Monday, October 26, 2009
Not everyone has to preach from a street corner, but are you at least sharing the Gospel with those around you whenever you have the opportunity? I have to confess, I still do not take advantage of every opportunity. I don't know why I sometimes avoid situation where I know the Gospel needs to be proclaimed. Diane encourages me to consistently share the Gospel and to not worry about what others think because if I do that then I am more concerned about my comfort than their souls. God, forbid!
At the very least, buy some tracts and hand them out to people or leave them wherever you go- restaurants, shopping malls, parking lots, etc. Halloween is coming up. Buy some tracts to place in the bags of the children coming for candy. Surely, you can do that. Just give it a try.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Evangelism doesn't have to be fancy, but you actually have to do it. Was his method offensive to you? It didn't seem to offend those who saw him over the hour he stood there. Try it. Be encouraged. Be faithful.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
After watching the video, if you would like to be involved with the effort to distribute them at the University of Kentucky, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
This is our pastor asking him to tell the congregation that he is a believer and has believed that Jesus has taken his sins away and granted him eternal life.
Our pastor prayed with him and our entire family after he made his profession. It was truly a beautiful day! We will make arrangements for him to be baptized in the future, as we are currently meeting in a school.
We have seen much evidence of true conversion in him. We normally don't tell people we meet that he came to our family through the gift of adoption. But, I believe it is important to share his story so that you can fully appreciate where he began.
We first met him in December of 2005 in an orphanage in rural Russia. He was a tiny 8 year old boy with an infectious smile. When he came home in April 2006 as our forever son, we began explaining to him the reality of God. He had never heard of Jesus and had no knowledge of the typical stories most children do. No songs about Zaccheus being a wee little man or Father Abraham having many sons. In fact, he had never heard of Jesus, Noah, Adam, Moses or any of the people in the Bible that most children in America are acquainted with from a young age. He just had an intense longing to have a question that had been burning in his mind while in Russia answered: Where did all the people, trees, and animals come from?
He said he had asked people over in Russia, but no one knew the answer. In 2006, when he came home, we studied Romans. By the time we had gotten through the first few chapters he exclaimed, "It is God!" The light came on and he has studied the Bible diligently ever since.
We have studied Romans, the life of Moses by studying Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the life of Jesus by studying Matthew, and this year we are studying the book of John. He reads his Bible every day for about an hour and has for sometime. He reads about 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes before bed and will read the entire Bible 1 1/2 times this year on his reading program. He doesn't read under compulsion but because he genuinely desires to see what happened next.
We see fruit in his life as he looks for ways to be a servant to his family. We so infrequently have to discipline him. He is eager to take on responsibility and a joy to be around.
Our lives are blessed beyond measure and it is an honor and privilege I do not deserve. My life is better having had the privilege of having him as my son. We love you son and are thrilled and pleased that God has answered our prayers over the past four years for your salvation. To God be the Glory!
Tuck several in the literature they give to you about the hotel, attractions, and dining.
I took advantage of the cabinetry and the microwave in the room as well.
There were plenty of places in the bathroom too. I laid a few out in the open for housekeeping to find. After I was done, I earnestly prayed that God would guide the individuals to find these and that the seed would be planted.
If you have still never shared your faith or if you are working up the courage too, you can easily put tracts in the places you visit. Your faith and boldness will be strengthened by your obedience. Go ahead and try it if you haven't already. When you've placed the tracts, pray that God will cause people who need Him to find them and pray that He will increase your boldness and obedience to share the Gospel.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
A few weeks ago, I'd contacted a friend to see if our daughters could get together to play. Since we live on opposite sides of town, about 30 minutes apart, we agreed upon a halfway point so she could pick up my daughter and take her to her house. We agreed that we'd meet at this grocery store in the parking lot. I had no intention of going in or doing any shopping. I only happened to be on this side of town because my son was taking a science course on Thursdays at a church down the street from this location. After his class was over, I was to meet them in the parking lot. Before I got there I got a call from a friend whose whole family had been battling either the flu or allergies for weeks. I thought, "I'm right here at the store and she lives so close I might as well pick up some medicine for her and the kids so she didn't have to go out." On my way out of the store that I never would have gone into had my friend not been ill nor had I not had to meet a friend for a playdate rendezvous, I met Calvin and Mike.
Knowing that I would need to pick up my daughter again, my friend and I had agreed a few days prior to pick up at the same place. From the time I had left the two gentlemen, my other 3 kids and I dropped the medicine off to my sick friend. We then went out for a quick bite to eat and headed home. I had several things that needed to be done before I had to drive back over to pick up my daughter.
Then it hit me- would those guys still be there later in the afternoon? If they were, I would be able to give them the books and materials! I prayed that God would let it be. When the time came for me to pick up my daughter 5 hours later, guess who was still standing in the same spot? Calvin and Mike!
I gave them the books before I picked up my daughter. I also handed them some curved illusion tracts and a few others. I explained that Way of the Master would teach them about the fallacy of the modern Gospel. Hell's Best Kept Secret had a study guide in it so that he could lead others and One Heartbeat Away was a book geared primarily to the unsaved but has excellent ways to share the Gospel with them and answers many questions. Calvin was thrilled to get his hands on them! He said he'd already handed out some tracts since I'd seen him last!
As I was driving away, Calvin was already engrossed in the book! When I think back about all the things that God orchestrated I know that everything is for His Glory. Remember, Calvin and Mike live in another state several hours away. Who knew that God would bring them to a different state so that I would run into them at a store in which I never shop on a side of town that I am rarely on so that these eager men would learn to share the Gospel in a Biblical manner? I know I don't truly know them, but I have never seen anyone who was not a Christian ever so thrilled by our conversation, amazed to see resources available (like tracts) that they were unaware of and eager to share the Gospel as these two men. What a blessed day!
Friday, October 2, 2009
I asked if they were Christians. They emphatically and enthusiastically answered, "Yes." They had their Bibles on the table and I could see that they had gotten some use as they were worn and marked up. But, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. I asked, "Do you share your faith?" Calvin said he did and said he often goes and shares on the streets and shares wherever he goes. I was intrigued. I asked, "When you share the Gospel with people, what do you tell them?" He said that he would tell them that they needed to give their lives to Jesus so they would have a better life. I said, "So you might tell them to come to Jesus because they will have love, joy, peace...right?" He said, "Yes, exactly."
I began by asking if I could share something with them to which they replied, "Sure." I told them that years ago, whenever I wasn't a chicken and mustered up courage, I would share the Gospel by enticing people with all the good stuff of Christ by sharing with others the same way they were sharing until I found out that I was only giving them half the story. They were all ears. So I asked them, "If you could travel back in time to September 10, 2001 and talk to all the people who were going to die in the twin towers on September 11th, could you still preach the same message that they were going to have lives filled with love, joy, and peace?" They said, "I see what you're saying. No, you really couldn't say that could you."
I began with a scenario I thought they could relate to. I said pretend that you go to the doctor for a check-up and then as you were leaving the doctor casually mentions he had some medicine he wanted you to take and said nothing more. You take the medicine and quite frankly, it tastes bitter. You think, "I was feeling fine to begin with so I probably don't need to take this anymore. Besides, I hate the bitter aftertaste." You go to the doctor sometime later and he asks if you are still taking the medicine that he prescribed from your last visit. You tell the doctor that you didn't really like how it tasted and thought you didn't need it because you were feeling fine. When the doctor describes to you that you had 10 clear symptoms that he noticed from your last visit you begin to get concerned. He then tells you that the medicine he gave you was the cure and without it you will die. You're horrified as you realize what you've done!
I asked them if this made sense to them. They said it really did as I explained that when we give people the cure without convincing them that they are ill they are not as likely to follow through with the cure. What we need is contained in the Word of God and sometimes what the Word reveals is a bitter pill to swallow.
So, I took them through the law and after they admitted they were lying thieving, blasphemous, adulterers at heart I took them before the bench of Eternal Justice. I had them stand before God, and they saw that the law didn't help them but left them helpless before a holy and just God.
They really understood and I then asked them if they had been told to not use the law nor mention hell or judgment when sharing their faith because it would be offensive to the listener.
Calvin said, "This absolutely is what I've been taught, but what you're saying makes more sense. I'm seeing that when you tell someone in the manner that you do it's just not offensive." I said, "That's right! Because again, the patient is never going to listen or want the cure if they are never convinced they are ill."
I went back to the courtroom before God the judge and gave them some different scenarios to consider. I asked Mike and Calvin what they think would happen if I were standing before a judge on murder charges, but before he passed sentence I told the judge, "Judge, I know you're a good judge and I want to let you know that before I got here this morning I washed and detailed your car and even armorall on the tires. I'm sure you'll take this into consideration before passing sentence and I'm sure you'll let me go." They said there was no judge in the land that would let you go if you did that. I agreed and told them in fact, what I was doing was bribing the judge and that is what we do when we try to say we hope our good works will get us into heaven.
Calvin stopped me and asked, "Are you a teacher? Do you teach this to people? You ought to teach this to people. How can I find out how to do what you're doing? I have so many people that I need to share this with and teach them!" I gave them my website and told them that if they e-mailed me their address I would mail them several books and resources. I found out that they are from Colombus, Ohio several hours North of where I live. He was very familiar with the Word and as I brought out different scriptures the light was coming on and they were more excited.
The more I shared I would pause and ask if what I was telling them made sense. They agreed enthusiastically and we continued. So, I told them that when sharing with people who say they are going to use their good works to get into heaven, all they are doing is trying to bribe God. I said your good works come from a grateful heart that responds in obedience to the extravagant sacrifice that was offered on your behalf by God Himself through Jesus Christ His son but they are never used as the means by which you are granted eternal life.
I then reached into my wallet and gave them all the tracts I had and showed them how to use them. I gave them several million dollar bills and told them to just give them to someone simply by asking, "Did you get one of these?" I showed them that the entire Gospel message was on the back and that it was goof-proof because million dollar question was on the back. They grinned and were asking questions about how exactly do you do this to a complete stranger. At that moment, a man walked out of the store and donated something to their bucket and got a package of crackers and lingered. I looked at Calvin and whispered, "Try it." He grabbed a tract, gave it to me and said, "Here, you do it."
So I gave him a million dollar bill, told the gentleman it was part of the economic stimulus package, and answered that it was a Gospel tract when he asked. I asked if he were to die would he go to heaven. He said he didn't know but supposed that he should probably get saved before he dies. I introduced myself and he told me his name was Gary. I said Gary, "You don't know when you're going to die because you could be in your car going home and die in a wreck before you get saved. Doesn't that concern you?" He said it sure did. I took him through the law, the courtroom of Eternal Justice, and gave him grace. After I concluded, he said it was definitely something to think about, held onto the tract, thanked me and left.
I am certain that God sent that very man at that very moment to not only hear the Gospel but to show Calvin and Mike that people don't get angry when the Gospel is shared Biblically. I asked them, "Did he get angry at me? yell at me? spit in my face? curse me? beat me up?" They saw that when the Gospel is shared Biblically people are usually left speechless and contemplative.
We talked some more and I told them to give them law and then grace because sharing one without the other comes across as either harsh or produces false converts. Calvin truly understood and commented about the ones who didn't seem to finish the race because they got off the path. We talked about false conversion and worldy sorrow versus Godly sorrow. I had such a wonderful time with them. They were so enthusiastically receptive. I told them that I was going to go to my car and give them something.
On a side note...
I learned today to always make sure you have enough books! I was so frustrated that I didn't have any more WOTM books, but I cleaned out my tract stash in the center console. Besides tracts, make sure you check your stash of books and CD's before you leave home!
I had my son walk over with me as I gave them a bag of tracts and take a picture of us. Calvin asked if I had a ministry because he'd like to support it. I laughed as I told him no because I have never had anyone say that before. He asked if I would pray with them before I left. We prayed right then and there and then I left.
I wanted so badly to get those books into their hands. If only there was a way...
Thursday, October 1, 2009
It's so easy to have a difficulty arise and say you've given it to the Lord to handle and then look back once you've been through it and say, "Ah, I trusted the Lord and He got me through it." It is something entirely different when there is something that is thrust upon you, that you had no part in and in spite of efforts towards resolution and reconciliation, it only intensifies and keeps going.
What do you do? I learned many years ago when I was facing difficulty running, not walking, to the Psalms and reading them or singing praises to the Lord really helps refocus my thoughts and emotions. However, I have recently added something that I will do in addition to reading, praying and singing to the Lord. I believe another way to help us stay deliberately focused on CHRIST and not focused on our problem or difficulty is to go share the Gospel. Before you think, that is a really whacked out response or that I am disconnected from reality or trying to be "super spiritual" I'm not. It's just that the reality of what I claim was not consistent with what I believed. If I cower from a situation because I fear then I am allowing the fear to rule the situation and govern my actions.
Our family (my husband and children and myself) have experienced a situation that has caused us to be fearful for our lives. But, I have realized that I loved my life more than I ought. What happens if, for example, a gunman were to walk in and mow us down at a school, university, or gym? We get promoted, right? Why do I fear man (or woman) in this way? I shouldn't. It has caused me to understand more what is said in Mark 8:34-38,
34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
Particularly, v.35 stands out to me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
In an effort of self-preservation I have avoided facing a difficult situation. I have allowed fear of death to prevent me from pushing through circumstances that may or may not result in this. I was listening to Mark Cahill address a group of college students about the Virginia Tech shootings that had happened. He challenged them by asking, "If the Virginia Tech shooter were to walk in this room right now, what would you do?" Most people would want to hit the ground. He challenged the students with the thought, "What if you could stop the gunman either by addressing him by name (as was the case with the boy who confronted Michael Carneal in the Paducah, Kentucky shootings) or would you and a group of men ambush the attacker while he reloaded instead of preserving your own life, knowing that you may die trying?"
He wasn't talking about stupidity that would run right into the cross-fire and take a bullet nor was he talking about placing yourself in harm's way for the sake of placing yourself in danger. That is foolishness of the highest degree. However, the deeper truth he was trying to convey was this: Do you value your life so much that you spend the majority of your life and allow the decisions you make to benefit you with the goal of preserving the life you have now, this side of eternity? Think about it for a moment. What are you doing in your life that is causing you to cling to THIS life you have now? My best life is not nor ever will be now! My best life is going to be on the other side of eternity. While I have known this I don't believe that I have ever understood the depth of this truth until my own life has been dredged this past year.
When experiencing a trial there is always collateral damage. There are unintended consequences to your life or things you suffer as a result of the difficulty. Today, I had that Helen-Keller-at-the-water-well experience as I understood that I have got to get out of "life preservation mode" and make certain that my focus and objective are not obscured by circumstance. I shared the Gospel today with two brothers in Christ who, while trying to walk in obedience, were only giving part of the Gospel. I have been sharing the Gospel this past year, but I also have allowed my problem to make me more lazy and less inclined to be obedient. I also have avoided the problem for fear of what the outcome may be.
Obviously, because I haven't revealed the details of our difficulty it seems somewhat enigmatic. Suffice it to say, I finally learned the lesson today that despite the trial or fear you believe you may feel as a result of it, God has never called us to be obedient whenever things are going our way or easy for us. I've known that on some level but never comprehended it at the depth I did today.
In a deliberate effort to establish habits that are God-honoring I will probably start sharing the Gospel when I am experiencing extreme difficulty, or saddened, or fearful. That is the one sure cure for making certain that I maintain my laserbeam-like focus on being obedient to the Lord no matter what. Lesson learned.