Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Solid Food for Today: The Lordship of Jesus Christ

If you profess to be a Christian, yet, either in word or deed, downplay, deny, or detest the doctrine of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, then you should examine yourself to see if you are even in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Evidence of Salvation Is So Much More Than Standing On A Box

The following was posted by my good friend, Jon Speed, on Facebook and is reprinted here with his permission. I completely concur with Jon's statements and they should serve as a clarion call for all street evangelists to examine themselves to see if they are really in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

#1: Being a street evangelist is not necessarily evidence of fruit of the Spirit.

#2: Intellectual conformity to sound doctrine and principles of evangelism is not saving faith. In other words, a decision to embrace truths is not salvation.

#3: Regeneration is solely the work of God and has nothing to do with man's decisions or efforts. A man may be intellectually convinced of the truths of Christianity, but if God does not work there is no salvation.

#4: The parable of the soils does not have to do with the quality of the seed that is sown. In all four instances, the seed was the Word of God--perfect and without defect. Sound gospel presentations and sound theology will not save apart from a work of God. The issue in the parable is the soil in the heart of the recipient, not the message.

#5: Since these things are all true, we cannot and must not assume that everyone who preaches the gospel on the streets, everyone who claims to believe it in the pulpit and pew, and everyone who loves good theology is in fact saved. Because we have lost the doctrine of regeneration, we have reduced the response to the gospel to the lowest common denominator. Because we are afraid to guide professing believers in Biblical self examination, we do damage to their souls by neglect.

#6: I am convinced now more than ever that if there is going to be a genuine revival it will have to start with a mass of conversions within the professing church. This will include those who love sound doctrine and evangelism. It must include the principles that lie behind what we have learned with ministries like Way of the Master and we must preach the possibility of false conversion amongst those we think do not need to hear it. And if we do that, we will need to do it without regard as to whether or not people like us for it.

#7: We need to change the way we do evangelism training. Too often we assume that if people agree with WoTM [Way of the Master], then they are saved and only need to be trained in the "how." False conversion must be emphasized and the teaching of it has to go beyond the parable of the soils and focus on Matthew 7:21-23 and similar passages. 1 Corinthians 6 and Galatians 5 are essential as well. We need to talk about the fall away (from the gospel, not evangelism) we've seen in street evangelism circles, and we need to warn people that their interest in evangelism is no indicator of their salvation.


Three years ago I preached a message titled "Marks of a Possible False Convert," which I think serves well as an affirmation of the above seven points.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

NorCal Fire

Join me July 20-21, in Campbell, CA (outside San Jose), for what is sure to be a wonderful, free event. Biblical teaching, fellowship, and evangelism--I can't think of a better way to enjoy a weekend! And did I mention it is FREE! :-)

Register, today!

My Philosophy For A Gospel-Centered Life

My circumstances are God’s context for evangelism opportunities (Philippians 1:12-14).

Christ proclaimed is my joy (Philippians 1:15-18a).

Christ magnified in my life is my expectation and hope (Philippians 1:18b-21).

I will disciple and encourage other Christians in the proclamation of the gospel (Philippians 1:22-26).

Living, proclaiming, defending and suffering for the gospel is my life’s work (Philippians 1:27-30).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cross Encounter: Gaia Defeated at the Cross

I went to yet another new intersection with the cross this afternoon--the corner of The Old Road and Constitution Avenue, in Stevenson Ranch (CA). As I walked from the nearby parking lot to the corner, I prayed the Lord would allow me to hand out a few tracts and talk to at least one person.

Before I reached the corner, two teenage boys accepted tracts as they walked by me. When I arrived at the corner, I thanked God for answering one of my prayers so quickly. I then prayed for all the motorists and pedestrians who would see the cross--that the Lord would use something as foolish-looking to some as a man standing on the corner with a cross to somehow bring Himself glory.

About a half-hour into my time on the corner, I saw a man walking toward me, from north to south, on the opposite side of Constitution Avenue. Even from a distance, I had a sense we were going to have a conversation. He had a smile and a look of curiosity on his face, and his eyes were fixed on the cross.

The man crossed the street and stepped onto the sidewalk, at my corner. I handed him an Are You Ready? tract, which he accepted. Instead of walking away, as most people do, he began to pace in front of me.

The man (we'll call him Jim) pointed up at the cross and said, "This is really good, what you're doing."


"So, I guess this is the year."

"The year for what?" I asked.

"It's 2012."


"The Mayan calendar says..."

"No one knows the day or the time."


"No. And anyone who says they do is a liar."



I introduced myself and extended my hand. Jim returned the gesture.

"Jim, do you attend a church here locally?"

"No." He answered, with almost a sound of guilt in his voice.

"Do you believe God exists?"

"Oh definitely. Actually, I kinda follow Gaia."

"Who's Gaia?"

"Mother Earth. Mother nature."

According to Wikipedia:
Gaianism is a very broad and inclusive philosophy and emerging spirituality with various religious expressions. The term describes a philosophy and ethical worldview which, though not itself religious, implies a transrational devotion to Planet Earth as a superorganism. It is rooted in an intuitive knowledge of humanity's intrinsic connection with our Home World, the Earth, also known as Gaia. Gaia was originally a primal Greek titan, symbolizing the Earth; All titans, gods, and monsters of Greek mythology originated from her and the primal Sky titan (whom were birthed from Chaos). Approaching our Home World as Gaia, a name derived from ancient Greek Polytheism, offers us a modern Earth-centered and mostly Pantheist spirituality based on a belief in the intrinsic personality of the Earth as a Living Organism that has passed through billions of years of Evolutionary expression. The modern emergence of this Earth-centered philosophy stems out of the accepted Gaia Theory which conveys the science behind the Earth as an ancient, living and self-regulating system within systems.
Okay. Got that? There will be a test later.

"Do you believe in Heaven and Hell?" I asked.

"Yes, I do."

"Jim, what do you think a person has to do to go to Hell?"

"Murder." He quickly answered.

I took Jim through several of the commandments. He admitted to being a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, an adulterer-at-heart; and he was shocked to discover that God sees the hatred he had harbored toward others as murder.

Jim understood and was concerned that if he died in his current sinful, spiritually-dead state God would send him to Hell as his just punishment for his sins against Him. I asked Jim if he had any idea what God had done so that he might not have to spend eternity in Hell.

"He sent His Son to die on the cross."

"That's right. Do you know what that means?"

"I'm not sure."

"I appreciate your honesty."

As I do with so many others, I took Jim through the Courtroom Analogy. The more I shared with him, the more look of concern filled Jim's eyes. Even through his sunglasses I could tell he was thinking deeply about what he was hearing.

"Would that be good news to you?"


"What would you think of the person who did that (paid his fine) for you?"

"I would be forever grateful."

"Well, let's see if you mean that. Because what I just shared with you was a picture of what God actually did."

I proclaimed the gospel to Jim. His eyes never left mine and he seemed to hang on every word.

"What God commands of you, Jim, is that you repent (turn from your sin and turn to God) and, by faith alone, received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Does that make sense?"

"Yes, it does."

"Do you believe what I'm telling you is true?"

"I do believe."

I spent a few moments explaining to Jim that the worship of Gaia is idolatry, yet another sin for which he will be judged if God does not save him.

"Jim, is there any reason why you wouldn't, right now, repent and put your trust in Christ alone with your salvation? Is there any sin in your life that you love so much you're willing to spend eternity in Hell so you can continue to enjoy that sin in this life?"

"Wow. I need to give that some thought."

"Jim, the Bible says it's appointed once for a person to die, and then judgment. I may never see you again, but I care about you. I don't want you to perish in your sins. I want to see you in Heaven one day."

"I appreciate that. I think you will see me in Heaven."

"I hope so. I really do. Do you have a Bible?"

"I do."

I gave Jim a gospel of John and encouraged him to read it.

"I'm going to go home and read it right away."

"Can I pray for you before you go?"


I put my hand on his shoulder and ask my Lord and Savior to save Jim--to bring him to repentance and faith and give to him the gift of eternal life.

I shared information about my church with Jim and invited him to join us on Sunday.

We shook hands, and Jim walked away.

I couldn't stop thanking and praising God.

I do not know if Jim came to faith in Christ as I talked to him. I knew him for all of twenty minutes, so I certainly did not know his heart or mind. But what I saw in his eyes, heard in his voice, and felt as we shook hands gave me every indication, fallible as it may have been, that I was watching the Lord save a soul before my eyes.

I believe, and I trust God this is true, the false god Gaia was defeated at the cross, on a street corner in Stevenson Ranch.

To Hell with the 'Religion of Peace;' but God, Please Save the People!

That's right. I said it. To Hell with Islam! To Hell with every false religion! To Hell with every false god!

What has stirred my heart? What has enraged me with what I hope is righteous indignation? It is the story of recently martyred Joel Shrum.

Intolerant? Yes. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, yes!

I am intolerant of every false religion--including Islam--and every false demonic god that would seek to usurp my Lord and Savior's sovereignty and detract from His glory. Yes. I am intolerant of false religions and false gods, just as I would be intolerant of any man who broke into my home claiming to be my father when he and I both know he is a liar.

I am intolerant of the teachings of every book that is presented by false religions as the Word of God, when they are nothing more than blasphemous utterances--the words of a god. The Koran, the Book of Mormon, the New World Translation--they are all documents of demons, tools of Satan to deceive spiritually dead and lost people.

There is only one Word of God--the Word given to men by the God of the Word, the God who took on human flesh, the God-Man, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Yes. To Hell with every false religion! To Hell with every false god!


Please, Lord, save the people!

Father, please save the people who either blindly or wantonly follow the false god of Islam. Save the people, Lord, who either blindly or wantonly follow the false god of any false religion. Lord, please, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, with the grace only You can extend, draw the followers to Yourself--followers of that which is false and damnable--extending to them, through Your kindness, the free gifts of genuine repentance and authentic faith in Jesus Christ the Lord.

Please, Father, I pray; bring these lost souls following false gods to a knowledge of their sin--beginning with their sin of idolatry and blasphemy. Bring them to a godly grief that produces genuine repentance. Oh Lord, may they see for the first time the depth of their depravity and the sinfulness of their sin. Lord, bring them to their knees. Remove their hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh.

Father, please, remove the lost lost from the temples of Baal and adopt them into the Body of Your beloved Son.

Lord, please give me a greater love for the followers of false religions while, at the same time, increasing the flame of indignation toward the false religious systems that hold people in bondage. Please help me to be indignant towards these systems while striving to be holy, for You are holy.

Oh, God, please save the people.

Do I respect religious systems that lead people away from truth and the God of Truth? No.

Presidents and candidates hoping for peace (and votes) where there is no peace can declare Islam a "great religion" all they want, but it will never be true. Pathetic pastors in man-pleasing pulpits can link arms with cozening clerics in order to further a man-centered, socially-driven agenda; but it will never please God.

Do I want anyone who practices one or more of the various false religions to perish in their sin and go to Hell? No.

Do I think people who peacefully practice false religions should in any way be mistreated? No. (Yet another distinction from biblical Christianity and the false "religion of peace"--Islam)

Do I hate, even dislike, people who are practitioners of false religions. No.

The opposite is true. I want nothing more for Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and followers of other false religions than God's very best. I want them to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. I want this because I love them, and I love the one, true God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--most of all.

And I am grateful to Joel Shrum, a man I hope to meet in Heaven, for having the courage to give his life for the love of God, the love of people, and the furtherance of the gospel. I thank God that Joel Shrum counted himself less important, counted what others thought of him as less important than where lost people would spend eternity.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. ~ Jim Elliot

A Response from Mr. Taggart Lee

Yesterday I posted an email exchange I had with Mr. Taggart Lee, a teacher at Canyon High School.

I awoke this morning to find the following email in my inbox:
Mr. Miano,

I am a bit embarrassed in having to write you, but it has come to my attention that an email was sent out from my computer station Monday somehow using my email address. My work area is an open one as I teach photography and filmmaking and am often in different parts of the building/studio away from my desk. Apparently I left my email on and open and in doing so, either an aide or student was able to access my account, and sent you the email to which you and yours are referring. You have quite a following BTW!!! :)

I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and while I remain neutral and do not wish to receive further correspondence; as a fellow filmmaker, I wish you well and good luck in your endeavors

Kindest Regards,
Taggart Lee
I responded with the following:
Mr. Lee,

Needless to say, this was not the type of response I expected from you after the first email I received. I will certainly give you the benefit of the doubt and will let our readers know to do the same. I will certainly honor your request not to receive further emails from me.

Thank you for writing.
While, as I stated in my response to Mr. Lee, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, there are a couple things worth noting.

Mr. Lee (or whoever was on his computer) said in his first email that he was a "former clinic defender." Since there are no abortion mills in the City of Santa Clarita (at least none that I can find), and since Mr. Lee used the word "former" in his description, this is not a case of a mischievous student playing with a teacher's open computer work station. Whoever wrote the email was, at the very least, an adult--most likely another teacher.

While I assured Mr. Lee I would not email him again, I will leave it up to you what you will do with this new information. I suggest taking the higher ground and giving him the benefit of the doubt. If Mr. Lee did write the email, his most recent response, at the very least, indicates he is crying "uncle!"

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Evening with Louis Zamperini

This evening Mahria, Amanda, and I went to Trinity Classical Academy for an evening with Louis Zamperini. What a blessing to be in the presence of a true American hero

Here's the audio of Louis Zamperini's talk.

Why Getting '180" To High School Kids Is Critical

Taggart Lee is a teacher at Canyon High School, in Canyon Country, CA.

Last week, with the wonderful help of family members and friends, I distributed 400 "180" DVDs to students as they left the campus of Canyon High School.

Not long after distributing the videos Trisha Ramos, writing on my behalf, sent an email to all of the teachers and administrators at Canyon High School. Here's the email:

"My name is Tony Miano, I work with Los Angeles-based film producer Ray Comfort. On Wednesday we gave hundreds of your students a free copy of a 33-minute award-winning movie called “180,” as they left your school. “180” received over one million views on YouTube in 22 days (we have given away over 200,000 DVD’s to high schools and colleges across the U.S.). It opens with 14 people (mainly college students) not knowing the identity of Adolf Hitler. This lack of knowledge of one of the darkest periods of human history deeply concerns me. You may like to look at the movie on-line and discuss it with your students. “180” also deals in depth with the subject of abortion. www.180movie.com"

I received the following email response from Mr. Lee:

"Take me off of you right-wing whack job list. Your movie is offensive and you are morons for comparing the Holocaust to the safe and legal practice of abortion. You aren't teaching anything or anyone, you are propagandizing. I am a former clinic defender, you're barking up the wrong tree here, idiots."

I sent Mr. Lee the following response:
Mr. Lee,

You are not on any “list.” Your email address, like the rest of the teachers and administrators at Canyon High School, is available through the school’s website (http://www.canyonhighcowboys.org/apps/staff/).

Poor grammar and poor manners aside, I do appreciate you taking the time to write us. Your email only serves to galvanize our resolve to reach the students at your school and high schools everywhere, with the message of “180.”
Mr. Lee's nonsensical tirade in written form is evidence of why it is so very critical to get "180" into the hands of as many high school students as possible.

Of course, in the United States, Mr. Lee is free to spew his hate-filled rhetoric. He is just as free as I am to distribute material to high school students from a public sidewalk outside his school. But Mr. Lee is the kind of man who is making indelible impressions upon the minds of the age group of young people most likely to have and/or encourage others to have an abortion. Mr. Lee is the kind of man who uses his freedom as license for condoning, supporting, even facilitating (as a clinic defender) the murder of unborn children.

Sadly, it is unlikely we can change the minds of people like Mr. Lee (although God can change the hardest of hearts); but we can certainly change the minds of those Mr. Lee is influencing--high school students. More importantly, of course, than changing the minds of young people about abortion is proclaiming the gospel to people of all ages, with the hope that the Sovereign Creator will change their hearts and minds and grant them the gifts of repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and eternal life.

The Lord is using "180" to accomplish both goals.

If you would like to share your thoughts and concerns with Mr. Lee, you can email him at: tlee@hartdistrict.org.

Please make sure to be Christ-like in any and all correspondences with Mr. Lee.

Join me in praying for the students who received "180" at Canyon High School last week. And pray for Taggart Lee. Pray the Lord brings him to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just a Thought: A Call for Weeping Prophets

I'm indebted to my pastor, Steve Jackson, for inspiring this article. His sermon this morning brought the following thoughts to mind.

And, by way of clarification, my use of the word "prophet," in the context of the call for more weeping prophets in our day, refers to a call for forth-telling prophets. It is not a call for foretelling prophet.

I believe the office of the foretelling prophet--akin to the prophets of old (Isaiah, Jeremiah [known as the "weeping prophet], Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.)--is an office that passed out of existence, with the end of the Apostolic Age. Yes, I am a Cessationist. There are no prophets, today, who foretell future events. There are only self-anointed false prophets who make self-serving predictions, most of which do not and will not come to pass. Additionally, the Canon of Scripture is closed. To argue that there are still men and women of God uttering new revelation would be to argue that the Canon of Scripture is incomplete.

On the other hand, I do believe the office of the forth-telling prophet remains to this day. The forth-telling prophet is one who declares the known truth of God--the Scriptures, in the pulpit and/or on the streets. While there is healthy and vigorous debate and disagreement regarding whether or not women should herald the gospel in the open-air, Scripture is clear the forth-telling prophet who stands in one of God's pulpits should be a man and only a man.


And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” ~ Luke 19:41-44

Jesus was making His way down the Mount of Olives, approaching the narrow Kidron Valley, en route to Jerusalem. The occasion is commonly referred to as the Triumphal Entry, which was the beginning of the Passion Week, which culminated with the crucifixion of the God-Man.

As He sat atop the colt and looked at City of Jerusalem, now just a short distance in front of Him, He wept. He wept over the City of the King. He wept because, as the All-Knowing-One, He knew what would befall the great city in about forty year's time. His prophetic words, foretelling the impending destruction of Jerusalem and its glorious Temple, came to pass in 70 A.D. To the smallest detail, Jesus declared utter carnage would decimate the city because they were spiritually blind, intentionally ignorant, and in arrogant denial regarding the coming of the Lord, the Messiah.

Jesus wept over the city and for the people.

There was one aspect of my career in law enforcement about which I never grew accustomed. It never was easy and it never grew easier over time. Sometimes I had to try, often unsuccessfully, to emotionally detach myself from the intense emotion of the situation. The situation, the call to which I am referring: death notifications.

More than once I had to tell young parents that their infant was dead, as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). More than once I had to knock on a door late at night to notify just-awakened family members that their loved one was killed by a drunk driver.

I will never forget the call. I will never forget the child. I will never forget the grief of an entire residential street. The toddler couldn't be moved until the coroner arrived. There she lay in her family's driveway, where moments before she was unintentionally killed by her father when he backed over her with his SUV. Imagine, if you can, the inconsolable anguish of the little one's grieving parents--especially her father. I stood with five other deputies, shielding the toddler's body from view, dying on the inside with every glance at the lifeless child.

And then there were the line-of-duty deaths. As a deputy sheriff and department chaplain, I was on scene for no less than ten line-of-duty deaths. In the aftermath of the tragic loss, I would spend days, sometimes weeks, with the mourning family and fellow partners of the fallen hero. The cycles of emotion were exhausting; and the depths of the sorrow was palpable. Unlike other deaths, there was no separating myself from the death of fallen comrades in arms. I was among the grieving.

The weeping I saw and heard in the above situations, the weeping I was brought to in some of these situations was profound.

Jesus wept over the city and the people.

The Greek word translated as "wept" in Luke 19:41 is "klaio" (klah'-yo), which means to sob, i.e. wail aloud -- bewail, or weep. My pastor put it this way. "Jesus, from the deepest portion of His soul, is groaning in a loud voice over what He saw." The same Greek word is used in describing Peter's weeping after hearing the cock crow twice, after he denied Jesus three times.

Jesus did not simply shed a tear over Jerusalem. He did not merely feel a passing sadness or pity about the pending fate of God's people. No. Jesus wept. His chest likely heaved, catching his breath with every few words, as He pronounced judgment upon the city on a hill.

Ezekiel, prophesying the very word of God, said, "Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel" (Ezekiel 33:11)?

Jesus, the Word became flesh, did not delight in what He knew would happen to Jerusalem. While the city and her people deserved what would come their way for their sin against the Triune God, Jesus did not relish in their demise. On the contrary: it grieved Him deeply.

Jesus cried out, with watery eyes, tear-stained cheeks, and words to the effect, "You missed it! I came to you! Those of you entrusted with My Word did not believe Me. I knew you would not believe! You missed it! And now, My beloved people, you will be destroyed! You will be destroyed by the very people who oppress you, now! You have not thrown the yoke off you! Your unbelief cinched it tighter around you!"

Jesus wept over the city and the people.

Where are the weeping prophets, today?

Where are the men of God who weep as they teach the Word of God, who weep as they herald the gospel on the streets?

Where are the weeping prophets, today?

Where are the men of God who grieve over the self-imposed spiritual plight of the lost?

Where are the weeping prophets, today?

I write as one looking in the mirror. Why do I not weep more for the lost? Why do I not weep as Jesus did? I do not weep because I do not love the lost as Jesus did. I do not love the lost enough.

If I am to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), then that conformity must include a deeper love for and grief over the lost. It must be reflected in my preaching. It must be reflected in my conversation. It must be reflected in the way I distribute tracts and carry the cross. It must be reflected in the way I pray.

Lord, raise up for yourself weeping prophets. Fill the streets not just with biblical preachers, but weeping prophets who rightly herald Your gospel.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Solid Food for Today: Dry Bone Hermeneutics

Where I've Been with the Cross

Outside the Santa Clarita Valley

1. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA

2. Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA

3. North Hollywood Metro Station, North Hollywood, CA

4. Brand Boulevard, Glendale, CA

5. Burbank Media Center, Burbank, CA

6. Cal State University Northridge, Northridge, CA

7. Corner of Nordoff Street and Reseda Boulevard, Northridge, CA

8. Corner of Nordoff Street and Yolanda Avenue, Northridge, CA

9. Corner of Balboa Boulevard and San Fernando Mission Road, Granada Hills, CA

Santa Clarita Valley

1. Corner of Lyons Avenue and Avenida Entrana, Newhall, CA (the first location)

2. Corner of Lyons Avenue and Wiley Canyon Road, Newhall, CA

3. Corner of Lyons Avenue and Peachland Avenue, Newhall, CA

4. Corner of Lyons Avenue and Orchard Village Road, Newhall, CA

5. Corner of Lyons Avenue and Newhall Avenue, Newhall, CA

6. Corner of Newhall Avenue and Main Street, Newhall, CA

7. Corner of Newhall Avenue and Carl Court, Newhall, CA

8. Corner of Newhall Avenue and Sierra Highway, Newhall, CA

9. Corner of Newhall Avenue and 15th Street (Hart High School), Newhall, CA

10. Orchard Village Road, in front of Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church, Newhall, CA

11. Corner of Pico Canyon Road and Marriott Way, Stevenson Ranch, CA

12. Corner of Pico Canyon Road and The Old Road, Stevenson Ranch, CA

13. Corner of Stevenson Ranch Parkway and Hemingway Avenue, Stevenson Ranch, CA

14. Corner of Stevenson Ranch Parkway and The Old Road, Stevenson Ranch, CA

15. Corner of The Old Road and Valencia Boulevard, Westridge, CA

16. Corner of Wiley Canyon Road and Tournament Road, Valencia, CA

17. Corner of Orchard Village Road and 16th Street, Valencia, CA

18. Corner of Orchard Village Road and Wiley Canyon Road, Valencia, CA

19. Corner of Tournament Road and Golf Course Road, Valencia, CA

20. Corner of Tournament Road and Golfview Drive, Valencia, CA

21. Corner of Tournament Road and McBean Parkway, Valencia, CA

22. Corner of McBean Parkway and Avenida Navarre, Valencia, CA

23. Corner of McBean Parkway and Arroyo Park Drive, Valencia, CA

24. Corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard, Valencia, CA

25. Corner of Valencia Boulevard and Goldcrest Way, Valencia, CA

26. Corner of McBean Parkway and Town Center Drive, Valencia, CA

27. Corner of McBean Parkway and Valencia Town Center, Valencia, CA

28. Corner of Valencia Boulevard and Citrus Street (in front of City Hall), Valencia, CA

29. Corner of McBean Parkway and Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA

30. Corner of Valencia Boulevard and Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA

31. Corner of McBean Parkway and Creekside Road, Valencia, CA

32. Corner of Valencia Boulevard and Bouquet Canyon Road, Valencia, CA

33. Corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Newhall Ranch Road, Valencia, CA

34. Corner of Newhall Ranch Road and Island View Court, Valencia, CA

35. Corner of Newhall Ranch Road and Dickason Drive, Valencia, CA

36. Corner of McBean Parkway and Decoro Drive, Valencia, CA

37. Corner of Seco Canyon Road and Copperhill Drive, Saugus, CA

38. Corner of Secon Canyon Road and Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus, CA

39. Corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Alamogordo Drive, Saugus, CA

40. Central Park, Santa Clarita, CA

41. Corner of Centurion Way and Hyssop Lane (Saugus High School), Saugus, CA

42. Corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Haskell Canyon Road, Saugus, CA

43. Corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Plum Canyon Road, Saugus, CA

44. Corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Shadow Valley Lane, Saugus, CA

45. Soledad Canyon Road east of Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus, CA

46. Corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Langside Avenue, Canyon Country, CA

47. Corner of Whites Canyon Road and Nadal Road (Canyon High School), Canyon Country, CA

48. Corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Whites Canyon Road, Canyon Country, CA

49. Corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway, Canyon Country, CA

50. Corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road, Canyon Country, CA

51. Wiley Canyon Road and Fourl Road, Newhall, CA

52. Corner of Wiley Canyon Road and Evans Avenue, Newhall, CA

53. Corner of The Old Road and Constitution Avenue, Stevenson Ranch, CA

54. Corner of The Old Road and Magic Mountain Parkway, Westridge, CA

55. Corner of Newhall Ranch Road and Copper Hill Drive, Valencia, CA

56. Corner of McBean Parkway and Del Monte Drive, Valencia, CA

57. Corner of Valencia Boulevard and Citrus Street, Valencia, CA

Revival-Southeast April Gathering (April 20-22)

Join me April 20-22, 2012, for the Revival-Southeast April Gathering. Bill Adams, Scott Smith, and I will serve as the speakers for the event.

And of course, and evangelism conference would not be complete without hitting the streets. We will spend three days on the streets of Atlanta, during the annual Dogwood Festival.

So join me for the Revival-Southeast April Gathering for a time of fellowship, teaching, and the open-air proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Appearance on CARM Radio

Recently, I had the privilege of joining Matt Slick on the CARM Radio program.

The primary topic for the hour-long conversation was homosexuality. I encourage you to listen and share your comments, here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ministry Spotlight: Calgary Peacemakers

This week's ministry spotlight is the Calgary Peacemakers. Like the Norcal Seedsowers and other evangelism teams across the country, most of the Calgary Peacemakers have been through Living Waters' Ambassadors' Academy.

Calgary Peacemakers is led by Kevin St. John. The team has a biblical understanding of the responsibility of the evangelist to the local church; and the team is also committed to sending/supporting missionaries.

Last Saturday, I was blessed to spend time with a few of the Calgary Peacemakers, including Brian Godley. Brian and sixteen others joined me for open-air preaching on Third Street Promenade, last Saturday. While Brian is actively engaged in biblical evangelism, he had never before open-air preached.

With all praise and glory to God, I was blessed to have the opportunity to encourage Brian and then watch him, as we say, "break the sound barrier."

Here is Brian's first-ever open-air message.

The Low Standards of Self-Righteousness

I met Irene on the campus of Cerritos College. Irene was a pleasant lady; but behind the pleasantness was a deep-seeded self-righteousness. Irene is not unique. In fact, most people in the world are just like Irene when it comes to how they think of themselves.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Weight of the Cross

Today was a very productive day. In addition to serving at the ministry and hosting "On the Box," I spent some time with Ray and Anita distributing "180" DVDs and talking to students at Cerritos College. This afternoon I was joined by my sister, her family, and some of her friends to distribute "180" DVDs outside of Canyon High School, in Canyon Country.

I had a little less than an hour before dinner. I wanted to get out with the cross to keep with my personal commitment and goal to be out with the cross as close to every day as possible. So, I picked a quiet corner close to home--the corner of Tournament Road and Golf Course Road.

As I stood quietly on the corner, I noticed my shadow in the street. The image of my shadow holding the cross was almost eerie, ominous. I must have stared at my shadow for more than a minute. When I returned my gaze to the motorists who, one after another, stopped at the stop sign, I watched each driver.

Some people smiled. Some snickered. Some rolled their eyes and shook their head. Some did everything they could not to look in my direction. And still others were simply indifferent to my presence.

As I watched the people drive to the intersection, stop, and drive away I began to have thoughts I have never before experienced while carrying the cross. And my heart grew more heavy by the moment.

I thought of how many thousands of people in my community have seen the "Are You Ready?" cross. About fifty intersections over more than 2 1/2 years--the number of people must be in the thousands, maybe tens of thousands. And then I asked myself a difficult, even painful question.

How many people who have seen the "Are You Ready?" cross are now dead? And how many of those who have died, without ever coming to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, had as one of their last thoughts the afternoon they saw a man standing on the corner, carrying a cross.

Carrying a cross is not evangelism. Posing the question "Are You Ready?" by writing it on a wooden cross is not evangelism. Asking someone if they are ready is not proclaiming the gospel.

Carrying a cross is pre-evangelism. As the stories on this blog and elsewhere well attest, the Lord can and does use the "Are You Ready?" cross to create opportunities for sharing the gospel.

That being said, I found myself wondering as I stood on the corner if God might use the "Are You Ready?" cross as a reminder or warning of what will later be the outpouring of His wrath and judgment, upon the lives of some.

Of course, I do not know if God has used, is using, or will use the "Are You Cross?" for this purpose. And I will never know this side of Heaven. But just the thought of God using the cross in that way, for that purpose, added a weighty, sober feeling to carrying the cross. I found myself fighting back tears and breathing a tad bit deeper as I contemplated the new burden I carried. Not that carrying the cross is burdensome (it's a privilege and joy); but an increased sense of burden for the loss and how important the foolish act of carrying a cross just might be.

My cross just got heavier--not by the pound, but with the weight of the unexpected way the Lord may be using it.

Just a Thought: Striking the Rock

During my daily Bible reading, today, I read Deuteronomy 34--the death of Moses.

God had told Moses that as a result of his sin of unbelief he would not enter the Promise Land. And how was Moses's sin made manifest?

The people of Israel had experienced the mighty and loving hand of God as He, through His servant Moses, delivered them out of Egypt. The people watched as God parted the Red Sea to allow them to escape the pursuing Egyptian army; and they watched that same army drowned in the sea when God rejoined the waters (exodus 14:1-31).

From the Red Sea, Israel walked into the wilderness of Shur where they found the waters of Marah. The waters were impotable. The people complained. And God used Moses to turn the waters from bitter to sweet (Exodus 15:22-25).

Israel set out from the Wilderness of Shur, to Elim, to the wilderness of Sin. There, the people complained again--this time about a lack of food. God responded by providing bread from Heaven (Exodus 16:1-36).

Israel set out once again. Their next stop was Rephidim. And once again the people complained of a lack of water. God commanded Moses to strike the rock at Horeb, which caused fresh water to gush from the rock--enough to quench the thirst of all the people (Exodus 17:1-7).

Some time later, Israel found themselves in the wilderness of Zin (not to be confused with the wilderness of Sin), where they camped in Kadesh. During this time Moses' wife, Miriam, died (Numbers 20:1). Shortly thereafter, the people once again complained about a lack of water. And once again Moses and Aaron petitioned the Lord on behalf of the people. This time, the Lord commanded Moses, not to strike the rock, but to tell the rock to yield water (Numbers 20:2-9).

Moses disobeyed. He struck the rock with his staff--not once, but twice (Numbers 20:10-13). As a result, God would not allow Moses to enter the Promise Land. But God--in addition to being holy, righteous, and just--is also loving, merciful, and kind. While God would not allow Moses to enter the Promise Land, God allowed Moses to see it before he died (Deuteronomy 34:4-7).

Although I've read the above accounts many times, this morning I was reminded of how many times I have struck the rock, so to speak, when I know I shouldn't have.

There have been times in my life (and I can only hope I will not make the same mistake in the future) when, knowing what God would have me do (by the clear teaching of His Word and/or godly counsel), I decided to strike out on my own. I decided that while God's apparent plan was good, the plan somehow needed the additional support of my experience, ingenuity, attitude, or some other fallible characteristic I assumed I had to offer.

Without fail, each and ever time I've done this (at least the times I can remember) the results were bad--even disastrous. I wonder how many times I've missed out on God's blessings because I chose to "strike the rock"--I chose to do things my way instead of God's way.

Professor Horner's Bible Reading System

I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine and his Bible Reading System. His name is Professor Grant Horner, associate professor at The Master's College--specializing in the Renaissance and the Reformation. He is also the Chair of Humanities at Trinity Classical Academy.

The Bible pictured here is the one from which Professor Horner has read for the last 26 years. I was introduced to his Bible Reading System just a few days ago, through an invitation to the system's Facebook group. I have but one complaint.

I love the Word of God. I love reading the Word, talking about the Word, and preaching the Word. But, like probably so many of you, I have been challenged my entire Christian life to remain consistent in my daily feeding upon the Word. While I am in the Bible every day (often times for the benefit of others), my personal reading time has been marked by peaks and valleys of consistency.

I have tried just about every Bible reading program imaginable--going so far as to try to develop my own when all other efforts failed. I truly believe I have finally found the Bible Reading System I will use until the Lord takes me home. Yes, it has only been a few days of using Professor Horner's system. But I believe it is that good. I believe this system of intense absorption of the Word of God will revolutionize your Bible reading and finally place the Word where it should be--deep in your heart, at the forefront of your mind, and on the tip of your tongue.

I am convinced that Professor Horner's Bible Reading System is going to make me a better evangelist, a better teacher, and a better student of the Word. I hope you will join me on the journey.

What follows is Professor Horner's explanation of the Bible Reading System.


"I have more wisdom than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation." Psalm 119:99, right-hand page, left-hand column, dead center of page. Many people ask me how it is that I know precisely where virtually *everything* is in my Bible. The answer: this system. I began in 1983 (adapting and tweaking the basic design of another system) as a brand-new convert; within 3 years I knew the text of my Bible very well. Twenty-five years later it is essentially imprinted on my mind and heart. I have been all over the country and have taught this system in many churches. I have done open-microphone Q&As on Bible and theology -- with 1200 people in the audience -- as well as cultural-analysis live radio shows where you have to think fast -- and it has been the "imprinting" value of this system that has helped me provide quick, clear, heavily contextualized scriptural answers (I Peter 3:15; right-hand page, right hand column, 1/3rd way down). I have no Seminary degrees, no Bible-college or Christian school education -- hey, I never even went to Sunday School (the first church I went to, just months after my conversion, threw me into Sunday School-- to teach!!! *BIG* mistake, by the way...) All I DID have was a chair, a lamp ... and my Bible.

This is *not* merely a speed-reading program, nor is it a 'study' system. Read the 1-page description provided here to see how it works. (I'd also recommend you look at my first few posts in the Discussion Board 'Starting Up' below as well, for more thoughts.) DO NOT be intimidated! I was a college drop-out, ex-heavy-druggie when I started it. If I can do it, so can you!

TRY IT FOR A MONTH. Then tell me what is happening!

Join if you wish to try it; stay if you keep it up for one month! And make posts about your struggles, the effects it is having on your biblical understanding and discernment, and to encourage others.



Each day you will read one chapter from each list, in order. THAT'S RIGHT -- *TEN CHAPTERS PER DAY*!!! Use ten bookmarks or sticky notes with the individual lists on them to keep track of your locations. On day one, you read Matthew 1, Genesis 1, Romans 1, and so forth. On day 2, read Matthew 2, Genesis 2, etc. On day 29, you will have just finished Matthew, so go to Mark 1 on the Gospel list; you’ll also be almost to the end of 2nd Corinthians and Proverbs, you’ll be reading Psalm 29 and Genesis 29, and so forth. When you reach the last chapter of the last book in a list – start over again. Rotate all the way through all the Scriptures constantly. Since the lists vary in length, the readings begin interweaving in constantly changing ways. You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again! Every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and prophetic books about 1 ½ times. Since the interweaving is constantly changing, you will experience the Bible commenting *on itself* in constantly changing ways -- the Reformer's principle of 'scriptura interpretans scripturam' -- 'scripture interpreting scripture' IN ACTION!

After you’ve read any particular book once or twice, your speed in that book usually *doubles or triples* because you’re familiar with it and can move quickly and confidently -- because you are no longer merely decoding the text but thinking it through in the context of all of the scripture! Acts 20:27. Even an ‘average’ reader, if focusing on moving through the text, rather than trying to figure everything out, can usually do this in about an hour a day – 5-6 minutes per chapter. If it is taking you longer, then you are ‘reading wrong’ – stay relaxed, focus, and just keep it moving. Moderate but consistent speed is the key. This is "gross anatomy" -- looking at the whole body; you're *not* closely studying organs or systems or tissues or cells -- it is *not* microbiology. BUT -- microbiology and the study or organs makes more sense when you know what the *whole* structure of the human body is like, and how all the parts, large and small, relate in perfect interdependence. After just a few days the reading gets *much* easier; in a month it will be a habit, and in six months you’ll wonder how you ever survived before on such a slim diet of the WORD. And then -- you'll tell others to start the system!

I began in 1983 as a new Christian and have now read (most of) the Bible hundreds and hundreds of times. You also need to get ONE Bible, keep it, and do all your reading in it, so you learn where everything is. I’ve had the same Bible since 1983 and I know it intimately. If you keep switching Bibles, you ‘lose’ this intimacy with the text. Find a translation and format you like and stick with it. THIS IS CRUCIAL.

When I was flown out by Masters for a 3-day interview/theological-grilling process, the culmination was of course being ushered in to Dr. John MacArthur's private study, which is where he asked me this one question: "Can I see your Bible?" I thought he would be horrified, because it looked like it had been through a typhoon -- it looked unloved and neglected. Something from a dumpster. It was unbound, with stringy mess and paper debris hanging out. I was so embarrassed. I thought he would chastise me and recommend I get a new study Bible if I was serious about the Word. (No doubt which study Bible he would recommend!!!) He flipped through it and handed it to his wife and said "If your Bible is falling apart, you probably aren't." I was basically hired on the spot.

Your Bible is the only thing on Earth that, as you wear it out, will actually work better and better.

List 1 (89 days)
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

List 2 (187 days)
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

List 3 (78 days)
Romans, I&II Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, Hebrews

List 4 (65 days)
I&II Thess, I&II Tim, Titus, Philemon, James, I&II Peter, I,II&III John, Jude, Revelation

List 5 (62 days)
Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon

List 6 (150 days)

List 7 (31 days)

List 8 (249 days)
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I&II Samuel, I&II Kings, I&II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

List 9 (250 days)
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

List 10 (28 days)

If you are wondering why you should read Acts (or Proverbs) all the way through *every single month* then -- you've just shown that you NEED to read them that much!

*Put these instructions in your Bible and review them from time to time*


• Read one chapter from each list each day, in one sitting or two. At the end of a book, go to the next book. At the end of the list – start it again. Do it in the order given above.

• Read quickly (without “speed reading”) in order to get the overall sense. Read as fast as you comfortably can with moderate retention. You’re not studying deeply or memorizing; shoot for 5-6 minutes per chapter. At the end of a chapter, move immediately to the next list.

• GET THROUGH THE TEXT – no dawdling, back-reading, looking up cross-references!

• There are different ‘kinds’ of reading: super-quick skimming, careful moderate-paced, studying the text, deep meditation. You should be between the first and second kind.

• Most people decrease their time spent and increase their retention after just two-three weeks! I now read and retain the entire text of Matthew in 35 minutes, Romans in 20, Genesis in *one hour*!

• Don’t look up anything you ‘don’t get’ – real understanding will come through contextualizing by reading a LOT of scripture over time. Get through the text!

• If you miss a day or two – OK, get over it, then keep going. Don’t cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes and quit! Move the bookmarks along, to find your place(s) quickly next day.
Heb 4:12;5:11-14; Eph 5:26; 6:17; Col 3:16; 2 Tim 3:16; Psalm 119; Ezra 8; Prov 3: 1-2, 10:14; Daniel 1

The goal of this system is simple, and twofold: To know scripture, and to love and obey God more!


Solid Food for Today: Presuppositional Apologetics

In this video, Dr. James White makes a concise argument for presuppositional apologetics over evidentiary apologetics.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cross Encounter: Two Mocked and Walked; One Stayed

This afternoon I spent an hour with my cross at yet another new intersection--the corner of Bouquet Canyon Road and Alamogordo Road, in an area of Santa Clarita known as Saugus.

Within minutes after arriving at the corner, I saw three young men on the opposite side of Bouquet Canyon Road and walking toward the intersection. One of the three yelled, "I'm Jewish!"

"What's your point?!" I replied.

That got their attention.

When the light turned green, they started across the street in my direction. Chris was the first to speak.

"I just want to ask you a question. Ready for what?"

"Are you ready for eternity? Are you ready to stand before God and give an account for your life?" I asked.

"I'm ready?"

"What makes you ready?"

"I have Jesus."

"What does that mean?"

"I'm a Christian."

"What does that mean? A lot of people claim to be Christian, but they don't know Jesus. They don't know the Jesus of the Bible."

"I'm a good person."

"Do you consider yourself to be a good person?"


"What's your definition of a good person?"

"I don't know. A good soul."

"Do you read the Bible?"

"No. But I used to go to a Bible study."

"The Bible says that every man will declare his own goodness."

One of Chris's friends interjected and asked, "Do you go to church on Sunday?"

"Yeah, but that doesn't make me a good person. I'm not a good person."

"I feel like you don't have to go to church on Sunday. I haven't been to church in fifteen years. I don't feel like I have to go to church to be a good person."

"In the end, it doesn't matter what we feel or believe. What matters is whether or not what we feel and believe is true. A lot of people have different feelings and beliefs out there. Some people feel and believe it's good to fly planes into buildings for their god. That's doesn't make it right."

I returned my attention to Chris.

"Are you familiar with the Ten Commandments?"


"Okay. That's actually God's moral standard. In fact, the definition of 'good' is moral perfection. I'm not that."

I took Chris through several of the commandments. He admitted being a liar, thief, blasphemer, and adulterer-at-heart.

"Chris, does that sound like the definition of a good person?"

"I guess I'm going to Hell."

Chris's response seemed a bit sarcastic; but there was more to his answer than that, and I could see it in his eyes. He had a look of concern and conviction on his face.

It was at this moment that Chris's two friends became uncomfortable and wanted to leave.

"Come on, man!" One of his friends said. "It's time to go drink some beer!"

"You can get beer in a little bit. You can stick around for a bit and have a reasonable conversation."


Back to Chris.

I shared the courtroom analogy with Chris. It was during the analogy that his friends made one last ditch effort to pull Chris out of the conversation. It didn't work. Chris wanted to stay and talk. Chris' friends made some mocking comments, but a couple minutes later they walked away.

When I finished the courtroom analogy, ending with a stranger coming into the courtroom to pay Chris's fine, I asked Chris, "Would that be good news?"


"What would you think of the person that did that for you?"

"I would love him."

"Okay. Let's see--because that's exactly what God did."

I then proclaimed the gospel to Chris. Throughout the presentation of the gospel, Christ nodded in the affirmative.

"Chris, it seems you are agreeing with me, because you've heard this before. But yet you think you're going to Heaven because you believe you're a good person. The Word of God says that there is no one who is good. All of our good deeds are nothing but filthy rags before a holy God.

"God's standard is perfection, and we can't live up to that. That's why Jesus came to Earth. We need a savior. The Bible says that the demons believe and tremble. Satan and his demons know exactly who Jesus Christ is and what He came to do. Their knowledge is far superior to our own. But they're not going to Heaven simply because they know the truth about Jesus.

"What God commands of us is that we repent--that we turn from our sin, turn to God and put our faith in Christ alone to save us. Not in our own goodness; not in a church; not in anything else but Jesus Christ. And it's on the basis of what He did on the cross, and not on the basis of anything we have done, that we can be saved.

"So you need to consider where you really stand with God."

Chris's eyes were watery, as if he was fighting back tears.

"Now, you're standing here and your friends walked away for a reason. There's something going on inside you. I can't read your mind and I don't know your heart; but you're staying here for a reason. They walked away for a reason.

"As soon as you walk down that street, they're going to try to talk you out of everything you just heard. But there's nothing more important than your soul, Chris. When you die and stand before God, there are no second chances. There are no do-overs. That's why God has given you the opportunity to hear the gospel today--giving you the opportunity to repent and put your trust in Christ."

Chris and I talked for another minute or two. We shook hands and thanked each other for the conversation.

I watched Chris walked down the sidewalk, in the same direction his friends went several minutes earlier. I knew what the conversation would be like when Chris reached his friends. I prayed, asking the Lord to allow the seeds I tossed to land on good soil. I asked the Lord to save Chris.

Please join me in that prayer.

Two mocked and walked, but one stayed. One stayed. And I thank God for that.

Just a Thought: Absolute Authority

Many Christians, particularly Americans under the influence of modern-day evangelicalism, are very weak in a critically important aspect of their faith. They, in thought and/or in practice, fail to recognize the absolute authority of King Jesus.

The absolute authority, the kingship, the sovereignty of Jesus was not lost to a gentile centurion (Matthew 8:5-13). The centurion realized the greatness of the One from whom he sought favor was too great to allow him to approach the Authority in person (Luke 7:6-7). So, he sent a group of local Jewish elders to petition on his behalf (Luke 7:3), realizing he was utterly unworthy to have the King condescend to come to his house to heal one of his slaves (Luke 7:6b).

Jesus remarked that the submissive faith he saw in the centurion was unlike anything He had seen in Israel (Matthew 8:10; Luke 7:9). Sadly, I think Jesus would be hard-pressed to find such submissive faith in most American Christians--believers who have been spiritually raised on a diet of Jesus as a genie (waiting to grant every wish of the person rubbing their spiritual lamp); Jesus as a homeboy (just another friend with whom it is cool to hangout); Jesus as a butler (seen only as servant and not as King); Jesus as a cafe companion (a listening ear obligated to accept the esoteric philosophies of new and hip Gnostics); and Jesus as supplier (like a back alley dealer providing a spiritual high with an injection into the artery of felt needs and desires).

While the centurion likely did not know Jesus was/is God-in-the-Flesh, he did understand that Jesus' authority was far greater than his own (Note: the centurion was likely the equivalent of the Chief of Police of Capernaum). And the centurion, being a man under authority and a man of considerable authority himself, knew his place. He knew how to act when petitioning One with so much authority.

Unfortunately, too many Christians in America see their "free will" as sovereign and sacrosanct. While they say Jesus is Lord, he is only Lord to the extent they allow him to be. Jesus Christ is not the absolute authority in their life. His authority is limited to the will of the one who errantly thinks he made Jesus Lord of his life.

No one makes Jesus Lord. Jesus Christ is Lord. No one gives Jesus authority. He has always been and always will be the Master of the Universe. No one allows Jesus to rule and reign. He is no elected official. He is the Sovereign One with absolute authority, and no one else has a vote.

In order to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), one must submit himself (in thought, word, and deed) to the lordship of King Jesus (Revelation 1:4-6). Sinful man does not have the option, the right, or the authority to choose between submitting to Jesus as Lord or submitting to Jesus as Savior. Jesus is either Lord and Savior in one's life, by the sovereign will and amazing grace of God the Father, or He is neither Lord nor Savior in that person's life.

The centurion recognized the authority of Jesus. Do you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cross Encounter: 'Should I Still Honor My Father?'

I made my way to the corner of 16th Street and Orchard Village Road. It would be the first time I carried the cross at this intersection.

While en route to the intersection, I called Zack, one of my sons-in-the-faith. He wanted to talk about a recent witnessing encounter he had--an encounter that raised objections from one of his fellow college students. We continued our conversation as I parked my car and made my way to the corner.

After a few minutes on the corner, I saw a young lady walk toward me from across the street. I handed her an "Are You Ready?" gospel tract as she stepped from the street, onto the sidewalk.

She looked at the cross and gasped. "These are my friends!"

"What? You know the kids in the picture?"

"Yes I do." She proceeded to point to each one as she stated their names.

She looked up at me and said, "I see you everywhere. Do you have a job?"

She wasn't being sarcastic, which made what she said all-the-more humorous to me.

"Yes, I have a job. I serve with a ministry in Bellflower. I try to come out with the cross for an hour or so each day, when I get home."

"How long have you been doing this?"

"About 2 1/2 years."


"So I can have conversations with nice people like you."

She smiled. She pointed up to the cross and asked, "What does that mean?"

On the back side of my cross I have "John 14:6."

"John 14:6 says, 'Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."'"

Because of the personal nature of what I am about to share, we will call the young lady "Karen."

I knew I still had Zack on my phone, but I also knew Zack would understand that I had to have a conversation with Karen. After a while, I heard the computerize voice of my Bluetooth say, "Call disconnected." I later learned that Zack's phone battery died. He texted me to say he was praying for Karen.

Karen told me she believed in God, and believed in Heaven and Hell. She was seventeen and graduated early from an area high school. I learned she has lived in the community for a couple years, but was originally from Moorpark, where she attended a non-denominational church.

I asked Karen if she knew what would happen to her when she dies. She didn't know.

Like most people, she believed she was a good person. She believes that people who do "bad things" will go to Hell.

I took Karen through the commandments. She admitted to being a liar who dishonored her parents by lying to them. She was concerned as she came to the realization that if she were to die today, she would spend eternity in Hell, as the just punishment for her sins against God.

Then Karen asked me a question that broke my heart.

"My dad raped me. Do I still have to honor him?"

She told me that although the crime was reported to the police, her father was never arrested or faced charges for the assault. She no longer lives with her father.

It was difficult, and I was as gentle as I could be, but I explained to her that honoring one's parents is something children are to do, regardless of whether or not the parents are honorable. I was quick to assure her that what her father did to her was despicable and he should be in prison for the rest of his life.

She asked me what honoring her father, considering the circumstances, would look like. I told her that she shouldn't seek vengeance or act out of hatred toward her father. I really was at a loss for words.

I told her how sorry I was that she had been victimized in such a horrible way. My blood was boiling toward a man I would never meet, who violated a girl the age of my youngest daughter, Amanda. At the same time, I wanted to give her a hug. Of course, I didn't.

I used the court room analogy with Karen as a transition to the gospel. I asked her what she would think of someone who would pay her fine so she could be set free. She said, "I would be forever-grateful and I would love him and follow him the rest of my life.

I shared the gospel with Karen, which she understood.

Karen, who was waiting to meet friends, seemed to be in no hurry to leave.

As we continued to chat on the corner, I told her where I attend church. I learned Karen aspires to be a college hockey player. She graduated with a 5.0 GPA. She was offered a scholastic scholarship to a prestigious university. If the hockey goal (no pun intended) doesn't work out, her back-up plan is to be a photographer.

We continued to chat until she received a call from her friends. I encouraged her to read the Gospel of John and explained to her where she could find it in the Bible. She said she would read it.

Karen walked away to meet her friends; and I thanked God for the opportunity to talk to her.

Lately, I have been hearing more of the silly mantra that talking to strangers and open-air preaching doesn't "work." The sentiment is one born out of either ignorance or arrogance--a sentiment that may also be born out of fear.

Karen and I talked for almost an hour. Before the conversation was over, we were no longer strangers. I knew about Karen's spiritual beliefs, her aspirations, and her pain. There's nothing "cold" about this kind of evangelism (as some would errantly characterize it)--not if you care about the people with whom you are blessed to speak.

Pray for Karen. Pray the Lord saves her.

Just a Thought: Every Doctrine Is Essential

"Let's focus on the essentials." This is a rather common phrase when Christians speak about doctrine. "Let's focus on the essentials." This phrase is typically uttered when two Christians disagree on a particular point of doctrine.

It is true not every doctrine articulated in the Word of God is soteriologically essential--meaning not every doctrine must be articulated to and understood by an unbeliever for the unbeliever to understand the gospel and come to genuine repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. However, every doctrine in the Word of God is essential. The reason: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Too often phrases like "let's focus on the essentials" is the verbalization of laziness and a lack of spiritual discipline. As Paul instructed Timothy so, too, should every Christian follow the apostle's instruction. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[b] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

While there are varying opinions about the meaning of Scripture, about the meaning and application of the Bible's many doctrines; there is only one valid interpretation of God's Word--God's. While Christians can "agree to disagree" regarding the interpretation of Christian doctrine, such agreement is never an excuse for laziness in biblical study. All of God's Word is essential. All of God's Word is profitable. Every doctrine matters.

Will a Christian, any Christian, come to a full and right understanding of every doctrine this side of Heaven? No. But every Christian should study and strive to "rightly handle the word of truth." Every doctrine within the Word of God is essential, or God wouldn't have given His doctrines to His people, the Church.

Yes, Christian, focus on the essentials. All of them!

Just a Thought

In Thessalonica, Paul and Silas were accused of turning the world upside down by heralding another King, Jesus (Acts 17:6-7). How many churches in America can be accused of the same by a God-hating society? How many Christians can be accused of the same? Could anyone accuse you?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mapping My Community

The above photo is a map of the Santa Clarita Valley--my community. With a couple-hundred-thousand people in the valley, covering more than three hundred square miles, there are a lot of intersections (large and small) in my community.

In addition to trying to spend an average of an hour a day out in my community with the cross, I am going to try to spend time at every intersection in the valley. I may not finish before the Lord calls me home, but I'm going to give it a try.

So, to help me keep track of where I've been with the cross, I picked up a map from AAA. While you cannot see it in the above photo, each intersection where I've stood with the cross is represented by a green dot. And while I've been to many intersection several times, to date I have spent time with the cross at forty-five intersections in my community. I was surprised to discover how many intersections I've covered.

I'm a little nervous about trying to take the cross to every intersection. The reason is when I start going to the smaller, neighborhood intersections, I think it's going to feel a little like door-to-door evangelism. Seeing a person standing with a cross at a major intersection is one thing. Seeing the same person down the street from your front door, well, is another thing entirely. On the bright side, I do expect to be contacted by more people in the neighborhoods than at major intersections.

If you carry a cross as I do, I want to encourage you to map your community. Get to as many intersections as you can, which will give you the opportunity to be seen by and to talk to more people.

Just a Thought

I do not use God's eternal, immutable, and universal moral law in evangelism because it works. That would be pragmatism. I use God's eternal, immutable, and universal moral law in evangelism because, in doing so, I am allowed to see God work--to see Him, through the Holy Spirit, bring people to the knowledge of their sin and prepare them to hear the gospel.

Just a Thought

Don't worry about Satan. If you are not actively engaged in proclaiming the Law and the Gospel to lost souls and praying for those who do, you pose no real threat to him. And if the enemy does not see you as a threat, then what kind of soldier are you, really?

Just a Thought

Might real revival happen if instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build mausoleums to warehouse the spiritually disobedient and to entertain the lost, the Church invested in indigenous missionaries, both at home and abroad? Jesus never said, "If you build it, they will come."

Just a Thought

We do what we care about.

If you say that you believe Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life but you refuse to tell people, then you really don't care where people will spend eternity. Why? Because you will do what you care about.

Just a Thought

Friendship evangelism is neither friendship nor evangelism without the verbal proclamation of the gospel.

Just a Thought

Depraved Indifference: Being morally culpable while acting with wanton disregard for the life of another. If you refuse to share the gospel with lost souls, then you are guilty as charged.

Just a Thought

The true Christian understands that he is to remain in the world while not being of the world. But a false convert will sit precariously atop the fence separating two worlds and, when he thinks he is losing his balance and he thinks he may fall, he will look to the world instead of Christ to catch him--all the while insisting his trust is in the Lord.

Just a Thought

"He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep" (Jn. 10:12-13). So, too, is the pastor that does not guard his flock from false teachers, heretics, and the world. He is not a shepherd, but a hireling that does not care.

Just a Thought

If you feed a lost person; if you give him something cool to drink; if you put a roof over his head and give him the shirt off your back, but you fail to share the gospel with him; know this. If he dies after you've lovingly served him, having never heard the gospel from your lips, he will be warmed and filled as he faces God's judgment and eternity in hell. Serve people? Yes. But please share the gospel.

Just a Thought

If you live by the extra-biblical adage, "Live your life in such a way that people ask you why," yet you dress like the world, talk like the world, act like the world, and enjoy the same things that entertain the world; then what do you expect a spiritually dead and blind person to see in you? It won't be Jesus Christ. It will just be you. They won't ask what's different about you, because you look just like them.

Just a Thought

If you are doing something that is extra-biblical, meaning the Bible neither commands nor condemns the activity, you must be extra-careful. To use the fact that the Bible does not specifically speak about a certain activity as justification to engage in the activity is neither wise nor safe. For when the Word of God is not your guide, you are led by nothing more than sinful, fallible flesh. So be careful.

Just a Thought

Proclaiming the Gospel is not a right given to Christians by men. It is a command given to Christians by God. If you want to earn and exercise a right, go earn and exercise the right to die for Jesus Christ at the hands of the very people who insist you do not have the right to speak to them about the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Just a Thought

As a Christian, do you affirm the Bible's teaching that one should not seek the praises of men and that God alone is worthy of praise while, at the same time, fully expecting God to praise you when you obey Him? Then please consider what Jesus said. "So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants, we have only done what was our duty'" (Lk. 17:10).

Just a Thought

One woman dances in a "gentlemen's club," in a seedy part of town. Another woman is a model and participates in "beauty" pageants on the world's stages. Both disrobe for money. Yet many Christians would say the former needs Christ while, at the same time, they prop up the latter as a Christian role model. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in that?

Just a Thought

A 17-year-old girl pays a 21-year-old friend to beat her up, hoping the assault would cause her to miscarriage. He is charged with attempt "murder." She is charge with solicitation to commit "murder." Yet women solicit doctors to murder their babies every day. Why is the former a crime and the latter a "choice?" Simple. It's the hypocrisy of a God-hating society and the total depravity of the human heart and mind.

Just a Thought

Take two pieces of notebook paper and a pen. Find a quiet place. Title the first piece of paper: "People With Whom I Won't Share The Gospel." List all of the people who fall under that category. Title the second piece of paper: "People I Want To Go To Hell." List all of the people who fall under that category. You should find that the lists are identical.

Just a Thought

Isn't it sad that those who scream "You're judgmental!" the loudest never seem to do so in front of a mirror?

Just a Thought

It always fascinates me how some Christians will hear me share the gospel and rail against my "methodology," saying, "Evangelism isn't about methods." Then they try to support their rebuke by talking about friendship evangelism, meeting felt needs, and being culturally relevant. Wait. Aren't those methods? I think methods are fine so long as the GOSPEL is preached. Maybe that's what bugs them. Maybe it's not the methodology after all. Maybe it's the gospel that bothers them. If so, they should examine themselves to see if they are even in the faith.

Just a Thought

Christians refer to Jesus as "King of kings," yet many see Him as an elected official--someone they chose. God is sovereign. Not you.

Just a Thought

Someone once said, "The atheist can't find God for the same reason a thief can't find a policeman."

Just a Thought

A church's budget reveals whether or not they believe the Lord will return at any moment.

Just a Thought

Jesus said that people will hate me because of Him. What unbelievers often fail to realize is that their hatred toward Christians only serves to validate that the Word of God is true.

Solid Food for Today: 2 Peter 3:9

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ministry Spotlight: NorCal Seedsowers

I am blessed to know of and to, at times, work with many solid evangelism teams across the country. But there are a few that stand out to me as the best-of-the-best. Nor Cal Seedsowers is one of those teams.

The NorCal Seedsowers are, in my estimation an evangelistic "dream team." If they were a baseball team, they would be the Los Angeles Dodgers playing the all-star Little League team in your community. The NorCal Seedsowers have so many good players on their team.

Most of those who are part of the NorCal Seedsowers have attended the Ambassadors' Academy. Team members include, among others: Dan Beaudoin, John And Nancy Murphy, Jared Duba, Dena Galang, James Bynum, and Don Harman.

The NorCal Seedsowers is a team that fires on all cylinders: mall evangelism, open-air preaching, sketch board evangelism, Project Ezra, parades and special event evangelism, evangelism training, blogging, and filming.

The NorCal Seedsowers team is making Christ known and proclaiming Christ crucified to the lost of the greater San Jose, CA, area.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My First Open-Air

A little more than a year ago, while cleaning my office, I came across an envelope from a one-hour photo shop. It contained several photos of one-to-one conversations I had when I used to do street fishing for Way Of The Master Radio (now known as Wretched Radio). I started street fishing for Todd Friel, the host of Wretched Radio and Television, back in October of 2006. It's hard to believe it has been almost six years since Todd asked me to participate in the show.

As I flipped through the pictures, I came across the above photo. At first I didn't think much of it. I thought it was just another picture of me open-air preaching. But something about the photo held my attention. Then it hit me. The photo I held in my hand, the one my good friend Dale Jackson turned into to the piece of art you see aove, was taken by either my wife, Mahria, or my youngest daughter, Amanda. It was taken during my first open-air. It was taken shortly after I climbed atop a box for the first time to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, outside the four walls of a church. The photo is undated, but it was taken during the summer of 2005.

I would like to share with you, now, the story of my first open-air. I hope by sharing the story other Christians will be encouraged to step out in faith and, as we like to say in evangelist circles, "break the sound barrier."

Prior to my first open-air, I had been distributing gospel tracts and going to places like local malls to engage people in conversation. I had recently published Take Up The Shield, which afforded me the opportunity to visit Living Waters and meet Ray Comfort and the Living Waters team. The publishing group that published my book also publishes many of Ray's books.

By God's grace, I began a friendship with Ray and Stuart "Scotty" Scott (Ray's fishing buddy for many years). Both men made themselves available to answer my questions about all aspects of evangelism, including open-air preaching. I traveled to Huntington Beach to listen to Ray preach. And I visited Scotty several times at his favorite fishing pond, at one of the theaters in his community.

As I spent time with these two godly preachers, my desire to open-air preach grew. The thought was both exciting and frightening. For what seemed like months, I vacillated about whether or not to climb atop a box to preach in the open-air. Scotty bore the brunt of my indecision, receiving frequent e-mails and phone calls, seeking his advice and encouragement. He was both patient and kind.

One afternoon during such a phone call, Scotty said, "Tony, just swallow your fears and do it!" There was something in the way Scotty said it that gave me the final push I needed. Now the question was where. Where would I preach my first open-air message?

I knew it wouldn't be in my own community. The reason for this was two-fold. First, Santa Clarita, being such a "planned" community, there are very few truly public places where people gather en masse. Second, while I thought I had worked up the courage to preach, there was no way I was going to preach in an area where deputy sheriffs I knew and with whom I worked might receive a call about the "crazy guy on the box."

So, I chose a location almost sixty miles from home--Marina Park in San Buenaventura. Marina Park is a quiet little park adjacent to the beach. I chose the park because I was familiar with the area and I was certain no one I knew would see the spectacle I was sure I would make of myself.

My team that cool and overcast Summer day consisted of my wife, Mahria, and my youngest daughter, Amanda (who was about ten-years-old at the time). Mahria is, by nature, a quiet person--one who enjoys being in the background, quietly and prayerfully supporting her more extroverted husband. Amanda, well, she takes after her mom.

We arrived at the park at about noon. Because of the unseasonably cool weather, there were few people in the park, which was just fine with me. I brought with us a canopy, table, Bibles, and tracts. It took a little time to set up our makeshift evangelism booth. I then spent the next hour working up the courage--the courage to do this.

"Mahria, I need you and Amanda to go gather a crowd for me."


"I need you to walk around the park and tell people that I'm going to give away money for answering trivia questions."

"Umm. No. We're here to support you, but we're not going to do that!"

Amanda's eyes were as big as saucers. Her eyes expressed a fear the two of us most definitely shared.

"Look! If you don't go draw a crowd, then we're going home! And we would have driven all the way out here for nothing!"

This was not a particularly spiritual or chivalrous high-point in my life.

Mahria took little Amanda by the hand and the two of them, literally dragging their feet, headed west toward the beach. I watched as my two ladies disappeared over the small rise that separated the park from the beach. For a moment, I foolishly wondered if I would ever see them again.

It was then that I had a not-so-spiritual conversation with the Lord.

"God, if you want me to open-air preach, you'll have a crowd standing in front of me, in the next ten minutes. If not, then I will take that as a sign that I should pack up and go home."

I waited; half-hoping no one would come. I was scared.

A few short minutes after that unbiblical prayer, I noticed Mahria and Amanda in the distance walking back to where I stood. And then I saw something that scared me more than the thousands of angry people I encountered as a deputy sheriff, during the four days of senseless rioting in Los Angeles, in 1992.

People. Mostly teenagers. Lots of people. In my mind's eye, which, at the time, was distorted by fear, the people coming toward me over the rise looked like a colony of hungry ants marching to a picnic. What in my mind was a throng of people was, in actuality, thirty to forty people.

I would later learn that Mahria and Amanda, once they hit the beach, wandered into a "Sweet 16" birthday party. As soon as the group of young people heard that someone was giving away money, they moved the party from the beach to the park. Within moments, I was surrounded by a crowd of smiling young faces. They weren't happy to see me. They were looking forward to separating me from my money.

There was no turning back, now. Mahria had a look on her face that said, "Well. Go on! You wanted a crowd. Here it is. You better preach." Since that life-changing moment, I have preached hundreds of times in the open-air. What happened next was a phenomenon that stays with me to this day, almost every time I climb atop the box.

With trivia questions and dollar bills in hand, I placed my right foot on the box. Then it happened. My right foot found its way to the top of the box relatively quickly; but my left seemed to be glued to the ground. It wouldn't move. It was as if the gravitational pull underneath my left foot was so strong, my foot felt like it weighed hundreds of pounds. And there I stood in that position, for what seemed like several minutes. In reality, it was probably less than a minute.

Today, the phenomenon appears far more spiritual than it is. With Bible in hand (instead of trivia and cash these days), I place my right foot on the box. Then I begin to flip through my Bible, giving the appearance that I'm searching for a text from which to preach. That decision was made long before I stepped onto the box. What I'm doing, in reality, is buying time--buying time for my left foot to be released from the ground so I can finish climbing onto the box. It's that twinge of trepidation that is with me to this day, every time I preach in the open-air.

Eventually, my left foot joined the right atop the box; and I began to ask the crowd of people trivia questions. After giving away several dollars, I asked the crowd if there was anyone present who would like to try to win $20. With a small roar, every young hand in the crowd shot in the air. I chose a young man in the crowd and took him through the Good Person Test.

And then I preached the gospel for the first time, in the open-air.

There was nothing eloquent about my preaching. I knew that I had preached "better" from the pulpit. My sermon was short and to the point. I ended my sermon much the same way I end almost every open-air sermon to this day.

"So please, repent. Turn from your sin. And by faith, and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior while God has given you time. And thank you for listening."

I did it! I preached the gospel in the open-air. I survived. No one tried to kill me. There was no weeping or gnashing of teeth from the crowd. In fact, what happened next both amazed and encouraged me.

The crowd did not disperse. They just stood there as if they were as amazed at what they heard as I was to have preached. I even motioned with my hands to the crowd, as if to shoo them away.

"I'm finished." I said. Yet they would not leave. Some of them wanted Bibles. Others had questions--not the typical kind of questions angry atheists ask for no other reason than to justify their unbelief; but real, sincere questions.

I fought back tears as I realized two things. First, I came to the realization that, for many years, I had sinned against God. I had sinned against Him by not proclaiming the gospel in the streets. I had thought that the Lord had destined me to fill a pulpit, to shepherd one of His flocks--one of the greatest callings a man can ever have placed upon his life. But I realized at that moment that there was another equally important calling--that of the herald of the gospel of Jesus Christ--that of the person who is called to proclaim the gospel in the highways and byways to a lost and dying world. Second, I knew at that moment that I had discovered my true calling in life. I finally knew how the Lord would have me serve Him for the rest of my life--as an evangelist.

After a little more time talking to the young people in the park, we packed up our stuff and headed home. Mahria would know best; but I don't think a smile left my face the entire way home. All I could think of was that crowd of people who had just heard the gospel, and where the Lord would have me preach next.

That was almost seven years ago. Today, I can't think of anything else I would ever want to do with my life, other than preaching the gospel and encouraging and equipping other Christians to do the same.

Often times when people ask me how I'm doing, I answer, "Better than I deserve." It's a true statement. Whether the day is good or bad in my mind, by the grace of God I am always doing better than I deserve. To be allowed by my Lord, Savior, Creator, and King to herald His gospel in the streets is to be given a precious gift that is far and away more than I will ever deserve.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be all the honor, praise, and glory. Him I proclaim!