Saturday, July 29, 2006

Surf City, USA

Wow. Today I went down to Huntington Beach, California. Ray Comfort and Scotty were doing some open air preaching. It is a very different thing to gather a crowd and preach than to speak one to one with someone. In open air preaching, one of the goals is to yell out some controversial stuff and get people to get all riled up. This draws hecklers and really draws a crowd. The one doing the yelling is usually too filled with pride to admit that the preaching makes sense. But, Ray pushes through and presents the gospel for the crowd that is standing around intensely listening.

I really saw a lot of filth today. This is basically a city that epitomizes the American Dream. This is California at it's finest. But, instead of beauty, there was lust. I saw every bit as much perversion here as I found at the West Hollywood Gay Pride Festival. As I stood close to Ray preaching, people openly spit and yelled at him. People's mouths were spewing forth curse words. I was standing there with my two daughters, who are no strangers to hearing responses from non-believers. But, people had no leash on their tongue even when people pointed out that their young ears were right there. One lady was told to stop using the F word in front of my kids and she burst into a fit that would make a sailor with Tourette's Syndrome blush.

I backed up a little to hang out around the periphory. I got to hear people walk by, listen to literally five seconds of Ray, and burst out with the F-word aimed at him. I heard many people walking away talking about what a jerk he was for standing up there and speaking. People didn't just disagree with his opinion and respect it, they openly attacked it. Their vitriol against the intolerance of the Christian message was self-refuting.

One guy who was taking a lot of pictures was telling me that Ray's narrow minded, in a small box, version of God was totally wrong. I said, "So your version is correct then." "Yes", he said, Ray won't even debate him anymore because he is too smart. "Ray can't handle it, and just stops talking with me". Wow. So he went on to tell me that I don't follow the bible and that I believe in a cruel God who just sends innocent people on remote islands to hell just for His pleasure. I said, "That sure does sound cruel, if you think that people are all good. But, when you realize you are not good, I am not good, and the natives of this island of yours are not good either, and we all in fact deserve to be punished for the filth that comes out of our mouths. When you start from that perspective and then the fact that God would even save one of us is a testament to His mercy, then it starts to make more sense."

He said, "I need to stop talking now, as I want to get some more pictures." Uh, yeah.

In closing, boy, Ray and those guys could really use your prayers. He stood out there in the hot sun for two hours preaching his heart out to a bunch of kids that really weren't receptive. I thank God for his courage and his faithfulness. He really is an inspiration to me. I pray that the Lord gives me half of his zeal for the lost.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Luke 10:2

He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Tonight, the workers were plentiful. Jeff left before this picture, Tony, Mahria, Neal, Matt, Casey, Chris, David, Evangelica, Dru and Joey. Tonight was great, as there were so many of us out that many of the kids who had more questions got to talk to a bunch of people and hear many different testimonies and have their earnet questions answered.

When I showed up, as usual, there were people already witnessing. Evangelica always seems to meet people who are ready to get right with God. She has a real heart for leading people to repentance and putting their trust in the Savior. Soon after this, we gathered and opened formally in prayer. I think this is so important. Everything we do should represent Christ. This is a big responsibility. If we went out with our own sense of pride, we would fall every time. We have to remember to rely on the support of the Holy Spirit as we open up with these kids in spiritual discussions.

Joey brought a big bag of tricks and passed out some tracts that I haven't seen in a while. I liked the nice silver Ten Commandment coins. They are much easier to read than the pressed pennies. David grabbed some pink and blue illusions and quickly gathered the attention of a family that came over to see what the fuss was all about. He put a new twist on it and turned a simple illusion into a nice little magical presentation. After the show, we made sure the parents had plenty of stuff to read.

We split up into pairs and headed out. I actually headed out on my own, and, once again, I was too afraid to start talking with anyone. I don't know why I get scared, but I still do every time. I walked back and found Matt and had someone to give me courage. We quickly found a few kids that went to a local Christian school. They were a little turned off that the teachers seemed to give them a "don't ask questions, you just have to have faith" sort of attitude. They were very nice, and had some genuine questions that we hopefully were able to answer. We left them with some of the coins. I actually saw them speak to a few other people throughout the night. Casey was able to share some of his testimony with them, and hopefully they could relate.

I paired up with Jeff and he picked four goth-looking kids who actually had a very good hold on the biblical concept of judgement. One kid said we would be judged by Jesus on the Day of Reckoning. Another said that there was no way to really know what would happen on that day. I cleared up that there is a way to know. The Bible makes it very clear what will happen. We will be judged by God's perfect standard, and inevitably found guilty. The only way we can avoid the very deserved punishment for our transgressions of the Law will be to repent today, and put our complete trust in the atoning death, and subsequent resurrection, of our only Savior, Jesus Christ.

For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Email from Brandt

Last night, I was in the mood for something sweet. I decided to go to the store to get some brownies. On my way I saw a man who looked like a bum. He wasn't even wearing a shirt. He had a tattoo of a naked woman on his chest and he was wearing a gold cross. He approached me and asked if I could spare some change. I told him I didn't carry change. But I told him that I would give him five dollars if he would promise me that he wouldn't buy drugs or beer with it. He promised so I gave him the money and off I went. I told him I gave him the money cause God told me it is good to give to those in need. He said, "Thank you".

I got to the store, found my brownies, went to the checkout line. While standing in the checkout line, I could hear the man yelling with a group of guys outside. I could hear that these men were swearing at him. His name was Leroy. I heard Leroy shout, "Don't spit on me!" I placed my brownies on the counter and began to walk outside to see what was going on. As I was about twenty feet from the door, I heard Leroy scream at the top of his lungs. Then again. I ran toward the door, but suddenly Leroy was running inside the store. We met just inside the entrance. He had blood all over his face and hands. He had been stabbed at least twice. In the stomach and in the chest. I yelled at the store clerk to call the police. Leroy was spilling out blood all over the place. I knew the cops wouldn't make it in time.

So, I summoned up my courage, and I said to him, "Leroy... If you want to go to heaven, you've got to come check out my church. It is awesome! The pastor is hilarious, the band is great. They give away free coffee, and the worship service isn't too long. Plus, after church, we all go out for brunch."

Did I mention that I listen to Way of the Master Radio?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

120 Degrees in Los Angeles

"If your God can change the weather, then I'll believe in Him" -Skeptic
"My God doesn't do parlour tricks for sinners" - Dru

Isaiah 59
Sin, Confession and Redemption (In that order)

1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.

2 But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he
will not hear.
God could change the weather with one word. But, you are a sinner. What makes you think that he will listen to you? You spend your whole life avoiding and mocking Him. Do you really think you can mock the Creator?

3 For your hands are stained with blood,
your fingers with guilt.
Your lips have spoken lies,
and your tongue mutters wicked things.
One lie is an infinite offense against a perfect God.

4 No one calls for justice;
no one pleads his case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments and speak lies;
they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

5 They hatch the eggs of vipers
and spin a spider's web.
Whoever eats their eggs will die,
and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.

6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing;
they cannot cover themselves with what they make.
Their deeds are evil deeds,
and acts of violence are in their hands.
Take a minute and reflect on your words, thoughts, and deeds. No amount of fast talking will justify you in the eyes of the very measure of good.

7 Their feet rush into sin;
they are swift to shed innocent blood.
Their thoughts are evil thoughts;
ruin and destruction mark their ways.

8 The way of peace they do not know;
there is no justice in their paths.
They have turned them into crooked roads;
no one who walks in them will know peace.

9 So justice is far from us,
and righteousness does not reach us.
We look for light, but all is darkness;
for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.

You cry out for justice, but if God were to give us what we deserve, we would all be in trouble. Read the poetry in these next few verses. Read them a few times. We not only don't go the right way, we can't even SEE the right way to go even if we wanted to.

10 Like the blind we grope along the wall,
feeling our way like men without eyes.
At midday we stumble as if it were twilight;
among the strong, we are like the dead.

11 We all growl like bears;
we moan mournfully like doves.
We look for justice, but find none;
for deliverance, but it is far away.

12 For our offenses are many in your sight,
and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
and we acknowledge our iniquities:

13 rebellion and treachery against the LORD,
turning our backs on our God,
fomenting oppression and revolt,
uttering lies our hearts have conceived.

14 So justice is driven back,
and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
honesty cannot enter.

15 Truth is nowhere to be found,
and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
The LORD looked and was displeased
that there was no justice.
Not only did we have no desire to redeem ourselves, we have no ability to either. God took it upon Himself to redeem us for His own glory.

16 He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm worked salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.

17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate,
and the helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on the garments of vengeance
and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

18 According to what they have done,
so will he repay
wrath to his enemies
and retribution to his foes;
he will repay the islands their due.

19 From the west, men will fear the name of the LORD,
and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory.
For he will come like a pent-up flood
that the breath of the LORD drives along. [a]

"The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,"
declares the LORD.

21 "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the LORD.

From the beginning, God had it planned. We are sinners. Until we confess, and repent. Until we completely surrender, completely lay down our pride, our self righteousness. Until we come prone on our face to a just, holy God, He owes us nothing. Jesus doesn't need your acceptance. You better make sure He accepts you. Meditate on that for a while.

When we confess we are sinners. When we repent of those sins. When we place our faith in Christ's payment for those sins, and in Christ alone. Then, and only then, will we find redemption.

Monday, July 24, 2006

First Fruits

Yesterday at our Sunday service, a young lady got baptised. This young lady had the gospel shared with her by her aunt. Her aunt was in the Basic Training Evangelism class we just finished.

Not everyone can get out like a crazy person and share their faith with strangers on the street. But, they can certainly share the gospel with their family. We plant the seeds. Someone else waters it. And, ultimately God brings forth the result.

If all of my effort was to only bring forth one young lady from the clutches of hell, then I think it was worth it. I am so thankful to God to have played one little part in his masterfully crafted plan. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for the hearts of those who are faithful enough to step out and risk themselves to tell someone about you.

I feel sick almost everytime I witness to someone. What if I didn't do it right? What if I caused someone to go even further away. Thank you, Lord, that today, one young lady will have her name written in the Lamb's book of life.

Who can you go and share your faith with today?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Law to the Proud, Grace to the Humble

Tonight was our regular witnessing night at Northridge Mall. Two ladies, Nina and Olga, from the Basic Training Course came out tonight. Vangy also brought a friend tonight. As usual, the place was filled with teenagers hanging out all over the place. We have been here so much, we are running into kids that have talked with us before and remember us. When they see us walking around, they start talking about us. There was a group of kids that were talking about God, so I walked up and asked them what they were talking about. They didn't really want to talk, but I asked them anyway about their eternal fate. This was the first time in a while that there was so much distraction that the kids didn't really pay attention and show any concern for their sin. As more kids came into their group, they all just started joking and some kids we spoke with before were teasing them and eventually we just decided to leave them alone. In this case, presenting the Gospel would have been pure foolishness. They were already disrespectful and I had no intention of casting my pearls before swine. If I see them again, I'll try to talk to them in a small group.

Joey was talking with a group of kids and there was so much spillover that I started talking with the kids at the edge who could not hear what was going on. I spoke with some kids at the outside and then ended up going all the way through the Law and the Gospel with two girls, an Orthodox and a Catholic. One girl even told me she didn't want to go to Hell and asked me how to be sure that wasn't going to happen. They were very receptive and we went way beyond the Gospel in our conversation. I tried to answer the best I could. I'm sure I will see them again, and we can continue our conversation.

Please pray for everyone that we spoke with tonight. It saddens me that so many kids in America can make it all the way through school and not know what God's moral standard is, and have never heard what price Jesus Christ paid to redeem their precious souls.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Three Important Verses in Witnessing

"So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).

If you only study one page on this section on evangelism, this page is it. Why? Because here is where you will learn three of the most important verses of evangelism: Isaiah 55:11; Rom. 1:16; and John 12:32.

Isaiah 55:11

Isaiah 55:11 says, "So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." God's word is unique. It was by His word (speech) that God created, "God said, ‘Let there be light'; and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God..." (Heb. 11:3). Jesus is called the Word, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:1,14).
When Jesus was on the earth, He taught. He taught with words and His words had a very strong effect on people. They angered some and broke others. But when Jesus spoke, things happened.
Jesus forgave sins by speaking, "And seeing their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you'" (
Luke 5:20). He raised the dead by speaking, "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43). He calmed the wind and sea with words, "Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm" (Matt. 8:26). He cast out demons by speech, "And He said to them, ‘Begone!' And they came out..." (Matt. 8:32). He healed by speech, "And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed" (Matt. 8:3,13). God's words are powerful.
The Word (the Bible) is described as having many qualities:

It is inspired: "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).
It is truth: "The sum of Thy word is truth" (Psalm 119:151).
It makes free: "...If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
It produces faith: "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17)
It judges: "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

The Word of God is a mighty weapon. That is why you should memorize!

Romans 1:16

Rom. 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." What is the Gospel? 1 Cor. 15:1-4 says it is the sacrificial death and physical resurrection of Jesus for sins. It is the powerful message of salvation to sinners. If you know that the Word of God will accomplish what God wants it to and if you know that the gospel has power to save, then it should ease your mind to know that in witnessing you are using two very powerful weapons: God's Word and God's Gospel. The Word of God is the Bible. The Gospel of God is His revelation or redemption.

John 12:32

John 12:32, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." Here Jesus speaks specifically about His crucifixion. It is He who draws to Himself all who are to be saved. When you present the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4), the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus for sins, Jesus draws the sinner to Himself. He does the work, not you.
As a Christian, you are to witness with truth, honesty, and integrity. As the Lord provides the opportunity, you should respond in a humble and gentle spirit (2 Tim. 2:24). And in that, you should point people to Jesus. It is He alone who saves.

If you know that God's Word will accomplish what God desires, that the gospel is powerful to save, and that it is Jesus who draws all men to Himself, then you should realize that the responsibility of salvation does not rest on you, but on God. You are the teacher, the deliverer of good news. "How shall they believe in Him who they have not heard?" (Rom. 10:14). You help them hear!
These three verses should help you to gain confidence. You witness; God saves. You plant the seeds; God waters. He uses you. It is His Word that accomplishes salvation. It is His gospel that is powerful. It is His Son Jesus who draws. You witness in power when you witness with the Word of God.

-Matt Slick

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Burden for the Lost

2 Corinthians 5:17-19
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. (V. 11)

One of the things we are all called to do is to spread the message of reconciliation, the only way that men can be brought back into a right relationship with a Holy God. We don't just try to convince people to believe what we do so we can put another notch on our belt. We don't just try to turn on our friends to the latest self-help method found in the church. We come out of a deep burden for the lost, stemming from our understanding of what is rightfully coming to them as a result of their sin. It burdens me to see people who are not reconciled with God that I jump into conversations with them the way I would jump into a pool if I saw that a child had fallen in and was drowning.

I don't witness because I feel I am better than anyone. I witness because I understand where my sin was leading me. I witness because I ache to think that would happen to anyone I love, to anyone you love. Do you have a burden for the lost?

"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that." - Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Official Podcast Available

I found a site that will host my audio for free: I guess this was just in time, as wonked out today. I doubt I'll go back and add the old files, but certainly all the new ones will be in this new format. If you subscribe, you should be kept up to date automatically.

You can now search on iTunes for me and subscribe to the audio podcast. Or, you can add to your favorite RSS reader.

Each week as a new episode is added, you can also click on the podcast graphic to listen directly from here.

Add Godcasting to iTunes (should work with one click)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Fishing

Tonight there were eight of us out witnessing at the Northridge Mall. It is hard to keep track of all the people that we presented the Gospel to.

When I got there, Spencer was talking with two people. I walked a bit further, David and Matt were witnessing to a group, and even further along, Vangy and Chris were praying, heads down, with a couple. Wow, there were almost more people witnessing than people to witness to. I think we might be making an impression on this mall.
Each week the Lord is blessing us with more laborers. I am so thankful.

Again, I didn't feel like going out to witness after a long week at work. I even sent a text message to Joey to that effect. But, after getting a call from at least three other people, I decided that I was supposed to be faithful and get out there.

We tried to get Spencer to record an audio, but kept getting people who didn't want to be recorded, or people who had to leave in the middle of the discussion. We got one recording of Spence, and before I had to go home, I decided to get one of myself with a group of kids.

The thing I noticed about the four that I talked to was that one of them definitely had a Christian upbringing. He knew all the "right" answers, but seemed totally disinterested in the discussion. He thought he would be found innocent, and his friends who were not believers even called him on it. At one point, he even asked me "Where is this leading?" Well, it is leading straight to hell, unless one repents and puts their faith in the Savior. The other three were very interested and I left them all with something more to read and think about.

Please pray for all the people that were witnessed to tonight. Pray that nothing snatches away the seeds that were sown tonight.

Matthew 13:18-23
18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Why iPod Evangelism?

An article by Joey

● About 90 percent of the people I approach agree to have a conversation with me about eternal matters for at least a few minutes.
● Although tracts are useful in lots of situations, there are times when using an iPod seems to be easier to approach people with.
● People seem to be more open when you’ve spent time with them, talking.
● I don’t have to feel dishonest (“hi, I’m taking survey…” when I’m not taking one).
● I can go back and learn from my conversations- what happened? How did the conversation get off track, etc.?
● The audios can be put online so other people can listen to them and gain from my experiences. Others can learn what to do and what not to do from my example.
● An iPod can be used for other things, like listening to music, recording class lectures and storing computer files.
● People who are not yet used to sharing their faith with strangers may find this a much easier, less intimidating way to speak with others.
● You’re unlikely to get kicked out of a mall or questioned by cops for doing this.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Am I Going to Hell?

Even an apologist, Gregory Koukl, uses the Law in presenting the Gospel.

Frankly, to a lot of people the message of Christianity is not going to be palatable, but at least we can make it clear. It will not be the kind of thing they will be happy with. Yet, at the same time, there are things we can do that make it clearer and not inappropriately put stumbling blocks in people's way.

This is why I've often said that the Gospel is offensive enough all by itself. Don't add any more offense to it. But we should not take out the offense that is inherent to the Gospel, either. This is why we are not pluralists even though there is pressure to be pluralists or at least inclusivistic with the Gospel. At the same time, we don't want to communicate the exclusivity of Christ in such a way as to confound those people who are listening.

Christians often say, "if you believe in Jesus you go to Heaven; if you don't believe in Jesus you go to Hell". Is that true? Well, it is true, but it doesn't communicate a sense of the true circumstance. It's not coherent to most people because it just seems bizarre why what one person thought about some guy who died 2000 years ago has anything to do with their eternal destiny. Whether they believe in him or not seems irrelevant to anything that might happen after we die. So we have often not been careful to communicate the sense of things.

We need to be clear so that someone rejects the real message and not some incoherent mess that some Christian has handed him that they can't make sense of. So, I don't say, "if you believe in Jesus you go to Heaven, and if you don't believe you go to Hell," because this is misleading. I'd rather try to explain it more accurately.

Many of you are familiar with the conversation I had with a fellow at Barnes and Noble in which he asked me a question. I was giving a talk there as part of the book on relativism that Dr. Frank Beckwith and I co-authored, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air. Since I was talking about it in the bookstore, he came up afterwards and started asking questions about Jesus. Instead of unloading this slogan on him, I asked him this question. Do you think that people who commit moral crimes ought to be punished? He said, "Yes." I said, "Good, so do I." Second question, "Have you ever committed any moral crimes?" Pause. Then he said, "Yes, I guess I have." You know what I said to him? "So have I."

This just took 30 seconds, right? Then I reflected back to him, "Look where we've come so far. We both believe that people who commit moral crimes ought to be punished. And we both believe we've committed moral crimes. You know what I call that? Bad news." And it is bad news.

Most people are concerned with doing what is right. That was one of the first things he told me. "I'm Jewish. I believe in morality. I believe in God. Why do I have to believe in your Jesus?" Here is a man who has some level of commitment to the moral life. The problem is, he knows that that commitment does not guarantee that he is going to live a fully moral life and he's aware of his own moral crimes. And so am I. Now what? That is the issue? We are guilty. That is the bad news.

This is why it is so important to get the bad news before the good news. The bad news gives meaning to the good news. I was able to talk about the fact that now we both admit we have a problem, but that there is a solution that God has ordained. Since He is the one who is offended, He is the one who can call the shots on how to fix the problem. The answer is through His Son Jesus, who provides mercy because he took the rap for our crimes. We got off. He went to jail. A modern metaphor to put it in perspective.

There at least is the sense of things about Jesus being the only way. I hear it even asked on TV. The question is often asked honestly, but I think most of the time it is asked for an inflammatory effect. The person who is asking the question is wording it very carefully because he knows precisely how the faithful evangelical Christian will respond. He is counting on it so that the Christian says something that sounds to the rest of the people to be bizarre. Therefore, they can discount what the Christian says.

I don't want you to sound bizarre when you answer the question I am about to offer. I want you to sound sensible. Here is the question. Do you think I am going to Hell? Now the only person who asks that is a person who thinks you think they're going to Hell. Ninety per cent of the time they would ask it because they think you are nuts and they want other people to think you are nuts, too. They want to get you to say in public that people who disagree with you are going to Hell so that you will look silly and they will look good. How do you deal with that?

The problem, of course, is, first of all, it's probably true they are going to Hell. Secondly, it doesn't communicate the sense of things and so it is misleading. The people who ask this are generally not criminals. It's going to be some nice guy who is basically good and sincere. You are in a tough spot. You are on the defensive already, you want to answer truthfully, but you know by giving a truthful answer you are going to play into his hands.

Jesus faced this frequently. He always got out of it, and I'm going to give you a way to get out. Answer the question truthfully and don't sound like an idiot. It doesn't mean everyone is going to believe you, fall at your feet, and want to receive Christ, but at least you will be able to give a proper and appropriate answer to those who ask you to make a defense for the hope that is within you (2 Peter 3:15). The answer is simply this.

When somebody says, "Do you think I am going to Hell?" and you think they are, you say something like, "Well, I believe in justice, do you?" "Yes." "What is justice but that people who are guilty get punished in an appropriate way to their guilt? I believe that people who are guilty pay for their crimes unless they have been pardoned."

This is very straightforward language. It fits entirely with our culture. It is terminology that has meaning immediately. It is also terminology that the person you are talking with not only is familiar with but they agree with the concept. We both believe the same thing here: justice. If you have committed any moral crimes, if you have done anything wrong, I think you will be punished for them unless you receive pardon. The punishment for moral crimes is Hell.

You are saying yes, I think you are going to Hell unless you receive Jesus. But you are putting it in terms that are making more sense to that individual. In fact, he has already affirmed the underlying concept, as well he should, because he believes in it.

Most people believe in justice. It is built in. It is part of their moral intuition, the image of God in man that is being expressed. They clamor for justice. There is a place for mercy, and pardon. We both agree. From God's perspective, if you have committed any moral crimes, then you are going to be punished for them. You'll only receive God's punishment if you are guilty of something. Are you guilty of anything? What is so controversial about that? Don't want to be punished? God has a means for a pardon. That is the whole point of our conversation. I don't want to be punished either. I want to experience a pardon.

See how that works? That's part of the tactical elements of communicating the knowledge truthfully.

This is a transcript of a commentary from the radio show "Stand to Reason," with Gregory Koukl.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shepherd of the Hills podcast

There is a new podcast in town.

Since my church has their own server with no bandwidth issues, I can host their audio there and put up a real iTunes searchable podcast. Eventually I might move my podcast over so I can do the same thing. It took a little while to figure out, but with feedburner creating the RSS and blogger creating the platform, it really isn't that difficult. If you would like to see it, go ahead and subscribe.

Subscribe to Shepherd of the Hills

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pirate or Ninja?

Friday was the opening of Pirates at the mall, and Ninjas everywhere are in an uproar. (Don't ask) So, it was a perfect night to get out and share our faith.

Friday night at Northridge mall. Joey, Nathan, Marlo, Jeff, David, and myself. A record turnout. The laborers are coming out tonight! We paired up, switched off, paired up again. We witnessed, oh how we witnessed. It was beautiful. David had a man actually come to tears. The only thing more exciting than witnessing to someone is standing back and praying and seeing the faces of people who are being told of the wonderful news of God's mercy. You can see the Law literally stopping their mouth and their hearts opening up for the richness of the Gospel. It's like watching a birth, or a wedding. It brings me to tears.

Each time, I get scared before I talk to people, and then pray, and get some encouragment from people I am with, then I end up having a great conversation. I pulled out the recorder and got a few conversations for the podcast. The first group I spoke with included a Rastafarian. The next group that David and I spoke to together had a Catholic upbringing and named nine of the Ten commandments. The third group was with their parents and when Joey started talking to them, they tried to leave, but one kid stayed for the whole thing.

Again, I almost didn't go tonight. I felt tired from a long day at work, and I would have loved to sit at home on the couch. But, the right thing to do is to get out there and plead with people to consider their eternity. I know I am called to get out there and share the gospel. When I can't find any more people who have never had the Law and Grace presented to them I'll know my job is done.

Friday, July 07, 2006

How To Botch Up An Alter Call

There is nothing wrong with using an alter call except for using it the way that most churches do. Sometimes we need to look at things from a different perspective. I came across the following and wanted to share it with you.

(A few keys for those who don't want people saved in their altar calls)

  1. Present an unbalanced message. Only let them see the heart-warming part of God's character. Preach God's love but leave out His holiness and justice. That way they'll think He'll let them into heaven no matter what.
  2. Don't mention repentance until they're repeating a "sinner's prayer". Just get them to say, "I repent of all my sins" while they're echoing you. They won't know what they're saying and they won't count the cost.
  3. Skim over the gospel and push the prayer. Pretend the lost naturally understand what Christ has done for them.
  4. Preach Jesus as a life enhancer not a life rescuer. Tell them how Jesus can improve their life but don't show them Jesus as the only One who can save them from Hell. People will think if they reject Him they're only losing out on a spiritual high.
  5. Try to please the people instead of convert them. Tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
  6. Compromise the message to speed the process. The Christians who have heard it a hundred times before will be pleased with that. The quicker they get out the quicker they can get to the restaurant.
  7. Give them the impression that God is so good He won't send anyone to hell. Don't present the whole counsel of God or they might realize He is so good that He'll see to it that justice is served and that all unrepentant sinners will be punished in the fire that is not quenched.
  8. Speak to sinners as though they were saints. They'll think they're God's children instead of the enemies of God they've made themselves into because of their sin. You'll give them false assurance and mislead them.
  9. Don't mention sin or man's guilt. Resist the urge to explain what Christ came to deliver us from. Don't show them their need for the Savior. Otherwise it may all make sense.
  10. Don't look to the Bible for the substance of your altar call. Only mimic other preachers with large congregations.
  11. Tell the lost not to feel bad about their sins. That way you will work against the Holy Spirit who's convicting them.
  12. Whatever you do, never mention Judgment Day. Your audience might take spiritual matters seriously.
  13. Tell them Jesus is the only way to heaven but don't explain why. They may think it's nothing more than fear tactics and leave offended instead of enlightened.
  14. Confuse the call. This is a great way to botch up an altar call. Don't let people know you're asking them to commit their life to Christ. Be vague and general in what you're saying. Neglect to mention following Christ in you evangelistic alter calls and say things like, "If you don't feel you're as close to God as possible raise your hand," "If you feel lonely come to the front for prayer," "If you want more of God this is your time," and, "If you have struggles and need the answer come down." Just get them to raise a hand. That way no one will be able to count the cost and you'll even get saints to respond to salvation altar calls, making the results look more successful.
  15. Only give them half the story. Tell them Jesus died to forgive everyone but overlook the fact that God's forgiveness must be applied to them through personal faith and repentance in Jesus Christ.
  16. Present the truth as though it isn't. Be so funny when you share Christ that you belittle the seriousness of the matter.
  17. Preach forgiveness without repentance. That way no one will know how to be forgiven.
  18. Let them think next Sunday is the day of salvation. Don't make them feel it's urgent to respond today.
  19. Never warn of hell. Dangle heaven in front of their nose but rarely mention hell, certainly not as much as Jesus did.
  20. Only do altar calls inside the church. Never take the gospel where sinners congregate. The lost might get saved.
  21. Use churchy terms. Use words like, "saved", "repent", and "born again," without any explanation. That way your hearers won't comprehend what you're saying. If they can't understand it, it's probable they won't be changed by it.
  22. Give false assurance of salvation to unsaved Christians. Assure church folk that they are saved even if they bear no fruit. So that you don't offend the unsaved pew warmers. Never quote 2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith". You could lose some financial supporters and have to depend on God.
  23. Never mention the wrath of God. If you mention it, people might be awakened to flee to Jesus who "saves us from the wrath to come." (1 Thess. 1:10)
  24. Study how the apostles preached and witnessed and do the opposite. Don't explain Jesus' suffering death on the cross. Otherwise they may think of running to Him for forgiveness. Don't speak of His burial or resurrection or they might realize He is God. Refrain from commenting about the hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. That way they can go on thinking He's a fairy tale. Overlook talk of the messianic prophecies Jesus fulfilled or they might realize that the Bible is true. If they see it's the truth they may see that following Christ is the logical decision. And whatever you do, avoid what the apostles did when it came time to call people to obey the gospel. Don't tell them to trust Christ and live for Him. That is too accurate. If they know how to get saved your altar call will be a success.
  25. Put more emphasis on the "sinner's Prayer" then on repentance and faith. Satan will smile over your departure from Biblical instruction. We are never taught to use a 'sinner's prayer" throughout the entire Bible. If you decide to use it and put more emphasis on the technique than on what we're commanded to preach: faith and repentance you'll certainly botch things up. A 'sinner's prayer' doesn't equal salvation, only faith in Christ and repentance toward God do.
  26. (Pastors) Let Christians think you're the only one who can do it right. Always leave the impression that they should only invite friends to church and never actually witness themselves. It will keep you in business and the lost unsaved.
  27. Rely upon psychological techniques to manipulate people into responding to the altar call. Don't rely upon the Holy Spirit or they may actually get saved.
  28. Make sure you're the main attraction. Remember the goal in botching up an altar call is for people to leave and say, "What a wonderful preacher," instead of, "What a wonderful Savior." Draw all possible attention to how great a speaker and person you are. Otherwise people might see Christ in your preaching and get saved.
  29. Don't focus upon Jesus. Finally, the best way to botch up an altar call is not to preach the gospel. Just get people to lift up a hand and pray a prayer with you. Resist the urge to speak of the only One who could save them.

Sometimes the best way to get a point across is to put it in a different light. You now know a few ways to botch up an altar call. Please do not employ them. Do the opposite. You may already do some of them. Don't let pride keep you from changing and doing things in a Biblical fashion. The bottom line is how true we are to Christ and His Word. Effectively reaching the lost is our mission. Let nothing hold you back from that agenda. May God bless you as you seek to win people to Christ in Bible clubs, churches, conferences, on the street witnessing encounters, at your school, and in your workplace. Adapted from Becoming an Emissary for God by Allen Atzbi

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Defence of Fort McHenry

Oh, Say Can You See?
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Read All Four Stanzas by Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

John 13:34-35 Love One Another

34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Tonight in our men's group meeting, we had a lesson that was meant for me. After my rant last night about why everybody was volunteering for the event and didn't verbally tell people about Jesus, tonight was a lesson in balance.

Kevin had us walk to the shopping center and look for ways to serve people. Just serve them. Love one another. I learned that you have to make a conscious effort to serve people. Just like witnessing will not happen by accident, neither will service. (I also learned that women get really scared when you try to carry their groceries and they don't know you.)

Afterwards, we met at the Starbucks and talked about our experience. Some people felt a little embarrassed to be collecting shopping carts. Others felt like they did something nice, but were disappointed that nobody told them what a great job they had done. We all agreed that it is tough to get out there and just serve people. It was tough for me to not share the gospel verbally, and to just be of service.

We decided that we would make the effort to serve others daily, in our normal routine. We run into people all the time who need a little help. The next time we drive by someone with a flat. The next time someone is trying to carry something big. The next time someone is moving. The next time a mom just needs someone to prepare a meal. The next time a dad needs someone to pray with him. As Jesus loved us, so we must love one another. By this, all men will know we are His disciples.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4th of July

Wow! 40,000 people all in one place to see fireworks. They were starting to come in at 8 in the morning when I rode my bike by the church. And, the gates opened at 4p.m. By the time I got there, the parking lot was full, Walmart parking lot was full, and even the dirt lot for the next housing development was full, too. People were camped in the backs of their pickups, on the roofs of their RVs and in lawn chairs up and down the street, filling the street to capacity.

I saw many of our church members sitting in the parking lot of the church. I saw the rest of the community sitting outside on the sidewalk and in the shopping center parking lot. What I didn't see was our church members going over to talk with the community about why we were doing this. The music was so loud in our lot, that it was actually easier to start a conversation in the other lot. David, Joey and I dug deep in our backpacks, glove boxes and trunks and pulled out every last one of our tracts. We probably had 500 or more. But, that was hardly a drop in the bucket when 40,000 people are sitting there with nothing better to do for hours but read something. Every one of them was given away to people that were happy to read them. After the night was through, I found only one thrown on the ground.

David had a good conversation with a guy who had never been to church, and didn't expect to be approached. I prayed with a lady from Grace Community Church nearby while David witnessed. The man gave his life to Jesus right there. He had never had the gospel explained to him and tonight was his night. God is good.

I approached a family and the teens were interested in the Jesus stuff we were handing out, but the mom was adamant that they didn't take anything from us, nor read, nor listen, because, "Hey, we're Jewish!" I said, "Great, so was Jesus. Do you think you've kept the Law of Moses?" I left her with something to read. Please pray for her.

I guess Judaism was the theme for the night, as the next couple I spent some time with was Jewish as well. His brother moved to Jerusalem and has been encouraging him to get more 'religious'. I explained that religion wouldn't save him, and showed him that there is no way for him to keep the Law. The only thing that would save him was the spotless Lamb of God, who laid down His life, first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles. I was not asking him to convert religions, but encouraging him to, like myself, give my life to the Jewish Messiah.

I ran out of time. I ran out of tracts. I ran out of breath. But, there were still more fish to be brought into the boat. Where were the 6000 members of my church? Did the fireworks and music lull them into a slumber and keep them from the real work of the church? How embarrassing that there were more people from other churches witnessing at our event than members of our own church. What will it take to awaken them from their slumber? What will it take to shake people out of comfortable Christianity.

35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:35-38

Wiki Wiki

I just added an editable article at For those that don't know, wiki is an editable format for web pages that everyone can read and make changes. The most famous is
I am trying to find more clever ways to get the Word out. I've seen questions at Yahoo Answers, among other places. If you find any clever ways to share the gospel, please let me know.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village

Last night, Joey and I, went to a couple of malls. We decided to try somewhere new. He lives in Thousand Oaks, so we started out there. We got such a late start that the mall was closing and we only got to talk with a few people. A lady from Godiva chocalates gave us a bag of white chocolate, so the first contest we did was "Name Ten, Get Chocolate"

Two very nice girls who had a Catholic school background, well actually are still in Catholic school, named five or six commandments. They were genuinely interested in why what we were telling them went smack in the face of what their teachers had been telling them. Twelve years of Catholic schooling is leaving them with the impression that you just "have faith" and you'll be fine. They couldn't define what that meant exactly. Faith in what? in whom? Do you just believe in your heart that you're going to heaven and it happens? We left them with hopefully a clearer explanation of what the Bible teaches you must do, and implored them not to just trust teachers, but test everything in light of scripture. I am astonished that people so quickly turn to a different gospel, which is no gospel at all. Galatians 1:6-8 (Oh, and we gave them the chocolate)

We headed over to Westlake Village where things were still hopping. It was a beautiful Summer night and everyone was enjoying the tables outside next to the fountains. It surprises me how many kids are allowed to stay out without supervision to after 11 at night. We talked with quite a few and the theme continued of people who had "faith". The first two I talked to, the guy said, "I am 100% sure that I am going to heaven." Wow, I said, tell me how to get there. "You just have to believe. I mean, really believe. You just have to know it." Nothing about Jesus, nothing about sin, repentence, justification, atonement, just a sort of Jedi mind trick. Sounds to me more like a good way to make that extra free throw in the big game. Surely, not a strategy for getting right with God.

Like most people, he had no idea that his sin had made him an enemy in the eyes of a holy God. As we explained about the mirror of the Ten Commandments, comparing ourselves to God's standard, we all fall short, we lie, we steal, we blaspheme, commit adultery in our hearts, he started to see the picture. But, he said that he was young and he had plenty of time to make it up to God. Three sins a day is a thousand a year. Ten thousand sins for each decade of your life sitting in God's book waiting to crush you when you show up and get judged. Everyone says, "Well, lying once is not like murdering anyone or anything." We need to get honest with ourselves and our God. We don't go our whole life and just lie once. At the core, we are deceitful lustful, jealous, idolaters who put ourselves at the top of the list, way above the One who deserves that position. There are no amount of "good works" that could even come close to making up for our sins. The good news is that we don't have to make up for them. Jesus did. The spotless lamb, made to be sin for us, punished for our iniquities, covering up, and removing our sin, past present and future.

Joey decided to approach a group of girls in front of the ice cream store and quite a crowd gathered. I saw at least fifteen people come and go throughout his whole discussion.
At one point, one of the girl's mother came up and listened for a minute. Joey said he gets nervous that someone's parent will come up and scold him for talking with their kids about Jesus. But, in two thousand witness encounters, it has never happened. As I walked up, one girl was saying, "Wait, so you're telling me that for all the bad things that I have done, God is going to send me to Hell?" Wow, she got it. The law had done it's work and had plowed up the soil of her heart and made it ready to hear the gospel. He spent a good twenty to thirty minutes with this group and they stood transfixed to his every word. Their mouths were stopped and they were not justifying themselves. At this point, when someone truly sees themselves in light of God's standard, they are desperate for the Good News. That is what drives me to get out and share my faith, just the mere chance that someone's heart will be reached. When God moves His Spirit and touches someone, it humbles me that he would let me be a witness to His majesty.

Please pray for all the people that we spoke with last night. Now, get out there and share your faith, while you still have time.