Monday, January 12, 2009

Three encounters on a slow night in Richmond

Were it the middle of July, you would still not convince me that global warming was legit. You would have an especially difficult time convincing me this week. The temperatures have been frigid. The cold weather usually marks a slow time of year for our evangelism team here in Richmond. It's amazing to watch 70,000 people endure rain, snow, frost, or blizzard (and pay top dollar to do so) to watch their favorite sports team, but we can't seem to get a crowd of 10 people to stop and listen to how they might receive eternal life.

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

God has really been convicting and growing me with respect to Spiritual headship in my home. I have been entrusted by God to care for my wonderful wife for 12 years now and what a blessing she has been to me. She's certainly a true gift from the hand of Almighty God. In saying all that, I know based on Scripture, that I have often failed to heed the Biblical commands with respect to Spiritual authority in the home.

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.

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!
(emphasis mine)

In Christ,


Friday, January 2, 2009

First of all, I would love to wish everyone a wonderful and blessed New Year.

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;
Deuteronomy 7:9

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