Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Save Yourself Some Pain

Becoming a Christian is the most incredible event that will ever take place in your life. You have found peace with your Creator. You have found everlasting life! Be assured--God will never leave you nor forsake you. He has brought you this far and He will complete the wonderful work He has begun in you. God knows your every thought, your every care and your deepest concerns.

Let's now look at some of those possible concerns. First, and of primary concern -- do you have "assurance" of your salvation? The Bible says to "make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10, italics added), so, let's go through a short "checklist" to make sure that you are truly saved:

  1. Are you aware that God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14, KJV), and that he died for the sins of the world?
  2. Did you come to the Savior because you had sinned?
  3. Did you "repent" and put your faith in Jesus?
  4. Are you convinced that He suffered and died on the Cross and that He rose again on the third day?
God acquits us from the Courtroom of Eternal Justice on the grounds that Jesus Christ paid our fine. We are "justified" (made right with God) by His suffering death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was God's seal of approval of the fact that His precious blood was sufficient to pay the fine.

Think of it this way... You have violated the law and face a $50,000 fine. You tell the judge that you are truly sorry for your crime, but he answers, "So you should be -- you have broken the law! Now, can you pay this fine?" He can only acquit you if the fine is paid. If someone else pays your fine, then he can let you go, but he must have "grounds" on which to release you.

The reason we need a substitute (a savior) to pay our moral "fine," is because we have broken God's Law. To see how much we have transgressed this Law (the Ten Commandments), we will go through some of them -- Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something? Have you ever lusted after another person? If you answered "Yes" to these questions, you admit that you are a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart, and you have to face God on Judgment Day! If you have used His name in vain, then you are guilty of "blasphemy" -- you've substituted God's holy Name for a curse word. Perhaps you've hated someone, then the Bible says that you are a murderer. You have violated God's holy Law, and you're in BIG trouble. On Judgment Day, you will be found guilty and end up in Hell. That's why you need the Savior. Merely being sorry for your sins, or confessing them to God won't help you. You must turn from sin (repent), and your faith must be in Jesus Christ alone. He is the only "grounds" for God to grant mercy towards you. If you're not sure of your salvation, make Psalm 51 your own prayer.

Let's now look at some more important principles that can save you a great deal of pain...

The first one is called:
Feeding on the Word -- DAILY Nutrition

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fifty Fruits of Pride (part 2)

26. I have a know-it-all attitude. I am impressed by my own knowledge. I feel like there isn't much I can learn from other people, especially those less mature than me.

27. I have a hard time listening to ordinary people. I listen better to those I respect or people I want to leave with a good impression. I don't honestly listen when someone else is speaking because I am usually planning what I am going to say next.

28. I like to reveal my own mind. I have an answer for practically every situation. I feel compelled to balance everyone else out.

29. I interrupt people regularly. I don't let people finish what they are saying.

30. I feel compelled to stop people when they start to share something with me I already know.

31. I find it hard to admit it when I don't know something. When someone asks me something I don't know, I will make up an answer rather than admit I don't know.

32. I don't get much out of Bible teaching. I tend to evaluate the speaker rather than my own life. I grumble about hearing something a second time.

33. I listen to teaching with other people in mind. I constantly think of those folks who need to hear this teaching and wish they were here.

34. I'm not very open to input. I don't pursue correction for my life. I tend to be unteachable and slow to repent when corrected. I don't really see correction as a positive thing. I am offended when people probe the motivations of my heart or seek to adjust me.

35. I have a hard time admitting that I am wrong. I find myself covering up or excusing my sins. It is hard for me to confess my sins to others or to ask for forgiveness.

36. I view correction as an intrusion into my privacy rather than an instrument of God for my welfare. I can't identify anyone who would feel welcome to correct me.

37. I resent people who attempt to correct me. I don't respond with gratefulness and sincere appreciation for their input. Instead I am tempted to accuse them and dwell on their faults. I get bitter and withdraw.

38. When corrected, I become contentious and argumentative. I don't take people's observations seriously. I minimize and make excuses or give explanations.

39. I am easily angered and offended. I don't like being crossed or disagreed with. I find myself thinking, "I can't believe they did that to me." I often feel wronged.

40. I have "personality conflicts" with others. I have a hard time getting along with certain kinds of people.

41. I lack respect for other people. I don't think very highly of most people. I have a hard time encouraging and honoring others unless they really do something great.

42. I am a slanderer. I find myself either giving or receiving evil reports about others. I justify this by thinking the things I say or hear are simply true about them. I deceive myself by a lack of concern about the effect of slander on me because of my supposed maturity level. I think I can handle it. I convince myself I only share with others the things I really think they legitimately need to know. I don't tell all.

43. I am divisive. I tend to resist or resent authority. I don't like other people giving me orders or directions or even guidance and advise.

44. I like to demean or put others down. At times I think people need to be adjusted and put in their place. This includes leaders. I focus on the need for others to be humble and have a "sober" assessment of themselves.

45. I tend to be critical of others. I find myself feeling or talking negatively about people. I subtlety feel better about myself when I see how bad someone else is.

46. I am self-willed and stubborn. I have a hard time cooperating with others. I really prefer my own way and often insist on getting it.

47. I am independent and uncommitted. I don't really see why I need other people. I can easily separate myself from others. I don't get much out of the small group meetings in the church.

48. I am unaccountable. I don't ask others to hold me responsible to follow through on my commitments. I don't really need accountability for my words and actions.

49. I am unsubmissive. I don't like being under the authority of another person. I don't see submission as a good and necessary provision from God for my life. I have a hard time supporting and serving those over me. I don't "look up" to people and I like to be in charge. Other people may need leaders but I don't. It is important that my voice is heard.

50. I really appreciate somebody taking the time to put this paper together. It will really be a big help to my friends and family. However, I don't really need this because I think I'm pretty humble already.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Fifty Fruits of Pride (part 1)

1. I tend to be self sufficient in the way I live my life. I don't live with a constant awareness that my every breath is dependent upon the will of God. I tend to think I have enough strength, ability and wisdom to live and manage my life. My practice of the spiritual disciplines is inconsistent and superficial. I don't like to ask others for help.

2. I am often anxious about my life and the future. I tend not to trust God and rarely experience his abiding and transcendent peace in my soul. I have a hard time sleeping at night because of fearful thoughts and burdens I carry.

3. I am overly self-conscious. I tend to replay in my mind how I did, what I said, how I came across to others, etc. I am very concerned about what people think of me. I think about these things constantly.

4. I fear man more than God. I am afraid of others and make decisions about what I will say or do based upon this fear. I am afraid to take a stand for things that are right. I am concerned with how people will react to me or perceive my actions or words. I don't often think about God's opinion in a matter and rarely think there could be consequences for disobeying him. I primarily seek the approval of man and not of God.

5. I often feel insecure. I don't want to try new things or step out into uncomfortable situations because I'm afraid I'll fail or look foolish. I am easily embarrassed.

6. I regularly compare myself to others. I am performance oriented. I feel that I have greater worth if I do well.

7. I am self-critical. I tend to be a perfectionist. I can't stand for little things to be wrong because they reflect poorly on me. I have a hard time putting my mistakes behind me.

8. I desire to receive credit and recognition for what I do. I like people to see what I do and let me know that they noticed. I feel hurt or offended when they don't. I am overly concerned about my reputation and hate being misunderstood.

9. I want people to be impressed with me. I like to make my accomplishments known.

10. I tend to be deceptive about myself. I find myself lying to preserve my reputation. I find myself hiding the truth about myself, especially about sins, weaknesses, etc. I don't want people to know who I really am.

11. I am selfishly ambitious. I really want to get ahead. I like having a position or title. I far prefer leading to following.

12. I am overly competitive. I always want to win or come out on top and it bothers me when I don't.

13. I like to be the center of attention and will say or do things to draw attention to myself.

14. I like to talk, especially about myself or persons or things I am involved with. I want people to know what I am doing or thinking. I would rather speak than listen.

15. I am self-serving. When asked to do something, I find myself asking, "How will doing this help me, or will I be inconvenienced?"

16. I am not very excited about seeing or making others successful. I tend to feel envious, jealous or critical towards those who are doing well or being honored.

17. I feel special or superior because of what I have or do. For example: * my house * my neighborhood * my physical gifting * my spiritual giftings * my intellect * being a Christian * my position * my job * my education * my car * my salary * my looks

18. I think highly of myself. In relation to others I typically see myself as more mature and more gifted. In most situations, I have more to offer than others even though I may not say so. I don't consider myself average or ordinary.

19. I tend to give myself credit for who I am and what I accomplish. I only occasionally think about or recognize that all that I am or have comes from God.

20. I tend to be self-righteous. I can think that I really have something to offer God. I would never say so, but I think God did well to save me. I seldom think about or recognize my utter depravity and helplessness apart from God. I fail to realize that any goodness I have comes from God alone.

21. I feel deserving. I think I deserve what I have. In fact, I think I ought to have more considering how well I have lived or in light of all I have done.

22. I often feel ungrateful. I tend to grumble about what I have or my lot in life.

23. I find myself wallowing in self-pity. I am consumed with how I am treated by God and others. I tend to feel mistreated or misunderstood. I seldom recognize or sympathize with what's going on with others around me because I feel that I have it worse than they do.

24. I can be jealous or envious of others abilities, possessions, positions, or accomplishments. I want to be what others are or want to have what others have. I find it hard to rejoice with others when they are blessed by God.

25. I am pretty insensitive to others. I feel that some people just aren't worth caring about.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Fishing at the Burbank Mall

Good and Evil, Light and Dark, just another day at the mall watching a chess game being played out. There used to be a big merry go round in this spot, but now it is a giant chess board. I watched as two very skilled players battled it out. After a while, though, I was more interested in a spiritual battle. Standing on the rail were plenty of people to witness to. I walked around the mall, and there were a lot more people standing in line to see XMen than Da Vinci Code. In fact, I couldn't find one person who was going to see it. So, I pulled out the Da Vinci tracts and used the back to mark down how many commandments people could name. When I finished witnessing to them, I handed them their score sheet, which ended up being a nice souvenier. I recorded a few, but something went wrong and I only got one recording to actually work. That was the two skateboarders that you can listen to here. The $20 really got them to get interested, and by the time I was finished, they were really receptive. I get scared every time I decide to walk up to someone new and am always pleasantly surprised when I get such an interested and nice group to talk to. After those two, I ended up talking to a couple. He said that he didn't have a bible, but she piped in that she would make sure to give him one. They both got really quiet as I presented the Law. Who knows, she could have been trying to find a way to witness to him, and this was the first time she was going to get him to read the bible. Please pray that the Holy Spirit finds good soil in their hearts. I till up the ground with the Law and then plant the Gospel seeds in once their mouths have been quieted. This is getting a lot easier. I don't always feel like it, but I am trying to be faithful and get out there and talk to people every day. I shake in my shoes every time, but I pray that the Lord gives me boldness and once I get going, I find that He puts the words in my mouth that He wants me to say. I hope my examples are showing you that you really can get out there and do this.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Morgan Family in Southpark

A while back, I found a Flash program that would let you make your own Southpark characters. I made this when it was just the four of us. I guess I need to make Scarlett a little older and add Jameson.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Regal Theatre, Simi Valley

Tonight, I met up with Joey and a few other people at the Simi Valley Regal Theatre. There were so many kids out there that seemed so young. Maybe I am getting old, but I don't remember staying out till 11 PM when I was 14 years old.

We wandered back and forth, sometimes speaking to a group together, other times splitting up. I talked with so many kids, that I can't keep track of the number. The first group, we had two of us speaking so it looked like a giant figure eight, with kids surrounding us. Joey started asking if people could name the Ten Commandments for $20, and I started passing out million dollar bills. As we were surrounded, I asked the kids next to me if they knew what he was doing, and since they didn't, I walked them through the Law and the Gospel. For as crazy as these kids seemed to me, dressing and speaking, they were actually very receptive. One girl heard me and Joey say Jesus at the same time and she said, "Hey, they're doing it in stereo".

I passed out a bunch more Da Vinci tracts in the line for the theatre. There were not many people in line, so it was hard to give them all out like last Friday. I have a few left from my last packet.

Joey then spoke to a table full of kids and even though some of them remembered seeing him from a couple weeks ago, they still weren't able to name all of the commandments. This was the group and they really responded well.

I then decided it was time to pull out the voice recorder and get some of this good witnessing down. The first two sets of people were not interested, and finally I found a couple that would speak with me. After I got into it a little bit the guy told me he was a good person, I asked if I could find out for sure. He told me he was trying to be on a date and he'd rather answer these types of questions in church. I respected his wishes and left him with a million dollar bill. I decided to give it one more try, and finally found three young ladies that decided to speak with me. One was an Eastern Orthodox, one was a Roman Catholic, and the third was your garden variety Protestant. I started out by asking them to name the Ten Commandments for $20, and even with that broad spectrum of Christianity represented, we barely got past two.

I turned the conversation to the Good Test, and took them through the Law and then explained how the Good News of Christ dying for us actually made sense when viewed from that perspective.

All in all, it was an exhilerating night. With a little bit of encouragement from a friend, getting yourself out there to witness to complete strangers can be really easy, and also a lot of fun. One thing to note about tonight, there were a LOT of Christians there doing exactly what we were doing. I saw at least 15 people passing out tracts and witnessing to these kids. My goal is to get all the malls in the Valley to be places where you can't walk in without hearing the Gospel presented by somebody. Where are you witnessing? Where is your fishing spot?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Today's Need of Public Rebuke

The attempts today of the modern Church to win the world to Christ go to such great length to assure that there be no reprisals, no rejection. It seems quite honest to me that the Church would much rather be accepted by the world then to see the world be accepted by God.

When the sinking ship of the worlds acceptance starts to go asunder, the rebuking against sin is the first to go overboard to assure that the worlds acceptance stays afloat. The hell-fire preaching is far to heavy, weighs far too much, and will certainly bring about the sinking of the ship. So it must, not in part but in whole, go overboard to secure the acceptance of the world.

If we are to win the world to God we are not to do it just any way that works, we are to do it God's way as revealed in the scripture. God's way has always been by going into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). God's way has always been to verbally preach and not merely witness in action as we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). God's way has always been to preach "that people should repent". (Mark 6:12). God's way has always been by preaching in the streets, in the market places, in the squares outside of the synagogues, and at the entry gates of the cities. Wherever the sinners are is where the gospel needs to be. But God's militancy has been replaced with selfish complacency, so that the only outreach most Churches have is when they merely invite the world to come to them rather then themselves going out to the world.

"Is this effective? Is this effective" is the constant cry of the Church that has been infected and polluted with the worldliness of business. "Is this biblical? Is this biblical? is the constant cry of the man who will be despised and ridiculed by both the world and the Church.

As I preach open-air rebuking sin and exhorting sinners to flee from the wrath to come I continually hear "Is this effective" coming from professing Christians who would much rather cuddle sinners into the Kingdom. "Is this effective?" My response is, "it doesn't matter." We are not to concern ourselves with being effective at all, we are to concern ourselves with being biblical. We are to preach whether the lost hear or whether they refuse (Ezekiel 2:7). It doesn't matter if it's plowing season or if it's harvest season. We are to preach the Word in season and out of season, to convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." (2 Timothy 4:2).

Often I hear, "Your turning people off, your turning people off"? "No! They were already off. The world hated God before I had preached. The world was living in sin before I showed up! They are already off". The fallacy of the neutrality of the sinner was a concept the Lord Himself shattered when he said, "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matthew 12:30). A person is either for God or is against God, there is no neutral ground. The whole concept of "turning a sinner off" because of preaching the Word is entirely unbiblical and it just further evidence of the drifting away from scripture of the modern Church.

When King Herod arrived to the open air meeting of John the Baptist, did John stop his preaching to give Herod a hug? No! John rebuked the Kings adultery and said, "it is not lawful for you to have her." (Matthew 14:4) Six months later John was beheaded. If many of the modern Christians were there I wonder if they would have confronted John and said, "Is this effective? John, don't you see how you turned Herod off?"

When Jesus spoke with the proud rich young ruler, who wrongfully thought he had kept all of God's commands from his youth, Jesus pointed out his sin of love of money which resulted in the man walking away sorrowfully without hearing a word of grace. (Matthew 19:22). I wonder what the modern Church would have said had they been there. "Jesus, why did you only tell the man about the Law? Don't you know we are under a new covenant and the Law doesn't matter? Jesus, don't you see how the man went away sorrowfully because you turned him off?"

When Paul was before Felix, did he elaborate on the wonderful plan and the deep of love that God had for him? No! Paul knew that the fear of God was the beginning of knowledge, not the love of God (Proverbs 1:7). So Paul "reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a more convenient time I will call for you." Would the modern Church have said to Paul had they been there, "Paul, you should have talked about God's love before you talked about sin and God's judgment. Don't you see how you have turned Felix off?"

Church, we must get away from the concern of "being effective" and must back to the concern of being biblical. We must get back to calling sinners to repent to flee from the wrath that's to come (Matthew 3:7). Men and women of God, it's time to rise up and boldly proclaim the uncompromising truth of God by life or by death. It's time for the Church to forsake the world with all of it's ways and methods and seek to go God's way at any cost. It's time that we prefer the foolishness of God over the wisdom of the world and take back our societies for the glory of God. As the Church has sat comfortably in padded pews, having fellowship dinners and getting fat on itching ear preaching, the world around us has been crumbling to powder being hammered by sin and the devil. As the Church has been asleep in the light the world has remained dead in it's sins. As the Church has sought to be friends with the world, the world has ever increasingly become the enemy of God. Our country is on a greece slide down to hell and it's time for men and women of God to hit the streets with the solid truth of God, exalting His righteousness, His holiness, His justice, His mercy, His grace, exalting His son.

Will you go?

For the Audience of One
Jesse Morrell
Taking the Gospel where it belongs

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

No need to break the Da Vinci code. It's already broken.

If you want to watch an otherwise respectable writer flush his career down the toilet, just pay attention to the dialogue in this film, written by Akiva Goldsmith, whose previous films include "Cinderella Man", "A Beautiful Mind", and "The Client" among others. Of course, the guy also wrote "Batman & Robin"and "Lost in Space", so perhaps this all isn't unexpected. It's just that he'd had appeared to have left his embarrassing past behind.

In this movie, every other piece of dialogue is some exasperated character saying something like "I don't understand" or "What did you say?" or "Explain that again". Join the club. Between Audrey Tautou's accent and Robert Langdon's (Tom Hanks) unrelenting explanations of the origins of The Knights Templar or Sir Leigh Teabing's (Ian McKellen) explanation of Jesus's secret bloodline.

The point is, this whole movie is made up almost entirely of explanations of one thing or another and made up very little of any action. Adapting a book, as director Ron Howard is doing here, doesn't mean actually reading the damn thing on screen word for word or having the characters recite as much prose as humanly possible. In the two-and-a-half hours this thing takes to conclude, that appears to be the goal. The result is a lot of dialogue meant to give one character or another a chance to breathe between long monologues.

If you're one of the four or five people who haven't read Dan Brown's book, then perhaps you're in for some surprises. However, you probably already know that the Church is p***d off, which means that the movie has something to do with Jesus and something they don't particularly like.

Basically, symbologist Robert Langdon is called to examine a murder scene while in Paris and stumbles on a age old religious mystery. He's whisked away from the scene by a French police officer, Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), and together they try to solve the crime while being chased by an albino monk (Paul Bettany), who discovered God in prison, where many people discover Him.

Casting seems to be a serious problem here. As Silas, Bettany isn't exactly menacing. He's just kind of creepy in that "my neighbor is an Albino" sort of way. Then there's the fact that our Jesus expert is Magneto and the Cardinal (Alfred Molina) directing Silas is Doc Ock.

No need to break the Da Vinci code. It's already broken.

-Mr. Cranky

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

James 3:1-12 Taming the Tongue

1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Today I was walking with my children, and they were misbehaving in the store. I had to catch myself from yelling at them. Whenever I do something that is exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, I destroy my testimony. I remove any chance of being able to speak with strangers about the Gospel. "Hey, weren't you that guy just yelling at his kids? Why should we listen to you?"

Even though I have been given a new heart, I am still a sinner and can get caught up speaking poorly about someone, or gossiping. before I know it I have sinned against my neighbor, and destroyed my ability to witness to someone. Before you go out, pray "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips" so you can always produce fresh water for the mouths of the thirsty. Don't let garbage ruin the springs of salvation that we are to be pouring out for the lost.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

James 2:14-26 Faith and Deeds

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Do you share your faith? Yes? How about, Do you go out of your way to verbally share your faith with strangers? Oh, I thought so. Why not? I lived as a Christian for ten years trying to not offend anyone, and trying to live in such a way that people would see the light of Christ in me and ask me how to get what I have. I doubt I even came close to living a good life as such a new Christian. And, more importantly not one person asked me how to get saved. Hmmm. As a matter of fact, waiting ten years to tell someone the Gospel was actually NOT living a good life, certainly if it meant that they would end up in Hell if they died in their sins.

Even the demons believe. What are you doing different than that? Let your compassion swallow up your fear and get out there and DO something.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Name 10, Get 20

Opening night, Da Vinci Code, Northridge Mall. Not as exciting an opening as I would have expected, but the mall was packed tonight. First I ran into a bunch of kids from the Vine, which is a youth oriented church that meets on Sunday nights at our church. They were promoting a speaker for Breaking the Da Vinci Code who will be there this week. They had never heard about the Way of the Master method of presenting the Law then the Gospel. I invited them to come to the class starting tomorrow. They already have the energy and enthusiasm to get out there and talk to strangers. Here is a picture of a few of them.

Next, I started witnessing to folks, and handing out the Da Vinci collectible tract. Starting conversations was very easy, as everybody was willing to talk about the movie and how it tied into the real story of Jesus. I ended up passing out one hundred tracts and talking with many people. There were a bunch of kids hanging out at the mall as they tend to do in suburban America. I approached just about every group of kids sitting on benches, as they were in no rush to get anywhere. I even met a guy handing out free movie passes and after he asked me what I was passing out, I went through the Law with him. He grew up Lutheran and thought that as long as he believed he was a good person, God would send him to Heaven. He still wasn't convinced after going through the Law about his state, but I encouraged him to read his bible and spend some time thinking about this important subject.

After a while, Joey Nicolosi showed up and we proceeded to witness to many more people. He showed me a new trick where you can approach people by offering to give them $20 if they can name all ten commandments. Don't worry, nobody got them all. But, it was a natural lead in to ask people if they thought they had kept those same commandments. All was going well, till I got to a group of people in line for the movie. As soon as I switched to the spiritual, most of them turned their back on me. And, when the two that were interested started answering questions, the others would turn and heckle me. After a few minutes, they started screaming for me to leave. I apologized and that seemed to make them more mad. Phew, that was some serious spiritual battling going on and the adversary didn't want me to make any headway in that group. But, one of them was furiously reading the Gospel message the whole time, and as I got chased away, he looked at me sort of apologetically. I pray that the reason I was there was to reach that one person. God can send him someone else to get him further when he is ready.

After that encounter, we decided to pray, and that got us back on track. We ran into a group of kids that had seen Joey before and one boy remembered that he had to 'repent' and 'trust' the Savior. The other girls got really interested. It got really deep and by the end, three of them were sitting there stunned with tears in their eyes completely silenced by the Law. It felt really wierd to bring someone that close to repentance, that we decided to leave them with the Good News and a tract with an email on it so they could follow up with us. The Holy Spirit was definitely working on their hearts and we left them to pray on their own to the Father for forgiveness. We decided that encounter made the whole night worth it.

As we decided to keep going, we met up with three more kids, who had some biblical knowledge, but hadn't connected their sin with their need for a savior. I actually recorded that one so you can hear an example of how the night wents. (listen now) They had to leave after about ten minutes, but Joey got to the end of the presentation and they seemed to follow the whole thing, even with all the distractions that the mall had to offer.

We wrapped up the night in prayer and thanked God for putting two like minded brothers together to strengthen and encourage each other to get out there and be faithful to the great commission. We thanked God for the good encounters and the bad ones, because salvation belongs to Him. We are just called to plant the seeds of truth. Tonight was very exhilerating and I look forward to a time when every mall in America has two "fools for Christ" hanging out and sharing the Gospel with the lost children that God wants to bring home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

God's Debris

“Look,” I said, “four billion people
believe in some sort of God and free will. They can’t all
be wrong.”
“Very few people believe in God,” he replied.
I didn’t see how he could deny the obvious. “Of course
they do. Billions of people believe in God.”
The old man leaned toward me, resting a blanketed
elbow on the arm of his rocker.
“Four billion people say they believe in God, but few
genuinely believe. If people believed in God, they would
live every minute of their lives in support of that belief. R
people would give their wealth to the needy. Everyone
would be frantic to determine which religion was the true
one. No one could be comfortable in the thought that they
might have picked the wrong religion and blundered into
eternal damnation, or bad reincarnation, or some other
unthinkable consequence. People would dedicate their lives
to converting others to their religions.
“A belief in God would demand one hundred percent
obsessive devotion, influencing every waking moment of
this brief life on earth. But your four billion so-called believers
do not live th
eir lives in that fashion, except for a few.
The majority believe in the usefulness of their beliefs—an
earthly and practical utility—but they do not believe in the
underlying reality.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “If you asked
them, they’d say they believe.”
“They say that they believe because pretending to
believe is necessary to get the benefits of religion. They tell
other people that they believe and they do believer-like
things, like praying and reading holy books. But they don’t
do the things that a true believer would do, the things a true
believer would have to do.
“If you believe a truck is coming toward you, you will
jump out of the way. That is belief in the reality of the truck.
If you tell people you fear the truck but do nothing to get
out of the way, that is not belief in the truck. Likewise, it is
not belief to say God exists and then continue sinning and
hoarding your wealth while innocent people die of starva-
tion. When belief does not control your most important
decisions, it is not belief in the underlying reality, it is belief
in the usefulness of believing.”
“Are you saying God doesn’t exist?” I asked, trying to
get to the point.
“I’m saying that people claim to believe in God, but most
don’t literally believe. They only act as though they believe
because there are earthly benefits in doing so. They create a
delusion for themselves because it makes them happy.”

Friday, May 12, 2006

James 2:1-13 Favoritism Forbidden

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Even when setting out for the day to evangelize, noble as this is, can we still be sinning? How many people do we pass without handing them a tract? How many do we pass without speaking to them? How many do we let go by without walking them through the Law and the Gospel? Think about it. Why are we passing people by? Are we showing favoritism?

Maybe it is not as simple as ignoring the homeless people, and only talking to the rich people. I don't think it is limited to that. Do you pass young people dressed like they are on MTV because you can't relate to them? Do you pass old people because you are trying to respect your elders? Do you pass people dressed as Jews or Muslims because they obviously wouldn't be interested? Do you pass people wearing a cross necklace because they certainly would already know the truth?

Or, do you ignore them all because you just don't feel like taking the time to tell them the good news? At "club Heaven", are you the doorman standing outside in your suit picking and choosing who meets the criteria to get in? Or, are you as God called you to be, a servant, or waiter, attending to everyone? Get your comfortable shoes on, grab your tray, get out there and serve. There are people at every table just waiting for you to come by. Don't make them have to see the manager!

Let your compassion swallow your fear. Today, talk to the first person you see. You can do it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I am using Journal software on my PC, and there is evidently a feature to make a journal entry and then submit it to the blog. I might try this and then I'll have a copy in both places. Here is my first attempt at doing a double entry.
(Note to self: It worked)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Jay & Janet

I spent the day at the mall fishing today. It is tough to stop and witness with the kids with me. But, I prayed for the Lord to send me people and to give me courage. The girls stopped in to get a pretzel, and I saw two young ladies sitting by the fountain outside the mall. Jay looked a little androgynous, so I made sure not to touch on any homosexuality issues. As I talked about the 7th commandment, I made sure to ask if Janet had ever looked at another "person" with lust, with thoughts that she wouldn't want her mother to know about. They were very receptive, very concerened with the fact that they are probably headed to Hell if they died on the way home today. I opened the conversation with the Million Dollar Bill and handed them the "Are you a good person?" cartoon tract at the end. All in all it went very smooth, and even though I was feeling scared to put myself out there today, I think I found just the two people that God wanted me to speak with. As I play the recording back, I asked my wife what she thought. She said, "Too Easy! They didn't challenge you at all." Oh, great, now my next one will be a tough one! Take a listen and you tell me how I did. Then, please pray for these young ladies to be convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Just Stop and Think

The Problem: Sin

Someone may say, “But I’m a good person. I try to be kind and considerate to others. I live by the Ten Commandments.”* That’s a great place to start. God set up these rules for our benefit, and they are his standard for what is good. Let’s take a look at a few of them and see how you measure up. (For more details, see the “good person test”.)

”You shall have no other gods before Me.” Have you ever loved or desired something or someone more than you love or desire God?

”You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Have you ever used the word God as a swear word?

”You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken anything that is not yours, no matter how small, regardless of its value?

”Honor your father and mother.” Have you ever dishonored either one of your parents?

“You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus said if you even look upon a woman with lust in your heart, you are guilty of adultery.

”You shall not lie.” Have you lied even once? Be honest now.

These are only six of the ten commandments. If you’re honest with yourself, you will admit to breaking each of these many times. If you stood before God today, would he declare you guilty or not guilty of breaking his law? If you’re like every other person on earth, you have absolutely failed the test. The truth of the matter is that the Ten Commandments, or the law, as they are called in the Bible, were not given to make us look good but to make us realize how sinful we are. The Bible tells us, “No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it” (Romans 3:20). You might say that God’s law was given to show us that we are not good by God’s standards and therefore desperately need his help and forgiveness for our terminal condition as sinners. Romans 3:23 clearly says that “all have sinned.”

Think about it, if you only sinned three times a day, by the time you’re 20 years old you would be responsible to God for breaking his Law over 20,000 times. Are you ready for that day? To repeat what was said above, before we can truly appreciate what God did for us to solve our monumental problem, we must first acknowledge that we have a problem, in fact a very serious problem. Keep reading to learn about the greatest act of love in the history of mankind: God did something to solve our guilty condition. The hope for heaven is in His goodness, not ours.

Just Stop and Think: 15 minutes that will change your life.

Da Vinci Con

I went today for the first part of this conference. Great stuff, and I think they will have a DVD of all the speakers out soon. I picked up a couple of stacks of the new Da Vinci tract. When the movie comes out on Friday I will be ready to hand them out.
I got Kirk's attention long enough to snap a picture. He is so passionate when he speaks. It is inspiring. The genuine compassion he has in his voice as he pleads for people to repent of their sins is what we should all strive for.
I am going tonight to a carnival at my wife's Catholic elementary school, and I plan to cast the nets out and see if we can get any fish in the boat. With the church scrambling to come up with answers for people watching the Da Vinci code, maybe the Da Vinci tracts will be just I need to strike up some great conversations. Please pray for the Lord to lead me to people whose hearts are prepared and ready to hear the Gospel.

Friday, May 05, 2006

James 1:16-27 Just Do It!

16Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

When I listen to the recordings of myself witnessing to strangers, many times I hear myself trying so hard to get to my point, and stay on target that I often overrun the person. We need to be quicker to listen to people. They have genuine questions that deserve to be heard and responded to. We know that we want to take them through God's Law and get them to repent, but sometimes we would be better off listening to their concerns so we can better be able to answer them. And, if we are quick to listen to the Holy Spirit, we can better speak to their hearts. And, certainly we should never become angry with the person. Remember back to the time before we were saved. Remember how we felt when someone presented us with our reflection in the mirror of God's Law. If someone becomes agitated, stay calm and pray for them. The Spirit of God is working on their hearts, and it is uncomfortable. Remember, we wrestle not against men, but against spiritual powers.

Take heart, dear brothers and sisters. Remember, don't just read what God's word says, do it. Let your compassion swallow your fears. Get out there and be hated for His sake. Go be a fool for Christ. The book of James is not a manual for becoming a Christian, but a manual for acting like one. So, remember, before Nike came along, God said, "Just Do It"