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...
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
...waiting for him to call me again...
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Something wakes me up...I hear my cell phone ringer blaring out from the office. I manage to stagger out of bed and race to the office only to get to my phone just as it rolls over to voice mail. I check the caller ID and it's not a number I recognize.
I try to call the number back...and it just rings off the hook. I hang up and then my voice mail notifier dings. Well, at least whoever called left a voice message. I call my voice mail...
Rewind about two weeks ago. I'm at lunch with my mother and a friend of hers. I'm talking to her friend, a 60'ish man born and raised in the Catholic church. I'm sharing some Gospel truths with him and I had just shown him a Million Dollar Bill tract. A waiter passed by and saw the Million. He says "Hey that's cool, I think I've seen those before..."
I hand him one and say, "Here, you can have one too."
He says "Oh wow, cool, thanks man."
Then I said "Well, has anyone asked you the million dollar question."
He pauses "No."
I ask "If you died today, do you know where you would spend eternity?"
I've never seen someone react like that to the question...he kind of stepped back, made this hand motion like digging down into his belly and pulling something up as he said "Well, you know I think that deep down I have some good things in my soul - so I think I'd go to heaven."
I said "Well, there are some really, really hard truths that we'll face on that day - and it's not at all about how good we think we are."
He looked at me with a very profound...kind of "Wow...I think I know that" look on his face...he was speachless.
I then said "I know you are at work, and probably can't talk about it in depth right now, but what time do you get off work - or is there some other way I can get a hold if you if you'd like to keep talking about this."
He immediately says "Oh yeah...can I give you my name and phone number?"
I scrambled for a piece of paper...he writes down his name and two phone numbers as he explains that his cell phone is out of minutes right now, but that I should be able to get a hold of him a the hotel he's staying in. He writes down the number and the room number and emphasizes to me very, very carefully that I have to hit the right room number to get a hold of him.
I said..."I will talk to you soon." And he went on his way.
I tried calling him a few days later, his cell phone, sure enough was out of service. I called the hotel and dialed his room. The guy that answered said "Oh yeah, I know that guy, but he moved out into his own place".
On Monday the 9th - I stopped back by the restaurant and asked for him. The girl said he wasn't scheduled to work that day. I wrote my name and cell number on the back of a Million tract and asked her to please be sure he got the message (and have her a Million too).
I left it at that...not knowing if I'd ever hear from him unless I went back while he was working.
[Unfreeze Frame...back to that phone call]
I call my voice mail and I hear this emotional plea: "Hey Keith, this is ----- ...I can not believe what's going on, I'm spinning, I don't know what's going on. I think I opened the door like ten years ago. I really need your help. Please help me. Thanks".
I was floored, I froze...my wife was freaking out at the look on my face - she thought that someone had died.
I tried calling the hotel back, a lady picked up at the front desk. I asked for the room number he gave me before - but she said no one was in that room anymore. I asked for him by first name...she couldn't transfer me unless I knew his last name.
I dropped to my knees and cried out that God would protect him until he heard the truth. That whatever he was going through that the Holy Spirit would grab hold of him and lead him.
I'm going over to that restaurant in about 20 minutes to see if I can help him out...whatever it is...and to pour out whatever the Holy Spirit wants me to into this guys heart. Pray for me.
Monday, July 09, 2007
There IS a gift of evangelism. That is most definitely NOT what I'm speaking of. This is NOT what I've been gifted with by any means.
Everyone has an individual calling. This is most definitely NOT what I'm speaking of either.
Spreading the Gospel, sharing it individually as commanded and as done by example of Jesus and the Apostles...
There are TWO things here that you can't deny or rationalize out of...
1 - The command to go and preach the Gospel to all creatures...and the example of doing it.
2 - To do what Jesus did as evidence of our salvation.
If you can refute this based on scripture then have at it, I'll listen to you, I'll engage you in discussion with it. But don't excuse what is soundly based on scripture with things that we've ALL been taught by a touchy feely, "seeker friendly" church that has told us it's not our job to speak the truth boldly from our mouths. That teaches us that we must be friendly and accommodating, and never bold and direct in speaking about sin, the Ten Commandments, judgment, hell...and THEN about the cross, grace, repentance, faith and weighing the cost of following Jesus Christ - all with GREAT love, passion and compassion!
Do you know that it was so huge a concern for Paul (the salvation of others) that he would have given up is own salvation to have but saved a few others??? And this wasn't because he was a Pastor, or an evangelist, not even because he was an Apostle. It was because he was a Christian - because he had an eternal hope that rested within his heart and he desired that none shall perish.
Romans 9:1-4 1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—It took ME quite some time to come to grips with this foundational truth. It is convicting, it makes you look into the mirror and see where your heart truly is, where your treasures are being stored up. It took me 22 years as a lukewarm Christian "pew warmer"...and then once this started to convict me - it took a year of hard core wrestling before I let the truth convict me to action. Again, I plead with you. Don't listen to ME. Examine the Gospels. Let the actions and words of Jesus and the Apostles speak the truth into your hearts and lives.
2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel.
Have you heard the phrase..."Learn by the mistakes of others?" Well, I'm reaching out here with an appeal. Listen. Read and study what I've referred to here. Take it through the filter of scripture and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
It scares the crap out of me still...and it should for the rest of my life to step out in obedience and share with a complete stranger. But...I'm becoming more comfortable with it. Not because I'm gifted in any special way, but because I've sought to LEARN about it, how Jesus witnessed. I've sought to practice it by putting it into PRACTICE.
Anything you do in life...as a human being. Earning money at your job...did you not get training? Do you not practice your trade every day? How much more eternally valuable is this wonderful thing we GET to do this side of heaven? We get to give people tickets to heaven! It's up to them and the Holy Spirit if they want to cash it in...but if we don't at least offer it to them they'll never have the ticket to consider in the first place!
Most Pastors will tell you and certainly the majority (statistically speaking) Americans believe they are Christians because they attend church and at one time "accepted Jesus" into their hearts. This is not biblical. Salvation is not a one time "vaccination" of sorts. For we are to examine ourselves DAILY to see if we are in the faith, to daily work out our salvation with fear and trembling to see if we "pass the test" so to speak.
Sometimes...things are hard to listen to because they're simply not sound, not founded in truth and our discernment will raise the red flag, that should guide us to scripture to expose the falsehood.
Sometimes...things are hard to listen to because they are convicting, exposing us to things in our own hearts that need attention.
I was asked by someone..."But here is an interesting question: Will people remember what you did for the cause of Christ 500 years after you die???"
Here on earth? No.
In heaven? Sure they will! Do you not think that people will thank you in heaven for giving them a ticket to heaven? That it will indeed be part of the eternal celebration? Don't you want to share the beauty and eternity of heaven with as many people as possible?
Even in hell...people will remember, and I'm pretty sure will at least be thankful that you at one time gave them a fighting chance, that you at least offered them a ticket even if their pride got in their way of cashing it in. Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus...even sitting there burning up in hell, the rich man believed and pleaded with Abraham to please send someone to his house to at least offer his family tickets to heaven before they perished!
Luke 19:27-28 He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.”EVERY person that you talk to, EVERY person that you know, EVERY stranger that you cross paths with desperately needs to hear the truth of the Gospel. There's no gift of personal witness, it's not a calling. It's a matter of obedience or disobedience. Even if it were NOT a matter of obedience or disobedience...it would still be a matter of love and concern.
For how much do you really love and care for and are concerned for the eternal destiny of the lost in the world? Would you hold your mouth shut in abject lack of love and a lack of concern for them as they walk their way to the edge of the cliff of eternal separation from God, eternal punishment?