28 March 2011

Witnessing Encounter

Hey readers - I know its been awhile since I have posted anything :(

I have been really busy with Sunday school Bible study, Wednesday night Way of the Master lessons, baseball, softball, wife graduating from college....yipes!

I did want to quickly relate a witnessing encounter I had with a security guard on St. Patrick's Day. I had about a hundred St. Patrick's day million dollar bills to hand out, so I called up my buddy Cam and asked him if he wanted to meet up in Canton before our softball game and go hand out tracts and try to have a conversation or two.

Cam never says no.

We meet up and start walking a popular shopping center handing out the tracts. There were a few people here and there, but they all seemed to be in a hurry to go to and fro. People were taking tracts but we couldn't find a single person who would slow down enough to talk with us. I told Cam that if no one is in the mood to talk to us, we might as well go down to the Hispanic portion of town and hand out our Spanish tracts.

When we drove up the the shopping center we were more than happy to see a couple hundred cars in the parking lot! We excitingly got out of the car and, with hands full of tracts, descended upon the masses!

One problem.

A couple hundred cars and only three people in sight.

We walked over to where a couple guys were sitting around and, hoping they spoke a little English, asked them where everyone was. "I don't know" Why are all these cars here? "I don't know"

Ok...make sure you read the back of that card. "Si, thank you" You're welcome.

Cam and I get back in the car disappointed that, despite all the cars in the lot, no one was there. As we were about to drive out of the parking lot I see a couple security guards sitting in chairs on the far side of the lot. I pull the car over there and hop out real quick and asked them why are all the cars here...where is everyone?

He proceeded to tell me the Disney was making a movie down on main street and they were watching the cars for the cast and crew.


"Did you get one of these?" I gave both of the security guards a tract and asked them if they had a Christian background. One of the guards said yes, but the other said no. I introduced myself and Cam and the one who said he didn't have a Christian background said his name was Rodney.

Rodney was a very friendly guy who loved to talk. Cam and I only had about 45 minutes before we would have to leave to go to our softball game (we both play for our church softball team).

The conversation was pretty much one sided for quite awhile because Rodney loved to talk about much of a good person he was. So be careful how much time you have when you ask, "Would you consider yourself to be a good person?" to someone who loves to talk!!

When I was able to get a word in edgewise, I took Rodney through the Law and showed him that his justifying himself for the approval of God on Judgment Day, was nothing more than filthy rags in God's sight. I gave Rodney the good judge illustration to no avail.

Rodney still thought that his good deeds would earn him respect with God. It would have been nice to have had my recorder that evening so I could recall more of the conversation between us. Rodney did ask us lot of questions; and ask, and ask.

The Holy Spirit did an awesome job in answering all those questions!

In the end, after going through the Law a few times, showing Rodney from Scripture the wrath of God on those who transgress God's Law, describing the reality of spending eternity in Hell, the sharing of the glorious gospel, Rodney still kept coming back to his own righteousness and how that would be enough on the Day he stood before the Lord.

I just kept thinking of that verse, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death." (Prov 14:12)

Pray for Rodney that the Holy Spirit uses the tracts we gave him and the memory of our conversation to bring about conviction of his sins and that God brings him to repentance and faith in the One who did all the work necessary on that cross at Calvary.

12 March 2011

Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy - John Piper

From John Piper at Desiring God

“The waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me. . . This God—his way is perfect” (2 Samuel 22:5, 31).

After the loss of his ten children owing to a “natural disaster” (Job 1:19), Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). At the end of the book, the inspired writer confirms Job’s understanding of what happened. He says Job’s brothers and sisters “comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). This has several crucial implications for us as we think about the calamity in the Indian Ocean.

1) Satan is not ultimate, God is.

Satan had a hand in Job’s misery, but not the decisive hand. God gave Satan permission to afflict Job (Job 1:12; 2:10). But Job and the writer of this book treat God as the ultimate and decisive cause. When Satan afflicts Job with sores, Job says to his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10), and the writer calls these satanic sores “the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). So Satan is real. Satan brings misery. But Satan is not ultimate or decisive. He is on a leash. He goes no farther than God decisively permits.

2) Even if Satan caused the earthquake in the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas, he is not the decisive cause of 100,000+ deaths, God is.

God claims power over tsunamis in Job 38:8 when he asks Job rhetorically, “Who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb . . . and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?” Psalm 89:8-9 says, “O Lord . . . you rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.” And Jesus himself has the same control today as he once did over the deadly threats of waves: “He . . . rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm” (Luke 8:24). In other words, even if Satan caused the earthquake, God could have stopped the waves.

3) Destructive calamities in this world mingle judgment and mercy.

Their purposes are not simple. Job was a godly man and his miseries were not God’s punishment (Job 1:1, 8). Their design was purifying not punishment (Job 42:6). But we do not know the spiritual condition of Job’s children. Job was certainly concerned about them (Job 1:5). God may have taken their life in judgment. If that is true, then the same calamity proved in the end to be mercy for Job and judgment on his children. This is true of all calamities. They mingle judgment and mercy. They are both punishment and purification. Suffering, and even death, can be both judgment and mercy at the same time.

The clearest illustration of this is the death of Jesus. It was both judgment and mercy. It was judgment on Jesus because he bore our sins (not his own), and it was mercy toward us who trust him to bear our punishment (Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24) and be our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Another example is the curse that lies on this fallen earth. Those who do not believe in Christ experience it as judgment, but believers experience it as, merciful, though painful, preparation for glory. “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope” (Romans 8:20). This is God’s subjection. This is why there are tsunamis.

Who suffers from this fallen world of natural disasters? All of us, Christians included: “Not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). For those who cast themselves on the mercy of Christ these afflictions are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). And when death comes, it is a door to paradise. But for those who do not treasure Christ, suffering and death are God’s judgment. “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).

For children, who are too young to process mentally the revelation of God in nature or Scripture, death is not the final word of judgment. God’s commitment to display his justice publicly means that he does not finally condemn sinful people who could not physically construe natural or special revelation (Romans 1:20). There is a difference between suppressing revelation that one can mentally comprehend (Romans 1:18), and not having a brain sufficient to comprehend it at all. Therefore, when small children suffer and die, we may not assume they are being punished or judged. No matter how horrible the suffering or death, God can turn it for their greater good.

4) The heart that Christ gives to his people feels compassion for those who suffer, no matter what their faith.

When the Bible says, “Weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), it does not add, “unless God caused the weeping.” Job’s comforters would have done better to weep with Job than talk so much. That does not change when we discover that Job’s suffering was ultimately from God. No, it is right to weep with those who suffer. Pain is pain, no matter who causes it. We are all sinners. Empathy flows not from the causes of pain, but the company of pain. And we are all in it together.

5) Finally, Christ calls us to show mercy to those who suffer, even if they do not deserve it.

That is the meaning of mercy—undeserved help. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Therefore, pray earnestly for Scott Purser and his team as they investigate the best way that the Global Diaconate can mercifully respond with the love of Christ to the calamity around the Indian Ocean.

In the merciful hands of Almighty God,

Pastor John

08 March 2011

Way of the Master Video - Jamie

Just because someone is covered with tattoos doesn't mean she doesn't think deeply about spiritual things.

06 March 2011

The False Gospel of CHURCH

From Witnessing Encouragement

You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. Galatians 5:7-10

One of the most popular false gospels currently is the false gospel of “Church”.

This false gospel of “Church” has become popular in all corners of Evangelicalism of late. It is preached to unbeliever and believer alike. I’ve seen people in the community wearing t-shirts proudly promoting in large lettering THEIR CHURCH. Posters and fliers advertise THEIR CHURCH. I’ve been on ‘evangelism’ outings with groups whose “gospel message” to the community was, “Come to OUR CHURCH.”

There are many sermons online preaching devotion to CHURCH. They preach the preeminence of CHURCH to Christians. There are Christian works such as music albums, websites and books, dedicated to making sure Christians are submitted to and devoted to CHURCH. This is being heavily promoted in Baptist, Reformed, Evangelical circles. This false gospel is just like Roman Catholic doctrine.

To the lost their message is, “come to our CHURCH” (much like ‘salvation through Church’) rather than declaring the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. To the believer, their message is, “CHURCH is the preeminent thing in the Christian life.”

Let us not get off track in our devotion. Let us not forget in Whom is our hope. Only the person and work of Jesus Christ is the gospel to the lost. And nothing but Jesus Christ is preeminent in the life of every true believer.


Amen Loretta!