Friday, October 2, 2009

Calvin, Mike, and Gary

I was running into a grocery store today to pick up some medicine for a friend. On my way out, I was asked by these gentleman if I would like to donate to support a ministry that helped men stay off the streets and stay clean and sober. Meet Calvin and Mike. Calvin is on the left and Mike is on the right.

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...

1 comment:

Jeff said...

This is great - I really appreciate your willingness to take the time to share this story. I've been doing the same thing on my blog and I'm going to post a link to your blog as a recommended site. God bless you!
Jeff Reiman