few people would take tracts when I went out there. That doesn't mean that it was a total loss though. One woman thanked me for doing that, and I have had some really good conversations with people there. But, I have a real burden for the down and outers, which could be homeless people, foreign people, or just people who don't have a college degree or high paying, high status job. I realized that these people walk up and down the sidewalks not too far away from my house. So, I might try to walk the sidewalks and give out tracts and talk with people there, as I meet them. I can see some good conversations coming up if I do that.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Gospel is Offensive, But Are We?

  I have been pondering some things since I have been on Facebook and studying evangelism. One thing I consistently notice is a hostility of people, even Christians, to Christianity, evangelism in particular. Many would rather just serve people in love in order to accomplish evangelism, but as I meditate on what people have said concerning the need to preach the Gospel, I see another angle.
   A couple of years ago, I was sharing the Gospel (or rather, trying to) with a group of college age kids. They informed me that Jesus wouldn't like what I was doing. They didn't believe in tracts. They said what I was doing was offensive. One even said that she wouldn't want me to talk to her unsaved parents. At the end of the conversation, she recommended that I read Rob Bell's book called, Velvet Elvis.
   I looked up Velvet Elvis and found an indepth critique on the book. My conclusion of the book was that Rob Bell abhors evangelism, and more specifically, Open Air preaching.
  I found a video called, 'The Bullhorn Guy' or something like that, where Rob Bell tears apart a street preacher who has a bull-horn. It was very interesting to note his observations.
   Although not many have come right out and said the Open Air preaching is really offensive, I have a clue that many Christians lump evangelism in with Open Air preaching, but not the kind of Open Air preaching that is Biblical. It is based upon the type of activities carried out by Westboro, and Micah Armstrong. There are others as well. If you were to study the video clips or see these people in action, you would be turned off as well to evangelism. (Westboro is the group that holds up signs saying 'God Hates Fags' or 'God Hates Islam'.)
   What does the Bible say about evangelism? Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples. He also told us that we would be His witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. We are to tell everyone we can the Gospel. Where then is this disconnect between those preaching the Gospel today that is so offensive and what the Bible tells us to do?
   Two things to keep in mind; 1. The Gospel message is offensive. It is hard for people to come to grips with the fact that they cannot save themselves, or that they really are not good people. 2. Because the Gospel itself is offensive, that does not give us the right to be offensive. This is where the disconnect is. I will explain why.
   This actually is a very simple problem, but solving it will not be, but it will help us in understanding why people think the way they do, if we can understand ourselves what this problem is. There is another Gospel out there. It looks much like the Gospel of Jesus Christ but it isn't. It is the Gospel of Pelagianism.
    Pelagians believe the salvation is two-fold. They believe that we must believe in Jesus Christ as our atonement for sin. We believe that as well. But they also believe that a person must follow God in obedience. But the part that is causing the problems, especially in evangelism and teaching others in evangelism is this; Pelagians do not believe that people are born with sinful hearts. They believe that a person chooses to sin, if he or she does sin. They talk strongly of God's judgment, but never talk of His love. Nor do they talk about God's grace in helping a person overcome sin. In a sense, they seem to think they are God, or some kind of prophet for God. They are very condemning in their interactions with people. For example, one of them who I mentioned above, was doing his open air work, when a woman came by wearing a short skirt. He called out to her, 'Hey slut...'.
   This is the reason I believe Open Air work has gotten such a bad name. There is no evidence of God's mercy to the hearers. This indicates that the open air worker probably doesn't think much of his or her own sin. He or she doesn't realize the seriousness of his own sinful heart, because he doesn't believe his has one. Remember, people choose to sin, and these people believe that they are able to keep God's Commandments.
   For those of you not familiar with Westboro or Micah Armstrong, they do Open Air work, but not by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but rather preaching on God's judgment on America or individual people. They use humiliation in their preaching. (Open Air work is simply a person preaching outside to a group of people).
   Friends, we need to be preaching the Gospel, but we need to have the love of God overflowing our hearts while we do. We give away what God has given us. God showed us His mercy and we are recipients of His mercy, so we mercifully share the Gospel. Those of us who have sinned greatly know the grace and power of God to forgive sins, and we share that with others.
    "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.  But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:1-7 ESV
     Do not let this false image of evangelism to shape the way you believe about the work of evangelism. God doesn't call us to hate or manipulate people. He calls us to love and serve one another, even unbelievers. Those who do Open Air evangelism in a harsh way are arrogant. Pride is an abomination before God. Not all who do Open Air evangelism do so in this way. Many are compassionate and full of mercy. That is how God wants us to operate. We speak the truth in love. We don't take the truth and kill people with it. Grace and truth go together and produce liberty for the captives. They will listen to us, even with a hard message like the Gospel, if we show love and mercy. That is how God is, and we are His representatives. Let's represent the God of love to others.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Have A Dream

  I have a dream. Some of you are in my dream. Don't be afraid, because it is a good dream. I think we can do this if we have enough other people who dream like I do.
  Want to know what my dream is? It's simple. I have a dream that a group of us could be in a parade one day. A Christmas parade would be ideal. We would be wearing either  T-Shirts or long sleeved shirts, depending upon the weather, that would be in the colors to match the wordless book. You can see a description of what the colors mean by going to my blog at: The Colorful Story
  Basically, gold stands for God, and the gold streets of heaven. Black reminds us of sin, a dirty heart because of our selfishness. Red stands for the blood of Jesus Christ, who died to take away our sin and to cleanse our hearts. White stands for a cleanse heart, and green stands for growing things. We want to be spiritually healthy after we come to Christ and are born again into the family of God.
   We could have some type of music. A good song would be 'Mary Did You Know?'. Perhaps it could be on an I-Pad carried by someone, or maybe a child could be pulling a wagon with the radio or cd player on it.
  Another idea would be to be carrying helium balloons that will be in the matching colors as well. But the most fun thing we can do is to toss beach balls to the bystanders. The beach balls will have the Gospel message on them. There are many other things we can add to this parade idea that is my dream.
   Getting into a parade is not hard, but you have to register early in the year.
  This is my dream. Children can be involved also. We can glorify God in the parade and make His name known to a lost and dying world as we go down the street with the rest of the floats. Something to think about.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

God Works In The Details

   No one of us can see God, and we all live by faith, in this God we cannot see with our eyes. The Bible talks about not being able to see God, but we can see where He moves. God is in the details of our lives.
   We are planning an evangelism booth on November 16th, and I can go a lot of different ways in planning this. I have a lot of leftover material from when we did this three years ago, so I could pick up the same theme and keep any expenses low. God always seems to give me ideas at the last minute though, or, it seems like it isn't always on my schedule. I like to plan things way ahead of their time. I like to have everything ready months before the event, just in case I forget something. But God doesn't work that way. He has a different plan.
  I had not come up with a theme in particular for this booth on November 16th. In fact, ideas are slowly coming to my mind.
  We finally got the group of volunteers necessary to pull this activity off, and I am very grateful for that. Here's how I came up with a theme for this coming up booth; As I am trying to remember what we did in the last event, I remembered that we did helium balloons, the kind that you tie a ribbon to and tie around the child's wrist. So, I searched for helium quality balloons. I found them but the lowest quantity I could get is 1,000 balloons. Not only that, but we are talking about $230 plus postage. What would I have imprinted on them anyway. I came up with a couple of ideas and kept them in the back of my mind. One of them is this:
Basic
Instructions
Before
Leaving
Earth

I have always liked that one. Another worthwhile theme is this saying; 'God is uncreated. He never had a beginning and has always been in existence.' Probably too many words for a balloon. So, I put the balloon idea on hold. I would search the following week for balloons, and get on with the rest of the program.
   I receive 3 or 4 emails every day from a printing company offering items on sale to be imprinted. I don't really have any money for imprinted items at this time, but I opened the email on Sunday evening, and lo and behold, an offer for helium balloons was available. We were getting ready to leave, but, I went to the page immediately, for the offer is available for the first 17 people who place an order. That means I would have to hurry. Plus, I didn't know what I would have imprinted except the BIBLE acronym.
  I went to the page and made it for the order. Immediately, a thought came to mind about the Lamb of God. Within 5 minutes, I had a picture to have imprinted on the balloons, using the Lamb of God theme. The balloons came quickly and now all I need are the helium tanks.
   The next idea that came to mind was the slideshow presentation. Again, it wasn't easy, but it got done. I found a slide show, but through a complicated method, I downloaded the pictures. Then I found a matching song on I-Tunes and downloaded it. Got the slideshow to work with the pictures and sound on my computer, but couldn't get it to work on the I-Pad. I tried over and over again, but nothing. It would only play for about 15 seconds then it would stop. It was a beautiful description of the Lamb of God in the Old Testament and New Testament. We tried to use these digital picture frames we had lying around the house and at work, but they were all missing parts. After a couple of days, I went back to the I-Pad into settings and got it to work. Now we have a slide show, and balloons both with the Lamb of God theme.
   One volunteer designed a tract for the booth. As she showed it to me on Sunday, she explained that the theme was the Lamb of God. She had illustrations from the Old Testament and New Testament. I thought she would fall over when she saw the balloons with the theme of the Lamb of God. She was just as surprised as I was.
  A couple more things fell into place with the Lamb of God theme. I have a backdrop, but am not going to use it unless the theme is dealing with evolution. It has a picture of the evolutionary monkey/men on it, so it could be controversial in its appearance. The idea of a shower curtain though, came to mind. Too bad I don't know where, or even if, I can find a shower curtain with a lamb theme. I did a little research on the internet, and found a company that had several shower curtains with lambs. They were quite pricey, but there was a weekend sale that would end in a couple of hours. I did a little more searching, and did not find any other Lamb themed shower curtains available, so I ordered one from this company, one hour before the sale ended.
   My volunteers are going to be well prepared when they get out there. We have tracts available, as well as imprinted items with a Gospel message on them. Everything will be free. We will also have games and object lessons (a Lie Detector Box, and the Genius poster). Some of the prizes for the games will be lamb dolls. I think, somehow, God is in all this. And I am very grateful for the privilege of doing this evangelism booth as a way to communicate the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Why It Is Hard For Us To Explain the Gospel To Others

  I don't know about you, but when I read the New Testament accounts of Peter, Paul, and others who shared the Gospel and evangelized the world back then, I am encouraged, yet puzzled. I see good results (good result meaning that God is at work), and yet I have always wondered why it is so hard for us to communicate the Gospel message to others.
   Before I explain what I am thinking, I want to make clear that anything we do, any act of grace, can only truly be done by Christians who are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is clear that salvation is totally an act of God, and the grace He imparts to people, but also as we serve Him, we need His power to enable us to preach the Gospel. Forget it if God's presence isn't with us. Moses refused to go unless God's presence was with him. The story goes like this; God was angry with the Israelites because of their rebellion against Him, yet He promised Abraham that He would bring the people into the land. God was going to use an angel to lead them, yet, He was not going to go with them because if He did, He would destroy them. Moses was leading the people and he plead with God to bring them into the land and he told God that he would not go up unless God's presence was with him. God heard his prayer. And God said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.  For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” Ex. 33:14-16
  But, besides that main factor, here is what we need to learn and why. Why is it that we struggle to talk about the Gospel with others (besides fear of man issues)? We can take care of fear of man issues by looking at our hearts.
  People who lived in the New Testament days were familiar with the Gospel, not only because it was the talk of the town, but, even more importantly, they had the background information that made it so the Gospel made sense to people. For example, one of the jobs of the priest was to offer animal sacrifices for the people. The lamb in particular, was used as an atonement for sin. Although these people were familiar with the concept of sin, it still takes the work of the Holy Spirit to help a person understand his or her own sin.
   People learn well from illustrations. Fathers in Israel were to offer a lamb as a sacrifice for sins. I don't know what this looked like, but, the lamb had to be one that didn't have any blemishes on it. In a sense, it had to be a 'perfect' lamb. In the Passover event, the Israelites were instructed to take a lamb and cut it up, and then place the blood of the lamb on the posts of the door. Every house that followed this instruction was spared from death by the Death Angel who passed over the houses that night. Any house that did not follow this instruction, was not spared, and someone died in each of those homes.
   There were many visual things that helped the Israelites to learn about salvation. By the time Jesus came to earth, when He was called 'The Lamb of God' people understood what that meant. In short, people understood that sin was not allowed in God's presence, and that something was necessary to cover that sin. Today in America, we don't have a clue about needing an atonement for sin. When we are taught the Gospel, basically, we are taught that Jesus died for our sins. But what does that mean to an average American today? Not a whole lot. First of all, the concept of sin is invisible to us. But someone can explain it to us and maybe that will help. Then we mentally understand the connection of committing a sin, and God punishing sin. Then we can mentally understand the message of the Gospel, but we could still be missing the heart of the Gospel. Unless we see our sin as a violation of who God is, and we see how far away and blind we are because of our sin, we still could miss it. The Gospel message isn't just a formula for us to follow in order to get into heaven. God created us to have a relationship with Him, and because of the fall of Adam, we have been born blind, selfish, wicked, and deceived. Most Americans don't have a clue of this. But most have a deep hidden knowledge that Jesus died for us, but they are altogether not really sure why.
   In America, it's kind of like telling the end of the story without telling the rest of the story, from the beginning. In the Old Testament, God gave visual activities for the Israelites to follow that explained their sinful condition and need for a Savior. When Jesus came, people understood the whole story now, and it was the talk of the town. Today we have lost the gist of the story, although we have the ending, and we miss the meaning of the story in its context. That is why I believe it is hard for us to communicate the Gospel with people today.
   Even Jewish people today have lost the meaning of the Passover. I asked a Jewish woman about Passover a couple of years ago. I asked her if they go somewhere to get a lamb to slaughter. She said that they don't. They just go to the grocery store and get a chicken and celebrate the Passover with that.
  I guess the key for all of us is to learn as much from the Bible as we can. We need to understand the whole context of the Bible story, not just the ending. When we do, and when it becomes precious to us, then we will have more to say, and a better explanation of the Gospel as we talk to people. Something to think about. Feel free to comment. But please, no bad language or name calling.


 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Three People, Now in Eternity, Who Heard The Gospel

   I was at a planning meeting for The Conversation, and we were going over some details and recollections. It was brought to my attention that three people have passed away, who were in our class.  For those of you not familiar with The Conversation, it is a class that invites people who are interested in learning the basics of the Christian faith. Years ago, the class had a different name, which I can't remember.
   In the Conversation, the guests who registered come in and are seated at designated tables. Then we get in line to eat a meal (yes, we offer a free meal every week!). After that, there is a short message on an aspect of the Gospel (a different one each week). Then we talk about the message and draw the people out. There is no doubt that when one finishes the class, the Gospel has been clearly presented.
   J.R. was an older man, invited by his son and daughter in law to The Conversation. He was hardened to the Gospel, but came for the free meal. I got to know him a little, because he was in the group I was in at the beginning. J.R. continued to come to The Conversation as it was offered each year. He still didn't get the Gospel though, but he did begin to come to church with his son and daughter in law, along with their family. I saw J.R. at the beginning of the fourth Conversation meeting. He told me that he would come, and maybe he would 'get it' this time. After that particular Conversation classes were over, another class was offered for those who wanted to continue to learn. J.R. started going to the classes. He never made it to the third class because he was in the hospital with a heart attack. He never made it to the fourth class because he passed away. J.R. came to know the Lord before he died. He came to Christ and had a radical conversion. God's word took effect in his heart before it was too late. God had mercy on him.
   The next person was a lady I will call 'D'. I had heard about 'D' before and perhaps she had come to The Conversation already. She was an Atheist, and made it known during the discussions at the table. 'D' heard the Gospel but still believed it was a fairy tale. I do remember bringing in my 'Evidence Bible' (from Living Waters) and I believe she looked interested in it. For some reason, whenever I bring this Bible places, people notice and take an interest. I missed a meeting one night but had heard that 'D' was arguing with one of the other guests at the table. I don't know what that was about, but I believe she only came to one more Conversation class. She seemed to feel bad about what she had done and indicated that she didn't belong there. I heard that 'D' had passed away recently. She seemed kind of young (probably in her 50's) to have died, but perhaps she had health problems. I don't know where 'D' is in eternity, but my deep hope is that the words that she heard from The Conversation stuck with her and that she repented and placed her trust in the Lord. It may have been God's way of working in her heart and reaching this Atheistic woman. I hope to see her in heaven.
  The other lady who died, was a surprise to me. She was at the table during the last Conversation we had. She had recently come to know the Lord, and was hungry to learn more. She was very outspoken too, about what she believed in and what God was doing in her life. She joined the church a couple of years ago, and was recently baptized. Then I heard that she had passed away a couple of weeks ago. One of the things she had told our pastors, was that throughout her life, everyone assumed that she was a Christian. No one asked her the deep questions that needed to be asked. It wasn't until then that she received the Lord and was born again. I was sad to hear about her passing away, but relieved to know that she is with the Lord now.
   I wrote all this to just simply say, that those of us who know the Lord need to be faithful in preaching the Gospel. We need to be filled with compassion for lost people. Our love for God is revealed by how we love others. No one is guaranteed another day. What if J.R.'s son and daughter in law never invited him to the Conversation? What if no one asked the lady who attended our last Conversation, the hard questions? "Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:5,6 ESV

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reaching Muslims With The Gospel

   Every person on earth needs to hear the Gospel. Some people are hard to reach because of the presuppositions they already have. But, in spite of presuppositions, some people really do want to hear the Gospel.
   I have heard from evangelists/apologists that in order to reach people, or certain people groups, you have to learn to think like they do. For example, if you want to reach the Jehovah's Witnesses, you have to be able to think like a JW. It takes time to learn what they believe in in order to figure out how they think, but it is helpful to know, so that this group can be reached with the Gospel.
  One such group that seems hard to reach is the Muslim group. Most of us do not really understand Islam, and we see a group of people who do terrible acts toward others in the name of Islam, and we assume that all Muslims are like that. Most Muslims just want to be a peaceful people living peacefully with others in society. There is a handful of them though, who would not only want to spread Islam, but want to control the world. It is political as well as spiritual. There is definitely a spiritual presence behind Islam, and it is not the True and Living God of the Bible.
  But how are these people going to be reached? I thought of a small idea this morning on how we can learn to think like a Muslim, not in order to become one, but so we know how they are thinking and will be able to better reason with them.
   Without trying to sound like I approve of Islam, I found a page on FB that is called, 'Best Religion Islam'. I went to the page and read some of the posts. They were quite interesting. They gave insight on how Muslims think. I didn't 'like' the page, because I didn't want to give the appearance of approving it, but I think it would be good to visit it periodically to learn what it is they actually do believe in.
   One more thought on this; A couple of years ago, I was doing genealogical research at our local LDS church (where the genealogy library is located). I would go in maybe, once a week. They had volunteers working there. They were mainly women, and they were not allowed to make converts out of the people who came to visit the library, but I used to listen to them talk to each other. To listen to them you would have thought they were true believers in Jesus Christ. They talked about their relationship with God and what He was doing in their lives. I just thought it was interesting to note that deception can run deep. Here are people who believe they are true believers in Jesus Christ, yet, they have a different understanding of who He is. We have to be very discerning in working with people.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Let's Give Them Hope!


    I found it! The answer to the question I have been asking for a long time. What is it that seems wrong in so much of evangelism that is done today? Well, I think I have narrowed it down to this one answer; many of our messages to the lost do not provide hope. We are good at telling people how bad they are. Maybe we aren’t as tactful as we should be, but people can hear what their sin is from us. But do we just leave it at that and put people down because of their sin? Do we want them to come to Christ and be rescued, or is this a good opportunity for us to talk down to someone to make us look more powerful? I know I am being blunt, and I know I have been guilty of doing these things as well.
  I think of the Armstrongs, who preach on college campuses on the East Coast. When I hear them talk (preach?), I have to wonder if they are part of Westboro. (see blog on Westboro Why Westboro is Wrong). Their methods, so many times like ours, use humiliation and don’t offer hope to the lost person. What is the point of preaching the Gospel if you don’t offer hope for the person to repent and come to Christ? When Jesus died, a serious price was made for people to be reconciled back to God. If we don’t offer that in our messages, part of the Gospel call is missing.
   I think people almost always throw the baby out with the bath water. That’s what gets us into trouble. We see tons of people in churches today, who are false converts. I think we are going to one side of the spectrum to make sure that the people we talk to don’t end up being false converts. As a result, we just leave people in their sins! We are so afraid that they are going to pretend to get saved, that we don’t help them to turn to God! I understand this dilemma and I too don’t want to make false converts and mislead people about their own salvation. But, while there are those out there who would try to take advantage of God’s mercy, there really are those who are looking for hope. If we tell them of the perfect standard they have to meet, but have failed, and we leave the message with that, what will their reactions be? One reaction is, they will try to do better at being a good person, then eventually they will become disillusioned with Christianity because it doesn’t work. The others will think that God is a hard taskmaster and will end up being disillusioned about who God is and what He is like. Is it any wonder that people are hesitant about listening to the Gospel? The Gospel is a hard message to preach. It is hard for a person to receive the truths in it, let alone respond to it. Let’s make it easy for people to want to approach us without feeling condemned while they are around us. Let’s offer them the whole Gospel, and give them the hope they may be looking for.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"You Are Not Qualified" Among Other Lies

  I was recently thinking of one of the reasons I would not do evangelism in my earlier years. It was a voice that told me that I was stepping into territory I didn't belong in. It told me I was not qualified to share the Gospel with people. You had to be at a certain level with the Lord and I obviously was not there, and, according to the voice, I probably would never be there.
   Have you ever had thoughts like that? Maybe they came through a friend or family member? Perhaps someone told you that you were a hypocrite. If so, you probably retreated back and assumed that you shouldn't ever bring up subjects having to do with God, church, the Bible, etc. because you are not there yet.
   Let me tell you right now. If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior (the One who made atonement for your sin and reconciled you to God), and you are born again into God's family, there is no level that you will ever have to reach in order to qualify to do evangelism. The only qualification a person needs to have is their relationship to God through the Cross of Jesus Christ. This principle applies to all areas of ministry as well as evangelism.
   One day, I should write a book, after I compile all the lies of the Enemy that I have heard people tell me, or that I have heard myself. How many times do we listen to this voice? I believe that as we are discipled in the Lord, and as we grow spiritually, we will learn to hear God's voice more clearly (the voice of Truth) and dispel the voice of the Enemy (the Father of Lies).
   But perhaps you really don't know the Lord yet. Have you personally come to the place where you have repented of your sins and turned to the Lord to save you? Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as the only way that you can go to heaven? If not, go to http://test4gp.wordpress.com or http://thegospelconversation.blogspot.com for more information on that.
   If you do know the Lord, you have the privilege to share the Gospel with people. God gave us a command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. When those lies come to you about not being worthy or at a certain level spiritually, remember that the devil hates the fact that you have the Gospel. Since he can't take it away from you, he can prevent you from giving it to others. Don't listen to his voice anymore.
  One more word. It does help tremendously to have training and equipping to do evangelism (see Ephesians 4). We are always learning when it comes to doing the work of evangelism. As we grow in sanctification, we are being changed, and when that happens, we are more graced to share the Gospel with others. Look for ways to grow spiritually. Become part of a good, Bible-believing church. Study the Bible. Grow in grace and humility, and develop compassion (2 Cor. 5:14). A good resource for evangelism is www.livingwaters.com
   Evangelism is something we grow in as we practice it. It is not a matter of reaching a certain level and then becoming 'qualified'. We will stumble, at times. We will make mistakes. But we will get better with practice.
   Above all, pray for God to help you in this area. Pray for boldness. Pray for compassion. Pray for wisdom. We can only share the Gospel effectively when we have the power of God in us to do so. (Acts 1:8). But this is God's design, and we can be free to 'go for it' in love for the lost and for God's name.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Unstoppable Gospel is Being Stopped By People in High Places

 This story is told in light of other situations going on that indicate the response of the kingdom of Darkness to the Gospel message, specifically when people are publicly communicating it. Yesterday, we were told that Facebook and Youtube blocked the coming movie called 'Unstoppable' starring Kirk Cameron. My guess is that someone was angry because the Gospel message is being communicated in some way in the movie, and that person probably clicked on 'report as spam' options on both Youtube and Facebook. I think there are more Christians giving out tracts and standing up for the Gospel, thus, the opposition begins. We should be surprised if there isn't opposition. We would have to wonder if we are really preaching or communicating the Gospel if that were the case.

   OK it happened again. I know this will be happening more and more as more Christians pass out tracts and share the Gospel with people. Unless this is in my imagination, this really happened at a neighborhood grocery store that I used to frequent, of all places. I saw a group of young men and they were nearing the store. I usually don't give tracts out at this point unless someone asks for one, but I couldn't resist because I knew they would be open. There were 4 guys and I started talking to them explaining what the tract was and then they headed toward the entrance when I heard a woman telling them something they were allowed to be doing (I think she was hollering at them because of the tracts). I didn't understand but there were two store workers and the young men didn't put up with whatever she was saying. I believe she was talking about the tracts and telling them that they weren't allowed to have them on store property. I just walked toward the car and Looked back and saw the man and woman that worked at the store looking toward me. I thought for sure they would come after me but they didn't. Then, I heard a young man yelling 'God bless you lady' but I didn't see who it was. 
I am writing this to say the same things that I wrote in a blog this morning. Don't be surprised when authorities come after you and stop you from giving out tracts, as if you are doing some kind of criminal offense. These people are reacting against the kingdom of Light and they will oppose it. They are uncomfortable around the light and they will do whatever they have the power to do in order to stop it. Don't let this discourage you. 

 I am reminded here of something my mom used to tell me. When we got a cut, she wanted to put peroxide on the cut, but told us that it would sting. Also, if there were infection, not only would it sting, but, there would be bubbles on the wound because of the reaction of the peroxide to the cut. I think of the effects of the Gospel and liken them to the peroxide on the wound. It stings. It makes bubbles when there is really an infection. The Gospel stings and bubbles up when people hear it and people react to it. 

  Months ago, I offered a tract to an older woman, and told her what it was, and she was so irate, I believe she went into the store and told on me, for when I was coming out of the store, I was stopped by someone who worked in customer service and he told me to not pass tracts out anymore at the store. This store is right across the street from the one I was at today. People are buckling up to protect themselves from hearing the Gospel. But.....and this is important.... God is at work in the tracts you give out. That is why the kingdom of Darkness is reacting. I have had good Gospel conversations at both of these stores and God is definitely at work. And Satan will be there to oppose God's work to keep people in bondage. Don't give up sharing the Gospel. Just pray for the people who get into trouble because you gave them a tract. And pray for the lights to come on in the hearts of those who work at these stores.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Another Video With A Gospel Card Trick- The 10 Commandments

Here is another video of a Gospel card trick. This one allows me to go through the 10 Commandments. When I get a little more skilled on doing this, I can make the video longer and with more explanation. This video is made with small children in mind. I briefly went through the 10 Commandments, but would like to expand on them more in the future.
I am going to post the video on the side, because I am trying to figure out the formatting for it, and I am not that computer savvy yet. One day, with all this technical education, I might be able to tackle it.
   If I can figure out how to get it on Youtube, that is the destination I am shooting for. The video was taken from someone else's camera so I don't have access to the original video.
   I have to give credit for the card trick to a Youtube put out by 'Scamschool'. It is a fool-proof trick and if done properly, it will work every time.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Run-On Sentence In Boston and Flying Tracts

   We had a nice vacation time this year in the city of Boston. Every day seemed to be filled with activities though. There were lots of parks and streets with sidewalks and shops all along the roads. People were everywhere. Lots of homeless people around hoping for some money.   I brought a lot of tracts with me just in case I had time to go for a walk. The last day of the vacation, I was able to get out and sit on a park bench. My first adventure was to pull out a stack of tracts and lodge them into an opening on the park bench. But lo and behold, a gust of wind came by and blew the tracts away, much to my surprise. It happened so fast, so I decided not to go chasing after them. Let them fall where they may. In a few moments, a boy found one and picked it up. I caught a few seconds of it on video.
video
  Sitting outside of the library was a guy who didn't want a tract, and continued to talk and talk and talk. It was like one long sentence that didn't end. I didn't understand what he was saying and tried to pick up some key words he was saying. At one point he give me a medical diagnoses of being slightly overweight and my shoes weren't the best kind to have (sandals). I managed to ask him where he thought people go after they die. Once again, a bunch of rambling with another non-ending sentence. I told him I would pray for him, but he told me not to, because he was done with praying. I had to just leave because I had to get back to the hotel room for dinner. He was still rambling as I was walking away. Why do I get people who just keep on talking and never let me get a word in edgewise? What would you do in that situation?
There are a lot of people walking the
sidewalks of Boston. A great place to
go 'fishing for men and women'.

Friday, June 14, 2013

There Are No Coincidences With God

  God has a lot of qualities and all of them are good. God also has a sense of humor. I think God does things and allows things to happen to us, to show us that He is there and involved in our lives.
  One such situation happened to us on Sunday. But let me give you some background first. For the past six weeks, a man, who I will call 'John' has started coming to church. He had a stroke and is adversely affected by it. He has a hard time talking and says he is in pain. He is also partially blind. What little bit that I understood about him concerning his past, is that he was a strong person. He was a boxer and served in the military, but now, he can't even drive anymore. From what I can tell, he seems to want to be in church, even though he has to walk from his house to the building on Sunday mornings.
   I gave him a Bible, and a tract called, "How Good Are You?" and he took them and is holding onto them. I realized that the Bible (New Testament) that I bought him has wording that he can't read still, even though it is large print. Other people have chipped in and helped him as well. One young man took it upon himself to bring him to the church building when he is going there.
  It seems that everyone is starting to love 'John'. Many are reaching out to him. A couple of Sundays ago, we had a big lunch on the church property after the meeting time on Sunday morning. John was there and met some new people. He was asking us all how to be saved. We took him through the Gospel. My friend took him through the Gospel and led him to the Lord, later on that afternoon.
  John seems interested in joining the fellowship groups that meet on Wednesday evenings. We will try to find him one in the area his lives in.
  We had a meeting called 'Thirst' at our church building last Sunday, and John was there. This time, it appeared that he walked to the building, as the person who takes him wasn't there. When the meeting was over, it was dark out, so we wondered if John was going to walk home in the dark. We found him and asked, and he was going to do just that. So we offered to take him home. We didn't know where he lived, and he didn't know his address, but he knew the direction and was able to point us to where he lived while we were driving him home.
   We were the ones who were surprised though! John didn't live too far away, maybe a mile or so. As we were nearing the place that he was indicating was his abode, we were amazed, because it was the same place my husband and I lived, when we first got married! He lives in the same quadplex that we did! We just had to laugh at this. After all, we were the ones who brought him home this time. We might not have even known where he lived if we didn't offer to take him home that evening. If we ever have to locate him, we will know exactly where to go!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Two Struggles With Evangelism Approaches

   Over the years, I have seen the word 'evangelism' defined many different ways. I have seen open air workers, people on missions trips, people inviting others to a church outreach, or one on one evangelism. According the the Proclaim Course book, there is a chapter dedicated to helping a person learn what their evangelism style is. I really like this book and if there is ever a way that you can take this course, take it! Here is the url with some resources on it: Proclaim Course
   While I understand that people have different personalities and giftings, and God uses all of our talents and strengths to serve Him with, I see some misunderstandings with the whole concept of evangelism. I see groups of people who believe that they should just get right to the point of sharing the Gospel with people. In some ways, this sounds admirable, but if we look closer to this, is this really a good Biblical method that we should employ? Here is an example of what I am talking about; I read on the internet somewhere, about a group of people going to a Third World country to share the Gospel with people there. They boasted that they were not there to bring water bottles to the people, nor were they there to build houses. They believed that their only job was to preach the Gospel, then return home. I wonder what the people thought of them while they were presenting the Gospel? I have also heard some people say something like, 'The best way to show a person love, is to preach the Gospel to them'. Well yes, the Gospel is their most important need, but could we show a person respect and honor by talking with him or her and asking questions? How about showing hospitality to someone or helping them with an immediate need that they might have? What if a person doesn't have a place to stay, or if he is out in the cold, and we share the Gospel with him, yet we don't even offer a blanket to him on a cold night? Does this seem ethical? There are a lot of people, even in our own cities, that don't have much to eat. Wouldn't it go a long way for us to give them a loaf of bread or something to eat while we explain the Gospel to them? James talks about us seeing people who are in need, yet neglecting them, and asks us the question, 'What good is it?'. So we have to ask ourselves if we are really showing love to people when we only preach the Gospel to them, while they could be very hungry or cold. Will they really think that we love them? Wouldn't it be helpful to show them a tangible way of our love and care for them? (Note: I am not saying that we should try to take care of every homeless or hungry person around. The devil will also trick us into feeling guilty for not helping everyone in need).
   The other struggle I have is the other extreme of this. I believe that, many times, this one starts off with good intentions, but falters in the end. There is a saying that is attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, but no one really knows who said this quote. It goes something like this; "Preach the Gospel. And when necessary, use words". At first, it sounds like a contradictory statement. How can you preach the Gospel without using words? But what I think a lot of people base their understanding of this phrase upon, is the Bible verse that talks about women who have unbelieving husbands, winning their husbands to the Lord without saying a word. "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1,2 ESV.  While I think it is very effective to live out the word of God, it seems to me that these husbands have heard the word already, and haven't responded to the Gospel yet, and the wives are instructed to live out the word of God before them. This is wisdom. The husbands might respond to the Gospel later on. If the unbelieving husband has already heard the word of God, God is already at work in his heart. As the unbelieving husband sees the grace of God in the life of his wife, he can make the connections better. 
   I think people intend to share the Gospel with others, but feel an obligation to serve them first. This really in itself is a great idea. But rarely will a Christian ever get to share the Gospel with someone after meeting a new person and befriending or serving. But we say that the unbelievers will watch our lives and could be saved. It really can happen, but most of the time, it doesn't. I know from my own experience that this method is very hard to do. We rarely get to the place where we speak the word of life to them.
    I have always wanted to reach my neighbors with the Gospel, so I would bake things for them and try to visit them when I can. But it seems like the more intimate I get with each one, the harder it is to share the Gospel message with them. It seems like a major task to make friends with someone, then to present the Gospel to them. I have yet to sit down and talk with my neighbors about the Gospel. Only one time has the conversation opened up for me to do that, and that was because the other person asked me about what kind of a church I go to. I didn't know right off the bat what to say, so I explained the Gospel and said that that was what our church believed in. But I still do want to serve my neighbors and perhaps one day, I will get the chance to speak to them about the Gospel. 
   So, one struggle is that we just, upfront, preach the Gospel, without anything extra attached, kind of like a robotic method, and the other is the struggle of believing that people will see how I live my life and they will get the Gospel message from that. The Bible talks a lot about serving people. It can really lend itself to preaching the Gospel, although it doesn't replace the work of actual evangelism. So, let's love people and serve them, and let's make sure they hear the Gospel message using words from our lips as well.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Lesson From A Television Show

This is probably the silliest blog I will ever write. First of all, I rarely watch TV. The only shows I watch are Jeopardy and The Way of the Master. Sometimes, I will watch parts of Wheel of Fortune too. After Wheel of Fortune is over, I either change the channel or turn the TV off unless someone is watching it.
  However, tonight I forgot to change the channel. I was busy working on a variety of things, and something on the TV caught my attention. There were two women talking and one was angry with the other one. The angry lady told the other lady that she was a horrible Christian. She was irate, and I had to figure out what this was all about.
  As I watched this program, it had to do with two families, who were about as opposite as any two could be. One family was professing Christians, who felt like God was leading them to go back to a lifestyle that would teach ethics and Godly principles to their children. Their work ethic was commendable. They went from the city to a farm, and made everything from scratch. I appreciate what they were doing, but I think they went a little bit too far. I don't think they even had electricity! The children were homeschooled and were taught to work hard. They appeared to be a very close knit family. There were six children in this family, and they all ate dinner together, which surprised the other family.
   The other family was very different. They had one child. They did not have meals together, and the mom was busy with things that she was doing, and was not into managing her home. Their little boy was mainly raised by a man named 'Princess' who was gay. The dad did not lead the home and did not spend much time with his son. Princess lived with the family and was like a family member. The son was disrespectful to adults and basically got his way in whatever he wanted, and had very little, if any, parental supervision.
  Please bear with me as I tell this story from my perspective. There is a point that I want to make at the end that can help us in the area of evangelism. The Christian family came close to missing this opportunity and I will explain why later.
   The mom who lived on the farm stayed with the family with the one disrespectful son. This mom appeared very intelligent, and did a good job in explaining to this family what they were doing wrong. This mom was not impressed with 'the good life' as she had a facial done at a spa. She confronted the dad about his lack of leadership, and wanted Princess to leave. Princess pleaded with her and she consented to allow him to stay. She was very firm, but was open to changing her mind about things if she could have been wrong about something. She taught the little boy how to be respectful. She really was a help to this family, but I think she came on a little strong. The family seemed open to her critiques, but she didn't seem very approachable to them.
   The mom who lived in the city went crazy when she got to the farm. She thought that the children were too sheltered and lived too primitively. She dressed rather risque, and the man who lived in that home (the farm) openly rebuked her because of her immodest dress. I'm glad he stood up to her in that. She bought all the kids video games, and a big screen TV for the family. She wanted to make sure that these kids did not miss out on anything. She took them out shopping for clothing as well. She also tried to take the man out to a bar, but he refused. One of the funniest things she did was to bring in a microwave. The family did not use a microwave oven, because microwaves kill anything living inside of food. But the city mom brought it in anyway, against the man's wishes. She definitely had not learned the role of being a submissive wife to her husband! And now in this man's house, she was going to call all the shots. The man had to hold his tongue when it came to issues like the microwave and TV coming into the house! It was a very good lesson in self control, I'm sure.
   When the families were reunited with each other, something had actually happened in the heart of the woman who lived in the city. When she first came to the house on the farm, she was irate. She couldn't understand why in the world anyone would live like this. She had every intention of changing it, at least for the time she was there. She made an interesting comment when she first got there. It had to do with the fact that everyone was affectionate and they all ate their meal together. At this point, she thought this was stupid. She said that her family was not affectionate and they didn't eat their meals together. But after the time was over, she was really touched by how this family on the farm lived out their lives. When the two couples were together talking about what they learned while the women were at each other's houses, the lady from the city learned that she needed to spend more time with her son. She shared many things that she learned from being in the house on the farm.
   But the problem I have with this is, the lady on the farm, who made mention that she reads the Bible faithfully, was not really kind to the other woman. She asked her bluntly why she dressed the way she did. Her attitude didn't come off right, although I think her heart was probably in the right place. The city lady got irate and told the other woman, 'You are a horrible Christian'. I personally believe that the city woman was affected by the things she saw in the farm house. She told of all the things she learned while she was there, but the Christian woman just affirmed her disdain for her the city life and luxuries, and reaffirmed her love of the way she does things at her home. She rebuked the father of the boy who was a brat, because the father lacked taking leadership and didn't discipline his son. The son actually ended up apologizing to the lady on the farm, and this city family really seemed to be humbled.
   After the show was over, the was a little recap and update. It said that the lady on the farm was sorry about being harsh with the lady from the city. I hope that they could become friends and that the lady on the farm could minister the Gospel to her. She probably never had much of a family life and is really living in darkness. This was the closest she had been to seeing what life was like, when it is being lived out in the light (although the farm family didn't have electricity!). The best the she will ever have on earth is money, clothing, entertainment, and status. What a great opportunity for people to see the Gospel at work!
   The point is, our lives are going to be different than the lives of people who live in the dark. They are not going to understand why we do things the way we do, nor will they understand the power of God at work in our hearts. But that isn't a reason to give up on people! You really don't know who is watching you to see if what you have is real. But if you snap at them and do not accept them, they will never feel comfortable around you.
   In the video "I Got off At George Street", a man named Frank Jenner gave tracts out every day to people. He went to a busy part of town and gave tracts to people and asked them if they were to die, would they go to heaven? He never heard of anyone responding to his tracts. But here's what actually happened; People received the tracts and were disturbed by his comments and questions. They would take the tract home (many lived in places other than Sydney), and think about what he told them. Then, they would find a Christian friend, or church they were familiar with, and ask questions. They knew their Christian friends and felt comfortable asking them questions about the tract or the Gospel. Many came to Christ that way. They didn't go to Frank Jenner or even write to the tract company. They went to a friend, someone they trusted. Can we be a friend to lost people, and can they feel comfortable with us, and would they feel free to ask us questions about the Gospel? Or, would they be apprehensive about asking us questions because they are not sure we will accept them? Do they perceive us as kind and loving, or do we appear to them stiff?
  One more thing comes to my mind. I heard of a Christian woman who lived in a neighborhood, and she got to know her neighbors well. She took the initiative to befriend each one. She learned when their birthdays were and had birthday parties for the. She must have taken a lot of time getting to know her neighbors. After a period of time, some of them came to Christ! Some of them started going to church with her. This woman truly loved her neighbors! Can we be like this?
  For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;  and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 ESV

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tracts at Work


I thought this was interesting and wanted to share it with you all. It is a note written by a woman, I believe her name is Brianna, who bought a 6-pack of beer recently and found a Gospel tract inside. While I am not fond of the idea of putting tracts inside of items at a store, it appears that God used this one to minister to this woman. Here is what she wrote to the company the publishes this particular tract:

  "I just wanted to let yall know i found your tract in my case of beer.. It shocked me but this was just what i needed. I dont have a relationship with God but i want one. Im having trouble giving up my sinful habit of drinking.. it controls every aspect in my life. It could not of been more perfect for me to of found this where i did. If thats not a sign idk what is. Its hard going throuh things by yourself but i appreciate you for taking the time to leave this. It does more good than you know and gives so much hope."

   I have heard Christians say, occasionally, that no one gets saved by reading a tract. I wonder where they get this information from. If the tract is interesting and informative, and God is working in the recipient's heart, why wouldn't someone come to Christ by reading a tract? I will say that a person does have to have enough background information in order to understand the Gospel first. That is why we do evangelism. One person preaches the Gospel. Another one preaches the Gospel. Another gives out a tract. If everyone does their part, people will hear the Gospel, by different means, and if God is at work in the person's heart, he or she will come to Christ. We sow the seed. God does the saving. Everyone does his or her part in the kingdom of God, when it comes to evangelism, and many will come to Christ as a result.

   And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  Matthew 9:35-38 ESV

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Power of Prayer and the Privilege of Praying

   As I get older, I am seeing more and more of the kingdom of God unfold. More and more of the Bible makes sense, and the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place and forming a clearer picture.
   In our Christian, or church life world, we are very sheltered. We tend to not see the evil that is going on in the world. The Bible describes evil and we are to be fighting against it. One of the spiritual weapons we are to use is prayer. I think, to some, this sounds too simplistic though.
   Prayer involves faith. It is not just mumbling a set of words to God every day, telling Him what we want and need. We are in a spiritual battle, and God doesn't want us to be ignorant of the devil's devices (or tricks).
   The devil would like nothing more than to lie to each one of us. The Bible says he is the 'Father of lies'. He tells us that everything is ok, when things are not ok. He tells us we are good, when we really aren't. He tells us that other people are good, when they aren't. How many times have we seen a murderer who has been arrested, have people defend him on television? "He wouldn't do anything like that." "He was a nice, quiet guy." "He wouldn't hurt a fly." and other such sayings. That is because the murderer was created in God's image, and is capable of doing some good things. People who do good things, can also do very bad things.
  What I am thinking about today, is the need to pray for people to be able to escape the enslavement of the Sex-Trafficking dilemma. Young girls are molested and brought into this outside of their will. They become slaves to those who are controlling them, and can't get out. This is where we need to be praying. We need to pray for those who are holding them hostage, to let them go. We need to be praying that they will get caught, and that this evil work will not stay hidden.
   Let us not be so naive as to think that such things really don't happen. They do. As people move further and further away from God, we can expect more and more violence and terror out of our societies, even when we think they are safe.
   I am posting this article here, because this weekend, the Superbowl is taking place. Many Christians are excited because they are at the Superbowl evangelizing at this moment. They need our prayers. But while that is going on, there are people who remain hidden, but are gathered at this event, for the sole purpose of using young girls to be used in the sex-trade activity. The Bible says that our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is against the evil, spiritual world. It goes on to say that we need to be wearing the spiritual armor so we can fight in this battle. This is not a battle that we can take a large group of people with artillery prepared to fight against the leaders in the sex-trafficking network. We have to pray, diligently, because young women are being enslaved against their will and will be destroyed in the end, if they are not rescued. We need to intercede for them before it is too late.
   I am posting a url from a news article, told by a woman who got out of this trap. Please read it, and pray for God to intervene. If your daughter or granddaughter were to be taken by one of these monsters, you would do whatever you could to get your loved one back. Let's pray for the freedom for these captives, and let's pray for salvation to come to those who are far away and for the light of the Gospel to shine into the dark places.
   http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2013/02/former_sex_trafficking_victim.html#
                                                               

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Evangelizing with a Headache

   As you may know, it seems to be hard for me to get out of the house because of a physical problem originally thought to be due to insomnia, but maybe more likely is due to chronic fatigue! Well, I am praying for help with this problem and would like to be able to go to the grocery store (or any store) and give out tracts while I pick up a few groceries.
  Yesterday was no different. I had been planning on going to pick up some spices at the spice store on Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park. As each day passed by, I just could never get out because I was too tired to make the trip. Now I am not planning on just picking up some spices while I'm there. I will also take advantage of walking down the road and passing out tracts, talking with whoever wants to talk about the Gospel. So, as I was planning my day out, I would have to leave earlier in the afternoon in order to do this. The afternoon was on its way out when I decided to just take an early nap and skip Park Avenue. I took a little nap and got up and decided anyway to go to Park Avenue and it was 3:30. That meant I probably wouldn't be home until around 6 pm though.
   I got in the car and found a parking place. It was great. The weather was beautiful, and people were around, but now I have this headache. So I walk down the street and try to give out tracts. No one responds. At least they were polite. One guy almost responded until I told him what the tract was. He said he was already a Christian and didn't need it. You have to keep in mind that most of the people who walk on this street are either retired, or fairly wealthy middle aged people. In their minds, they don't need the Gospel. But they really do, and even in a group of people who have that mentality, there may be one or two who will listen.
   I made my way to the other side and met a couple who were already trusting in the Lord, and got to know them a little. They were from Atlanta, and it was delightful to meet them. The man prayed for me before we parted. Then I met a young woman who was 'working on the railroad'. Actually, she was working by the railroad helping the construction workers by directing traffic when necessary. She was a joy to talk to. She loved the tract and was very grateful for it. I didn't get to talk to her at length, but we did get to talk for a few minutes. She was one of the most appreciate people, I think, in receiving a Gospel tract that I had run into.
  I did get to give out a couple of tracts and meet another Christian couple on this venture yesterday. And I did this all with a headache! I usually don't get headaches anymore, and am very grateful for that. It seems like when a person is obeying God, and communicating the truth of His word to others, the devil seems to attack. I know of one person who had cancer on his tongue. He could not preach for a long time because of all that was involved in that. Another person who loves sharing the Gospel developed health problems after a serious injury happened to him. He is trying hard to recover, but it is a long process. The devil isn't happy when people are preaching and proclaiming the Gospel. He will try to destroy the person or the credibility of the Gospel by causing that person to be tempted to sin. Many have been tricked into falling prey to Satan's traps, yet don't really understand that we are in a spiritual battle. We need to put on the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6. We need to operate in Christ's love, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We need to keep our guards up so sin doesn't find its way in. We let sin in, so many times, because we listen to the lies of the Enemy of our souls. He knows exactly what lies we will believe, so they are custom made by the devil and sent to us, to keep us from obeying God and living out our lives for His glory.
   Be sober and vigilant because the devil is going around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour whoever he can. Be aware of what tactics the Enemy is using, in order to not fall prey to his deceptions. And, do not be surprised if you find sharing the Gospel is hard. One of the biggest tricks of the devil that we have in America today is the belief that, if something is hard, we should find an easy way out of it. We shun difficulties. That's why the divorce rate is so high. Making a marriage work is hard. Because it's hard, we think we should get out of it. We are not taught to work through our problems. Working through our problems is part of developing spiritually. God uses our difficulties, not to punish us or discourage us, but to teach us how to work through them and it helps us to learn to trust God more. That is how our faith grows. And God is pleased with our faith. That is the only way He can use us as we seek to serve Him in this life, and bring glory to His name.
   I don't know what, if any, eternal results will come from yesterday's adventure. But I will obey God and trust Him to provide opportunities to proclaim His greatness and share the Gospel with other. The results are His. It will be interesting, on the other side of eternity, to see the fruit of our labors. Meanwhile, we just occupy until He comes, or until our lives comes to a close on earth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Whistle Blower or Slanderer?

I don't really know where to put this post, and I know it is very long, but this is something that is on my heart and has been for some time. When do we blow the whistle on someone in the church who is doing wrong? Does this ever become slander? These are questions I have wrestled with for the past couple of years. I have to honestly admit, I have been guilty of participating in slander, not because I enjoyed doing it, but I thought I was doing something right. Then I realized I was talking in a negative way about some Christians because other Christians were saying those things about them. I was just copying what I heard, not what I knew to be true (I had not researched the subject enough to know what was true and was wasn't).

Whistle Blower or Slanderer?

   In the circles I am in, there is a lot of talk today about false prophets, false teachers and heresy. This seems to be a lively topic in many of the forums I’m part of. What is it about this subject that is so intriguing anyway?
   The Bible instructs us on dealing with heresy and false teachers. I found some verses relating to this subject here (http://www.openbible.info/topics/judging_false_teachers):
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1 ESV
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” Romans 16:17,18 ESV
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” 2 John 1:10

   So, the Bible addresses the problem of heresy and gives us instruction on how to respond to it. We don’t invite false teachers into our homes (making them feel welcomed), we are to avoid them, and beware of them. The apostles knew that when they would be gone from the churches they established, that these ‘wolves’ would come in to destroy the flock, so they prepared the churches they were writing to for that time.
   Before I get to the next point of this article, I want to clarify the fact that the church today, especially as we see it lived out in America, is much different than it was in its beginning days. Part of that has to do with the advancement of technology, but some of it has to do with the way society has evolved down through the years. This makes it harder for us to understand just exactly how heresy affects the church today. For example, we could have a profession Christian singer who has come out of the closet and announced that he is Gay and not ashamed of it. How do we deal with that as a local church? Many times, the professing Christian singer isn’t part of a church. Or he may be part of a church that doesn’t value sound doctrine and will not deal with the issue of immorality. So what do we do to help this person see his sin? Sadly, there really isn’t any valid place for him to get help unless he wants it and is asking for it.
   In a normal church setting, the directions in Matthew 18 will be carried out. The professing Christian singer would be confronted with his sin. He would be forced to deal with the issues at hand, whether to repent or to continue in sin. Further steps could be taken such as telling this issue to the whole church and finally excommunication. That is the way situations like this Christian singer should be handled, but unfortunately, the body of Christ as a unit is not strong enough to carry out this work of service. Plus, as I said earlier, many people won’t get involved in a church for a variety of reasons.
   So, that takes us to another step that really isn’t in the Bible, and that is to take what this person is doing and communicate it to the church community, in whatever ways this community uses to communicate with. I have seen this one as well. I have seen a Godly man who has a profound ministry and who has worked with similar ministries and build friendships with people in those ministries. That part of it is great. These people worked together in ministry (although their ministries were separate) and learned from each other while supporting each other. Then one day, this Godly man decided that certain Christians that disagreed with him about a theological issue, were heretics and believed in another god. The other party tried to work with him but he wasn’t willing to respond. What was wrong with this picture? The two parties should have worked to resolve the issue. But what ended up happening was that people who supported both of these ministries, were made aware of the division that had occurred. In that particular kind of ministry, there is now a division. Word of this division spread quickly through forums such as Facebook and blogs. This whole issue should have been handled through the local church.
  People make mistakes and go astray. That is why we are called sheep, and why we have a shepherd. You might be asking at this point, what does this have to do with whistle blowing?
   Here is the issue; We have great technology today. I can share the Gospel with someone around the world in five minutes or less. With this technology though, there are trade offs. One of them is that the door is open for us to slander. We are all tempted to slander. Something in our wicked hearts loves to talk about other people, and even put them in a bad light. We light to spend time picking people apart. Many times we think we are whistle blowing when we are really slandering.
  When Harold Camping made his predictions of the day the world would end, he was the talk of the town. Many, many posts on Facebook discussed his so called prophesy. No harm done. We need to discuss things like this. But there comes a time when we are beating a dead horse. How many times do we have to rehash this issue? It is not only this one. I see posts every day about some new false teacher. When does whistle blowing become slander?
   I don’t know how many times I have seen things like this; Rick Warren is a false teacher, Joyce Meyer is a heretic, Phillips, Craig, and Dean are heretics. Come on. If they are heretics (and it is possible that they are), why isn’t the reason given for their being a heretic? I see names coming up all the time, followed by ‘is a false teacher’. How do you know? Why is there so much time spent on this? There are ministries that specialize in this subject and it seems that we should just let them do their job and use their resources when needed. And when the communication of a heretic is done, it doesn’t have to be rehashed or recycled.
   Someone posted a book on Facebook, that he was using in a Bible study. It was written by a well known Christian pastor. He was recommending the book, and there were several comments that followed his post. One woman implied that this pastor was not a true Christian. The poster asked her if she had ever read any of his books, to which she replied that she didn’t have time for that. The conversation continued. It was apparent that this woman who was accusing this pastor of not being a true Christian, didn’t have anything to back her claim. I am sure I know what happened. She heard other Christians say that this pastor was not a true Christian, so she felt a freedom to do this. Never do this though. If you are sure a person is a false teacher or heretic, research the person and find out for yourself before you make a claim that the person is a heretic.
   Yes, there are times to bring heresy out in the open. There are false teachers out there that would love to destroy the Gospel that you love. They are very subtle. They will come up with statements that will make you think and will put doubt in your minds about what is true. For example, there is a college professor named Dr. James Tabor, who resides, I believe in North Carolina. He teaches on religion and holds to the conviction that Jesus never claimed to be God. The reason I bring this up is because Dr. Tabor is an authority on the subject of the Bible. But if you are in his class, he will teach you things that will destroy your faith, and he will teach this subject with such authority that you could be swept into his belief system. This is an example of exposing the teaching of a false teacher. Bringing it to people’s attention who could be affected by this deception is what we are called to do. Now does that give me a right to post on Facebook that Dr. James Tabor is a heretic? Bringing the subject up is one thing. Beating it into the ground and repeating this action ends up undermining my original intention.
   What I am trying to communicate is that we need to be careful. Are we whistle blowing or slandering? We might start out whistle blowing, but if we don’t check out our own hearts, we could end up slandering, and justifying our slander. Not good.
   The church needs some whistle blowing. It is good for the church. We need to be careful though, that we don’t start calling people ‘heretics’ because we have a different theological position than they do (I’m talking about convictions here mainly). There are some doctrines that we are not going to agree with others on (infant baptism, spiritual gifts, election, head coverings, etc.) and it is ok that we have differences in these areas. What is not ok, is when we divide over these issues. I understand that some Christians believe that once a person is a Christian, they won’t battle with sin anymore, so that professing Christian who is battling hard with sin is a false convert. We need to be careful in that too, for we all are going through the process of sanctification, and none of us are going to get it all right, at least while we are on earth. The Bible gives a warning; To him who thinks he stands, let him take heed lest he fall.
  We are so blind to our own sin! Instead of picking on a ‘heretic’ or ‘false teacher’ why don’t we pray for him or her? What is in us that enjoys watching someone doing something wrong, and reporting it to others? Is our goal really to protect the church, or is it to be critical of someone else and justify it?
   Here is a quick test you can do to check your heart on the issue of whistle blowing/slander. Look at the posts you put out on Face Book or Twitter. Take note at the blogs you enjoy reading. What percentage of your posts are 'warnings' about heretics or false teachers? What are the forums or blogs you enjoy reading? Let's guard our hearts and do our part to edify the body of Christ.
   "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29