Category Archives: Evangelism

I Know Like I Know

The news was filled last week with the impending devastation of hurricane Irene. I heard one newscaster describe Irene as “the perfect storm”. While many people lost their lives in the hurricane and there was a lot of property damage, hurricane Irene failed to deliver the devastation many were predicting.

Sometime week before last, about a day or two before Irene made landfall, I received an e-mail from a friend that attended our last church. The e-mail was actually a forwarded e-mail from a woman in a nearby town that runs a “prophetic” ministry. The e-mail contained excerpts of a “prophecy” she was given about hurricane Irene being a judgement upon America brought by God. The general tone of this prophecy was that God was sending this hurricane upon America because the American church was failing to pray like it should. Additionally, at the end of the e-mail, was a link where we could order a CD that contained the “prophecy” in its entirety, for a small donation of course.

The part of the “prophecy” that was forwarded to me was already quite lengthy. I shudder to consider just how long the full length prophecy was. Nevertheless, as I read down the prophecy about the impending doom upon America, the “prophecy” said that if the American church would only begin to pray like it should, hurricane Irene would be turned out to sea. The “prophecy” also went on to describe that as we began to pray, that further judgements would be turned back and as we continued to pray that eventually America would be “taken for God” and we would be swept into this great end time harvest of souls.

Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like the typical doctrines of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) to me.

Nowhere in this lengthy “prophecy” excerpt was there a call for us to preach the Gospel. No where was there a call for man to repent and turn to God.  In all fairness I hadn’t heard the full length prophecy and there is a possibility there was more on the CD to be ordered. But from what I was reading, the direction the prophecy was taking was that we could all make the world a much better place and “take it for God” if we would only pray and pray. In other words, we could all collectively change God’s mind to what we believe needed to happen.

I composed a short e-mail and sent it back to all the original recipients. I, of course, offended some of them. In a kind and gentle way, I said what the American church really needed was to get back to preaching the Gospel. To have such heart for the lost that we feared what could happen to them if a hurricane DID hit them and take their lives before they had heard the Gospel. I said that the American church had turned so far from the Biblical Gospel and had been chasing a man-centered, “best life now” sort of Gospel for too long. This is what we needed to repent of and begin to preach the true Gospel to a lost world.

Additionally, and this is probably where the offense was taken, I stated that this world doesn’t get better. I stated that there is no great “end-time harvest” in which the entire world turns to Jesus Christ. Sadly, the majority will reject Jesus and the Gospel. This isn’t something that my former friends wanted to hear because of the type of doctrine they have come to depend on.

Briefly, my former church friends have increasingly come to embrace a doctrine of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) that states that there will be an “army” of end-time prophets that will rise up and perform such signs and miracles that the entire  world will turn to Jesus Christ and usher in His second coming. This “end-time harvest” will then usher in the return of Jesus Christ. This is, of course, very unbiblical.

The Bible is very clear that when Jesus returns not only will the entire sinful world not be expecting His return, but many in the true church will be asleep as well. Take for example:

[25:1] “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. [2] Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. [3] For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, [4] but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. [5] As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. [6] But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ [7] Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. [8] And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ [9] But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ [10] And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. [11] Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ [12] But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ [13] Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13ESV)

Notice how even the wise virgins with the oil were asleep. They were prepared for His return, but nevertheless asleep. There won’t be this massive waiting on the return of Jesus. When Jesus returns the majority of the church will be asleep.

Consider also:

[13] “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. [14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14ESV)

Jesus Himself said few will find the narrow gate. The trials of this life and the pursuit of “our best life now” will ensnare most. Most will choose the easy path that will lead them to destruction. The “gate” is the church. The sinful world doesn’t choose to enter through any gate. The majority of the “church” will choose the easy path to destruction.

Finally, take at the book of Revelation. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the book of Revelation by any means. I do, however, believe that this is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, just as it’s titled. In other words, this book was given to John in order to reveal to the world just who Jesus Christ is. I firmly believe that Revelation was not given by God to be completely shrouded in mystery. I believe that a common man seeking after the heart of God through prayer and Bible study can understand the majority of the book. I don’t believe for one second that there are only a few who have been gifted by God to be able to properly interpret the book of Revelation. Like any other scripture it’s meant to be read and heeded. Though I don’t believe the things shown in the book have all come to pass yet, and we won’t fully understand much of scripture until they do,  I believe it is meant for the common Christian to understand. The trouble is, a mockery has been made out of the book of Revelation because too many self-serving people have tried to capitalize on its symbolism for their own agendas.

Take a look at the following passage:

[9:1] And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. [2] He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. [3] Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. [4] They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. [5] They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. [6] And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. [7] In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, [8] their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; [9] they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. [10] They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. [11] They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. [12] The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. [13] Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, [14] saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” [15] So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. [16] The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. [17] And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. [18] By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. [19] For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. [20] The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, [21] nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9 ESV) (bold emphasis mine)

Above is merely an example of the types of things seen throughout the book of Revelation. Thunder, hail, death, earthquakes, war, and disease. These things are prophesied in scripture. As sure as Jesus will someday return as promised in scripture, these things seen in the book of Revelation will also come to pass. As an example, if we were to pray as hard as we could for Jesus not to return, it wouldn’t happen because it’s a promise of God. Likewise, if we band together and pray for one of these hailstorms that’s meant to be a judgement of God to cease, it’s not possible because it, too, is a judgement of God.

Now, I’m not saying here that we should never pray for protection from a storm. Nor am I saying that God may never turn a storm or other natural disaster that’s headed our way. What I am saying is that if anyone, prophet or otherwise, thinks that every single judgment from God can be avoided if we would merely band together and pray, they’re just plain wrong.

I’m not really sure how everyone thinks the judgements listed in the Book of Revelation will come about, but think about this: If Jesus was hovering visibly over the Earth shooting giant hail and thunderbolts, don’t you think people would bow and repent in His presence? I would think so. So here’s what I think about the judgements in Revelation: I think they are to be taken fairly literally. In other words, when it says Large hailstones Kill a bunch of men, I believe it will appear here on earth just like any other hailstorm, only much more cataclysmic. People won’t visually see God doing it. When the Revelation speaks of pestilence, it will appear on Earth like any other disease, such as the swine flu, that’s swept the Earth before, only on a much grander scale like’s never been seen before. The reason people will refuse to repent of their immorality is that it will appear like any other natural disaster, although much bigger, and people on Earth will refuse to believe that God Almighty controls the heavens and the Earth.

Look at this scripture:

[8] And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. [9] And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.”[10] Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. [11] There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:8-11 ESV)

Notice how Jesus said “for these things must first take place”. No matter how hard you pray, there will just be some natural disasters that can’t be stopped. It’s bold and arrogant in the face of Almighty God to think that only if we would all band together we can convince God to do otherwise.

So what are we to do? First of all, we’re to pray like Jesus:

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke22:42ESV)

We won’t know which natural disasters He’s willing to turn and which are judgments. Therefore we are to pray as Jesus prayed on all things. I don’t need another CD-hocking “prophet” to tell me this, I have God’s eternal word, the Bible to tell me how to pray.

Secondly, we know the Bible tells us to preach the Gospel both in season and out of season. In other words, we are to always preach the Gospel because the Bible says it’s the power unto salvation. But before that can be done, we need to have a handle on just what the Gospel is. I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of different churches the last couple of years and I can assure that most Christians have no clue what the Gospel is, though most think they do.

Finally, we need to realize that there are judgements and disasters coming on this Earth that can’t be stopped. Disasters like have never been since the Earth began. Regardless of when you think the “rapture” takes place, read Matthew 24 and Luke 21 and it’s clear we Christians will experience at least some form of natural disasters before the return of Jesus. No matter how hard we pray, they can’t be stopped because it’s the beginning of the birth pains.

Look up, and pray for wisdom. Pray that you will be spared the judgements of God. Most of all, preach the Gospel………The true Gospel, for only by the Gospel may men be saved from what’s coming upon the Earth.


Filed under Christianity, Church, Evangelism, Life

This Is Such A Good Donut, I Guess I’ll Repent

After reading these articles here and here, I was reminded about a time in our former church where we realized we had grown to inwardly focused and our pastor wanted us to reach out to our community.

We cooked up this plan to “share the love of Christ” by buying a bunch of bottled water with custom labels of our church logo on them. We went out to the park and handed out these bottles of water and “shared the Gospel” with people. The truth is, however, there wasn’t really any true gospel shared with anyone. It went off more like a clever marketing technique.

Another time, we went around and found people during the week whose lawn needed a good mowing and on Saturday, teams of mowers would go around and mow these lawns. We even had a “public relations” guy who contacted the local paper and we even took a video crew along with some of the mowers. We did ask most of these people if they needed prayer for anything before we left, but again very little gospel was shared.

Although I was a new Christian at the time, I remember being confused about these “outreaches”. They seemed to me like we were more into tooting our own horn than sharing the gospel. In all honesty, even though I didn’t understand why at the time, I was a little sick to my stomach about both events.

For a couple of years now, my former church has had a program of distributing half price food. In other words, people pre-order $20 boxes of food and receive approximately $40 of groceries. The food certainly will sustain life, but it’s low quality processed food that goes a long way toward contributing to a whole list of health problems. During these distributions, not one mention of the gospel.

This is one area where I struggle to understand what our role, as Christians, is in the area of “humanitarian aid”. There’s a host of organizations, the Peace Corps for example, that provide humanitarian aid without one ounce of gospel. In other words, is handing someone a bottle of water “the gospel”?

It seems to me like so many, if not most, of our Christian outreach programs resemble something more of a secular “bait and hook” marketing technique or even worse, something that placates our consciences to ease our guilt for not actually confronting the lost with the true gospel.

I’m aware the Bible tells us to care for the felt needs of our fellow-man. But what’s the limit? As the articles linked above state, what good does it do for someone to head into Hell with a nice set of clothes and a full stomach?

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How Not to Evangelize a Biker

You know how sometimes things pop into your head regarding events that happened in the past for no apparent reason? Well today I thought of something that had happened to a co-worker friend of mine about 8 years ago that involved a near-death experience for my coworker and a zealous Christian.

My coworker friend, Charlie, was a hard man. He was around 58 years old or so. He had gone through around 4 or 5 wives, cussed constantly, and although rarely “visibly” drunk, he drank a little almost all day.

He was also a motorcycle rider.

 Now I’m not talking about the kind of 50-ish motorcycle rider you see now days where they put on their stick-on tattoos, dress up in their outlandish leather outfits, almost like it’s a Halloween costume, and get together with all of their friends on a ride to go off and “kill” a stack of pancakes 100 miles away. 

Charlie rode nothing else other than an old mid 70’s BMW. He rode it in the rain, cold, heat, rode it to work, and on dates. He wore an old wore out leather jacket, helmet, leather boots and jeans.

In his 58 years, most of it riding motorcycles, Charlie had never been down on the pavement while riding. I don’t know everyone who rides a motorcycle, but of the people I know who ride, this is rare. I think that everyone I know who rides a bike has had at least a little wreck. But not Charlie.

Well, one day Charlie didn’t show up for work, which wasn’t rare, as he was a drinker. Then another day went by. Then another. All the while our boss was calling his cell phone with no answer.

After a week went by, Charlie’s son called in to work and said he’d been in a serious motorcycle accident and was in the hospital. He’d been unconscious for around 3 or 4 days and was just now aware of what was going on.

After about 3 weeks Charlie came back to work with lots of skin missing, a broken wrist, and barely able to walk. But he was there ready to work. Once he got back he related what had happened to us.

Charlie had been going around a long sweeping curved overpass and took the curve a little too fast, got too close to the outer guard rail and hit some gravel and debris and down he went. He, of course, had been drinking and was going around 60 mph or so. He had flipped, tumbled, and skidded on the pavement but miraculously nothing other that his wrist or hand was broken. (Believe it or not the cops never checked to see if he had been drinking and got away with it.)

As soon as he came to a stop after skidding nearly 100 feet he was unconscious. He awoke with someone opening his faceshield on his helmet frantically wanting to know if he was a “believer”.

Charlie was in serious pain and had a concussion, broken wrist, and very little skin left on his legs. He was crying out in pain, but this well-meaning Christian was demanding to know if Charlie was a “believer”. Charlie said he didn’t know what the [heck] he was talking about but he told him to get out of his face and call an ambulance.

This Christian man wouldn’t leave him until he knew whether Charlie was a “believer” because he didn’t want Charlie to die and go to hell. If Charlie would repeat a prayer then he would leave and call an ambulance. With all the strength Charlie could muster, Charlie told him to “Get the f*&% out of my face!” By then other people were beginning to stop and help and this Christian was pushed aside.

Charlie went on to tell me how stupid you “born againers” are that you wouldn’t even get him an ambulance but you kept wanting him to repeat a prayer. He went on to tell me how we didn’t really care about people we just wanted “numbers”. I told him he was wrong, but inside I knew in some way he was right.

This Christian man trying to do a “deathbed conversion” on Charlie was well-meaning, but he has a false understanding of the gospel. I’m aware that among the two thieves on the cross, one was converted instantly. But there’s a big difference between Charlie’s experience and the thief that hung next to Jesus…..

The thief came to know Jesus as the innocent Lamb of God who was suffering for our sins. Charlie wasn’t introduced to that Jesus.

After I thought about this past event this morning I couldn’t help but wonder how much stuff we Christians do that cause people to see our hypocrisy. How many activities we engage in that appear more like clever marketing tactics rather that actually caring for people.

As I’ve spent the last 9 months or so looking for a church, I’m afraid. I’m afraid because most of what I see in the churches I’ve investigated is nothing more than clever worldly marketing tactics rather someone who actually cares about people enough to tell them about the suffering Messiah who hung on a cross and took the punishment we rightly deserved.

The gospel must come first. When it pierces their heart they’ll want nothing else than to cry out to God for salvation.

The bible doesn’t say that “Repeating words is the power unto salvation”.

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It’s All In The Execution

When I was in 11th grade, I had an American history teacher that was, for lack of a better word,  “liberal”. As he taught, he always felt the need to interject his viewpoint on whether he agreed with what was being taught or not.

There was a time once when he expressed his opinion on the death penalty in Texas, and of course he disagreed with it. I stood up and argued, rather heatedly, with him in front of the class. It went on for quite a while. I wasn’t going to let that one slip by.

I had been a good student, rarely ever getting less than an A on assignments. But when my final grade came out in the summer, I was given a 70. Barely passing. While I can’t prove it, I certainly feel my little hissy over the death penalty hindered my grade.

I was always a proponent of the death penalty and at times even joked about being the one who would gladly “flip the switch”.

My views have changed somewhat. I don’t know exactly what God’s mind is on the death penalty (in light of the New Testament, of course). I’m still a little unsure whether a person who is guilty deserves to die for taking the life of another. After all, the Apostle Paul would have been sentenced to die in the state of Texas. 

I do know, as I’ve written here before, that we are not to put an innocent man to death. At all. Ever. It’s now my opinion that any system that would allow it needs to be abolished.

And most of all, how dare any Christian support wholeheartedly any system of justice that would allow an innocent man to be put to death and then shrug your shoulders and say “Oh well, you can’t be perfect all the time”.

I just finished reading the book titled “An Autobiography of an Execution” written by David R. Dow. He’s a death penalty lawyer in Houston, Texas writing about his experiences representing over one hundred people convicted of the death penalty in Texas.

While the book is largely David Dow’s viewpoint, it doesn’t take hardly any research to know much of what he is saying happens in every death penalty case. The sad point is, it ought to turn your stomach. His account of inept attorneys, indifferent judges, an electorate that is largely ignorant of the death penalty process (of which I was one), and just the system in general ought to get the attention of everyone, but especially Christians.

After reading The Innocent Man by John Grisham (a non-fiction account of several innocent people on death row in Oklahoma) and now this one by David Dow, and considering most of all the words of God……

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:6-8 NIV)

We need to take a long hard look at just what justice is. What God says justice is. You see, whether it makes you uncomfortable or not, God loves everyone the same, even murderers. And in our thirst for revenge I do know that at the very least God said that we had better see that even a murderer receives justice.

Give both books a read. It just might change you forever.

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Christian America?…….Oh really?

“As american evangelicals, we are far too comfortable with the idea that we, like the ancient Romans, are a special people uniquely called to do God’s work in the world. We forget that Jesus turned to fishermen, not politicians, when He began His ministry; we forget that He empowered the twelve disciples with the Holy Spirit, not political charisma, to build His church……Yes, our founding fathers invoked God’s name in nearly everything they wrote. But America has also been a four hundred-year laboratory experiment in living out the humanistic values of the modern age.” (Michael Babcock, Unchristian America, pg xiv)

One of the first things the Lord delivered me from when I was saved was my addiction to the political talk shows. You can slice it however you want to, and quote the Bible in any matter you choose, but Jesus and the disciples never lobbied the Roman government for legal change. Ever.

The book Unchristian America deals with the false belief that America was founded as a Christian nation. It, of course, was not. Although there were certainly those who came for religious freedom, most came to get rich. No matter who they had to exploit. Those are not Christian values, they are humanistic values. The same values we are under even today in America.

If you are one who holds firmly to the belief that this nation was founded as a Christain nation, read the book. I strongly suggest you understand the history of this nation a little more in light of the Bible before digging your heals in regarding this belief.

America was never ours to lose. The sooner we Christians realize this, the sooner we can get down to the business of preaching the true gospel.

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