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This evening closes the second evening I have been at the PCAs General Assembly in South Carolina. This evening, I had the pleasure of walking downtown. Then I noticed a brother who was doing out door preaching. I walked past him and asked one of his friends what church they were with. The man told me he was with an independent baptist church. I asked him “Can I ask you a quick question?” and he replied “Of course.” “Why don’t you baptize your children?” It ended up with me and three other baptists discussing paedobaptism. I was outnumbered three to one and I all I had was the word of God (haha). I started off simply asking him “Are you a child of Abraham?” From there the conversation continued. It was about 20 minutes, cordial and we laughed. Eventually one of the men agreed he had no good reason to deny his children baptism. The other walked away and the last one stood there with no response. (more…)
Just had a conversation with 2 Mormon missionaries. It isn’t the first time I’ve spoken with Mormons. I actually enjoy it. They probably enjoy not being derided and made fun of, or having doors slammed in their face. Previously I had begun discussion with either evidential tactics, perhaps trying to point out certain parts of the Book of Mormon that disagreed blatantly with the Bible. But this time around I thought it would be interesting to test a different tactic. (more…)
I had an opportunity to preach today at God’s Extended Hand. It’s a ministry that feeds the poor but before receiving their free meal, they must listen to someone give a 30 minute bible study. Lucky them, today they had me.
One of the challenges I found was trying contextualize the text with their lives. I learned how important it was to know your audience, because these guys were obviously not struggling with the same issues that others were. But then I found one thing we all had in common. The one thing that could be preached to the man in the penthouse and to the man on the street. The thing we have in common is that we’ve all sinned. We’ve all lied and it isn’t only the homeless person who has stolen. It isn’t only the white collar man who has stolen. That’s because it is who we are. We are not thieves because we steal. We steal because we are thieves and lie because we are liars. It is our nature. It is who we are.
thanks for reading.
>Generally, I read and study at home. This day was different and eventually I would see why. I ended up at Starbucks and it was empty. I had my spread of books out on my small table and generally this also serves as a “force field”. People see the Christian books and make every effort not to make eye contact and especially not conversation. Which generally is fine with me as this isn’t a trip with the intention to evangelize but to read. To the point because it is really more interesting.
Reading a book labelled in bold letters on the cover “COVENANT THEOLOGY” as woman asked me “Are you studying to be a minister?”
“Well…yes” lowering my book to notice a black woman in her 40s. Polite and curious I suppose.
“Are you Catholic?”
“No….” we began to talk about me a little bit then I continued “Are you in the faith?”
“Oh yes. I go to church in Atlanta. We have a big church, like 2000 people.”
“impressive. i’m not sure i would know what to do in a church that size”
“oh it’s great. when they preach everyone really gets into it”
We continued to talk about her church experience and some trivial discussions about southern churches. She takes the conversation for a turn.
“Let me ask you something.”
“You believe in tithing?”
I’m sure my face looked perplexed at the question because, who gets that question? After asking her to clarify her question I went on “well, that’s really more of an Old Testament thing given to the Jews. The whole 10% thing. Now it’s a little different and they would be called ‘offerings’ but I think it’s really different because it involves prayer and wisdom”
“Do you think prayer works?”
“well…of course” 1st flag goes up in my head. “Klarissa (her name) let me ask you something, when you die where do you think you will go?”
“To heaven I hope!” she chuckles.
“hmm. well why is that?”
“Because, I try to live right. I mean maybe I don’t call my mom as often as I should have but I think I do right.” 2nd flag and we’re in dialog.
“That’s great. Let me ask you something else, do you think you’re a good person?”
“A good person? Well yeah, I’m pretty good”
“How many lies do you think you’ve told in your life?”
“Lies? pshh I can’t even count”
“hmm. How about stealing, you ever steal anything?”
“small stuff but yeah”
“What do you call someone who steals things?”
“A thief” her smile is now nervously covered by her hand. It is obvious the Law of God is beginning to show her something.
“Klarissa, how about anger, you’ve ever been so mad at someone you…well you hated them?”
“My ex. He broke up saying he wants to marry someone else so yeah I’m …
“yeah haha I’m pissed off!!”
“hmm, the bible says that if we hate someone in our heart, God sees us as a murderer.”
“How about blasphemy?’
“You mean like saying “
“well, yeah or even not giving God’s name the due honor”
“yes, i have” somberly she is realizing something radical
“Klarissa, that’s very serious. God says He will hold no one blameless who blasphemes His name” Wrapping it up I turn the next corner of the conversation.
“If you died tonight and you would stand before God in judgment. According to your own words not mine. This isn’t me judging you but what you’ve told me. That you’re a lying, thieving, blasphemous murderer at heart and if God gives you justice where would you go heaven or hell?”
“heaven. because God forgives”
“well why would He forgive you?” Big opportunity here and she misses.
“I don’t know because he’s that way”
Taking it to a court analogy “Let’s say a man has brutally murdered a woman then done horrible things with her body. He stands before the judge and the judge says, ‘You know what, I’m having a good day today, I’m going to let you off’ Would he be a good judge?”
“no” she looks offended
“You’re right. God is even more just than a judge, He is holy and perfect. So the question remains, if God gives you justice, where will He send you? Heaven or hell?”
“Hell I guess”
“does that concern you? It should. Klarissa right now you’re in trouble. God’s wrath is being poured out on you. Right now God is angry with you. The bible says not only is he angry with you but you are His enemy.”
“yeah! what do I do?” she says concernedly.
“Here’s the question, what did God for you that you don’t have to go hell?”
Her response was totally blank. No idea. No clue. Couldn’t even think of a word. She had previously ranted and raved about her church but now in her dire moment that her life hinged on she couldn’t even tell me what her only hope could be. I wish I could write her pastor to tell him “Shame on you for failing your church!!”
“Klarissa, 2000 years ago God became flesh in the man of Jesus of Nazareth. He lived a perfect life then went to the cross. On the cross he took the wrath you deserve. He died and rose 3 days later. To wipe your record clean. Then you can have not only a full pardon. Not only will God look on you as if you’ve done nothing wrong, but he’ll look on you as if you’ve done only right!”
“well what do I do?” she asks me as if to hurry to the part where she no longer worries.
“Here’s what you need to do. You need to repent. You need to” she interrupts trying to understand”
“well how do i do that?”
“You plead the mercy of the Judge, you plead to God to have mercy on you. You pray to Him for example ‘God you are holy and I’ve offended you. Forgive me a sinner.’ However you go on to do it is between you and him. Not me. Then that trust you had in yourself, you put that trust in Christ. Don’t trust your works, but trust the works that Christ has done. Then you will be saved. God will look on you with delight.”
I went on to elaborate to her that when I asked her earlier about her faith she never mentioned Christ. That made me very concerned for her and it appears my concerns were found to be legitimate.
“Can you write this down?!” she asked excitedly. I laughed and quickly wrote some places for her to read in the Scriptures then reminded her about the importance of repentance and faith.
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to have jury duty. It’s not really the point of this blog so I’ll spare the details. During my lunch break of an hour and a half I decided to put my headphones in and take a stroll through the city. On the way to the shopping plaza I noticed the Green Peace folks with their clip boards lining the sidewalks collecting signatures for their cause. I didn’t pay them much attention and continued on my way.
Walking back to the court house I noticed them again and with my headphones in my ears I walked past. Hands in my pockets hoping to make it through without any eye contact. I assumed the headphones would do the trick as they tend to be the universal sign of “Leave me alone”. Apparently I was wrong or this girl from Green Peace didn’t get the memo. She waved me down poking her head into my path to purposefully make eye contact. Waving at me mouthing the words “Hello” I pulled my ear pieces out and said “Hey”. What else do you say?
I asked “what can I do for you?” Part of me was actually curious as to what she was doing.
She began her sales pitch “Did you know they are destroying a historic forest here in the US the size of San Diego everyday?” To which I replied “No”
She continued “Did you know that they destroy these trees to make paper products and these trees have been cleaning the air for centuries?” Response again “No”
She had about 4 questions of this sort and finally I just asked “Pardon me, but why is this important to you?” “Why is it important to me?” she asked, I think it was to buy more time because I think she’s just use to getting a quick signature then moving on.
“Well if take care of the planet then we can leave a healthy planet for our children”
“Why would I do that?”
“Well we want them to have a healthy place to be and be able to enjoy the beauty of the world as we do”
“Well it’s not fair for us to destroy our planet and not consider others”
“Why not? What’s wrong with that?”
Finally she began making harsher statements like
“Did you know in Haiti there are people living in mud huts while there are people in La Jolla (San Diego), CA who have million dollar mansions, and when they burn down they just go and buy another one?”
“So what’s wrong with that?”
“Well that’s not right?”
“So should everyone have mud huts or should everyone have million dollar mansions?”
Finally she asked “Are you a Jehova’s Witness?” I laughed telling her I wasn’t. But that I was a Christian and a student of philosophy and I was curious as to what was the underlying intention to putting so much effort out in what she did.
Her name was Gene. Gene said she did this because she felt it was a caring thing to do for others. To bring about awareness and maybe make a difference. I can respect that. I can agree that if you are doing something because it’s what you think will work then, why not. I began sharing with her some of my thoughts.
See we’re actually not too different. I think the planet and creation is important as well. I think it actually serves a purpose but the purpose is not just to provide for us in the areas of food and shelter. The creation and all it entails is actually a big sign. A big sign pointing to something bigger than itself. Something more wonderful than itself and more majestic. When I told Gene that creation actually is here to point us to God she replied “oh, but I don’t believe in God.” As if my whole world view just became obsolete. God’s existence doesn’t hinge on our belief. My or your belief in Him is actually irrelevant.
What does matter however is that if there is a God and if He has given us this creation as a testimony of Him what do we do? In steps my worldview. Because in my worldview there is not only a God who has made everything but one day He will judge everyone. I think the most loving thing to do is to tell them of this coming judgment. Then they can be saved and that would be more loving than telling people to sign sheets of paper to save trees.
She paused for a moment and gave me some feedback. Then she asked if she could ask a question without offending me “So I’m going to go to hell because I don’t believe in God? Because I’m a good person, I don’t kill or anything crazy” It was a great time for me to explain to Gene what it was that she had gotten wrong.
“Do you think you’re a good person? Allow me to ask you a couple of questions. How many lies have you told in your life?”
“What do you call someone who tells countless lies?”
“Have you ever stolen something?”
“what would that make you?”
“Have you ever taken God’s name in vain?”
“That’s called blasphemy and in the bible God says He will hold no one blameless who blasphemes His name”
“Now you can answer this question in your own heart”
She jumps in before I can ask and says “Have I ever had sex? yes what does that mean I’m a slut?”
“ok, well I wasn’t expecting that but no, it’s considered fornication and adultery”
Gene, if you die the Bible says you will face judgment. Standing before God you can see right now you’re not a good person but just going through 4 of the 10 commandments you’re a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulteress at heart who’s fornicated as well. The question is what should God do with you? Heaven or hell?
Her jokingness straightened up and said “I guess Hell, but I don’t believe in any of that.”
You’re belief in the judge doesn’t matter. But here’s the question “What did God do for you so you don’t have to go to hell?” She had no idea.
2000 years ago God became man. As a hand fills a glove so God became man in Jesus of Nazareth. He died on a cross for you taking the punishment you deserve. Then 3 days later rose from the dead defeating death. The question is what must you do to take advantage of that forgiveness? You must repent and trust in Jesus. Repent is an old fashioned word which means to turn back from your sins. Stop doing them then turn to Christ. Come to Jesus and trust in Him and His work not your own goodness. Gene plead for God to have mercy on you and He will save you? He will save you from … Him. All I can ask for you to consider and think about what I’ve said.
Her attitude was quiet and her expressions went from bubbly and happy to solemn and pensive. I had to leave Gene and head back to my civil duty as a juror. I don’t think it was an accident that I ran into Gene and we’ll be praying for her.