Monday, March 08, 2010
Several years ago I started going to visit him over lunch time on Tuesday so we could pray together. I really enjoyed our times of prayer, and I know that those times were very, very, special to him.
Some people probably would have wondered what an old, African-American, retired Pastor, would have in common with a young, Caucasian man. It was our bond in the Lord Jesus Christ. And I really did love him!
The greatest grief to this man was his family. It was a mess. He had been married and divorced several times. He had quite a few children, and he was concerned that some of them weren't even saved. The family relationships were really bad. The nursing home actually had restraining orders against a number of his children so that they could not go to the nursing home unless it was a supervised visit (and I believe that would have been too humbling for the children to have submitted to, so they just stayed away).
I was not surprised at some of the challenges in his family, as I saw some of his own struggles with the flesh. He struggled with his temper, and it was a powerful lesson to me that I (who also at times struggle with my temper) CANNOT allow sin into my life. It cannot be tolerated… He even had difficulty getting along with some of the others at the nursing home (almost coming to blows at times?!?). Eventually the nursing home had him medicated, and I saw his personality shift. One of the administrators at the nursing home asked me to document my visits with him because his family didn't visit him and the nursing home needed to show that he was having social contacts. Through the reports they were able to adjust the medication so that his personality was more normal.
Back in 2007 he almost died. I remember visiting him at the ICU and praying with him. We talked about how short our time on earth is and what a blessing it'll be to be with the Lord. I asked him about when his father died, and he shared that it was really hard for him when his dad died. He never was able to say goodbye or hear any final word from his father. When I heard him say that I asked if he would like to leave any last words or testimony for his children. He was thrilled with the idea. He then dictated a two-page testimony to me (it was hard as he would lose his train of thought at different times, and it's hard to write as someone else dictates - but we got it done!).
He wanted 11 copies printed out so that each of his children could have a copy. I was hoping he would recover enough to be able to sign them, and during one of my visits a few months after he had been in the ICU (but was then back in the nursing home) he was able to sign one of them. But it was very difficult for him, and he wasn't able to sign any others. I then took and scanned that signature and printed it on the other 10 copies of his testimony. I sealed the 11 copies in a manila envelope, included a cover letter, and gave it to the nursing home and wrote with a black marker on the outside saying that the envelope contained his last testimony and was to be opened and read at his funeral. (whether it was read at the funeral, I don't know; I didn't feel safe attending it because of the family "drama")
As a side note, I would encourage any Christian who is concerned for the salvation of others to write out something to be read at their funeral, or to record a video that can be played at their funeral. What an incredible opportunity to directly share the gospel with others.
His health had been declining, and he almost died on a Thursday evening. I knew he had been sick and visited him (praying and sharing Scripture as always). I visited again on Friday and he was doing a little bit better. I visited him several times on Saturday and he was improving more. On Sunday my family sang Amazing Grace for him and he was alert enough to sign along with us. He talked about wanting some fried chicken. I wondered if he was going to pull through.
Monday morning I was having my devotion when the phone rang. His daughter was calling. The nursing home had notified her that her father was failing. She was about an hour away and wanted to let me know. I got in my car and drove to the nursing home.
He was unresponsive, his eyes were closed, and he was barely breathing. I knew this would be the last time I would pray with him and read Scripture to him. I got choked up as I tried to read. I started reading Psalm 116 to him, talking about the different verses as I read. Every now and then he would take a shallow breath and then be completely silent for a period of time.
I read down through verse 14 and paused when a hospice nurse came into the room. She tried to take his blood pressure but couldn't get a reading. She then used her stethoscope. She looked up and quietly said, "I can't find a heartbeat, it looks like he's gone."
The next verse I was going to read was verse 15: precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
About three weeks ago I got my hair cut. The barber is a friendly fellow in his 60's. He works on a walk-in basis, so you never know who else will be there while you're having your hair cut. He and I have talked about spiritual things briefly in the past, but I had never had the opportunity (or taken advantage of an opportunity) to really share with him.
I've been praying that God will give me an opportunity to share with this barber, and I was especially hoping it would work out this latest time because I will probably be needing to use a different barber for a period of time (long story why).
As the barber was cutting my hair we talked about a lot of topics, including the death of his neighbor. The man was in his 50's, and was the barber's favorite neighbor. The visitation was the next day and would be followed by the funeral.
As we were talking about death the haircut was being finished up, and no one else had shown up. I was really glad that no one else had shown up (I can only recall one other time in the past few years that there has been no one after me), and after I had paid I tied the death into spiritual things. I said we had talked about a lot of things over the past few years, but something I really like talking about with people is their soul.
I asked him if he believed in a God, and he did (I normally don't start witnessing with such a question…). I asked if he believed in heaven and hell, and he did. I asked if he would be OK if I shared with him a little while, and he said "sure". I know he is a nominal Catholic, and I asked if he believed in the Bible, and he said that he did.
I gently brought up the commandments and we talked about a few of those, and he was open enough to admit that he had broken the commandments. After sharing about those and what the Bible says the consequence for our sin is, I asked him if he knew what the Bible says can be done for someone who is deserving of hell so that they can be saved from such a demise. He said he had no idea, but was open to me sharing with him.
I prefaced what I was going to share by saying that there are too many people taking other people's words for what the Bible says. I encouraged him to double-check everything that I shared with him so he could see for himself.
I shared the story of my grandfather's auto accident and the time that he paid the fine for the guilty driver. I used analogies from the legal system to show what salvation isn't:
- I've confessed my sin
- I'm living a much better life
- My good works will offset my bad ones
- I'm doing good things for God
- God is going to overlook our sin and just forgive us all
And then I went down the Romans road. My goal was to clearly explain what the Bible says about salvation, and all the while encouraging him to repent and place his faith in Jesus, and Jesus alone.
I told him that I felt my responsibility was to share with him, but that (obviously) the final decision was simply between him and God. He could choose to reject the free offer of salvation, or he could repent and turn to Christ.
At one point I shared what Jesus told Nicodemus: you must be born again if you want to see the kingdom of Heaven. I said that I didn't think he was born again, and then specifically asked him if he was born again: he said he wasn't.
We probably talked (with me doing most of the talking - but he was truly listening and was participating in the conversation) for about 20 minutes after the hair cut, and in that time no one else came in. Towards the end of that time I asked if I could pray for him, and he nervously laughed and asked, "Why? Do I look like I need it?" I said that we all do, but he was not comfortable allowing me to pray for him right then.
I strongly encouraged him to be reading his Bible, and to pray and ask God to reveal Himself to him. I suggested he read in the book of John, and that he pray and ask God to show him what it means to be born again.
I left the barber shop that day rejoicing in the opportunity that God gave me. I had really wanted an opportunity to share with him, and was so grateful that he was receptive and would listen.
And since then I've been praying for him every day that the Holy Spirit will work in his heart...
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The evening service was going to be starting in about an hour or so, and I was visiting with the Pastor and a few others. Right then someone walked up and said, "Pastor, there is a very young couple here who would like a pregnancy test." The Pastor said that all of the regular volunteers were already gone (they usually take the sign in when they leave) and he also called his wife: she wasn't available to come to the church right then. The Pastor asked a few of the ladies who were standing there if they would be willing to help the young lady with the pregnancy test, and he said to make sure they also shared the gospel with her. He said it works best to separate the couple (even though it can be hard for the couple to be apart), and that someone else could spend some time talking with the young man. No one was readily volunteering (there weren't many others around), so I said that I would.
We went inside and found a very young couple (she was 17 and he was 18) who were nervously waiting in the hallway. We introduced ourselves and the young man and I went into a side room and sit down to visit for awhile. We started with some small talk (backgrounds, current jobs, family info, churches, etc.) and then I transitioned into spiritual things.
He attends a local "church", but it's not a Bible-believing or Bible-preaching church. He is going through the process to join the church. When I asked what he believes a person can, or must do, in order to spend an eternity in heaven, he wasn't sure. Perhaps confess his sin and pray?
For the next 15 minutes we had time to simply talk about salvation and review God's Word. I didn't press him to make a decision as it didn't seem he was under any conviction (no signs of repentance), and the last thing I would want to do is encourage someone to say a prayer, and then slap him on the back and say "You're saved!"
Eventually the ladies walked into the room and the conversation immediately ended; obviously, he (and his girlfriend) were there for a reason, and he hadn't forgotten the reason.
The pressure of the situation that God was using in this young man's life was diffused by the results of the test.
As I've thought back to that time I've though of a number of things that I probably should have shared with him or talked directly about. But the whole time I was talking with him I had been crying out to the Lord wanting Him to direct the conversation – so I rest in Him, that despite my weakness in being a "rookie" in such a sharing situation, may He use what was shared. And, looking back, I'm so grateful for the opportunity the Lord gave to share with him, and I hope and pray that he thinks about the verses in God's Word that we looked at.
Monday, November 16, 2009
There were only a handful of "old timers" that I recognized at the church – everyone else was a new face. One of the couples I recognized, in particular, stood out. He had been a retired pilot and then farmer, and now a muscular disorder has made him practically an invalid, and who may also be battling some form of dementia, too.
He had just walked up a short flight of stairs and was sitting in chair that was in the foyer trying to catch his breath (that chair is the only chair in the foyer and it's there for him). I shook his hand and visited with him for a few minutes before the service began. He told me, "You know what, my wife sings here, and I fly airplanes." I told him I remembered his wife singing songs at the church, and we talked about him being a pilot. After the service I told him that it had been a blessing to see him again, and he looked at me, paused for a few moments, and then said, "You know what, my wife sings, and I fly airplanes." He then went on to share about some men in the church who had, a few months prior, rented a plane and taking him up for a flight - something which had blessed his heart immensely.
This is a man and his wife who have (as far as I know) been very faithful to the Lord through their lives. They were extremely involved in the pro-life movement, and have sought to faithfully serve the Lord in their local church.
He has such a desire to still work and try to farm that his wife told us of a time recently when he stood a ladder up near his tractor so he could try to get on his tractor and do some mowing. It worked OK for him getting onto the tractor. After he was done he carefully parked the tractor next to the ladder, but in the process of getting down the ladder he slipped and fell. He was unable to get up. His wife noticed the tractor outside parked by the ladder, and when he didn't come inside after a while she went out and, with difficulty, was able to help him sit up. They then tied a rope to the tractor wheel and he was able to pull himself up with that.
I experienced such a mixture of emotions. I was grateful to see them still faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ and thought how precious these two must be to the Lord. And yet my heart broke for this dear man and his health.
And I couldn't help but wonder, when I am his age (if the Lord tarry, and if it be His will) and perhaps in his condition, what will it be that I tell people about myself? What will be the defining characteristics of my life? And, will I still be trying to work, or will I be wanting to just sit around?
May I be busy with the Lord's work while I still have breath and especially while I have my health!
"I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." (John 9:4)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I was praying that the Holy Spirit would give an opportunity to share with him. Actually, I was a little hesitant, at first, to share, because I was in the middle of a work project. God convicted me that my attitude was wrong and I prayed that the Holy Spirit would be working in the man's heart and would give me an opportunity to share.
As we kept talking the subject of neighborhoods that we live in came up. I asked if he attended a church near his home. He ignored my question and kept talking. I went back and asked again. He was sharp enough to realize that I was bringing up spiritual things – and he was very closed to the discussion topic. He put his hands up a bit, waved them back and forth, and said, "Oh, no, no, I'm fine! I'm good in that department." Even though we had enjoyed a few minutes of chit-chat it was clear that simply asking him about church had made him uncomfortable. And, I figured he was already uncomfortable, so why not ask another question? I asked if he had a Bible at his house.
Again, he ignored the question and kept talking. Eventually he backtracked in his conversation and did say that, yes, he had a Bible at his house. I said that was good and encouraged him to be reading in it so that he would know how a person who has broken God's law and is deserving of hell can be born again and forgiven of his sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. I went ahead and helped close the conversation by thanking him for stopping by and he left soon thereafter.
While he was a very friendly, outgoing, and personable person (most good salespeople are), it was interesting to see how quickly he locked up when spiritual things were brought up (and some would say that asking where a person attends church is hardly bringing up spiritual things!). While there's a chance that he is truly "good in that department", the fact that he wasn't willing to confess the Lord Jesus with his mouth ("that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus..." Romans 10:9) makes me suspect that he has not been born again. May the Holy Spirit bring great conviction to his heart.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Actually, I ran into two sets of them and had basically the same conversation with each pair:
Them: Hi, how are you doing?
Me: Are you JW's?
Them: Yes, we are.
Me: I'm sorry… I'm a Christian who believes in Jesus as God and I'm not interested in any of your literature. May I ask you a question?
Me: Do you believe in Jesus?
Them: Yes, we do.
Me: Do you obey Him?
Them: Yes, we do.
Me: Have you been born again?
Me: Then why are you disobeying Jesus? He said, in John chapter 3, that "Ye must be born again." Why have you not been born again?
Them: (looking at each other, thinking….) Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, who went to Him at night.
Me: The reason he went at night was because he was a religious man who belonged to a religious organization that didn't believe Jesus was God (that would make him a member of a cult), and he was afraid of what the other members of his religious organization would say if he went to Jesus. It would be the same for you today, if you went to Jesus, be it in the daytime or if you were afraid of what others in your church would say – at night – it doesn't matter - He would tell you the same thing. "Ye must be born again." Why have you not been born again?
They then tried to bring up some crazy idea about the 144,000. I kept going back to being born again, and encouraged them to obey Jesus and be born again – and then said "bye".
I suspect they believe they are part of the 144,000, which is surprising to me. The fact is:
- The 144,000 is a specific number (early part of Revelation Chapter 7 talks about the 144,000, and then in verse 9 it talks about a "great multitude, which no man could number" – which clearly shows that John, through the Holy Spirit, was referring to exactly 144,000 people)
- In addition, if that isn't clear enough, 4 verses in Revelations 7 (verses 5-8) go through each of the twelve tribes and say that there are exactly 12,000 from each one. The Bible could have said "12,000 from each tribe", but instead if says "Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand………."
JW's currently report worldwide membership actively involved at 7 million, convention attendance at 12 million, and annual memorial attendance at 17 million (not sure what memorial attendence is?). If I were a JW and was one of millions that were hoping to be considered one of the actual 144,000, I would be very nervous.
But wait, the nervousness would increase based upon the fact that we are given at least 3 additional clues as to who qualifies to be part of the 144,000:
- They are Jews. Chapter 7:4 "of the children of Israel" (not only must the person be a Jew, but they must be from the proper tribe, as each tribe will only have 12,000).
- They are male (Revelation 7:4 "which were not defiled with women")
- They are virgins (Revelation 7:4 "for they are virgins")
What was odd was that of the JW's I spoke with: all four were women, one had a child (I'm assuming hers) along with her, and one was clearly not ethnically Jewish.
I suspect everything I said while encouraging them to obey Jesus and of their need to be born again fell on deaf ears (such is the danger of believing church doctrine that contradicts clear Bible teaching), but I pray that they will seriously think about the fact that Jesus did say that if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven WE MUST BE BORN AGAIN (John 3:3). Period.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Secular Museum "Credits" Charles Darwin's Theory As Being A Factor That Led To The 16.5 Million Deaths of World War One
We know that Jesus not only is the Creator of life (Col. 1:16), but He came and brought His perfect peace to earth (John 14:27, 16:33). Unfortunately, He was rejected, and man has chosen instead to follow and believe the lies of Satan, who is a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and would be delighted to see the devastation of war.
With this being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, I was fascinated by one of the museum's displays. The display was in a room that was explaining the various factors that contributed to the start of World War One. The secular museum was displaying Charles Darwin's book "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". The placard next to the book shared that the theories in the book were used by European governments as an argument for colonialism, for dominating non-European peoples, for engaging in arms races, and, inevitably, for war.
Christians can readily see how Charles Darwin's anti-God and unscientific (claiming that everything came into existence from nothing?) theories, if believed, could contribute to war, genocide, racism, slavery, violence, and all sorts of other lawless actions. For, if we were not created by God but instead are chance mutations that randomly evolved over millions of years: then we can do whatever we want as we struggle to survive. Who is to say what we can and cannot do? Who is to say that it's wrong to lie, cheat, steal, or fornicate.
And yet I have seen a number of those who believe in Charles Darwin's theories come to his defense and say that they do not believe his theories contribute to war, destruction, and genocide.
Well, the Nation's Official WWI Museum (a secular museum), openly gives Charles Darwin's theories some of the "credit" for contributing to the start of World War One. 16.5 million people died as a result of that war.
Jesus, when warning the disciples about false prophets, told them, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20) One of the fruits of evolutionary beliefs is war.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I was very sick this past week. The sickest that I have ever been in my life. Multiple days with 103.4 degree fevers, nausea, aches, chills – and then an incessant cough started and went non-stop for almost 24 hours. I was down and out.
God's hand of blessing, protection, and guidance was present throughout the week. When I went into the Dr. the chest xray showed pneumonia, and the blood work showed a massive bacterial infection (highest white blood cell count the Dr. had seen in his 10 years of practice!).
So, how has it been good that I've been afflicted? Seeing as this is a bit of my journal and I don't want to forget some of these things, I'm documenting them here. . .
- There isn't anyone better to trust in than Jesus. I had a very important work commitment this weekend (read as: an out-of-state wedding to photograph). I have to confess that I struggled with trusting the Lord through this week. I wrestled with what would happen. And yet not only did a backup plan come together, but Lord provided a perfect substitute in their local area – whom the couple was thrilled with. I couldn't have been happier, and I was able to see how the Lord arranged things for His glory. "The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever" (Psalms 104:31)
- Being down and out sick is a great time for evaluating one's heart, life, and attitudes. And I've been finding lots of pride, wrong attitudes, complacency, and focus on self. I feel like I can so readily identify with Peter as he says, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." And yet I know that He is the One I need to be close to, and it's His Spirit that has been revealing these things to me.
- I've realized how soft I've become. This week, as I was sick, we've had temperatures in the upper 90's with heat indexes up around 110 degrees. I've been inside my air conditioned house this entire time. And yet I have missionary friends over in the jungles of Indonesia who are constantly battling sickness, malaria, fevers, and other jungle diseases – all without the comfort of air conditioning or easy access to Doctor's. And I've been evaluating how much time I spend lifting them up in prayer? How concerned am I for their physical welfare as they labor for Christ overseas?
- I've had a softening in my heart towards those who are sick and infirm. "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." (2 Corinthians 1:4) There are so many whose lives are full of what I experienced for those 3 or 4 days. And, for them, there isn't an antibiotic to take that will start them on the road to recovery. Is my heart sensitive towards the suffering of others? Am I genuinely concerned for them?
- Missed opportunities to share the gospel have also weighed very heavily on me. What if the Lord had chosen to take me home this past week? What would have mattered in my life? Only that which I had accomplished for Christ. I've thought back to conversations and opportunities I've had over these past few months to share with others that I let slide. May I never, ever, again let an opportunity to share the gospel with someone go by. Even if I was on my deathbed – may I be more concerned about sharing with others than with my self. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
I can look back and see all of this and much, much more. And yet the last thing my flesh wants is to ever be sick again. May my heart welcome whatever the Lord has for me in the future.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
When I asked him if God was to judge him based on the 10 commandments if he would be innocent or guilty, he was a bit hesitant to acknowledge guilt. When I asked him whether he felt he would spend an eternity in heaven or hell he hedged even more, eventually saying that if that's how God decides, then it would be hell.
He went on and said, "I guess I had better start going to church." While I was happy for the opportunity to share with him my heart was grieved that he would think the solution to his problem was simply to begin attending some church. People have so confused religion with a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's something I want to constantly be on guard in my own heart: pursuing a religion and not living for my Savior.
I spent the next while sharing with him the different between religion and a relationship with Jesus. The futility of religion (the Jews and Pharisees had a great religion going when Jesus came to earth). We talked about true, Biblical salvation, and I shared with him the story about my grandfather's car wreck and how he subsequently paid the fine for the guilty driver. At the end I asked if he had a Bible at his house (he did) and I encouraged him to read the book of John to learn more about what Jesus did for him.
And now I wonder: has the Lord done anything in his heart? Has he picked up his Bible and spent any time reading? Was our conversation forgotten minutes after it was done? May the Holy Spirit strive with him (Genesis 6:3) and convict him of sin, righteousness, and judgment (
for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Back to my story… I was checking on a resident to see if he wanted to come to worship. He was asleep in his wheelchair and didn't wake up even when I called his name. Since he hasn't come the past few times, I didn't think it was worth waking him up to invite him.
As I was leaving the room I noticed his roommate, who was in bed, was awake and looking towards me. I knew his name was "Herman" from the sign on the door (and I think I had invited him to church a few weeks prior), and so I stepped over towards his bed.
With a low voice he kinda spat out, "What the **** do you want!?!"
I responded, "Hi Herman, we're here for worship this morning and I was checking on Mr. S. to see if wanted to come to church. We'd love to have you join us as well, but I noticed you're in bed and perhaps not feeling too well today."
His response was, "Oh, well, I think I would have enjoyed coming to church…"
Turns out he was cold, and so I was able to get another blanket for him.
I was laughing a bit as I left his room. I'd never really been "greeted" like that before, and was really surprised that he would then express some interest in joining us for worship!
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I shared that we didn't have a need for any of their services at this time, but that I would put his web site address into my file in case we ever did need to outsource some work: we could then consider them.
He appreciated that and was about to go when I asked him if I could ask him a question that didn't relate to his company. He said, "Sure."
I asked if he had a minute or two and he said that he did.
When speaking with someone that has a strong accent which indicates that English may not be their primary language, I work at speaking slow and I try to use plain words.
I asked if he had ever taken the Good Person test before, and at first he said "Ok", but when I said, "Have you, William, ever taken the test before?" He then understood and said, "No."
I started into it and didn't get very far at all. He said that he considered himself a good person. He was familiar with the ten commandments (God's measure of our goodness).
At that point he interrupted me and said, "Isn't this taking too long?"
I suspected that he meant to ask something slightly different, but I responded with a, "Is this taking too long? Not at all, I have plenty of time!" and kept going with the test. He laughed when he realized the question that he had asked, interrupted me, and said that HE didn't have time.
So, I encouraged him to visit a web site and finish the test (he said that he would) and we said goodbye.
I was disappointed that he wasn't able to go through the whole test, but, who knows, perhaps he would have gotten in trouble with his boss.
Monday, November 24, 2008
As I was talking with them they were setting off all sorts of alarms in my mind!
After awhile I asked the gentleman if I could ask him a question that wasn’t related to printers. He said I could.
I began going through the good person test with him. His responses were fascinating as he worked to evade and dodge each question. Has he ever told a lie – sure, everybody does. What would that make him – definitely not a liar! Has he ever stolen something, or taken something without permission – nope. It’s only stealing if you have a habit of it (I challenged him to try that in a court of law, “But judge, I only took one thing and it’s not a habit!!”). Has he ever taken God’s name in vain – never! Has he ever been angry with someone or hated someone – sure, he’s been upset with people before but he has NEVER hated on someone.
I sought to share the gospel with him and he professed that he didn’t need the gospel as he was already going to heaven when he died – because he walked with God.
He owns two Bibles: one he keeps at his house and the other in his car. He regularly reads them.
He skillfully brought he conversation back to the printer cartridges, but, even as we talked about that he then abruptly asked, “Hey, on that Good Person Test, how did I do?”
I shared that he was very typical in his responses, but that some of what he shared had indicated something to me that I would share with him, but felt he probably wouldn’t be open to what I would share. He insisted that I tell him, and I shared with him that I had two concerns: that his salvation may not be genuinely based upon what the Lord Jesus Christ did for him and that, in much the same way that pride is a struggle in my life, it is likely a significant issue in his life.
I gave him the example of him not being willing to admit that he had stolen in the past. He shared that, because it was forgiven by God, it was as if it had never happened. That’s why he wouldn’t admit to any sin.
I took a few moments and tried to gently share with him the difference between a proud heart that will not admit having done any wrong, and a humble heart that realizes it is flesh and is full of sin before God, but is overwhelmed with gratitude for the mercy and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even Paul remembered his past and shared that he had persecuted God’s church and considered himself the chiefest of sinners – even though he was forgiven and pardoned.
It wasn’t too much longer before he realized that I wasn’t going to accept his offer of a trial toner cartridge, and we said “goodbye” to each other.
As I was reaching to disconnect my headset (but still had it in my ear) I could hear him beginning to laugh as he hung up his phone. My guess is that he thought our conversation was rather funny and was going to enjoy replaying it to his buddies.
I did some quick research about the company online and found much negative feedback about the quality of their products. Was the company operating a scam? Perhaps not. Where they selling quality products at a fair price? From my research, it appeared to not be the case.
Monday, November 17, 2008
In addition, we recently added another level of protection to our internet access, and for quite some time it was partially blocking access to Blogger.
I recently spent more than a month traveling, and a portion of that time was spent in Canada. Several things struck me as we were up North:
- How sparsely populated so much of Canada seems
- How many old, small, church buildings I saw
- How little interest in the Lord Jesus Christ there seemed to be
I met some fascinating Canadians...
One was a young lady who was working as a hotel clerk. The hotel had a fancy bus with an expensive political “wrap” parked in the parking lot. We figured the politician was a national politician because the local politicians wouldn’t have the resources for such a nice campaign bus or fancy artwork.
We didn’t recognize the politicians name or the abbreviation for the political party – but I did see a newspaper inside the hotel lobby with the man’s photo in a debate for Prime Minister (so we were right that it was a national figure). After I had finished sending/receiving e-mail (have to keep up with work on the road) I asked the hotel clerk if she knew which political party the candidate was a member of. She had no idea.
I asked her what the political party initials “NDP” stood for (we knew it didn’t stand for the Liberal Party, or the Conservative Party, or the Green Party – my guess is that the N stood for New and the P for Party – but we weren’t sure of the D). She had no idea! She said she knew nothing about politics.
I asked her how old she was (you can’t do this with older women, but young people are generally OK with it) and said I assumed she was old enough to vote? She said she was 20, and she was planning on voting.
I asked her if she knew the various candidates for Prime Minister and what they believed about various issues. She had no idea.
I asked her how she would know who to vote for. She shrugged her shoulders.
I eventually shared some tracts with her and encouraged her to read them. I told her she can get through life OK without knowing anything about politics but that issues of heaven and hell had to be dealt with before death, or the consequences would be tragic.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
I take one of my younger siblings out for lunch each week. Today they picked a restaurant that is often chosen. The lady who was taking the orders was very, very, slow. I could tell that she was new (likely her first day on the job). The kitchen staff was unhappy with her (she was inputting orders incorrectly) and the people in line were upset with the long wait to place their order.
She apologized to us for the delay and I said it was no problem. If I would have had tracts with me it would have been a perfect opportunity to share the gospel with her.
A good reminder to me.
Living in India and working in a US-outsourced computer technical support call center would be a VERY difficult job. They have to work overnight (US Central Time zone) and talk with customers that are generally very disappointed to be talking with someone located in India (who is probably hard to understand). How would we feel if we were trying to help people all day that were very upset to have to talk with us?
Over the past few weeks I have had several opportunities to call a computer manufacturer’s technical support. Turns out, for one of the computers, I could have called their “Gold” support number for support from a US-based call center, but I chose to instead keep talking with the general “overseas” support.
Even though the person wasn’t very knowledgeable, and even though it took longer for them to send me the part than I would have preferred (about 30 minutes start-to-finish before they agreed to send me the warranty-covered part that I needed) I work very hard at being polite, understanding, and gracious.
I know that these technicians face upset and impatient callers all day long. When I call them I want to be different, and I am cognizant of the fact that my attitude and interaction with them during the business portion of the call will impact whether they listen to me share the gospel with them at the end of the call.
The last few times, the person has been open.
While I have found it to be slower, more of a hassle, and less helpful, to get technical support from India than from a US-call center, I have found that the Indian technicians seem to be more open to the gospel.
Traveling to India to share the gospel would be exciting (and expensive); my experience has been that sharing with an Asian-India over the phone simply takes time, patience, and a gentle spirit.
Am I willing to be inconvenienced (speaking to foreign tech support) in order to be able to share the gospel?
Sunday, August 03, 2008
By the time we were there two of her friends had showed up. Four of them and two of us. Six people (although, only three of us were men). One car. One curb. Should be easy.
The car was in neutral, so we tried (once) pushing. It didn’t budge. I couldn’t figure out why the engine wasn’t running and they weren’t backing it up so I asked her about it. Turns out they were all a bit flustered because of the incident, and the "flustration" appeared to be exasperated by the fact that the car that belonged to a parent. To them, it was as if they had been involved in a significant car wreck and were going to need a tow truck.
Once I got her to start the car I made sure it was put into reverse. I told her to try and back up as we pushed. The car immediately backed right off of and over the curb – back to the pavement where it belonged – requiring practically no pushing effort at all.
They were all extremely grateful for the help (not that my brother and I really did anything), and I took the opportunity to leave them with a few gospel tracts.
It was a reminder to me in several ways:
1. Make sure to carry a number of tracts at all times. I only had two tracts in my pocket. There were four of them. I could have easily given them all one tract each.
2. Seek ways to help those that have a need. The Lord can use those opportunities to open doors to share the gospel. Granted, I didn’t end up spending time sharing directly, but because we took a moment to help with the car they were very receptive to the tract.
I’m definitely guilty of not seeking opportunities to help those in need. May I instead have a heart that is more focused on others than myself! May I remember that one of the reasons why God created me was so that I would be doing good for others: my purpose here on earth is not to serve myself.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
In the morning (last week) the EMS/fire/police had been at the house and he was transported to the hospital. On the police scanner his condition was reported as “code yellow” (which is urgent, but not as critical as a “code red”). Later in the day we were surprised to see that he returned home from the hospital in a taxi cab.
That evening I was walking across the street and saw his wife returning from an errand. I went over to talk with her and let her know that we were praying for them. We spoke for a minute or two and then she went inside. I was working on a work project that was across the street from their house.
Shortly thereafter I heard sirens. The sirens became very loud and I looked over and noticed her standing at her front door. A moment later the trucks began arriving. The firemen hurried inside (which I thought was a good thing: I’ve seen a number of times when emergency personnel arrive at a location and seem to take their time gathering gear before walking into the house/apartment). The ambulance arrived and the stretcher was taken up to the door, but never inside. A few minutes later the stretcher was returned to the ambulance. By that time three police cars had arrived.
The stretcher and the three police cars indicated (to me) that he had passed away – and soon after that neighbors confirmed that he had died.
Up and down the street neighbors were outside on their front porch or were gathered in little clumps talking. The sidewalk across the street became busy as a number of people suddenly decided to take walks.
I wondered if that is how it would be when I die: the neighbors out talking and watching the “excitement.” How short our time on earth is.
The visitation was last night. Only a few people were there because the newspaper had a computer malfunction and didn’t print the obituary in time.
We talked with his widow. Through the pain you could see the Lord was strengthening and supporting her. She said he had been ready to go and knew exactly where he was headed. He had chosen to go home from the hospital because he didn’t want to die in the hospital. Her errand had actually been to a nearby church to play the piano for a time of worship.
Today was the funeral. It was actually held at a theater as this gentleman was very involved with the technical aspects of theater (lights/sound/staging).
About a 150 people attended. Mostly older people, and I believe most of them were affiliated with the theater.
I don’t know if it was a Methodist or Presbyterian funeral, but my heart was very, very, heavy as I witnessed the service. The pastor read the opening prayer and the opening comments from a little book. As the service progressed I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all just “words” as they talked so much about God – but only one or two references to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.
Asking all-loving God to welcome this man into His eternal rest? In the same way that we ask God to accept ourselves?
I don’t recall hearing anything about the blood of Jesus – OR, more importantly, how one can have His blood applied to their own life. Nothing about the cross or repentance. Nothing about believing in Jesus. Nothing about being born again.
An open time of tributes was next. One gentleman shared some heartfelt and humorous anecdotes. No one else got up to share so the pastor moved on to the next special music.
I noticed in the bulletin that there would be another time for “open sharing” after the special music.
I began to wonder if I should get up and share what I remember of our neighbor, and at the same time share the gospel.
But I didn’t want to get up and share. During the special music I prayed and it was very obvious the Lord had spoken to my heart and wanted me to share. I didn’t want that service to pass without someone giving honor to the Lord Jesus Christ – it’s just that I wasn’t excited about being the one to get up and do it… It was out of my comfort zone.
After the song the officiant asked if anyone else had something to share. I got up and went forward.
I don’t recall exactly what I shared. I couldn’t see past the stage lights so I really don’t know how my words were received. Considering more humorous theater testimonies were shared after me I figure my time of sharing probably stuck out like a sore thumb.
It was difficult to know how to share because I truly wanted to respect this man and his dear wife. I was 100% confident that my sharing would not in any way offend her, and I didn’t want to cause any unnecessary offense to those attending, but I did want to uplift the Lord Jesus Christ and directly share the gospel.
After sharing some of the memories I had of this man from the past 17 years of living near him, I shared that the one thing I knew from talking with him and his wife: he was ready to go and knew without a doubt where he was headed. He had placed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said that we MUST be born again if we are to enter heaven. While this man had dealt with his sin at the foot of the cross, I said what was important was that WE know where we are headed when we die. If so, this time of separation and heartache is temporary. If we don’t repent and follow Jesus now, this time of separation and loss will be forever.
If this man were alive today I shared that I was confident he would encourage each one to surrender their life to the Lord Jesus Christ, for, in the end, that is all that really matters.
One day it’ll be us that will have passed on. What kind of a life are we living right now? Will people gather and share about the good works that we have done – in the same way that we are gathering and sharing about this man’s good works? Will we know as we face death where we are headed – in the same way that this man knew where he was headed?
After sharing I didn’t have a wonderful sense of elation or euphoria. But I felt I had done the right thing and I knew that I had sought to stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ – the One Whom this man was trusting in for his salvation.
My prayer is that the Lord will somehow use my faltering words for His glory.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
I called the 800# and pressed the option to “close an account”. Almost immediately a very helpful lady came on the line and asked what she could do to assist me. I made a comment about this being the queue for closing accounts and that she probably had an idea what I was wanting to do; she laughed and agreed.
I answered what seemed like 21 questions to confirm my identity and then we talked about closing the account. That process only took a few minutes.
Afterwards she asked me the typical question, “Is there anything else I can do to help you?”
My answer was this, “Actually, you’ve taken care of all the banking issues. But, if you have a minute before the next call comes in I’d like to ask you another, different, question.”
She said, “Absolutely, go ahead.”
She had never heard of or taken the Good Person test – so we started into it. She said she was a good person. She readily admitted to having lied in the past but wouldn’t admit to having ever stolen anything (perhaps because she’s working at a bank and the call may have been recorded??).
At one point she interjected that we aren’t supposed to judge – I said Matthew 7 says we are not to judge lest we be judged, but that Jesus clearly said, “Judge righteous judgment.” I also said that was a bit off topic and we needed to get back to the test…
She admitted to blasphemy. I briefly touched on murder and adultery of the heart – and moved on to summarize everything because I wasn’t sure how open she was to the gospel (especially after the "judge" comment).
When I asked her if she were to die and God judged her based on His 10 commandments if she would be innocent or guilty, she said she would be guilty – but that he is a loving and forgiving God.
I asked if she would spend an eternity in heaven or hell and she said that she asks God to forgive her every day and she’ll spend an eternity with Him.
I started sharing the gospel with her and sought to clarify that asking forgiveness is not what the Bible says results in a person “being born again”. I drew some analogies with our legal system.
I asked if she had a Bible and she said she had one right by her on her desk, and that she reads it all the time.
She then said, “You should be on our evangelism team!”
That caught me off guard and said, “Oh, really, so what do you do on your evangelism team?”
Her response was that they go around and share the gospel with people.
My prayer is that she is clearly presenting the true gospel and that she has been Biblically born again!
At 8:30 p.m. on Friday night my business phone line rang. Caller ID showed an unidentified toll-free number. I suspected it was a telemarketer and was surprised they were calling a business so late in the day. I went ahead and answered the phone.
It was a lady with Discover Credit Card calling to see if they could get us signed up for a credit card. I asked some questions about the credit cards (a few of which she didn’t really know the answer to).
We only talked about credit cards for about two minutes and I said I would save the information in a file and, if we ever were interested in a Discover card, I would call back.
I then said I had asked a lot of questions about the credit cards but I now had a slightly different question for her – if she had a minute before she needed to make her next call. She was available and wondered what I wanted to know.
I asked if she had ever heard of or taken the Good Person test before. She hadn’t heard of it and hadn’t ever taken it.
I said that it only took a few minutes, that everyone should take it at some point in their life, and that there is a “moral” at the end…
She felt she was a good person, despite the fact that I found out she was a lying, thieving, blasphemer. When I said we could look at one more commandment and let her choose between murder and adultery, she chose adultery (most people choose “murder”). While she hadn’t outright broken the commandment, when I shared what Jesus said in Matthew 5:
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
She said “I figured that was where you were headed” – and she readily acknowledged having broken the commandment in spirit.
When I asked her if God were to judge her (once she dies) based on His 10 commandments whether she would be innocent or guilty, she said “guilty”. When I asked where she thought she would spend an eternity, she said “Hell”.
I then had some time to share the gospel with her.
She had interacted with great interest up until a few minutes of sharing the gospel when she seemed to suddenly become very cold.
The entire time I had been sharing with her (and even before that when we were talking about credit cards!) I had been praying the Holy Spirit would be working in her heart/life – and it seemed she was very open. I wonder if perhaps her manager had walked by or was listening in on the call?
Either way I encouraged her to be reading her Bible in the book of John, where we learn more of what Jesus did for her so that she doesn’t have to spend an eternity suffering in hell for her sin.
I’m continuing to pray for her -- that she will come to place her faith in Jesus as her Savior.
Monday, March 03, 2008
I’ve been to various funerals and have stood in front of caskets, looking at the “person who isn’t there.” It is hard not to think of eternity when you are standing in front of the casket of someone you knew who has since passed away.
About a year ago my brother and his wife – who had been praying for a child for the five years they had been married – had a little girl. She was born “code blue” and spent several days in the NICU before Jesus called her home. I supported them as best as possible: they didn’t need a lot of support because of other family members, but I was able to take care of some work projects for my brother so he wouldn’t have to worry about work during those days, I did some behind-the-scenes arranging for prayer support, and I also did a photo shoot for them. Going through the loss of my niece was probably the hardest thing I had faced in my life, and was the closest experience I had had with death – until just recently week.
While my friend at the nursing home (see the previous post) was very sick on February 8th, his health stabilized and he was doing better for another week. But he took another turn for the worse the next Friday evening.
I had stopped by that Friday around lunch time and found his Hospice nurse with him – she was writing reports. When I came into the room he opened his eyes, smiled at me, and tried to reach to shake my hand (my friend has very little control of his muscles, likely caused by a lifetime of alcohol abuse). I reached for his hand and shook it; it was the last time we would shake hands (even though I would hold his hand quite a bit over the next few days).
He had stabilized (somewhat) by Saturday.
When I visited him on Saturday I could tell the end was near. Even though he was becoming unresponsive, he was still stir anytime I leaned over his bed, gripped his hand, and prayed for him.
I didn’t want him to die alone.
He had estranged his two children, although one of them did try to have a relationship with him, and visited him a number of times as he was nearing death. His other child never came to say goodbye.
And that left only me. I spent a number of hours with him Saturday night (until late), occasionally reading scripture to him, praying for him, and holding his hand. His breathing was stable by midnight on Saturday, so I went home to get some rest.
Early Sunday morning I went back to the nursing home, and stayed there until Monday morning at 2:00 a.m. Occasionally I would read Scripture to him and pray for him. As time passed his breathing became more shallow, but it stabilized and it appeared he was doing rather well by the time I left at 2:00 a.m. on Monday morning to go home for some rest.
The nursing home called me at 3:30 a.m. to say that he had passed away.
Was he waiting until I left so that he could die alone? I don’t know.
Was he receiving strength from my being with him? I don’t know.
I wanted him to know that I loved him as a friend, whether he chose to accept the Lord Jesus as his Savior, or whether he chose to reject Jesus.
I have absolute peace knowing that I shared with him the plan of salvation, and I believe he clearly understood what Jesus did for him.
The last time I had visited with him while he was still fully able to have a conversation was about a month ago – in the hospital. I shared with him the story of the thief on the cross, and wanted to make sure he knew that it is never too late to repent of his sins and trust in Jesus. A simple thing to do, but I knew it would require him acknowledging a life of sin and rebellion against God – something that would be hard and would require the involvement of the Holy Spirit in his heart. I had left him with this verse: John 6:37 “… and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” I wanted him to know that when he was willing to lay everything done and come to Jesus, Jesus would accept him.
It was somewhat hard for me – knowing that he passed away alone. And yet I know that God could have arranged things differently…
While I won’t know until I step into eternity whether or not my friend ever was born again, I do know that the Lord did a work in that man’s heart over the year that I knew him. And I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunity he gave me to interact with this man – and I have missed him more than I thought I would.
I hope and pray that this experience renews my zeal to be sharing with others at the nursing home – and everywhere. Time is short. People are dying.
Friday, February 08, 2008
During one visit he shared with me that he is an angry old man, and when I added “and bitter” – he agreed (with a smile). And, when he smiles his face lights up and his eyes twinkle.
While this blog is primarily a journal of sorts for myself, if anyone does happen to see this note, please pray for him. I don’t know how much time he has left.
Every time I have visited him I have tried to make sure I share the gospel (even if it a summary version of it in prayer). He has almost always welcomed my prayers for him (only once or twice, when I have asked if I could pray for him, has he said no).
I don’t know if there is anything more pitiful in life than seeing a person about to enter eternity who has rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, a person who has shared that they have no hope beyond the grave.
Monday, February 04, 2008
The first reference comes from 2 Samuel, where David is mourning the death of the child born to he and Bathsheba. David knows that the child is with the Lord in heaven.
2 Samuel 12:22-23 (KJV)
22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.The second reference comes from the Old Testament and is a prophecy that refers to a New Testament event: the murder of all the children two years of age and younger by Herod in his attempt to kill Jesus.
15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. 16 Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. 17 And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.
The third reference comes from Matthew as Jesus is interacting with little children. The Greek word used for “little children” refers to infants or very young children.
Matthew 19:13-14 (KJV)
13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.A similar reference is in Mark 10:13-16, where we are told Jesus actually took these little children up into His arms (demonstrating how young they were):
13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.The same Greek word is used to refer to the infant Jesus when Herod encouraged the Wise Men to find Him.
I believe that “Of such is the kingdom of heaven” means exactly that: a significant portion of heaven will be comprised of infants and little children. An infant is too young to place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and as such, when an unborn child or an infant dies, they are safe in the Lord Jesus.
As to when they reach an age that they are accountable for their sins before God: I do not know exactly when that age is. But I believe God, in His justice does know exactly what that age is for each person.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I said it would be “me” – and she started into the sales pitch. A $299-a-year newsletter with all the best internet marketing tips. We talked for about five minutes about the newsletter and I shared my thoughts/concerns.
After awhile I mentioned something about her sounding like a nice person, and how I wouldn’t want my saying “no” to the sample issue (which was free) to hurt her “conversion rate”. She said I sounded like a nice person – and I had the perfect segue into the Good Person Test.
I asked if she had a minute, and she did. She had never heard of the test before – but was willing to take it. She definitely considered herself a good person.
We went through the commandments:
- Lying (guilty, although she doesn’t really consider fibs to be lying)
- Stealing (guilty, although probably nothing of any real value)
- Blasphemy (guilty, but probably not really taking His name in vain openly, more likely minced oaths).
- Murder of the heart (guilty, but she has never really hated someone, although has called people “stupid” or “moron” and has been angry with people).
- Adultery of the heart (guilty, and this was the first one that she didn’t justify or try to downplay).
When I asked “why?” – she didn’t really have a good response. Other than that she tries to be good, and everyone else is also guilty of the same things. We talked about a court of law, and she readily agreed that a judge can’t let someone who has broken the laws go because others do the same. We also talked about how our good can never compensate for the bad that we’ve done (a bank robber that gives some of the money to charity, or a murderer who decides to volunteer his time at a hospital).
When I asked if she knew what a guilty sinner who was headed for hell could do to go to heaven, she had no idea, but she wanted to know if I knew and she then she specifically asked me to share with her.
We spent the next 20 or so minutes discussing God’s incredible plan of salvation, and it made sense to her. At one point she shared that she was moved to tears and that the phone call had made her month.
She used to attend church and occasionally read her Bible – so what I was sharing made sense. She agreed that she has been religious, but that she hasn’t really been born again.
She is a young, single parent with a small child to take care of. I encouraged her that her getting right with God was the most important thing she could do in properly raising her child.
I’ve shared with quite a few people over the phone, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever had someone that was so receptive.
Since this is an anonymous blog I won’t share her name, but I would be grateful for your prayers on her behalf. I’m praying that the light she has received would be acted upon and that the Lord will reveal even more of Himself to her.
At the same time the phone call was very encouraging to me. My schedule has been unbelievably full, and I haven’t had (taken) as many opportunities to share on the phone (today’s phone call took about 25 minutes). May I not be slack in sharing with those that are headed for a hopeless and dark eternity.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Following that, she said that it is important to them that all questions and issues are fully resolved, and she wanted to make sure she had resolved everything for me. I said that the insurance was all taken care of, but that, if she had another minute before her next call came in, I had a question for her that was a little off topic. Her response: “Sure, go ahead.”
I asked if he she had ever heard of or taken the Good Person test, and she hadn’t. I let her know there was a moral at the end. I like sharing that there will be a moral at I don’t think they will feel I am trying to trap them or trick them (even though I am, in essence, asking them leading questions). On the other hand it’s hard to take the greatest truth in all of creation and refer to it as a moral, it is WAY more than simply a moral. But, an unbeliever would look at a spiritual truth as a moral, so that’s the word I use to give them “heads up” that we are headed somewhere in particular.
When I asked if she felt she was a good person, without even a pause or hesitation, she strongly answered, “Yes, I feel I’m a very good person.”
She wasn’t straightforward when she admitted to breaking the various commandments. Each time I would ask her about a commandment, her response would generally be “Well, I must have.”
That’s how she acknowledged lying and stealing. Despite being almost 60 years old she said she had never taken God’s name in vain.
When I asked about murder she said “No, but I’ve been so angry with some people at times that I’ve felt like doing something!” She said that while laughing, not realizing that she beat me to the “murder of the heart” punch!
When I summarized her condition before God (that other would look at her and see a good person but God, who is Holy and truly Perfect, would look at her and see someone who is a lying, thieving, murderer and adulterer at heart) she said, “Wow, that sounds pretty bad.”
When I asked her whether, after she died, God would judge her as being guilty of breaking His commandments, she said she felt God would view her as being innocent.
When I asked why God would see her as innocent, she said “Surely God takes into consideration our intentions?”
I didn’t go into the fact that when she was angry with someone, or told the lie, or stole something, or lusted – she was doing it with the full intention of being angry/lying/stealing/lusting.
Instead, I briefly shared how a crime is a crime. Our modern justice system is being overrun with Political Correctness and is starting to try and take “intentions” into consideration, but a crime is still a crime.
I shared that God would surely see her as guilty of having broken His commandments considering how many she had just acknowledged breaking, and I asked her where she thought God sent people who had broken His commandments. Her response, “That’s scary, but it’ll be a really crowded place.”
While she had interacted well throughout the “bad news” of the gospel, it was interesting that she wasn’t really interested in hearing the good news – in finding out how a guilty person who has broken God’s commandments and deserves hell can have their penalty paid for them.
So, in closing, I asked if she had a Bible at her house. She did. I asked if she reads it. She doesn’t. I encouraged her to read the book of John to find out what God did for her so that she wouldn’t have to go to hell.
Then I thanked her for helping me with my insurance problem, for taking the time to go through the Good Person test, and we then said goodbye.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I called in last week and went through the phone audit (it took about 5 minutes). I don’t recall whether or not I then shared the gospel with the lady on the phone.
Today we had another call from the insurance agency about an audit related to another policy we have.
The agent and I had a good time on the phone. When I identified myself and company I could hear him beginning to dig through what sounded like an enormous pile of paper as he tried to locate our policy. I made a comment about the paperless office, and “welcome to the 19th century”. He laughed, and said they had tried to go paperless awhile back but it, obviously, hadn’t worked. I said I could tell, as it sounded like he had just dove into a huge recycling bin. He finally found it and we went through the various questions.
Three minutes later he said we were all set until next year. Well, I said, I wouldn’t necessarily be looking forward to the call next year, but, it is always nice to have done. I said they had originally missed us with their first phone call because we were traveling for a month. He asked if it was a vacation, and I said, no, we had a Christian ministry.
I asked if he had a Christian background and he said that he did. I asked if he knew where he was going to go when he died and he laughed – saying someone else had once asked him that same question. I asked what his answer had been and he said whatever it was, the other guy was fairly negative about it! He shared that he, like everyone else, hopes to go heaven.
I asked if he had a minute before the next call came in to take a quick test. He was quiet and I assume he was thinking about it – perhaps he wasn’t very interested in taking the test but couldn’t figure out a way to tell me that politely? I reminded him that he had just asked me a bunch of questions --- surely he had a minute for me to ask him a few? He agreed.
I asked if he was familiar with the ten commandments – and he was. I asked if he had kept all of them, some of them, or none of them. At first he thought he had kept them all – then he said he may have broken one of them!
My next question was whether he could name them all (which he couldn’t) and I wondered aloud how he could have kept commandments that he wasn’t aware of.
We went through a few of them:
- Lying (guilty)
- Stealing (guilty)
- Blasphemy (guilty)
- Adultery of the heart (guilty)
He agreed that he was guilty before God and felt that he would go to hell as a result. I encouraged him to get right with God before it was too late. I said, perhaps, if he didn’t want to get right with God today he could call me back on the day he was going to die and I could share more of the gospel with him, but, unfortunately, he doesn’t know the day he is going to die.
I then shared the good new of the gospel: how a person that has broken God’s law and deserves hell can go to heaven when they die. He listened and agreed with everything I shared. He seemed to be awakened to his need for salvation, but not alarmed about his condition before God.
We talked more about hell, and I asked him if he has a Bible. He does. I asked if he ever reads it.
He response was that he is guilty of having gone to church and read his Bible in the past, but hasn’t been doing that lately.
I gently shared that not attending church and not reading his Bible are probably some of the mildest sins that are currently in his life, and that an unbeliever who isn’t seeking God and hasn’t repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ will likely have a lot of serious sin in their life. He humbly agreed that I was right.
He went on to say how grateful he was that I was talking with him as just the other day another gentleman had been sharing with him. He agreed that God was trying to get his attention.
At the end of the call I asked if I could pray for him – and he said that would be good. I thanked God for arranging circumstances so that he and I could talk, and for the work that God was doing in this young man’s life. I asked God to continue convicting him, and at the same time to reveal Jesus as Savior to him. I asked God to open his eyes to the Truth in God’s Word. I thanked God for the health that He had blessed this young man with, and asked God to continue blessing him and his family.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
I decided to call and apply for the credit card over the phone.
The card I was applying for was a small business credit card, and at the beginning of the call she had assured me that it would work fine for a small church
At one point in the application process she asked me, “What is the purpose of the business?” My response was along the lines of, “To share the good news of the gospel with those that are lost and dying and headed for an eternity in hell.” Obviously, God has other purposes for the church as well, but it was interesting to be asked the question by a credit card company!
After the application process was done, she didn’t ask if there was anything else she could help me with (which is normally the perfect segue into sharing the gospel). Instead, I had to jump in and say I had another question for her, but that it didn’t have anything to do with the credit card application – did she have just a minute before the next call came in? She had time, so I started into the Good Person Test with her.
She felt she was a good person, and she was then OK with me asking some questions to see how true that was. She said she was familiar with the ten commandments, and felt she had kept most of them.
I started with the 9th commandment: thou shalt not lie. I shared that I have told lies in the past, and I asked her if there was ever a time in her life when she had lied.
Her response? “Oh, I lie all the time!”
I wondered whether it was at work (as people are asking questions about the credit cards?!?) or in her personal life, but I didn’t ask...
I was impressed with her honesty in admitting her habitual lying – although one would have to say that it is an oxymoron to have an honest, habitual liar.
We went through the rest of the test and, after hearing (and agreeing with) the bad news (she was facing an eternity in hell) we went through and she heard the good news of the gospel.
I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will continue to work in her heart and she will surrender her life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I would encourage you to spend even more time than you hopefully already do in the Bible. You are no doubt familiar with Jesus’ command to us that we are to be perfect, just as our Father in Heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). If you read Luke 10, you’ll see that Jesus, while talking with a teacher of the law, told him that, in order to avoid “outer darkness” (Jesus didn’t use that exact term, but “outer darkness” and eternal death/torment is the opposite of eternal life and heaven) he had to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself – and that sounds like perfection to me.
I know that I am not perfect. Which means that even if I were to live perfectly from this point on for the rest of my life, it would already be too late for me as I have already committed “crimes” against God. (although, yes, even though my sins are forgiven I do strive to live as Jesus would have me)
I wonder how you will ever be able to achieve perfection? What a tremendously heavy burden to bear. How hard it would be to live a perfect life – to have never told a lie (hopefully you haven’t already told one, because, anyone that has told one lie has become a liar), or stolen something from someone (especially easy to do when we are young), and have never wanted something that belongs to someone else (which is – obviously – coveting).
I encourage you to examine your life and see whether you are perfect – or whether you have committed one of the crimes that is listed in Revelation 21:8:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.The lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (which is the second death) is not someplace where you would want to spend eternity – and these are not my words – but God’s Word.
Two teenaged girls came up to the booth wanting a balloon. Everyone else was busy so I started making them balloon hats. I asked if they also wanted something to drink but they said they were fine. I shared that we were there doing balloons and giving out drinks and talking about heaven and hell.
I asked them if they knew where they would go when they died, and one hoped for heaven, the other wasn’t sure. I asked what they believed a person had to do to get to heaven – and they had a few guesses but really weren’t sure. We went through the commandments to see if they would be innocent or guilty before God. They both acknowledged that they would be guilty. When I asked where they would spend an eternity they both said “hell.” As I began sharing the gospel with them, it somehow came up in conversation that they were there at the Fair, but not as regular “fair-goers”. They were at a nearby booth with their Church and were handing out water! I couldn’t believe that these two, who were at the Fair likely with the goal of sharing the gospel at their church’s booth, ended up at our booth acknowledging at first that they weren’t sure where they would spend an eternity, and after a few minutes conversation, clearly acknowledging they were both headed for hell! While both seemed interested in the conversation, they didn’t seem too concerned or interested in the solution (even though they did listen as I outlined what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for them).
Sometimes it was interesting to see who would come up to the booth for something to drink. It is very hard for a proud person to accept something for free. There were a number of times that two friends would be walking down the thoroughfare --- one would come over for something to drink and the other would stand back and wait for them. We would usually offer the ‘standing-back-waiting-friend’ something to drink. A lot of times they would accept, but sometimes they said “no, thanks”.
One night after the sun had set we had several fellows stop by that appeared to be in their early 20’s. They were dressed completely in black and had somewhat unkempt/wild hair styles. One had his face painted (it didn’t look like a sport team’s color/pattern). As they somewhat approached the booth, I asked if they would like a balloon – it’s amazing how sometimes others, besides children, enjoy the balloons, and by offering a balloon I knew there would be more time to share the gospel. They said sure – and asked what types of balloons I made. I began going through the list. They eventually settled on a turtle (which is a very small single-balloon animal – whereas some of the wild hats or more complex animals require 4, 5, or even 6 balloons). I started working on the turtle and we began discussing heaven and hell. They were either both really playing along and humoring me, or they were both incredibly receptive. I shared the bad news of the gospel as well as the good and gave them both a detailed tract to read later on. By then I had finished the balloon (I made it very slowly) and they were set. They walked off and I was left picking my jaw up off the ground that they had been open to a balloon and willing to listen to and discuss the gospel.
Another night a young man who was probably about 20 years of age stopped by the booth. He was just standing in front of the booth. I asked if he would like something to drink – and he did. He seemed open, so I began a conversation. I shared the gospel and we talked quite a while. Turns out he had stopped by and talked at length with us last year as well. I probably spent 15-20 minutes (total) with him, and we stepped into the back of the booth so I could give him a Bible and show him a few Scriptures that we had been discussing. At the end of our conversation I prayed for him. The Lord was definitely working in his heart, but he doesn’t seem as if he is willing to surrender quite yet. But he knows that the Holy Spirit will not always convict and that the longer one waits the greater the danger…
Saturday night a young man with many, many piercings happened to stop by (with several of his buddies). He was a former Satanist who had been raised in a Catholic home. He had read the Bible 4 times. To get to heaven, he believes a person has to avoid being a bigot and also not kill anyone that doesn’t deserve to be killed (he didn’t share who makes the decisions on whether a person deserves to be killed). He doesn’t believe God is a loving God. We talked for a few minutes but his spacey answers and constant changing of the subject to something different made me suspect he was high. Instead of prolonging the conversation (which wasn’t getting anywhere) I gave him some tracts and thanked him for stopping by (hopefully he read the tracts later on).
Saturday a young fellow and his (probable) girlfriend stopped by. He was about 18 or 20 years of age. As we began talking/sharing he said he knew where he would spend eternity. I asked where that would be, and he said “Heaven” – and that he sometimes evangelizes a nearby shopping district. I shared that we don’t get to heaven by sharing the gospel with others. We talked for another minute or two and I, out of curiosity, asked if he reads his Bible. Praise the Lord – he does every day. I asked the girlfriend the same question, and was surprised when she, literally, hid behind him because she was either shy or didn’t want to answer. It became obvious that they really weren’t interested in talking more about reading the Bible or what the Bible says about salvation – so they said “goodbye” and headed off.
It was a very good week, despite the time that was invested, and the tremendous heat. Our prayer is that as the Word went forth, it would do a mighty work in hearts, as we know that it will not return unto Him void.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
If you haven’t heard of Gospel for Asia or Gospelink – you need to order the free book: Revolution in World Missions. If possible, I would recommend you consider giving a few dollar donation to cover the cost of the book and shipping – but, whether or not you are able to give anything - I encourage you to get the book!
One thing I will mention: I believe the book leans towards not sending any American's out as missionaries but, instead, using that money to sponsor local missionaries in other countries. I can definitely see the incredible logic in that thought as the average American family costs $3,000+ to keep on the field per month while the average local pastor in Africa or Asia often requires only about $100 month for full support. If you do the math that translates to 30 native pastors (who already know the language) vs. one American family. However, I know that when God calls, a person should respond! Perhaps they are called to the field as a Hudson Taylor (to live as the locals in an inexpensive way), but, when He calls, anyone should answer.Gospel for Asia and Gospelink both allow you to support local pastors that are already on the mission field and that already know the local language. Gospel for Asia works only in India. You are only able to sponsor up to 1/3rd of a missionary (I think it is about $30 or so per month) and you get a report every six months or a year.
Gospelink allows you to sponsor in a variety of countries (Africa and now Asia) and you can partially or fully sponsor a local missionary pastor (full sponsorship is $110 per month). What I really love about Gospelink is that you can personally correspond with your pastor – in fact, they encourage you to do so! In addition, every three months, you will receive a personal letter from your pastor outlining their ministry, how many people they led to the Lord as a result of your support (often an incredible number!), and many times photos will be included.
If you are not already sponsoring a native missionary pastor in a foreign country, I strongly recommend you do so. $110 a month may sound like a lot, but think about that money: it will, in essence, put a full-time missionary onto the field!
The reason I share all this? I have a sister in the Lord that shared a report with me that she had received from the pastor that she fully sponsors. I have transcribed a portion of it below.
(this pastor personally led 19 people to the Lord during the 3-month period that he was reporting about)
“About the preaching of the word and the winning of souls for Christ. God helped me very much.I added the emphasis throughout the report...
“I planned to go for door to door evangelism campaign. Before that I sat for two days of prayers, over that programme. After prayers, I started the work. The first day I visited nine houses and three persons were converted, one repented. The second day I found a man and his wife, and his sister-in-law with her two children.
“They welcomed me and gave me a chair. I introduced my subject telling them that I wanted to share with them the word of God. The woman asked me “Which God do you want to talk about?” I answered that it is God the Creator, the One Who sent Jesus Christ His Son to become the Saviour of the world. She said that, “Us, we do not worship Jesus Christ. We worship God in the name of Kimbangu a great prophet.” I told her that this Kimbangu got his power from Jesus Christ, but you have turned the story and started to worship him as God. The Bible says there is no other name on earth which is above Jesus’ name. Then I told them to believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God to be saved. They said “We will not believe because Jesus you are talking about did nothing for us.” I told them that Jesus did a big work at the cross, He came to die for us and God woke him mightily from the dead that is why He is preached everywhere in the world. He resurrected and appeared to people with the power of fire from the Lord, and now He is at the right hand of God. But Kimbangu is still in the tomb waiting for the day of judgment. I continued telling them to believe in Jesus Christ in order to have eternal life. They said “Not now can we believe, he is a man who was born like any person was born.” Finally they told me to leave and come back another day.
“After three days I fasted and pray for them, then I went to meet them again and found them all three. They welcomed me and presented me a chair. I asked them “Brothers, what do you think about the subject we discussed last week with you about Jesus?” One said that we have nothing to think about Jesus, nevertheless what we want to tell you is that you also, you believe in the name of Kibangu, you will live well and be rich. I stood and said the Word from the Bible, in the book of the prophet Jeremiah: “Cursed is a man who trust in man, who make a man become his hand and in his heart he forget God” (Jeremiah 17:5)
“Then I told them that the day Jesus was being baptized the voice came from heaven saying “This is my beloved Son, in Who I am well pleased” – God did not say about Kimbangu that He was His son, he did neither say it about Mohamed neither Kadima, nor to anybody in this world, but God’s voice spoke about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and Whoever believes in Him should be have eternal life. If you believe in Jesus you become the beloved one of God. And those who have believed in Jesus have been set children of God. They now believed in Jesus Christ and accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour! This happened in Kikala Wamba area, Kamibanga quarter, Kampemba township.”
What a blessing to hear of this man of God: he first spent several days in prayer before going out door-to-door. Then, after a visit, he spent several more days fasting and praying for a particular family before he revisited them. Sometimes, here in America, we think that hearts are hard (and, truly, especially because of riches, they are) but that in Africa hearts are open (and, truly, especially because of poverty, they are), but look at the time spent wrestling against principalities and powers! Perhaps we would see more fruit here in America if we invested that much time in prayer and fasting for the souls of those that are around us!
You may not feel led to begin sponsoring a native missionary pastor right now, but, at least, I ask that you order the free book and read it. You will be challenged and encouraged!
Next I hopeto share some of the testimonies from the County Fair...