Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No Man Can Serve Two Masters

Here's a challenge. If I said I'll pay you $100 every single time you share the gospel, how many times today would you have done it?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Would Give My Left Eye...

Yesterday, I got a call from my wife. She opened with, "Honey, I don't want you to panic..." Um, yeah, that is not the best call to get. My four year old daughter, Scarlett, fell into a display hook at a shoe store, and there was a possibility that she would lose her eye. I took this picture after the doctor cleaned up all the blood, and it doesn't look as bad as I was imagining on the drive to the hospital.

As a father, all I could think of was my child's welfare. I was angry that she spends all day thinking of ways to get hurt. If you can climb on it, and jump off of it, she loves it. If it is full of sharp objects, she dives into it. I get so mad that she insists on doing things that could hurt her. But, I also felt intense love for her, praying on the 40 minute drive from work to the hospital. I prayed that God would take my eye and spare my little girl. I would literally step in and take her place if I could. There is nothing I would not give for my child.

The good news is that with a little sedation, they were able to suture up the cut, and examine her cornea. She might even get out of this with little more than a black eye that will fade. Even the burst blood vessels in her eye itself, though intensely red now, will be little more than a memory in a few weeks. She is already up and bouncing around the house again this morning. I keep begging her to be careful and don't dive into the toy box face first. She has been given a new eye, as far as I am concerned, and I want her to be safe for a long time.

That being said, reading all the prayers from Christian friends, my fellow seed sowers, I am mindful of a similar story. I used to think it was fun to do things that hurt me, like sin. In fact, I would dive into sin. Of course, I didn't actually murder anyone, but I sure could break the seventh commandment (fornication), in heart and in deed. I could find any justification to break the ninth commandment (telling lies). I certainly didn't even think that the fifth (honor your parents) should be in the list. You name the standard of perfection God demanded of me, and I found pleasure in falling short of it. As a Father, I can only imagine God's anger at my love of love of hurting myself. As I have to stay my hand from just grabbing my daughter and shaking her to stop her from doing something wrong, I appreciate the patience God had in not reaching down and throttling me.

But, I am also mindful of God's intense love for me. Though, the consequence of my selfish, sinful, actions is death. God not only wants to step in to take my place, but He did. In the person of Christ Jesus, God stepped in and took my punishment upon Himself, allowing me to go free. I get to go to Heaven, not because I deserve it, far from it, but because He paid the price for me.

Now, a four year old comes home from the hospital after having minor surgury to save her eye and thinks about how to climb up the outside of the staircase. But, I'm not a four year old. That would be childish, and downright rude, to basically laugh in the face of the people who saved you. Sure, I might fall into sin occasionally, but for me to "dive" back into a life of sin would be downright rude. God so graciously has reached down and saved me from a life of sin, and in return, I want my actions to reflect my gratitude. I repent of, that is, turn from, my love of sin, and place my faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on my behalf.

My question today to you is: What is stopping you from doing that? If we each honestly examine ourselves in light of God's standard, we will see that we fall very short and are destined for the very real punishment of hell. As a father, I can hear God saying to you, His children, "Please, please, turn from the behavior that will kill you, and flee to my loving arms, where I long to save you from death. I would give my only Son, if you will turn from your sin."

And He did.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A New Gospel

I was beat. Seemed like all I was doing was working. Trying to get ahead. I knew I was missing something in my life. Know what I mean? A buddy of mine called me and asked me to go to church with him. I said, "Church? What church?" He told me. I said, "Fine."

I've never been the same. That place changed my life. You gotta go. Join us this Sunday. I think you're gonna love it.

Nah. I'll stick with the real gospel found in the Bible.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Interview With a God I made Up In My Head

I dreamed I had an interview with God.
“So you would like to interview me?” God asked.
“If you have the time,” I said.
God smiled.
“My time is eternity… what questions do you have in mind for me?”
“What surprises you most about human kind?”
God answered…
“That they get bored with childhood, they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.”
“That they lose their health to make money… and then lose their money to restore their health.”
"That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future.”
“That they live as if they will never die… and die as though they had never lived.”

God’s hand took mine… and we were silent for a while.
And then I asked, “As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?”
“To learn they cannot make anyone love them. All they can do is let themselves be loved.”
“To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others.”
“To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness.”
“To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in those they love, and it can take many years to heal them.”
“To learn that a rich person is not who has the most, but is one who needs the least.”
“To learn that there are people who love them dearly, but simply do not yet know how to express or show their feelings.”
“To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently.”
“To learn that it is not enough that they forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves.”
“Thank you for your time,” I said humbly. “Is there anything else you’d like your children to know?”God smiled and said…
“Just know that I am here. Always.”

Do you notice anything missing? I mean, it is poetic. But, is this really what the God of the Universe wants to tell us? If we boil down His 66 love letters to us (The Bible) is this really all He has to say? Let's just let this sink in for a while before I comment on it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Just got back from Vegas. Please, if you haven't already gone on one, go to The Great News Network and sign up for an Evangelism Boot Camp. This thing is powerful. It is the closest I think we will get to the first century church. Hundreds of believers, no doctrinal divisions, all out taking their faith to the streets and reaching out for the lost. You will come back changed. It is not a retreat, in fact, they call it going on the advance. If you have any desire to share your faith, but need something to stretch you out of your comfort zone, this is exactly the thing.

I don't know what else to say, but, "If you want to know, you have to go!"

Friday, January 19, 2007

Street Preaching in Vegas

Getting frustrated at talking to the air and having nobody stop while we were preaching in front of the Bellagio, I ventured to the corner stoplight and saw 50-100 people standing still for 3 minutes waiting for the light. It took me ten times to get it just right, but I got it to where I could get a complete Law/Grace presentation out before the light turned green. I recorded three of them.

Just as many will try to cross the street and enter heaven saying, "Lord, Lord", God will say, "Don't walk, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness." Here is the springboard to the best of my memory. Just as the light turns red, jump in front of the curb and speak to the people starting to gather...
Folks, welcome to Vegas. Please be careful here, as this is a dangerous intersection. We have some safety measures set up here for you. The red hand across the street actually means "Don't walk". What we are waiting for is the little white man to appear before we go. The reason I am telling you this is that in my experience, as I speak to you for the next two minutes, you might get so offended that you will be tempted to rush into oncoming traffic so you don't have to listen to me. But, please, don't kill yourself before you hear what I have to say. Speaking of death, whether a car hits you today, or you live to be a hundred, one day, the truth is that we will all be part of the ultimate statistic. Ten out of ten of us will die. And on that day, the Bible says we will be judged. If you were to be compared to me, you would probably be OK, but in reality, both of us will be judged by God's standard of perfection, the Ten Commandments. If you've ever lied, God sees you as a liar, if you've ever stolen, God sees you as a thief. If you look at all the pornographic images in Vegas and lust over them, sir, the reason your wife doesn't like you doing that is that she knows it is adultery of your heart. She is angry when you do that, and so is God. If you are angry at me right now for conronting you with this stuff, then God sees that anger as murder in your heart. You see God judges our thoughts, and not just our actions. God is so good, he is not going to let murderers in heaven. But, you see, he is so good that he will not even let liars into the kingdom. The bible says that one lie is enough to send you to a lake of fire. The good news is, folks, that you do not have to pay the penalty for your sin. Jesus Christ has already done that. If you will repent and turn from your sin, Jesus is willing to forgive you. You must place your faith in Jesus alone, and not your own efforts, and God says on that day you will be born again, passing from death to life. Folks, please consider my motives today, I'm not asking for your money. I'm merely asking you to consider repenting of your sin and putting your faith in Jesus Christ. (Keep going till the light changes) and please don't die before you repent!
Phew, it is tough to get it all out in two minutes, but it can be done. And if God blesses you with a double light cycle, you can really pour out the passion pleading with people to forsake their sin.

And, if you do it right, you can tag team with a partner and keep it up all night long. I was so blessed by this, and I pray for the hundreds of people that had that gospel seed scattered to their hearts. I pray that some of them will be planted deep and grow.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jesus the Way to the Father

5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Many times Jesus equates Himself with the Father. Here is a great example. Ask anyone what they think the main message of Jesus was. Usually it is something equivalent to "Love" or "Peace" or "Drive a hybrid". Then read to them John 14:6 and ask the question again. Does your idea of Jesus' purpose line up with the purpose that Jesus states for himself?

Without the cross, without an innocent Savior taking the full brunt of God's wrath upon Himself, we are still enemies of God. If we do not trust in the Savior instead of our own goodness, we are surely condemned already. But, those who repent of their sins and completely trust in the payment made by Jesus are not condemned.

We are free to go, not because we are good, but because we are bad and have been forgiven by a very, very good God. Now, that is good news.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going."

Sometimes it is nice to just be comforted by Scripture. Read the next post to hear Jesus expound on the "way" he mentions here.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Christianity is for Losers

By Ray Comfort

If you have ever preached in the open air, you will know that there are a number of fears you have to overcome. There is your own natural fear—that your mind may go blank and you will make a fool of yourself in front of a crowd of people. There’s the fear of being asked a question you can’t answer, or of attracting an angry heckler. But there is actually a bigger fear you will have to learn to live with.

It’s the fear of having a crowd gather and then scattering them as soon as they hear what you have to say.

It’s disheartening to pray for listeners, have them gather, and then watch them walk away while you are still speaking. That’s why I pray for a good heckler. A good (angry) heckler can take a crowd of three people and make them three hundred in a matter of three minutes; and if you learn to handle yourself and the heckler right, the crowd will stay.

There are some people who think differently. They don’t mind standing up publicly, opening a Bible, and talking to no one. However, that doesn’t look good, and it confirms in the mind of those that pass by that open air preachers are weirdo’s. They talk to themselves. Publicly. Sadly, much of the reproach leveled at open air preachers has nothing to do with the message they preach, but rather how they present themselves.

The problem is that the modern day open air preacher in the United States carries a lot of unwanted baggage. The moment he (or she) stands up to preach with a Bible in hand, he becomes the victim of prejudice. He is immediately lumped in with the wide-eyed sign-carrying “The end is nigh” folks, or the money-hungry televangelists, pedophile priests, simple-minded Bible quoting creationists and snake-handling fanatics. That’s why I don’t hold a Bible in my hand when I preach, and why I rarely mention spiritual things when I begin speaking. Scripture warns us that the ungodly think that spiritual things are foolish (1 Corinthians 2:14), so if I want them to gather and then stay to listen to the gospel, I have to know how to hold their interest.

There are learned skills involved in fishing, and perhaps one of the first is to use good bait and to know how to use that bait to disguise the hook. The average fish isn’t stupid.

A year or so ago, someone gave us hundreds of brand new stuffed toys, so we began using them to attract fish. We would stand up with a hand full of toys, ask trivia questions, and give them away to those who gave the correct answers. Then, after gaining a semblance of credibility with the crowd, we would swing to spiritual things, and more than often the crowd would stay and listen to the gospel.

There are some that would say that using stuffed toys to attract a crowd is the old “bait and switch” trick. I suppose you could call it that. We begin with the “bait” of toys, and then we “switch” to the things of God. Most of our tracts do that. They begin in the natural realm before they swing to the spiritual. Jesus did that with the woman at the well in John chapter four. He didn’t sit on the well and tell her that she would have to drink His blood and eat His flesh to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. She may have thought that that sounded a little strange. Instead He spoke to her about water. That was something she could understand. Then He swung to the topic of her salvation. That wasn’t deceitful. It wasn’t a “bait and switch” con trick. That was wise. It was exercising discretion.

I love what someone who shared his faith said, when he was criticized by someone who wasn’t involved in evangelism. He gently replied, “Well, I like the way I do it better than the way you don’t.”

Water Running Uphill

The day before Christmas, 2006, I did things a little differently. When someone answered a trivia question incorrectly I had the thought that it was Christmas--the season of giving, so I said, “That’s wrong,” and threw him the toy. That made the crowd laugh.

I asked another question. “What is the most common food people choke to death on in U.S. restaurants?” Someone called out “Steak!” I called back “Wrong! Have a bear,” and tossed out another stuffed toy. I then noticed a mom quickly coaxing her four children to step forward, so I asked the question again. One of the kids called out “Ice cream!” I said, “Wrong! Have a bear,” and threw out another one. The crowd laughed again. The same thing happened with the other three children, much to their delight. This not only gathered a crowd, made kids and parents happy, it made the crowd happy enough to stay and listen.

I was aware that there was something very weird about what I was doing. Life in this world isn’t like that. Losers don’t get the prize. Ever. It’s like water running uphill. But that’s what it’s like in the Kingdom of God. Christians are losers. They were at war with God and His Law. They were morally bankrupt and heading for Hell. But instead of trying to justify their guilt or hide their sin, they justified God. They said, “I am wrong and God is right. The battle is over. I surrender. He wins, and I lose.”

In doing so, the sinner then gains the greatest gift of all—eternal life. He didn’t earn it, and he didn’t deserve it. He can’t boast of his achievements. He can only boast of God’s kindness in the gospel, where the last become the first, the first became last, and the losers become winners.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 "My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

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."

36 Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?"
Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."

37 Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you."

38 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

I hear a lot of Christians tell me that you shouldn't verbally share the gospel with people, at least not right away. You should just "love" people and they will see your "light shine". They seem to be implying that by sharing the gospel, you are neglecting the love responsibility. Jesus clearly commands us to love one another here. Actually he is speaking about how we treat other believers specifically in this context. But, Then he gives an example of what it means to love someone. "As I have loved you... Love one another". Jesus loved each of us enough to tell us how much he hates sin, and warn us of the coming judgment.

He then mentions an example of what is not loving to Christ, denying him. If we just go around doing good deeds, in our own name, and deny the very one who gives us the breath to do anything, we are disowning Jesus. If you spend all day doing good for people and neglect to tell people about Christ, you are setting yourself up as a god. You are promoting yourself. You are puffing yourself up with pride.

The two are not mutually exclusive. Yes, we are to love one another. And yes, we are to answer to those who ask the reason for the hope which lies inside of us.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cultivating Compassion for the Lost

Think of the frightening story Jesus told in Luke 16 about Lazarus and the rich man. Some believe this was simply a parable, but Jesus began by saying "There was", and He spoke of Lazarus by name. So it would seem that there really was a man named Lazarus and there really was a rich man who ended up in the torments of a very real hell. This should motivate us to cry out in prayer for the lost and then do all we can with God's help to reach them. The sad irony is that in Hell the rich man, who let a beggar starve at his gate, suddenly developed a concern for the fate of his unsaved family. His stony heart finally found compassion, and it was the reality of the fires of hell that changed him. Unfortunately, it was too late for him to put compassion into action, but it's not too late for us. In light of the reality of hell, we can have compassion for those we care about.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Covert fishing at the mall

T0night was a new venue, the Topanga Mall. Newly renovated, it is huge. But, there is no 'public square' area for our usual open air preaching. So, the team had to utilize our best one to one, tractless, witnessing skills. I have a sick baby that didn't let me leave the house, but Tony sent the following email to tell about the team's experience. From the sound of it, looks like we have found a new fishing hole...

Fellow Evangelists,

We missed those of you who were unable to join us last night, at the Topanga Mall. For those of you who have never been to the Topanga Mall (last night was my first time), the mall is huge. The floor plan is spacious, with numerous food courts and seating/lounge areas, which gave us plenty of spots to find people gathering and relaxing. The mood didn't seem as hurried at Topanga than at other malls in which I have engaged in evangelism.

Seven team members and four guests spent about three hours engaged in one-to-one and small group conversations. We broke the team into four 2-3 person groups. The strategy worked giving us the opportunity to talk to dozens of people throughout the night, without drawing any unnecessary or unwarranted attention by mall security.

While none of us leaders want to abandon the great pond we have at Burbank, the Topanga Mall will certainly be a pond we return to, often. Just thinking out loud -- We might want to think of spending Friday nights at Topanga Mall, and spending time on Saturday afternoons (or evenings) in Burbank. Again, I'm just thinking out loud. But let me know what you think.
I hope you all have a great week in the Lord! Happy Fishing!!

No audio this week, but pray for the people that will come and get equipped in the Saturday Evangelism class at Shepherd of the Hills. If you know someone that needs to be there, please bring them with you.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

18 "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'

19 "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. 20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me."

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 2324 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?"

26 Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

"What you are about to do, do quickly," Jesus told him, 28 but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Interesting in this passage of scripture that nobody suspected Judas, even when Jesus pointed him out. Judas was a well respected person in the inner circle. He was in charge of the money. He was a "church goer". But, deep inside was the devil. We tend to make many assumptions, I know I do, about people who go to church, hold positions of ministry, and show all the outward signs of being a Christian. There will come a day when the just judge of the universe will separate the wheat from the tares, the good fish from the bad, the wise from the foolish.

We can fool ourselves. We can fool others in church. But, we will not fool God. Many times Jesus warns us of this coming judgment. Please, before it is too late, examine yourself to make sure you are in the faith. Are you trusting in anything other than His grace for your salvation? Do you actually believe in the atonement provided by Jesus Christ? Is there any fruit coming forth from that belief? Are you concerned enough about others to get out there and tell them?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet

1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 45 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.

It's amazing that even when things seem to be going wrong, even though we can exercise our free will, God can still accomplish His purposes.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

7 Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

Think about what Jesus was saying. Look at Psalm 51. "Lord, only you can make me clean" Jesus is showing a spiritual truth through a physical demonstration. Unless Jesus' blood washes you clean, you have no part in the Kingdom of Heaven. This is another example of people not understanding the spiritual implications of Jesus' words till after His death and resurrection.

9 "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

10 Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13 "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Now that Jesus' has washed you and made you clean, He is asking you to do the same. Are you spreading the only gospel that will make people clean?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

The Basic Training Course is coming back. This was my first blog article, so it seems fitting to be the first article of the new year.

Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch has graciously allowed us to use their facility to teach the Evangelism courses. We are going to have the classroom every Saturday morning from 9-10:30. This Saturday, the 6th, we will start out with the Basic Training Course. Now that the Intermediate is released, we might piggy-back that one next. Whatever happens, we have the whole year of 2007 to get people trained up and equipped to share their faith.

If you need some more training, or you can come help train others, I hope to see you there. If you know anyone who is interested in sharing their faith, but doesn't know where to start, please bring them along.