Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy "Knew" Year!

[by Pastor Bob Coy at Calvary Chapel, Ft. Lauderdale, FL]

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. --Job 23:10 (NKJV)

"Happy New Year!" Really? How can you be so sure that this upcoming year will be a happy one? Take a moment to look back at last year. Were there any trials? Of course there were, and you can be equally certain that there will be trials in this upcoming year as well.

It's interesting that in describing the storms of life, Jesus always assumed that they would have a place of prominence in our lives. He said "when the storms came" not "if the storms come" (Matthew 7:24). You can mark it down in that brand new calendar that you just got: 2008 will be a year of trials.

Regardless of this fact, we can still have a happy New Year when we recognize that our God is all-knowing. There isn't a single bump in the road that will take Him by surprise this year. Before time even began, He knew all that this year would hold for each of us, making it a "Knew Year."

This truth is a harbor of security in a sea of uncertainty because as we understand that God foresaw everything, we also understand that He allowed it to happen. The Bible further assures us that nothing happens to us unless it is for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). So no matter what trials you go through this upcoming year, you can be certain that they will actually complete your character in Christ.

This is the truth that sustained Job as he went through unparalleled trials in his own life. When things seemed like they couldn't get any worse, Job took comfort in the knowledge that God knew the course of his future and that His ultimate purpose in allowing these things was for him to "come forth as gold." The place of trial became the place of blessing as Job's trials perfected his patience and faith.

Regardless of what this New Year brings, we can rest assured that He knows what we will be dealing with and that He is going to use it for our greater good. Keeping this in mind will make for a very happy Knew Year, indeed!"

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The difference between a Christian and an Atheist

"The difference between a Christian and an atheist is that the atheist waits until turbulence hits before he prays." (Ray Comfort)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Fairest Lord Jesus

Fairest Lord Jesus,

Ruler of all nature.

O Thou of God and man the Son;

Thee will I cherish,

Thee will I honor,

Thou my soul's glory, joy, and crown.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Watch of a shepherd

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

When Ray Comfort sings a Christmas carol . . .

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
What will happen when you die?
Will you go to Heaven or Hell? Jesus knows!
“Emmanuel.”! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
He’s the One who’ll judge us all
Let’s see who will stand or fall…
Have you ever told a lie?
Wished that someone else would die?
Entertained a lusty thought?
Stolen when you should have bought?
Help! We’ve broken God’s Ten Laws!
Who will come to save us all?

That's why Jesus Christ was sent
To be saved you must repent
Died on the cross for all your sin
Repent and put your trust in Him
Mild He laid His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

(Ray Comfort's blog is here)


O Come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,

And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!


Shall come to thee,

O Israel.

Friday, December 21, 2007

To my darling wife:

Glory in the Highest

"Jesus, you have found us
When we wandered far;
When we could not find ourselves
You came to where are.

'Glory in the Highest'
Is more than just a phrase.
Lord, we fall before You now,
Your Holy name we praise.

Glory in the Highest!
Lust the song begin!
joy has come into our world;
Let us worship Him!

Glory in the Highest!
Worthy is our King!
Come let us adore Him,
And bring Him everything."

(Gloria Gaither)

What do you say when you get a gift you *Really Don't Like*.

10. "Well, well, well, now, there's a gift!"

9. "No, with all the hostile takeovers this year, I missed the big Ronco/K-Tel/Ginsu merger. Would you just look at that! What will they think of next?!"

8. "Hey, as long as I don't have to feed it, or clean up after it, or put batteries in it, I'm happy!"

7. "No, really, I didn't know that there was a Chia Pet tie! Oh, wow! It's a clip-on too!"

6. "You know, I always wanted one of these! Jog my memory -- what's it called again?"

5. "You know what? -- I'm going to find a special place to put this!"

4. "Boy, you don't see craftsmanship like that every day!"

3. "And it's such an interesting color too!"

2. "You say that was the last one? Am I ever glad that you snapped that baby up!"

And the number one thing to say about the Christmas gifts you didn't like is: "You shouldn't have! I mean it -- you really shouldn't have!"

(from Crosswalk)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ups and Downs at a Higher Elevation

“My wife and I once traveled from San Antonio in Texas to Mexico City. South of the muddy Rio Grande border, we found the plains of northern Mexico very dusty, dirty, hot, mosquito-infested, water-polluted and generally miserable. Up and down we went, along the dusty roads, through shabby towns, up and down but never out of the summer discomfort of the tierra caliente of Mexico.

At long last we reached the little town of Tamazunchale (nicknamed Thomas and Charlie by gringo tourists) where the road began to climb up through the mountains to the wonderful plateau of Mexico, the delightful tierra temprada where the air was clear, the nights cool, the mosquitoes few, the water pure, and the general conditions bracing. So we continued at an elevation of seven thousand feet, up and down but always much, much higher than the highest part of the plains, until we reached the capital city in the “Bowl of the Gods”.

The Victorious Life has its ups and downs, but at an elevation far removed from the depressing ups and downs of the carnal life. There is a plateau of high and holy Christian living. ‘Lord, lift me up, and let me stand by faith on heaven’s tableland!’”

J. Edwin Orr, Chapter 10, “Sanctification Threefold.” Full Surrender.

“Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15)

“When St. Paul calls Christ God’s ‘unspeakable Gift,” he is not toying with exaggerating superlatives, polishing his style with impressive phraseology. The blessing of the Savior’s Gospel was as inexplicable to him as it must be to us. The Apostle uses a term here which means: “one ‘cannot bring out’ or ‘express’ the blessing, the fullness, the glory, the riches, the value, of this divine gift. If St. Paul, acknowledged even by the Christless world as a master of logic, expression, and rhetoric, asserts that God’s Christmas gift to the world defies all description, where will we find words or pictures, poetry of painting, that can reproduce in full majesty the limitless love of our Lord Jesus?

No sacred oratorio, not even the unforgettable strains of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and it s climax in the stirring ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ or the artistry of Bach’s ‘Christmas Oratorio,” can be classed with the angel chorus reechoing over Bethlehem; and even the angel voices could not sing the full glory of Christ.

All the hands of genius painting nativity scenes, the fifty-six madonnas of Raphael, or an art gallery graced with the masterpieces of the ages that have depicted the Christ-child can truly delineate the personal blessings of Bethlehem. No poetry, not even the sacred lines of our hymnals, the measured stateliness of any nativity ode, not even the ancient psalms of inspired prophecy, can fully express the height and depth of God’s love in Christ. The heart of Christmas remains unspeakable in its beauty, immeasurable in its power, unutterable in its glory.”

[Walter A. Maier (1893 – 1950). Called "Jeremiah of the 20th Century," Dr. Walter A. Maier was the preachingest preacher in the world during the 1940s, operating through twelve hundred radio stations in a number of different languages.]

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

“And he brought him to Jesus.” (John 1:42)

"Andrew became a soul-winner at once. He quickly found his brother and brought him to Jesus. We can learn valuable lessons from him. To be a soul-winner one must first himself be a follower of Jesus. Men who have never seen the beauties of the Lord are not fit to tell others about Him. One of the surest signs that you are born again is your desire to see others saved. Andrew does not appear to have been brilliant. He was just a man or ordinary capacities. He was just a young convert. But he was able to win a soul. Your ability to be a soul-winner does not depend upon whether you have a college education--it depends upon your love for Christ and your fellow men. God loves to take the weak things of the world and confound the wise. He can use our talents today if you really love Him."

Charles E. Fuller, Dec. 19. Manna in the Morning. Boston: Fellowship Press, 1943.

Must it even be fed?

J. Edwin Orr tells of meeting a “pastor describing the war between the Old and New Natures, concluding that the Old Nature could not be defeated in this life. He quoted a well-known story of a Hopi Indian, giving his testimony in a meeting crowded with braves and squaws. The big man told his audience that, before his conversion, he used to go to town on Saturday night and get drunk, and then his big black dog used to bite everybody. After Jesus Christ came into his life, He gave him a great white dog, which liked to help everybody. But now the two dogs, fought against each other. A chief sitting on the front seat asked the important question: ‘Which dog winning?’ Said the brave, after careful reflection: ‘Whichever dog I feed the most!’

I expected the pastor to say: ‘That’s a picture of a carnal Christian!’ Instead he said that it was a picture of a Christian until the day of his death.

So I sought out the preacher, and spoke with him in this way: ‘There are some Christians who say that we can shoot the old black dog dead, but they agree that we can raise another black pup; so let’s not bother about that. But don’t you believe that it is possible to chain the old black dog up to keep him from doing damage? And don’t you believe that it is possible not to feed the old black dog at all?’

J. Edwin Orr, Chapter 10, “Sanctification Threefold.” Full Surrender.

Star of Bethlehem

As shadows cast by cloud and sun
Flit o'er the summer grass,
So, in thy sight, Almighty One,
Earth's generations pass.
And while the years, an endless host,
Come pressing swiftly on,
The brightest names that earth can boast
Just glisten and are gone.

Yet doth the Star of Bethlehem shed
A luster pure and sweet,
And still it leads, as once it led,
To the Messiah's feet.
0 Father, may that holy star
Grow every year more bright,
And send its glorious beams afar
To fill the world with light.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Difference Between Forgiveness and Cleansing

“There is a difference between forgiveness and cleansing. Hitherto, I had always regarded the promises of 1 John 1:9, “He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, as two ways of describing the same blessing. But I have come to see that two different things are promised therein. The things that are forgiven are “sins”, acts of sin, specific sins; the thing that is cleansed is the whole personality, cleansed from all unrighteousness.

My small boy, David, was once told not to play in the tempting mud puddle. He disobeyed. To his dismay, he discovered that the muddy evidence of his disobedience was written all over his face and hands and knees and clothes. Fearing just punishment, he stayed out late, until the twin forces of fear of the dark and miserable hunger drove him in. By this time, we were so relieved to see him that we forgave him promptly. But as soon as he was forgiven, his mother took him to the bathroom, and stripped off his dirty clothes, washed his dirty face and hands and knees, and then put him into the tub for a complete bath, finally deciding to give him a shampoo. So he went to bed, not only forgiven of his disobedience, but as clean as a new pin.”

J. Edwin Orr, Chapter 9, “The Cleansing of the Christian.” Full Surrender.

The Shepherd Speaks

"Out of the midnight sky a great dawn broke,
And a voice singing flooded us with song,
In David's city was He born, it sang,
A Saviour, Christ the Lord. Then while I sat
Shivering with the thrill of that great cry,
A mighty choir a thousand-fold more sweet
Suddenly sang, Glory to God, and Peace--
Peace on the earth; my heart, almost unnerved
By that swift loveliness, would hardly beat.
Speechless we waited till the accustomed night
Gave us no promise more of sweet surprise;
Then scrambling to our feet, without a word
We started through the fields to find the Child."

-- John Erskine

Monday, December 17, 2007

Marcellus, On Christmas

“Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes

Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,

The bird of dawning singeth all night long:

And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;

The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,

No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.”

(William Shakespeare. “Hamlet”, Act 1, Scene 1)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On Profanity

[If you are so inclined, please note the challenge in the final paragraph.]

“As a chaplain in the Forces overseas, I can say quite simply that to me profanity was a sorer trial than any terror of war. Profanity included vulgarity, lewdness, sacrilege, blasphemy, and horrible mixtures of all four. By far the worst was the taking in vain of the name of the Lord. The men used to tell me that they meant nothing by it, that they were not even thinking of God when they thus mentioned His name. Nevertheless, the Lord did not hold them guiltless while taking His name in vain.

I found that men swore either to shock people, to be mean, or to hide inferiority. Their profanity showed a lack of education, breeding and character. It lowered self-respect, cheapened the better things and defiled the whole personality. It shocked people of good taste, provoked contempt, fouled the atmosphere, set a bad example, and disqualified men for decent society. Worst of all, it offended God.

Upon return to civilian life, I discovered that many men who no longer moved in circles where foul language prevailed switched to minced oaths. Unfortunately, a large number of professing Christians adopted the same silly and subtle vocabulary of simulated swear-words. According to the Webster Unabridged Dictionary, such words as “gosh” or “gee” are minced oaths, euphemisms for “God” or “Jesus”. A minced oath is recognizable by similarity of constants or vowels occurring in the original oath. Everyone should recognize “darn” as a substitute for “damn”, “heck” as a substitute for “hell”, and other words as a substitute for expressions too crude to be hinted at in print. Expletives beginning with “g”, “j”, or “c” should always be suspect. Expressions beginning with the preposition “by” are nearly always substitute swear words even if their point is blunted by the use of some derelict god or other ridiculous name.

For a Christian to excuse his substitute oaths by saying that he means nothing by them, and is not even thinking of the significance of the words, sounds like the excuse of profane swearers overseas. It jars one’s tender memory to hear professing Christians, including leaders, use words which had an ugly origin in vulgarity or lewdness. One even hears nice old ladies use expressions which in their original form would shock the users speechless. The best way to avoid using language which sounds profane to the initiate is to avoid using extravagant expletives. The obedient Christian wants to avoid the very semblance of evil. Experience has proved that a new convert can eliminate minced oaths.

Let the person who is inclined to scoff at condemnation of fashionable expletives remember that Christ Himself taught that unnecessarily garnished language is a product of evil. The Lord’s brother, James taught that the man who controls his tongue can control his whole personality, so let the scoffer try to eliminate his questionable epithets for a month. If he cannot do it, he is in bondage to a bad habit; if he can do it he will find that the habit is unnecessary. The English language has the richest vocabulary in the world, yet some verbal cripples have to hobble along with questionable crutch words.”

J. Edwin Orr, Chapter 5, “Sins of the Tongue,” Full Surrender.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Church fads in 3 years

My good friend and brother-in-Christ, Derek, has concisely described what church fads will be like in as little as three years. His insight is worth the consideration, so view it here.


“The most effective prayer for a heart-hungry believer is an Old Testament petition found in the Psalms of David (Psalms 139:23-24):

'Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my thoughts;
And see if there be a way of grief in me,
And lead me in the way of eternity.'

I never fully understood the significance of this prayer until I heard the verse translated into the Scandinavian tongues. There the word “search” is rendered “ransack”. It takes little imagination to picture the thoroughness of a job of ransacking as compared to mere searching. Ransacking turns things upside down and brings to light things that are hidden or forgotten. In time of backsliding, the Spirit is quenched, and as life goes on the natural tendency is for a convicted person to forget the unpleasant episode. In conviction of sin, the debris of ordinary living is swept aside and the offending thing is brought to attention. Hence, if the believers are to avoid superficiality in confession, a thorough ransacking of the heart is necessary.”

J. Edwin Orr, Chapter 4, “The Searching of the Heart,” Full Surrender.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The One Who Forgives is the One Who Suffers

“[A]n Irish friend of mine borrowed a sum of money from me. He had been gambling and was in danger of losing his job. He agreed to pay me back weekly installments, but never did. I felt annoyed whit the fellow for a couple of years. Finally I decided to forgive him. But who suffered? The debtor or the creditor? The sinner or the sinned against? Obviously the sinned against. I could have taken him to court, in the which case he have suffered. How much would he have suffered? The amount that he owed me! Instead I forgave him, and so I suffered; and I suffered the amount that he owed me, that I had forgiven him. Thus I learned a second principle of forgiveness---the one who forgives is the one who suffers.

Such reflections made the Cross more real to me. It was necessary for someone to suffer, for someone had to pay. But the one who forgives is the one who suffers, so it was necessary for Christ to suffer. Moses could hot have suffered the Cross, not Jeremiah, nor Peter, nor Paul. It had to be God, the only One who could forgive. And Christ Jesus was God made manifest in the flesh.”

J. Edwin Orr, Chapter 2, “Forgiveness of Sins” Full Surrender

A Puritan a Month

Timmy Brister has compiled the following direction that I will prayerfully consume this next year:

"Commit to reading one Puritan Paperback a month. You can do this by blocking out 30 minutes each day (~10 pages) after personal Bible reading as supplementary to your spiritual growth. To make it easy for you, I have created a sample monthly reading list below.

January: The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes (128 pp)
February: The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel (221 pp)
March: The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson (252 pp)
April: Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks (253 pp)
May: Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan (225 pp)
June: The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (130 pp)
July: A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge (287 pp)
August: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (228 pp)
September: The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton (224 pp)
October: The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie (207 pp)
November: The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter (256 pp)
December: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine (148 pp)"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Broken Vows"

"No one told Ananias and Sapphira that they had must sell their property in order to remain in Christian fellowship. No one compelled them to offer the proceeds to the general fund of the infant Christian Church. Their maximum inducement was the power of godly example and exhortation. They saw others making a financial sacrifice, so they thought of a way whereby they might gain like approval without making the full sacrifice.

Likewise, the acts of consecration made by Christians today are all voluntary. No one is told that he must spend so much time in prayer in order to remain in fellowship. Neither is any one told that he must give a tenth or more in order to be recognized as a Christian. Nor is any one told that he must witness to so many people each week in order to prove that he is a believer. These things are done, but on account of godly example and exhortation rather than by compulsion.
Another noteworthy fact is that Ananias and Sapphira were unaware of the seriousness of their offence. They appeared to be unaware of any offence against God at all. The Apostle Peter told the husband, "You have not lied to men but to God!" one cannot imagine that Ananias and Sapphira sat together in conference and planned to tell a lie to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was far from their thoughts. The Apostle asked them how they had schemed such a thing in their hearts, but it does not seem likely that either husband or wife fancied themselves in a battle of wits against the Holy Spirit. They were unaware of His involvement.

So it is with Christians today. They scheme and plan and cheat and deceive in ways that involve the Holy Spirit, who cannot ignore broken vows. But the offenders are generally unaware of their offence. They think that it concerns themselves alone, and that failure is their own affair.

"How is it," asked the Apostle, "that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?"

Ananias and Sapphira made an agreement together to sell their land and keep back part of the price, but it seems unlikely that they discussed the matter to the extent of saying, "Let us see how far we can provoke the Holy Spirit in this way!" The Holy Spirit was not in their thoughts.

And today many Christians, by keeping back part of the price of consecration, by making vows that are speedily broken, are guilty of provoking the Holy Spirit. No wonder they are making little or no progress in spiritual things. The fact that they have not suffered severely is but evidence if the long-suffering of God in times of spiritual decline."

Orr, James Edwin. Full Surrender. Chapter 1, "Broken Vows."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"A Destructive Ministry Also is Necessary"

J. Edwin Orr tells of the tour where, "we walked round a beautiful garden which occupied a former piece of waste land. The gardener showed us round. 'Those are beautiful roses,' we said to him. 'I planted them,' replied the gardener, with justified pride. 'What a beautifully-cut hedge!' we remarked next. 'I trimmed that,' he said.

At the garden gate, we found an old fellow watching a smoking heap of refuse. 'What have you been doing?'

'Working at the garden,' he said.

'Well then, what have you to show for your labour?'

'Nothing, Sir,' he replied.

'Then you cannot have been working!' we told him.

'Sir,' he asserted, 'When we came here, this garden was a piece of waste land, overgrown with weeds, full of stones and sand, swampy in one corner, and pretty hopeless all round.' We got interested. 'Well, sir,' he went on, 'I broke up the land, and I destroyed the weeds, and dug out the stones, and carted away the sand, and it was my job to drain the swampy corner.' We listened with growing appreciation. 'I am saying nothing against the other fellow who planted the garden. He did his job well. But where would his planting come in if I hadn't first rooted out and destroyed the weeds?'

Both men's labour was necessary, but the rooting-out and destruction of weeds preceded the planting of flowers and shrubs."

Read J. Edwin Orr's article here.

Friday, December 07, 2007

How to wrap presents (with a cat)


1. Clear large space on table for wrapping present.

2. Go to wardrobe and collect bag in which present is contained, and close door.

3. Open door and remove cat from wardrobe.

4. Go to cupboard and retrieve rolls of wrapping paper.

5. Go back and remove cat from cupboard.

6. Go to drawer and collect transparent sticky tape, ribbons, scissors, labels, etc.

7. Lay out present and wrapping materials on table, to enable wrapping strategy to be formed.

8. Go back to drawer to get string, remove cat that has been in the drawer since last visit, and collect string.

9. Remove present from bag.

10. Remove cat from bag.

11. Open box to check present, remove cat from box, replace present.

12. Lay out paper to enable cutting to size.

13. Cut the paper to size, trying to keep the cutting line straight.

14. Throw away first sheet because cat tried to chase the scissors and tore paper.

15. Cut second sheet of paper to size by putting cat in the bag the present came out of.

16. Place present on cut-to-size paper.

17. Lift up edges of paper to seal in present, wonder why edges now don't reach, and find cat between present and paper. Remove cat and retry.

18. Place object on paper, to hold in place, while cutting transparent sticky tape.

19. Spend next 20 minutes carefully trying to remove transparent sticky tape from cat with pair of nail scissors.

20. Seal paper down with transparent sticky tape, making corners as neat as possible.

21. Look for roll of ribbon; chase cat down hall and retrieve ribbon.

22. Try to wrap present with ribbon in a two-directional turn.

23. Re-roll up ribbon and remove paper that is now torn, due to cat's enthusiasm in chasing ribbon end.

24. Repeat steps 12-22 until down to last sheet of paper.

25. Decide to skip steps 12-16 in order to save time and reduce risk of losing last sheet of paper. Retrieve old cardboard box that you know is right size for sheet of paper.

26. Put present in box, and tie down with string.

27. Remove string, open box and remove cat.

28. Put all packing materials in bag with present and head for lockable room.

29. Once inside room, lock door and start to re-lay out packing materials.

30. Remove cat from box, unlock door, put cat outside door, close door and re-lock.

31. Lay out last sheet of paper. (Admittedly this is difficult in the small area of the toilet, but try your best!)

32. Seal box, wrap with paper and start repairs by very carefully sealing down tears with transparent sticky tape. Now tie up with ribbon and decorate with bows to hide worst affected areas.

33. Label, then sit back and admire your handiwork, congratulating yourself on making good of a bad job.

34. Unlock door, and go to kitchen to make drink and feed cat.

35. Spend next 15 minutes looking for cat, before coming to obvious conclusion.

36. Unwrap present, untie box and remove cat.

37. Retrieve all discarded sheets of wrapping paper, feed cat and retire to lockable room for last attempt, making certain you are alone and the door is locked.

38. At time of handing over present, smile sweetly at receiver's face, as they try and hide their contempt at being handed such a badly wrapped present.

39. Vow to yourself that next year, you will get the store to wrap the thing for you.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Five Points Friday, 11/30/07: Midnight Psychology and "Who's got the Money?"

How wonderful it was to return to the street after missing a couple of weeks (one, to illness and another to Thanksgiving). Nick was not able to lead the team, so we met and prayed about my stepping in for the week. Our training time started off rather small, but by prayer and worship time, we had a dozen people.

One change we have enjoyed in our training time is that, instead of watching a video or taking in yet another lesson, we’ve been walking our way through the book of Acts. When we started a few weeks ago, we were listening to chapters 1-4 being read in the ESV. The next week we listed to chapters 5-8. This week we did not have the CD, but why not do it the old way? We read chapters 9-12 out loud together then shared some thoughts as we took in the sounds and sights of God’s Spirit at work in the early church.

What a wonderful reminder that this is not our work, but His work being done through obedient servants. When we go down to Five Points, the people there are not exactly looking for us to come; rather, we are the buzz-kill. We Christians are the pests, the fanatics. Yes, I suppose we are fanatical about forgiveness of sin and eternal life, which is why when the LORD says, “Go!” we say, “How far?” and He says, “all the world!” WOO HOO! Fanatics about forgiveness and life telling fanatics about death and hell about the love of God. Oh, how we need to pray!

Preparing for our prayer time, I brought a chapter of R.A. Torrey’s book, “How to Pray,” reminding us that prayer is not merely saying words with closed eyes, but using words to frame God’s truth into our lives, that we may obey Him and let Him be successful. I read from the second chapter on Acts 12:5, “Praying Unto God:” 1) Prayer is coming into God’s presence; therefore beware the wandering mind; 2) prayer is without ceasing; that is, with intense desire or “stretch-out-ed-ly;” and 3) prayer is powerful when in unity of fellowship. After a wonderful time in prayer and worship, we hit the streets.

We crossed paths with another ministry team from Northeast Columbia. I love it when new teams cross paths because we approach each other with tracts in hand, not knowing what is going to happen, but when the tracts come out, we enjoy a wonderful laugh and time of fellowship, introductions all around, then we spread out again with the good news.

I made some new tracts (Beer Trivia, and a Rock Music Trivia tract) and they were going like hot-cakes. A very tall young man crossed the street and I got him as he stepped up the curb, “Didja get one of these?” I held out a Rock Music tract. I asked, “Do you recognize any of these names?” I asked. He looked them over: Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix . . . he smiled when he saw Hendrix.

“Do you know what all these folks have in common?” I asked.
“They sang rock music,” he said. I pointed out that they all died at the age of 27, and I gave him some details. We talked about their musical influences and styles, then I asked how old he was. “19,” he said, looking down at me (did I say he was tall?).

I looked up into his chest and said, “If the average person dies at the age of 70, you have just over 2500 weekends left to live. What are you going to do with your time?”

He looked down at me, eyeballs nearly bugging out of his head when he thought about how much time he really did not have to live. I asked him about school. He attends Benedict College, but is looking to transfer out. I pressed him about what field of study he was interested in, with just over 2500 weekends left to live, assuming nothing else happened between now and age 70.

Psychology. I smiled. “Do you know what I am doing out here tonight?” I asked. He shook his head. “Psychology,” I replied. “Do you know what that words means?” He thought he did, but was not sure. “Something to do with the mind”, he said.

“Not exactly. Psychology is the study of the soul. How’s your soul? What are you like on the inside?” I asked.

“I really don’t know,” the boy said, a thoughtful smile growing as he crossed him arms, stroking his chin.

“Let’s do a little soul-study and see what kind of person you really are. Would you consider yourself to be a ‘Good Person’?” I asked.

“No,” he said.

I thanked him for his honesty, but pressed on. “How do you know you are not a ‘Good Person’? What is your standard of measurement?” He shrugged. He new he was not a good person, but was bothered that he could not tell how he knew. “Something going off in your conscience?” I asked. He laughed nervously and said “yes”.

I said, “Tell you what. Let’s look at the Ten Commandments and see how you do.” He took a step backward and he continued laughing nervously, hands waving that “no, no!” sign.

“Have you ever told a lie,” I asked.

“Yes,” he admitted, well engaged and intrigued.

“So what does that make you? What are people called who tell lies?” I asked.

“Liars,” he admitted, and laughed.

“Have you ever stolen anything?” I held up one finger, and went on.

“Yes,” he said a bit more slowly, still smiling and intrigued.

“What are people called who steal things?” I wanted to know.

“Thieves,” he admitted.

“Have you ever committed adultery?” I pressed, now holding up two fingers.

“No! I’m not married!” he said with an aire of relief, staring at my fingers.

“Jesus said that if you’ve looked at a woman with lust, you’ve committed adultery with her already in your heart. Have you ever looked with lust?” I held up three fingers as he hung his head down with that “I’m so busted” look. He kept smiling out of embarrassment.

After admitting to taking God’s name in vain, using God’s name as a curse-word I reviewed our conversation so far, that he admitted he was not a good person but did not know why, though his conscience told him so. I ran through my four now-raised fingers, reminding him that he admitted to being a liar, a thief, and an adulterous blasphemer at heart. What did he think of my soul-study? He shook his head in astonishment, the nervous smile still ever-present.

“If God were to judge you by the Ten Commandments, would be innocent or guilty?”

“Guilty,” he said.

“Would you go to heaven or hell?” I asked.

Here two things happened simultaneously. Just as he was about to balk, we were interrupted by a well-meaning individual, but the conversation was almost lost because of the interruption. I usually expect some kind of interruption somewhere around this point.

When I got the conversation back, my new friend was ready with questions: “What about other religions?” He felt he was sincere, though I usually hear something like this about this point. I asked him if he knew what Jesus thought about other religions, “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” His arms crossed as his hand went to stroke his chin in contemplation. His response?

He told me that he felt the purpose of anyone in life is to basically wander until they discovered their purpose in life. Nobody really knows what they are supposed to do until they “discover” it.

We talked for a while about the absolutes of how the conscience dictates guilt when he admitted to breaking God’s laws—everyone is in the same predicament (sin = lawlessness). I also told him that his purpose in life is spelled out plainly in scripture, that we are to love the Lord God will all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love anything or anyone else, even to set out to discover our own purpose is to love ourselves more than God.

He thought some more, then came back with another objection, that Jesus rejected worship and only wanted to teach people how to worship God, and that God does not hate anyone. I showed him some passages (Psalm 5, to name one) that showed what God thinks of sin and sinners, trying to help him understand God’s desire to not see anyone perish, but that all would come to repentance. He tried to tell me that the Bible does not command repentance, so I showed him it did (Acts 17:30)!

I pulled out my Romans Road gospel tract and walked him through it, explaining the substitutionary atonement and pleaded with him to do more than think about what was being said. Then I asked if I could pray for him. His eyes grew huge again, and he looked down at me with incredulity. “Right here? Now? In front of everybody?”

“You bet,” I told him, and I took off my hat (it was 40 degrees) and prayed that God would continue to speak to his conscience, that he would go home and read the gospels and make that life-changing discovery.

Though he listened, he finally gave me his reason for not repenting. He “did not want to give up the good life.” I shared with him the difference between the life he was now living and an abundant life. As a typical 19 year-old, he wanted to party and was in control of his own life. I shared my testimony and contrasted the life I thought would be my own with the abundant life in Christ Jesus. “Besides,” I concluded, “you can’t control your own body functions. What makes you think you can control your own life?”

He shook my hand, thanked me for talking with him and made his way down the sidewalk.

I will close this by telling you that one other team member brought some song books and we stood on the corner and sang some Christmas songs and some evangelistic songs together. At one point a small crowd gathered and someone threw money at our feet. Not long after that two tipsy young ladies came along and sang with us, and that produced a convoluted conversation that I will not attempt to reconstruct here. I only stressed the need to repent, for God does not allow drunks in heaven (1 Cor 6:9-10, Rev. 21:8).

About 1:30 in the morning, after I got home, a thought hit me: I didn’t pick up the money. My partner didn’t either. Oh well.

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