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Monday, March 31, 2008

Summer Courses in Muslim Studies

The Zwemer Center For Muslim Studies at Columbia International University offers courses to help you understand Islam and Muslims for field worker candidates, workers on home leave, professional tentmakers in an Islamic country, pastors serving where there is a growing number of Muslims, and students sensing God's call to work among Muslim people groups. Scholarships are available.

Current course offerings for Summer 2008 (credit/seminar):

ICS/MIS 5020 Islam through Christian and Muslim Eyes, June 23-27;
ICS/MIS 6072 Responding to Muslim Concerns, June 30-July 4;
ICS/MIS 6013 The Spirit World of Islam, July 7-11;
ICS/MIS 6071 Approaches to Muslims, July 14-18;
ICS/MIS 6037 The Sacred Sources of Islam, July 21-25;

Courses through Distance Learning (can be taken "any time" from home):

ICS/MIS 5020 Islam through Christian and Muslim Eyes;
ICS/MIS 6051 Understanding Muslim Women.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

How Not To Be Afraid Of Your Own Shadow; Or, “A Call To Witness”

“If the gospel be not preached, Jesus Christ is, as it were, buried. Therefore, let us stand as witnesses, and do Him this honor, when we see all the world so far out of the way; and remain steadfast in this wholesome doctrine. . . .

Let us not deceive Jesus Christ in the testimony we owe Him, by stopping our mouths, when it is needful to maintain His honor, and the authority of His gospel. Yea, and when we see our brethren afflicted for the cause of God, let us join with them, and assist them in their affliction. Let us not be shaken by the tempests that arise, but let us always remain constant in our purpose; and stand as witnesses for the Son of God, seeing He is so gracious as to use us in such a good cause. Let us mark well, whether men suffer for their sins, or for the truth of God . . . .


Every man will confess this: but they add, we are weak, and shall quickly be beaten down by the cruelty of our enemies. But St. Paul taketh away this excuse, by saying, God will strengthen us, and that we must not look to our own strength. For it is certain, if we never come into conflicts with our enemies, we shall be afraid of our own shadows. Seeing we know this weakness, let us come to the remedy. We must consider how hard it is to withstand our enemies; therefore let us humble ourselves before God, and pray Him to extend His hand, and uphold us in all our afflictions. If this doctrine were well imprinted in our hearts, we should be better prepared to suffer than we are . . . .”

(From John Calvin’s “A Call To Witness”)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Greetings!

On a recent shopping trip, as I was leaving the register area, the cashier said, "Have a blessed day!" I took it as one of those secret sayings just among us Christians. Whether or not that was her intention, I don't know, but the incident got me thinking about how we greet people and what do we say when they leave our presence. Consider the 20th Psalm where David writes a number of blessings that he give to other people.

"May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!" (20:1) (Help that is perfectly timed)

"May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!" (20:2) (Help that is perfectly secure)

"May He grant you your heart's desire and fulfill your counsel!" (20:4) (Help that is complete)

"May the LORD fulfill all your petitions" (20:5) (Help that is comprehensive)

"May the King answer us in the day we call" (20:9) (Help that is prompt)

(From my friend, Dr. John Williamson, at First Baptist Church of Ridgeway, SC)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Goodnight or Goodbye?

A devoted Christian business man was struck by an automobile and rushed to a hospital. He was informed by the doctors that he had only about two hours to live. He had implicit faith in the goodness of God and in His Word, so to him death was only a gateway leading to the glory of heaven and the presence of God. He had his family called to his side, and thus addressed them:

"Goodnight, my dear Wife. You have been the greatest woman in the world to me. Through sunshine and shadow we have walked together. You have been my inspiration in everything I have undertaken, especially in my walk as a Christian. Many times I have seen the Spirit of God shining in your face. I love you far more than on the day you became my bride. Goodnight, dear; I'll see you in the morning. Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Mary. Mary, you are our firstborn. What a joy you have been to me! How glad I am that in face and spirit you have always reminded me of your mother. I see in you the sweet, beautiful, young woman who left her home to be the builder and keeper of mine. What a Christian you are, Mary! Never forget how your father loved you. Goodnight, Mary, goodnight."

He then turned to his eldest son:

"Goodnight, Will. Will, your coming into our home has been an incredible blessing. You were a manly boy, and you have become an exemplary man. You love the God of your father. How proud I am of such a son! May you grow in every Christian grace and virtue. You have my love and blessing. Goodnight, Will, goodnight."

Charlie was the next. Charlie had fallen under evil influences and grievously disappointed his father and mother. The dying man skipped him, and spoke to the youngest child, a beautiful young girl.

"Goodnight, Grace. Grace, your coming was like the breaking of a new day in our home. You have long been a song of gladness and a ray of light, filling our hearts with music. When you surrendered your life to Christ, my cup of happiness was filled to overflowing. Goodnight, my little Grace, goodnight."

He then called Charlie to his side:

"Goodbye, Charlie. Charlie, what a promising boy you were. We believed you would develop into a great and noble man. We gave you all the opportunities we gave to the other children, but you have disappointed us. You have followed the broad and downward road. You have not heeded the warnings of God's holy Word or hearkened to the call of the Saviour. But I have always loved you, and love you still, Charlie. God only knows how much I love you. Goodbye, Charlie, goodbye, goodbye."

Charlie seized his father's hand and between his sobs he cried out, "Father, why have you said 'goodnight' to the others and 'goodbye' to me?"

"For the simple reason that I will meet the others in heaven. But all the promises of God's Word that assure us of a reunion also tell me I can have no hope of seeing you there. Goodbye, Charlie, goodbye!"

Charlie, realizing his lost condition, fell on his knees by his dying father's bed and cried out to God in the agony of his soul, praying for the forgiveness of his sins and the hope of meeting his father again.


"Do you mean it, Charlie? Are you in earnest?"


"God knows I am," said the brokenhearted young man.


"Then God has heard you and saved you, Charlie. It is goodnight and not goodbye. "Goodnight, my boy." With this the father was gone into eternity.


Charlie became a preacher of the gospel, telling souls to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15).

(Posted with permission of Moments With The Book)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Expelled, The Movie

Ben Stein has given us a must-see documentary.

What will you lose to see it?
What will it cost to think?

Click on the Banner for the site.


Playing from the Penalty Box

Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 43:25; 1 John 3:18-22; James 4:13-16; Micah 4:2

The Lord our God is enthroned on High, and we live in His world unstunned by His glory. The angels in God’s presence don’t dare to look or be uncovered in His sight; yet they dare not look at anything but Him nor do anything that is not pleasing to Him. They dare not say anything beyond calling out who He is. They are not merely overcome with astonishment, but are mobilized by the fear of who He is. Men live, move and have their being without guilt or shame, uncovered with high-handed sin in His sight. There is no fear of God before our eyes. If we did fear Him, He would receive much higher praise, louder and longer praise by all we say and do.

Einstein had so little use for organized religion, although he strikes me as a basically very religious man. He must have looked at what the preachers said about God and felt that they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty than they had every imagined, and they were just not talking about the real thing. My guess is that he simply felt that religions he’d run across did not have proper respect . . . for the author of the universe.” (Charles Misner, quoted in First Things 18, December 1991).

The other night a 12-year old in Los Angeles came to the realization that God must not only be real, but must be much bigger than Christians make Him out to be. She struggled with her own belief because she saw too much unbelief from those who said they believed.[i] Where is the awe?


A pastor recently described how he, after years of ministry, realized was not "experiencing" God, so he set off on a 6 month "journey" to do just that. Disappointment after disappointment was what he found instead. Then, through a communion service, he was challenged to "get IT" (whatever "it" was) and restructured his entire church that has since become an influential movement. The distinctives are "enhancing experience" that individuals can contact God through how they participate in corporate worship. What about daily obedience by walking in the Word through prayer and faith? Must God be engineered a "creative atmosphere" for Him to work? What kind of God is that that leaves men to chase warm fuzzies and go about their lives struggling for victory over seven deadly sins?

Isaiah could not help but see God, for Isaiah saw God’s omnipresence and omnipotence, “the whole earth is full of God’s glory” and what he saw devastated him. Men see Him and His glory and turn from what they know to be true about Him because they are satisfied with smallness. Man seeks to preserve himself in his own glory. There is no fear of God before men’s eyes.

Yet, for His good and to His advantage God blots out mine and your violations of His law. For His own ends, purpose and benefit God will not remember the sins of the one who turns from them. God extends to mankind the benefits of what He has accomplished for His good—reconciliation! Why would we choose to keep our acts of irreverence, desecration, and infringements? This does not work when we play our sports—we demand abiding by the rules or the game is unfair, the referee unjust! Yet men yell at God for enforcing the rules and are convinced they meant to play the game out-of-bounds, offsides, and from the penalty box. The reason man does this is because he loves himself too much.

’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37–40)

When we love God, it should show immensely. His grandeur must burst through our seams and He must receive what is rightly His own. Consider: what we do should confirm what we say. If our walk was true to our talk today, as is reflected even in our worship, then we are on a slow hike with tiny steps, getting nowhere fast. We were meant to take great strides, fueled by the refreshing spring of grace and mercy found in the living water of the Lord Jesus Christ! Climb, climb up Sunshine Mountain, where the heavenly breezes blow! But we cannot until we turn from the valley of sin and doubting and have looked up to the sky!

This is the life “stunned by the gospel:” Because the Lord wills, we will by prayer and faith under the authority of His word reap the joy of victorious Christian living! The one that has been devastated by His holiness and has received what He has provided in blood-payment is under compulsion to greatly stride, proclaiming His glory with His majesty filling our view!

But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” (Micah 4:2)



************

[i] An hour later, God broke through and she repented of her sins and placed her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. She is now a child of the King!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wretched TV

Starting March 31 at 10:00 p.m., FamilyNet is going “Wretched.” He’s freakishly tall, he’s funny.

He can even tell you who Herman is . . .

“If God trusted the revelation of the Living Word to the written Word, then so can we.”

“The message of salvation can be presented through means of the printed page. It never flinches, it never grows tired, never grows disheartened; it works while we sleep; it travels cheaply and requires no rented building; it never loses its temper; and it works long after we are dead. The printed page is a visitor which gets inside the home and stays there; it always catches a man in the right mood, for it speaks to him only when he is reading it; it always sticks to what it has said, and never answers back.

The printed page is deathless: you can destroy one, but the press can reproduce millions. As often as it is martyred it is raised. It can enter doors locked to the evangelist; it preaches in the factory, the train, the kitchen; it visits the school and the jail; it whispers in the ear of the dying.

The printed message can reach those whose religions forbid them to go to church. It can reach the student who, proud of his intellectualism, refuses to listen to the Gospel or relate himself to it for fear of his fellow students or professors. Away from searching eyes, from the probing investigations of the state, away from the demand of superstitious religion, away from the critical intrusions of friends and family, the message of salvation can be read and understood.

Yes, literature is the link to life. Tomorrow, many missionaries will have to leave their field, but our witnesses can remain. A link -- LITERATURE -- can be left in the hands of national Christians, sensitive to their responsibility and equipped to reach those masses who long for hope beyond their darkness.

Remember, people everywhere are reading. Education has become compulsory for school-age children in most countries. Just since you began reading this, almost 200 new readers have entered the world of the printed page. They are eagerly extending their hand for reading material.

The way to reach the most people in the shortest period of time is with the printed page. Certainly this does not imply that we should neglect other means of evangelism, but the churches of America should awake to the importance of the printed page. Churches, like the proverbial ostrich, have hidden their heads in the sand of neglect, ignorant and indifferent to the value and potential of literature in the evangelization of the lost and growth of believers. It is time to take massive projects, systematically covering countries and metropolitan areas with the printed page. Do not send your missionary to the battlefield without ammunition.

If God trusted the revelation of the Living Word to the written Word, then so can we. We have one task. It is to evangelize the human race with the only Gospel God ever gave. The size and urgency of our task demands the use of the mass media of literature. ‘He is not willing that any should perish.’ Neither am I! Are you?”

--Dr. Oswald J. Smith

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here is an awesome online Bible teaching resource!


Dr. William "Bill" Larkin, professor of Greek and New Testament in the Seminary and School of Missions at Columbia International University, teaches a class at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia (MP3s and some outlines).


1) Here is an extensive list of audio lessons taught by Dr. Larkin.


2) Spring 2008 - The Doctrine of Scripture (new lessons added as they are recorded).

He really wants to you listen.

Monday, March 24, 2008

10 Easy Ways to say, "No."

I'd love to, but...

1 I have to floss my cat.

2 I've dedicated my life to linguini.

3 I want to spend more time with my blender.

4 The President said he might drop in.

5 The man on television told me to say tuned.

6 I've been scheduled for an eyelash transplant.

7 I'm staying home to work on my cottage cheese sculpture.

8 It's my parakeet's bowling night.

9 It wouldn't be fair to the other Beautiful People.

10 I'm building a pig from a kit.

(Thanks, Pastor Tim)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hope (continued)

He rose!

And with him hope arose, and life and light.

Men said, "Not Christ but Death died yesternight."

And joy and truth and all things virtuous

Rose when He rose.


--Anonymous

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Warrior

Alltel
0229082054b.jpg

1 Cor. 2:2

Alltel has no control over, and is not responsible for, the content or use of this picture or the accompanying personal message.

Hope

He died!

And with Him perished all that men hold dear;

Hope lay beside Him in the sepulcher,

Love grew corse [sic] cold, and all things beautiful beside

Died when He died . . . .


Friday, March 21, 2008

Jury Duty in the Murder Capital of America

Jury Duty seems to liven life up a bit for law-abiding citizens. This is a "must read" from Ray Comfort's blog:

"I was called to jury duty in Compton, California, the city that has been called "the murder capital of America." As I sat with 44 other people in the jury selection process, the judge asked the prospective jurors in the jury box if they would give as much credence to the testimony of a gang member as they would to the testimony of an officer of the law. I looked across at the two gang members who were on trial for the murder of an Hispanic “human being,” as the judge had put it. They looked nice enough, in their plush suits and ties. I imagined them in their baggies, with their long socks and hats to the side, holding their guns the way gangs do.

The judge also asked the prospective jurors if they would be prejudice against anyone who pleaded the Fifth Amendment, and didn’t testify on their own behalf.

The next day I was called to the jury box. When it came to my turn, I gave my name, and then my marital status. I said, “I am married to my wife.” That got a laugh all around, even from the judge. Then I gave my occupation and told him that I would like a “side bar.”

As we stood in the hallway outside his office, two lawyers and the court typist joined us. When the door was closed, he looked at me and said, “Okay . . .”

(read the rest here)

Good Friday

Gall is the taste of life when we

Who live must bear our Calvary.

On this day our Master died--

Christ, our Lord, the Crucified.

Upon the cross in agony

He shed his blood for love of me.

In every street, on every hill,

The Heart that stopped is beating still.



--Vincent Holm

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sir Arthur C. Clarke Meets His Maker

"Arthur C. Clarke: Luminaries Pay Tribute"

By Clara Moskowitz, Staff Writer
posted: 19 March 20080 1:16 pm ET

As news of Arthur C. Clarke's death spread through communities of scientists, writers and science fiction fans, many people shared their memories of how the visionary writer, inventor and futurist inspired and influenced them.

Clarke is famous for his book, "2001: A Space Odyssey" (he also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie), for coming up with the idea for the communications satellite and for predicting space travel long before humans left Earth.

"I think the passing of Arthur C. Clarke is really epical," said Alan Stern, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "There is no one of his caliber or vision on the scene today ... Clarke's contribution was to motivate people to go after careers because they wanted to help shape a certain kind of future, to be at the beginning of something of millennial importance."

(With all respect to Sir Clarke and giving all glory to God, 10 out of 10 people die. Sir Clarke has met his Maker. What a loss He did was not reconciled through Christ. Read the rest of the tribute here.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What To Hold On To?

In a country village of Pennsylvania a physician gave books on infidelity [immorality, pornography] to a young man and persuaded him to deny the Lord Jesus Christ.

When the young man was fifty years old, he lay dying and was attended by the same physician, the infidel teacher. As the end was approaching, the doctor told him to die as he lived—a rejector of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Hold on to the end,” the doctor urged.
“Yes, doctor,” said the dying man, “there is just my trouble—you gave me nothing to hold on to.”

The doctor could not answer.

Human Confrontation

"God has saved multitudes through Gospel tracts, so always carry them with you, and take a moment to encourage other Christians to do the same. Let them know that Christian literature can be used as a conversation opener. One of the most difficult things about witnessing is starting up a conversation about God. A tract can do that for you. It can be left with the person you have spoken to, so that he or she can read further about the way of salvation. Tracts can be given to people when it's not convenient to speak to them. Simply say, 'Did you get one of these?' If you find that difficult, you could at least leave them in places without the daunting thought of human confrontation. Whatever you do, never let a day go by when you don't do something to reach the lost while you still can. There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time."

From Way of the Master Minute.

[or say, "Here, hold this for me." ;-)]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Powerful Lesson From ER

A number of people called attention to this clip from the popular TV series ER. It really is amazing for secular television.

The "Fair Use" law allowed us to teach from it, without violating copyright laws.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Pat's in Five Points

Here are a few videos I took of St. Pat's in Five Points in downtown Columbia, South Carolina:

Video #1



Video #2



Video #3



Video #4



Video #5

92 year-old woman witnesses to a man who tried to rob her



You can do it too!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What is the Meaning of the New Birth?

Changed from an ugly caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly! This transformation that takes place in nature is a good illustration of what takes place when a person experiences the new birth. Man's life begins unattractively, too, being born in sin and shapen in iniquity (Psalm 51:5), and he continues to live after the desires of the flesh and mind (Ephesians 2:3). This is contrary to God's purpose in creation, and shows man's need to be made a new creature in Christ Jesus. Only the new birth can give one new desires and a new life. The caterpillar does not become a butterfly by education, religion, or self-effort. Likewise, it is only by the miraculous metamorphosis of new birth that a man's life can be made beautiful to God and man.

A few passages from the Scriptures will serve to enlighten the seeking soul about the new birth.

The Fact

John 1:12,13 state the fact of the new birth: "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the [children] of God, even to them that believe on His Name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Only those born of a certain man have the right to be recognized as the children of that man. So only those who are born of God have the right to be recognized as the children of God. Thus it is those who receive Christ as Saviour and Lord who become children of God. To receive Christ is to have true repentance to God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Instruments

John 3:5 mentions the instruments of the new birth--"water and the Spirit." What the water signifies is plainly told in Ephesians 5:26. The water is the Word of God--the gospel of Christ preached to men--which, by the sovereign power of the Holy Spirit, produces the new birth. (See also 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18.)

The Time

John 20:31 gives us the time of the new birth: "and that believing ye might have life through His Name." It is immediately upon believing that we receive life eternal. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John 3:36).

The Necessity and Result

Nothing that a man can do will enable him to "see" or "enter the kingdom of God." For this, the Lord Jesus says, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

Without the new birth, man has no life toward God. By being "born again," through faith in the Lord Jesus, he receives everlasting life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Without the new birth, man is "condemned already" (John 3:18). By being born again, he is freed from judgment (John 5:24).

Hence the necessity of new birth for man, for you, dear reader--if you are to be eternally saved, "Ye must be born again," born of God.

These are the plain and simple Scriptures of God's revelation that give us all the light we need on the subject of New Birth.

(used with permission from Moments With The Book)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saved by a Tract

"Seeking something to while away his time, Hudson Taylor turned over a basket of tracts in his father's library and selected one that looked interesting. While reading it he was struck with the phrase, 'The finished work of Christ.'

Immediately the words attracted his attention. 'What was finished?' he asked himself. Reading further, the tract explained the finished work as 'A full and perfect atonement and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.'

Then Hudson thought, 'If the whole work was finished on the cross of Calvary, and the whole debt of sin paid, what is there left for me to do?'

Hudson was thus convinced, as the light of God's truth flashed into his soul by the Holy Spirit, 'There was nothing to be done but to fall down on my knees and accept the Saviour and His salvation and praise Him forever.'

Hudson Taylor was seventeen years old at the time. He then went on to faithfully serve His Saviour for many years in China."

--Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor (From, Moments With The Book)

Friday, March 14, 2008

The big "IF"

A thought woke me in my sleeping hours last night.

The Five Points Association, Inc. of Columbia, SC is anticipating 40,000 people to party this weekend in at the St. Pat’s in Five Points festival (10,000 more than last year).

There are approximately 661 places of worship in Columbia alone (not counting Lexington or West Columbia.)

Assuming that at least 450 of those places of worship are evangelical, with a combined membership average of 300 (I’m really shooting in the dark here), that represents 135,000 people.

If each one of those 135,000 people told at least one person in Five Points about Jesus, they could still reach another 2 people NOT at the party before the day was over . . .

Thinking about . . .

Psalm 139:1-6; 41:4; Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 12:22-31; Mark 8:33

The Lord is not a God of passive interest. Of all that is in creation, He is intensely familiar, relational with you and me, individuals. He does not merely acknowledge men and women, boys and girls, even the nations as a casual observer; rather, God recognizes, acknowledges and instructs. He has thoroughly investigated and grasps who we are and loves enough not to leave us alone. He leaves our mouths gaping . . .

Of all the arguments for the existence of God, this is most compelling: He is present and is closing in, “pressing in from the outside,” but not forcing. This is beyond comprehension.

Someone has asked, “Who said you have to believe in God?”
God did. Who said you had to reject Him?

The problem is that we love God too little, and this is sin.

Besides “himself,” the only interest to a pagan is what he will eat, what he will drink, what he will wear, and what he will do with tomorrow when/if it comes. What makes me any different? My heavenly Father already knows I need these things. What does He want me to do as an obedient child? My obedient response is to seek Him and everything about Him formost—His Kingdom, His righteousness—with all loving mind, heart, sould and strength, then everything else will follow. Why? Because life is more than food and clothes, and we have only been “living” when God wants us to Be and that, “ALIVE.” Forgive us for minding the things of men and not the things of God!

Rev 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; therefore be zealous and repent.”

Job 28:28 “And to man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom! And to depart from evil is understanding!”

Psalm 25:12 “What man is he who fears the Lord? He shall teach him in the way that he shall choose.”

Psa 128:1 “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways.”

Psa 147:11 “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, who hope in His mercy."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

This is why I do it

“What Is The Best Way To Serve Christ?”

“There are some dear people whom I must encourage to be a little more bold. We have some friends, here and there, to whom I could hint, only very gently, that they are quite forward enough, but there are many good people who always keep in the background. They might do so much for Christ if only they had a little courage! Do, dear Friends, break through the ice this year! If you have felt that you ought to do something for your Lord, and yet have never begun to do it, begin at once!

Do you ask, ‘What is the best way to try to serve Christ?’ Well, I think the best way is to do it! ‘But how should I begin?’ Well, I would begin by beginning! ‘When shall I begin?’ Begin now! This very hour. ‘But in what way?’ In the first way that comes to hand—‘whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,’ for our text says, ‘Arise, shine.’ If you have the light, emit it, distribute it, scatter it somehow or other!

Have pluck—that is a plain English word, but I do not know how to put my meaning better. Have pluck enough to come out and be a Christian—do not always be like a rat behind the wall, but come out and acknowledge yourself on Jesus’ Christ’s side and promote the everlasting Gospel wherever you have the opportunity!”

(C.H. Spurgeon, Sermon #2617, Volume 45—Shining Christians)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Evangelizing New Agers

As promised in the blogs since Sunday, here are some suggestions for getting the conversation started and how to evangelize animists/New Agers. Note: this is not going to be an “overnight” process, unless the Lord has already been at work and you get to reap what someone else has sown. Otherwise, be prepared to cultivate a relationship that the following may be accomplished:

Getting the conversation started with animists/New Agers:
1. Ask questions:

a. General (these put the burden of proof back on an objector):

i. “What do you mean when you say _____?”

ii. “How do you come to that conclusion?”

b. Specific[i]

i. Ask, “How, if we are divine, could our mere ignorant self so easily override our divine goodness?”

ii. Ask if truth contradicts itself. It does not. If we each have our own truth, these different truths can’t ultimately contradict each other—or they wouldn’t be true.

c. The New Age Movement (NAM) says that Jesus is only one of many ways to God; but Jesus said He is the only way to God (John 14:6). Stick with this, and don’t let them off the “narrow-mindedness” of Jesus. Drive home Acts 4:12. Two contradictory truths can’t both be right; therefore, the NAM teaching that we can create our own truths cannot be true.

2. Don’t let them use Christian words out of the context of biblical meaning.

a. New Agers recognize the tremendous influence and spotless reputation of Jesus. They want Him to be associated with their beliefs. As a result, you might find yourself facing New Agers who use Christian words—but with non-Christian definitions.

b. Listen carefully, and question the terms they use. Make sure that what they mean by Christian terms is the same thing that you mean by them.

3. Listen for internal contradictions.

a. Listen to what New Agers are saying and you will hear inconsistencies arise, usually when discussing the relationship between reality and belief.

b. A New Ager might say that you can create your own reality. You might reply, “Good. Then if I believe red lights are really green, would you want to go driving with me?

i. Put the objector behind the wheel of a car—to get from “Point A” to “Point B” one drives on the roads as they are paved, uses the traffic signals as they are presented, and keeps it between the ditches. If I choose to get to “Point B” by means of a “straight line” of my own pleasure I will cause great damage and will never get to my destination.
ii. I also ask them how much they paid for their jeans or jacket—why didn’t they pay according to their own “truth?”

A Five-fold method of evangelism with animists/New Agers[ii]:

1. “A person must be brought to an awareness of God—His Christ, His Holy Spirit, His Church and His Mission.”

a. This might take a Bible study, starting in Genesis. Remember that Genesis was written to a group of people who just came from an animistic society and had to be re-introduced to the God of their fathers, who is not those things called “gods” by Egypt (sun, moon, stars, powers, force, etc). This is now a standard missionary method.

b. Also study Isaiah 40:12-31

2. “One must realize there are two kingdoms vitally interested in his response to life: one of darkness and one of light;” Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 can be used to move one from fear to faith. Remember: “comprehension” does not equal “conversion.”

3. “One must decide whether or not to turn from the one kingdom to the other, from the dominion of Satan to the dominion of God.”

a. This step can be done by using the Ten Commandments to show how one has offended the perfect, just, right and Holy God. One must be made to see that sin is lawlessness, to live without law (1 John 3:4).

b. “The potential convert can now be taught what salvation means, how it was achieved by the Lord Jesus Christ, and what happens when a person has turned from Satan to God. he must be introduced to the triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ over all powers in His death and resurrection. He ought to know what is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and what is involved in being a Christian.” (Galatians 3:24; Psalm 19:7)

4. “One must consummate the decision in an actual encounter with the powers of darkness and turning to God in order to accent salvation by receiving forgiveness of sins.” This is accomplished through repentance, by confession of sin and through the justice of the cross, receive forgiveness AND cleansing from unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

5. He is to be incorporated into the fellowship of the church.

************

[i] Based on Chapter 92, “The New Age Movement” of The School of Biblical Evangelism. Anectodes are my own.
[ii] Steyne, Phil. Gods of Power: A Study of the Beliefs and Practices of Animists. Columbia, SC: Impact International Foundation, 1996, ’99. Available from bookstore of Columbia International University, P.O. Box 3122, Columbia, SC 29230

- WANTED -

Dedicated Christians who are not for sale;
Who are honest, sound-true to the heart's core;
Who condemn wrong in friend or foe, in themselves as will as others;
Whose conscience are steady as the needle to the pole;
Who will stand for the right if the heavens totter and the earth reels;
Who can tell the truth and stand by it;
Who neither brag nor run;
Who neither flag nor flinch;
Who can have courage without whistling for it, and joy without shouting to bring it;
Who have the current of everlasting life running deep, still and strong -
Who know their message and tell it, know their duty and do it, know their place and fill it -
Who are not too lazy to work, nor too proud to be poor.
Who are willing to eat what they have earned, and use what they have paid for.

The Bible vs. books

“But read the Bible and, strange to say, the more you read it, the more satisfied you will be with it. When you begin to read the Bible, perhaps you need 50 other books in order that you may become a thorough Bible student, but your library will gradually diminish until, at last, the more you understand the Bible, the fewer books you will need, and you will come to say, ‘If I might have all my days over again, this should be the only book that I would study. And I would concentrate all my powers upon the understanding of this one volume.’

You can get to the bottom of all other books—you dive into them and, at first, they seem to be very deep—but every time you plunge, they appear to get shallower and shallower until, at last, you can see the bottom at a glance. But in God’s Word, every time you dive, the depths grow deeper!”

(Charles Spurgeon, Sermon #2724, of Volume 57 Collected Works—THE DEW OF CHRIST’S YOUTH)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Addressing "Astaria"

[This post is a continuation of Sunday's post.]

having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 26:12)

I Googled “Astaria” in the wee-hours of the morning and found next to nothing initially, apart from the name being used as a proper noun: a name for a certain restaurant; a town name (and that not being the town mentioned in scripture)[i]; also the name of a complex role-playing game. After some searching, I did find one page that connected “Astaria” with a religion of some kind. Here is a link to what may be the most information that is “out there” (pun intended). Don’t spend too much time trying to figure it out (you won’t get those hours back again—besides, some people after 50 years still don’t have it figured it).

“Astaria” seems to be a “quiet” form of neo-paganism that claims a Judeo-Christian foundation. My knee-jerk reaction was that “Astaria” was a system connected with Ashtaroth, the female deity of Baalism, (also known as Ishtar of the Accadians and Assyrians or Astarte to the Philistines and Greeks) as found in the (Jer. 44:17; 1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13)[ii]. Actually, the thrust of Astaria is a New Age mix of religion and science fiction with a sprinkle of Scientology. If I were to sum it up in one word, the Kevin Spacie movie “K-Pax” comes to mind (didja notice that Starman plays the psychiatrist in the movie?).

From what I am able to tell, the “travelers” in this group consider themselves to be just that—travelers across geography, time and space. They also practice manipulation of energy through various levels of contact with “Mother Earth” and the universe. These travelers view themselves as transcendent, inter-dimensional beings. When they go to a certain place, they arrive geographically, but through animistic/New Age practices, they also try to “experience” a culture across time (even ancient cultures) with the view to move into a perfected culture in a futuristic sense (the Guild Pilots of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” come to mind).

The key word in all this is “animism.” A colleague and former mentor of mine, Dr. Phil Steyne, explains that “animists believe that an impersonal power is present in all objects. This power may be called mana, or life force, or force-vital, or life essence or dynamism. It may be likened to electricity—an essence with which everything is charged, which flows from one thing to another. The person in possession of this force my use it has he sees fit but always stands the chance of losing it. This is a type of pantheism.”[iii]

I’ve posted the interview below once more so you can watch and listen how “Doc” described the “white energy” of the cross, the pyramids and the force of the impersonal word called “Christ.” Also, note the principle of “fear” that sprinkles the conversation (he is fearful of being locked up for what he says at the beginning, and states fear in connection with the powerful word of “Christ.”) Animism is a system of fear as power (and spirits) cannot be fully trusted, hence the use of “protections” (amulets, charms, etc):



If you are interested in taking a one-week course in "Folk Religion and Spiritual Warfare" [animism and a Christian response] this June, please visit this website for information. Please understand that I do not intend this to be a commercial. I am that deeply concerned about how the fingers of animism have crept into this culture and am eager to see Christians obedient to carrying out the Great Commission ready to address this movement with biblical truth.

My next post will include some suggestions for getting the conversation started and how to evangelize animists/New Agers.

************

[i] “A city of Bashan, in the kingdom of Og (Deut. 1:4; Josh. 12:4; 13:12; 9:10). It was in the half-tribe of Manasseh (Josh. 13:12), and as a Levitical city was given to the Gershonites (1 Chr. 6:71). Uzzia, one of David’s valiant men (1 Chr. 11:44), is named as of this city. It is identified with Tell Ashterah, in the Hauran, and is noticed on monuments 1700-1500. The name Beesh-terah (Josh. 21:27) is a contraction for Beth-eshterah, i.e., ‘the house of Ashtaroth.’” Easton, M.G. Easton's Bible Dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996, c1897.

[ii] The goddess Astarte, as she is known in Greek transliteration, figures prominently in the religious world of the ancient Near East as a mother-goddess associated with sexual reproduction as well as warfare. The Hebrew ˓aštōret is cognate to Akkadian išhtar and Ugaritic ˓ttrt (there is also a masculine deity, ˒ttr; cf. Moabite ˓štr [masc.], Phoenician ˓shtrt, Aramaic ˓tr, Old South Arabic ˓attar [masc.]). The Hebrew ˓aštārôt is the plural form. Albright and Pope suggest that the plural refers not to many such goddesses, but reflects “an increasing tendency to employ the plural of the name ”in the clear sense of totality of manifestations of a deity’ " (Pope, p. 20, quoting Albright, p. 213). The BDB lexicon observes that the singular form ˓aštōret may be an artificial pronunciation to suggest the vowel pattern of the Hebrew bōšet “shame” (q.v.); the Akkadian, Ugaritic [normalized ˒attart], and Greek renderings show no vowel between the last two consonants. This singular Hebrew form is used three times in the book of Kings of a Sidonian goddess worshiped by Solomon (I Kgs 11:5, 33; II Kgs 23:13, called the šiqqûṣ “abominable idol,” of the Sidonians). Elsewhere in the ot the plural ˓aštārôt is found, usually associated with Baalim (the plural of Baal [q.v.], Jud 2:13; 10:6; I Sam 7:4; 12:10), and once with “strange gods” (I Sam 7:3). Saul’s armor was placed in a temple of Ashtaroth upon his death (I Sam 31:10).

Some scholars dissent, but it appears likely that the goddesses Ashera (q.v.) and Astarte are one and the same (e.g. Kapelrud, p. 62). In the Hebrew Bible, as in the Ugaritic texts, Astarte is used much less often than Ashera. Yet they are both associated with Baal (and in Ugaritic, with El). To complicate the picture of the Canaanite pantheon further, some scholars suggest that the goddess Anat (Ugaritic ˓nt, UT 19: no. 1889), the consort of El and the sisterspouse of Baal, is identified at times with Ashera and Astarte (e.g. Harrison, p. 167). Anat does not occur in the ot as the name of a goddess, but is the name of Shamgar’s father (Jud 3:31; 5:6; cf. Anathoth, a place name, Josh 21:18). The devotees of these goddesses glorified Astarte, Ashera, and Anat (or, as some suggest, one goddess under three designations) in terms of exaggerated sexual features (so the terra cotta figurines) coupled with vicious sadism (so the nauseating scenes in the Ugaritic epic literature). Harris, R. Laird, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. electronic ed., Page 707. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980.


[iii] Steyne, Phil. Gods of Power: A Study of the Beliefs and Practices of Animists. Columbia, SC: Impact International Foundation, 1996, ’99. Available from bookstore of Columbia International University, P.O. Box 3122, Columbia, SC 29230

Monday, March 10, 2008

St. Pat's In Five Points

The streets of Five Points in downtown Columbia, S.C. will be covered in all things green for the annual "St. Pat's in Five Points" festival on Saturday, March 15, 2008. This means that hundreds of people will be gathering to hear the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ! Just look at what they already did to the Fountain!



Anyone with a burden for this lost and dying world interested in an evangelistic outreach, get in touch with me soon so we can organize.

St. Patrick's Day Evangelism Surveys are here for the printing if you are in to doing your own thing.

Don't worry. I'll have the rest of yesterday's blog posted later.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Doc Wants to Know, "What Kind of Christian Are You?"

You really want to watch the video down below . . . but first, some context:

Spring Break began Friday, and our evangelism team (being College and Seminary students of Columbia International University) already scattered to the far reaches of wherever-it-is-they-come-from. I’ve been burdened all week for meeting one specific person (some day I would like to devote one entire blog to him) and really did not want to miss going down, even without the team. So my lovely wife, Leslie, accompanied me to the green fountain of Five Points.

We made our way to Starbucks for coffee where I spied this older man standing at the counter, doing nothing, actually. I greeted him, and noticing the small bags hanging off his shoulder, thought him to be an out-of-town visitor. Not only was he from out of town, but since he left the Navy (where he’d was “bitten by the travel-bug”) he spent the last 50 years traveling the world. He listed a recent visit to China, Tibet and a few South American countries where he’s climbed this or that mountain. I was impressed by his itinerary (many of you know what’s on my “bucket list” to climb).

“Why do you travel so much?" I wanted to know. “Is there anything else besides ‘seeing the world’ that you travel?” It turned out, there was another reason. Doc told me he travels with a special entourage, where he has graduated to being a facilitator in the education of others who join the travel group.

Education, huh? What is studied? All the religions and philosophies of the world! Talk about throwing the dog a bone! Now I wanted to know where he “was” in his travels. What conclusions has he reached about (oh, for the sake of conversation, man) what is man’s purpose? What had he concluded as to the reason man exists? Doc began to hem and haw making some argument that he would not answer me because he had to be careful about what he said—he makes people mad. I assured him I would not get mad. He still did not answer.

I wanted to know more about the group he traveled with, is it a University program? He reached in his pocket and produced a small memo/calendar book. He belongs to a group called, “Astaria” (don’t Google that yet—stay with me). As he thumbed through his book, my knee-jerk reaction was to process who this group was—I’d never heard of Astaria. I thought “Egyptian deity?” No, maybe not. New Age? Probably. A worshipper of Ashteroth or Ashera?

I noticed the silver cross on a chain around his neck. He showed me a card with “Astaria” printed on it, a gold thread glued to the middle of it in a ribbon fashion. I went for the cross.

“I notice you wearing the cross. What does the ‘cross’ mean?” I asked. Doc educated me on the pure-white energy of the cross, that it is a symbol of power, energy. As Doc was telling me about how he harnesses and directs energy through the cross (he can project an energy field up to 30 feet from his body!) I thought, “I need to get this recorded,” so I asked permission to continue the conversation on-record, to which he consented. What follows is the remainder of the conversation. The first minute or so is a little hard to hear, but he is explaining the relationship between the cross and the power of pyramids. Enjoy this video:



The video ends abruptly because Starbucks kicked us out (they already let us stay just a few minutes past closing time). I asked Doc if he would please continue our conversation outside, as I would love to hear more about his worldview. He declined and mumbled something about having to be somewhere.

I thanked him for his time and gave him a copy of a CD by Ray Comfort on “Nostradamus and Future Prediction.” He took it. What is really cool about that CD is that I had no intention of making it, but earlier in the day, I really felt I needed to . . . perhaps the Lord wanted him to hear it . . .

In the next day or two I will share with you some observations, what happened when I Googled “Astaria,” and offer some suggestions on witnessing to New Agers.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Million Dollar Man



Ya'll have a nice day.

Going Back to Sin

"Are you filled with an inexpressible gratitude for the 'unspeakable gift' of the Cross? Have you seen Jesus Christ 'evidently set forth and crucified?' Can you say with Paul, 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world' (Galatians 6:14)? After seeing the love of the cross, how could we ever go back to the pleasures of sin? To do that, we have to trample underfoot the blood of Jesus Christ. We would have to count the sacrifice of Calvary as nothing. Instead, we willfully crucify ourselves to the world. We whisper with the hymnist, 'When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.'"

(From Way of the Master Minute)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fellowship of the Unashamed

(by Bob Moorehead, Overlake Christian Church; Redmond, Washington. In his book, “Words Aptly Spoken.”)

“I am part of the ‘Fellowship of the Unashamed.’
I have Holy Spirit power.

The die has been cast.
I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.
I am finished and done with low living, sight-walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy-giving and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.
I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, live by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, back up, let up or shut up until I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up and stayed up for the cause of Christ.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give till I drop, preach until all know and work until He comes.”

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Restraint In The Storm

Yesterday’s Daily Bread devotional (written by Philip Yancey) brought some deep reflections after dinner last night. He wrote of the miracle of restraint, of God’s choice to curb His own power.

“The miracles Satan suggested to Jesus (Luke 4:3, 9-11), the signs the Pharisees demanded (Matt. 12:38; 16:1), the final proofs I yearn for offer no obstacle to an omnipotent God. More amazing is His refusal to perform, to overwhelm. God’s terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that He granted us the power to live as though He does not exist. Jesus must have known this as He faced the tempter in the desert, focusing His power on the energy of restraint. I believe God insists on such restraint because no pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence will achieve the response He desires.”

I’m not a Yancey “fan” but every once-in-a-while I come across something he writes and I am intrigued. When I read the devotional, I was reminded of conversations I’ve had (such as the one last week) where unbelievers make demands on omnipotent God, starting with the assertion that He does not exist. We cannot make God disappear any more than we can stand in the road and make a truck disappear.

Who is God that He should bend to the whims of some squeaky voice rising from this dust-ball of a planet, simply because that voice (that it not at all heard in the chaos of the universe) demands something? I am reminded of that old argument, “If God is real, then let Him strike me dead!” Oh, the day of death will come—you will die in your sins, receive the wages of them. Yancey’s statement is so true that it bears repeating, “God’s terrible insistence on human freedom is so absolute that He granted us the power to live as though He does not exist.” Astounding! What is even more amazing is that when a squeaky repentant voice screams for God to save, He responds . . .

Yancey goes on, “Jesus must have known this as He faced the tempter in the desert, focusing His power on the energy of restraint. I believe God insists on such restraint because no pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence will achieve the response He desires.” It is true Jesus did demonstrate restraint many times outside these events Yancey describes, and it is true that God does not create a circus act of Himself and His power to blind the world with brilliance of performance. Think of Elijah—where was God but in the still, small voice, not in the lightning, earthquake or fire. I want to highlight the truth of that very last sentence.

Last night there was a storm. Tornadoes ripped through Alabama, most of Georgia was under tornado watches or warnings. We even took shelter in the middle of our house as the wind blew, the rain fell, thunder clapped and I thought at one point I heard a train . . . (I did not tell the family, but now you know why I moved so quickly—for those who were there and are reading this—see, what Dad says, you obey without asking questions!) The siren went off in The Village and most students at the University gathered in the lower floor of the student center.

Last night there was a huge display of omnipotence and restraint. We comforted our family with the promises of God and trusted in His goodness to do as He wills. Yet in the midst of it all, one person (not a member of our family) would not be comforted. He saw nothing but danger and could not be calmed. His selfishness brought disruption and no peace. What is worse, he was alarmed about his situation, but not awakened to his spiritual condition. He did not see God, His control or provision as he only feared for his life and that, apart from God. Rather than accept peace, comfort and the promises of God’s goodness, He chose to leave during the storm and go to his own home for safety—right in the direction of the storm.

Though he made it home, though he slept safe, though he woke up this morning and carries on about His day, He does not see God or His goodness, His power or His restraint. There was a pyrotechnic display last night and God did not get the response He desired. Instead God allows so many like him to carry on as if He does not exist. One day, the restraint will lift . . .

[From the “what-it’s worth” department, read a wonderful article, “Storm and the Message of Job,” by Alex Luc, in JSOT 87 (2000)]

He Brought His Brother

One of the two who heard John and followed Him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is, being translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus." (John 1:40-42)

I’ve already related here one conversation with three rather rebellious young ladies. That is how my portion of our ministry ended last Friday night, a far cry from where it began. And here's how it began.


We got to the Fountain in Five Points a little late (but right on time on God’s clock). I have been building a small “library” of material to give away, items that cover issues people bring up in conversations. I would like to either send people off with something to read about a matter that concerns them, or attract people by the material. When we get to the Fountain, I arrange my stuff on the wall with some Open Air material as well.

When we got set up, there was not much foot traffic, so some team members were looking over the material to see what was available. The Open Air material was new to a couple of them, so they tried to figure out the IQ tests (I love to play around with them—they don’t know what’s coming next). While they were puzzling with this one, a fellow came drifting within ear-shot, so I called him over to help the team figure out one of the IQ Tests (click on the image for the link). He came over, tried his turn, but when he saw the Ten Commandments chart, he scooted on across the street before I could engage him in conversation.

I grabbed a handful of tracts and turned around to find a familiar face coming up the sidewalk. I was already talking with someone else, and a new team member stepped up to work them over, so I could not get to them right away—but we saw each other. Almost a year ago I was introduced to some new friends who were in the Marines and Army. One in particular “did his time” and is now in law enforcement. I had the opportunity to share the gospel with him, and though he was already going to church, had not heard the gospel fully explained before. On his own, he repented and came to the Lord Jesus Christ. Since then, I occasionally see him on the street (he makes it a point to “swing by”) or he gives me a call. This time, he brought somebody with him and waited patiently for me to finish my conversation (which I will post later).


While I was having the other conversation, they both were given tracts by another team member, and were working their way through the Good Person test. When my conversation ended, I came over and we introduced all around. I was happy to learn that my friend had brought his younger brother with him (probably about 19 or 20 years old). My friend was training his brother in “a job” (I can’t tell you what it is—I am sworn to secrecy), but God worked it out that tonight, he would also “train” his brother in righteousness.

“How’d you do on the first three?” my friend asked his brother.


“I failed. I’m a liar, a thief and an adulterer,” he looked at me, uneasy.


“Did you know you were these things already?” I asked.


“Not really,” he softly replied, then looked down. Shame?


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


“Guilty,” he answered.


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


“Heaven,” he answered.


“Why?” I went on . . . and waited. Brother looked at brother. Brother looked at me. Brother looked at brother. My friend wanted to explain, but had a hard time finding words then said to me, “you tell ‘im.”

I looked up into his eyes (everyone is taller then me) and asked, “Do you think God is a good God, and if so, why should He let liars and thieves and adulterers into heaven?”

He did not have an answer. He shrugged, and looked down.

I told him, “God has a place for liars, and it’s the same place He has for thieves and adulterers and murderers and sorcerers and drunkards and unbelievers. Do you know what that place is called?”

“Hell,” he said.

“Does it bother you that you will die in your sins and go to hell?” I asked.

He shook his head and did not say a word.

I went on. “Do you know what God did to keep you from going to hell?” He answered a quiet, “no” then said something about sending Jesus.

“What does Jesus have to do with keeping you from dying in your sins and going to hell?” I asked. He could not put it together, so I showed him from scripture.

“The Bible says that sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4) and because we have all broken God’s moral law, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23). They ‘paycheck’ we get for being sinners is death (Romans 6:23). The good news is that ‘while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). This means that He paid the penalty we deserve so that we can be free from both sin and death and can receive new life in the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you ever heard that before?”

“Sort of,” he said.

I thanked him for being honest with how God saw his heart and for listening to what I had to say. I went on, “Imagine for a moment that you were standing before a judge who had a list of everything you’ve ever done and he says to you, ‘Ok, before I pass down judgment, what do you have to say for yourself?’” I paused to let him see he had no way out.

“You know there are only two ways out of a courtroom: in cuffs, or out, right?” I explained, “Now imagine for a moment that the judge gets up from behind the bench and is standing beside you. This means He has given up all He has as a judge and He is standing beside you as a lawyer, now working on your behalf, for your defense. When he stepped down (understand He has never done any wrong, and is perfect) He is offering to you all His goodness in exchange for all your crimes, all your sin. All you have to do is admit what you’ve done and hate it the way He does. All you have to do is accept the death that He died to serve as your own and take up the new life He is extending to you by faith. Understand that He is making payment for you. Will you accept that gift?”

Big brother smiles at little brother.

“Yes,” he said. I felt the need to make certain he got it. “The Bible says that God displayed Christ publicly through the crucifixion to make payment for sin. He wants you to be not just ‘forgiven’ but clean from sin. The Bible says to ‘riches profit not in the day of wrath but righteousness delivers from death.’ (Proverbs 11:4). I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, ‘turning over a new leaf?’”

He nodded.

“God doesn’t do that. He makes a new leaf. ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Is there any reason why you should not bend the knee right now and confess your sins to God and ask Him to save you and give you new life?”

“Right here, on the sidewalk? Do I have to?” he asked.

“Jesus died publicly, not in secret. Beside, you would not be the first,” Brother and I encouraged.
He couldn’t do it.

After a few minutes of fidgeting, I did not want to make him feel more uncomfortable than he already was, so I encouraged him to read Psalm 51, make it his own prayer and I would pray for him—but I had to make certain he understood that my prayer for him was not his own for repentance and salvation—he needed to do business with God alone.

I took off my hat and prayed for him right there on the sidewalk, people passing behind us . . . Amen.

I opened my eyes and saw the tears in his. I think he did business with God right there.

We rejoiced as brothers and said our goodbyes . . . until we see each other again!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Reflections on World Christian Week

By CIU Professor, Dr. Shirl Schiffman

Picture this: A woman in a poor, animistic village in Rwanda tries for nine humiliating years to have a child. Never having heard of the God of the Bible, she repeatedly offers animal sacrifices to curry favor with the spirits. To her great joy, she finally bears a baby boy – Musekura. He is still a child when his mother entrusts him with the responsibility of offering sacrifices for her continued fertility and protection from evil spirits. One day an American missionary walks into the village. In God’s mercy, adolescent Celestin Musekura is saved, but expelled from his home for fear of spirit reprisal. He struggles on his own, frequently in rags, until an elderly lady in the missionary’s home church in America hears of the young man’s plight and begins to send a small amount of money each month for his education.

Now picture this: Dr. Celestin Musekura stands on the platform of Shortess Chapel at Columbia International University. He is the keynote speaker for World Christian Week 2008. The power of his testimony during the first session was unmistakable: Someone went; someone stayed home, but played an equally strategic part in fulfilling the Great Commission. And today? Dr. Musekura is mightily used by God as a pastor, outstanding Bible teacher, and leader in the reconciliation movement in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan and other parts of the world. It was an incredible privilege to have him at CIU during the conference. No one will easily forget his teaching on Nehemiah: Are we aware of what God is doing around the world? Do we care? Do we pray? Do we have compassion? Do we have God’s vision for what we are supposed to do?

Dr. Musekura’s messages and another incredibly moving story of God’s work through American missionary Dave Ray are available at http://www.ciu.edu/rss/podcast.html. If you were unable to attend the conference, listen to these messages. Reaffirm your own determination to be vitally involved in God’s global mission. The time is short. The fields are white unto harvest. CIU’s World Christian Week 2008 was a reminder: Every moment counts.

“Horton Hears an Atheist”; or, “What To Do When Attacked By Harpies.”

Of course the title is a pun on Dr. Seuss’ famous “Horton Hears a Who,” and because the movie is coming out this summer is of no consequence. I met someone Friday night who would rather hold to fairy tales than embrace the true and living God. [Derek, you will like this one]

Toward the end of our evening in Five Points (I will relate other conversations later) I found three young ladies sitting on the back side of the fountain. I noticed they had been there a while, as if they were waiting on someone, but they never moved. I thought I would go ahead and see what would come of an evangelistic conversation.


I never thought things would turn out they way the did. When I look back on the event, I keep seeing that scene from the 1963 Ray Harryhausen movie, “Jason and the Argonauts” where the harpies swoop down on the old man to steal his food . . . the screeching and the clawing . . .

I approached the girls with a couple of magic tricks that would serve for my springboard, so I asked (to prove my point), “If you can’t trust your eyes, can you trust your heart?” Sure, we agreed that we can’t trust our eyes (one girl quickly figured out one of my tricks, and we shared a laugh when I got “busted”), so I was able to progress to the “Good Person Test.” As I got started, one girl got a cell-phone call that dropped her out of the conversation. I asked the other two how they were at truth-telling (FAILED) and about their stealing habits (FAILED). I felt a check in my spirit that told me to wait for the other girl to get off the phone, so I waited.

When she finally got off the phone, I brought her up to speed on her lying, thieving friends (laugh, laugh, “oh you are bad”) and I asked our rejoined friend if she could trust her heart. She said “yes, I trust my heart fully as it is the center of all I am and do.” I heard a still, small voice that told me she was a pagan. I started looking for amulets, rings, or other paraphernalia. I finally noticed she was wearing all black and one of her friends had a strange “fetish” necklace. I braced myself and asked if she’d ever lied. She had, “but that does not make me a bad person.”

I asked if she’d stolen. She had, “but that does not make me a bad person.”

I asked if she’d ever murdered anyone. She laughed (while the other girls looked bored) and said no. I taught her the scripture that says that hatred is murder, had she ever heard that? The two girls’ heads spun back to me and the one to whom I spoke sucked her breath in, “I’ve never hated anyone,” she answered. Oh, I could feel the love.

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

The main girl with whom I’ve been speaking answered hotly to the effect that she would be innocent because she did not believe in God or that He would judge anyone by the Ten Commandments. She is innocent of all charges. “What a curious answer,” I thought. I wanted clarification. I sought to find out about the source of absolutes when the harpies began screeching, “You can’t force people to believe in something they don’t want to believe in!” That pretty much summed up the whole argument and had I been paying attention, I would have reacted differently. But I went on.

I said, “What would you say if I told you that I did not believe in architects or artists?”
“Nobody said you had to believe there is such a thing,” came the reply. I did not see that one coming.
“Could you offer any proof in their existence?” I pressed.
“Why would we want to prove something you did not want to believe?” they went on.

I remember when I was small and my parents took me to Carlsbad Caverns. The one feature of the underground cave that scared me most was called, “The Bottomless Pit.” I remember the lights and the railing and the dark hole that opened in the cave floor . . . I also remember the rope ladder that someone had place on the edge of the hole, and that it was “broken” as if someone fell. What scared me was not the hole itself, but that my dad was leaning over the railing, peering as far as he could down the hole—I don’t know what scared me more, him falling in, or his glasses . . . anything falling down that hole seemed scary to me.

I felt like I was standing at that railing again, only this time I was actually plumbing the depths of foolishness with those who said there is no God.

I pressed further, “Are you saying there is no God to believe in, or that you reject the true and living God as God?”

The girl in the middle started to stand up and the other two laughed with incredulity. She said, “Why should I believe there is a God? To me [key words there, folks] believing in God is no different than believing we are miniscule creatures on the bottom of a Petri dish. How do we know we are not being watched by someone named ‘Bob’? Prove to me there is no ‘Bob’!” You can tell what picture popped into my mind. I had to keep from laughing.

I told her that denying the existence of God is creating her own reality. Why not stand in the road and deny the existence of trucks. You can deny all you want, but the reality will smack you right between the eyes when you face him on judgment day. They got quite mad that an old man like me would suggest underage girls to stand in the road . . .

All three girls rose up and began yelling and throwing their arms about. I’m not sure what they were saying. Then I heard one try to berate me, “and there you are standing in your sweater and dockers feeling like you persecuted for the Lord! Well, I’m not going to give you that pleasure!” And she went on . . .

I appealed to conscience. “You know there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ and it has to come from somewhere.” I was trying to make an argument for absolutes. With three talking at once, I could only be quiet.

Then I heard, “I would not believe in a God that would do the kinds of things that He did to Job.” My ears perked up.

“What happened to Job?” I asked.
“He lost everything because of your God,” she hissed back. I waited.
“Is there anything else?” I prodded.
“Yeah. Look what happened to Job’s wife!” She said, making a point.
“What did happen to Job’s wife?”
“She turned to salt you dim-wit!” Her point broke off.
“Are you sure you have the right account?” I asked. “Job may have lost everything because God allowed it, but the point was to show the goodness of God—God restored everything Job lost. Lot lost his wife because she disobeyed God.”

“You just believe a book written by men,” I heard.
“Are you college students?” I asked. They were. “What are your majors?”
“Psychology!” all three chimed.
I was delighted. “Oh, the study of the soul! And how much tuition are you paying to read books written by men?”

I got pounded again. One shouted, “We don’t have to believe anything we read! We are just learning a career that will help people with their problems.” I prayed they could hear themselves. I wanted to turns some of their answers back on them ("who says anyone has to believe what you say?" or, "you must be in it for the money.")

“Psychology is not the study of soul! It is the study of man.”
“Oh, you mean ‘Anthropology’,” I answered.
“No. Anthropology is the study of culture and human interaction,” they tried to correct.
“Oh, you mean ‘Sociology’,” I answered.
They tried to tell me how ignorant I was. I waited until they were finished berating me, then gave them a lesson in Greek:
“It may be helpful for you to consult your glossary again. ’Anthropos’ is Greek for ‘man,’ and ‘psyche’ is Greek for ‘soul.’ You will also find in your textbook ‘sarx’ for flesh and ‘nous’ for mind. Maybe you are in the wrong profession.” All three took off on me again. I probably asked for that.

I was finally able to get a word in edgewise with, “look. You have a conscience, it tells you the difference between right and wrong. Everyone has one. You know there is a God and you know just enough about Him to reject Him. I am here to tell you to repent and believe the gospel.”

"How did you hear? Did you get a voice from God telling you to go?" they mocked.
"Yes, in His Word it says, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel.' And He has promised His presence as well. I am here on His authority." I replied.

They picked up their purses to leave, “thanking” me for the magic tricks. I thanked them for their time and encouraged them to listen to their conscience.

If I learned anything, its:
1) don't let a person get away with making a god of their own understanding. This is breaking the 2nd commandment and they should be warned to repent;
2) pray that the Holy Spirit gives love to show while still being more relentless than the opposition. Throw your arms around their knees to keep people from going to hell.

Monday, March 03, 2008

To: Who’e'r named “the Bar.”

The place wherein these revelers go
To drink their beer (then wail with woe)
Is recognized both far and wide,
Called by that what’s found inside.

The Public House’s now called the “pub”
(One slept and drank and got some grub);
The “ταβέρνα” [tavern] came from the Greeks
(“the shop” or “shed” for woodwork geeks).
“Saloon” comes from “salon” or “suite,”
Or a car to hold four-to-six a seat.

No “Pub,” “tavern” or “saloon” by far
Is called by any other name (but “bar.”)
“But what’s ‘bar’ mean?” you ask yourself.
Friend, the bar’s not more than a shelf.

The shelf’s a place on which “things” sit,
(“it” looks at you, you look at “it.”)
Makes one wonder who’s more the fool,
The one on the shelf, or the one on the stool?

The first bar-shelf came from a door
(There were no locks in days of yore).
The bar kept people in or out,
Now it’s holding wine and stout.

“But whoever named it, named it well:
A bar to heaven, a door to hell;
A bar to manliness and wealth;
A door to want and broken health.

A bar to honor, pride and fame;
A door to grief and sin and shame.
A bar to home and a bar to prayer;
A door to darkness, and despair.

A bar to honored, useful life;
A door to brawling, senseless strife,
A bar to all that's true and brave;
A door to every drunkard's grave.

A bar to joys that home imparts;
A door to tears and aching hearts.
A bar to heaven, a door to hell;
Whoever named it, named it well.”

(Stanza’s 1-5 are an original poem. The final stanzas in quotes are from a public domain gospel tract of the GOSPEL TRACT AND BIBLE SOCIETY.)

How To Detect A Liar

This video is called "How to detect a lie." So punish the lie. The video really shows "How to detect a liar":

How To Detect a Lie

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"A false witness shall not be unpunished, and a breather of lies shall not escape." (Proverbs 19:5)
"A false witness shall not be unpunished, and one speaking lies shall perish." (Proverbs 19:9)

"But the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, will have their part in the Lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev. 21:8)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Witnesses for Atheism

Charles Bradlaugh was the outstanding atheist in England. Down in one of the slums of London was a minister by the name of Hugh Price Hughes. All London was aware of miracles of grace accomplished at his mission.
Charles Bradlaugh challenged Mr. Hughes to debate with him the validity of the claims of Christianity. London was greatly interested. What would Mr. Hughes do? He immediately accepted the challenge and in doing so added one of his own.
Hughes said, “I propose to you that we each bring some concrete evidences of the validity of our beliefs in the form of men and women who have been redeemed from the lives of sin and shame by the influence of our teaching. I will bring 100 such men and women, and I challenge you to do the same.
“If you cannot bring 100, Mr. Bradlaugh, to match my 100, I will be satisfied if you will bring 50 men and women who will stand and testify that they have been lifted up from lives of shame by the influence of your teachings. If you cannot bring 50, then bring 20 people who will say, as my 100 will, that they have a great joy in a life of self-respect as a result of your atheistic teachings. If you cannot bring 20, I will be satisfied if you bring 10.
“Nay, Mr. Bradlaugh, I challenge you to bring one, just one man or woman who will make such a testimony regarding the uplifting of your atheistic teachings.”
Again London was stirred. What would Mr. Bradlaugh do? In answer, Charles Bradlaugh, with great discomfiture and chagrin, publicly withdrew his challenge for the debate.

************
Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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