Maraca with Bible Verse

Maraca with Bible Verse
1 Timothy 2:5

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Tracts That Really Touch People

   Most of the time, I give out the same tract to people. The reason I feel comfortable giving this tract out is because I can tell the people that I am giving the tract to, that the tract has a fun quiz on it (my nephew told me to use the word 'fun' before the word 'quiz').

   At Christmas time, I have some tracts made up by a friend who gives his tracts out at Christmas parades. So, instead of using my tract with the 'fun quiz' on it, I give this Christmas tract out. I like the Christmas tract because you can use it as a post card. Instead of making the person feel like the tract is directed toward him or her, I tell them that they can send the 'card' to their friend in California (I did this one time, and the person responded by saying, "How did you know I have a friend in California?"). The tract is a post card with the Gospel message on it. How clever!

  I was in Costco today, and when all my groceries and items were being paid for, I gave the woman one of these postcard tracts. I have to admit, I was not going to give her one, because I was thinking in the back of my mind that she already rejected my tracts before. There were one or two women cashiers who had rejected the tract, and I didn't want to bother with the rejection because it seems so awkward when you know that they know that it is a tract and they don't want to take it. Anyway, I did give it to her and to the other lady who was kind of like a bag boy, except that Costco does not use bags.

   The lady took the tract and was really touched. She thanked me several times and looked like she was going to cry. I don't know how much of the tract she was able to read in that short amount of time, but it was enough for her to appreciate receiving the Christmas postcard tract.

   I'm glad I did not listen to the voice in my mind telling me that she had rejected a tract before and not to bother with her. I pray that God touches her and by His grace reaches her with His love and mercy. Perhaps she is already one who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, but maybe became distant. Only God knows what is going on inside and His word will accomplish its goal in people's lives. That's why we need to be doing evangelism and promoting God's word wherever we go. How else will a dark and dying world ever understand the Gospel or see their need for a Savior?

"The People who have been living in darkness have seen a great light. A light has dawned on those who lived in the region and shadow of death." Matthew 4:16
"Jesus said to them, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will no longer walk in darkness but will have the light of life." John 8:12

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Update: I Have A Dream - I Have A Dream And You Are In It - Dream Fulfilled On December 6th, 2014

Fourteen months ago I wrote a blog on a dream I had (a vision or strong desire for something to happen). But my dream would have to be shared with other people who would participate in order for it to come to pass. So, I wrote my blog explaining my dream. On October 26th, 2013, I wrote this blog:


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.

        Today, this dream has been fulfilled. Or actually, I should say is being fulfilled for it is more than a one time event. There are a few things I want to accomplish in my lifetime, and two of them are; evangelism and being in a parade. 

   The evangelism part is being fulfilled to some degree, but what if I could combine evangelism and being in a parade together? We could sow a lot of Gospel seeds because the crowds are large and kids are eager to receive items. We are eager to give items out. How else could we better celebrate a holiday than to give out items that people enjoy and at the same time communicate the Gospel message? Would this ever be possible though? 

   When I would mention this to people, either people didn't hear me (which is very possible because of my soft voice) or they never read my blogs (which also is possible, because people today don't like to read and don't have time to read blogs). I would need at least 10 people who wanted to be in a parade. Now it was on hold because no one responded to my dream request. That's ok, because God knows about it, and if He put it into my heart, He will bring it to pass. 

   My friend posted a picture of a Christian float in a Christmas parade (about a month or so after I wrote my blog) and she believed that this was a great way to glorify God. She was in awe of this float, so I suggested we do a parade, to which she agreed to. So we talked to our husbands and to our church leaders and everyone was fine with it. Could we get at least 10 people though who would join us? 

   I asked around and got a lot of interested people respond. I also had to contact the Chamber of Commerce to find out how to get in. A lot of work had to be done up front, to make sure we could get into the parade. My husband was very supportive of the idea, and helped do the really hard physical work. Should we have a float? What should we give away? Where do we get banners made up from? Should we have T-Shirts with graphics or just matching clothes? What should be the theme of the float? What would we do for music? What should we call ourselves? I'm glad we tackled each of these questions we were asking ourselves, one at a time. 

    By the time August came around, I recontacted the Chamber of Commerce to make sure I didn't miss anything. I received a registration form from them and promptly turned it in, as soon as the announcement was made that registration was open. We had T-Shirts made up from a company in California, with a graphic designed by a woman in our church. We had all 5 banners designed by a man in our church, and another man gladly lent us his truck and flatbed to use, which we decorated as well as we could. I had balloons printed up with Gospel messages on them, as well as stickers, DVDs from Voice of the Martyrs, lollipops with stickers (homemade graphics with Gospel points on them), Candy Cane Legend cards laminated with candy canes taped on them, frisbies with a Bible verse and church info on them, and a few other items. We made over 3,000 items each with a Gospel point or Bible verse on them. Now the question was, would my application for the parade get accepted?

    It was October 31st, and I hadn't heard back from the parade committee yet. They said in the letter that if we were accepted, we would hear by November 3rd. October 31 was on a Friday. They don't work over the weekends. What if Monday comes (November 3rd) and I still don't hear? They said the applicants who don't get accepted will have their money returned. Should I just wait now for a returned check? It was a very sad weekend indeed, realizing the possibility of not being accepted in the parade, after all the work we had now put into it. How would I tell the people who were excited about the parade, about this inevitable rejection, that I was sure would come on Monday or sometime this week? Would there be any alternative parades to go to? 

    By Sunday evening, November 2nd, I found another parade. The person I wrote to was very accommodating as well, and welcomed me to sign up for it. I found the form online and filled it out, but on Monday I would wait for the rejection letter before I clicked it on (just to make sure we really were rejected). I had the page open, the form filled out, and was going through my email, and found the letter I assumed would be the rejection letter. I opened it up and it said, "Congratulations. You have been accepted to participate in the 62nd annual parade". Well, I guess I didn't need to find out about another parade after all.

    The following weeks, we worked with full force on making the give away items and also the float. It cost a lot of money but God provided it for us. God gave me wisdom to know what to have imprinted on every item and banner. Everything turned out great! Now, for the big day, Saturday, December 6th, 2014.
    The rain forecast last week was 40% chance of rain for that day.  But, we prayed and the day before the parade, the rain chance was about 0%. But all did not look well. It started raining the night before. It continued to rain and at 5:30 am, when I got up, it was still raining. All I could think of was that the parade would probably be called off unless the rain stopped. I was thinking about the saying, 'Rain before 7, stops by 11" although we know that it doesn't always work out that way. And even if it did, it would have to stop around 8:30 when all the floats are setting up. My remote on the television didn't work, so I went to the Weather Channel on the internet, and saw that the rains were definitely just scattered rains, not big storms coming in. Still, there were dark green spots inside of the green areas of rain. Why was there rain only over the area where I lived and where the parade was going to be? Everywhere else, it looked clear. But the forecast said that it would clear out. 

    On the way to the parade, it was still raining. I was thinking that possibly the phone would ring and someone would call to say that the parade was cancelled, but that didn't happen. By the time we arrive, the rain almost was ended. 

     I must say, this was a very good day. Almost everything fell in place. I prayed for us to have God's favor, and the favor of the parade committee and the people. The people who were in the crowds were very receptive to our give aways. Many thanked us, even though everything was happening so quickly. Many knew what we were about, and we could tell by how they responded to us. One person liked my T-Shirt. I hope we made a hit and will be able to do this again next year, Lord willing. 

Prayer before the parade
   Most of the parades we have done, have been done outside of the parade. We just go and hand out tracts to people. After a while, some people know what the tracts are and don't want them. But when you are in a parade, you have freedom to give things out to people and they seem to be more receptive. 

The Introduction of our parade

   We pray many will be affected for eternity by encountering some part of the Gospel message and as the word of God was given out. We don't know how God will work, but we know He initiated this idea. Our number in the order of the parade was 77. May God's word minister to people and I pray for those who are seeking a church to come to the one we are part of. 

   As much as we hope and believe others have been ministered to, I believe God wants to minister to those of us who participated in this parade. We think it was for 'them', and it was. But it is also for us. God will use this to build faith in us, and to help us come out of our shells a little more. We will become a little bit bolder in sharing the Gospel and standing up for the truth when it is challenged. We will grow together a little bit more as a body of related believers. We will see how easy it is to 'sow seeds' for others. We will also see how much we need to depend upon God for everything, especially in doing the things He has called us to do. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Praying at the very end of the parade.
May God's Presence always be with us, when we are in a parade, or wherever we are. May God's Spirit work in the hearts of those who received the items and as the seeds were sown. May God sow His word in many hearts today. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Principles of Evangelism

   Every now and then we need to go back to the foundation of what we have learned in each subject. I am made aware of the fact that there are those who are new to the faith and who want to do evangelism, as well as those who have not had the privilege of learning how to do basic evangelism (like The Way of the Master or Mark Cahill).

    I have a good memory and remember back to when I was 17 years old sitting in a church meeting. This incident really didn't even have anything to do with what was going on during the service, but God was doing something very new in my heart. My whole life changed before me. It was the following week that I had planned to be baptized, something I wanted to do for a long time. God became so real to me that day, and ever since then I had wanted to do evangelism, but failed to understand what it should look like and how to communicate the Gospel to others.

    Throughout the years, I have tried to refine my testimony, as well as make it shorter, but clipping out parts of my testimony would be like eliminating some of the ingredients in making a cake. Maybe, I can have a long version (normal) and a shortened version with all the basic points in it.

   Since I was in high school at that time, my newest goal was to give out tracts to my friends. I did have one guy who was interested in the tracts and asked for them when I forgot to bring them to school that day. I asked him if he wanted to be saved, but he didn't. What would I have said if he answered 'yes' to my question? (This guy actually did come to know the Lord later on, and prayed that he would find me so he could tell me!)

   I would have no idea of what to say though, if I were trying to share the Gospel. I do know that this is something we do not want to do in our own power or strength. We need to power of God to come upon us so that we can live Godly lives and share the Gospel with others.

   So, I would recommend to my readers to watch any of The Way Of The Master videos or watch it on television if you can. You can watch people actually sharing the Gospel with others. Also, Mark Cahill has some books out that you can read. He has several conversations with people with whom he shares the Gospel with.

   The first tip I have though, is to understand the Gospel well enough to articulate it. What are the issues involved in the Gospel? 1. God made man and woman  2. Man and woman ended their relationship with God by believing the devil's lie instead of God's word   3. As a result of man's disobedience, God placed curses on mankind, the devil, the earth. This is why we have death, sickness, war, pain, etc. 4. God promised to send a Redeemer to save mankind from sin and its punishment   5. God sent His Son to take the penalty for our sins, to disarm the devil and his powers, and to deliver people out of their sin and the bondages sin has brought upon them.   6. Each individual person must turn away from his or her own sin and trust in God. Each person must have a covering for their sin, which was provided for us when God sent His Son to earth, to live a perfect life and to die in our place, for our sins. 7. Because Jesus arose from the dead, He went back to heaven and will return to earth one day to take for Himself the people who belong to Him. 8. Those who have not turned to Him in repentance and faith will end up in the Lake of Fire and spend eternity there to pay for their sins.

   Some of the people you talk to will know some of these facts already. Some might not know anything yet. Others might be able to parrot words that correlate the Gospel message, but have no idea what they mean or how to apply them to themselves.

   They have to understand that they are sinners before a holy God and they need a Savior from their sins. The first step is to help them see the law. The law is basically the 10 Commandments, which show what God is like. They need to see how far away they are from God. The law will help them to see this, even if they don't want to acknowledge this fact.

   Just a side note: We do not have to come down hard on people. God's word is powerful enough to convict them of their sin and help them to see their need for salvation. When we try to do God's work for Him, we are trying to do what only the Holy Spirit can do. In other words, we are really trying to be God.

   So, I hope this is helpful for us today. We don't want to just tell people that Jesus died for their sins, or, Jesus saves. Those are true statements but make no sense to a person who doesn't understand his or her sinful condition before God. People ask Jesus into their hearts or they pray a prayer or raise their hand in response to a teacher asking those who want Jesus to be their Savior to raise their hands. The danger with that is that people put their trust in their prayer or in the act of raising their hand instead of trusting in the blood of Jesus Christ to pay for their sins. Many, if not most, think they are good people because it is easy to compare ourselves with other people and there is always someone worse than us. We need to help people to compare themselves with God's standards not other people. That is how successful evangelism works.

   So, ask people if they think they are good enough to go to heaven after they die? If they say 'yes', then you know they don't understand the Gospel and need help in looking at God's holy law and seeing their deficit. That is what we can do for them as we evangelize them.

   And, as with any aspect of sharing the Gospel or teaching Biblical truths, always do so in love and humility. It really will make a big difference in how others respond to you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Two Big Reasons Evangelism Isn't Working

  I found this article on the Desiring God Ministries page and, as usual, found some good insight into why evangelism today isn't working.

   We could go to a third world country, and find evangelism working in ways that it doesn't work in America. The dynamic is different. There is more community in nations that aren't so materially prosperous.

   But let's look at the article (written by Jonathan Dodson) and investigate what he has found to be true today, concerning evangelism. (Quotes from the article are in bold and italics).

    Here is his first question and answer. I am not going to comment at the moment, and we want to be careful not to read things into this that he isn't saying, but listen carefully:

The first reason our evangelism isn’t believable is because it isn’t done in grace for each person.
Paul isn’t just saying evangelism is our responsibility; he’s telling us to do it “in person.” Unfortunately, a lot of evangelism is an out of body experience, as if there aren’t two persons in a conversation. It’s excarnate, out of the flesh, not incarnate — in the flesh.
  Evangelism should be personal. Sure, there are ways to get the word of God out via the media, and we all know that God's word does not return back to Him void of it's purpose. But, one of the main characteristics of God is love, and when we love people, we won't treat them as projects or numbers. 
I like what he says about treating people like people, not projects. We think that we are evangelizing when we troll blogs and try to win arguments with people about spiritual matters, but in reality, we lose them. 
These approaches are foolish because they treat people like projects to be completed, not persons to be loved. Have you ever been on the other end of an evangelistic project? Perhaps from a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon at your door. Or a pushy pluralist at work? You don’t feel loved; you feel used, like a pressure sale.

   Evangelism is hard work. Not everyone is ready to hear the bad news, but they must be told. How we tell them matters quite a bit. Do we feel successful if we win an argument with someone who is opposing us? Can we love that person and take time to listen to their story, in order to understand the context of their life? 

     How many books are out and even classes and seminars where you learn how to give a certain answer to a particular objection? How many methods have an evangelistic speech to give or certain sentences to ask the person we are explaining the Gospel to? What happens if a person asks a question that is not covered in the book or the list of responses to objections? Are we ready to help a person understand what God is communicating to him or her?

Paul says “know how you ought to answer each person.” This means that most of your gospel explanations will be different, not canned. It also implies a listening evangelism. How can we know how to respond to each person, if we don’t know each person?

   I am reminded of a video made by Mark Cahill in which he went to a Gay parade in GA. He had a few conversations with people and none of the conversations were alike. I don't know what you think of Mark Cahill, and I know there are some problems with those in evangelism groups with him, but, this man has a handle on how to do evangelism right. We can learn from his experiences and conversations with people. 

   Mark Cahill does not go up to people and speak a couple of words of the Gospel with the hopes of people responding to it. He develops a conversation with people and some of those conversations on the video were very long. He asks a lot of questions and he is careful to let the other person speak. I noticed in one of the conversations he was having with a woman, her daughter, and a friend who was a guy. At the beginning of the conversation, the guy would not talk much. Most of the first part of the conversation was between Mark and the two women. The man was very conservative. But whenever any of them had something to say, Mark would stop what he was saying and give the other person the mic. By the end of the conversation, the man was opening up and talking as if he had been a friend of Mark's all along. 

    Friends, we are not going to persuade anyone of the value of the Gospel by winning arguments or controlling the conversation. People have blocks in front of their eyes that keep them from seeing the Gospel clearly. If we just keep ranting and pressing the Gospel on them, the blocks will still be there. They need to be removed and this could take a lot of time.

When Francis Schaeffer was asked how he would spend an hour with a non-Christian, he said: “I would listen for fifty-five minutes, and then, in the last five minutes I would have something to say.”

   I am a firm believer in talking with people about the Gospel. I want to hear their objections. I hate it when they make assumptions of what they think I am going to say to them. I never want anyone to feel like I am pressuring them to respond to the Gospel. But what I do want, is for them to take the word of God home with them, and have them ponder the words of truth. I want them to be disturbed, but not because I am the cause of their disturbance! I want them to wrestle with God's word. And if they feel comfortable enough around me, I want them to contact me for further help and information. 

   This reminds me of a story of D.L. Moody in an evangelism encounter he had one night. Under a street light, Moody was sharing the Gospel with a businessman. The businessman was not happy after that and must have complained to his boss. The boss came after Moody and hollered at him for evangelizing the businessman. Moody was disappointed in that situation. Had he done something wrong? A couple of days later, there was banging on his door. The businessman banged on Moody's door to tell him that ever since he talked with him a couple of nights before, he had not had a good night's sleep! Moody was able to minister the Gospel to this man! 

A second reason people find our evangelism unbelievable is because it is foolish.

Paul isn’t just telling us evangelism is personal; he’s telling us to do it with wisdom. Wisdom possesses more than knowledge; it expresses knowledge through understanding. It considers life circumstances and applies knowledge with skill. Another word for this is love.
     Evangelism should be personable. The Gospel is the Gospel and nothing will ever change it. But the way we reach people with it will vary with each person. 

   The Gospel should be administered in love. After all, God is love. Love is not another word for tolerating sin. It is not a word that allows us to stay in our sins. In a way put by someone, it is not a 'pampering love'. 

   God loves us. That doesn't mean that He is giving us permission to sin, just because He 'understands'. I used to think to myself, if God loves us so much, then He would not send us to hell. But rather than God just allowing us into heaven with our sins, (which He can't do anyway), He provided a way for us to not only be forgiven of our sins, but also for us to be free from sin and its entrapments. His love made a way for salvation. It doesn't skip over the need for salvation. It provides the person with salvation. 

   Perhaps we are so afraid of creating false converts if we talk about God's love, or even if we show or experience God's love. Somehow, we think that people will misunderstand about sin if we have love in our hearts for God and for them. But nothing can be further than the truth. We can evangelize out of the love of God in our hearts. God will make it clear to those who are His, concerning His love and their need for a Savior. 

Love is inefficient. It slows down long enough to understand people and their objections to the gospel. Love recognizes people are complex, and meets them in their need: suffering, despair, indifference, cynicism, confusion. We should look to surface these objections in people’s lives. I was recently having lunch with an educated professional who had a lot of questions. After about thirty minutes he said, “Enough about me. You’re asking me questions. I should ask you questions.” I responded by saying, “I want to hear your questions, but I also want to know you so that I can respond to your questions with wisdom.” He told me some very personal things after that, and it shed a lot of light on his objections to Christianity. 

       Love is also inconvenient. It involves time and dedication. We as Americans today are not used to doing things that are hard. 

Rehearsing a memorized fact, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins,” isn’t walking in wisdom. Many people don’t know what we mean when we say “Jesus,” “sin,” or “cross.” While much of America still has cultural memory of these things, they are often misunderstood and confused with “moral teacher,” “be good,” and “irrelevant suffering.” We have to slow down long enough to explore what they mean, and why they have trouble with these words and concepts. Often they are tied to some kind of pain.

    Some people are so troubled by certain things like, 'What about those who never heard the Gospel?' and 'Why would a loving God allow children to die every day from hunger?'. Don't ignore these questions. When you are talking to a person, and if you have not allowed him or her to express what they are thinking or ask questions, they are not even going to hear what you are saying. 

  Again, I go back to an incident explained by Mark Cahill. He was sharing the Gospel with people and a young man was very angry. Mark was able to develop a conversation with this young man, and the young man opened up and explained what his difficulty was. His sister went to a youth meeting one night and was raped afterward. This young man experienced a lot of emotions and pain because of that, and when he heard Mark explaining the Gospel to him, it reminded him of that painful event which involved some bitterness toward Christians, I am sure. 

We need to explain these important truths (and more), not simply assert them. When we discerningly separate cultural misunderstanding from a true understanding of the gospel, we move forward in wisdom. But getting to that point typically doesn’t happen overnight.
We need to see evangelism as a long-term endeavor. Stop checking the list and defeating others. Be incarnate, not excarnate, in your evangelism. Slow down and practice listening and love. Most conversions are not the result of a single, point-in-time conversation, but the culmination of a personal process that includes doubt, reflection, gospel witness, love, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
And remember, don’t put pressure on yourself; conversion is in God’s hands. We just get to share the incomparable news of Jesus.
In sum, how you communicate the gospel matters.
  So, there you have it, an article rich in wisdom on the subject of doing evangelism. I hope this is helpful to all my readers. The article was written by Jonathan Dodson, for the Desiring God Ministries. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Calling the 'Wrong' Number For The Third Time?

     I heard my cell phone ringing last week, but the number I didn't recognize. Normally I am not going to answer when the called I.D. is not known to me, but this time I did. It sounded like an older man and he obviously dialed or keyed in the 'wrong' number. I explained that he had the wrong number and went on with doing my activities.
    A couple of years ago, I would have jumped on a situation like that and would have tried to draw the man out explaining that there are no 'accidents' with God, but I am really pressed for time right now and am not in a place where I can really talk to someone about the Gospel when the phone rings. Of course, I have to be careful how I word my sentences, as it could come across as a 'Divine appointment' which would mean one thing to me, but quite another to a man.
   I thought about the call later on in the day. There wasn't anything I could do about it though. Maybe I could have called him back, but that would have been really awkward.
   I was praying yesterday morning for God to provide opportunities for me and others in the church to speak the words of life to those He would arrange for us to talk to. As I was praying, I was thinking to myself, 'What am I praying? Will I be ready and do I have time to talk to people about the Gospel?' I would have time if I weren't at home doing homework and housework. It would be interesting to see how God will work this out in our lives. I was also thinking about the phone call and if this person were to ever call back (not sure why since he knew my number wasn't what he was looking for) I made the decision to share the Gospel with him.
   We meet once a month to feed the homeless and lo and behold, while on the way to the location, my phone rings. I don't have to pick it up while driving, but just have to click the thing with the phone icon. It was the same unrecognizable number I saw a week before. I answered, and it was the same man. Because I was driving, I really couldn't talk with anyone about anything in depth, so I told him again that he had the wrong number. It is hard to concentrate on driving and talking at the same time, at least for me it is. After I hung up the phone, I realized I should have talked to him about the Gospel, but failed once again to take advantage of an opportunity that came my way. Plus, I wasn't at home, so I would have had the time to talk. As I was pondering this, I thought to myself, if he calls back again, I will share the Gospel. I will trust God to help me drive, and to ask the right questions at the proper time. Why would he call back though? He knows that this is not the number he is looking for. If he did call back, I was pretty sure it would be God wanting me to share with him. The phone did ring one more time and it was his number. This time, I picked up the phone with the knowledge that I would be talking with him about the Gospel. He was very open to talking and I asked the questions well after we were involved in a good conversation, so it didn't seem so strange to stick the Gospel in there somewhere.
   The conversation lasted about 40 minutes and I was late getting into the location, or rather, getting out of my car, for I talked with him for a half an hour while I was parked. I also told him that I believe God wanted me to share this with him and that there are no 'accidents' with God. He saw it that way too. He was appreciative of hearing the Gospel, although I am not sure how much he grasped. He was struggling, like so many military veterans, with guilt about some things he was required to do while in combat. Please pray for this man. His initials are R.B.
Thank God for
modern technology

       R.B. lives in a nursing home, not too far away from where I'm at. He also has a former girlfriend working at one of the grocery stores in town. I will look to see if I can find her, as R.B. would like to get in touch with her again. Her name is 'Gail'.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do You Cry For People?

     I was thinking of some of the ways I see people, especially evangelists, interact with people during times of evangelism. One trait I have noticed frequently is one of talking down to, or talking in a way that is condescending. I have seen this done by parents when disciplining their children (and have been guilty of doing so myself, sadly). The thinking goes something like this: 'If I am nice and loving to my child who has just disobeyed, then they will think that their activity is ok. It is like condoning sin.'. I have done that and been there, so I know why parents do that. You want to make sure your child wants to repent and not repeat the evil activity! This is natural and understandable thinking, but it doesn't work. It doesn't work in evangelism either.
   Put yourself in the recipient's place. If you were walking down the street, would you listen to someone yelling at you to repent? Would that cause you to want to get down on your knees and repent? Would you even know what it means to repent? Would you trust the person who is telling you to repent enough to stay and listen to the rest of what he has to say?*
   Two reasons come to my mind when it comes to the motive behind preaching or sharing the Gospel message. The first is humility. If we are humble, we welcome other people into our lives. The other is love. God is love. God made people who rebelled against Him and are in darkness now, and He sent His Son to redeem them. He loves people and pursues them. He wants people to be cleansed from sin, but He also wants people to be free from the snares of sin and the Evil One.
   My concern is that I sense people doing evangelism do not tend to give the proper credit to God for working in the lost person's heart. Much like the parent who wants to get the point across that he or she is angry at the child for disobeying, and showing it by anger, humiliation, and yelling, which we think makes our message more powerful, we are really distancing ourselves from the child or the lost person.
God is the One who works in their hearts. Even if we give a faulty presentation of the Gospel message, God will take the words of truth and will use them to minister to the lost person's heart.
   Finally, one more thing that is effective in evangelism or ministry. We actually do read about Jesus weeping for things. It is easy to overlook those things as insignificant, but, we can learn from them and embrace them too. We can weep for the lost person. The Gospel is not a bed of roses for the lost person. He or she needs to know what God's heart is for their souls. I remember reading something written by one of my favorite pastors, C.J. Mahaney and his trip to Starbucks one morning. He was standing in a long line of people who were ordering coffee. There were the usual complaints from people who live in America today and have to wait for any period of time. As he was waiting in line to order his coffee, he was thinking of the Gospel and how precious it was to him. He was thinking about how unworthy he was to be a recipient of the Gospel and how God had been so merciful to him. He was crying. Someone asked him why he was crying and he explained the reason. That should be our response to the Gospel. Instead though, we act like we own the Gospel and can do with it whatever we want. We really should be grateful for God's mercy to us and want others to experience this as well.
   Do we cry for lost people? Do we really love them like we should?

*Note: I am not saying that we should not be telling people to repent. It's just the way it is done that is the key. Is it done with love and humility, or is it done with our nose in the air?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are They Really Offended Because of the Gospel, Or Are They Offended At Us Because of The Way We Treat Them?

  Sometimes, those we would want to share the Gospel with are afraid of the check-mate factor. What I mean by this is simple. It doesn't apply to everyone we talk to, but some would think of it this way.
  The Gospel is offensive, and there are those who will not humble themselves and receive salvation because they want to do their own salvation. It is a matter of pride. But some people haven't even gotten to the Gospel, and yet are offended. We mistake their being offended for being offended at the Gospel when they really are offended at us! Then we write them off as having a hardened heart.
   But here's the thing about the check-mate factor that we need to consider. Sometimes, people are struggling with sin and really would like to not be struggling with sin. Yes, we all love to sin and we all try to hide from God. Some people are afraid of us, because they simply think that we are going to judge them and pronounce their judgment if they admit their sin to us. Instead of receiving an answer for their sin, they receive a pronouncement of judgment for their sin from us.
   Some of the people we would talk to have had bad experiences with professing Christians. Some professing Christians are not clear on how to articulate the Gospel message, nor are they clear on the subject of grace and forgiveness, let alone the whole issue of sin.
   Let's say a woman had an abortion and now feels guilty. She hears the voice of someone who is telling her about God's judgment to come. What will she hear next? Will the person tell her she is going to hell because she had an abortion? Will that make her open up to the person who is sharing the Gospel?
   "I'm damned if I talk to you and I'm damned if I don't". Some of these people put on masks to defend themselves against the evangelist. But really, if we could get them to open up to us, we could have a good conversation with them and perhaps they would be at the place where they would be ready to repent.
   I have to give credit to one man who does evangelism very well, and people end up feeling comfortable talking to him. This man will spend whatever time he needs to in order to reach people with the Gospel message. I watched a video where he was at a Gay Pride parade, and one of the conversations lasted about an hour and a half! You could actually see the people involved in that conversation begin to open up toward the end of the conversation. This man is Mark Cahill, and he is in no hurry to try to give out as many tracts as possible, or talk to as many people as possible. He is an excellent example of how evangelism should be done. He spends one to one quality time with people and makes them feel respectable. He takes the time needed to listen and show compassion.
   I will close with another one of his examples. He was at the beach and talking to people about the Gospel, when one guy was really angry. Mark took the time to draw him out about why he was angry with the church. While they were talking, the man opened up and said that his sister went to a church in a particular area and after an evening service, she was raped by someone who was part of that church. The man had a hard time working through it. Mark was able to help.
   Many of us would just tell the man to repent. We would tell him he needs to stop sinning and trust in Jesus. We would write him off when we see his anger toward the church. But really, shouldn't we take the time to draw people out and ask them questions that will help them look at their own hearts? Do we think we are in a different category than other people, and that it is ok for us to look down on unsaved people because they are sinning? How would we feel if someone were talking down to us? Shouldn't we try to give them a rope instead, so that they could be rescued from the hold of sin on their lives?
Jesus came to set the prisoner free, not to remind 
the prisoner that he is in prison and keep him there.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Two True Stories- Eternity will Reveal Many More

 You might be a nobody. God uses people who are nobodies. If you have become a new creature in Christ, and know the Lord Jesus Christ personally, then you are qualified to do the work of evangelism.

    I know that there are more than the two stories that I am going to comment on, but these two stories have impacted the world and advanced God's kingdom in an amazing way.
   The first one I want to talk about is the man on George Street in Sydney, Australia. I know there are two different videos on Youtube showing this man's story, but only one of them is correct. The man's name was Frank Jenner (you can do a search on the internet and find the page on his story, written by family members). Frank Jenner lived near George Street and he would go out on a continual basis giving out tracts and asking people if they knew for sure if they were to die tonight, would they go to heaven or hell. I have the book also, from those who wrote the story. Frank Jenner faithfully passed out tracts for many years, but didn't see much fruit from what he did. But the results were amazing. Many, even those who were offended by him, came to Christ. These people lived all over the world, and came to Australia as tourists. A pastor in England heard recurring stories of how people came to Christ because of a man on George Street who gave out tracts and asked them the questions. The pastor made a trip to Australia to find this man on George Street and was able to locate him and went to his house to inform him of those who were reached with the Gospel because of his evangelism. Here is the accurate page on Frank Jenner:
   The second story is about a man who was a country preacher in PA during the 1950's, who made a decision to spend 12am-2am praying, instead of watching television. During this time, he picked up a Life magazine which had an article about 7 boys who murdered a 15 year old handicapped boy in NYC. He was in tears while reading this and God made a way for him to visit NYC to try to find these 7 boys so he could give them the message of hope through the Gospel.
    David Wilkerson did indeed travel to NYC with the hopes of finding these boys, but instead of finding them, he preached on street corners and auditoriums where gangsters lived. Some of the gang leaders and warlords were on their knees repenting. A few of them had radical conversions (and I mean radical) and in turn started ministries of their own. One of the converts was Nicky Cruz, who was a gang leader steeped in darkness and bondage. His intent was to bring harm to David Wilkerson, but God prevented that from happening. All in an evening, he had a complete change of mind and was repenting and calling upon God for mercy by the end of the meeting. He went on to Bible college in CA. to study to be a pastor. Others came to Christ in NYC and now boys and girls who were seemingly destined for destruction, now became instruments of righteousness. Two churches were started in New York City from David Wilkerson's ministry, along with Teen Challenge, which has branches now in many inner cities throughout the U.S. (Read about his story in 'The Cross and the Switchblade').
    The stories of these men are just two examples of ordinary people who were filled with God's love and wanted to share it with others. Both men are deceased but their works will continue on, because the works are eternal, with  results that we will only see in heaven.
    I am a nobody, and I'm ok with that. My name will never go down in History, nor will anyone remember me 4 generations from now. But I can do the work of evangelism and the impact of that will go on for eternity. Those who I reach with the Gospel will, in turn, reach others. Ministries could be started from those conversions. Only God knows the far reaching affects of what will come out of our faithfulness in sharing the Gospel with people.
   The Bible says that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. God saves people. We don't. It is not our job to rescue people from their sins, but it is our responsibility to reach people with the Gospel message. God will work in the hearts of people when they hear His word.
   I don't know if the statistics are the same today, but a couple of years ago, only 2% of the church was involved in evangelism. Not sure of all the reasons for this. It could be from lack of discipleship in the church. It could be from fear of man. It might be from lack of training or experience. The church is to equip the flock to do the work of evangelism. It should be in each of our hearts to want to do evangelism. If evangelism is like pulling teeth, then we need to look at our hearts and see if we really have met the true and living God, for if we have, we should have no problem wanting our neighbors to meet the God who saved and rescued us from hell, destruction, and ourselves.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Heart and Motive of Evangelism

     Maybe if I went through a little bit of my background you will understand the title of my blog better. When I first came to Christ and was Spirit filled, I wanted to share the Gospel with everyone I met. I had very little discipleship and I was just starting to grow in my knowledge of the Scriptures. My heart seemed to want to see people get saved. At least, that's what it seemed like to me.
   As time went on, I listened to many sermons, read a lot of books, learned much of the Bible, and became acquainted with other believers. Looking back, I have some observations on things I did, or others did, especially in evangelism circles.
   There used to be an emphasis on having people respond to the Gospel. In watching others present the Gospel, there was always that pressure to get the person to respond. It seemed like if you really were successful at evangelism, you would have had many people make a decision for Christ after you shared the Gospel with them.
  There are some reasons people do evangelism, that aren't exactly right on. I have had people who I was sharing the Gospel with, think that I was doing evangelism in order to earn Brownie points with God. I think some people actually do that. Some go out and share the Gospel because they feel guilty about having not shared the Gospel with people. Others tell the Gospel because they don't want their family or friends to go to hell. This is not totally wrong though. We are to warn people about hell. But there is a bigger reason for doing evangelism.
   Some wrong motives for doing evangelism are: guilt, pride, striving to please God, fear of failing God.
   Some right reasons for doing evangelism: love for God, love for people, making God's name known in truth, warning people about the Judgment to come.
   I think evangelism has gotten such a bad rap, not because people are offended by the Gospel, but because 'evangelists' are pretty hateful sometimes. We are commanded to love God. We are commanded to love people. But even more, if we are truly in Christ, the Bible says that we are constrained by the love of God.
   I think many people have no idea of the love of God. Christians don't seem to know either. That's probably one reason why there is such a battle over how evangelism should be done. Some people think that you should always serve people food if you are sharing the Gospel with them. They are afraid that if you just preach the Gospel, let's say, on the streets, then you really don't love them. It's like evangelism is something you have to tack onto your schedule, rather than it being an outworking of the overflow of the heart.
   Love starts before we go out and evangelize. If love isn't the motivation of our hearts, then we need to ask God to fill us with His love and give us new hearts. Evangelism without love doesn't work. And if we truly, really do love, we will want to share the Gospel with people. We will want to let others know of God's greatness and what He has done for us. We will die to ourselves and to our selfish desires that would interfere with evangelism.
  One example of this in my life was, when I was younger, I didn't know how to talk well. It was very hard for me to talk and communicate. As I got older, it never got better. I always wanted to do evangelism, but since I couldn't talk, the best I would ever be able to do is to give out tracts, so I thought. But then the desire to proclaim the Gospel became stronger. I had to pray for many years that God would help me learn how to communicate. After wrestling in prayer for a long time, I was now able to talk. God has helped me learn how to communicate the Gospel with people and to have good conversations about the things of God. I didn't just think to myself that I wouldn't be able to talk, so, I'll just pass out tracts the rest of my life. Thank God all that changed. I had to desire that kind of change. I had to be desperate for it. May God help us all to love one another, and to love the lost people who need to come to know Him.
  One question to ask ourselves: Are we evangelizing to be seen by men, or are we evangelizing to be seen by God?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ways To Show Appreciation Open Doors To Communicate the Gospel

  A couple of years ago, a UPS man delivered a package. I thanked him and gave him a tract. My husband thought that was tacky. So, I redid the idea and came up with something that worked. It wasn't the best idea, but it was better than not doing anything at all.
  One thing I have learned in the past couple of years, is the importance of showing respect to people. People in America have lost their dignity and they feel like, well, you get the picture. The devil would like people to think that they are worthless. The other extreme, of course, is that people overrate themselves. Many believe they are God's gift to this earth!
  Another thing that is important is to be grateful. People appreciate being appreciated. It took me a long time to learn this lesson. I used to think that if I hired a person for something, he or she should be grateful that I hired them. That was it. I am at the point now, when we have someone working on the house or doing something we hired them for, that I make sure I offer them a bottle (or more) of water. This might seem like a small thing, but some of our workers really appreciate the water.
   The idea I came up with was this: When I knew someone was going to come over and provide a service for us, I would have ready a batch of cookies. It was good for a while, but some people can't eat cookies. Also, the chocolate melts in their trucks and probably became messy to eat. I would also give them a tract and hope for opportunities to talk with them about the Gospel. But, now I even have a better idea! Instead of making something to eat (which they might not be able to do) I will make soap for them. I will give them a bar of homemade soap, and, a tract. But maybe I could even give them a Bible. Or, I could give them a DVD with a Bible scene (I ordered some from VOM called, 'He Lived Among Us'). Wow, as I sit here and write, I am coming up with more ideas. But keep in mind, we want to serve them and show our appreciation for them. Otherwise, it could look like we are trying to butter them up for something. It could appear manipulative to them.
   Maybe I could come up with an illustration about soap and how it cleanses us. Maybe I could relate it to the Gospel message of how the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from sins. Whatever I end up doing, I need to be intentional. I can't think about it an hour before the worker arrives. I have to have it ready to go so that I can give it to him or her (or them). I also need to take time to talk with them if possible. I want to be an approachable person, so that, if they did ever have questions about the Gospel, or wanted to talk about the things of God, they would feel comfortable coming to me, even though they really don't know me. I want them to sense that I truly care for them, and that they are not just another number.
   Hmmm. Who is the next person we are going to hire?