Friday, December 07, 2007
(That's 66 years ago today if you're not paying attention.)
2,350 people died in that attack, only 68 civilians in that toll. There were an additional 1,178 injured. Meanwhile in Europe the Third Reich is reigning holy terror on all of Europe.
September 11th, 2001 - Terrorists attack the United States.
2,974 people died in that attack, only 2,974 civilians in THAT toll.
December 8th, 1941 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers his "a day that will live in infamy speech" (click to listen to it). Listen to the congressional responses to FDR's speech! The entire United States mobilizes and sacrifices (real, honest sacrifice for the common good) in a united effort to say "No...you will not do this to us, nor will you do this to our friends (Europe and Asia). We will stand together, we will sacrifice together and we will die together to be sure you not only understand what this means to us, but so that you will not be ABLE to do this to us or to our friends!"
The entire country knew something had to be done...and was resolved to do it...and to finish it!
September 20th, 2001 (Yes...NINE DAYS AFTER the attack) George Bush addresses the American People and Congress. Just listen to the difference in the speech...and recall the difference in the responses. The naysayers started their bashing, negative, whimpering bickering almost immediately! I remember that first week after 911, hearing and seeing all the sudden patriotism across all political and religious boundaries...remember seeing the US Flag everywhere? I remember thinking...how soon will these tears dry on the collective cheek of this selfish, immature, money hungry nation and we'll be right back headed down the toilet again...
Most people were angry, many wanted to do something, some even resolved to DO something about it. But...how many questioned...and continued to vocally fight against to the right thing!?
LESS than four years after Pearl Harbor...
May 8, 1945 - We stand victorious with our friends in VICTORY over the evil in Asia.
Again...LESS than four years after Pearl Harbor...
August 15, 1945 - We stand victorious with our friends in VICTORY over the evil in Europe.
December 7th, 2007 - More than SIX years after 911, what have we gained in the war against terror? Who has stood by our side? How many of our own countrymen stand against this very effort?
Wow...I can't finish writing this...when you put things into perspective like this, it brings such an incredible anguishing pain to the heart. This is not the United States of America anymore. This nation has become the selfish, blame shifting, co-opted "No God" Fraction and Marginalized States of Amerika.
Troubling to the very core.
The only thing that gives me hope is to keep spreading the incomparable and perfect truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...it is altogether too late to do something to save this once mighty nation. It is NOT too late to speak to as many people as you can about the only ultimate truth that can save them...at least give them a chance by hearing it!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Forwarded on from Mark Cahill's October 2007 Newsletter:
"And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Where Are Your Tickets To Heaven?
This is one of the more interesting parables in the Bible, as it is loaded with so much information. People always talk about how they want fruit in their life that will bear thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.
People also wonder whether the seeds that were sown upon the stony places and amongst the thorns wound up being believers that went to heaven, or were false converts.
But one thing I think many people forget about this parable is that the sower sowed seed. He threw a lot of seed out there. He threw it everywhere. He wasn't concerned what type of ground it landed on because he knew that it was God's job to change someone's heart. He just needed to be faithful. He just needed to reach in his bag and throw a bunch of seed out there. How can crops grow unless a seed is planted? The Lord tells us in 1 Corinthians that He gives increase to seeds that are planted.
So how is your planting going? How many seeds have you thrown out there this week? How many conversations have you had with the lost? How many tracts have you handed out this week? How many tickets to heaven have you given away this week? Don't always worry about the quantity, but be faithful everywhere you are. I love a good hour long conversation with a lost person. Yes, I could hand out a hundred tracts during that hour, but I want to be faithful as the Lord puts hungry hearts in front of me.
I pray when I am going out to eat that I actually go to the restaurant where the Lord wants me. I also pray that we will get the right waitress that the Lord wants us to talk to. Please enjoy the email below from one of those waitresses:
"Dear Mark,That email I got from Michelle was very humbling. I had no clue that at the table next to mine there was an older Christian woman checking out my books to make sure they were okay, and if we left a tip! You might think you are just telling the waitress eternal truth, but God might be using it to impact other lives besides that one.
My name is Michele, and I had the privilege of waiting on you and your family members at Johnny Carino's in Lakewood, Colorado. I'm not sure if you will remember who I am, but I will never forget the miracle that God played out through your hands. Let me explain. When you all first were seated in my section, I was not all too happy with our hostess. You see, for some reason, on a very slow night, she had managed to double seat me right after having taken a table of eight for what seemed like no reason. Normally, this would not have been a big deal for me, but I was going through a lot of family problems. I thought that my boyfriend of four years had been arrested and incarcerated again that day, in addition to him selling our only means of transportation the day before for drugs that we had both been struggling to stay away from. He was losing that battle with Satan."
"I am a very open person generally, never hesitant to tell people what my story is. However, I usually do not poor out my detailed life story within ten minutes of taking a dinner order from any of my tables. When I commented to you all that I might make some mistakes and apologized ahead of time, you asked if I might elaborate on what was going on at home. Through God, I spilled a lot more of my life story out to you than I had ever done to a guest before in my life. I had stated to the other table that I was taking care of as well that I was not on top of things that evening and they were sympathetic and nice as well. I talked to you about how my boyfriend, Daniel had just been incarcerated, violating his parole because of a drug that we couldn't seem to get away from no matter how hard either of us tried. When it came time for me to give you the check, you gave me your card and asked me to email you his DOC number and all that fun stuff so that you could witness to him and help him become the husband and father to our two children that God intended him to be. You are the first person in my life to not even bring up the option of leaving him high and dry to deal with his addiction on his own. Instead, you went right to trying to help him become the man God wanted."
"After telling me that, you handed me your two books and told me that you were speaking at a conference in Colorado Springs and had prayed to God earlier that afternoon and he told you to go out to eat and meet a waitress. That alone gave me goose bumps, and a reassured feeling that everything would work itself out in time. I carried the two books in my hand with me over to the other table of eight to drop off their check to them and they asked me why I had those books in my hands. I explained to them briefly what had happened so far, and they all started looking at the books passing them from person to person down the table. There was an older woman on the end that stood up and said "let me see those books because I am a Christian, and I don't want someone giving you false ideas my dear!" I went over and stood next to her and as she approved the contents of the books she looked at me and stated that it was awesome for you to have given those to me, but what would be even better is if you also gave me the twenty percent gratuity that I work so hard to feed my kids with. She said too many people give Christians a bad name because they think that dropping a card instead of a tip is right. I agreed with her, and said that I couldn't feed my children with a card that tells me how to be saved. Not that it isn't important as well. You had walked out to your car to get me several more copies of your books including a set for my younger sister whom I had told you was very much God's light for me this past two years. I walked over to the table to get the signed credit card receipt to find that you had left me a X dollar tip. I turned around to one of my managers and asked him if I was seeing things right, and as he said yes, I went straight to the woman at the end of my other table, sat down right next to her as if I had known her my whole life, put the tip out for her to see and started crying. She looked at me and started crying herself and gave a huge hug. You witnessed to her as well that day. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that I didn't need that money because I did, but I almost wished that I could give it back to you to have people understand how much my heart and my faith and my sobriety needed that to happen."
"I truly feel that had that course of events not happened right then, I would have been using again myself before the week was out. I had started to doubt that God was there watching over and seeing the things that I did. That he cared at all. I doubted that everything that I gave from my heart for everyone around me when they were in need was done in waste without even the courtesy of having that grace returned in my time of need. I would have lost everything I had worked so hard to change in myself. At that moment, it renewed my faith in God."
"A couple of days went by, and I was able to witness to several people just by telling them what had happened and that was an awesome feeling to have. I received a call three days later from Daniel stating that they had detained him for a couple of days until a bed could open up at a rehab center in Greeley. The Lord was not sending him back to prison and giving him the help that he had asked him for. I am still anxious for him to speak with you and hopefully gain truth and guidance from you. He was the only one when told the story had a negative thing to say about it. Unfortunately, one of the things that we deal with in our relationship is distrust and jealousy. Both of us have done plenty of lying to each other through the course of our addictions, and I was unfaithful to him when he went to prison originally. So automatically his guard went up, and instead of hearing my testimony, he judged and assumed it was not of good intention. The night that I told him about it he said, 'Come on Michele, are you seriously trying to tell me this was some kind of miracle? I am a realist...God's not helping us, no one is.' My heart sunk into the floor, and I let him go. When I talked to him a week later, once he had been taken to Greeley and his mind was cleared from the fog of the drug, he mentioned a couple things about church and God to me, so I believe that was mostly Satan talking, but I pray for him everyday that God would move in his life like he is in mine. I will never give up on him or our relationship and family."
"It has been about two weeks since meeting you, and it took me forever to get this email out to you. Last night, I was speaking with my younger sister about how I felt like God had touched me and changed me in this huge way from that event, and that I wasn't really doing anything with it. I hadn't even started reading one of the books you had given me yet! She said that she was feeling the same way, too wrapped up in the matters of this world to be living for God like she should be. Our conversation was unsettling to both of us, so we prayed and said our goodbyes. When I got off the phone with her at 8:30 last evening, I picked up One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven, and I didn't set it down until I was done at 4:30 this morning. God finished the conversation he started to have with me two weeks ago when meeting you Mark. I felt just about every emotion I have in my heart last night, and mostly over the opportunities that I have had to witness and show people God's love that I haven't over the past several years. It reminded me of a car accident that I was in when I was sixteen that one of my friends lost his life in. I wondered for the first time whether my friend Chris had gone to heaven, and felt guilt for the first time for not telling him about God and Jesus way back then because I was too afraid of being rejected."
Where are your tickets to heaven right now? They don't belong in your pocket. I am glad I was handing some out at Johnny Carino's restaurant. Don't die with a bunch of tickets to heaven in your pocket, because you don't need them on the other side. You must give them away here. Reach in that pocket and start giving those tickets to many different people and let God worry about making those seeds grow. You just be faithful in the coming days.
Until the nets are full,
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Last Friday (the 5th), I showed up to Pikes Peak Academy to pick up my wife.
M and R were outside waiting for their rides home.
I said..."Hey guys, let's roll!"
"Really? Right now?"
They were so excited, it was a BLAST. We putted around the parking lot with them taking turns at trying the 5 speed. M was first and didn't even stall it on his first try. I was so proud of these two guys and they knew it. They were BEAMING.
Here are some pics of the PPA Driving Academy Session #1
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
What is harder?
...or is it convincing/encouraging/convicting your fellow church folk that everyone in the "church" has a responsibility to bare witness with their mouths at every possible opportunity?
I've been wrestling with this for a while now. The conversations I have with abject non-believers are much, much easier than the ones I have with proud church members who fight so freaking HARD against the idea and the obligation of simple conversational witnessing.
I've tried to lean on scripture in these "church" conversations...the great commission, much of Paul's writings ("woe to me if I don't preach the Gospel", etc) What happens? Excuses, excuses, excuses...and if you work hard enough at it you'll even get called legalistic.
I've tried simply trying to explain how...if you must just throw out the fact that we are commanded to do it, then shouldn't it at least me core to who we are as "believers" - if we so deeply LOVE those around us as we claim to...
I've even tried some Cahill'esque approaches, ie "Do you care about your neighbors, family, co-workers? Do you care about their lives, their hearts and their eternal destinies? Do you care enough to do something about it? Because if you don't care enough to do something about it...then YOU DO NOT CARE."
Well...I have an MP3 player and I've been downloading huge numbers of MP3s on Evangelism and Reformed Theology. So many that I'm not sure I'll ever listen to them all. A few days ago, I picked a speaker that I didn't recognize...didn't even know who he was.
I was listening yesterday again...and had to choke back tears while driving down the road, because he explains it in such stark and easy to understand terms...
Please give it a listen...
DA Carson - Where is the bread? 55 minutes (right click, save as, play from your computer)
What is the "motivation" for "doing" this personal witness/evangelism thing? For that matter...what is it about your life that makes you tick? Is there something that makes you different or isn't there?
Thursday, October 04, 2007
My dear wife teaches Math "alternative" Christian High School called Pikes Peak Academy.
These are the "refuse" kids of the public school system. Bad family situations, abuse, neglect, absentee and/or ridiculously permissive parents have produced...hmmm, what do you expect? Teens addicted to drugs, alcohol, partying, everything the world has to offer - especially anything that pleases them. What else? A virtual bottomless pit of excuses and reasons why nothing is ever their fault, why they can't do schoolwork...etc, etc.
So...time after time, they get kicked out of and shuffled around the public school system until they end up at pretty much their last resort; Pikes Peak Academy. All staff are Christians, it's not a secret with a hidden agenda, nor is it pushed down their throats. The kids have one 20 minute "bible study" each day in addition to classes. The rubber really hits the road when it comes to ministering to the kids anytime of the day as they learn..
Each teacher gets to advocate several of the students...an advocate meets with the kids, gets to know them on a deeper level, checks in on their school work, home life, heart matters...encourages, reproaches...kind of a surrogate parent/counselor/friend/mentor.
I've been hanging around the school to get to know some of the kids better, they asked me to advocate a few boys - so I have 5 of them under my wing now. Every Friday they have a brunch, I've been hanging around the kids there. These kids get under your skin quick, you can see right through their tough exteriors...and they really respond to love. There are two more boys that have been hanging around the school waiting for rides when I go pick up Dany to head home.
"M" and "J". 14 and 17 year old boys. Broken homes and messed up histories. Outcasts just like the rest of the kids, but I've gotten to know them a little more. They found out that our little Subaru is a 5 speed. They started asking me if I'd teach them how to drive it.
I told them...the next time we have a little extra time when I pick Dany up...we'll spend some time in the parking lot working on it. I really didn't make that much of it.
So the next day...Dany was talking to "M" and he tells her "Mr D is going to teach me how to drive a stick!" He was very excited. He then said "You know...that will make him kinda like my dad."
Dany says "Oh, how's that?"
"M" says..."Well, no guy has ever taught me anything like that, so that will make Mr D kinda like my dad."
Wow. I'm humbled and in tears. What a responsibility, what an honor. Pray for me.
Monday, September 24, 2007
She was looking at a DigiCam in Electronics.
We ended up having a great conversation with the kid there (20). He was raised in a Christian home and is now currently going to college and lives in a Christian Fraternity House. What was his take on salvation? That if you live a good life, and do good things for other people ("you know...love other people and treat them right, show them that you love them") - when you die, you'll get to go to heaven.
We had a great discussion about the truth of the Gospel, the value of his soul and how much more God values him than he can imagine. I used the eyeball analogy...it really, really mad him think...he even said with this amazed look on his face "Wow...I've never heard it put that way."
If I could offer you a completely pain free surgery, you'd never feel any pain at all, would you give up one of your eyeballs for a million bucks? I'd even replace it with a great looking glass eye - of course you'd be blind out of that eye for life...We definitely left him with a few things to think about...he has a bible at home but never reads it. We encouraged him to pick it up, look at the truths about God's love, salvation and his eternity in that awesome love letter.
How about if I offered you 10 million for BOTH your eyes; no pain at all and you'd have good looking fake eyes, but you'd be completely blind for life. Would you take the $10 million?
- Universally the answer is "No...of course not."
You then say something like "Have you heard it said that the eyes are the windows to your soul? Your soul looks out of those eyes...and you wouldn't even take $10 million for your eyes...how much more valuable is your SOUL to you?"
Sunday, September 23, 2007
"The Missing Parts"
I know that the title of this article will possibly raise some worried eyebrows. At first glance, some might say to themselves, "Oh no, Keith has gone too far this time!" But let me quickly put those possible reactions to rest. To the question, "What's wrong with the Gospel?" I can easily answer, "Absolutely nothing!" That is, of course, if you're talking about the Gospel of the Bible - the very message that Jesus preached - what the apostles Peter, Paul, John, and the others devoted their very lives (and deaths) to. (Phil. 1:20-21)
No, there's nothing at all wrong with this message from heaven. But what about the stuff that's being preached today? Is it truly "gospel-preaching"? Are the evangelists that preach in churches and arenas, on radio and television - are they preaching what Jesus called the Gospel?1 And what about the mountains of modern "gospel literature"? You know, the tracts, pamphlets, comic books, newspapers, etc. Do they really contain the same message - the whole message - about the salvation that Jesus offered? How are we answering the awesome question that people are still asking the Church, as they asked on the day of Pentecost, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?"2
Is Our Gospel The Gospel?
I believe with all my heart that Jesus would be ashamed of most of the "gospel" messages and sermons that are being preached today, mainly because they lack almost every major point He Himself preached on. (Mark 8:38; Rom. 1:16; II Tim. 1:8) How dare we try to change the Gospel. We remove most of its vital parts, and replace them with artificial limbs of our own. (Gal. 1:6-7)
Isn't Jesus the master evangelist? Shouldn't we judge our evangelism by His example?3 Was His message anything like what we're hearing today? It is my intention to try to briefly cover in Section 1 each of the major parts of the Gospel that have been "surgically" removed in most of today's preaching. And in Section 2, we will go over each of the "new additions" that have become a very part of our modern gospel.
The Removed Parts Of The Gospel
The Blood of Jesus. It's a fact that the very word blood scares people. It's also a fact that the blood of Christ scares the devil, because it is the only cleansing agent for a sin-sick soul.4 Can you imagine what the preaching and writings of Paul would have been like, if he had been as squeamish in proclaiming the magnificent power and beauty of the blood of Jesus as our generation of preachers are? What we have now is a bloodless gospel!
Today, people are afraid to think and preachers are afraid to make them. The whole concept of Jesus being the Passover Lamb of the Old Testament5 has been lost - "It takes too much time and thought to explain," you will hear some say. (Heb. 5:11-14) "We need to simplify the Gospel so that we can reach the masses." Oh, what logic! Remove the blood from the preaching of the Gospel, and you remove the power to conquer the devil for the souls of men!
The Cross of Jesus. Paul said, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (I Cor. 2:2) Nowadays it's "Jesus Christ and what He can do for you!" You cannot have more exact opposites than the Bible's Christ-centered Gospel,6 and our modern, cross-less, me-centered gospel.
Today, if anyone preaches self-denial as a condition of discipleship, you can hear the comments afterwards: "old-fashioned," "harsh," "legalistic." I dare say that our Lord would have as much trouble finding acceptance among our preachers as He had among the religious leaders of His own day.
Here's what A.W. Tozer says about the cross...
"The cross is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men. The cross of Roman times knew no compromise, it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ, but slew Him the same as the rest. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross. and completely dead when they took Him off of it. That was the cross the first time it appeared in Christian history.
"With perfect knowledge of all this, Christ said, 'If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself take up his cross and follow Me.' So the cross not only brought Christ's life to an end, it also ends the first life, the old life of every one of His true followers...this and nothing less is true Christianity. We must do something about the cross, and there's only one of two things we can do - flee it or die upon it!"
The Threat and Terrors of Hell, and the Guilt of Sinners. We often hear people say, "I'm tired of hell-fire and brimstone preaching!" "Well," I often reply, "when was the last time you heard any?" It is true, very few people preach on hell anymore - it is no longer in vogue. We shouldn't scare the poor sinners, no, that wouldn't do. They're just unfortunate, misguided souls, right? Wrong! The Bible clearly shows that they are rebels who have robbed and dishonored the living God, infinitely offending Him.7 They have no right to look at themselves in any other light.
But we, smart as we are, have decided to help God along. He doesn't understand our generation as well as we do. The things Jesus emphasized in His preaching were all right for the Jews, but our generation needs a more gentle, loving tone. "Tell 'em about heaven!" We talk about heaven, about the "rewards of being born-again," but we completely neglect the other side of the "two-edged sword." (Heb. 4:12) What right do we have to remove things from the Gospel that Jesus Himself gave great place to in His own preaching?8
The Law of God Preached to Convict One of Sin. Pages could be written on this subject, but there is room for only one brief example. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, he asked a very direct question: "Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Can you imagine what our preachers would answer him today? "Just admit you're a sinner, accept Jesus as your Personal Savior, go to church, pay your tithes, try to be good, and you're in!" But what was Jesus' answer? "You know the commandments... if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." (Matt 19:17; Mark 10:19) The commandments?? Why they went out with Cecil B. DeMille! Isn't this the "age of grace"?
Well, the truth is Jesus wasn't preaching the commandments to him as the way of salvation, He was using the commandments to specifically convict him of his particular sin - greed. That rich boy loved the bucks, and Jesus knew just how to flush him out of the bushes - preach the Law! And that's exactly what the Law is for- "For through the Law comes the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20), that's what Paul said. The Law must be preached - not as the way of salvation, but as a searchlight put on the sinner's heart, so he can see how utterly rotten he is, compared to the way God requires him to be. (Gal. 3:24)
But today again, we are wiser than God. Our preaching isn't filled with "dos and don'ts." No, we don't want to scare the "liberated generation" away. Why, if we said that fornication was wrong, or drugs, or abortion, or any other specific sin, people would feel all condemned and then how could they get saved? But that's just it, Jesus preached the Law to the rich young ruler so that, after feeling condemned about his greed, he could turn and obey Jesus and find true treasure in heaven. "Go and sell all you possess and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me." (Mark 10:21) Unless people are truly convicted of sin, if they do not fully see that they are totally condemned by the requirements of God's Law, then it is virtually impossible to show them the need for a savior. Why, what would they need to be saved from? Fun?
That is why our modern gospel must dwell on "all the good things God'll do for you if you'd just accept Him!" We can't convince a sinner that he needs a savior by just getting him to admit that, "Well, generally, yes, I am a sinner." He must see how the Law of God totally condemns him as a sinner,9 and then the beauty of the Gospel, the glory of the cross, the marvelous power of Christ's blood will be able to penetrate his anxious, waiting mind and heart. Only by the preaching of the Law can a man fully desire to be saved from his sin. For, "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law. "(Rom. 7:7)
The Fear of God and the Judgment Seat of Christ. Instead of the awesome majesty of Jehovah, today the Lord is presented as a sort of "ice cream man-Santa Claus." And the Church is the "candy store" where you can get "every goodie your heart desires." Jesus Himself is portrayed as "a sweetie pie," so good, so loving, so forgiving, and so gentle, that you can almost hear the preacher whisper, "Aw, He wouldn't hurt a fly..." But what happened to "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31) or "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'? (Proverbs 9:10)10
The wise, new editors of modern preaching rhetoric have conveniently wiped out every reference to the Almighty's severity while emphasizing only His kindness. This they do, ignoring the balanced, biblical view of Paul, "Behold then the kindness and severity of God." (Rom. 11:22)
Repentance as Necessary for Forgiveness. It has always amazed me how the Church could have evolved to such a state as it is in now, with such clear, direct teaching from the Lord Jesus as to what is necessary to be right with God. Please read the first five verses of the 13th chapter of Luke. Here, Jesus is told the news about some Galileans who were executed by the Romans. He then says, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Using another example, He then repeats the same exact sentence.
I cannot conceive of conversion without repentance. The teachings of Jesus and the apostles are full of commands to "repent and be saved!"11 Repentance is not just "being sorry" - that is only conviction. Repentance is not merely a change of heart and a change of mind, it is a change of action! God requires that if we are sincerely convinced that sin is wrong, then we will turn from it to God, and commit ourselves to not take part in sinful deeds any longer. God blesses such decisions and commitments with abundant grace. And it is by that grace that we can fulfill the desires of the Spirit within us.
But because there is so little real conviction of sin brought about by the preaching of our modern gospel, we cannot truly require repentance anymore. If we did, no one would "come forward" at all. For repentance is easy to him who sees how ugly and horrible sin is, but repentance is impossible where the Law does not convince the sinner of his wicked heart, compelling him to turn from his sin into the arms of a waiting, compassionate God. You see, all these removed parts of the Gospel are connected. In God's wisdom, every aspect of the appointed way of salvation is irreplaceable.
It is true that without God loving us first, we could not be saved. He made the first move, He always does. But He will not do what He requires of the sinner himself to do - and that is to repent!
God's Sorrow and Broken Heart Over Sin. The picture of God as presented today by evangelists is that of an optimist - a positive-thinking good ole boy who lives in heaven, high above the trouble on earth, where everything is rosy, "and the skies are not cloudy all day." Why, how could anything bother the living God? He isn't really troubled by all the mess down here, He has everything under control!
But again, the Bible paints a different picture of our King. Just look at Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), or the pleadings of God with the nation of Israel through the prophets Isaiah or Ezekiel.12 This God, the one in the Bible, is continually striving with men through His Spirit. It says in Proverbs, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3) That means that God saw every rape committed today, He saw every murder, every person that starved to death, every pornographic film and book, every abused and battered child. How can anyone believe that He sees this and does not grieve? Of course God can grieve. Doesn't the Bible implore us not to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God"? (Eph. 4:30)
You see, God is the most hurt and dishonored being in the universe. He could stop all this mess, all the perversion and crime and corruption any time He wishes, but He doesn't! Why? Because He waits for the souls of men and women. "Regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation," Peter said. (II Peter 3:15) But the Church, which doesn't have one millionth of the compassion that God has, has turned around and created a god in its own image and likeness. A carefree, cheerful, above-it-all God. And then the Church has conveniently removed from the "gospel" it presents all reference to the pain and sorrow in God's heart. The Church doesn't want a God who's grieved with sin, because then this God would be grieved with them... (and He is!)13
The Necessity of Holiness to Please God. Hebrews says without holiness "no one shall see the Lord." (12:14) It is true that Jesus commands us to be perfect. (Matt. 5:48) It is also true that you most likely have never met a perfect person, nor do you probably ever expect to be perfect yourself. Nevertheless, we still have those uncomfortable words of the Lord, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect"!
Now, because of our dilemma in finding ourselves to be such numskulls, and seeing the demands of Jesus, we have invented some pretty interesting and caraaazzeey doctrines. Some Christians have said, "Well, when God looks at us, He doesn't really see us anymore, He sees Jesus instead. And when there's ever sin in our hearts, if God should happen to look at the wrong moment, He'll see a smiling face of Jesus there, instead of seeing our sin. So God sees me as holy - even though I'm not! But...I really am...er, well, you know what I mean!" (I don't happen to believe that God is that easily fooled, not even by Christians.)
Another stranger-than-truth doctrine is that blessed refuge of backsliders called "the carnal Christian." In this example of pretzel-logic, we are led to believe that any "believer" who isn't really "walking with the Lord" at the present time, and is indulging in the things of the world and the lusts of the flesh, can still be considered a "Christian," but not a Christian of the 1st class, no, a Christian of the 2nd class... a "carnal Christian." Here we have a case of the "believer" who doesn't believe. Oh, he still "believes" that God is God, and that there is a heaven and hell, and so on (but don't forget, the devil believes all these things too!-James 2:19). He knows all the right things to say to convince granny, the pastor, and his Christian friends that he's still hanging in there. He even sort of believes it himself. Seems he's got everybody fooled - everybody that is, except God! The Bible is clear that "If we say we' have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. " (I John 1:6)14
Today, possibly the greatest insult to the Gospel has been the almost total neglect of the preaching of holiness for the Christian. Jesus doesn't want to make believe that we're holy, He wants to impart His holiness to us by the Holy Spirit. But because people are not being driven to the cross, convicted by His Law to repentance and real rebirth, then we have to spend hours in our seminaries trying to find suitable, complicated ways to explain away the obvious meanings of Scripture.
To all this you might be saying, "But what about all those people getting saved by the efforts of good men and ministries out there? They're not preaching the way you say they should, and they still have converts!" Well, the immediate answer to that question is, "The people are not getting saved because of their messages, they're getting saved in spite of them." But unfortunately, many of the people who make "decisions for Christ" through large evangelistic crusades, do not even attend church regularly in the years that follow. (And as you probably well know, "attending church regularly" does not guarantee that one is a true believer.) But let's take a closer look at what kind of "converts" today's gospel usually produces.
What's Specifically Wrong With Our Modern Gospel?
It's Me-Centered Instead of Christ-Centered. First and foremost, it is the gospel that appeals to the selfish. Instead of honoring God, it places the sinner at the center of God's love and plan. But the Bible places Jesus at the center of God's plan, not the sinner.
One of the most well-known phrases of modern evangelism is "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!" But the sober, biblical truth that needs to be presented to the sinner's mind is "You have made yourself an enemy of God, and in your present state of rebellion there is absolutely no hope for you." In fact, God's "plan" for the sinner at this point in his life is to separate him from His presence forever, in hell. However unpopular or unlovely that may sound, it is the only truth and reality about anyone who is an enemy of God through sin.
The whole line of reasoning in our modern gospel continues on and on in this mistaken way. "Sin has separated you from God, 'and His wonderful plan for your life.' Jesus came and died on the cross, so that you may experience 'His wonderful plan for your life.' You must accept Jesus now, so that you will not miss out on 'His wonderful plan for your life!'" You, you, you, you!!! It's all for YOU! I'm not sorry to say this, but Jesus did it all in obedience, for His Father's glory. (Phil. 2:8-12) Of course, it infinitely benefits those who love, serve, and honor Him, but that was a secondary consideration, not the primary one. (Please read Ezek. 36:22-32.) If people come to Jesus mainly to get a blessing, or only to get forgiveness, they will ultimately be disappointed. But if they come to give Him their lives in honor and worship, then they will truly have forgiveness and joy - more than they could ever imagine! (I Cor. 2:9)
It's Shallow, Cheap, and Offered as a "Bargain." Our gospel reduces the good news to a "come and get it while you can" sale. We make every effort to take all the bones out - everything that might offend someone, might make them hesitate or put off their decision. Jesus didn't do this. He never lowered the requirements for anyone. One had to be completely sincere, totally humbled, having counted the cost, willing to leave everything, family and property, "count all things loss" so that they might "gain Christ." (Phil 3:7-8) When that same rich young ruler "went away sad, for he had many possessions" (Matt. 19:22), Jesus didn't go running after him shouting, "Hey, wait a minute! Let's talk this thing over, it isn't as bad as it might sound. Maybe I was a little too harsh!"
Maybe we're so eager to "see the converts," to publish "how many got saved at our last concert" in the bulletins to our supporters, that we'll do anything to rush someone into a "decision" before he's had a chance to really make one. The problem is, if you have to rush him into it, he probably will change his mind later anyway. For as a friend of mine says, "If somebody can talk them into it, somebody can talk them out of it!" (I Cor. 1:17)
Salvation is Shown as a Barter or Trade, Instead of the Result of Obedience by Faith. We offer forgiveness of sin like Monty Hall on "Let's Make a Deal." I've even heard, "You give Jesus your sin, and He'll give you salvation in return!" No one in the Bible ever thought so low of the grace of God to talk about the gift of eternal life like it was for trade. It is a gift! You can't earn it, or buy it, or give anything in return for it. How it must offend the Holy Spirit to hear people talk of His Jesus so. (Acts 8:18-23)
It Produces Selfish, "Blessed," and Feelings-Oriented "Converts." Anyone who is made to believe he becomes a Christian under such preaching will seldom bring forth the true fruits of a real convert. He will remain just as selfish as he always was, only now his selfishness will take on a religious form. If he wants something for himself, he will say he "has a burden" for something, or he will say, "It is the desire of my heart," or some other religious-sounding phrase like that. He will pray selfishly, desiring blessings for himself, and even if he does pray for others, it usually will be for selfish reasons. After all, when he "accepted the Lord," he was told how much Jesus wanted to bless him and how much God had stored up for his account, and how the Bible was like "a checkbook full of promises, just waiting to be cashed!"
Such a person always seeks to "feel" good about himself, his own church, his own pastor, etc. His whole world is built on feeling blessed. He was never shown how he was created to bless God... God was not created to bless him. (Psalm 149:4; Phil. 2:13)
As you can see, the "converts" described above are not like those pictured in the book of Acts, when the Church was new and the fire was hot. Take a look at Acts 2:41-47 and 4:31-35, and you will see the tender spirit of love, and the mighty spirit of power that prevailed among the brethren in those early days. I believe that one of the great reasons that "everyone kept feeling a sense of awe" (Acts 2:43), was because "they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to prayer. "(vs. 42) I believe that Peter and the others made every effort to convey the whole message of the Gospel when they preached and taught, and that is why the Spirit of God could anoint and bless the new converts so powerfully- God always anoints the truth! (Isaiah 55:11)
1) Matt 4:23; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 3:16-18.
2) Luke 3:10,12,14; Acts 2:37,16:30
3) Eph. 5:1, I Peter2:21; I John 2:6
4) Matt. 26:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:25, 5:9; Eph. 1:7, 2:13; Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:14,22, 10:19, 13:12; I Peter 1:2; I John 1:7; Rev. 1:5, 5:9, 12:11, 19:13.
5) Exodus 12:23-24; Isiah 53:7; Luke 22:15; John 1:29,36; I Cor. 5:7; I Peter 1:19; Rev. 5:6,12, 7:14, 22:1,3.
6) Matt 10:38; Luke 14:27; I Cor. 1:17-18; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:6; Col. 1:20; I Peter 2:24
7) John 8:44; Acts 13:9-11; I Cor. 6:9; Gal. 4:16: Eph. 2:1-3; James 4:4; II Peter 2:12-19.
8) Matt. 5:22; 8:12, 10:28, 13:41-42, 49-50, 22:11-14, 23:13,33, 24:48-51, 25:30,46; Luke 13:26-28.
9) Rom. 2:12,20, 3:20-21, 4:15, 5:13,20, 10:4; I Cor. 15:56; Gal. 2:16,19, 3:10-11; James 29:11.
10) See also Deut. 5:29, 10:12; Joshua 24:14; II Kings 17:39; Psalm 2:11, 15:4, 19:9, 25:14, 31:19, 33:18, 34:7,9,11, 52:6 60:4, 67:7, 72: 5, 85:9, 86:11, 103:11,13,17; 111:5, 112:1, 147:11; Proverbs 8:13, 10:27, 13:13, 14:26-27, 15:16, 16:6, 19:23, 23:17, 28:14, 31:30; Isiah 8:13; Jer. 32:39-40; Malachi 3:16, 4:2; Matt. 10:28; Luke 1:50; Acts 10:35, 13:26; II Cor 7:1; Eph 5:21; Phil. 2:12, Heb. 12:29; I Peter 1:17; Rev. 14:7
11) Psalm 7:12; Isiah 30:15; Ezek. 18:32; Matt. 3:2; Mark 1:5, 6:7,12; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 8:22, 17:30, 26:19-20; Rev. 2:5,16, 3:3,19
12) Isiah 1:18, 54:7; Exek. 18:23,32, 33:11; Hosea 11:8.
13) Psalm 78:40-41; Mark 3:5.
14) Here are only a few of the many Scriptures that say this over and over again, in the clearest possible terms: Psalm 5:4,6; Matt. 7:22; John 3:20-21; II Cor. 6:14; IJohn 2:4,9-11, 3:10, 4:20
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
...and a common argument is that "Everyone has heard of Jesus and know something about him." To me, that is a very scary statement; that any one of us would be willing to let people continue in the knowledge they've gained from mostly liberal college classes, biased media and word of mouth from unclean lips?
I can't tell you how deceived the world is about Jesus...from real world one on one conversations. Sure everyone has "heard of Jesus". Who hasn't heard of Christmas and Easter? OK...most know of what they call a "fantasy tale" about some baby born of a virgin and he was then beaten and killed on a cross and they MIGHT think that's why they can get into heaven...and if they don't have too much of a perverted and false knowledge - that's about ALL they know.
There's one way to find out...ask a few - that might even be a great "icebreaker" into a conversation.
Have you ever seen on TV in a movie or in a newspaper...or can you really think that they'd teach in a freaking college classroom that Jesus bore the sins of the world...not by being beaten and crucified, but by suffering the full wrath of God the Father being poured out on him as a once and final payment for all the sins that everyone in the world ever has or ever will commit? (How? Because that ONE man was worth more than all other men combined). That it's not just enough to "believe" in Jesus (as many think is all that's needed), but that you must take up your cross and follow him every single day...that you must receive his full payment for your sins by repenting and putting your faith and trust in Him.
It's not some easy believe-ism...the whole idea, explained in truth and love boggles the minds of even the hardened atheist - because they think we as Christians (no quotes...I don't want to throw anyone off again) follow some ancient, blind faith religion based on fairy tales and that we're unintellectual throwbacks to a time of gods, rituals and sacrifice. scripture even says that the things of God will seem foolish to the lost. How better to turn up the illuminating light of perfect truth then to engage them in a simple conversation?
We talk about sports, cars, politics, our families, the economy, "global warming", movies, TV, the weather...now why would we ever bypass the most central truth of our lives?
To answer the question "Why are we here as Christians?"
To worship God and to bring the illuminating light of the Gospel into as many lives as possible (to seek and to save that which is lost as Jesus put it). Do I save? Heck no...but many, many, many people will never have a chance to even hear and be given a chance without someone spelling the truth out to them with great concern and care. The seed of the truth (and I mean the TRUTH, not the false BS that is strewn via contemporary media, schools and people) has to be planted...before it can be harvested.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
This happened three weeks ago (July 30th)...just now getting around to posting it.
My son rode in to work with me so he could spend the day at the skate park/dirt jumps down at Goose Gossage park in Colorado Springs. I stopped by the park at about 4:00pm to pick him up, he had his bike, skateboard and a cooler so I was walking across the park to help him get all his stuff together so we could head home...
There was a group of 7 or 8 boys (probably from 10 to 14 years old) all sitting on one of the stunts sitting there laughing and having a good time. It felt like one of those divine appointment times...so I stood there for a few seconds and I heard one of them say to one of his buddies "Dude...do you have a pen?" They scrambled in pockets...not one of them had a pen. I reached in my pocket and said "Well, what color do you want, black or blue?" and offered them a pen from my pocket as I stepped up onto the stunt with them.
They started drawing mustaches on each other...one tried to draw glasses on another boy, they were having a riot just goofing off. I stood there laughing along with them, the whole time thinking and praying silently "How can I crack this conversation open?"
Then, one of the boys swore...another one of the boys looks at him pointing a condemning finger and jokingly/sarcastically shouts out loud at him "SINNER, you are a SINNER!"
Wow...I could have driven a Mack Truck through THAT door!
I knelt down and asked..."Hey, do you guys know what sin is?"
Did that ever get their attention.
They all huddled around as I walked them all through the ten commandments. It was my very first one to many witness encounter. There were a bunch of people down at the skate park that afternoon, but amazingly I only had to say two or three times..."Hang with me here a few...this is VERY important..." to refocus a boy as his mind wandered to other action in the park.
I had asked about lying, stealing, blasphemy...when on perfect cue an attractive teenage girl, not dressed very modestly, walked across the park right next to us to go sit on a bench. And of course one of the boys made a comment about her "hotness". You know that not a single one of those boys had the slightest CLUE that it was a sin to look upon a woman/girl with that kind of intention in their heart? I got to talk about how God cares about the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts, the intentions behind those thoughts - not just the actions we take, not just the things we actually DO, but even the things we THINK about.
I got the "Well, God is a forgiving God" response...we got to talk about how a good Judge would judge them in a courtroom and it doesn't matter how much you ask for forgiveness, if you break the law - there WILL be consequences.
Well...not one of them wanted to go to Hell, so I transitioned to grace and the cross, repentance and faith. One of the boys paused me with "Are you like a preacher or something like that?" I said "No...I'm a follower of Jesus Christ and He has placed a burden on my heart, so many people are going to end up in hell and He doesn't want that to happen, so I talk to people about this Truth whenever I can."
His response? "Wow man."
I asked if any of them had a Bible at home. I ask this a lot when I get to that part of the conversation...not one of them had a Bible. My wheels started spinning and I heard myself ask "Would you all like to have a Bible?" I didn't have any with me...and I didn't expect their response...the unanimous answer was "Yes!". Then my wheels really started spinning as I scrambled to figure out how I could get them all Bibles IMMEDIATELY.
I pulled out my cell phone, called Calvary Worship Center, got the secretary on the phone and said "Hey, Denise, I'm at the skate park and I need eight Bibles for some kids right NOW." She says "I'll have them waiting for you, you can pick them up right now."
One of the boys says "My Mom will be here to pick me up at 4:30...will you be back by then?" It's now about 4:20 and I tell him, "You betcha". I hop in my car and scramble for the church trying to figure out how in the world I can get over to Calvary and back to the skate park by 4:30.
We get to Calvary and Denise is there with the Bibles. She hands me one separately, it's very nice bible, leather bound and it's even in one of those nice covers with pockets and a zippered closure. She says "I'm not sure about this one, use your judgment. It belonged to an older man that died, his wife brought it in and asked that we give it to someone that needs a bible." I knew immediately which boy to give it to. All those kids hung in the conversation, but there was one in particular that focused VERY intently on everything I said.
I headed back to the skate parking thinking..."there's no way I'll get there by 4:30, besides that...will those kids even still be there? I mean, what skater kid waits at a skate park for some nutty 'preacher' guy to bring them a Bible?"
I pulled back into the skate park at 4:30...I really didn't even expect to see those kids ever again. Surprise...THEY came running out to ME in the parking lot, swarming me for those Bibles! It was incredible. As I handed a Bible to one of the boys he looks at me and says "You mean, I get to KEEP this? This is mine?"
And as I handed that boy the "special Bible"...his face lit up, "Wow, this is really nice...and I can KEEP this? Thank you very much." as he walked toward his mom's car as she had just then pulled in to pick him up...
Monday, August 20, 2007
We met some folks in front of Angelo's Pizza Parlor at 11:30...it was very encouraging to have so many people out there with us! We chatted for a bit and armored up in prayer and the eight of us headed over to the River Walk to have some eternal conversations.
I didn't really know what to expect from Pueblo Pride; Colorado Springs Pride was pretty well attended, but Pueblo is a much smaller city. I give them all credit for turning out, but I'd be surprised if there were more than 1,500 people including the vendors. We had a pretty high ratio of folks out there sharing compared to attendees - and with another five coming in later, a crazy high ratio.
By the time we left at about 2:30 we were getting feedback from some in our group that they were approaching people that had already been "tracted" and a few that had already had conversations. The event ran until 5pm but it was really dying down already by 2pm, we were walking out and we ran into the "witnessing shift change" group - another group of 5 from Pueblo West we had invited, but they couldn't make until later.
By the way...we tried out a new tract, that was really well received...
Homosexuality has been under attack for some time now. Since the 1990s, when same sex marriage became an issue, the media ridiculed and publicized it in such a way, they forced us to take sides. As this caused such a stir in society, an even more important issue was being overlooked because we allowed ourselves to be caught up in the here-and-now. The more important issue is, what happens in the “there-after?” And because the here-and-now is only temporary, the there-after is worth looking into. Listen to what the Bible says. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” When you die, you will stand before God and be expected to give a detailed account of your life. On that day, how will you do? Here is a quick test. Have you ever told a lie (even once)? Have you ever stolen anything (the value is irrelevant)? Have you ever used God’s name in vain (this is called blasphemy)? If you have done these things, you have sinned against God and He sees you as a lying, blasphemous thief. On Judgment Day, you will be guilty of breaking His laws, the 10 Commandments, and end up in hell. But God doesn’t want that. The Bible says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Simply put, you broke the law and Christ died to pay your fine. Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. If you will repent (turn from your sin) and put your trust in Jesus Christ, He will forgive your sin, take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh to desire the things of God and grant you the gift of everlasting life. Isn’t that amazing? So, repent today. God will never let you down. Then read your Bible every day and obey what you read. See John 3:16 and John 14:21. God bless you!
When asked, "...but what about the fact that I'm homosexual?" Steve's response is, "Look, I can't even get past LYING, much less my sexual sin..." It's very disarming, because most Gays and Lesbians already have their boxing gloves on and are ready to step into the ring and beat the tar out of you about their sexuality (nature vs nurture, is it really a sin, etc).
I had two tough conversations.
One with a guy that was holding out hope that science was going to be able to reverse the aging gene before he died so he could live forever. I asked him..."If we live forever, we'll run out of room here pretty quick won't we?" He said we'd be living on the Moon and Mars by then...we'd eventually start populating the Universe and it will all be like Star Trek. He said his mind was "very scientific" so he just couldn't believe the Bible. He used the old argument about how the world is round, but that even way back then in Biblical times everyone thought it was flat.
I stopped him cold and explained that even in the Old Testament, the earth is described as a circle, suspended in space when the SCIENTISTS of the day were saying the earth was flat. I wish I had remembered to say that science of the day also said the earth was supported by some huge animal when the bible clearly said it was suspended in open space. Not sure if it would have mattered though.
I tried to crack him open by talking about the Theory of Evolution and that even Darwin himself said it would be proven by the discovery of "transitional forms" and that Darwin said it was just due to the fact that we haven't uncovered enough "archaeological record" to show those transitional forms. Well...his answer was..."Yes, I know that...but we just have NOT still uncovered enough of the archaeological record." I said..."Well, it's been another 150 or so years since Darwin, there are still no 'innumerable' transitional forms." He pointed to "Lucy" and I talked to him about how she was proven a fake.
I was then able to tell him that he was holding out hope and faith for his eternal destiny in unproven theories and even science fiction! Well his eyes glassed over...he offered a refutation of the Bible because of "unbelievable" things like the global flood, Adam and Eve. I told him, even the Bible says that many things will seem foolish to those that don't yet believe. He had to move on (he was one of the event organizers).
Next toughie was a guy that answered "Oblivion" to the question "Where do you think you will spend eternity?" I asked him how he came to that conclusion...he said "It's a mix of Budhism and Jewish beliefs". Wow...more incredible throw a bunch of junk in a blender, see how it tastes and hang your eternal destiny on mumbo jumbo. That was the toughest conversation I've ever had about eternity. He thought I was condemning him...even said "I'm fine with what I believe, but you are here trying to jam something else down my throat."
I said "Hey, look, I'm only here because the Truth matters, I care about your eternal destiny". I shook his hand and moved on.
I did have some fine conversations with a few other people...I'm AMAZED at how many people proclaim their own goodness and even claim to be going to heaven because they "believe in God". How can any of us ever rest knowing the extent to which these lies continue to live in the hearts of deceived and lost people?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Sprint was closed...so I drove back on over to Cedar Springs (local psych hospital). As I was backing into a parking spot by a big open grassy area next to a picnic table, I notice an older lady and a little boy at the picnic table. As I was backing in...I hear the little boy say "Hi!". I look over and say "Hi...how are you doing?". "Good" he says.
I hop out of the car and go sit down at the table. I say "Hi, I'm Keith." He extends his hand for a handshake and says "Hi, I'm Joe (not his real name)". Then he starts showing me his brand new Broncos jersey and then goes into detail showing me his football helmet that he hand painted from memory, with a GREAT caricature of the Broncos logo on the side!
He and grandma were there waiting for his mom to finish up a visit with Joe's 17 year old big brother who's being treated for schizophrenia. Pray for that 17 year old.
I notice a football in the grass and I ask "Is that your football?" He says "Yeah! Want to catch?" So we walk over and start tossing the ball back and forth. I'm thinking to myself..."So...is it right to throw down the Gospel to an 8 year old kid with his grandma sitting 25ft from us that who knows what she might say? Hmmm...how can I open up this conversation to an 8 year old without freaking him and/or his grandma out?"
We're tossing it back and forth and he goes "Hey throw it ahead of me so I can run for it!". This kid is the most outgoing little bugger I've ever met! He comes running back and says...
"Hey...are you a Christian? I am!"
I kinda muttered..."Um, yeah I sure am."
Doh! This little 8 year old kiddo beat me to the punch! How AWESOME is that!?
Then Joe asks "You want to take a break? Let's go sit down."
We go sit down and well...the conversation is now wide open so I start talking to Grandma. She's only been saved for 3 years, came out of the Catholic Church, Jesus got a hold of her through her daughter and now they all attend church together.
We then started talking about sharing the Gospel. She was a little hesitant...I remembered I had a brand new copy of "One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven" in the car, I grabbed it and we went over the Winning, Winning, Winning concept and she was hooked. I gave her the book and she promised to read it asap.
She asked me to write my contact info in the book...I did, her daughter came out from visiting her son we all chat for a few and they head home...and I sit there amazed at the unfettered, unashamed boldness of this 8 year old boy. Then these things start running around in my head about coming to Jesus as little children...what a lesson I just learned.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Check out this video: COMBAT CHUCK: THE MOVIE TRAILER 2
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Here's the story straight from Steve:
I went on a marathon trip to Ohio to pick up a camper and then on to Michigan to spend some time with my daughter and her new husband. He is in the Coast Guard, and there was a Coast Guard festival in Grand Haven. On the way to Ohio, I spent most of the time driving through Kansas praying. I REALLY felt the leading of the Lord to keep praying, and so I did. One of the things I was praying about was the fact that my daughter (and her new husband) are not saved, and that they would be drawn to the Lord and someone would explain the gospel to her. I have discussed this matter with her in the past, and it seems that dad is not making much headway in the salvation department. I know that salvation is of the Lord, but it seems that my daughter did not want to hear it from me.
So...there's this "random" lady in Michigan that obeys God telling her to get her car painted with a mural, and to buy a bunch of tracts and to share the Gospel using her car - even though she doesn't know how she's going to put it into words to share it. Is that obedience and boldness in the face of fear or what?
Then God brings Steve along to share all the training resources for how to share the Gospel, to encourage her...and oh, by the way, Steve's unsaved daughter gets to see prayer answered before her eyes - AND she gets to hear her FATHER go through the Gospel message again.
On the way home last night I picked up a young man hitchhiking as I headed up the on ramp to I-25. I had a book in the back seat...and he noticed "The Stranger on the Way to Emmaus" sitting there as he put his bedroll and backpack on the seat.
We headed on down the highway...
I was looking for a way to work the Gospel into the conversation when he asked about the book in the back seat! He grew up in a "very strict Christian home", but he walked away in rebellion for a few years. Then he met a Christian girl in California - and he said that the Holy Spirit really laid into him. His name is Wade and it turns out...he is on fire. He has taken literally Jesus' words to "put down your nets and follow me". He is hitchhiking his way to New Orleans to serve in an outreach ministry reaching to lost people, demolishing and rebuilding their homes in the wake of Katrina. Yeah...believe it or not, there are STILL people down there without homes!
He was kinda quiet, and soaked up everything I shared with him about one to one witnessing. Luckily I had a Cahill CD in the car (the "Awake" message)...not a book though (darn), dropped him off as I turned off I-25 to head to Penrose. I told him to "Take it to ALL THE WORLD young man!" He beamed at me shaking my hand and said "Yes, I certainly will!"
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Are You Really A Christian (Todd Friel)?
Well? Did it make you angry? Check your Bible...it's all there, don't be happy with the touchy, happy go lucky "Christianity" that says it never will convict and it will make your life better.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
We showed up at Summit a little early. I was standing in the foyer and realized all of a sudden that he was standing right next to me. I introduced myself and Daniel. We chit chatted a little bit.
He paused...looked at Daniel and said "Daniel, how old are you?"
Daniel says "I'm 13...almost 14."
Mark asks "Are you home schooled, public, private schooled?"
Daniel says "Public school."
Mark - "What grade are you going into?"
Daniel - "9th grade, I'm going to be a Freshman."
Mark - "Daniel, do you know that through my entire four years of High School - not one other person in that school that called themselves a Christian ever shared the Gospel with me? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
Daniel looks kinda sheepishly and says "Oh...that is a bad thing."
And that's the kind of guy Mark Cahill is, he's also very kind, actually pretty soft spoken and a bit of a jokester (more later) - but he carries and executes the responsibility of our great commission very seriously. Did I mention he's kinda tall too (6 foot 6).
He gave his "Being A Light In A Very Dark World" message, most of which I've heard, but he did add some new real life witnessing stories and encounters. It's one thing to hear him speak, but another to see him speak in real life. This is one brother with an all consuming passion for The Gospel, for sharing that Gospel with as many people as possible...and also to train, equip and quite often to convict "Christians" in truth and love that they should be doing so too.
You can listen to the audio message "Being A Light In A Dark World" by clicking here.
We returned to Summit for his evening session, he conducts an open forum where the Summit students can ask questions, get some clarification on his message and get to know him a little more. The session was great, Mark shoots from the hip really well - because he knows his Bible pretty well, and of course his conviction carries well through that kind of forum.
The ugly "friendship evangelism" thing reared it's ugly head as one kid pushed into the realm of "Well...I don't want to sound antagonistic, but I mean...where do we draw the line? I mean the world is different and we don't want to go around offending people..."
I cherished Mark's response...he said it with a lot of care and it was right from his heart for the truth; "People, when are we who call ourselves Christians going to stop worrying about offending people...and start worrying about offending God by disobeying the command to witness that he has given us." He continued, as he pointed out how we should expect persecution, how we deliver the message with great love and compassion. And that holding our tongues is much more tantamount to an offense to God AND the lost because they're going to Hell and we're not warning them about it, that we have this supposedly amazing, abiding love in our hearts...and we keep it to ourselves?
So...after the session we hung out and talked to Mark for a bit. He asked Daniel what he like to do. Daniel tells him biking, Mountain Biking, dirt jumping. See the picture above...Mark says "Well, you must have had one crazy wreck to have that chain end up around your neck."
We talked some more...we prayed for Mark and headed into Manitou Springs to find someone to witness to. Daniel has been watching and practicing a little. But I assure him, that I didn't want him to do it unless it was from his heart - it has to be from the love of Christ within HIM desiring to share it with someone else. Never, ever because he might think I expect it from him.
We walked around for a bit, Daniel wasn't quite ready - but we found three kids (in their 20's). One girl had green hair, piercings and tattoos; the other girl had red hair, piercings and tattoos; and the boy was pretty plain by comparison. We started chatting, I asked them the million dollar question. I got to present them the Gospel. They were so quiet, just nodding their heads in agreement, such nice, humble kids!
As Daniel and I walked to the car...Daniel said "That was really weird...they didn't hardly say ANYTHING, it was almost like they were hypnotized." I said "Well, they could have been stoned...or they may have just been convicted, humbled and very receptive to the message".
By the way! We stopped at Pizza Hut for dinner before Cahill's evening session.
Our waitress...bless her heart...as I walked through the Gospel. She stopped me and asked me to please write down the Ten Commandments...because she really wanted to be sure she knew what they were. She hung on every word of the Cross and grace!
God is amazing...I am nothing, I could not do any of this if it weren't for the love and the words he has put in my mouth.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
My wife Dany went with me since we were already in town together and had just left the Colorado Springs Pridefest 2007.
The restaurant was not very busy (3pm), while we were waiting for him to finish some work Dany had a great opportunity to share the Gospel with our waitress. I know I keep saying this, but it is truly amazing (tears in my eyes as I type this), how receptive and open people are when you bring them the Gospel with love, compassion, logic, science and patience - and when you carefully walk them through sin and judgment. It just makes SENSE!
She even asked for more million tracts...and walked back to the back of the restaurant where other servers were taking a break and gave them each a million dollar tract. Imagine that...a lost person handing out tracts? God is amazing.
So our friend finished up his shift work...we sat down and talked to him for nearly an hour and a half...right there in the restaurant as he was on break between shifts. He poured out his life story to us, pretty much complete and total strangers. He's pretty convinced that he is saved, I'm not to judge that, it's only between him and God - but we did point him to some key scriptures about salvation, "the test"...working out our salvation with fear and trembling, repentance and faith, etc.
He has some deep anger issues and some dark thoughts on revenge and hatred, so we talked about the fruits of salvation and called him dead nuts square on those. He was SO appreciative that someone would take the time to just sit and talk through this stuff with him. To not judge him and all the "bones in his closet".
If you've read through to this point...I want to be so careful in relating these stories. I don't do it to build myself up, and I do have to check my motivation regularly, I DO wrestle with pride. I honestly want to assure you that my primary motivation here is to encourage people to focus on OTHERS, to witness at every opportunity, to serve God in outward, bold ways to the lost.
Would these stories be possible if I/we never spoke up with our mouths for the Gospel? God gives you the strength, the compassion and the words to do it. I guarantee there is no way I could even begin to do this on my own.
Call #5...he called me yesterday just to update me on things...and to thank me again. He's been pounding through scripture over the last week, he wants a solid understanding of salvation and how he is supposed to "look" and "be" as a Follower of Jesus Christ. I kept telling him and pointing him to God, because if it was just ME, I wouldn't have had enough care, love and concern to even have spoken to him in the first place.
He asked me if I would mind if he called me from time to time to keep working through this stuff and to keep me posted. I told him if he didn't, I'd be down there at the restaurant tracking him down to see what more we could do for him...
25 "Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.
26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.
28 Be shepherds of the church of God,Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. which he bought with his own blood.
29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Now listen to some "harsh words" from the OT about the subject...
Ezekiel 3:17-21 (New International Version)
17 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
20 "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself."Could it be stated much more crystal clear than that? If you refuse to obey, if you don't have enough LOVE to let people know about it...then maybe you should think about some of these consequences of not sharing it boldly, fiercely and with great compassion.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Satan throws a party at Acacia Park, Colorado Springs - Gay and Lesbian Pridefest 2007.
A pretty scary notion...a Christian man and woman, heading into a Gay Pride Festival for the sole purpose of having eternal conversations with a few people. As we parked, we had butterflies in our stomachs. I had to keep remembering why we were going down there....not to protest, not to condemn, not to "get in their space"...but to show with our presence and let them know with our mouths the truth of the Gospel.
By the way...before about 8 months ago...I was dead set against tracts. I thought they were cheap, stupid and a really cheesy way to represent the gospel to someone. Of course...I wasn't even out there witnessing at all...
If you currently have a distaste for tracts like I used to please check out this video clip - it might change your mind:
George Street - Mr GenorWe walked in and started handing out "A Gift For You" tracts...it looks like one of those envelopes you got from your grandma when you are a kid...the ones you always looked forward to getting with a few bucks tucked inside. These tracts are disarming, because the recipient opens it up and right there is a real cold hard cash staring at them. They pull the money out and printed right behind the bill...it starts out with "Why give out money? First to apologize for all the times that people have asked for money in the name of Christianity...".
How a dedicated little old man, set out to share the Gospel with 10 people a day from the day he was saved. He shared it with an estimated 140,000 plus people throughout his life...and all the amazing conversions that he never heard about until the last days of his life.
Well, we gave out 24 of those buggers with $5.00 in each one. Super simple...walk up to people as they're milling around and say "Did you get one of these?". They say "Thanks" and you walk on.
I had handed out my last "Gift For You" envelope and I was walking in the middle of the park when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and a guy says "Did you give this to me?" I said "Yes"...trying to read his face to see if he was angry or inquisitive. I fully expected to get flailed and flogged right then and there...well, he looked more puzzled then anything so I said "Do you want to talk about it a little bit?" He said "Yes, please, let's move away from the music."
So we walked off to the edge of the park and he was SO interested, he soaked it all up - we JUST got to best part...(grace and salvation), when his friends came over and dragged him off to go play a soccer game. Pray for AJ.
There were performances going on at the bandstand as I was mulling around handing out Millions...and then they put on the Rocky Horror Picture Show's "Time Warp". Wow...I saw that movie at least 25 times in college before I was saved (23 years ago). I had some weird recollections pop up as that music blared in the background. The horned dirt bag was trying to derail me!
The performance was done, my wife had caught up with me...and we were walking down a sidewalk toward a far corner of the park, when all of a sudden there we were standing right behind all the performers that had just done the "Time Warp". I kind of froze...as this little warfare started going on inside me.
I knew I had to speak, but it was the whole group right in front of me. I almost started shaking, then I turned and we walked off toward that far corner again. As God would have it...and he's done this SO MANY TIMES that I should know better by now...I turned the corner to walk back along the far edge of the park...and there they were again (literally 2 minutes later). Only this time they were a little more dispersed, on the edge of the park in a quiet grassy area.
I'm pretty thick, I'm pretty "dumb" sometimes - but I know when God tells me once to do something...and then miraculously says it again and presents me a second opportunity to accept a divine appointment that He has arranged, at that point, swallow hard and as Nike says "Just Do It".
My wife peels off to the right and drops down to talk to a girl who was sitting on the grass.
So...I walked up to this tall thin kid who was barely wearing a thing. As he pulled some more modest shorts over his tiny little "show stoppers". We started off just chatting about the festival. The conversation had just started toward some eternal stuff when another one of the performers comes running over to our conversation and says to him "Agh, there's this freaky 'Christian' lady talking to so and so."
I turned and winked at her and said "Hey...don't tell anyone else, but I'm one of those too." She laughed and actually hung with our conversation for a few minutes before wandering off. Well...as it turns out the young man I was talking to had one of the most unique "beliefs" of the afterlife that I've ever heard of or encountered.
This kid was SMART...but certainly deceived. His thing was "Quantum Physics". That was his answer to "What do you think happens when we breath our last breath?" I asked him to explain...he goes on to describe how Quantum Physics tells us that when we die we'll immediately be transferred into a parallel existence/universe and continue living another parallel life somewhere. I say "Wow...that's a new one to me."
I asked him to explain...he totally lost me, started throwing out sentences full of 20 letter gee whiz terms. I hung with him and listened. At one point he excitedly told me "You know science has proven that even on the molecular level, when molecules are observed they behave differently?" I asked him "OK...so how do scientists know how molecules behave when they're NOT being observed?" Logic. Wow, it really threw him a curve ball.
At that point I said.."Well, those are some very interesting theories - would you mind if I shared with you what I believe to be the truth?" He said "Oh sure". Bada-boom - he opened the door and allowed me to share the whole Gospel. It all boils down to truth...thanks Mark Cahill for that logic argument. And I left him with that to think about. "It doesn't matter what you believe, or what I believe, what matters is the truth - please take a cold, hard look and you will find that truth; the Bible is irrefutable on scientific, historical, archaeological and prophetic truth."
He offered his hand to me to shake it and told me "Thanks a lot man."
I then turned to find my wife...and she was talking to some kids on the sidewalk. She teaches at an alternative high school and there were a few kids from the school there. They had come down to the festival to check it out because they had nothing better to do because they're currently living in a teen homeless shelter in downtown Colorado Springs (Urban Peak).
I started up a conversation with a young boy (16 I think). I have tears in my eyes as I type this. His dad is in prison, his mom is in a halfway house. Both of his parents are druggies and he has to live at the shelter because...as he said "My mom can't get it together, so I'm kinda on my own." He's never been to church, never heard the message of salvation, the Gospel...NOTHING.
I have never seen a more humble and receptive heart. He hung on EVERY word. His eyes got red and welled up with tears as I spoke to him about what Jesus did to atone for everything he's ever done and will ever do wrong. I was rocked, I lost my place because I got so wrapped up in his emotional response. I have to tell you...it felt like I could see the Holy Spirit breathing into this young man's soul. In retrospect, I want to think he was ready, right there on the spot for salvation and maybe I should have asked him that. I do trust though that if the Holy Spirit has a hold of him...then the Holy Spirit will certainly "close the deal".
For SURE...the more you do get out there...the less you focus on your own petty problems, the more you start praying for those divine appointments. And once you do have those conversations, your own problems shrink that much smaller as you start praying and interceding on behalf of those people you have invested a few minutes of your life with.
If you truly have the love of Christ in your heart, share it.
If you truly believe that the treasure of heaven exists, share it, invite them.
If you truly believe in the eternal pain and suffering of hell, warn them.
If you love God, if you love Jesus and want to obey their commands, Just Do It.
For personal witnessing is not a gift, it is not an individual calling - it is something that you do because it is who you are in Christ.
Tagging on yet some more "fallout" from the festival...
The day AFTER the festival, I'm in the break room at work. I was getting coffee and chit chatting with a guy (Josh) that I've witnessed to before. There were two people sitting at one of the tables. Josh turns to them and says "So...did you guys do that performance yesterday? I missed it, we left early."
I turned and said "What performance?"
One of them says "The Rocky Horror Picture Show 'Time Warp'" downtown yesterday. I said "What? I was there, YOU guys were in the performance? Cool?"
The boy says "Yeah...I saw you there."
I then said "What? Why didn't you say something?"
He says "I was tired...and I was in drag, you wouldn't have recognized me."
Turns out that HE was the "girl" my wife peeled off to talk to (in drag)...and the girl that came up and said something about "a weird Christian lady" as the same girl there in the break room.
More divine appointments...praying I can turn the collateral of just being down there and talking to folks at the festival into an open door that God would allow me to drive the Mack Truck of the Gospel through. Maybe invite them to lunch on my dime or something...