Friday, June 26, 2009
I guess my question, as a Christian, is what would Michael Jackson be saying to us right now?
I think we can find that answer in Luke 16. We see a wealthy man who had "His Best Life Now" pass into eternity.
Please pay careful attention to verses 27-28.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19"Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.
20"And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,
21and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
22"Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.
23"In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.
24"And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.'
25"But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.
26'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.'
27"And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house--
28for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
29"But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'
30"But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!'
31"But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'"
Michael Jackson will NEVER come back to this earth. He is gone forever. No more amusement parks, hit songs, diamond studded gloves, or bleached skin. There will be no UHAUL trailer being pulled behind Michael's hearse. The only thing that passed into eternity was his sin against a Holy God. His eternal sin against a Holy, Righteous, and Just Judge The world will will both idolize him and mock him for his peculiar ways. Christian, we should do neither of these. God Forbid! Let us preach the gospel to the world and to his siblings so that they will not end up in the place of torment forever and ever.
10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
11"And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
12Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
13And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."
Christian, How many more need to die before we awake from our slumber? Each day, there are 150,000 people that step through the same door that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett steppd through yesterday. The one that leads to eternity. Please Christian, Do something!!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
We have been waiting for months for the "bumper crop" that we saw Friday night. Nine members of our team were in Charlottesville to preach the Gospel, pass out tracts, and witness to a great many residents of C-ville. It was only a few minutes into the evening before we had crowds of people gathered to listen to, yell at, heckle, and mock the preaching of the gospel. The hecklers were out in number although some of our more vile hecklers must have stayed home on Friday. There were crowds around the preachers all evening. Many listened and had very honest and real questions. Some, like a homosexual young man named Robert, wanted to scream and yell unreasonably at me because he said we had made his friends cry. I told him that it was the conscience of each of his friends that was making them cry. He acted as though he wanted to physically come after me at one moment but he was likely just posturing for the onlookers. I was later able to call Robert aside and have an intimate conversation with him that was much more cordial and respectful. I told Robert that I genuinely don't want him to go to hell but that if he dies in his sin and without the righteousness of Christ applied to his life through repentance and faith, that was where he is headed. I told him clearly that his lifestyle was a choice that he had made to rebel against God. He was not born a homosexual (see Romans 1). Please pray for him.
There were many faces from the evening but I only remember a few names. There was Timothy who was likely a false-convert Southern Baptist who knew just enough about church history and the Bible to be dangerous. He asked about the gospel of Judas. Much of his history was wrong and I worked on correcting some of his misunderstandings. His girlfriend, who took a very smug approach with me, simply loved her sin and wanted empirical evidence for God's existence. I told her that Jesus was not going to appear in person at her beck and call. He has given each of us the "light" of creation and conscience. She is without excuse. She just tried all the same tired arguments against Christianity like "What about all those hypocrites in the church" argument. I told her they would be in hell one day. "What about Gandhi? He was such a pious and good man??" I told her Gandhi was a sinner in need of a savior. If he trusted the God(s) of the Hindus, or his religious services/works to enter heaven, then he was in hell today. She didn't like my direct answers very much. She was in rebellion. I told Timothy I was very concerned about his profession of faith. I had serious doubts about him being a Christian. In love, I warned him about Jesus' words in Matthew 7 of that "not everyone who says to me on that day "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven...." he was very receptive and thankful to me for taking the time to plead with him. He genuinely thanked me about 10 times before he and his girlfriend left. Pray for Timothy.
One more person I want to mention. We have one girl living as a lesbian who Lee Craft has ministered to many times. She continues to approach Lee and allows Lee to pour into her the Words of Life. I pray that God will save her. She is precious to us and we pray that God will save her. I regrettably don't remember her name. There are a great many young people who are choosing homosexuality as a way of life for themselves. They have discovered an avenue in which they can rebel against society. They don't realize that it is God that they are rebelling against and they will be accountable. I pray they will, each one, repent before they have to give an account to the Holy Judge when they pass into eternity.
Perhaps I will recall more later. I felt like God graciously allowed us to minister to dozens and dozens of people through just our one to one conversations. Many more through our tracts and preaching efforts. I am so thankful we don't draw on our own strength. God calls us "laborers for the harvest" but sometimes I don't feel like it is labor when God allows it to be so "fun" for us. We rejoice in the midst of the battle and when we leave the mall every Friday night to the point that it certainly doesn't feel like "laboring”. Our loving God is so faithful, merciful, and good to us. I thank Him and glorify Him for His Word on which I can stand and know that when we speak for the gospel, our feet are on a firm foundation that cannot be moved. Praise be unto Jesus Christ.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
There was a little boy and his father who went camping deep in the woods near a lake.
After setting up camp, the boy asked his father if he might be able to go fishing at the lake while his father napped. His father agreed but instructed his son to only fish off the pier and not to board the canoe that was there because there were crocodiles in the water. The boy agreed and went on his way.
After a few minutes fishing off the pier, and not much luck, the boy thought it might be more fun to get into the canoe and fish in spite of his father's commands.
He boarded the canoe and headed out into the lake. A few minutes later, a large crocodile swam by and tipped the canoe over with its powerful tail. The boy fell into the water and let out a scream as the crocodile attached its jaws to the boy.
The father immediately ran to the lake and jumped into the water and pulled his son ashore. As the boy got off the ground he looked down to see that his father's body had been ripped apart by the crocodile as he wrestled to rescue his son from its grip. The shoreline was drenched in his father's blood as he lay there almost dead.
Now imagine this......
As the boy looks down at his father dying and he says the following. "Dad, I appreciate what you did for me out there rescuing me from that crocodile. But I found it kind of exciting out there amongst the crocs. I think I want to give it one more shot!"
It would be unthinkable!! That boy would have to walk across his father's blood to get back into the canoe. He would have to literally trample the blood of his loving father under his feet.
Reader, if you call yourself a Christian, and you are willfully sinning after you have seen the sacrifice Jesus made for you at the cross, you are that little boy getting back on the canoe. You are trampling the blood of Christ under your feet. You do not esteem the sacrifice. May it NEVER be friends. May we look at the bloody cross. See the shed blood of Christ that was shed to save us from the grip of sin, death, and hell and esteem the sacrifice that was made for us. Without the redeeming work of Christ, we are dead in our sins.
God Bless you.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Don't worry, we didn't dare drop $60 to get inside the event. Not a chance! We stood outside the coliseum before the doors opened and interviewed some of the teens along with thier sponsors/leaders.
Before we did our interviews, we were able to openly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the masses of teens waiting for the doors to open. Patrick, Matthew, and myself covered three different preaching locations from which to speak to the large crowd gathered to enter the event.
At this point, some may ask why we felt the need to preach the gospel at a Christian event.... After all, wouldn't they be hearing the gospel inside anyway?? No, they wouldn't. What they get at events like AtF is alot of emotionally driven, entertainment focused, man-centered sermonettes by men who should spend more time studying the Bible and less time trying to figure out how to make the Bible relate to a post-modern culture. The Word of God gets lost in the midst of all the drama, guitars, and lights because apparently the Bible has somehow failed to remain relevant. Apparently, we need to roll tanks onto the stage and get the kids down front for some decisional regeneration at the end of the evening before we head on to the next town. I tell you what, you can have it... Give me God and His eternal Word and we'll be out on the cold sidewalk plowing the hearts of men without the props.
As we preached the Law and the Gospel to the crowd, one of the speakers from AtF came out and asked us to "Stop". He said that God doesn't operate in that fashion. According to the really relevant "pastor" we were unorganized and unconventional in our approach therefore God was not into what we were doing. He informed us that he would be taking care of the preaching inside and we weren't to ruin that effort. Perhaps some of the things we were preaching may have been just a little offensive to the unregenerate teen he was trying to reach. A preacher making a stand AGAINST THE GOSPEL!!! WOW!! I guess we needed to go inside to "acquire the fire" they were selling because there is no way we could have gotten it from Christ alone or the Bible Alone, through Faith Alone...... No, we have to acquire their fire by dropping $60 on a ticket to their event if we wanted this fire.
Leviticus 10 1-3 just seems appropriate at this point.
1Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.
2And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
3Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.
I probably interviewed close to 100 kids (10 groups of kids with each group containing an average of 10 youth with sponsors) and asked them to tell me what I needed to do in order to get to heaven. Do you want to guess what the number 1 response was?? If you said "Ask Jesus into your heart" or "Accept Jesus" you have guessed correctly (by a mile I might add). In no way am I upset or angry with those youth for answering that question incorrectly. I was one of those youth and I had no one to tell me any differently. They don't know what is required to get to heaven because they haven't had anyone tell them. They have parents who are neglecting their God-Given Command to train up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and they are outsourcing their childrens' eternity to little boys who play "pastor" by popping in a Nooma video at Wednesday night youth meetings and then collect a salary from the Church. We call them youth pastors. They should earn the title Pastor as far as I am concerned. In my experiences, most of them spend more time trying to act like their 10th graders instead of admonishing the kids to live lives that reflect Jesus Christ and demonstrating what Godly manhood looks like. Fathers and mothers have been all to happy to hand over the spiritual reigns of their children to these boys posing as pastors so they can feel like they are doing a good thing by allowing their kids to be a part of a relevant youth program where they will be entertained, fed, and most importantly out of the house at least one night a week. They send Junior away to summer youth camp with girls in two-piece bathing suits and think they are model parents for giving their kids a Christian upbringing. there are some real men of God serving as youth pastors for their churches but they are certainly in the minority from my experience.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Well, that means that the winter months are a slow time for us with regards to reaching the masses. God uses the cold weather to sharpen us in our one to one evangelism skills. That is what He did with me last Friday night. There weren't crowds of people gathered on Broad St. for First Friday's last Friday but there were individuals milling around. We tried several times to engage people in conversations about the things of God. Again, between their complete lack of concern for their own soul, and the cold weather, it was challenging at first.
Finally, I ran across a young man named Brandon. He has only been living in Richmond for a few months and he is employed by a local nightclub called "5-3-4". It's a bar where alot of the college aged kids hang out near VCU. I thank God for the witnessing encounter I had with Brandon. He, like most, thought he was a good guy and that God would see fit to have Brandon enter His kingdom because of what other people thought about him. I was able to show him that God's righteous standard is not "What others say about you". It is His moral law. I opened up God's commandments to the young man. He saw quickly that he was a liar, adulterer, thief, and murderer. Brandon's eyes began to give him away and his body language changed from confident to humble, perhaps broken, before God. I explained to Brandon that his sin was against a God who in infinitely Holy and good and because of this, any crime against God was infinitely horrible and would be punished eternally in a literal hell. I explained what I call "healthy fear" to Brandon. Healthy fear is the fear we have of stepping in front of an oncoming truck or walking to close to a 1000 ft. cliff. This fear is good and it keeps us safe. The Scriptures tell us that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding. It also tells us the Fear of the Lord is clean. Brandon understood.
I laid out for Brandon what God did for him at the Cross. I showed him his need for the Savior. John 3:16 made sense to Brandon, perhaps for the first time in his life. He understood his need for the Savior and the need for repentance and faith in Christ. I went on to explain Jesus' resurrection and imminent return to judge His creation in righteousness. God was doing a mighty work in Brandon. I directed Brandon to get into God's Word daily and gave him my information go contact me. If you are a Christian, would you please take two seconds to lift up Brandon before the throne of grace today?
We left Broad St. for the Greyhound bus station and I immediately ran into John about 10 ft. from the front door of the station. John, was from Atlanta and professed to be a Christian but said he likes to keep an open mind about other beliefs. This, of course, was a red flag for me. As Christians, we aren't instructed to keep an open mind about other religions. We have the Truth in the person of Jesus Christ (see-John 14:6). An open-mind, though it sounds so 21st century, is not what we are called to as Christians. John was about 20 yrs old and talked to me for quite a while. I would probe John to make sure he was listening and he certainly was. He encouraged me to continue as I again explained to John his need for Jesus Christ. He understood, as Brandon did, that Jesus was the exclusive way to be reconciled to a Holy God. Any human effort to reconcile ourselves is like a criminal trying to bribe a judge by waxing the judge's car before entering the courtroom. A good judge cannot be bought but will make sure that justice is served against criminals in all cases. So it is with our God. He cannot be bought through our man-made religions that try to add works to the Grace offered through Jesus Christ. I used some apologetics with John but was careful to make sure the conversation was centered around the gospel and not apologetic arguments. John was very appreciative of the 30 minutes or so we were able to spend together. Pray for John.
Then I met Travis. Travis was coming from South Carolina where he had been in prison. He had been released that day and was headed home to Norfolk where his wife was waiting for him. Travis said he had just been baptized in the prison in December and was a brand new Christian. He agreed with everything I said but was still very young in his understanding of the gospel. If Travis has truly been born-again, we have God's promise that God will preserve Travis and will strengthen him in his faith. I hope that God allowed me to be a small part of that work in Travis' life that night. I told Travis, who also had a child waiting for him at home, that as a Christian man, he has the responsibility to be the spiritual leader of his home. I told him that the Spiritual headship and authority is something that God has given to him and that it was not an option for any believer. Travis has now been home from prison for one week. I pray that he is doing well and that God will continue to strengthen him and draw Travis unto himself. I pray that God would be most glorified in the life of that man.
I can still see their faces. All three of them. God certainly doesn't need me or anyone to accomplish His will. And yet, He give us the incredible privilege of participating in the Gospel proclamation around the world. What a gracious God we serve. What an incredible night to share the Gospel with three men I will never see again. I pray that I see all three of them in heave one day. Perhaps they will become missionaries or pastors or great fathers and husbands to their families. It is possible that they completely forget everything I said and go on sinning and die in that condition. Whether, the former or the later, may God be praised for who He is and let Jesus receive the full reward for His suffering.
Eternally grateful to my glorious King,
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Let us look together at Paul's words to the church at Ephesus.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
because we are members of His body.
FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
When I read the words of verse 26 "by the washing of water with the word". I imagine preparing my wife for her wedding day. As part of the bride of Christ she is in preperation for that great wedding ceremony when Christ returns to receive the Bride that has been given to Him from His Father. How much emphasis is placed on preparing a bride for her groom on their wedding day? How much more emphasis should be placed on preparing our wives for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb??
To what level and with what urgency should we, as men, take our responsibility to prepare our wives to meet Christ? We are to wash them in the Word of God. What an honor it is for us to prepare, develop, and lead our wives in our homes!
Men, we are called in 2 Cor. 13:5 to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. As men of God, we need to lift up the standard of righteousness in our home. Sitting on the couch in front of countless hours of television and video games is not what we have been called to. If you must have those things, at least examine the balance of couch time with the time spent prepping our wives to meet their Lord. What are we willing to sacrifice to play hours of football on our X-box? What are we modeling for our children to follow? What altar are we willing to sacrifice our families on? And, how can we expect our sons to respect their mothers when we treat her like she's second-class?
Our day is not done when we get home from work. We are called by our Lord to deny ourselves, to take up our crosses daily and to follow Christ. If you are tired when you get home, it doesn't mean you drop your cross at the feet of your wife and command her to carry it for you while you lounge.
Perhaps we need to once again heed the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
1 Cor. 13:11
Are we spending our time filling our families with God's precious Word or are we trying to keep them occupied while we satisfy our flesh on stimulants?
And if the words of the Apostle Paul aren't enough for us men, perhaps the words of our Lord spoken from a whirlwind to Job will be the kick from behind we need.
"Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
Friday, January 2, 2009
I have already posted on the heretical book the Shack to serve as a "trial run" of sorts for my blog.
I wanted to take this opportunity to lay out some of what I want this blog to be and what I would like to accomplish for the Glory of Christ through this blog. If I'm going to spend even 5 seconds posting to it, it needs to be about the Glory of Jesus Christ and certainly not about me and my life.
So let's give this a run and to God be all Glory, Honor, Power, Praise, Might, Authority, and Dominion.
January 2, 2009
What a great time of year for both reflection and anticipation. Perhaps you have made (and possibly broken) your New Year's resolutions. It seems like I am continually discovering and seeing areas of my life where I fall well below what a Godly-man looks like. My wife is always speaking so wonderfully about me. What a great wife she is! I hope to be the man one day that she speaks of. I hope to attain the heights of Godly-character she sees in me.
When I know that I will be preaching somewhere, I like to spend a considerable amount of time (bey0nd my daily study) the day or two before studying and feeding myself on Scripture and beginning to think about what I will preach. I have often preached some of my best sermons while driving in my car or laying in my bed. Perhaps as good as Spurgeon....OK...perhaps not. If only I preached as well when I stood up to preach.
Anyway, as I prepared to preach on New Year's Eve, I began to think of how to begin the preaching and I wanted to draw from the New Year's event to springboard into the law and gospel message. Just like writing a term paper or a blog-post, starting off always seems to be the hardest part.
What hit me was the idea of the way New Years has come to symbolize new beginnings for so many. As people throw away the 2008 calendar, it's as though their past is behind and their lives are starting all over again with a new set of 365 days. However, what we must realize is that our infinite, eternal, omniscient, God does not obligate Himself to conform to our calendars, schedules, timetables, or agendas. He dwells outside of our finite perspective.
Psalms 90:4-6 tells us....
For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades and withers away.
Our sin against an eternal God does not erase itself every 365 days. Our sin bares with it, eternal consequences because the sin committed is against an eternal God. There is an eternal hell that is a physical place where Jesus said in Mark 9 (three different times) the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
Is it reasonable for a loving God to levy such a heavy punishment on those He created??
Perhaps I can illustrate my response like this....
If I tell a lie to my children, what can they do to me??? The answer is NOTHING...
If I lie to my wife, what can she do to me??? Perhaps, make me sleep on the couch.
If I lie to my boss, what can he do to me??? I could lose my job.
If I lie to the government, what can they do to me??? Send me to prison.
The same action (lying) bares a stricter punishment as the act is committed against a higher authority.
How much more infinitely powerful is God than the US government? You may see your lie as a trivial act and even justify yourself to others but before Jesus, your sin against His perfect character and will carry with it eternal hell (Revelation 21:8) which is the second death. So yes, because God is so good and so holy, hell is absolutely reasonable.
Oh, but what a glorious Gospel!!!!
Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His loving kindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2: 3-7
God, desiring to show, Himself merciful to an unlovable people, created a body and filled (like a hand fills a glove) it in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus being fully God and fully man, humbled himself to the ridicule, and shame of the death on a cross ( see Philippians 2:8). If there was anything loveable about us, then it wouldn't be grace. We were fully deserving to drink the full cup of God's fierce wrath. Yet Jesus took that cup and drank every drop for us. He took the punishment and weight of God's wrath upon himself in our place. He was the acceptable sacrifice made for only those who would forsake their sin (repentance) and place their faith in Jesus Christ alone. He defeated death the third day when He arose bodily from the tomb and He is alive today seated at the right hand of God the Father and He makes intercession for His Children. Jesus will return in a flame of fire on a day of His choosing and He will judge the world in righteousness. He will take vengeance on those who do not know Him and those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ( see 2 Thess. 1: 7-8)
We would all do well to read our Bibles and get to know the God that is revealed there. Especially if we are still of the mindset that eternal torment in hell seems unreasonable or if the good news of the gospel is anything less than glorious to us. The reason we assert such silly ideas about God and His character is because we esteem ourselves way too high and God way too little. We have received the God of Rick Warren and Joel Ols teen as the God of Scripture. I assure you that the Spirit of anti-Christ that John spoke about is working through the false teaching of such men. It is deceiving a great many. We must guard ourselves from such error that will lead us to a false hope and ultimately to hell.
So I ask you....Do you know the God of Scripture? What are his attributes? What are the key doctrines of Christianity? Are you ready to defend your answer with the Bible?
We must, as Jude commanded, contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. You won't learn to contend for the faith from NBC, CBS, or any other network. It will come in the quiet of your study. As you plow, and plow, and plow. Not to gain knowledge to impress your peers with, but so that God might be most glorified through you as you know Him more and more.
I am committing this blog to contending earnestly for the faith that has been delivered to the apostles, church fathers, martyrs, and Christians of the 21st century. Some may disagree. Please comment and let me know. I need sharpening as well. I want us to know God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. I'm not interested in what I think is true. I'm interested in the truth that Scripture reveals. We must conform our lives to that.
Sanctify the Lord in our hearts and be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in you with gentleness and reverence.
1 Peter 3:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15