| Learning to Breathe...|
I've never been much for fishing. It takes too long, makes you work for your catch, and forces you to step out of your comfort zone.
I'm talking about fishing for Men.
Just a few months ago, if you had asked me if I was living my life for Christ, I would have said "yes, of course", and honestly meant it. I married the first woman I ever kissed, went to church on Sunday, read my Bible, and was generally an upstanding memeber of my Church.
What I've come to find, however, was that I wasn't living for Christ, at all. I was fitting him into my schedule. I was doing the things that other Christians were saying I should do. But I wasn't doing what Jesus, our Lord, said I should do.
In Ray Comfort's book, "Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone", the very first paragraph of the Foreword says, "Ray Comfort is a little man on a big mission. I don't know whether to call him a lunatic, a man on fire for the Lord, or just a normal, biblical Christian."
Just a normal, biblical Christian...
If you haven't listened to Paris Reidhead's "Ten Shekels and a Shirt", "The Revival Hymn", and "Hell's Best Kept Secret" by Ray Comfort, take the time to. Those, along with the Grace of God, have changed my life for God.
Now, I feel like I'm learning to Breathe. In the past month, I've handed out more tracts, and shared the Gospel of Christ with more people that I believe I did in the six years I have been a Christian before now. And even though my fire is sometimes a nervous spark, at best, I'm learning to be a witness for God, a "fisher of men".
I wanted to keep an article going for a little while. I've had a few different experiences in sharing the Gospel, and I want to both share them with you, hopefully to be an encouragement at times, and also receive feedback. I'm just learning to show people the Law, and how they deserve Hell from a Just and Holy God. I never understood the need shown in Romans 7:7 before. I've never been confronted by another Christian denouncing such a "harsh" message, before, either. But I'm pressing on, learning to persevere when I'm laughed at, and most of all, learning to rejoice, even at the simple prospect of being able to hand out a tract.
So again, tell me what you think. What can I do differently? What did I miss? And most of all, keep me in prayer, as I'm "learning to breathe".
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/13 0:48||Profile|
| Re: Learning to Breathe...|
Well, a couple of weeks ago I ordered an array of Bible tracts from www.livingwaters.com, and they arrived yesterday. It was a welcomed package, including tracts that are designed for a large of people with different beliefs/viewpoints.
One of my favorite, and the favorite of some of the men around my office, is one that's called "101 of the World's Funniest One Liners", and is packed with jokes like "Borrow money from a pessimist- they don't expect it back", and "Honk if you like peace and quiet". Or try "This statement is false." That one had me thinking for a while.
Well, I gave a couple to some of my co-workers, and soon, I couldn't keep 'em! People were taking these like candy. Now, I'm in the military, which can be a hard crowd, so just having something that they were willing to take, was great.
Now, in these particular tracts, one of the one-liners says, "Eat right. Stay fit. Die anyway." and has an editorial near it. The editorial says provokes some thought on that message, and then takes a person to the judgment seat of Christ, showing them how they've broken God's law, and deserve hell. But that's not God's will, and he sent his Son as a sacrifice...
Well, a couple of guys took these, and when I came back in the room, one said "we were looking over your pamphlets, and decided that we're going to hell." I answered that it's a good thing that God provided the payment for our sins, huh? and talked them through the atonement and grace, if they would only accept it. They didn't say anything else, but went on.
Soon after that, we had an all-hands call, which is basically a mandatory gathering of all the employees in our section, but is also an excuse to drink a bunch of beer. Well, I went (mandatory), and got my "buzz" off of soda. Some of the guys were teaching me to play "spades", but I didn't join in, since they were playing for money. I also started handing out the "101 funniest" tracts, and soon ran out.
There's a Lieutenant Colonel (much higher rank that me) who professes to be a Christian, and in actuality, is very knowledgeable on the Bible. He attends Church every Sunday, and will readily engage in conversation regarding religion. Well, there's a tract that I got to check out called "The Bible is Full of Mistakes", and handid him one to see what he thought.
Well, this tract is a comic book-type pamphlet that takes the storyline of a professor telling what fundamental Christians think. He says that it couldn't possible be true, but then a student in the class explains his misconceptions about Christianity.
Well, the Colonel gave it back to me, and said it was good, except for the fact that it confronts people with the Law and their sin. He feels that this only pushes people away. Now, I said that according to Romans 7:7 (for I would not have known what sin was but by the Law) you can't understand the Grace of God without understanding why you need it. We had an argument on this, and I tried to explain it much like Ray Comfort does in "Hell's Best Kept Secret", how if you give a man a parachute, but he doesn't know that he'll have to jump, will soon question the parachute, and probably eventually take it off. Well, after a short debate, he said something like, "well, if you jump at 30,000 feet, you'll need more than a parachute", and broke off the conversation. I gave him another tract, and a "Ten Commandments Coin" and went on my way.
I got to talk a little bit with a couple more people, but no one seemed very interested in anything other than their beer and the card games.
Now, partway through the night, the General gathered everybody to give them a "prep talk". Now, there was a basket collecting donations for the beer, and part of what he said was interesting. He said "now, there's someone out there preaching to you all, so pretend like it's Church, and put some money in the basket". Was he talking about me? I don't know. I did give a tract to the Sergeant Major, so maybe. Later, the chaplain came out and offered a moment of silence for some of our soldiers who were recently killed, so maybe he was talking about that.
I got to call my wife soon thereafter, and then took a walk to just pray and think about the night. I had thought about open-airing while I was there. I've never done that before, and I wasn't just gonna turn off the music and preach. I don't know what to think of that, though. Was it me being logical, or just being scared? I was nervous just at the though of it, but there were so many already gathered, and it could have been an opportunity. How do you utilize a crowd like that? I guess I need to learn how to draw their attention without doing something that would probably stir up a negative reaction, like turning off their music.
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/13 1:16||Profile|
| Re: Learning to Breathe...|
This morning, I had the opportunity to go to breakfast with one of my co-workers who I've been talking to for a couple of weeks. He's a non-practicing Catholic that I've been pusning pretty hard to consider his position. I've shown him a couple of reasons why the Catholic Church isn't God's Church, but I'm not very versed in this area.
Well, today he made a joke about how I need to "come to the dark side", and we got to talking. He asked if he's the only one I am trying to convert. I said "no", that he's not the only one I've been talking to, and that it's not my place to conver him, but rather just serve a warning.
"A warning" he said? "Repent or you shall perish" is all I said back. He asked if he was perishing, and I said that that's what the Bible says. He stayed quiet for a little while, so I told him to read the book of John. I've shared with him the Gospel, starting with our sin, why he deserves Hell, and working to the Grace and the need for repentance. I'm gonna give him a little space, and the next time we talk, I'm gonna take him through it all again. If he has any other questions, hopefully I'll be ready to answer them. Be with me Lord.
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/13 1:22||Profile|
It has been most encouraging to read all about your aspirations and enthusiasm for bringing people into the kingdom of God. Looking forward to the next installment, when it's ready.
| 2005/11/14 11:42|
Did I break through? For the first time in a long time, I think I might have left something for my mom to think about.
She's the last Baha'i from my family. I was raised a Baha'i, actually, along with my four brothers. My dad never really got into it, and still isn't, but the rest of us were.
Well, six years ago, I came to see that the Baha'i faith was a lie. And it should be so obvious! But it's one that's twisted Scripture, leaving an answer for so much of what we would use to show its faults, and leaving it's deceived members confident in their fate.
Well, not a single brother of mine is a Baha'i, now. Two are born-again believers, one is asking questions, and one is five years old. My dad is going to church, and I trust in the Lord that he's gonna keep working in my family.
Well, the other night, I had called my mom to see how she was doing. Well, as often happens, we got to talking "religion", which soon turned into quite a debate. It usually does. But this time, I didn't say as much, didn't retort like I usually do.
When I got the chance, I just said, "Mom, I love you, and that's why I talk to you about this. I know that you believe you know God, but you're being deceived. I will continue to talk to you, and I hope that someday you'll see what Christ himself had to say."
She seemed to calm down a bit, so I continued, "Just read the book of John, please. On your own. Not with another Baha'i to interpret it for you, but just you to see what Christ really came to say."
Well, the phone call seemed to die- she had no retort, but said she would. I told her to talk to Alex (my middle brother, and a hero to me in how his life has changed for Christ), that he would give her a good Bible, and talk with her about it.
Well, I ended up hanging up for once encouraged. Usually we end the call with all of my proofs either disregarded or countered in a way that only a demon could muster.
Well, I'm gonna fast and pray this week. I'm not very good at fasting- I have little perseverence at times. But this time I have a purpose- it's not about my own faith or devotion, but it's that she's being blinded, and God, I want her to see!
So, drop a prayer for my mom- she's a well educated Baha'i, but so was I, and so were my Bros. And fast that whatever's blinding her would be driven out.
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/15 2:55||Profile|
| Re: Speechless...|
Last night, after work, I was waking to the chapel to play guitar, and try, to praise the Lord on my own for a little while. This is two fold- (1), the chapel on base, the only one I can get to, is about an inch thick in faith. Ever noticed how difficult it can be even to sing a praise song when the air's filled with nonsincerity? (2), it would be better if some people didn't sing in public, and I'm one of them. That hymn, "make me prized for thee, and thee alone"? Don't worry, the Lord is probably the only one who could appreciate my singing and lack of rhythm...
Well, I walked in, and on one of the tables, where differing literature and Bibles are normally distributed was a catholic guide to confession. This caught my curiosity, since a couple of weeks ago, as I was talking to a catholic guy, he had said how "the priests don't really forgive you, they meerly assign pennance". Well, I had thought otherwise, and looking at that pamphlet, I still do.
Well, as I stopped to read, another man came in, and said "oh, are you new here?" I said no, I had been here a couple of months. He then invited me to a Bible study.
Now, I had heard about "God's Laborers", a non-denominational (Catholics, Mormons, everyone's invited) study, in which they don't really teach on an issue (as he explained), but rather, they all get together to discuss things and pray together. Well, I sat down with him, and asked what he believed. What I found left me practically awe-struck, and left me barely able to answer, not because I didn't know what to say, but because I, well, you'll know what I'm talkin about.
He had been "saved" from drugs, etc. a couple of years ago, and was now faithfully attending a pentacostal church in Florida. Well that perked my ear, curious to hear about his doctrine.
He continued to tell me (he really likes to talk, too) about his life, how's he's living in adultery with a married woman, which stopped me in my tracks. Probing further about why he was doing it, he said, "well, the husband in basically a bum, and isn't treating the family right, so I'm helping them out, so God is actually using me in this." I continued to find that his "Bishop" had done the same thing, had divorced his wife to marry another woman, who divorced her husband, so that they could create "a new, god-founded marriage".
In talking to him a bit about repentance and how he was turning his back on God, he responded that "well, like Noah, if God doesn't want me to be here, he'll change it, but he's using me right now- she even prays sometimes since I've come along!"
Well, I gave him a tract, and a "Ten Commandments Coin" and started to take him through the law. I could barely get a word in edge-wise, however. He had been taught, "like Paul says", that we no longer live under the Law, and are free to do all things- therefore, even though it would be sin, since god is using me, it's a good thing.
At this point, I layed it out and told him that he's not serving God, and that he needed to pray about it. I got his email, and he too mine, and we went our seperate ways.
I might just go to that study on Sunday, now. I hadn't before, because I knew it to be dead in truth, but since it's an "open-forum" type of thing, I might have the chance to "shed some Light" to some.
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/15 3:18||Profile|
| Re: Learning to Breathe...|
your testimony is very encouraging. I have gone through a lot of the same stuff. My brother is morman and I have had many of the same discussions with him as you did with your mother. I came into contact with Mr. Comforts stuff a couple of years ago when i stoped while flipping through the channels and saw Kirk Camron and a short man preahing the gospel on the streets. My friends and I began to watch Way of the Master all the time and started reading his book i just finsihed reading Out of your Comfort Zone about a month ago it was a great book. I was led to the Lord by Manley Beasley's Grandson, Chris Beasley, about 5 years ago. You can find Manley Beasley's sermons here underneath the miscelanicous section. He was a great man of the Lord i wish I could have met him. Chris and his family have all kinds of great stories about Manley's life of faith. Whats really cool is that every tuesday I eat with Chris and his grandmother (manley's wife) and she has so many great stories of her husbands life and she herself is an awesome woman of the Lord. I look forward to hearing more about what happens with you.
| 2005/11/15 4:24||Profile|
| Re: Blind Man Talking...|
If I write a little more sporradically today, it's because I had the honor of staying up until about 1:30 a.m. last night talking to my roommate.
Also, I don't remember word-for-word what was said, but I believe I have the jist of it below.
We had started talking about many of the injustices in the world- discussing different countries' political stances on crime, war, etc. Well, I took the opportunity to as him if he had read one of my "Mad As Hell" tract (living waters pub.), which discusses this very topic. I keep a pile of different tracts on my night stand, so I knew he had seen, if not read many of them.
Well, he said "no", so I gave him one. He started to read, laughing about parts of it. Well, this tract does a particularily good job of pointing out that just as we hate injustice, so does God, and there's a penalty that has to be paid for our sins against him.
He flipped through the booklet, and said, "man, your religion sure uses a lot of scare tactics, huh?" I said, "Why, does that scare you?"
Now, he believes himself to be a Christian, saying he's repented and trusts Jesus, but sees no need to share his faith, read his Bible, pray, or otherwise acknowledge Christ other than sparse mentions of God in general.
Well, we had had previous conversations, but never digging as deeply as last night. Basically, he had said that he follows his own thing, and wasn't going to be converted to what I said he should.
So, I took the opportunity and said, "It's not my place to convert you, as much as I wish you would open your heart to God. It's meerly my place to serve a warning to those who are perishing."
At this, he nearly went off. He made a statement of "So you think you're better than me? What, you're more spiritual because you read your Bible? I pray! Maybe not every day, but I pray when I need help! You think you're right because of that book!? Why, because that book tells you that you're right!?"
He repeated this a few times, and when he had said his part, I tried to say that no, it's not just because of the book. Well, he jumped in again, saying, "that's right. It's about faith. And I have faith. But you can't prove it by your book."
I found this an interesting statement- he claims to have faith in the very thing he denies with his same lips!
Well, I'd listened to Ray Comfort's Athiest Debate this past week, and a statement came to mind. I replied to him the story that ray tells regarding belif and knowledge as pertaining to personal experience. I said, "When I was a kid, my dad told me that the stove was hot once. And I believed him. But after he left, I just had to touch the stove for myself, and I moved from Belief into Knowledge that the stove was hot."
Well, that started another rabbit trail concerning "just because you do more than me doesn't mean that you're better. If we all just served God all day, the world would be a mess. No one would work, or do anything."
I read him the passage about "faith and deeds" in James 2, and said, "Look, I don't look at you and say, 'that man's a sinner' because of how you live. I'm in no position to judge your works. But I see what you live for, and the relationship that you claim to have, and I know that it's counterfit. It's not about the works, but if you truly knew yourself, and understood what you'd been given, it would change your life." I don't think I mentioned that he had been commenting about how I'm no better, and it's not my place to call him a sinner.
Well, lots more small arguments later, I said, "If you honestly search your heart, you'll see where you've turned your back on God. That's what the Law is for. And even without it, your conscience will show you the same. We all have turned on God, and because of that, the Justice of a Holy God is the forewarned wrath and judgment. I told him comfort's parable of "if a murderer was proved guilty in a courtroom, and said, 'I'm sorry, and I won't do it again', and the judge let him go, you'd be furious! Of course he should be sorry. Of course he shouldn't do it again, but the punishment must be served. It's the same with a just God." Well, at this we took a bathroom break, and he came back a few minutes later. He stayed quiet for a while, and then I told him to read the Bible for himself.
He said, "sure, I'll read it, but I don't want your Bible, I want the Holy Bible." (Interesting...) I gave him one of the NIV Bibles that the chapel hands out. Fortunately, it said "Holy Bible" on the cover, and he accepted.
Well, he moved instantly into flipping though the OT, particularily 1 Chronicles, quizzing on who different people were. I did my best to tell him the story of Abraham to explain who Hagar was, etc. I recommend that he read the book of John to see what Jesus himself had to say about things. He said "I'll do it, but not because you've converted me! I'll read it on my own to see what it says for myself, but not because you said I should!"
Well, after this we went to bed. While this was a frustrating conversation, seeing how blind a person can be- denying the very thing he claims to have faith in- it was also refreshing. The fact that I had the chance to share what the Gospel is really about, and then give him a Bible was great. So, pray for him. He's supposed to head out to Iraq in a couple of weeks, and has a family back in the states. He's stubborn, but he's heard a seed, at least.
Father God, give him an open heart to see himself as you see him, and open his mind to read your Word, and accept your Son. I know that I can't do anything to save him, but you're working through me, and that's all I could want. Show him the deception he's believing, and break his spirit to accept you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/19 3:30||Profile|
Over the past few days, aside from talking with my roommate, I haven't been able to get very far with talking to anyone. It's a bummer when no one readily accepts the Gospel, but that's part of the challenge, eh?
I was thinking about having talked to my roommate, about his challenge. He didn't want to be a part of any Christian denomination because so many say, "Unless you're a card-carrying member of the So-and-so church, you'll go to Hell!" The distraction of the hypocrites and doctrinally unsound was making him unperceptive to the Truth. He would ask, "What makes you so sure that you know the answer, when everyone claims they have the answer?" Man, that's a tough one. Not because I don't absolutely know for sure, but because, well, how can I make him see?
It's a hard thing to see someone to reject, ignore, and just not care about the thing that will grant them eternal life. To not see that we're sharing the Truth for a reason- it's not about numbers, money, or any earthly thing, it's about Love.
And that's where our example comes in.
I had written on another column that often times, the hardest-working people are the Jehova's Witnesses. The most services are held by the Catholics. The model of what a Christian family should be is what the Mormons show. They all have so many things that attract and deceive so many. And yet so many who claim to follow Christ are becoming lazy in their walk.
As Paris Reidhead puts it, God says, "I didn't send you out there for them, I sent you for me!" It's our Love for our Lord and Savior that prompts us to serve. It's not about them. I can't ever convert someone. But I can glorify God in my worship (meaning actions) of Him. And a part of that is the warning that I give others: Unless you know and serve God, (repent) you shall perish!
The first time I listenend to "The Revival Hymn", I sat speechless. If you've heard it, you'll understand. It demands action. If your faith is real, there will be works. Not of our own self, but to glorify God!
How can we, as Christians be so useless? How can we allow our Brothers and Sisters to be so lame in their faith and their Worship (again meaning actions, Jn 4:23), and claim that we're serving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind?
I want to pray for revival. Like in the old days. The kind that Duncan Campbell talks about. Where is this faith that we claim to have, when the majority of people claim a service to God that is utterly useless? We need a revival. In my Church, and in so many around us. Lord, if you're willing, send me. Use me as you will. If in the end, I can look back and know that I had been called your humble servant, I'll be satisfied. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/19 4:50||Profile|
| Re: I love my Bible!|
I've got to say that I love my Bible. It's nothing fancy- actually it was a free NIV that I was given. It's softcover with a duct-tape protective outer garment that bears some pretty gnarly battle wounds. As pages have fallen out, they've been superglued right back in. The concordance might not be in the best shape, but c'mon. It's called character. Most of all, it's MY Bible.
Now, I never really understood what the importance of bonding with a Bible was until these last few months. See, at home I have several Bibles. One for word-study, one for comparative research, etc. I even have a couple that some cults use, just for reference. But being away from home, I was forced into travelling lighter than carrying several books would have warranted.
Because of this, all of my time reading has been spent in this one Bible. But as a result, it's become more like a part of me. It's scribbled with little underlines, and sloppy side notes that I've made. It has that comfortable feel of MY Bible. And most of all, when I go to find a passage, I know right where to settle my eyes to find what I am looking for.
I'm not really for many material possessions, but I'll say without hesitation, that one that has edified me, is my Bible. ...There are many like it but this one is mine...
Grace and Peace...
| 2005/11/19 9:18||Profile|