Maraca with Bible Verse

Maraca with Bible Verse
1 Timothy 2:5

Good Reads From Amazon

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:

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.