There was an error in this gadget

Monday, December 1, 2008

Practice What You Preach!

I don't always practice what I preach, so to speak. Whenever someone comes to me and says, "Hey, I have run into a tough spot and am thinking about doing 'xyz' in response to it," I usually say, "Is what you are choosing to do as a response wisdom? Does it set a right example to others? Not just does it satisfy your goal or prove your point, but can others look at it and say you chose well in your approach? Whether or not they agree with you is besides the point."

It seems that I lacked some wisdom in a previous blog post and need to follow my own advise.

Therefore an apology and some clarification are due from me to those who may be reading this blog concerning my post about the Don Piper event. I was bravely approached by a very dear brother in Christ a while back about the comments I made in that post. I don't think that he could have addressed me any more appropriately than he did. I am sure that it was hard for him to do so because he knew that I could be over-zealous at times about evangelism. I truly do admire him for his wisdom and godly influence into the life of his kids and those he ministers to.

Now what I want to apologize for is that I wasn't clear enough about the aim of my critique and caused some people to be offended as they had invested a lot of time and care into the event. I think that we can all agree that the chief aim of the local congregation and hopefully Don Piper as well, was to see the unregenerate saved and the true believer encouraged/edified. There are some who believe that what Don Piper and others like him do is simply done in order to make a name or money for themselves. I am not one of those people. I do not have and never claimed to have the grounds to question Don Piper's motives for doing what he does or his passion for doing so. He, like many other well-meaning Christians make great sacrifices to do what many of us wouldn't dare consider in our cozy American lives. I never want to question someones motives. My critique was solely about the message.

Often times, the more I speak (or in this case write) the more trouble I tend get myself into. So I will leave it at this. I personally love the body of believers that have allowed me to be a part of their fellowship and I am deeply sorry about the personal hurt that I caused in not showing wisdom in my approach to a very important subject. I also suffer from "thick-headedness" and it sometimes takes awhile for me to understand another person's perspective. With that being said, I have removed the post.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Campus Crusade For Christ

I came to know Christ while I was in college. At the time I entered college, I didn't have much of an interest in religion accept that I knew that the people involved would help keep me out of trouble and provide me with some positive social interactions. So I joined FCA (fellowship of Christian Athletes) and the Gospel Choir. The fact that I got saved was not a result of the ministries of either program, it was truly despite the (at the time) faulty ministries. No one ever spoke to me about my sin, even though it was clear that I was living in willful rebellion towards God. 

Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) always seemed to be a little different and too serious for me. I wanted to be in the crowd, but I didn't want to be known as part of the crowd. So I stayed away. Now I don't know how much the Gospel Choir and FCA have changed, but I am always thrilled to hear the reports coming from CRU. They have weekly evangelism, worship time, and even held a 24/7 prayer room that got filled up for the full 168 hours.

CRU has been so gracious to invite me in to speak to their weekly meeting attendees on four separate occasions. I do not envy the pastor that is called to write a sermon for every single Sunday during the length of their ministry. I go through great pains attempting to put together a challenging message for my audiences.

It used to be athletic competitions that had my stomach doing back flips and kept me awake all through the night. I would have never thought that I would ever care about exegesis, hermaneutics, theology, or expository preaching. I never even heard these words before, but now this is what consumes my thoughts all day long as I ponder God and the scriptures. I was such a bumbling fool the first time I spoke at CRU that I was shocked when they asked me back for a second time. As my style of speaking has morphed over the years, I have found myself preaching a harder message each and every time (I figured God had given me the green light since they continued to invite me back). I battle a lot with the issues of self-righteous pride and being too forward when I speak about God and the Bible. Anybody that knows me personally, knows that. My wife especially (she keeps me in check). 

On Thursday, October 23, 2008 at SRU campus, I was given my fourth opportunity to speak at CRU. Below you will find the basic outline to my sermon. Because I can tend to ramble, I wanted to read my presentation as much as possible. You will find in Italics some of the phrases I peppered in the sermon (as much as I can recall at least). So here it is, if you are interested.

(Short intro: blah, blah, blah...)

Short illustration: Imagine that me and attendee X were on a comfy coach bus together heading to do rebuild work in Louisiana.  On the way down, we made many stops picking up and dropping off passangers. After too much coffee, I excuse myself to the bathroom. I soon come back with a solemn expression on my face and say to "I love you and want you to lead a good, full life. So I am going to now jump out of that window while we are traveling at 65 mph to die." I then wave and jump out the window. 

That doesn't make any sense. Would understand that I love him? He would be confused as to why I would show my love for him in such a drastic way and perhaps think that I had lost my mind.

Here's the missing part of the story. On my way to the bathroom, I overheard some gang-members attempting to initiate a new member by getting him to throw someone out of the bus while we were speeding down the road. He was pointing at you X. So I spoke to them and said that I would go willingly on your behalf. After some discussion, they conceded. So I will see you later X.  I then jump out of the window.

Does know now that I love him? Do I even have to tell him that I do or does he get the picture? My point with this illustration is that we often leave out the most  vital information when informing people about the Gospel of Christ because it is a hard message.

(This was my working title for the night) The Most Offensive Message that God Will Ever Have You Hear!

God loves you, and He loves you so much that He died for you. 

Most of you are probably scratching your heads and saying, “That's not offensive. That doesn't make any sense. How is the notion of God dying for me offensive?”

I Cor. 1:18 the bible states, “The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.”
That is to say, it doesn't make any sense to them why that is good news...
“But to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Matthew 13:23 tells us that the good soil hearer is the one who “hears and understands.”

This is why I, in the spirit of Paul and the apostles, determined to know nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified. - I Cor. 2:2

OPENING PRAYER... Lord, you have called each and everyone of us individually into this room despite how we at present may be feeling. Whatever distractions in our lives Lord, help us to put those aside as we humbly come seeking your word. Please open our ears and hearts to receive your word tonight. Amen.

Read Ephesians 4:17 – 5:14

So what makes the crucifixion of God in the flesh so offensive? The biggest offense is not that evil, double-minded, hypocrites aided in the death of an innocent man. Because though they participated in His death, Christ had preordained the exact way that He would die. Even unto the hour he would do it. Christ willfully went to the cross and died.
John 10:18 – “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father."
 Acts 2:23 - “Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken up by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.”

The offensive part to the notion of God dying on the cross is that it is not simply about His great love for you, but about your wickedness. The cross speaks not only to the nature of God, but to the corrupt nature of man. In order to have a proper theology of God we must couple with it a proper theology about man. 
Let me give you a short list of how the God of the universe see you. This may differ from how you see yourself.

A worm – Job 25:6, Born in sin – Psalm 51:5, Born to trouble – Job 5:7, No trust is to be placed in man – Psalm 118:8 Isaiah 2:22, All the ways of man are clean in his own eyes – Prov 16:2, Sons of disobedience – Eph 2:2, By nature children of wrath – Eph 2:3, The imaginations of man's heart are evil from his youth Gen 8:21, In Psalm 14:2, 3 we read: "The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.", Job 4:16 – we drink iniquity down like water.

The list goes on my friends, but I think you are starting to get the picture. Perhaps you are beginning to agree with God as you look back on human history and see atrocities like Nazi Germany, American slavery, African genocide, terrorism and the like. There were 50,000 murders in the grand old U.S. of A that went unsolved in the 90s alone. Americans kill 4,400 babies in the womb every single day in America. But the problem isn't just that the human race as a whole is corrupt. It is that you too, as an individual at your core, are corrupt. You are wicked. I am wicked. Your professors are wicked. Your mother, your girlfriend/boyfriend, your pastor, at their core, are wicked. The bible states that there is none good but God. Are you with me yet? Now either the bible is right or you are a good person and the bible is wrong, but both viewpoints cannot be true. 

So let us investigate...Romans 3:19-20 – “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Galatians 3:24 - “The law was our tutor / schoolmaster to bring us to Christ...”

1. Have you always loved the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength?
2. Have you served the God of the Bible only as master, or have you bowed to a God that is more suitable for yourself?
3. Have you ever used God's name casually or to display anger or disgust?
4. Have you offered God one day in seven to honor His name in worship?
5. Have you always been obedient with your parents?
6. Have you ever been angry enough with some one to lash out vocally or even physically?
7. Have you pursued sexual thoughts about another person?
8. Have you ever taken anything, regardless of its value, from someone else?
9. How many lies have you told in your life?
10. Have you ever desired someone else's possessions for yourself?

What do you have to say for yourselves then? Can anyone proclaim his own goodness before the just God of the universe who will judge everyone according to His standard? Have you understood your sinful nature yet? “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I John 1:8; 2:3,4. 

Do you have any loved ones that fit into this category? Will you warn them about  their standing before a righteous God?

Now understanding better the nature of man, we can understand the nature of God.
God has two types of attributes.
 1.Foundational – Shared among Himself. These discribe who God is. 
 a)Love
 b)Righteousness
 c)Truth

In describing myself, I am a man, black, and 25 years old. This is simply who I am. I don't need anything outside of myself to prove that.


 2.Relational – Desired to create us so that He could display them aomgst us.
 a)Mercy
 b)Grace
 c)Loving Kindness

The following are verses that describe how God revealed His loving-kindness amongst His creation.

(I read each of these) Matt. 20:28, John 15:13, John 10:11, 14-15, 17-18, Romans 3:24-26, Romans 5:6-8, 2 Cor. 5:21, Galatians 3:13-14, Galatians 4:4-5, 1 Timothy 2:5-6 , and there are many more.

So what then becomes the necessary response to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, that God would come down into this corrupt, sinful world and die for wicked man?

REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!
I beg you turn from your sin and place your trust in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. Then He will create in you a new heart with new desires. He will give you a steadfast spirit that will hinder your heart from the cravings of sin. 

And now, Scriptures that articulate the beautiful doctrine of regeneration:

(I read these out loud as well) John 1:12-13, John 3:3, 6-7, John 6:44, Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9, Titus 3:4-7, James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:3-5, and there are many more.

There is a holy regeneration that takes place in the life of every believer that humbly repents and puts his trust in Jesus Christ alone for his or her salvation.

(Much of the following can be acredited to Jim Elliff and his article on the Unrepenting Repenter) The true believer in Christ is a life-long repenter (Romans 8:12-13). 

The deceived repenter would be a worse sinner if he could, but society holds him back. He can tolerate and even enjoy other worldly professing Christians and pastors well enough, but does not desire holy fellowship or the fervent warmth of Holy worship. Though he may claim he holds the bible as truth, you will never see him delight in quiet meditation, fervently searching the scriptures for truth. And seldom will this man take a stand for righteousness before the eyes of his heathen associates.

For God demands truth from the inward parts says the psalmist. You may reform in the actions without repenting in the heart, for the love of sin remains, and the sinner remains in his arrogance considering himself better than others for not succumbing to such an indulgent lifestyle. This man has a false pride rooted in his or her own ability to keep from sin and refuses to boast in Christ as the author and finisher of his faith. No listen, naming an act as evil is not the same as leaving it. For the bible says, “Let anyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Timothy 2:19). 

If you are in a fornicating relationship, if you are fooling around, if unjust anger defines you, if you are a drunkard, a cheater, etc. then you are of the devil. You have no assurance that you belong to God. Read the scriptures and see. Read  First John. These aren't my words friend and I am not a legalist. You must be born again.

So who will flee? Who will run from this city of destruction that has so ensnared us with its promises of pleasure and self-fulfillment? And will you warn others of their inevitable doom? Fall to the feet of your savior and plead with Him that He might save you from your sin and save those around you. That you may be a light; nay, a beacon of light on a great mountaintop proclaiming the great love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord let us wrestle with your word in our hearts until we come to the truth of your love and succumb to your Majesty in humble repentance. Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One of the Greatest Preachers of Our Time.

If ever there was a present-day preacher that I would hope to model myself after, it would have to be Paul Washer of Heart Cry Missionary Society. Some have the gift of evangelism and some have the gift of pastoring. Paul Washer has the gift of preaching. I used to wonder what the difference between pastoring and preaching was. I now understand. Paul Washer is a pastor but he most shines in his preaching. 

Many people will have a hard time with brother Paul, but if they examine what he preaches in light of scripture, they will have a hard time refuting the truth of the word he speaks. Not because he says it (he fully understands his sin), but because the scripture first declared it. This message has set me ablaze in a new way. I hope that this fire never goes out. Please listen and enjoy. The sermon is called Ten Indictments. They go as follows

1) A practical denial of the sufficiency of Scripture

2) An ignorance of the character and attributes of God

3) A failure to address man's malady

4) An ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of regeneration

5) An unbiblical gospel presentation and invitation

6) An ignorance regarding the nature of the Church

7) A lack of loving and compassionate church discipline

8) A silence on separation (holiness)

9) Psychology and sociology have replaced the Scriptures in regards to the family

10) A departure from the faith and a devotion to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-16)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Audio Clips from Our Local Fishing Hole

As much as the Lord is willing, a group of God -fearing Christians will be evangelising on the campus of Slippery Rock University evry Friday night at 7:30pm. Last Friday the 29th was our first night of the season. I was furtunate enough to have some gracious people allow me to record the interviews. Listen and you might find that there isn't a whole lot to be afraid of when it comes to witnessing. This Friday I was joined with my dear brothers in the Lord, Kevin and Derrel.

As you are listening to these audio clips, please keep in mind that I am not a professional and the volume level may fluctuate from time to time so don't turn your speakers the whole way up. I do appologize for that and will get better. Perhaps next time we will bring some cameras and maybe even a video camera. Unfortunately, I am the only evengalist on these recordings.

This first clip is an encounter with a very sweet freshman girl named Brittany. She was undecided about her major, perhaps she will make a decision about her eternity...

Get this widget Track details eSnips Social DNA


Next are a very comical duo, Summer and Brittany. After I turned off the recording, Brittany wanted to go get right with God and Summer needed some advice. I try to leave everyone with my e-mail address.
Get this widget Track details eSnips Social DNA


Then there's Chrissy and Sarah the professing Christian. Listen carefully to Sarah's answers to two very basic questions. 1)What makes her belief in God different from that of the demons? - James 2:19. 2)Why did Jesus die on the cross?
Get this widget Track details eSnips Social DNA


Then there was Salta the international student. She was born and raised a Muslim in Kazakistan. After I turned off the recorder, she expressed that she thought she was a good person because she didn't drink or smoke and was still a virgin. She said that the Law broke her heart and she saw how evil she really was. She needed a Savior. She was dating a "Christian boy" that never spoke to her about his faith. She was very upset with him and rightfully so. Listen as Salta makes sense of the Gospel for the first time in her life.
Get this widget Track details eSnips Social DNA


At the end of the night, I came across two people in a tree. Caig was teaching Ilene how to climb a tree. Ilene called herself a Lutheran. She was recently confirmed and Craig sums up the message quite well, but is far too proud to humble himself before almighty God. He doesn't want Jesus to save Him. Instead he is hoping he can save himself throught his "good works." Ilene on the other-hand just wanted to go get right with God.
Get this widget Track details eSnips Social DNA

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ten Ways to Break the Stronghold of Pornography and the Wandering Eye

At times I wonder if there is any sin that entices the human heart and mind as that of sexual lust (sexual desire is fine, lust is a perversion). God created sex. We perverted it. God gave us something wonderful for us to have within the parameters of a covenant marriage between man and wife, but we defile it when we operate outside of His parameters. It's like being offered a prime rib (or insert your favorite meal here) and taking the meal and dunking it into the toilet before consuming it and saying to the world isn't this great.  I have highlighted these 10 pointers taken from the Way of the Master Evidence Bible and slightly modified them.

1. Would you ever take pornography to church and look at it during worship or interact with girls in the way you do away from the congregation? You may as well, because God is just as present in your bedroom and in your school houses as He is in your church building.

2. Face the fact that you may not be saved. Examine yourself to ensure that Christ is living in you (2 Corinthians 13:5). See Romans 6:11-22; 8:1-14; Ephesians 5:3-8.

3. Realize when you give yourself to pornography and sexual temptations, you are committing adultery (Matt. 5:27, 28).

4. Grasp the serious nature of your sin. Jesus said that it would be better for you to be blind and go to heaven, than for your eye to cause you to sin and end up in hell (Matt. 5:29).

5. Those who profess to be Christians, yet give themselves to pornographic material and crude talk and gesturing, evidently lack the fear of God (Proverbs 16:6). Cultivate the fear of God by reading Proverbs 2:1-5.

6. Read Psalm 51 and make it your own prayer.

7. Memorize James1:14, 15 and 1 Corinthians 10:13. Follow Jesus’ example (Matt. 4:3-11) and quote the Word of God when you are tempted (see Eph. 6:12-20).

8. Make no provision for your flesh (Romans 13:14; 1 Peter 2:11). Get rid of every access to pornographic material – the internet, printed literature, TV, videos, and movies. If you have no self control in relationships end them. Stop feeding the fire.

9. Guard your heart with all diligence (Prov. 4:23). Don’t let the demonic realm have access to your thought-life. If you give yourself to it, you will become its slave (Romans 6:16). Read the Bible daily, without fail. As you submit to God, the devil will flee (James 4:7, 8).

10. The next time temptation comes, do fifty push-ups, then fifty sit-ups. If you are still burning, repeat the process (see 1 Corinthians 9:27).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who Can Tell Me?

"Who Can Tell Me?" is a narrative of a poem written by Pastor Emeal Zwayne of Living Waters Ministry, a partner of Way of the Master. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Foundational Element

"Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness"  (Ecclesiastes 2:13).

The Scripture tells us that God dwells in unapproachable light( I Timothy 6:16), that in Him there is no darkness (I John 1:5), and that when we get to Heaven there will be no need for the sun because the light of God will give us sight (Revelations 22:5).  I love this description of God because it helps to define His goodness and how in His goodness he cannot allow sin to enter Heaven.

Is darkness an element? No! You can only create darkness by removing light. Light is the element. If you sat in a room of pure darkness and then placed a candle in the middle of the room, what would happen? The darkness would begin to dissipate in the presence of the light.

Now let's imagine that you had a room made of pure light. If you could somehow contain darkness in your hands or in a box of some sort, what would happen to the darkness once exposed to the light? It would be completely consumed by the light.

The same can be said about the goodness of God. Evil is not the element, God's goodness is. Evil is what occurs when God's goodness is removed or held back. Although God's goodness is operative in this world, evil occurs because God does not fully dwell in this world. God however is the only cause of good in this world. Every good thing that is or ever was took place because God enabled it to occur.

God is pure goodness and any hint of sin must be searched out. That is why God is also concerned with our thought lives. Imagine if I could take a high-tech recording device that capture all of your thoughts, everything your eyes met, every word that you spoke, and every step that you took over the course of seven days. Then at the end of the week, I took the information and posted it on YouTube for all the world to see. You would be so terrified that you would desire to get as far away from people as possible.

We however, don't have one week of sin before a group of people who can do nothing to your soul. We have a lifetime of sin before a perfect and righteous creator. "And do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell" (Matthew 10:28).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Part 2 of 2: My Redeemer Lives!!!

In my previous blog, I used the conscience to reason out the wickedness of the human heart and to prove that man is not good but in fact evil to his core. Which then covers point number one, the nature of man. In part two, I will now attempt to explain the nature of God.

God is not just one adjective (i.e. wrath filed or loving). God is a combination of many adjectives that harmonize perfectly without any contradictions. Today however I will cover three aspects of God's character: His goodness, His justice, and His love for humanity.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good. If God was not good I would not serve Him, I couldn't trust Him, and morality would be meaningless because there would be no perfect standard to measure it by. God however is the perfect standard by which we must be measured. Too often we attempt to compare ourselves to one another and proclaim how we are better than the next guy, but when we compare ourselves to God we find that we fall incredibly short of His standard.

Therefore God, in His goodness, must see that justice is served. What would you say to a judge who had a guilty rapist standing before him but simply let him go because the rapist said he was sorry and would never commit the act again? Besides he only raped one woman and has been decent to many other women throughout his life. Would the judge be a good judge if he let the man go. Imagine (Lord forbid) if the crime was committed against a family member. God will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:6). God cannot and will not turn a blind eye to our sin. So where does that leave the sinner?

Well you have God's promise that if you've ever sinned (lied, stolen, looked with lust, hated, dishonored your parents, etc.) then you will go to Hell. God will not allow any hint of sin in heaven (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Justice demands that the guilty are punished, but here is the good news. Although we deserve death and damnation, God revealed Himself in the flesh, in the body of Jesus Christ and lived a perfect and sinless life. Thereby becoming the only candidate worthy of paying our fine. No other person can pay your fine, because we all have a fine to pay ourselves, but because god is infinitely perfect, His payment is more than enough for sinful man. Jesus made that payment when He took our place in punishment, dying on the cross and punished under the wrath of God. He then rose from the dead and after being witnessed alive for forty days ascended into Heaven and will judge your soul when you die.

God will credit the payment of Jesus' sacrifice into your account if you will repent (turn from your sin once and for all) and place your trust in Jesus Christ as you would a parachute if you had to jump from a burning plane. He is your only hope and promises to save you if you turn and trust Him. No other religion can offer that. No other religion has even tried. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Isn't that great news?!!

If you have a Bible, open it and read John 3:16 and see if it makes sense to you now.

The Heart of Man (Part 1 of 2)

There are many religions in the world and even some religions that are growing faster than Christianity in some parts of the world. Islam seems that it is growing faster than any religion at this moment and many statistics will even show that it is the world's fastest growing religion. Numbers however mean nothing when it comes to the Truth of the Gospel.  "Though they join hand in hand, the wicked will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 11:21). Truth is truth no matter how many believe in it or choose not to.

I can sum up the whole message of all of the other world religions into one basic statement: You are good or can become good and thereby can earn a reward from a higher power (i.e. Heaven, becoming a god, becoming like god, coming back in a higher form through reincarnation, etc.). Christianity, on the other hand, says something completely different. The Bible tells us that there is none good but God, that we are wicked to our core, and there is no way that we can do anything to please God. It also tells us that we deserve spending an eternity in Hell under the wrath of God for our transgressions and can do nothing to free ourselves, but because God loves us, He has done something wonderful for us to go free.

There is no possible way that anyone can say that Christianity is like any other religion and that we all worship the same God.  So the overriding difference seems to be 1) the nature of man and 2) the nature of God. The Bible says that there is none good but God and that all humans are evil. Either the Bible is right or we are right (or we are both wrong), but both cannot be true. So let's examine the evidence.

How many lies have you told? Too many to count?

Have you ever stolen anything, no matter of the cost? (downloaded illegal music?)

Have you ever used the Lord's name in vein? Using His name to express anything but His goodness is considered blasphemy.

Jesus said that if you so much as look at someone else with lust (sexual desire) you've committed adultery with them already in your heart (Matt. 6:28). Can anyone say that they have never had sexual thoughts about someone?

Have you hated someone or lashed out in your anger either physically or verbally? Have you ever just wished for harm to come upon someone else? The Bible tells us that we are murders at heart (Matt. 5:22; 1 John 3:15).

I just went through five of the Ten Commandments. It doesn't even matter that they are written in the Bible because we have them written on our consciences. We know when we do wrong because our conscience tells us so. Do you still think that man is good?

I will attempt to illustrate the nature of God in part two of this post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Don't Have a Cow!

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is an animal rights group that has strict guidelines for its members. Let's say that you and I were both members who had never met before. One day we are called to go to our annual conference at which we are placed at the same table. Our personalities spark and a friendship is quickly built. I then ask you to join me for dinner with my family that night and you agree.

Me: "I can't wait to have you over. My wife is a great cook. She butchers the cow right in our back yard with a machete. We use up the hide for furniture coverings. You'll love it.

You: "Excuse me?!" As a member of PETA, you should be ashamed of yourself. We do not promote nor condone your lifestyle. I will not be coming to you house for dinner! Good Bye!

So many of us have run into people that claim to be a part of something bigger than themselves (whether religion or organizations) who have misrepresented that thing and brought shame to what they stand for. In the above illustration, would it be right to throw off your PETA badge and say that it is all a lie and give up on animal rights - or would it be more reasonable to realize that you are the one with the problem?

All too often people are hurt or wrongly offended by the people that claim to represent God and in response they shake their tiny little fists up towards the heavens proclaiming that there is no God because people are evil. The more reasonable response would be to go back to the guidelines and realize that the person who hurt you or misrepresented God was what is called a false convert. He or she has not been born-again by the power of the Holy Spirit. He or she has committed the wrong. Not God. You will find hypocrites everywhere you go. Don't blame God for man's mistakes.

P.S. I love to eat meat, and although I think PETA is a little kooky and we will differ on where to draw the line in defending animals, it is not a sin to fight for the humane treatment of animals. I just think there are bigger fish to fry.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Every Woman's Gospel

Today I had the awesome opportunity to witness to a friend of mine. In order to protect the innocent I will not reveal her name. Let's just call her Anna. I was in the middle of a conversation with a new found brother in Christ. We were discussing the Todd Bentley revival going on in Florida and just how absurd his ministry was. (If you don't believe me, see for your self - *Caution* this video shows some very violent footage which can be very disturbing).

The conversation seemed to pique Anna's interest as she had been discouraged from attending church. Perhaps it was the content of our conversation or possibly hearing two Christians attempt to discern the content of another man's representation of Christ and His Church. I noticed that her eyes were drawn to our conversation, so I began to include her in the conversation. I talked about how evolution has no scientific backing and the easiest way to defeat the argument is to ask for evidence that would prove evolution. At this she chimed in. (for the sake of length I have condensed this conversation to the main points).

Anna: "Well, I know why I believe in evolution. Have you ever heard of Darwin's Finches? There beaks. . ."

I cut her off immediately because I knew where she was going. "I'm going to cut you off right there for the sake of time." (We had to part ways in a half hour and I wanted to have enough time.) "Did the finches ever become anything other than finches?"

Anna: "No."

Me: "Were the finches anything other than finches before Darwin studied them?

Anna: "I don't know."

I told her that Richard Hawkins, the worlds most renowned evolutionist, said that if anyone claims to know something, ask for the evidence. So I asked for her evidence and she had nothing. Then she mentioned Lucy the Ape. I told her how science had disproved the reliability of the fossil in the 1980s. She wasn't sure. We discussed a few more issues about how there was no evidence for evolution. Every time I gave reason against her arguments, she shifted topics -maybe she realized there simply wasn't any evidence to support her views? I pleaded with her to remain open to the evidence and simply let her mind take her were the evidence led. At that I told her that I wanted to shift the conversation a little.

"Let's assume that we have a very basic knowledge of science, history and religion and let's just examine the evidence from a logical, unbiased approach." Anna conceded and we continued.

"There are a few basic things we can learn by simply looking around at our world." I pointed to the table in front of us. "How do you know that someone/something made this table? Well the fact that the table is here is 100% proof positive that someone/thing created it." I did the same with the newspaper article in front of us. She agreed, even though she had never seen the creator or the blueprints for the creation. The next logical step is then that if we are standing here then someone/thing had to create us. Science would demand it. She conceded. I then explained that since we humans can communicate and enjoy doing it that whoever/whatever created us was interested in communication as well. We also live in an extremely complex environment and are complex ourselves, therefore our creator must be extremely intelligent to create such a complex existence. Then I explained that every people group in the world has a justice system and know right from wrong. She conceded to all three points.

My argument then became personal as I asked her how she would fare if this high being was to hold her accountable for the right and wrong in her life. (all religion aside.)

"How many lies have you told?"

"Too many to count." She agreed that that would make her a liar.

"Have you ever stolen anything like downloading illegal music?"

"Yes." She agreed that that would make her a thief."

"Have you ever taken the Lord's name in vain?"

"Yes, many times." She agreed that she was a blasphemer.

I asked her if she would be innocent or guilty if the creator judged her. She said she would be guilty not only for that, but for many more. I asked her if she deserved punishment or reward for her wrong-doing. She stated she deserved punishment.

We unfortunately had to wrap up the conversation as we were running out of time, but I could see the conviction in her eyes as tears began to form after expounding upon the Law of the Lord. I then expressed the legal transaction that took place when Jesus took our place in punishment, taking the wrath that we deserved upon himself. And that the Judge (God) could commute her death sentence and she could go free if she was willing to turn from her sin and trust the Savior.

We both had to go, but she was thankful for the conversation and was looking forward to discussing the topic more tomorrow. Please pray that God would convict her of sin and cause her to flee from it and trust Jesus Christ.