Wednesday, October 31, 2007
On what other day do you have people coming to your door to whom you can give the Gospel? Every year we've been giving candy and "Hey Kids" tracts to the children. This year, however, we've begun giving tracts to the parents..."even if you aren't wearing a costume". The adults are getting the "Gift for You" tract with a one dollar bill in it. The parents are thrilled -- most likely because it has been years since they got anything for trick or treating. They feel young again...and get the most important information they could possibly ask for, even if they don't ask for it.
If what I'm hearing is correct, Halloween is becoming increasingly popular as the world gets darker...even to the point of competing with Christmas among the unsaved. If you are "spooked" about Halloween, I'd encourage you to turn it around on the adversary and use it to plant seeds! It's lots of fun and you know you are spreading the gospel!
"In this classic broadcast, Mike interviews Christian author Warren Smith concerning his book Deceived on Purpose warning about the serious implications of Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life. examining questionable interconnections of Warren and other Christian and New Age leaders."
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Thanks to Team Pyro for another wonderful post from the works of Charles Spurgeon.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
"Out of Ur has this post provocatively titled "Willow Creek Repents," and I've been getting e-mails from people who wonder what I think about it. The tone of a few of those e-mails has been like, "See there? Now you need to get on the Willow Creek fad-wagon."
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
"Jonathan Leeman at Church Matters points out that a congregation needs to fully understand the doctrines of salvation if they are ever going to understand what church discipline is all about. And it does seem that so many Christians - even in good churches - find it difficult to accept that a church might deal with unrepentant sin in such manner. I know it comes up at our church and one of the most requested documents lately has been our position paper on the topic."
If you really think you can handle the full strength adult dose, please go here...
Friday, October 19, 2007
Here we see Pastor Primate stressing how we've "progressed" to the point of askng "What on Earth are we here for?" during his church's "40 Days of Purpose". His talk was followed by a Q&A session where he fielded questions on topics such as "The Effect of Spiritual Entropy on the Contemporary Church". Oddly enough, most of his "followers" didn't seem to notice the downward trend...forgetting that the "Old Ones", being truly regenerate and understanding the Great Commission, clearly understood their purpose without having to be told...
After the class, he was unavailable for comment.
Wow!, you say. Yup. me too. It looked so good for quite a while and in a way it was. At least we got some people interested and involved in Biblical Evangelism. But the party appears to be over.
After giving us some marginal support, an "attaboy" and the customary "pat on the boom-boom", the pastor of our church has decided (no doubt via some of the founding members) that "if we are going to do evangelism, it's got to come from the SBC". Well after all, you know, we can't just go around mentioning that nasty word "repentance", now can we? Gotta fit in that "easy believism, get the numbers and prove it with tons of baptisms" methodology, don't 'cha know!
If you want to see the LifeWay "glitz machine" in action, go here. If you want to see the numbers game played out, go here.
Here's an evaluation I received via email. I couldn't agree more:
"It's not only about the numbers but what about the money?? Look below...(source)
WHAT DOES OUR CHURCH RECEIVE AT A FAITH TRAINING CLINIC?
You will experience the complete “semester of training” during a clinic and receive ALL of the teaching resources necessary to fully implement the first level FAITH in your church (to train your FAITH learners).. Clinic cost for the pastor ($325) provides all teaching resources, a sample of all training materials for your church, administrative resources, all clinic meals, snacks, and complete FAITH instruction. The fee for all others ($125) provides all the training, necessary FAITH learner resources, meals and snacks for the entire clinic. Housing can be provided by the host church at no additional cost, when requested in advance by the registrant.
Resources for those who participate in FAITH at your church (after the clinic), led by the pastor and team leaders, average around $25.00 per person.
HOW DO WE BEGIN FAITH IN OUR CHURCH?
Focus on prayer for God to work and to mobilize believers against Satan’s attack. Identify prospects for evangelism and ministry opportunities. After the pastor attends a FAITH training clinic with Sunday School leaders from your church, schedule a semester where each trained person mentors two new learners each. Endeavor to bring at least five people to a FAITH Training Clinic, each person representing one each of the age divisions of your Sunday School. Since only those persons who have been officially trained in FAITH can train someone else -- the more people you bring to a Clinic, the larger start you can have in the FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy
A FAITH team consists of three people, always a man and woman on each team.
So, for each Sunday school class, you cannot have a class unless you have three trained people leading it. Where in the world do you think Faith Baptist will find that many people interested in doing that? Plus, if you have to have three people per class, look how many people you would have to register to take the clinic training. Even more money needed.
So, if you bring five people, plus the pastor, your church can pay them $950! to learn how to witness to people not using the words repentance or most likely using God's Law. At $25 per person for the resources (most likely just a workbook) it is a complete rip-off! But of course, they tell you to bring in even more people so you can make a greater impact in your church."
Me (Tim) again...
So, once again, human wisdom - 1, the sufficiency of scripture - 0. The old "If you want results you have to fork over the cash" mentality. Mind you, this is after we ran a highly successful "Way of the Master" class. But, again, it WOTM dares mention the "r" word. You don't get tons of baptisms (which serves as "proof of conversion" in modern evanjellyspeak) when you mention "repentance". You make the gate too narrow. The parable of the sower? Nah, Jesus had it all wrong. You give a message, then force the plant up and prop it up so you can show you "did something".
It's not enough to just teach people to use the ten commandments (included *Free* with each Bible!), you gotta fork over hundreds of dollars to pay a staff of three to teach you what you can read and apply from the Gospels (also included *Free* with each Bible).
results = more "giving units" (oops, people) => more $.
Biblical evangelism, such as "Way of the Master" is about sowing seeds. It's not about visible results. The real gospel isn't about body counts. It also isn't about "my church", but rather about what Jesus did, and Jesus alone. Hopefully there will be a few people left there that can smell a gimmick before they get suckered.
This really doesn't surprise me. As Brian has been working hard to get cooperation from the local churches, they have basically never failed to "bail" when they learn it's about Jesus and not some particular church. So sad, really. "We're not interested in any revival we don't benefit from".
Nice motives, huh?
My prayer for our old church is that hopefully there will be a few people left there that can smell a gimmick. And this is a gimmick.
Do I rejoice over this? Of course not. It grieves me to see this. It's a tremendous waste of time and God's money. Is what I have to say out of bitterness? No, I really don't think so. This isn't a "gee, they wouldn't play the game my way so I'm packing my toys and going home". Not at all. Other issues were in play as well, which I won't go into detail here -- such as weak theology and a strong tolerance of marginal "Christianity". And using the word "marginal" is being very generous.
By contrast, I am thankful...very thankful to be a part of what may well become a new "work" in our town. We have a small group of believers who are totally dedicated to reaching the lost as Jesus did...and it appears that the Lord is giving an increase. There are lots of people out there that have given up on "church" because of contemporary evangelicalism. They can see what's going on and don't want to be a part of it.
Here's to obedience.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
" Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20)
...whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God.... (1 Peter 4:11a)
(The speaker is a "slam poet" named Taylor Mali; you'd swear he was talking about Christians in general and pastors in specific, though I've not seen that he makes any claim to be a Christian.)
Here's the irony: a man who apparently is a worldling, who accordingly has no transcendent and eternal basis for his own worldview, sees this ridiculous trait of our age. And he calls other worldlings, who accordingly have no transcendent and eternal basis for their worldview, to speak boldly and with conviction.
But self-identified cutting-edge Christian leaders are by contrast modeling the very stance through which Mali has seen, so devastatingly.
In an age in which Christians should be called to know what and why we believe, and to say it with conviction, instead the very foundational truths on which Christian truth-claims rest are being held at arm's length. And this stance is held up as virtuous, rather than pilloried as cowardly and disastrous.
h-t the Bayly boys, from one of their commenters"
(Thanks, Dan Phillips!)
"For His name's sake they went forth." 3 John 7
"Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself. "Lovest thou Me?" "Feed My sheep" - identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives the character of this love, it is the love of God expressing itself. The test of my love for Jesus is the practical one, all the rest is sentimental jargon.
Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of Redemption wrought in me by the Holy Ghost Who sheds abroad the love of God in my heart, and that love works efficaciously through me in contact with everyone I meet. I remain loyal to His Name although every common-sense fact gives the lie to Him, and declares that He has no more power than a morning mist.
The key to missionary devotion means being attached to nothing and no one saving Our Lord Himself, not being detached from things externally. Our Lord was amazingly in and out among ordinary things; His detachment was on the inside towards God. External detachment is often an indication of a secret vital attachment to the things we keep away from externally.
The loyalty of a missionary is to keep his soul concentratedly open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. The men and women Our Lord sends out on His enterprises are the ordinary human stuff, plus dominating devotion to Himself wrought by the Holy Ghost."
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
It doesn't take much to notice, I think, the amount of talk that is going on about the times we live in. I have also noticed people talking more frequently of the Lord's return. And while I certainly believe that, I can't help but wonder how much reflection goes on in the lives of the very people who do so much of the talking. And this, I think, is a poignant time to do such reflection.
If there is any label that could be put on my life at this point, it would be reflection and the need for it. And the Lord has led me through a time with my work and other things that has shown me the utter faith it takes, at times, to do what is right before God regardless of what man or human tradition says. Happily, I can report that with very few exceptions I believe I've made the right choices, especially of late.
You see, it's an issue of the heart.
In more direct connection with my earlier statement about the Lord's return, I've been thinking of something said by John MacArthur some years ago. I regret that I cannot link to it, I don't remember where I heard it but he said, and let me paraphrase, that when the rapture comes, most ministries will go on as before. His was a commentary on the infiltration of tares in professing Christianity.
I think what I'm getting at is a follow-up on that statement. Let me say that I not only agree with John's statement, I would expand on it. Specifically, I would go so far as to say that, especially in the U.S., the rapture may well go unnoticed except as a foreign news event.
Yes, you read me rightly. I sincerely think that if the rapture were to happen today, the professing body of Christ would be largely, and tragically, unaffected by the rapture. Yes, I mean a very low percentage of American "Christians" are true converts. I believe that there will be a lot of false converts who will hear a news story of large numbers of persons overseas disappearing. And of course, there will be reports of the same here in the states.
You see, there were two sons. Jesus talked about them. The one son was outwardly serving his father. He kept the rules, but his heart wasn't in it. Then there was the son we have all heard of, who took off and blew his father's money. But he came back. He repented and was restored to fellowship with his father. Many mistakenly take that to mean a returning "backslider" but actually, Jesus was comparing those who came to Him in repentance to the Pharisees (and others) who would not because of self-righteousness.
And we see a lot of this in the contemporary church.
In America, we have a damning luxury. We have the luxury of observing tradition as if it were God's Will itself. See, in China, the Sudan and other countries where persecution is rampant, they don't have the luxuries we have, including the luxury of inventing your own brand of "Christianity". But we do have that here. In China and Korea (which I believe is the worst country regarding persecution of Christians), you may very well die for your confession of faith. Got caught with a page from a Bible in China? You go to jail, unless of course you are a member of the registered (phony) church, which controls what you get to hear even when you attend. The Devil's Church would be a good title for the registered church.
But here in the states, at least to this point, we have "Burger King Christianity" where you can "have it your way". No demands, no death to self, no inconveniences made on the "convert". Just observe the list of traditions.
But back to the two sons. As I said, one at least was honest enough to show his disobedience. The other did, in a superficial way, what was more or less "expected". His obedience was perfunctory. And what passes for Christianity in America is permeated with this hypocritical cancer. And that is what is is; a cancer.
See, the younger son actually repented and obeyed his father from his heart. The other son didn't think the heart mattered, as long as he followed the technicalities and did his "performance".
Over the past years, the Lord has been pressing this into my heart. And He has been changing me to, regardless of what people think, do what He wants me to do. Specifically, this has to do with evangelism. If you have been following this blog, you know that personal evangelism has become a focal point in my life. And so it should be. I'm thankful that the Lord would even consider taking someone like me and use me for His purposes. It's not about me. It's about what the Lord has done.
But the downside is that, as I continue to press on, I see the other side. It's like the blinders come off. You begin to see things more as the Lord sees them. You get frustrated. You just don't understand why others don't get it. And so it has been with evangelism.
Evangelism is one of those subjects that gets a gentle nod from professing Christians in this country. But that is about it. The number one reason I hear as an excuse to not do evangelism is "It's not my gift!". Ok, then you are saying that if you are not gifted in an area, you don't have to do it, right? Ok. Let's see if you like this statement: I know that I don't have the gift of showing mercy. So, according to the previous logic, I don't have to show mercy. If I don't have the gift of giving, I guess I don't have to give anything to the local church or anyone else, do I? Kind of silly, isn't it? Yet, that is the silly excuse people use to be disobedient to God. This might be a good time to read the parable of the talents...are you making excuses to avoid using what God has given you? Yes, this is another hard "warning parable" from Jesus.
We have a lot of traditions in our American Church. You "Go to Church and Sunday School". If you are A Sunday School teacher that is something special (and in a way, it is). And of course, these are good things. The problem is that they, especially as observed in the U.S., are more traditional than Biblical. These are things we do "because we are supposed to"....even if we know the church or Sunday school class is non-Biblical in its teachings or practices. But in an age where the average Christian has taken the out-of-context Matthew 18 definition of "The Church" as "wherever two or more are gathered", that is no surprise.
And for those of you who haven't heard this, Matthew 18 is not a definition of a church meeting. It is our Lord explaining how God is present as a witness in a church discipline situation. The "two or three witnesses" goes back to the Old Testament, where God set down ground rules for establishing guilt. And where you have those witnesses to verify sin in the Church, God ratifies the discipline. But our Lord wasn't in any way defining a church meeting. So much for understanding the passage.
But then obedience has fallen on hard times. After all, if we start stressing obedience in the local church, we may have to start up doing church discipline...and that would violate many of our traditions, such as unity at all costs. Such as "so and so plows my field for me, so I have to let him be a deacon even if he is no example to others". I've seen this and so have you.
We'd also have to decide that, if the local church will not follow the Scriptures in obedience, we may have to leave for another church. But then we can't do that if we are dedicated to our position in the church we are a part of. So personal obedience to a Holy God takes back seat to my position in the church, which gives me prestige among men. Human opinion, 1; God 0.
See, traditional Christianity in America is in many ways like the Pharisees in the times of Jesus. The only difference in our day is that we don't stress washings and uncleanness (well, we have some of that too, which deals with questionable things). What we do is hold our traditions and positions in a place above God's clear Word. And as long as we perform what is traditionally accepted, we can disobey God and play the religion game. And it is a religion game. That is why, for example, Paul taught that you don't want to seek to be a teacher because, as a teacher, you fall under greater judgment. It's not just because you are responsible for possible error, it is also because the position demands a life that is more obedient in all areas of life.
And, yes, I include myself in this list. This is a "talk" I give myself often, often subconsciously.
You say "Hey, I don't have to fear God because I prayed to accept Christ years ago". Great! But I have a few questions for you. First, where do you find "saying a prayer to be saved" in the Scriptures? I would dare say that many, as I did, had this buried somewhere...and that is "Well, I prayed the prayer so I'm in..." Right?
Well, the only problem with that is it amounts to "I'm saved because I did something", which amounts to salvation by works. Yes. Salvation by works. You see, salvation is by grace through faith. and God is the source of that. And repentance is involved, which comes as a gift from God. So, this "I'm saved because I" thing is a ticket to the broad road to hell. "Because I..." is a Judas statement which will keep you out of the kingdom. It's not "Because you" anything. It's "because God..." did it all, from beginning to end. It's all of God or none of God. And we preach the Gospel, not to "get decisions" but because it glorifies Him to proclaim what He has done. Period. It's not to keep people out of Hell, although God may use the proclaimed message to transform people from death to life. But we don't do it to get people to "make a decision", "walk an isle", "sign a card". Those are all human inventions which find at least some of their roots in the "Christian" heretic, Charles Finney. You know, the one Moody Radio lionizes in "Stories of Great Christians".
The second question is "where is anyone exhorted to "accept Jesus". We are told to repent and believe. We are told we must be willing to die to self. We are told we must come as a child, in total trust in Him. But we are never told to "accept Jesus" for anything. More traditions of men which will damn rather than save. Jesus is depicted as "waiting for you to open the door of your heart" as if He is effeminate and helpless. The "meek and mild Jesus" who couldn't have cleansed the Temple because He is not sovereign. This is not the Jesus who out and out seized Saul and turned him into Paul on the road to Damascus. What did Paul do there? Nothing. There was nothing He could do. But that doesn't fit with our traditional view of "becoming a Christian" which has more to do with adding Jesus as part of your life than an act of transformation from death to life where you literally become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In contemporary Christianity, you give Jesus a small room you've tacked onto your life and visit Him when it's convenient, or better yet, traditional.
So much for contemporary "conversion". It's an illusion. And as elder sons, we continue on in our heart disobedience while acting obedient outwardly through observing the traditions of men and the church.
Don't think so? Let me ask you a few questions:
How dedicated are you to go to church on Sunday? Or Sunday School? If I heard you right, you'd say you are absolutely dedicated to attendance. Yet, do you deal with issues in the church? I'm not asking you if you are willing to. I'm asking do you deal with issues in the church, or do you just talk to others about what you see as wrong? If you do it, you show you are willing. If you say you are willing, that can be a false profession and wishful thinking. Talk and nothing more. See, going to church and being the church are two different things.
Now there may be times that you can't do anything directly to correct a situation. For example, if you have a discipline issue in the church and your leadership won't back you up, then you really can't do much. And in the contemporary church in America, you will find that, more often than not. Churches here are kind of like "union" organizations as senior members get to run things as they will because "money and longevity talk". Or maybe the excuse is "we don't want to offend anyone" or even "We want to love them" (as if love doesn't involve discipline). But even then, sooner or later, you come to a point where you have to do something to remain faithful to God...or fold and say that "what God has said about this doesn't really matter"; at which point you betray yourself as a Judas by demonstrating you are more concerned with traditionalism than what God has said. Read Matthew 7:21 and following. Could you be one of those who acts as if God never told you what is right to do? That is who He is talking to. And Paul said we are to examine ourselves in 2 Corinthians. And if you have an area of your life that you will not give up to God, what evidence do you have that you are not going to be in that number that cry out "Lord, Lord" before being cast into Hell?
So much of late, I've been giving tracts not only to people who I don't know but also to friends who profess Christ. The shocking thing is the very low number of friends who profess Christ that will actually do evangelism, even if it is something as simple as handing out a tract or two that I have freely provided. Months later, they still have them.
So you say you want to do evangelism? You know that was the last command that our master gave us before the ascension, don't you? That is a command that falls under the rubric of the warning in Matthew 7. And I'm not asking you if you are willing to do it. I'm asking you if you do it.
Are you the prodigal? Or are you the legalistic son in the parable Jesus told? Are you the one who came in repentance or are you the one who justifies yourself by your mere outward obedience? Do you obey God from the heart? Or do you draw a a line when it infringes on traditions, comfort and convenience? The former is death to self. The latter is not.
In the closing lines of John Bunyan's work "Pilgrim's Progress", Bunyan states that there is a gate to Hell, even at the gates of Heaven. You can't just sit back and say you drove a stake into the ground at some point in the past. Could it be that your disobedience (and mine), if ignored, will show us to be nothing more than hypocrites? Does your walk match what you know to be true? I'm not saying "is your walk perfect". Jesus never said "You didn't do everything right". In Matthew 7, he is rejecting those who knew what they were supposed to do but didn't do it. Maybe it was because obedience would have had to take presidence over tradition. Who knows? The point is, they knew what was right and didn't do it.
In Romans chapters one and sixteen, Paul refers to "the obedience of faith". In other words, "obedience that comes from faith". Saving faith, not mere intellectual assent that gives a nod of the head to what God says and doesn't do it unless convenience or tradition allows.
Consider the following from Matthew 21:
"But what do you think? A man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son, go work in my vineyard today. 29 He answered and said, I will not. But afterwards he repented and went. 30 And he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go , sir; and did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father? They said to Him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that the tax-collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax-collectors and the harlots believed him. And when you had seen it , you did not repent afterwards so that you might believe him."
Two sons, two destinies. One son said "no, I won't go", but repents and obeys (which is what is meant by "believes") and the other gives lip service.
Let me suggest to you that, if you really don't care to hear God and obey Him no matter the cost, you may as well drop the charade. While you can fool men, you can't fool God. Either take Him totally seriously in obedience or give up the game and all the traditions. Anything else is lukewarmness and a slap in the face to the One Whom deserves every molecule of our being.
It's time to stop "playing church".
Charles Spurgeon once said "Your one business in life is to lead men to believe in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Every other thing should be made to be subservient to this one objective".
So, what will you do? Two sons, two choices. Two destinies. Obey God. Die to self. Lose your life to find it. Or, put the game board of human tradition away and face the consequences.
Either be hot, or be cold. There is no middle ground.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The bottom line: There is no growth without obedience. You can't wish it. You can't whip up excitement to get it. Growth comes as the result of a quiet resolve to obey God no matter the cost to you or anyone else and then doing it.
In other words, it is a result of brute force obedience. You choose to obey (believe) God. Or you (at best) stagnate or (at worst) demonstrate yourself to be a false convert.
This past month or two, I think I have seen more growth in my Christian life than in the years before. I say this realizing I have far to go and that as long as I'm alive, I will not "arrive". But I have seen good growth. And it is because, by the grace of God, I have seen major chances to obey God and have actually chosen to be obedient.
Choosing to stand against elder abuse at the nursing home -- and losing my job as a result of being a whistle blower. Deciding to leave another church regardless how it looks and what others think.
It's been a ride. I'm not saying it's been fun. No. It hasn't been. But its been a definite ride! And now that I look back, I can see God's fingerprints all over it.
I lost one job and was out of work a total of a bit more than a day. Transitions have never been easier. God opened the door right after the other was shut.
Then there is the evangelism I've been doing. For a long time, I was struggling to get the nerve to share the faith with others. Now, if I don't give the gospel to at least 2 or 3 people per day, I feel like I've somehow failed.
Lesson: Always Do What God Has Told You To Do And Regardless Of The Cost. It is worth it!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Let's say someone comes up to you and you know they need food. No doubt about it. Their bones are sticking out. Their stomachs are bulging from malnutrition. What would you do? You'd give them food, wouldn't you? Or would you just hand them a flyer which tells them to go to some food conference somewhere where they are singing about food? Perhaps you'd even think "maybe someone will bring some food and, with a little luck, this person will just happen to be at the right place at the right time to get some....See? I'm trying to help those dying of hunger".
Silly line of thinking, isn't it? Of course, if you saw someone who is starving you'd say "let me help you. I want to give you what you need".
Differ with me. I dare you.
So would someone please explain to me the 'sense' in handing out a sheet of paper that leads people to some event where 'we hope' that 'maybe' 'they might hear' 'a form of 'the gospel. Huhmmm?
Isn't that kind of like saying, "Ok, cue ball hits the 2, the 2 hits the 14, the 14 bounces off three sides of the table and hits the 9, which we hope goes in to the corner pocket"? For crying out loud! Talk about Rube Goldberg Evangelism!!!
"Ok, Let's hand out these flyers. Maybe people will come to our church and if they come long enough, maybe if they hear the right words from this person and that, they will piece the gospel together and get into the kingdom without even knowing it!"
WOW! That's all I can say. Wow.
Meanwhile, James says that "what good is your faith if you see someone in need and don't provide if you have the means to help them". His point is, that kind of faith is dead. So, I ask you to evaluate the state of contemporary evangelicalism. How does our Lord view a "Christianity" that won't even supply the clear gospel to the perishing...we refuse to give the least bit out of our riches in Christ. No surprise therefore that Jesus said that "Many on that day will say to me 'Lord, Lord...and I will say...'I never knew you'".
You can't give what you don't have. And per James, if you aren't giving it, what is the evidence you have it?
So, next time your kids tell you they are hungry, think of what Jesus said about giving stones to those who need bread. Better yet. do that with the lost that are around you every single day.
I got some fresh (well, relatively fresh) $1 bills at the local bank and put one in each tract. I gave 1 away to another Christian friend and five to Brian, who is a friend and mentor (when I can get him to behave. Actually, he is more like Paul and I'm more like Peter...I shoot my mouth off a lot)!
We had an adventure at the local Wal-Mart. A couple of area churches (no, I won't say that they were Methodist) had some people out front handing out flyers for an "Evangelism Experience" event which will be at the local High School in a week or so. What made my blood pressure go up was that this was all about charging the public to see an Elvis impersonator sing gospel songs. And I felt dirty just holding on to this silly sheet of paper. What made me feel even worse was realizing that these "ads" were quickly becoming a big parking-lot litter problem and that was certainly a very poor witness for the gospel...'who is going to pick these silly things up?' I thought to myself. The wal-mart employees certainly will not be impressed.
The adventure part came in when I asked the gentleman what Elvis has to do with the Gospel. "Well, Elvis sang gospel music". Well, that would have been between drug fixes, wouldn't it?
Anyway, trying to get this guy to even define the gospel was like pulling teeth. All I could get from him was "It's John 3:16". He had utterly no idea how to demonstrate that I am a sinner past saying "Original sin", as if a lost person would even get the meaning of that. I asked him if that meant I invented sin (and yes, I do know the biblical definition of 'original sin'). He kept insisting I'm a sinner...even when I told him "Sir, you don't know me. How do you know I'm a sinner?" His only answer was "original sin".
He admitted he didn't know all the ten commandments, But even if he knew them, he never used them to help me understand how I need a savior. His complete message was John 3:16 (which he referenced but never recited). But he was presupposing alot of things, such as I believed I am going to perish.
It really hit the fan big-time when I asked him if he knew how to use the law in evangelism and he hit the roof when I asked him, simply, "Would you consider yourself to be a good person?". That is when he literally told me to "hit the road". So, I politely left. Brian followed me into the store, probably thinking I could use some ativan. There was really nothing that could be said to this guy. My impression? "If I were a lost person wanting to know some simple answers, he sure showed me he doesn't really care enough about me to give them to me...and he sure doesn't care to discuss the very topic he wants me to pay a $15 admission fee to -- somehow -- hear."
We walked around in that store until my blood pressure could go back down to sub-nuclear levels. On the way out, I stopped and quickly talked to a woman who was also there, handing out leaflets (which, by the way, were quickly being tossed to the ground by those who had been handed them). I said as calmly as I could "Hello. I really don't mean to offend you, but if you really want to give people the gospel, give them the gospel. Here's the gospel". And I gave her one of the "Gift" tracts with a dollar bill in it. I didn't notice it at the time but Brian said she had an "I'm sorry he was so bad with you earlier" look in her face.
I walked away to my car but Brian stayed back and talked with her. Turns out she appreciated the tract and listened with great interest as Brian explained the gospel to her. It was like she knew better but couldn't put her finger on it. Funny -- while he was talking to her, she walked away from the doorway to avoid having to hand out the "invitations" to the Elvis Experience mess. The guy I spoke with, on the other hand, began running frantically back and forth trying to cover both doors! She wanted to learn about the real gospel. He wanted to get a crowd to "See Elvis". Night and day. And I'm sure that the tract made a big impact on her when she realized not only were we not asking the public for money but actually giving it away with the Gospel!
So, it's been a good day. I started out with $16 in as many tracts. I'm now down to 6. I vividly recall the looks on people's faces when they realize what they have been given...the greeter, the cashier and others. It's been an intense but very rewarding day!
I like these tracts. A lot! But the only drawback to them is that once you give these out with a dollar bill in them, you feel 'cheap' for handing out regular tracts. I have the gift of giving -- and I suppose that is part of the reason. But God will provide financially if He wants me to continue this on a daily basis.
So, who have you shared the faith with today?
Friday, October 12, 2007
Another day at the fishing hole (McDonald's). And hopefully it'll be another good one. Yesterday, I was able to talk with two people sitting near me -- and they even made it easy for me -- they walked up to me and started the conversation! I use good "bait".
First, I have a really neat but inexpensive scrolling LED badge. It lets me put six different messages on it and I can pick any one of them easily. Right now, it's scrolling "Did You Get One???" in a nice relaxing yet attention getting bright blue. And it didn't cost much. Just under $10 on ebay. I either wear it on my shirt or clip it to my computer backpack so it's visible for a good distance.
I just sit here and do my work on my laptop....such as posting entries on my blog (as I am now). When someone comes up to me and asks about what they're missing, I give them a "survey" tract from Living Waters. They never fail to get people to smile and they can't help but get the gospel....and I mean the real gospel, not some "seeker-friendly don't offend them" mess. And they always appreciate it.
And I'm wondering how many times I've sat back to rest my eyes and caught people across the room with their eyes locked on my "Are You a Good Person" screen saver. It's attractive and gets the point across really well. You may be talking to one person about the weather but their friend is standing next to them reading the screen with a very intense look on their face. The word "transfixed" comes to mind.
So, we sow seeds. And it's getting to where it's second nature. It starts as a choice...but as you do this, you can't comprehend not doing it before. Now, let me say this and remember I don't mean it in any judgmental way at all. I can't count the times I've seen people (Christians I know) who come in here and sit, eat and drink and laugh and make no effort whatsoever to reach the lost. You'd never know they believed anything. Am I any better than them? No! But after you 'get it' you wonder why it seems no one else does.
See, it is a matter of what we are on this Earth for. Remember your Old Testament? What was the purpose of the Jew? To worship God? Sure! To glorify God? Absolutely! But there are ways to do that. And the main purpose they existed was to reach out to the gentiles.
Did they? No. And it was due to their self-righteousness and unbelief. Period.
The same is true for the church, the Body of Christ. We are here to worship, yes. We are here to glorify God. Absolutely! But the only reason why the Lord doesn't take us off this globe is for the purpose of sharing the Gospel. And if we aren't doing that, we must ask ourselves if we also aren't guilty of self-righeousness and unbelief!
And that is too bad. Especially in a country as free as ours where we can share the Gospel in relative freedom from persecution and fear. We know relatively nothing of hinderances to sharing our faith -- save our own lukewarmness.
What an honor to be able to just be here and be available!
When Jesus said "Come Follow Me", He meant, basically, "Do what I do. Value what I value". We are to mimic Christ. Yet how often we expect the pastors and other leaders to do our work for us while we are entertained! Try that at your local gym. It doesn't work. It takes some exertion. And you'd be amazed at the results (at least in your own spirit)!
And at this point, I'm not talking about standing up in the restaurant and preaching. I'm just talking about being available and willing to speak to whomever you see.
It's really not hard. No pressure. You aren't pushing for "results"...as if that proves anything (Read about Jeremiah, Noah and others). You just sow seeds and let the God who is sovereign honor His Word and your faithfulness.
Right now, I'm aware of two people in particular who are here and profess Christ. And I suspect that when they leave, they'll approach me. When they ask what I'm doing, I'll just say "fishing", which no doubt will make them ask what I'm talking about. It'll be a great lead-in. I can then ask them "Don't you have your own fishing hole?" See, as with many believers, they don't understand the concept of going to where the fish are. They expect the fish to jump in the boat...which interprets to "go to church".
But that is not evangelism. Getting people to "go to church" isn't evangelism. The "Good News" of the Gospel isn't "you can go to church". It's "we're all sinners in need of a savior". And the goal is to be able to help people see their need by using the law, which Paul told Timothy is good, if used lawfully, or correctly.
So we bait the hook and cast it in. We wait to see the float bob up and down. We're waiting for a nibble.
You say "You just sit and wait? What about just approaching people and talking to them outright". Sure, I do that. It was a number of days ago that I did that outright with at least a dozen in a group that blew through. But I also just sit as I am now, doing what I normally do and wait for the tug on the line. That's when it gets to be fun. When you know God has brought them to you.
So, what are you here for? Entertainment? Food? Conversation? As you walk this planet on the few short years that the Lord has given you are you here for your own pleasure? I know. I've been there.
I'd rather be fishing.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
He's doing a series on "God Proved His Love". Today was part 3. And while I only caught the last few minutes of the program, it demonstrated that nothing has really changed at Moody. After all, they publish the "Ryrie Study Bible". Charles Ryrie would argue against repentance being critical for saving faith.
What did I hear? The same thing you'll hear if you follow this link for the broadcast. At the point I turned my car radio on (which is unusual for me to do since it is 'dying' anyway...I have to crank it up all the way to hear anything and even then it may not be anything but static), I heard Dr. Michael Easley interviewing a person from "1-888-NeedHim". And I heard the same old thing that I expected to hear from them...having heard it from them myself, first hand a number of years ago.
While I would argue that the "needhim" ministry can be used of God to see actual converts, it was alarming to hear the person being interviewed describe how the ministry handles calls regarding "walking an isle, signing a card or going forward". What they do is ask a lot of questions and then tell the person "what happened when they did what they did". That, of course assumes that their conversion was genuine.
No, I don't think you can do that, sir. Not unless you could see an actual transaction taking place when the person signed a card, walked the isle or any other outward act made by 98% of those who do such things then fall away. Judas "walked with the Lord" for three years and died unconverted...and none of the other disciples knew he was the traitor of which Jesus spoke. So much for being sure of someone else's conversion.
How do I know I'm not misinterpreting him? Because years ago I called them because I had questions about my salvation. I was really struggling. Their response to me was, basically, "of course you're saved, you prayed a prayer didn't you?" Then they gave me a number to call for counseling since they were so sure of the reality of my conversion.
Excuse me but if I'm saved because of something I did, isn't that salvation by works? Isn't this "Salvation by saying a prayer" merely saying "God, you have to save me because I prayed a prayer"? For years I was a false convert, and that was my assumption. Little did I know at that time how utterly lost I was.
That, my friends, is scary stuff. It is not our ministry, nor is it the ministry of any human being to grant assurance of salvation to anyone. That is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Whom alone knows the reality of anyone's profession of faith and related conversion. All we, as human beings, can do is look at the fruit in another Christian's life...something you can't do over the phone at all.
As you listen to Dr. Easley during this broadcast listen for the word "repentance". Oh, you'll hear "believe" and "trust" but you don't hear the word "repent" or any form of it at all. And that is half a gospel.
Again, this is not a personal assault aganst Dr. Easley. But I post this as an illustration as to how the "half gospel" has so overtaken Christendom.
While Dr. Easley did a good job of Biblically showing that we are sinners and Jesus died for sinners, He totally left out any mention of repentance. And that is the missing key.
I think a good subtitle for this would be "How to Sow Tares in the Church".
"I thank Thee, 0 Father . . . because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Matthew 11:25
In spiritual relationship we do not grow step by step; we are either there or we are not. God does not cleanse us more and more from sin, but when we are in the light, walking in the light, we are cleansed from all sin. It is a question of obedience, and instantly the relationship is perfected. Turn away for one second out of obedience, and darkness and death are at work at once.
All God's revelations are sealed until they are opened to us by obedience. You will never get them open by philosophy or thinking. Immediately you obey, a flash of light comes. Let God's truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up. One reads tomes on the work of the Holy Spirit, when one five minutes of drastic obedience would make things as clear as a sunbeam. "I suppose I shall understand these things some day!" You can understand them now. It is not study that does it, but obedience. The tiniest fragment of obedience, and heaven opens and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming "wise and prudent."
Saturday, October 06, 2007
- He didn't stutter.
- He has equipped us to understand what he has said.
- He commands us to obey Him.
Well, it would appear that my wife and I have stumbled upon another "church" that has a problem with one or more of the above points.
And it's getting to a point where we are running out of local churches.
The "big evangelism deal" that I thought was going to be, isn't. The meat of this issue is another couple of paragraphs down. However, to give you an idea of the flippancy our church has toward evangelism, one of our senior (founding) members simply took down our sign-up sheet for evangelism class and replaced it with an announcement for her son's birthday. Yeah. that rates right up there with evangelism...
That's ok. She's a founding member. Seniority...and of course we are a "union church" (sarcasm). This is the same person who, during prayer request time a few weeks ago, stated that she "is so thankful for a God Who is so loving He doesn't care if we flip off other drivers". Yes, you read that right. Now, this person did not say "I'm glad we have a loving God who understands our mistakes". No. This was more like "I'm so glad we have a loving God who doesn't mind if we use His Son's sacrifice as a cloak for sin". When confronted publicly, her response was "we're only human". As far as I know, nothing further was done.
One of our most biblically focused laypeople, who is strongly focused on evangelism and obedience to God's Word, was raked over the coals after daring to mention (from behind the pulpit) the need to examine one's self, especially as it relates to personal evangelism. "Take prayer requests and make announcements? Fine. Just don't put your finger on anything I don't like". What makes this worse is that he was "demoted" from speaking on it from behind the pulpit, even though the pastor, who approved what he did could have stood up for him. Can you say "Benedict Arnold"?
For a long time now, I've been hoping beyond hope that maybe, perhaps, hopefully, this pastor is just kind of riding the fence, waiting for some of us to help him stand against the tide. But Noooooo! Apparently not.
The lesson I'm learning is that the definition of he Gospel at this church will be defined by the highest bidder. The Gospel is up for sale. I'm just waiting for someone with more money to show up and say "hey, I think the biblical Gospel includes repentance and faith...and dump the seeker/emergent/PDC stuff". Then watch things get redefined. "Oh! I just discovered a new truth!...Let's do it this way!"
Ah, yes. Nothing like abusing God's Word for a buck or two, huh? I pity those who are hucksters of God's truth. I think it was Ian Paisley or Paris Reidhead who said "If Jesus were around today, he wouldn't cleanse the temple, He'd cleanse the pulpit."
For a while, I joked along with this guy who can't even seem to get my name right. No, I'm not exaggerating or kidding. But your name is important to you and when a pastor can't get it right -- after 5 or 6 months -- and doesn't seem to care to try, you have to wonder if he cares about you past your check. Personally, I'm fed up. The only thing that keeps me from really believing he does this on purpose is that he does it to other people. So, maybe it's a case of "Mentalus Synapsus Interruptus".
I've only shared a few things that have become real issues. And I don't care for a "Part III". At least, not now.
This is it. I've "Played the Field" for a church that even seems to maybe, possibly, faintly desire to do even the smallest of things God's way. But I'm getting to the point where I'm ready to write a book about it and perhaps use a title I found on a website such as "Faking It for Jesus". Perhaps the subtitle for the book could be "Learning to Master the Judas Kiss Among the Body of Christ". So, I have dibs on that title.
Who knows? I know I can write. And I think I can express my thoughts fairly well. Anyone interested in a copy if I write it?
And no, I'm not kidding. Much.
We know no shame.
"When it pleased God . . to reveal His Son in me." Galatians 1:15, 16
If Jesus Christ is to regenerate me, what is the problem He is up against? I have a heredity I had no say in; I am not holy, nor likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is to tell me I must be holy, His teaching plants despair. But if Jesus Christ is a Regenerator, One Who can put into me His own heredity of holiness, then I begin to see what He is driving at when He says that I have to be holy. Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the hereditary disposition that was in Himself, and all the standards He gives are based on that disposition: His teaching is for the life He puts in. The moral transaction on my part is agreement with God's verdict on sin in the Cross of Jesus Christ.
The New Testament teaching about regeneration is that when a man is struck by a sense of need, God will put the Holy Spirit into his spirit, and his personal spirit will be energized by the Spirit of the Son of God, "until Christ be formed in you." The moral miracle of Redemption is that God can put into me a new disposition whereby I can live a totally new life. When I reach the frontier of need and know my limitations, Jesus says - "Blessed are you." But I have to get there. God cannot put into me, a responsible moral being, the disposition that was in Jesus Christ unless I am conscious I need it.
Just as the disposition of sin entered into the human race by one man, so the Holy Spirit entered the human race by another Man; and Redemption means that I can be delivered from the heredity of sin and through Jesus Christ can receive an unsullied heredity, viz., the Holy Spirit.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
There's another great post over at Old Truth, based on an email Jim received. A good discussion is sure to follow!
Caveat: I don't think this is the best example of "productive conversation". Most any time I see someone raise a question like the one posted at Old Truth, it tends to be another person trying to start an online debate, not someone earnestly seeking the truth.
The gentleman's need is not an understanding that hell is real. If he dies unsaved tonight, he'll be convinced hell is real. What needs to be made clear is his state before God. The law needs to be used to unlock the law written in his heart, so that conviction of sin may result and repentance be produced. However, I provide this as a post for the purpose of illustration.
Please pray for the guy. He needs the gospel straight and clear, not an armchair discussion on the reality of eternal punishment.
Jim at Old Truth has closed commenting on the thread I've linked to here. As expected, it appears to have garnered nothing but information as to how wasteful it is to try to convince a cultist against his will. However, it also shows how completely outlandish their apologetics can be (and usually are).
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
"Quoting Octavius Winslow . . .
Let this precious truth divest your mind of all needless, anxious care for the present or the future. Exercising simple faith in God, "Be care-ful for nothing". Learn to be content with your present lot, with God's dealings with you, and His disposal of you. You are just where His providence has, in its inscrutable but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a position painful, irksome, trying, but it is right. Oh yes! It is right. Only aim to glorify Him in it.
Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And, when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere, for whose nobler duties and higher responsibilities the present is, perhaps, but disciplining and preparing you. Covet, then, to live a life of daily dependence upon God. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, a corroding care, an anxious thought, a sleepless night, a tearful eye, and an imprudent and sinful scheme. Repairing to the "covenant, ordered in all things, and sure" (2 Sam. 23:5), you may confide children, friends, calling, and yourself, to the Lord's care, in the fullest assurance that all their "times" and yours are in His hand."