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.