Maraca with Bible Verse

Maraca with Bible Verse
1 Timothy 2:5

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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 (
“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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Evangelizing the Homeless - January 12, 2013

  We went out as a group to minister to people downtown, as well as serve food and blankets to the homeless. It was one of the best times I have ever had doing evangelism work. I had no idea what to expect when I went down there. I wasn't even really sure where to park my car!
   When I got there, there was a small group of people gathering. Before long, there was a large group of people who were there to minister and it kept growing. More and more people were coming, and I didn't know who was there to be served or who was doing the serving!
   Tables were set up and moved to another location because there were many items to be given away. I found out that there is a ministry down there many times a week called, "Jesus Loves You, Love Him Back" which caters to people who are homeless. This is like a dream come true. I have always wanted to minister to people who are in hard places. Now the opportunity opened up.
   I felt awkward at first because I was trying to feel out the whole experience and see where I would fit in. There were many people serving at the tables. I was going to be mingling and talking with people, and sharing the Gospel with those who were open to hearing it. As the night went on, I went to a group of people sitting down and started talking with them. As with talking with groups of people, this group, within my voice range, had three people. One appeared apathetic or indifferent. Another continually tried to tell me that he knew where the 10 Commandments were, and that he knew what they were, etc. But the man in the middle was the most interested. He had questions and I let him talk about his life, or whatever he wanted to talk about. Then I would bring the Gospel into our conversation. He was very touched by the Gospel message. He wanted to come to church but has to wait until he can get money and find a bus route that will take him there. He was appreciative of my talking to him and said that I was like a walking Bible. It looks like God is preparing his heart to receive the Gospel. Please pray for him. His name is W.
   I had to go to the other end to get back to my back with tracts and Bibles in it. I wanted to give W. a NT, but when I went back to find him, he had left. I am grateful that God allowed me to talk to W. and I pray that he will repent and turn to Christ. The Bible says that if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away. 2 Corinthians 5:17   I pray for others to minister to W. as well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

God Guides His Word Where He Wants It To Go

   A couple of years ago, an ironic situation took place in my neighborhood. I came up with the idea of attaching tracts to balloons and filling them up with helium and sending them off. My first attempts at this idea were to take little plastic parachute guys and attach tracts to them, then send them off attached to helium balloons. I took a bunch of tracts along with tape, scissors, helium, balloons, ribbon and a few other things while we were at a fall festival on our church property (Metro Life Church, Casselberry, FL-Metro Life Church) I learned that it takes a lot of balloons to hold up a Giant Money tract. I thought the balloons would be more powerful. We watched balloons taking away the tracts into the sky. We trusted the Lord to guide them, and that no one would get hurt from them as they landed. I don't remember if any parachute guys got sent out. I'm not sure it would be a good idea because if they came down on top of a car, it might cause harm.
  I had a lot of helium and balloons leftover from the event, so I planned on doing this activity some more. I was doing a garage sale at my house and decided to show my grandsons what it is like to see a bunch of balloons take a tract up and away in the air. We had 3 or 4 balloons attached to a Giant Money tract and sent the balloons off, only to watch them get caught in the neighbor's tree across the street from us. At first I was horrified. All I could think of was how angry they may have ended up because of the tract in their tree. It was obvious too, because I used a Giant Money tract, which is pretty big. The balloons were visible as well. It looked like a Money Tree for a while.
   That was a couple of years ago, and I don't see the tract anymore. I don't have any idea where it went or if the neighbors ever found it. We did find out that our neighbor passed away a couple of weeks ago. Maybe the tract fell into the yard and he found it. Maybe the tree trimmers found it when they were cutting branches from the trees.
  Only God knows where it went, and of course, the person who received it. God's word will not return void. It makes people angry. It softens hearts. God's word always causes reaction. God will send His word to places where He knows people will be ministered to.