Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
That's why one of the best fishin' holes is right inside the walls of your church. You don't have to go to another country to find people who are trusting in their own goodness to get to heaven.
You may also run into fishermen who are just starting out and you may be able to offer encouragement. That's what I did on Sunday. My husband and I were visiting my father-in-law's church and visited a Sunday School class. The teacher, Chris, was leading the discussion about Christians being salt and light to the world found in Matthew 5:13-16.
After the class, my husband and I were able to talk with Chris. He reads his Bible and is praying for deeper understanding and has contemplated attending seminary.
I began by sharing that Psalm 19:7 states, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul..." (NKJV). I used to believe I would not be an effective witness if I did not have a degree in apologetics. But, now I know the law does it all. Here are 4 functions of God's law:
- Brings the knowledge of sin to the sinner. (Romans 7:7)
- Stops the sinner’s mouth from justifying itself. (Romans 3:19-20)
- Helps the world to realize that they are guilty before God. (Romans 3:19-20)
- Acts as a schoolmaster/teacher to bring us to Christ. (Galations 3:24)
I then shared with Chris that, in all likelihood, the gentleman he spoke to was probably an agnostic. It is important to know the difference between an atheist and an agnostic.
I've run into 3 types of atheists when witnessing. The first one has a lack of belief in a god. The second one believes that no god exists at all and cannot exist. The third believes there is a god but doesn't believe in a specific god (i.e.- the one true God of the Bible.) This last group is actually better defined as agnostic and not atheistic.
- One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
- One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.
- One who is doubtful or noncommittal about something.
Thomas H. Huxley
Word History: An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist. The term agnostic was fittingly coined by the 19th-century British scientist Thomas H. Huxley, who believed that only material phenomena were objects of exact knowledge. He made up the word from the prefix a-, meaning "without, not," as in amoral, and the noun Gnostic. Gnostic is related to the Greek word gnōsis, "knowledge," which was used by early Christian writers to mean "higher, esoteric knowledge of spiritual things"; hence, Gnostic referred to those with such knowledge. In coining the term agnostic, Huxley was considering as "Gnostics" a group of his fellow intellectuals—"ists," as he called them—who had eagerly embraced various doctrines or theories that explained the world to their satisfaction. Because he was a "man without a rag of a label to cover himself with," Huxley coined the term agnostic for himself, its first published use being in 1870. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Tips for witnessing to an atheist
When witnessing to one who claims they are an atheist, you can share with them that, by definition, an atheist claims there is no God. But, the laws of logic and reasoning demand that to make such a claim, you must possess ALL knowledge of the universe to defend your claim.
Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 state, "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God." At this point, only a fool would keep holding to the foolish notion that they know and possess all knowledge of the universe. Only if one possessed all knowledge of the universe could one make such a claim. Scientists are still discovering the secrets of the universe everyday and thus, no one possesses all knowledge in or about the universe.
It is very important to know the difference between the two because many unassuming individuals' arguments collapse on the explanation of this one definition. Each hole you can punch in their argument brings you one step closer to tilling the soil of that person's heart and planting the seed as God commanded us to do.
Chris' eyes lit up as he could see that by knowing the difference between the two and then sharing the Gospel by using God's law, one would have a much better chance to plant the seed in the heart of the listener.
Always be ready to help by equipping a fellow brother or sister in Christ to share the Gospel Biblically. I gave him a CD of Hell's Best Kept Secret and told him that if he familiarized himself with this teaching, he would be better prepared to share the Gospel, even with an atheist. If you want to hear the sermon, Hell's Best Kept Secret, click on the link in the upper right hand column.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Besides dropping a few on the floor, stick some in the napkin dispensers. You can see a million dollar bill on the counter and also in the stack on the counter. It just takes a second and nobody really noticed when we placed the tracts in.
Don't forget about the seats. You know you're always checking for change in the couch at home and people also lose change in the seats at restaurants all the time. Leave some Christmas Cash to find.
Can you find the Christmas Cash in this picture? Stick it between the pages of their dessert menu, tuck it back in so you can't see it and the next person that picks this up may find something sweeter than dessert- the good news of Jesus Christ!
If you are new to placing tracts and are just trying to work up the courage to speak to someone, try placing them wherever you go. You're still walking in obedience even if you do not speak to someone. Pray for those who receive the tracts after they find them. Pray that God uses the tract to bring them to a knowledge of salvation. When we as Christians stand before God on Judgment Day He won't care how large your ministry was or how important you were but how obedient you were. This is also a great way to train your kids to be diligent and diliberate about sharing the Gospel from a young age.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
So you ask, "OK, but how do I pray?" The absolute "gold standard" of prayer can be found in Matthew 6:9-11.
It is more often known as the Lord's prayer. You should familiarize yourself with the Lord's prayer. Don't just recite it from rote memory. Really meditate on what it is saying. This is the most perfect model of how to pray. Look carefully: there are 6 requests; the first 3 concern God and His honor and the last 3 concern our own physical and spiritual needs.
Breaking it down, consider: Our Father in heaven. The creator of us, the angels, the heavens, and the universe. He is not just some distant God. He is our Father and we can approach Him as such. The beauty of this is that my sinfulness will never invalidate my claim of Him as my Father just like a child's disobedience does not invalidate his relationship to the parent.
Hallowed be your name. Hallowed simply means holy or to be set apart or revered. We should remind ourselves that it is a privilege that the breath of life He breathed into our bodies is allowed to call upon His sacred name. Don't bring God's name or character down to a common level.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are to pray that His kingdom will come quickly and that in all things His will (not ours) is our desire and we agree by willful submission through prayer that it ought to be done this way.
Give us today our daily bread. I think this would be a great title for a book that should be released around Christmastime. This verse is the part of the prayer where God invites us to pray for our needs. But since we just uttered that we want His will to be done, be willing for the Lord to reclassify your "needs" to the "wants" category if He sees fit. How much can you eat, literally and figuratively, in one day? We should not be acquiring more than is truly needed because it hinders not only our ability to trust Him fully as the provider, but too much "stuff" takes our focus off of Him.Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Do you realize what a debt you owe to God? We ask that He not count our sin against us and He does not! He has redeemed us by the blood of Jesus and no longer counts our sin as a debt against us. We too, must forgive. If we do not forgive others, the Father will not forgive us (v.14).
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. We must not rely on our own judgment, but rely on God's provision and Grace to keep us out of the plans of Satan.
For your is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen. Basically, it's all about God, all the time. Amen just means, "Let it be so."
This is the way I look at this prayer and not as some religious poem to be recited mindlessly. As far as the mechanics of prayer, there are some things I've learned that may be helpful to keep in mind.
- I fully believe that prayer originates from God. Yes, there are things we pray for that we believe originated from a particular need of ours, but I believe He initiates it and we respond. He desires to fulfill a need and puts the desire in our heart and is just waiting for us to respond in obedience so that when He meets the need, He gets all the credit and all the Glory. Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." This is not to be interpreted as, "I really love God and I really want a porsche so it says right here He'll give it to me." How about reading it as: when you seek first His kingdom and you desire to delight in Him, He will put into your heart the desires you should have.
- I also learned that a good litmus test of whether something I'm praying about originated from Him or from me is this: Do I have to keep "fanning the flame" to keep the prayer alive or does it stay aflame on its own? I'll give you an example. I prayed for something for over 20 years before it came to pass. I couldn't explain why I had such a deep desire for this particular thing to come to pass. There was no way that the answer could happen by normal physical means. The desire for what I prayed was so strong that at one point I begged the Lord to take it away if it wasn't from Him! I saw no way that it would be answered. In His perfect timing He brought it to pass in a way I never thought possible. But, I did not have to keep bringing it up. The desire forced itself to the forefront of my prayers with great frequency I never had to remind myself to pray for it.
- There are many decisions in our lives that need to be made that aren't clearly spelled out in the scriptures such as, should you take a new job in this state or that state? Follow the principles laid out in the Bible and keep in mind Proverbs 16:9, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." Don't be paralyzed by indecision. If you have prayed and your decision does not violate principles in the Bible, then proceed with your decision and pray that the Lord will stop you if it's not His will.
There are many books available which may guide you in developing a deeper prayer life, but make sure they are Biblically sound. Kay Arthur writes some fabulous books like, "Lord, teach Me to Pray." She is just one of several respected Bible teachers.
This post became rather long, so I will post suggestions about how to keep track of what you are praying for in the next post.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
2) The second practice a new Christian should cultivate is developing a deliberate, consistent, Biblically correct prayer life.
Today's post will deal with possessing the proper attitude towards God when praying and tomorrow's post will demonstrate ways to keep track of what you are praying for.
There are far more brilliant theologians out there who can speak more eloquently than I. I am not even in their league nor do I claim to be. But, there are some principles that I have discovered that have helped me develop a satisfying prayer life.
Prayer is simply deliberate, consistent communication with God. You will bypass years of frustration and possible bitterness if you approach the Lord properly. I've known many Christians who have become imbittered when they didn't get what they thought they deserved from God. What they don't realize is that their perspective is wrong. God didn't give them what they did deserve: hell. Here is a simple acronym to help you remember the proper protocol for approaching the Lord:
- A- Adoration- comes from the Latin verb adoro which means "adore" or "exalt." It is used primarily as a form of exultation, as in the traditional hymn "Adoramus Te", in which we sing "How we adore thee Christ." Are you an enraptured lover of God? Express to God your love for Him. After all, He gave His life in the form of Jesus Christ for you.
- C- Confession- confession is an ongoing process that is somewhat revelatory in nature. The more that I spend in the Word of God, the more I become aware of the principles I should be allowing to guide my life. When I come across something that I had as a habit and see that it is contrary to the Word of God, I confess that to God and repent.
- T- Thanksgiving- Psalm 100:3 says, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." There is a protocol for approaching a King or Queen and likewise there is a proper way to approach the Lord. Notice the verse demonstrates that we enter the gate first and draw closer by entering the courtyard, the inner fellowship of God. We have so much to be thankful for. Even if you have lost your job, had cancer, lost a child, or had a debilitating injury causing you to live daily in pain, all of which I have personally experienced, your thankfulness is never to be tied to your circumstance! You have been saved from hell! You enter His gates thankfully and you will soon be praising Him for all He has done for you. That one thought should be enough to remind you to be thankful in all circumstances.
- S- Supplication- comes from the Latin verb supplicare which means, "to beg on one's knees." It is a formal, humble request for help from one in authority. It is interesting that the very word implies humility by the physical position one making supplication assumes on the knees. To "supplicate" also implies earnestness to the appeal or plea being made. Psalm 119:169-171 says, "May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word. May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise. May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees."
Now, briefly revisiting the discussion before about the number of Christians who appear bent on consistently asking the Lord for their best life now here on earth or financial security, does the ACTS model reflect any of that?
Practice the proper approach to prayer and you will have the correct attitude when praying. Tomorrow I will share two ways to keep track of the things for which you are praying.
Friday, December 12, 2008
After you have chosen several verses that you want to memorize and have copied them, begin in earnest to memorize them. You just need to review them 2-3 times per day. Here are some ideas where you can squeeze just 10 minutes out of each day for scripture memory. Read them at breakfast or while you brush your teeth. Put some on the back of your closet door if you have a walk in closet and read while you're dressing. Read them while waiting at the doctor's office or in the car line to pick up your kids from school. You can read them at restaurants if you're by yourself or if you're with a friend, have them help quiz you. Read them while on vacation. If you can remember to pack sunscreen you can remember to pack your verses. Read them while waiting for the bus or an airplane. If you're a college student, review them on the way to class. If you're babysitting, instead of flipping through what's on late night TV, review your scriptures. This isn't obsessive or weird, it's Biblical.
Psalm 1:2 "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night."
You'll find that the more time you devote to memorizing scripture, the less time you will have for foolish, mind-numbing activities such as TV watching. TV isn't evil, but if you were to answer honestly, most of the stuff on TV these days isn't God honoring and really is trash. The shows today are so voyeuristic in nature and appear to portray an abnormal situation (people having their every move filmed and every word captured for broadcast around the world) as normal. Who do you know that really walks around with a film crew filming their every move? I'll take it a step further, can you go a week without watching your TV shows? When you don't watch them, where do your thoughts wander? Do you long for the television show or do you long for time with the Lord? If it causes you pain to miss your show and you get anxious and agitated and are obsessed with knowing what you've missed, you may have unknowingly broken the 1st and 2nd commandments and allowed TV to become your God. I can say this from experience, so don't think that I am pointing some sanctimonious finger. When I grew up the TV was on constantly. I used to plan my activities around what show was on. I don't do that anymore.
In fact, I can't tell you the last time I sat down to watch a television broadcast. We don't have satellite or cable. But, that doesn't mean you have to be ill-informed. Don't go the other direction and become a hermit who can't communicate about daily events in the world. We get our news from the Internet.
Think of all the hours that you watch TV per week and ask yourself what you could do if you spent that much time memorizing scripture, instead? You're life would change dramatically! There is no reason why an adult of average intelligence can't memorize 52 new scriptures per year- that's one per week.
After you have begun memorizing, not forgetting to state the reference before and after the verse, you will learn them quickly. After you have memorized them word perfectly, you will need to remove some and add more on to your ring. No one wants to carry 52 cards or more around with them.
This video will supplement the information to help you set up your own scripture memory system.
Remember, you must review these DAILY, if only to read over each one carefully. Some days you may be able to spend more time on them, but at a minimum, you can read them in the morning and at night. You'll get better at recognizing little pockets of time throughout the day that you were unaware of and these times will become more and more precious to you. You will find the verses getting more and more familiar until you have some verses memorized after just a few weeks!
Determine a schedule for adding new verses to your Daily Review to be learned. You may want to add one every third day for a while, or once a week. Just make sure it is regular! (You may add more verses at first, then later change your schedule to add less often as you accumulate more verses and need a little more time for reviewing them.) Track your progress and write the date you start to review each verse in the upper right hand corner of the side of the card with the reference on for that verse.
You may also want to color code your cards. I want to memorize quotes by people like Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, but I primarily memorize scripture. Right now, white cards are quotations or facts about apologetics, yellow are books of the Bible or large chunks of the Bible that need to be memorized together, and green are just random verses that I am learning. They have so many colors out there that it should not be too difficult to come up with a system.
Mark another blank card “Weekly.” As soon as you have any verse in your Daily Review stack learned so well that you can quote it and the reference word perfectly several days in a row without looking, transfer that card to this new stack. Review the cards in this stack just once a week. Write the date each time you review these on the Weekly Review cover card, so you don’t forget when it’s time to review them again. At first, pick just one day per week to review like on Sunday. Then, you will get to the point that you will have so many that you want to review that you can add another review date onto your schedule. No one has 7 hours to review scripture each day- that's impractical. We're not monks who don't have family responsibilities or jobs to do, but if you fail to plan you plan to fail. You just need to come up with a schedule and stick with it.
After you've reviewed the verses in your Weekly Review stack once a week for a couple months or so, you will find that some of them just roll off your tongue with ease. So now transfer those into this new stack to be reviewed just once a month. Make a card that says, "Monthly." Again, write the date on the cover card when you go over these, so you can see when it will be time to review them again.
As you move more verses from Daily Review to Weekly Review, you may want to eventually divide your Weekly Review stack into smaller stacks for several different days of the week, so you won’t have to spend so much time on any one day reviewing those weekly review verses. I have a card that has all seven days of the week written on a card and I stick it behind the Weekly Review tab. Eventually, you will probably divide your Monthly Review verses into several smaller stacks and review on different days of the month. You will probably need to make or buy tabbed cards for the numbers 1-31 when your monthy review gets large. Eventually, you can have a Weekly Review stack for each day of the week, and a Monthly Review stack for each day of the month.
Don't let this overwhelm you. It's not as difficult as it sounds. So each day you will be reviewing your Daily Review verses, some Weekly Review verses, and some Monthly Review verses. Remember it's not going to take as much time as you think once you get going on this because your Monthly and Weekly verses will still be fresh in your mind and your Daily Review verses will only take a few minutes per day.
Whether you write only one verse per card and put the reference on the other side or whether you write both the verse and the reference does not matter. Just experiment and see which works best for you. Find a friend to be your "verse buddy" so you can quote to another person whenever possible. It really helps with the memorization and motivation.
Keep up this practice until you die or you get the entire Bible memorized!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
How do you share your faith when you're a new Christian and there is so much you don't know? This will begin a series on the prep work needed to share your faith effectively. What I will share really affects your entire walk with Christ, but I have discovered it is foundational to sharing your faith. I know that the woman at the well in John chapter 4 walked right out and boldly began sharing. But, that will only sustain you for so long. You do need to study and prepare yourself to be used by God.
When I got to college, I remember coming alive in Christ. I finally understood what true Christianity was and I began maturing in my walk. God sent an older, godly woman who mentored me named Bev. I am still thankful for all the time she spent with me. I went to her home once a week and we met, usually on the front porch and went over scripture and a Bible study book. Little did I know that she helped prepare me for a lifetime of obedience by her example.
1) I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, the most important thing you can do to prepare for sharing your faith is to memorize scripture, and lots of it.
Here is a list of scripture memory resources I have compiled which will aid you in scripture memory. http://chipperresource.blogspot.com/2007/11/scripture-memory.html
Here are some verses that I highly recommend. I used a system over 20 years ago by the Navigators called "The Topical Memory System." Goto http://www.cbd.com/ and type this in their search box. The Topical Memory System is a set of perforated cards with the verses printed on the card. There is a carrying case for the verses too. Carry these with you wherever you go. There are several different versions you can choose to memorize scripture. However, I do NOT recommend memorizing verses using "The Message" Bible translation or the "Good News" version because they are only paraphrases of the Bible. I prefer the English Standard Version (ESV) or New International Version (NIV).
I recommend that you stick with whatever translation you begin memorizing scripture in and don't switch back and forth between different translations. These are just a few categories that you can use to memorize scripture. These scriptures were some of the first scriptures and categories I memorized over 20 years ago.
- All Have Sinned:Romans 3:23 & Isaiah 53:6
- Sin's Penalty: Romans 6:23 & Hebrews 9:27
- Christ Paid the Penalty: Romans 5:8 & I Peter 3:18
- Salvation is not by Works: Ephesians 2:8,9 & Titus 3:5
- Must Receiver Christ: John 1:12 & Revelation 3:20
- Assurance of Salvation : 1 John 5:13 & John 5:24
Whether you purchase the Navigator's or any other system is not important, but consistent, diligent study is. I now use 3 x 5 index cards and binder rings. You can purchase a box of binder rings at any office supply store.
- Write your scriptures on the lined side of the card. Add the reference at the top of your card. Include any Greek words you want to learn as well. I'm memorizing Philippians right now and want to learn the Greek words as well so I've included them.
- Read your verse out loud several times. Don't even try to memorize it at this stage. You just want to familiarize yourself with what you're studying. Do this for a few days.
- After you've read it several times over the course of a few days, then try to memorize. Your goal is to memorize it word and letter perfectly. If you leave out an "a", "an", or "the" keep trying until it's perfect. In times of doubt, Satan will use this weakness and exploit it to his advantage. I usually just put one verse per card unless the verses are really short. Here I wrote two verses on the card. Here's what I say verbatim when I am memorizing the scriptures. I say, "Phillipians 1:4 ...always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy,... Phillipians 1:4." I say the reference before and after each verse to solidify where it's found in the Bible in my mind.
- Another method for memorizing is to use a dry erase board or chalkboard and write the entire verse on the board. Say it several times out loud, and then begin to erase one word at a time and say it again completely. Do this until all the words are erased off of the board. By far, this is the fastest, most effective way to memorize quickly and accurately.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Now you can use these lines as an opportunity to hand out Christmas Cash and engage the person in front of or behind you in conversation.
Just hand them the tract and say, "Here's some Christmas Cash. Try not to spend it all in one place!" or "Did you get your Christmas Cash?"
When they ask, "What is it?" (90% of them will) tell them, "It's a Gospel Tract. Do you think you're too Naughty or are you Nice enough to go to heaven? " You could also try, "If God were like Santa and kept a naughty or nice list, which one do you think you'd be on?" Here is another one that a friend gave me, "This is the official currency of the North Pole."
These were just a few of the lines that have been rather successful these last few weeks before Christmas. Try them and see how many seeds you can sow.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I went shopping with my husband at "Sportsman's Warehouse", which I imagine, is the equivalent of a man going to "Ann's Hallmark." He could spend hours in there as I try not to slip into a coma drooling from boredom. But, there were plenty of clerks who were ready for some excitement and I handed this one out successfully.
We also had dinner (just the two of us) and were able to witness to our waiter and the owner of the restaurant. The owner gave us his business card and told us to come back for a meal on him. Hmmm, maybe we'll go back and witness some more at that restaurant!
The clerk at the Hallmark store, the hostesses at restaurants, the man selling newspaper subscriptions at the grocery store all received tracts and conversation about the Law and Grace.
Not all conversations can be in-depth due to the fact that they are working. But, try handing out tracts wherever you go. If you still can't work up the courage to hand some out, at least leave some in the restrooms. Just take baby steps and you will find that it won't feel as foreign to you the more you do it. But, I must confess, I still get nervous and almost chicken out almost every time I begin talking to a stranger. Don't let that stop you. Rely on the Lord to give you the words to say. Your obedience will be honored. He doesn't ask for the eloquent, the PhD's, or only pastor's to speak. We are all called to walk a life of obedience.
By far, Christmastime is my favorite time for handing out tracts. Not only do you not need to come up with a good opening line, since Christmas is about Christ, but people are just happier and seem to be in festive moods. I've experienced no reluctance from people to take a tract during this time. If you've never handed out tracts before, this is the perfect time for a beginner to start.
If you have never shared your faith and call yourself a Christian, examine the scriptures and see what the Bible has to say about sharing your faith by actually opening your mouth. We don't all have to stand on a street corner and preach. But, we are called to be faithful witnesses and if you are only "kind" to people and mention occasionally that you go to church, they are never going to see their absolute need of the Savior. To have never opened your mouth to share the hope you have is, in my opinion, denying Christ by omission. Sadly, in the past, I would let months or years go by without engaging a single person in a conversation about Christ. Don't live in the past. If you've never shared your faith, start now! You'll never regret it.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Every year one of our family traditions is going to see Southern Lights. It is a drive through Christmas light display at the Horse Park. There are 3 miles of over 1 million lights on more than 100 displays. It's so large that setup begins in September and final tear down is complete in February. Once you drive through the display there is an exotic petting zoo, pony rides, craft sellers, model train room and doll house display, and miniature train ride. It's fun for the entire family.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Hand them out at :
- Christmas Parades (check your local paper and find what parades are taking place)
- Malls (kiosks, at the end of elevators, at the entrance to the mall, clerks)
- Door Greeters (Wal-mart, Target, Sam's Club, etc.)
- Gift Wrappers (While you're waiting for your gift to be wrapped, share the Gospel)
- People you work with (Office parties, or others in the building you work in)
- Neighbors (bake some bread or cookies and deliver them with a card and Christmas Cash)
- Rest stops (if traveling, stick them in the restrooms or the rack holding information on attractions)
- Waiters/Waitresses (hostesses, busboys, etc.)
- Christmas Parties (These can be fabulous witnessing opportunities)
Here is another idea for sharing the Gospel using a tract. This link from Living Waters demonstrates the effectiveness of tracts. http://www.livingwaters.com/christmas/christmas_tract_card_insert.pdf. Share this document with your Sunday School class or friends and family who may be reluctant to share the Gospel or even hand out a tract. Stick these in Christmas cards that you mail out. Just like Halloween is the one time per year when potentially 100 strangers come to your door, Christmastime is when we all send Christmas cards usually telling about what our family did the past year. Click on the link, print it off and stick this in the card as well.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
You may even want to consider open air preaching. Several times we have traveled, we have counted out of state plates from 15 states or more. You can cast the net wide and possibly reach more people geographically by visiting a rest stop. Hand out the million dollar bill or start handing out Christmas Cash. I have found it is a fabulous place to engage people in conversation because people get out of their cars to walk around and most are amiable to conversation for at least 15 minutes or more. We have met some of the nicest people at rest stops.
If you haven't ordered any Christmas Cash, I'd recommend to places to check out. Go to http://www.customtractsource.com/ or http://www.livingwaters.com/ and order plenty for the Christmas Season. Remember, Black Friday is only a few days away.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Have I got GREAT news for you! During this season and in the Spring, Upward Basketball is hosted in many churches across the nation. Their mission is: To introduce children to Jesus Christ by creating opportunities to serve through sports. Check them out at http://www.upward.org/ Locate a host church near you and offer to do a half-time devotion. Sometimes you'll be able to open air 2-3 times on a Saturday!
Now, the host church usually asks, begs, cajoles, and frets over finding people who will be willing to give a halftime "devotion." This is your opportunity to step up to the plate and be an obedient servant of Christ and boldly proclaim the Gospel on their P.A. system in the gym before a captive audience of approximately 40-60 or more parents! No hecklers. No need for a heckler mic and kill switch. Save those $1 bills you use for trivia to buy more tracts. Keep those stuffed animals you use for drawing crowds at home. This is better than when you had training wheels on your first bike!
I openly declared the Gospel 2 years ago during halftime only I didn't know it was called open air preaching. I got to do this 2 times per Saturday for a couple of Saturdays. I was quaking in my sneakers, but did it anyway and had several complete strangers say they had never heard anything like that before. I hadn't been taught how to follow up conversations so I just said something profound like, "Oh." I didn't know any better. Hand out some Gospel tracts. Be prepared to stay and answer questions. They're not going anywhere until their kids are done playing. I plan on sharing the Gospel during halftime since our church just signed on to be a host church.
If you've never open aired- now's your chance. Try not to be an open air hog. Encourage others to join you. If you just returned from the Ambassador's Academy, this is a wonderful opportunity. And for those of us who are not fortunate enough to have sunny, warm weather year round (we got snow last night), then this will be the cure for your open-air-cabin-fever blues!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
After I'd finished witnessing to Jamie, I discovered that a friend named Lisa had over heard the encounter. I was in the very back corner of a large kitchen discreetly sharing the Gospel. There was so much activity and noise going on around I didn't believe that anyone but my husband knew what I was doing. Lisa said, "Hey, I can't believe you just witnessed to her. That was awesome! I witness too but I get stuck sometimes knowing how to transition the conversation."
This sparked a whole, new conversation about the importance of witnessing Biblically. She shares her faith frequently and also loves to pass out books to people when witnessing. I was able to show her some of the tracts that I carry with me and we began to role play. Here are some things that I shared:
1) Before you leave to go somewhere, check out the headline of your local or national news. The online news sites are replete with headlines that often involve someone's untimely demise. I find that the most successful stories are often the ones where someone dies unexpectedly. This is key to remember, we don't know the day we're going to die and these people most likely didn't either.
After scanning the details of the article, you will be able to engage even a complete stranger. Besides the fact that we are all going to die, you will have an instant rapport with someone when discussing a headline tragedy. We all gravitate towards tales of tragedy. If you don't believe this, try not staring the next time there is a car accident on the road.
photo by Chris Yarzab2) Lead off with a question such as, "Did you hear about what happened in...?" If they have heard about whatever news item you're discussing follow it with, "Kinda makes you think about how short life is, doesn't it?" If they haven't heard of what you're talking about, bring them up to speed with a few details from the article and then use the above questions. Then follow with the question, "When you die do you think you'll go to heaven?" or you can say, "When you die do you think you'll go to heaven or hell?" Either way, you're going to get around to speaking of hell so don't worry if "hell" is not in the first question since many people don't think they're going to hell anyway.
3) When using tracts, here are some suggestions:
Curved Illusion- I showed Lisa the illusion (asking which looked longer the one on the right or left). She'd never seen anything like it. After you stack the cards, they see that they are the same size, one way to transition is by saying, "It's an optical illusion. Just like our eyes can deceive us, so too our hearts can deceive us by believing something that isn't true." From there, you can engage anyone by talking about how we sometimes hold onto beliefs that aren't true even though we sincerely believe they are. Then ask, "Do you have a Christian background?"
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Opportunities are everywhere! Karen boldy proclaimed the Gospel and this woman is now thinking very seriously about what was said. The seed was planted and she was awakened to the state of her soul. The other woman, named Shannon, is reading and learning and is going to try witnessing soon but asked for more specific transitions when witnessing. Praise God!
I will share with you an experience I had last week. My family volunteers once a month by cooking a meal for about 50-60 people at a facility where families reside while their children are in the hospital. I prayed for an opportunity to witness to someone tonight since I'd had company for the last week and couldn't get out as often.
That's the first thing you do: pray for God to not only provide opportunities but for Him to open your eyes to them as they present themselves.
While in the kitchen, a girl came back and commented how good the food smelled. My husband is the main cook and had come up with the menu this month. He says cooking relaxes him. I can't ever say that I've experienced relaxation while cooking- ever! It turns out, she was a volunteer named Jamie. She just had an engaging personality and so I asked a little about her. I was genuinely interested.
That is the the next thing you should do: cultivate an attitude of genuine care and concern for those around you who may be lost and show genuine interest in them. This isn't a "score" you're trying to tally. Check your heart. It's an obedience thing.
When you genuinely care, you won't need a script to get you started. I asked her how often she volunteered and found out she was a college student and what her major was. Here's how I led in, "Wow! Sounds like you're really busy with school, work, and volunteering! Are you able to still be active in church?" (Just assume they go to church until proven otherwise.)
This is a generic, non-offensive way to at least bring up the topic of spiritual things. She said she had not really been to church in awhile due to her schedule. I shared that when I was in college I worked full time and went to college full time and it WAS hard to find time to goto church and read my Bible.
Be real. If you've had struggles, share them in an appropriate manner. You never want to share your past and revel in it or make it sound like 'those were the days', but if you have had a pertinent struggle, be willing to share. But, don't make something up if you haven't had that struggle.
I relayed to her how busy my life had been in college and I said it is even more busy now that I'm married, have 4 kids, teach, and work part-time. One way that I take advantage of little pockets of time (traffic jams, doctor's office, or just being a passenger in the car) is to carry index cards with scripture written on them. Get a binder ring at an office supply store punch a hole in the index cards and write scriptures to hide God's word in your heart. She thought that was a great idea and said she would try it.
Since I'd already brought up church, the next question I asked was, "Are you a Christian?" She said she was. I asked her, "If I had 3 minutes to live and I looked in your eyes as I was dying and said, 'I don't know if I will go to heaven, what should I do?', what would you tell me?" She got really quiet and almost had a bewildered, panicked look on her face and said, "I don't know."
At this point, I shared again that I had answered the same way in the past. I also shared with her my mistaken belief that once I'd accepted Christ that I just had to act really good to stay in "good standing" with Him.
If you haven't already, take some time and write out your testimony. Rehearse it. Don't despise your "lack" of testimony if you have not been arrested, drug-addicted, alcohol addicted, and to hell and back. I was on the same road to hell before I humbled myself, repented and believed even though I'd never experienced the dramatic things others have. My testimony is in the column to the right. Keep it short. I used to think that I didn't have a testimony. I had to repent of my pride because I still thought I was pretty good compared to some people and God really didn't have to do much to save me. Oh my wretched heart! When I realized the gravity of my sin, I was cut to the core and wept at my arrogance and disdain for Christ's sacrifice! I've talked with many who say they can't come up with a testimony. I say, then you're still too prideful and haven't come to the foot of the bloodstained cross.
I then asked her, "How do you think you get to heaven?" Since I'd just given her a 3 minute to live scenario, this is a natural, non-contrived next question. She said, "You just need to be really good and pray and treat people kindly." She said this with such sincerity, you could tell she walked her talk. It appeared she really tried to live this way. But, that isn't good enough. We can never be good enough.
This is a great time to take someone through the good person test. Take some time and remember what thoughts were going through your head the first time you took the test and realized you weren't good enough to go to heaven. Share those thoughts and your reaction with the person you are sharing with. If you do not know the good person test, click at the top of the column to the right, "Are you a good person?"
After I took her through the test and she saw the gravity of her situation, she was very concerned. I love what happens next: give them the Good News! Share with them that as they stand before God on the day of their death, the gavel of justice is coming down and before it comes down, sealing their fate, Christ pays their fine for the crime that they committed and takes the punishment they deserved and He is the only one who could because he was morally perfect. By now, the Gospel is resonating with them in a way it never has before.
She said she had never heard it this way before and it made so much sense. She thanked me not once, but several times. This isn't prideful when I share this, but I can't tell you how many people have an intense fear of rejection or fear offending the stranger they are sharing with. In one-on-one conversations, it generally doesn't happen. If you are standing on a street corner preaching, that's different. You are warning them their lives are in DANGER! This is no time for fear!
She made me promise not to leave before she could get my e-mail. We hugged and she had to go to the front desk.
As far as being prepared, 1) always carry tracts in your car, purse, Bible, diaper bag, backpack, etc. 2) Purchase some extra copies of the book, The Way of the Master complete with a CD of the message Hell's Best Kept Secret. Keep them in the trunk of your car, under the front seat, wherever you're going to be. Hand them out.
Before I left, I exchanged information with her. I also gave her a copy of Way of the Master and the CD Hell's Best Kept Secret. I told her she'd really enjoy the disk because the guy has a great sense of humor and she'd love is accent. I said it would really reiterate what we talked about tonight.
Last but most important, pray for those that you have spoken to. You have just planted the seed. Agree in prayer with the Lord who desires all to come to salvation. If you exchange information- follow up with them!
Tomorrow, I'll tell you why this evening was more productive than I thought...
Monday, November 17, 2008
Don't discount the effectiveness of a tract. Even Charles Spurgeon (from 150 years ago) believed they were effective when he said, "When preaching and private talk are not available, you need to have a tract ready . . . Get good striking tracts, or none at all. But a touching gospel tract may be the seed of eternal life. Therefore, do not go out without your tracts."
Our oldest son joined me at a football game back in October for an occasion to share the Gospel. It was the first time he'd been on a fishing trip with me. Here is a link to the story http://chipperfisher.blogspot.com/2008/10/fishing-at-game.html. Since then, he is diligent about leaving Million Dollar Bills whenever we're out. But, he has desired more opportunities to share the Gospel more directly.
Yesterday, our family went out to eat. He said, "Mom, I want to share a Gospel tract with our waiter. Will you back me up?" I knew exactly what he meant. I had told him that anytime he wanted to share the Gospel, let me know. He can start and I'll take over if he gets stuck or where he leaves off.
As our waiter was giving us the check, our son held up the pink and blue curved illusion tract and asked him which one looks longer. (In the picture it looks like the left one is longer but remember that when someone is standing in front of you and you are showing them the one on their right will look longer.) The waiter stopped and said the one on the right did. He switched the cards in his hand and asked which looked longer now. Now the waiter was perplexed because the one on the waiter's right still looked longer! He asked, "How did it do that?"
Without missing a beat, he stacked the pink on top of the blue proving that they were actually the exact same size and said, "It's an optical illusion. Just like our eyes can deceive us and play tricks, sometimes our heart can too. It's a Gospel tract." He nudged me and that was my cue.
I told the waiter, "It has a Gospel message on the back. To answer your question about how it does this, it is because of the curvature of the card. There are so many times we've seen a magician and were sure what we saw was real but it was only an illusion. Likewise, there are things that we believe to be true that may not be true." I reiterated again that it was a Gospel message and that he should read it and seriously consider the message and examine himself based on what was on the back. He said he would read it and was going to take it back and trick the chef. He thought it was great.
It was absolutely packed in the restaurant yesterday- be mindful of that. Don't get into some deep discussion which penalizes other customers and causes him or her to do a poor job. If you do yammer on and on, you have overestimated your importance. The tract and the Holy Spirit will do the job.
Probably most importantly, DO NOT LEAVE JUST A TRACT AND NO TIP! In fact, I would encourage you to tip generously. It is my opinion to leave just a tract and no tip is tacky. Christians already have to overcome so many other streotypes. Don't add to it. Some people are working to support their family and with finances being tight with many in our nation, the last thing you want to do is to leave a bad taste in someone's mouth that may taint their view of Christ and tip the scales in favor of the world. A tract never fed someone's family.
Also, try not to let circumstances such as busy restaurants deter you. You can share some tracts in 30 seconds or less and at the very least you can leave a Million Dollar Bill. After I had paid the bill, I also left the tract "Something to think about" with the payment and nice tip.
Click on the tracts link in the right hand column labeled "Resource Links" on this page. You will be taken to a page with links to tracts. The tracts used in the above encounter were purchased from Living Waters. Buy some tracts. Keep them onhand and hand them out everywhere you go. Before and after, pray for those who received the tracts that they take seriously what they've just read.
Friday, November 14, 2008
In the last week, my husband and I have witnessed to 3 people who really believed they were "good enough" to go to heaven. One person still believes he can work off the "bad" he's done in this life before he dies, one thought that he was just fine eventhough he is angry at God, and the last one was genuinely shocked and had never considered what I shared with her. Please pray for them all.
Don't think you will enter heaven on your own merit. If anyone tells you this they are lying. If you believe this, you are deceived. This is a great video which illustrates this very well.
If you are wondering, "Well, how do I know if I am a Christian or not?" Please click on the links on the right hand side of this blog. Listen to the sermon "Hell's Best Kept Secret" by clicking on the link labeled "The most important message you may ever hear." This is a great place to start.
After that go to God's Word, and read 1 John. It's only got 5 short chapters but is the gold standard by which you can examine yourself to see if you exhibit anything that these 5 chapters talk about. If you are a new Christian and don't know what to do next, I have a link to a pdf document that will guide you in principles for living a life that glorifies the Lord. http://www.livingwaters.com/downloads/save_yourself_some_pain.pdf
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
He visited with him for about 4 hours. The first 2 hours were just catching up on life and family matters and the last 2 hours were spent addressing his spiritual state.
He is 81 and in failing health due to the fact that he is a chain smoker and has high blood pressure. He also has a prideful heart that is so arrogant that it will not allow him to humble himself and repent of the sin he loves so much.
He understands that Christ died on the cross for his sins. He understands that he has done bad things, isn't righteousness, and has broken God's moral law. But he also tries to do good things too, to spiritually offset the bad. Much like environmentalist movie stars continue to fly in their jets and figure if they plant a few extra trees it will offset the damage to the environment, he figures if he does enough good things it will offset the bad. There is no such thing as spiritual "carbon offsets."
While he claims that he doesn't agree with the Catholic church, it has greatly influenced his belief system. It was his only religious experience. He said he only went because his wife went there and he wanted his daughters to be "raised right." My husband's parents, who were missionaries in a foreign country for several years, have witnessed to him for over 40 years. Ralph acknowledged to my husband that he knew his daughter and son-in-law (my husband's parents) "got religion" several years back, but still believes that he can work off his sin and ignores what they've told him.
My husband reasoned with him and told him that when he dies, it will be too late. Ralph replied that he believes that he is going to have to pay and work off his sins in this life. But, he quickly added that he doesn't believe that God will let him off for free. So my husband said, "If someone gave you $1 million and you replied, 'I just have to give you something for this fabulous gift' and you reached into your pocket and pulled out a nickel, don't you think that would be offensive to the giver?" He said he totally understood the analogy and agreed that if he was the giver, he would be offended if someone he just gave $1 million to, gave him a nickel to thank him. He said it would hurt his feelings.
He acknowledges that he has done a lot of "bad" things. While there, Bill helped him set up his e/m account and was warned, "Be careful of any photos you might see. I'm a dirty old man, but in my mind only."
And isn't that the point that so many miss? We so often believe that if nobody sees us or catches us and our thoughts that it's not really bad enough to cause God to be that angry.
When told that God does judge the secret places of the heart he replied, "I have my own way of thinking about things and God and I have come to an understanding."
Oh how many times I have heard that from unsaved, unrepentant, arrogant, stubborn individuals who use that to justify their sin! My heart breaks, as does his family's heart, over his stubbornness and unrepentance. His understanding is only one-sided, because God does not compromise. Ralph refuses to believe that when he dies and stands before God on Judgment Day the multitude in heaven will stand and applaud as God casts him into hell into a Godless eternity praising God for ridding the earth of him! Unless he repents and believes before he dies, you are staring at the picture of a man on death row.
If you are not saved and reading this, you will be held accountable by God on Judgement Day because you heard the truth and ignored it. Doesn't this concern you? Please, before it's too late, humble yourself by acknowledging your sin to God, repent of it, throw yourself on the mercy of God by placing your faith in Jesus Christ and read your Bible. Do what it says. When you die you will pass from this life into eternal life!
If you are saved, who do you know that needs to hear the TRUTH? Tell them before it's too late! Don't tell them that God loves them and they have a God-shaped hole in their hearts or that he has a wonderful plan for their lives! You are lying to them and will be an accessory to their death. All unrepentant people are objects of God's wrath. Only when we repent and believe do we become objects of God's affection.
When they won't listen... you pray.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
One of the best articles I have found addressing how to witness to a Jew was written by my friend Mark. He is Jewish and has accepted Jesus as Messiah. He graciously allowed me to post it here and hopes that it is an encouragement to all believers who are trying to share their faith with an unbelieving Jew. Here is a link to his article. http://www.sohmer.net/Sharing_with_Jewish_People.php
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
We told him we'd buy it all. So my husband went down to witness to this man. My husband has been faithful to evangelize many times. He picks up strangers or talks to the people he meets every day in the course of his job. He is learning how to be more deliberate in his evangelistic encounters. Since evangelism teaching which might mention the words "hell" and/or "sin" was largely abandoned at the beginning of the last century, we have been hard pressed to find resources to know how to evangelize.
In the past, when witnessing to people, I'd ask, "So do you know Jesus?" or the even more generic, "Are you a Christian?" They would reply, "Yes." After their answer, I would believe my job was done. What I did not know is that these two questions are only a starting point. They are never to be the only questions asked. My friend Anita in California, has absolutely perfected the technique for "pressing" people.
When I witnessed at Huntington Beach with her in August she demonstrated this incredible ability to keep pressing people for more information based on their answers. In this photo, she demonstrated this during a one-on-one conversation with a man at the beach. She was kind and sensitive, but had a single-minded focus: to share the Gospel completely until she got a response. I didn't say a conversion or a decision, just a thoroughly explored response.
We witnessed to one man on the concrete bleacher area. He said he didn't want to talk. He also said that he had already made millions and lost millions of dollars. Finally he said, "I already said I didn't want to talk." I jumped in and said, "OK, thanks for your time." Anita said she really wished she could have pressed him further. I asked, "Why would you ask someone more questions when they said they weren't interested?" From her answer, I learned one of the most valuable lessons about sharing the Gospel that day.
She explained that almost 10 years ago she was a false convert. She knew God was real, believed Jesus died for us but she didn't want anything to do with him since her family life was falling apart.
At a particularly low point, she decided to go on a drive to clear her head, grab a Starbuck's coffee, have a cigarette and think. Two college age girls walked out of Starbuck's and saw her. She didn't want to be bothered or talk to anyone. She tried to ignore them. She just wanted to be alone.
Before she knew it, they were standing in front of her. They asked her if they could sit with her. She wasn't in the mood and mumbled, "Whatever." She quickly thought, "How can I get out of here and have them leave me alone?" She was in no mood for conversation and just hoped that they would leave. She doesn't know why, but she stayed anyway.
When asked if she believed in God, that was the LAST thing she wanted to talk about. Sure, she couldn't deny His existence, but she just managed to say, "Uhh...yeah." Excited by her answer, they said, "Oh, you do?! Great! Do you go to church? Do you believe in His Son, Jesus?"
Anita still wasn't in a mood to talk because of the weight of her problems and the feeling that she was utterly alone.
The next question just broke the barrier in her heart she was hiding behind for safety. The girl asked, "So do you have a relationship with Him today? Are you living for Him?" Anita was fed up. On the verge of tears, she said, "Look, I'm not stupid. I know that there is a God and I know that He sent His Son to die on the cross, but my life sucks right now!" She went on to share about the situation in her family and how it was tearing them apart, coupled with the financial burden that was taking a toll on the family. As a result of this, she had to fly home from school because her family could no longer afford her college expenses. She then challenged them with, "... and now you expect me to believe that God loves me?! If He does then why is all this junk happening in my life?"
"Wow. It sounds like you're going through a lot of stuff," said one of them. They went on to talk for about an hour. She was able to understand that being a Christian doesn't mean your life is going to be without trial. But God, in his goodness and mercy did NOT give us what we deserve which was certain death. It turns out that those two girls attended a local Christian University nearby and that their dorm-floor go out and do street evangelism every Friday night.
Anita says she remembers the events of that night so clearly, because when they were done talking, as she was walking to her car, she felt like the Lord was saying to her, "You see, all this time you've been pushing me away; hating Me. But I'm going to come after you. I love you."
She repented and her life has never been the same since. She says, "I guess I like to press people to see how far I can get because I'm reminded of when those two girls pressed me. If they didn't press, I might of just gotten up, walked away, and only the Lord knows what I would have done next. Funny thing is, I don't even know where those girls are at today. We didn't exchange information or anything. They won't be able to see the fruit of their labors until we get to heaven. And it won't be until we get to heaven that I'll be able to thank them for their faithfulness to the Lord."
She admits that sometimes pressing people does push them too far, but either way, she leaves the outcome to the Lord and asks Him to give her wisdom when she goes out to share the Gospel.
It's so important to know that we will not always see the results of our efforts. God never promised us that. But, we are to walk in obedience and share the Gospel. You never know when you might be the very means by which He chooses to bring someone into an eternal relationship with Him by your faithfulness.