Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Salvation for Sarah

Many of you have followed my email conversation with Sarah, a self-professed agnostic who watches "On the Box." I finally was able to take some time this morning to sort through some of the mounting emails in my in-box. My heart leaped for joy when I read the following email from Sarah.


Hi Tony,

I hope you are having a great time at the Olympics. I have to share with you what has happend in my life today! Thank you for communicating with me through email the times you did. You were a big part in helping me to understand. I sent this email to OTB tonight:

Hello Ray, Mark, and EZ. Forgive me, I don't remember anyone elses name there. Sarah, here.

I was agnostic for 22 years. God changed that.

I saw Ray preach at Huntington beach, a few years ago and listened for a while. I think that was what really made me wonder why Christians believe what they believe.

My parents claimed to be Christian. We made references to God in our home, we read the Bible a few times, I attended churches a few times throughout my childhood. BUT I was taught evolution at home, also. That makes you VERY confused. God and evolution do not mix. I was taught evolution in school. Yes, I was very indoctrinated to believe we came from apes. With no one to explain anything to me, I came up with my own ideas about the world, about where we go when we die. I thought I was a wonderful person.

I've had only two experiences. Many people who claimed to be Christians who said this: "You need to believe in Jesus. God has the best plan for your life. Please don't wait. Come to him now, and you won't be sorry." I thought they were crazy. I had the "best life". I always thought Jesus was for those, who needed something to make themselves feel better.

I NEVER heard about sin, God's Judgement, about where I would be going.

Then you have the other end of the spectrum: Came across a street preacher, who said this, "You'd better believe what I'm saying. If you don't repent of your sins, you are going to burn in hell for all eternity, and I WON'T have a problem with it." I will never forget how much hate was in his voice, when he said that. You really expect people to listen to you when you talk like that? Not me. Then he wonders why people are angry with him.

Thank you, Ray, for the kindness in your voice when you talk with people. It makes a huge difference.

As you know I've engaged Christians in the chat room. I love OTB, you guys are hilarious! (Yes, you are allowed to have as much fun as you do. Haha)

Seriously though, God really used portions of what you talk about on the show, to show me my need for Jesus. Tony emailing me was very good, too. I have to email him and let him know what occured in my life today. Two people in paticular really reached out to me and shared the truth through chatting and email. Elizabeth encouraged me to continue to watch the show.

I got saved today after chat. It was suggested I use Psalm 51 as a model prayer. I was taken through the Ten Commandments again today. This is the email I sent, to those two people who shared the truth with me:


"I write this email, crying off and on. Thank you so much for sharing the truth with me. I just realized how much God has been working in my life for years. Even in the midst, of all my skepticism...God kept drawing me to himself.

I think the starting point for me, was when I saw Ray preach at Huntington beach. Then when Liz got saved I couldn't believe it. Liz shared the Commandments with me, but it didn't bother me then. I wonder why? I only checked out OTB because I was curious. Tony's emails were a big part in this, too. I had no idea that there was so much power behind what happened to her, and what she had been told. Well, I've experienced that power of God in my life!

I can't believe I ignored God for so long, even with proof in front of my eyes. Yes, it was sin that was blinding my eyes.

After chatting with you, I started to cry. Cry over things, that I had forgotten I had done. Even the "little things" made me feel so guilty. I looked up the 10 Commandments myself and what I found is that I was even worse than I felt, or what we went over.

I looked up Psalm 51 and it described exactly how I felt. I've sinned against God my whole life.
I couldn't stand the thought of being seperated from God, because of my sin. Hell would have been a just judgement for me. It hurt my heart so much that I had sinned against God.

I used Psalm 51 as a model for me to pray after. I kept confessing to God, for what seemed like a long time and asking him to forgive me. I told him I sinned against him and didn't want to be that person anymore. In the midst of tears, I asked Jesus to save me. I put my trust in him for my eternity. Yes, Jesus is God and yes he died on the cross and, yes, he rose from the grave! I was saved at 3:45pm today.

It's like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. A weight I couldn't deal with on my own. That weight is what had been bothering me this past week. Without the 10 Commandments I wouldn't have known, what a terrible position I was in. To think that God offered such a gift, to us. We don't deserve such a gift. That is LOVE. John 3:16 makes sense, after you are pointed to what you need saved from. I don't fear death anymore, and I don't fear hell. I'm glad I won't be seperated from God!!

To think I thought I was such a wonderful person, and I could go to a place like Heaven. To think that I said I didn't see proof for God, and thought after I died I would be good enough to go to a place like heaven..but there would be no God there. I think that's pride.

I can't stop thanking God now. The Gospel is indeed Good news.

I'm going to email OTB and let them know what's happened with me. What an awesome God!
Now I need to learn how to tell others!

I can't be on tomorrow, but hopefully chat with you Wednesday.

Thanks again, Sarah."


I'm sure that I will hear, from my friends, that I've been "brain-washed". I'll tell them, "No. I've been heart-washed. A new person."

With what God has done for me, coming to know Jesus, how can I do any less, than tell others this Good News, also?

I am thankful for your ministry. God has really used it. First in Elizabeth's life and then in mine. I didn't know I needed saved. Praise God he changed that.

Tony, I appreciate everything. Thank you for your prayers for me. For pointing out the truth and doing so in kindness. Have a wonderful rest of your week!!


Having seen Sarah's email just a few minutes before writing this post, I immediately sent Sarah the following email in response:

I just now read your email. I am overwhelmed with joy for you and with thanksgiving to OUR Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As much as I have seen the Lord do in London over the last several days, your email has touched my heart more. To think that you are now my sister in Christ fills my heart with joy, gratitude, and praise for our great God and King.

Sarah, it is so very important now that you find a good, solid, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area--one that will love you and help you grow in your faith in Christ. It is also very important to begin spending time in God's Word every day. These things will not "keep" you saved, for the salvation you have received can never be lost or taken away (Romans 8:38-39). But temptations and trials will inevitably come. Surrounding yourself with brothers and sisters in Christ who love you and love the Lord will not only help you weather the storms of life, but will help you to grow closer to Christ through those challenging times.

I want you to know that I am here to assist you, to the extent you wish. If you have questions about your new-found faith in Jesus Christ, it would be an honor and privilege to help you find answers to those questions.

Sarah, thank you so very much for sharing your life-changing story with me. I will never forget your story or you, as long as I live.

With the love of Jesus Christ,

Please join me in praying for Sarah during these first critical days and weeks of her walk with Jesus Christ. And join me in giving praise, glory, honor, and thanksgiving for what God has apparently done in Sarah's life.

What a great start to Day 7 of my mission trip to the Olympic Games, in London!

Mission Olympic Games: Video Journal (Day 6)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Box: My Final Show

One of my greatest joys during my time with Living Waters was being part of "On the Box." Today was my last show.

The End of One Season, and the Beginning of Another

As many of you know by now, today is my last day of service at Living Waters.

Conspiracy theorists, gossips, and twisted atheist bunker minions will try to make my departure from Living Waters something it is not. So, I write this blog post to set the record straight, in order to leave no doubt as to why I was laid-off and as to the state of my continued relationship with the Living Waters family.

The decision to end my time of service with Living Waters was strictly a financial one. The world-wide financial down-turn has greatly impacted churches and ministries around the world. God, by His grace and mercy, has sustained and continues to sustain Living Waters. But Living Waters has felt the growing financial pressure of a failing economy.

I am confident beyond words that my release from Living Waters was a "last resort" decision based entirely upon the financial health of the ministry.

I have and will continue to have the utmost love and respect for Ray, E.Z., and the rest of the Living Waters family. As I state in the below letter, they are my family. I love them all very much; and I know they love me.

Nothing I do in the future, regarding my evangelistic ministry, will ever be fueled with so much as a drop of anger, bitterness, or resentment toward Living Waters. Nor will it be fueled by any sense of competition with my Living Waters family. It stands to reason that whatever I do next will resemble what I have done with Living Waters the last several years; but only because I'm an evangelist--again, not because of any desire to compete with Living Waters.

I love Living Waters and everyone who serves with the ministry--a ministry that has greatly blessed me and my family, and has better equipped me to serve as one of Christ's gospel heralds.

What follows is an email I sent to the Living Waters staff the day after I learned I was to be laid-off. Once you have read the letter, I will share a few thoughts about the future. Here's the letter.
To My Living Waters Family:

In 2007, never in a million years did I think I would one-day be part of the Living Waters Family. I was one of those evangelists that dreamed of what it would be like to serve alongside Ray, E.Z., Mark, Scotty, and the entire staff at Living Waters.

I remember as if it were yesterday coming to Living Waters in 2005 to meet Ray. It was arranged by Lynn Copeland, who had just published my book, “Take Up The Shield.” What would later be my first office was, at the time, the renowned “Ping-Pong Room.” Ray and Scotty schooled me that day. It was one of the VERY few times in my life I didn’t mind losing. I was hanging-out with two of my evangelism heroes.

And then I got the call from E.Z., in November 2007, asking me to join the team to design and lead the Ambassadors’ Alliance. We all like to think we pray long and hard about big decisions; and sometimes we do. But, truth be known, it took very little time for me to accept and answer the call to come serve, with all of you, at Living Waters.

I have been so very blessed to work with each of you, to one extent or another, over the last 4 ½ years. It has been a joy. An honor. A privilege. A very rare gift. Thank you.

This would be a very long email (not that I’m opposed to such things  ) if I were to thank each of you individually. And, with all honesty, I cannot convey at this time how much I love and appreciate each of you. Each of you are family to me.

As to what’s next, well, I haven’t a clue. I know what I would like to do (full-time missions on the street), but I need to determine, to the extent I am able, what our Great God and King would have me do. I will keep you posted.

I do hope we will all stay in touch . . . You can also join me on this new chapter in my life by following me at my blog: www.crossencounters.us.

What is happening at Living Waters is no one’s fault; because what is happening is according to the sovereign plan of God—the God who never fails, never errs, never lies. The fact that all of us, at this moment, are enduring sacrifice and maybe some hardship in no way implicates God in turning His back on any of us, or on this wonderful ministry. While He is not working as maybe we’ve each planned, He most certainly is at work; bringing Himself glory through each of our lives and through this ministry.

Let us all remember that the work of God is far more important than any single worker or group of workers. The Lord of the Harvest and His work is infinitely more important than those of us in the field. I say this to remind us all that what the Lord has done for decades, what He is doing now, and what He will continue to do through Living Waters, is more important than any of us as individuals.

While I most certainly do not want to leave, I consider it a worthy sacrifice if my departure means Living Waters will be around longer and grow healthier as a result of my absence. The work of Living Waters is more important than I am. It must continue for the glory of God, the edification of His Church, and the salvation of the lost.

My last day is next Wednesday [today]. I will be out of the office tomorrow, as Mahria and I travel to San Jose for the NorCal Fire conference. I will be back in the office Monday. I will shepherd “On the Box” Monday through Wednesday. And then I leave for London, on Thursday [tomorrow].

I will miss each of you very much. I will never forget the many, many fond memories, laughs, and tears I’ve shared with you.

I won’t bother to ask for prayer, because I know you will be praying for me and my family.

The Lord’s very best for you all, my dear friends.
As I state in the letter, my immediate future consists of two weeks of open-air preaching, on the streets of London (UK). I cannot wait to go where I have never been to proclaim a gospel some have never heard. And I cannot wait to enjoy the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement I will undoubtedly receive from my teammates.

Come Monday, August 13, however, I do not yet know what the Lord has planned for me. My hope, my fondest wish, is that the Lord will allow me to preach His gospel on the streets of cities around the country and around the world until He determines to take me home. If not that, then I would ask Him to allow me to step back into a pulpit and to pastor one of His flocks--a church.

If I've learned anything during my 24 years of Christian life, it is this. I've learned never to say, "God wouldn't do that." I've also learned to never question God, as if to see Him as One who has made a mistake. He is perfectly omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is complete sovereign over everything, including my life and the life of my family.

He knew, from eternity past, this day would come. He is never taken by surprise. And He knows perfectly exactly what He is doing. Therefore, I can trust Him--really trust Him. And I do trust Him.

While my family and I have experienced significant seasons of change (law enforcement to church planter; church planter to missionary; missionary to Living Waters; Living Waters to ???), such seasons can be filled with uncertainty. And, from experience, one of the great traps during times of change is convincing one's self that what they want to do is also what the Lord wants them to do. I do not want to make that mistake. So, I am surrounding myself with men I trust who will give me godly counsel; and I am seeking the prayers of others--friends like you.

You will see at the top of the blog a link titled: Speaking Requests. Here you will find my bio, videos, and few pictures; along with a "speaking request" form. As the Lord reveals how He would like me to serve Him next, I am looking forward to more opportunities to preach in pulpits, speak at conferences, and encourage and hit the streets with my faithful street evangelism brethren, through trips to their area.

Stay tuned. I will keep you posted as the Lord determines my steps.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Just a Thought: I Don't Have to Know

I don't have to know what God is doing to know that He knows exactly what He is doing. He is sovereign. He is faithful. He is holy, righteous, and good. Therefore, I need not worry about anything.

For further study and reflection: Psalm 23:1-6; Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:5-9