Expressions of Light

Have you ever had a great idea, but never tried it?

Or have you ever poo-pooed someone else’s idea, only to watch it work brilliantly? 

If so, read on…
When Jesus gave us the mandate to “Go and preach the gospel to every creature”, he didn’t give us a specific formula, or a one-size-fits-all approach.   

He simply said to “GO”.  

The fact is that there are about 6 billion unsaved people out there, from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures, and religions. All of them need to be met where they are at, not where we think they are, or where we think they ought to be. 

That being said, it comes as no surprise when we find that there are many styles of evangelism and missions. The gospel is always the same, but how we connect to people is not.

Paul said he became all things to all men, that by any means he might save some.

I think God is pleased when we get creative in our strategies in how we relate to and reach 

our world.

For example, one time on an outreach in Waikiki, a student named Jess said she was going to try “Selfie evangelism.”  I looked at her a bit sideways and asked, “What is selfie evangelism?”

She said she was going to approach strangers and ask if they want to take a selfie together and then start sharing the gospel with them. 

I was sure this was going to fail. When the team arrived in Waikiki, Jess immediately approached the first three guys that were standing on the corner. They said yes to the selfie! I purposely fidgeted with the camera for a while to give Jess a chance to bring up spiritual things. After about 45 minutes of talking about the gospel, two of them gave their lives to Jesus on the spot! 

I learned a valuable lesson that night:  Don’t criticize someone else’s methods. 

God can use any means he wants to. 

Well, apparently the Lord had to re-inforce the lesson to me. A few months later, another guy named Jason had a different idea. He said he was going to do Pokemon evangelism. Curious, I asked what his plan was. 

He went down to Waikiki with the Pokemon game and found a great character, then waited for someone else to come along looking for it. Then he started a conversation about Pokemon and led into the gospel. Jason shared Christ with 5 different people in an hour and a half. 

Not long after that, Beth and I were on a date and there was a group of four college-age people that seemed to be following us around. I stopped and asked what was up and it turns out they were looking for Pokemons. I told them about Jason and Pokemon evangelism, using it as an opportunity to share the whole gospel with four nonchristian young people. 

So there I was using Pokemon evangelism, which I thought was a dumb idea! 

The point is, we should cultivate creativity and be willing to release people with the ideas they have. 

Trying new things isn’t without its failures. Failure will inevitably happen. 

One night we had a team out sharing Christ in Rovaniemi Finland. One of the staff named Samuel asked if I have ever tried the “Jesus is the heavenly bridegroom, you are the bride” style evangelism. That is where you highlight the perfect love of Christ to someone. 

I said, “No, but maybe you should try it, “ and pointed to a group of four young women seated near us. 

To Samuel’s credit, he was willing to give it a go. His approach was just a bit off. 

He walked over to them, leaned on their table with one arm, and asked, “So, are you looking for love in your life?”
They erupted in shocked laughter and hid their faces in their hands. He tried to recover by asking, “Do you want to know the answer? It’s Jesus!”
They looked up at him and simply begged, “We just want to be left alone,” and snickered as he walked back to our table. 

That goes down as one of my favorite funny evangelism stories. 

Sometimes we fail, but sometimes we strike gold.

God loves to show us new ways of doing things. We should be open to discover what he might want to do next!

A few weeks ago one of our students named Natalia suggested we go to the cemetery for evangelism. “What!”, I thought. On the inside, I was reeling. Who ever heard of doing evangelism in the cemetery?
But experience has taught me not to poo-poo an idea. On the outside, I lit up like a light bulb and asked her to tell me more.

Well, Nov 5 is the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico. Millions of people worldwide observe this day. For some, its just a day of honoring and remembering their loved ones. For others, its a mystical day when they believe their lost loved ones will come visit them.
On the Day of the Dead, cemeteries are full of people coming to show respect to their families. 

The team went out to the cemetery for evangelism on the Day of the Dead, and I can’t even explain how many people were so grateful and moved that someone took the time to hear their story, pray for them, and share the love of God with them. People were being prayed for and coming to Christ in the cemetery of all places! 

Maybe you’ve been sitting on an idea of how you could reach a community, or a demographic of people. 

Try it!

You never know what the Lord may do. 

Every evangelism tool and missions strategy out there was once just an idea that someone put to practice. 

You are a unique expression of God’s light to the world. And I believe the Lord wants to use the gifts, talents, and ideas He’s placed within you to reach people with his love. 

I pray you muster up the courage to develop a plan and then, do it!

Remaining Relevant in a Rapidly Changing World

The new year is upon us, and the world is changing.
Things are happening so fast, it’s hard to keep up.
    • Technology is changing. 
the introduction of augmented reality (AR) and the meta-verse promises to transform society as much if not more than the mobile phone.
Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of outpacing human intelligence in its development.
    • Communication is changing. 
Uploading and downloading speeds are constantly increasing.
Skynet is not longer sci-fi fantasy. SpaceX is expected to complete Starlink within a few years.
Facetime and Zoom allow for instant, face-to-face interactions in real time across thousands of miles.
Latest and greatest news notifications appear on our mobile devices as they happen.
    • Travel 
Air travel is constantly expanding and improving.
Civilian space travel has happened for the first time and is expected to increase.
    • Economics 
Global inflation is exploding on an unprecedented scale. The “Great Reset” is no longer and idea of conspiracy, but openly talked about.
Crypto currencies and NFTs threaten to overtake traditional monetary systems and even eclipse the gold standard.
    • Religion seems to be undergoing its own overhaul with new ideas of “deconstruction”
Well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning individuals seek to maintain spiritual relevance in a world that grows further and further from traditional values.
Old or archaic beliefs are being replaced with more acceptable and less exclusionary ones.
Of course this was foretold long ago…
Daniel 12 tells us that in the end times, “Many will run to and fro, and knowledge will increase.”
“The Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their consciences seared with a hot iron,…” (1Tim 4:1,2) 
How are we to represent Jesus well in a rapidly changing world? 
How much, if any, of our message is open to adaptation?
How do we tailor our gospel presentation to a generation that rejects notions of absolute truth and instead subscribes to moral relativism?
How do we avoid sounding archaic when everyone wants something new?
Can we stay relevant while preserving essential truths?
These are real and tough questions that must be considered if we want to influence our world with the message of Christ.
The fact is, the gospel does not change. 
Society may fancy themselves as progressive simply because they seek new ideas, but in realty, nothing has changed.
Acts 17 says of the people of Athens, “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing,” 
Sounds kind of comical at first. What were they? Some group of gossips sharing old wive’s tales? No. They were just like us. Eager to hear or be the first to tell the latest and greatest news.
The only thing that has changed is our ability to access information faster.
So how did Paul engage with these inquisitive, progressive thinkers?

Well, the first thing we see as he enters the city is his grief over the amount of idols. But he didn’t spend time arguing about or tearing down their objects of worship.
Instead, he preached to them “Jesus and the resurrection.” (Vs18)
So effectual was his preaching, that they actually set up a time for him to preach to all of the influential people of the city.
Vs 19, “And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
When Paul addressed hem, he did not water down the essential truths of the faith. He didn’t exclude unpopular or challenging aspects from his message. He shot it very straight to them. He did not refrain from mentioning God’s command to repent or the threat of judgment to come. He didn’t avoid difficult concepts like the resurrection from the dead, but instead boldly proclaimed the message of the gospel and the importance of conversion.
Paul did not hesitate to preach the simple gospel to a crowd of intellectual, progressive critics. You and I should not hesitate to present the simple gospel in our generation as well.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 he tells us, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 
We don’t have to water down, change, or add-to our message just because we are faced with a generation that finds it difficult to accept.
It’s not the “bad news”, or the “irrelevant news” or even the “outdated news.”
The good news may sound like old news to some, but not to those who have never heard! 
We don’t need to make the gospel relevant. It already is!
The gospel is the power of God to salvation no matter what context it gets presented.
In a world where foundations of absolute truth are being eroded from every fabric of society, people are hungry for something steadfast and sure.
They’re being told to believe something entirely different than what they see with their own eyes. Whether that’s gender confusion, insane measures regarding covid, politics, global warming, or pretty much any other hot topic of the day, people are being asked to believe the talking points of the agenda rather than the truth staring them in the face.
We have seen a generation that has very little exposure to the gospel and the values most of us grew up with. But we have also seen a generation right now that is starving for truth.
Billy Graham once said, “When you preach, preach with conviction, preach with authority, and give people an opportunity to respond.” 
When the gospel is presented this way, people respond. People are hungry for what we have in Jesus. In some ways it may seem harder to preach the gospel, but its actually much easier. Especially among those under 30.
This is why we believe it is as important as ever to raise up an army of laborers and send them out into the harvest fields.
The fields have been ready for harvest for thousands of years. The harvest fields of Jesus day were ripe and ready for the truth, and the harvest fields of your day and ours are ripe and ready.
We need more laborers! People who will stop goofing around with theory and strategy, and simply GO! into the harvest.
Together, we are working to fulfill the Great Commission. 
People are the same as they’ve always been; sheep without a shepherd, until Jesus Christ becomes Lord of their lives.
We will continue to present the simplicity of this life-changing message no matter how much culture changes around us.
Our School of Missions and Evangelism in Honolulu kicked off on Wednesday, Jan 12th. Students are here and fully immersed in the lecture and outreach times.
Please be praying that they all discover their purpose and pursue God’s will for their individual lives in the great scheme of fulfilling the Great Commission.
I saw this challenging concept the other day from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. They wrote, “Jesus has given us marching orders.” 
As I chewed on that for a moment, I thought, “When headquarters has already given us a command, we don’t need to pray for further instruction.” 
Too often, Christians miss out on opportunities to share because they are waiting for further revelation for every step of every day. I don’t really need to ask, “Lord, should I witness to this person?” if I already have the command to do it!
A better rule of thumb would be to assume the Lord wants us to witness to everyone unless he guides us not to!
May you be encouraged and challenged to make the most of every opportunity to share the simple gospel of salvation in Christ.

6 Tips for Sharing Your Faith

For many years I suffered from what you might call ‘evangelistic frustration’.
All my zeal and all of the evangelism methods I employed weren’t producing the results I was aiming for. No matter how many evangelistic scripts I memorized or how passionately I presented them, my listeners were rarely moved.
Why? What was I missing?

Reflecting on the successes and failures of the last 20 years of my own evangelistic journey, there are some important keys I have learned along the way.
In an effort to pass on tips from my experience, here are six principles for effective evangelism.

Be Intentional
It takes a deliberate act to speak to someone about the gospel. We sometimes excuse ourselves from the work because the opportunity doesn’t present itself or because the subject doesn’t come up on its own. But it really is up to us to look for (or even create) the opportunity, and it’s also up to us to broach the subject.
This isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s difficult. That’s why it’s intentional. It’s going to cost us something, whether it’s time, resources, or even our precious pride. Any ministry you want to be a part of will involve sacrifice on some level. Sharing your faith is not an exception.
Are the people we intend to reach worth what it takes for us to speak to them? Yes! So let’s be deliberate and intentional in our evangelistic approach.

Be Flexible
Not every situation is the same, and not every person is the same. Everyone you meet is unique! Whether its someone across the ocean, or someone across the street, we all come from different backgrounds and different circumstances, and each of us is viewing the world through our own lens.
That’s why its important for us not to adopt one script and robotically share that same message to every person we meet. Doing so limits our effectiveness and narrows our evangelistic field.
Some people have heard the gospel their whole life, but have never experienced God’s power. But when they see signs and wonders, it causes them to surrender. (See Acts 9:32-43) Others have seen signs and wonders, but are unaffected spiritually until presented with the message of the cross. (Acts 3:11-4:4) Still others may have heard the message of forgiveness and eternal life, and have even seen miracles done in Jesus’ name, but are won over when shown genuine love in action. And the list of scenarios could go on and on.
There are all sorts of popular evangelistic styles out there, many of which are very good. We need to be flexible enough to realize that people are different and generally don’t respond to a scripted message.

Be Relational
We tend to lump, or stereotype people of different faiths or world views into their own evangelistic category, then pull out our script for that particular group. We have one method for Muslims, one for Hindus, one for Mormons, etc. But we need to remember, Jesus’ ministry was primarily to the Jews of his day, yet he still took the time to connect to individuals, and relate the gospel to them on their own level.
It’s important to meet individuals where they are at, not where we imagine or think they are. In order to do this, we need to have genuine interest in others. We have to listen!
There’s the old, cheesy saying, that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” While that statement is a bit cliche, it’s absolutely true in many cases.
We really do need to love people. In Mark 10, as Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler, it tells us that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.” Then he went on to say some very tough things to him. You’d be surprised how directly you can speak to people about things that need to be said when they know that you genuinely care.
If we see them as God does, we will love and listen to them, and find how best to win them.

Be Biblical
This cannot be stressed enough. While we have an almost unlimited number of conversational connecting points, the gospel never changes. The core identity of the gospel must always stay the same. How we get there can vary from person to person, but our aim is always to share the ultimate truth about who Jesus is, what He has done, and how to receive it.
We must keep in mind what Jesus told us to preach (Luke 24:46,47), what Paul preached (1Cor 15:1-4; Col 1:13-23), what Peter preached (Acts 2, 3, 4,10)
Keep the gospel the gospel. Our message must be centered on Jesus, crucified and risen. And the offer of forgiveness of sins and eternal life is available to anyone who will receive it. There is no substitute avenue for salvation other than through the cross.
Billy Graham, when asked if there was anything he would tell a younger version of himself, said, without hesitation, “I would preach more on the blood, and more on the cross, because that’s where the power is.”

Be Invitational
Another great Billy Graham saying is that “when you preach, preach with conviction, preach with authority, and give people an opportunity to respond.”
You might be surprised how many people will get saved if you just ask them! A missionary friend of mine told me about the first person she ever led to Christ. After witnessing to him for some time, she just came out and asked him if he would like to receive Christ. She was surprised when he said “Yes”.
Should we be surprised? The message of the cross is the power of God to salvation for those of us who believe. Is it so unreasonable to think that people are hungry to receive that?
The message of the cross is confrontational. It demands a response of some sort. Ask them!

Stay Small
It’s not about you. Leave the results in the hands of God.
Stay humble, and you won’t have a hard time dealing with rejection. It’s bound to happen. Some people just aren’t open. And some people will hear you out and still decide to think about it. All is not lost if you don’t “close the deal”.
Our responsibility is to be faithful to God and to the person we are talking to.
The average person has 5.6 evangelistic encounters before coming to Christ. For some people, they immediately recognize a good deal when they see it, and get saved right off the bat. If you’re like me, you heard it 100 times before eventually surrendering to the Lord. But on a statistical average, its somewhere around 5-6 times.
That’s why we don’t measure our success by how many decisions we get, we measure our success by how faithful we were to plant or water the seed. Your witness is a valuable contribution in the process of reaching that person. That’s something worth rejoicing over!
Ultimately, people don’t convert people, the Holy Spirit does.
“So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” (1Cor 3:7)

Of course, these principles do not provide a perfect soul-winning recipe. There is no method or style out there that boasts a 100% conversion rate.
My hope is that these tips offer some perspective and help you avoid some of the same pitfalls and frustrations that I faced.
Until the nets are full and the Lord returns, may you be about your Father’s business!

All Things to All Men

As beginning deer hunters, my brother and I came up with a brilliant plan to bag a buck during hunting season. Any hunter knows that deer are fond of apples, so we found an apple tree and liberally rubbed sliced apples all over our skin and clothing, hoping to give off an appealing scent that would lure deer into shooting range.
I’m not going to get into details describing how many times that plan failed, or speculate on what my poor mom must have thought when she did the laundry. I will tell you that we did have some curious deer poke their noses in the air and check us out, but we didn’t fool any of them. They were probably more confused than anything else.
But that didn’t cause us to lose hope and give up hunting altogether. It was just part of the learning experience of which methods work and which don’t.

In the endeavor of sharing the gospel, I have had plenty of evangelistic failures. I have tried new one-liners as conversation openers when approaching strangers that fell flat. I have tried different means of gathering crowds for open air preaching that failed miserably and left me looking like a fool.
I have tried acting, looking, and talking just like the world in order to win their friendship before I sprung the whole “I believe in Jesus” thing on them. Believe me, that doesn’t work. It’s more confusing to them than anything else, and you’ll be called a hypocrite.
But those experiences, and others like them, didn’t cause me to give up and abandon the mission field. They simply gave me insight on what to do, and what not to do. I won’t pack it in and quit because of a few awkward moments. My love for the lost is greater than my fear of failure or embarrassment.
The apostle Paul was a man bent on winning souls. He would stop at nothing to reach people. Look what he says, ” I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1Cor9:22
You think he didn’t experience failure? He was beaten with rods, imprisoned, stoned, whipped, etc., narrowly escaping death many times. This is a guy who went for it in ways you and I haven’t even come close to.
Yet he persisted. Why? Because he loved people. He loved them even more than his own life. “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people” Romans 9:1-3
Paul lived what Jesus told us to do, to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13
It’s a pure, sacrificial love. Do you love your family, friends, and neighbors enough to sacrifice what it might cost to reach them?
You might fail. Make witnessing a regular part of life and I guarantee you’ll experience failure on some level. But arent they worth it?
Somebody thought you were.
Think about that today and how you can reach your world for Christ.

Breaking the Law!

Years ago, I was issued a speeding ticket. I set an appointment with the judge to contest it. I figured if I detailed my good driving habits and explained the circumstances surrounding why I did what I did, any rationally thinking judge would understand and dismiss my case.

What I saw in the courtroom, however, was not at all what I had expected. There was a mixture of different types of people sitting and waiting for their case to come up. Some were dressed nicely and sat quietly, while others showed up not dressed in courtroom attire, were talking, and even making derogatory remarks about the judge and the justice system, demonstrating a total lack of respect for authority. Honestly, I was surprised the judge didn’t have some of them arrested for contempt of court.
Naturally, when these people got up to present their case and argue their points, the judge did not afford them any leniency, and I could understand why.
What surprised me was when the judge showed the same impartiality to those who were respectful of the court.
Even a 72-year-old man with a clean driving record who had never been issued a ticket in his life, and had a perfectly good explanation for his offense was found guilty of committing the infraction and had to pay a fine.
Suddenly I saw my hopes of getting off the hook evaporating into thin air.

But as I sat there listening to everyone give their stories, I pictured this judge sitting here every day listening to people trying to come up with convincing arguments or excuses for their actions. It’s no wonder that he impartially judges every situation according to the law.
Whether people are nice or sincere is irrelevant. Circumstances very rarely justify violating the law. Past obedience does not somehow outweigh their current offense and tip the scales in their favor. They are still accountable to the law for their violation.
As I stood up to plead my case, I realized that I really didnt have one. Still, I offered my best argument, even going so far as to basically embarrass myself by pleading for mercy, (might as well take a stab at it) but he nonetheless evaluated my case BY THE LAW. Ultimately, I was guilty, and there was no way I could blame him for coming to that conclusion. The consequences of my actions were mine to bear, so I quietly left the courtroom and paid my fine without a fuss.
It was a bit of a reality check.

Many people are hoping, like I did, that they will be able to talk their way out of hell when they stand before the great Judge, God. Hebrews 9:27 says that it is appointed to man once to die, and after that to face judgement. Jesus taught that our judgement will be so thorough, that we will have to give an account for every idle word we speak. Matt 12:36

People are hoping they will be able to argue with God about their situation or their circumstance and put God on the spot, but Gods judgement will be impartial as well. Check this out. Romans 2:6, 11
6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”
11 For God does not show favoritism.
Circumstances do not justify violating the moral law written upon our hearts.

There is no favoritism with God. He is a good judge, which means that by His very nature, He MUST punish sin. No one will weasel their way out of accountability to Him. No amount of good works or obedience will get people off the hook.
The fine MUST be paid.  Sin MUST be punished.

Words fail me to fully express what God did in order for us to escape that judgment. In the case of our sin, the Judge paid our fine Himself, so that we could go free.
Its as if the judge left the bench, took off his robe, bore the responsibility of my offense, and paid my fine. So God, because of His great love for us, left the unimaginable majesty of heaven to take on the form of humanity, bear our sins upon himself, and take the punishment that we deserve to make a way to free us from facing the wrath of God against our sin. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin, and be given the gift of everlasting life.

Now, if I had walked into the courtroom and admitted that I had broken the law, you can bet I would still have paid a fine today. But God says that if we will humble ourselves and confess to Him, he will forgive every sin we’ve ever committed. 1John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
He can do that based in the fact that Jesus stepped in and paid the fine.
Its up to us to receive the gift he offers. John 1:12 “but as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

When telling the lost about the eternal life God offers, we need to also tell them to stop making excuses for their sin. Confess them and have them drowned forever in a sea of God’s grace, where He promises that He will not remember them anymore.

Compel them to come to Christ today. He offers a pretty good deal!

Fruit of Obedience

Maybe you know the story…

It was 1855. Edward Kimball was a Sunday school teacher. Concerned about one of his Sunday school students. Kimball took action.

Kimball visited Dwight at the shoe store where Dwight worked and urged him to commit his life to Jesus.

Dwight L. Moody said yes and became one of the greatest evangelists. A young man named Fredrick Myers heard Moody was preaching in the British Isles. Myers took up declaring the gospel of Jesus.

One evening in Northfield, MA, a man named Wilbur Chapman heard Myers and surrendered.

Chapman joined Moody’s ministry and was discipled by Moody. When Moody stopped traveling, Chapman took his place preaching the gospel across America.

Billy Sunday was a famous baseball player. Upon hearing Chapman speak he left his baseball career to become an evangelist.

Billy Sunday had many evangelistic meetings. Sunday also started groups to encourage young preachers in the sharing of the Gospel. Mordecai Ham was a part of this group, which caused him to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1934.

Mordecai visited Charlotte in 1934, the hometown of a teenager by the name of Billy Frank Graham. Graham went to the meetings. After a few nights Jesus overwhelmed his heart and Graham gave his life to Jesus.

Billy Graham went on to preach the gospel to 2.2 billion people.

Maybe you aren’t a Billy Graham preaching to billions . . . but I bet you can be a Edward Kimball and chase down one Sunday school kid to tell them about the love and beauty of Jesus.

You will never know the fruit of your simple acts of obedience over the course of a 100 years.

Now, go and love one person well today. 🙂

Personal Belief Vs. Truth

A few months ago, we were playing soccer with a group of friends. Before the game started, a bunch of guys were on the field stretching. I advised them that stretching cold muscles isn’t as good as people think, and walked off.
Less than five minutes later, take a wild guess who pulled a muscle in his leg and was sidelined for the rest of the night? My leg was in bad shape for two weeks!

My silly theory may have sounded plausible to someone who doesn’t know anything about muscle or stretching, but it quickly became very apparent that I was the one who didn’t know what I was talking about. What a dufus! 

People make the same types of mistakes when it comes to how they relate to God. We can come up with all sorts of ideas about who God is, what his nature and character are like, how he views us and what he expects of us. Many of those ideas sound reasonable and believable, but often they are just not true.
You can have one person who finds it inconceivable that there is a God who hates and punishes sin, while another insists that God is a harsh taskmaster who delights in it.

I was having this discussion with a young man the other night. He thought that truth is relative, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs about God, and that whatever you believe is what happens to you. Really? I pointed to the street and asked him what would happen if I walked out in front of a car? “You’d be crushed,” he said. “Okay, so what if I believe it’s a marshmallow car? Then what?” He laughed and said I would be an idiot but I would still die.
“Exactly,” I replied. “What’s important is not what I believe, but what is actually true.”
People can conceive all sorts of personal beliefs about God, but what’s important is what is actually true about him. God hasn’t hidden it from us. He’s revealed himself through creation and through His word.

Don’t let your own personal thoughts about what you would prefer God to be like (or what you may be afraid he is like) get in the way of pursuing the truth about who He is and what He thinks about you.
A smart person will seek out the truth, and follow it.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

Change of Heart

I had a job washing cars at a Ford dealership when I was 18. One day my dad, who was a salesman, came back to the wash bay and with a sense of urgency told us to go get the red Taurus off the lot and make it sparkle. He had a potential buyer up front who wanted a new Taurus but her only stipulation was that she absolutely refused to buy a red car. Unfortunately for us, it was the last one we had in stock. But a true salesman doesn’t give up that easy.
We gave that car the best polish we could. We made it shine. He brought her back into the wash area and immediately she stomped her foot and said defiantly, “I told you I wasn’t going to buy a red car!”
“That’s not red,” he told her, ” It’s cranberry!”
She paused for a moment, then responded with a tinge of interest in her voice, “Ooh, well I guess that’s not so bad.”
She bought the car!

How many of us have sworn that we would never do, say, believe a certain thing, act a certain way, etc., only to find that that very thing was actually quite appealing when viewed from a different perspective?
When I was young, I swore I would never be in construction. Guess what I did for 15 years? I built houses and I loved it.
I swore I would never marry a Finnish girl. My wife is 100% Finn, and I couldn’t imagine myself being happier with anyone else in the world.

I lived in rebellion against God and swore off everything about Christianity. Now I am a committed, sold out, fired up believer in the very thing I once rejected.
Why? Because my perspective was wrong. The things I thought about God proved to be untrue.

When I was shown how I misunderstood what the gospel was all about, then Jesus Christ became more appealing than anything else this world can offer. I wasn’t tricked by a sly sales technique, I was convinced by the truth of His word, by the proof of His love, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, among other things.

The point is, just because you or someone you know is vehemently opposed to a thing today does not guarantee that it won’t change at some point.
Don’t give up sharing your faith or praying for praying for those people who might seem so hardened against God. Their life could turn on a dime at any time. Mine did.

God bless you today

The Enemy Within

Every one of us who belongs to Christ is perpetually engaged in a battle for control of our mind.

Our flesh is constantly waging war with our spirit to influence whether or not we will succumb to sin or walk away. We all know this, and we all have experienced victory as well as defeat in different areas. Aside from the fact that our flesh is drawn like a moth to the flame to various sinful pleasures, there are other ways in which the old nature rears his ugly head.

One specific area is in the realm of personal witnessing. All too often, I find that I have much more important things going on than to spend my precious time sharing the gospel with a bunch of people who don’t want to hear it anyway. There are fish to be caught, birds to be shot at, sporting events to attend, good TV shows that I can’t miss, etc. And on top of all that, there is some really good fellowship to be had with my hunting budd- Ahem- Christian brothers. What am I describing? Evangelical laziness. We just don’t give it the time.
There is nothing in me that wants to go out and speak to people about the things of God. I would much rather stay home and surf the web or watch television. There is an old adamic nature in me that needs to be continually denied its appetite if I want to serve Jesus and glorify him. I have been in situations where I have gone to certain public places, determining ahead of time that I was going specifically to witness to people, and when I arrived, began looking immediately for some excuse to blow it off and do something else.

Have you been there?

If you’ve ever gone out and done any personal work, then I’m sure you have. Sometimes it is the result of fear, and sometimes it is the result of plain old laziness. We couldn’t be bothered to share the words of everlasting life with people because we are so busy doing our own thing, living our own lives. But the Bible says that we should be “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life..”

The next time you are confronted with a witnessing opportunity and you are feeling too lazy or too scared to open your mouth, just take a moment and imagine the tables were turned. Imagine that you were on your way to hell and didn’t know it, and this person couldn’t be bothered to take a moment and share the words of eternal life with you. How would you feel about that? Wouldn’t you want to have been told?
Or what would you think of a doctor, who discovered a cure to cancer, but didn’t share the cure with the world because he was going on to further studies as a doctor? Obviously, just the thought is enough to give us a sense of indignation. How much more then, is the gift of everlasting life in comparison with a cure to cancer? And how often do you keep it to yourself when you could be sharing it with those who still sit in the shadow of death?

The world is going to hell. One by one they are falling into an abyss of eternal torment. You and I have been entrusted with the word of reconciliation by our Lord. We must reckon the old man to be dead, and we must be dead indeed to sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The enemy within will come up with all sorts of things for us to be doing other than what we are supposed to be doing, but we must be diligent, continually denying our flesh of its desires and being filled with the Spirit of God.

So be on your guard, and look out for the attitude of laziness and complacency. Determine to ask the Lord to fill you with compassion for the lost, and go out with boldness and power to lead men and women to the source of life, Jesus Christ.

Don’t Fake It

When I was 4 or 5, I was awarded a shopping spree at Kmart after winning one of those kid’s-coloring contests. I only remember getting a wheelbarrow and what I thought was an awesome green chainsaw. I had big plans for the backyard.
Later on, as I stood at the edge of the yard with my big bad chainsaw, swiping it back and forth across the weeds, making sound my own sound effects, the bubble was suddenly burst as I realized the weeds were unaffected, no matter what my imagination told me. My big, disappointing chainsaw couldn’t even cut grass! I can still remember the moment when it occurred to me that it wasn’t really any fun to fake it. What a waste of time!

For many years of my life I practiced a very strict form of what I thought was Christianity. I obeyed all the ‘rules’, at least as best I could, following all sorts of outward dos and don’ts. I guess you could say I considered myself to be religious.
But you know what? No matter how hard I tried to put up a good front on the outside, I couldn’t tame the appetite for sin that burned in my heart and my mind. I was filled with anger, pride, lust, covetousness.
One day it occurred to me that it was pointless to fake it, since God wasn’t fooled anyway. Surely, there had to be a spiritual reality and depth of change that I hadn’t yet experienced.

The people who Jesus rebuked the most vehemently were the religious Pharisees who appeared clean on the outside, but inside were full of cursing and bitterness. It’s not only fruitless to pretend to be righteous, it’s actually an offense to God.
Paul explained it to the Colossians this way, “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians‬ ‭2:21-23‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
In fact, when you read Philippians, Paul lists all of his outward qualifications of why he of all people should have reason to brag about his own righteousness, and then says he counts them all like dung! It’s useless! (Phil 3) You can do and say all the right things, but if that’s all you have is your own hard work and outward show of righteousness, it’s literally like a big pile of crap.

So what are we to do? How do we experience a genuine change of heart?
It’s easier than you might think. The answer is so simple, Jesus said a child could get it.
True transformation doesn’t come through hard work, ambition, or determination, but through surrender.
You don’t have to work so hard to find favor with God. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
When we come humbly to him, God says he will do this, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ez 36:26)

Changing the heart is the work of God, friend. You can try all you want to do it on your own, and end up in frustration and disappointment. Or, you can quit faking it, cast yourself on the mercy of God, and take all the faith you once had in those works and place your faith in Christ.
You won’t be disappointed in Him!

No automatic alt text available.