Monday, October 29, 2012

2013 Super Bowl Outreach

I have accepted an invitation from Bill Adams to serve as a team leader for Sports Fan Outreach International's 2013 Super Bowl Outreach. This year the Super Bowl is in New Orleans. The dates are January 31 to February 3, 2013.

If you've never been to an SFOI Super Bowl Outreach, then it is unlikely you have ever before experienced anything like it. You will remember it for the rest of your life. And the friendships you will make with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ will last a lifetime.

Register, today!

Friday, October 19, 2012

How a Parachute and a Lawnmower Helped Danny Understand

My team and I were at the Westfield Valencia Town Center this evening manning an evangelism table. Danny, a 17-year-old high school student and non-practicing Roman Catholic, curious about the Intelligence Test flip chart, came up to the table. I would spend the next half-hour with Danny, sharing the law and the gospel with him. Listen how the story of a parachute and a lawnmower helped Danny to understand the difference between religion and faith.

If this conversation does not move you to pray for Danny and to step out in faith to share the gospel with the Dannys of the world, then you should not only check to see if you have a pulse, but you should examine yourself to see if you are even in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CSUN: A Conversation with Shay

Shay is a first year student at CSUN, majoring in psychology. Shay professed to be a Christian, having come to faith in Christ only a year ago.

CSUN: A Conversation with Luis

Luis is a first year, civil engineering student at CSUN. Watch and listen as a simple explanation of the eternality, universality, immutability, and immaterial nature of the laws of mathematics shows Luis he knows God exists.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Don't Give Up on the People of Society

On Sunday, October 8, 2012, I preached a sermon titled: "Don't Give Up on the People of Society." I delivered the sermon at Faith Bible Fellowship Church, of Lancaster, PA.

You can listen to the sermon, here.

And here is the text, some of which did not make it into the presentation of the sermon. It would appear God had other things for me to say.

Bible Reading: Ephesians 2:1-10


In preparing my messages for this weekend, I must admit that this morning’s message was the most challenging. While I had in my mind for some time where I wanted to go in God’s Word and what I wanted to say, I found the title chosen for me, “Don’t Give Up on Today’s Society,” a difficult one of which to take ownership since today’s society is in such an utter mess.

While I believe there is most certainly hope for people in today’s society, I hold out very little hope for the society, in general. I believe (and I agree with John MacArthur on this) God’s wrath, in the form of abandonment, is upon this society and upon this nation. And I think Romans 1:18-32 makes that clear. In fact, let’s turn there and read the passage together.

Read Romans 1:18-32.

I believe God has given this nation over to all of the elements of depravity we see in this passage. I believe God is continuing to remove His hand of restraining grace from this nation. So, for the purpose of this morning’s message, when I use the word “society,” I have in mind the individual people who make up this society. While I do not see our society getting better, over time (in fact I believe it will only get worse), I do hold out hope for the people in our society. I firmly believe there are people, here, in this country, in this society, which God intends to save. So, with that in mind, I can most certainly encourage you with the words, “Don’t Give Up on Today’s Society.”

Considering the theme for this morning’s message, the passage I’ve selected to be the impetus for this message might leave some of you scratching your head. After all, what can we glean about reaching society with the gospel, from a passage that speaks primarily about salvation by grace, through faith? In a word: everything. And this is why.

In order for us to have a heart burdened for reaching the lost of this world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, in order to keep from giving up on society, we must be continually conscious about three things: who we were, who we are in Christ, and what God has called us to do.

Who We Were

In Ephesians 2:1-4, the apostle Paul gives us a clear picture of who we were, before Christ saved us.  We were dead, disobedient, children of wrath.

Verse one begins with a stark and to the point phrase: “And you were dead…” Now, some have tried to argue that the word “dead” in verse one means something other than, well, “dead.” The Greek word translated as “dead” in verse one, is translated from the Greek word nekros. The adjective, which we see here, is derived from the noun nekus, which literally means “dead body.” While the word can be used in a literal or figurative sense, it has but one meaning…dead.

Needless to say, Paul is not telling the believers in Ephesus that they were once physically dead—that they, somehow, were zombies or walking corpses. Paul has in mind the Ephesians’ spiritual deadness, prior to being saved by Jesus Christ.

Before Christ saved you, you were spiritually dead. You were not merely spiritually sick. You were not simply in need of a prescription to make you well. You were dead and in need of spiritual resuscitation.

Having performed CPR more than once during my law enforcement career, I can assure you of something. The person upon whom I performed CPR did absolutely nothing to help me in my effort to bring them back to life. There was nothing they could do to help themselves. They were clinically dead.

Prior to God saving you by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone you were spiritually dead. But that spiritual deadness did not render you spiritually inactive. Verses 2-3 make it clear you were spiritually active.

“…in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

You were, in God’s eyes, spiritually disobedient. Your god was Satan (“the prince of the power of the air”) and the passions of your flesh ruled your lives. You were not children of God.

Many people believe that, if left to our own devices, we will desire God—we will, by nature, want to receive His love, mercy, grace, and salvation. But the Word of God makes it clear the opposite is true. Left to ourselves, left to our own desires without the direct and gracious intervention of God the Holy Spirit, we would forever continue to worship the god of this world and pursue sin like a dehydrated man pursuing a cold glass of water. We would not and could not pursue the Living Water, Jesus Christ. We would and could only pursue that water of our iniquity, and we would drink up our sin as if it were water.

Another common misunderstanding among most unbelievers and many professing Christians is that everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, are children of God. This passage makes it very clear that it is not true. While everyone is created in the image of God, not everyone is a child of God.

Only those who are adopted by God the Father, through the gift of God the Son, are children of God. Everyone else is a child of wrath.

And, you were children of wrath.

And what is the wrath of God? The following definition comes from the New Bible Dictionary: “It is the permanent attitude of the holy and just God when confronted by sin and evil [that] is designated his ‘wrath’ . . . It is a personal quality, without which God would cease to be fully righteous and His love would degenerate into sentimentality . . . It is as permanent and as consistent an element in His nature as is His love.”

Scripture defines God’s wrath as His righteous anger.

In Numbers 32:10-13 we read: “And the LORD's anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me, none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD.’ And the LORD's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone.”

Scripture tells us God’s wrath is great.

In Zechariah 7:12-14 we read: “They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”

Scripture tells us that God’s wrath has been revealed and continues to be revealed.

In Romans 1:18-19 we read: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”

But God has yet to unleash the full fury of His wrath. Scripture tells us that His wrath is being stored up.

In Romans 2:5-8 we read: “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.”

And Scripture tells us the wrath of God will be accomplished.

In Revelation 16:15-17 we read: “Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’”

It should make sense, now, why the writer of Hebrews makes this frightening and sobering and truthful statement: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Other translations use the word “terrifying.”

What does all this talk about the Christians former spiritual deadness, our former wanton disobedience to God, and the reality that before Jesus Christ saved us we were children of wrath have to do with not giving up on the people in our society in others? Again, Everything.

Much of American evangelicalism has given up on society. Oh, American Christians will love their neighbors so long as it’s comfortable and so long as they receive something in return; but most American Christians fall woefully short of really loving their neighbors. The reason is that most American Christians wrongly see themselves as better than unbelievers, instead of simply better off.

That’s right, American Christians—not all, but many—have an ego problem. More accurately, American Christians have a self-love problem—not that they don’t love themselves enough, but rather that they love themselves entirely too much. As a result, American Christians, by and large, withhold the most precious gift they could ever give to an unbeliever the lovingly brought and truthfully spoken gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many American Christians cite fear as the main reason why they don’t share the gospel with friends, family members, co-workers, or strangers. But if one would take a look at their fears, they would quickly see that their fears have everything to do with self-preservation (self-love), and have nothing to do with the lost person who so desperately needs the Savior.

Now, before you shut down on me; before you engage in rationalization to make the discomfort go away that you might be experiencing at this moment; please hear me. This is very important.

We do what we care about. We do what we care about. If we say we care about something, but we don’t do anything for or do anything about that which we say we care, the reality is we don’t care as much as we think.

And I think one of the main reasons Christians share so little and ultimately care so little is because they have forgotten from whence they came. They have forgotten who they were before Christ saved them. They have forgotten that but for the sovereign grace of Almighty God, they would still be dead in their sins; they would still be wallowing in their depravity and drinking up sin like water; and they would still be a child of wrath—not a child of God.

Have you forgotten, dear friend? Have you forgotten not only from what you’ve been saved, but also from Whom you’ve been saved. The same God whose wrath abided on you is the same God who—by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ His Son alone—saved you from His own wrath. He allowed His just, holy, and furious wrath against sin and sinners be poured out upon His Son, instead of you, Christian.

And that same wrath from which you have been saved is the same wrath awaiting those who the Father does not draw to Himself, for those who do not repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Your family members who are yet dead in their sin, your friends who are yet dead in their sin, your neighbors and co-workers who are yet dead in their sin, and the strangers you easily ignore who are yet dead in their sin—all of them, every one of them may have the righteous and holy gavel of God’s eternal judgment fall upon them, today.

If you have forgotten from whence you came, then you will likely think little of where the lost are going—even the people you love most.

Who We Are In Christ

Yes, if we are going to avoid giving up on society, we must be mindful of whom we were before Christ save us. Likewise, if we are going to avoid giving up on society, we must also be mindful of whom we are in Christ.

Look again at Ephesians 2:4-9

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

This is one of the most beautiful and most important passages in the New Testament. It is a passage filled to overflowing with great and encouraging doctrine. There are many important words and phrases in this passage—phrases like:

“Rich in mercy…”
“The great love with which he loved us…”
“By grace you have been saved…”

But the two most important words, in my estimation, are the first two of the passage…. “But God…”

I was dead in my trespasses and sins…but God!

I was a slave to sin and love my sin…but God!

I was a child of wrath…but God!

I deserve eternity in Hell for my sins against God…but God!

There is nothing I can do to save myself…but God!

On my own, I would never love Jesus; I would never look to or turn to the cross…but God!

I had no hope…but God!

I had no peace…but God!
But God!

Salvation is of the Lord! It is not a cooperative work between God and man. It is the sovereign, gracious, merciful, loving, and kind work of God alone. God alone receives the honor. God alone receives the glory. God alone receives the praise. God alone!

But God!

He did not simply make me well. He brought me to life!

He did not arbitrarily set me free. He took the place of punishment rightly mine!

He did not simply cancel my debt. He canceled it through the only acceptable payment—the death of His only Son on the cross!

He did not see anything good in me. He clothed me in the righteousness of His Son!

He did not give me what I deserve. To me, the chief of sinners, He extended mercy and grace!

I am weak…but God!

I am weary and heavy-laden…but God!

I am tired…but God!

I do not understand the reasons why…but God!

I can’t control what’s happening…but God!

But God!

Are you in Christ Jesus this morning? Do you know Him as Lord and Savior? Does He know you as one of His beloved children? Then God has made you alive together with Christ. You have been saved by grace, through faith. And you will one-day be raised up and seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. He will show you the immeasurable riches of grace in His kindness. This is who you are in Christ.

If you are born-again, God has adopted you. Turn with me to Romans 8. Let’s look at verses 12-17. Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, and this passage is one of my favorites, in my favorite chapter.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

As you think about this beautiful passage about spiritual adoption, allow me to share with you the story of my nephew, Jay. Jay is now eight-years-old…

As an infant, Jay was found on the side of the road by a Ugandan police officer. The police officer took him to a local orphanage and left him there. The orphanage cleaned him up, clothed him, fed him, and otherwise took care of him. Then the orphanage put the word out through their usual channels that Jay was available for adoption.

My sister and brother-in-law, who were seeking to adopt a child at the time, heard Jay’s story, saw his picture, and fell in love with him. They traveled to Uganda to meet Jay, in person. Their love for Jay was not only confirmed, but it grew. My sister and brother-in-law made the decision to adopt Jay.

They flew Jay home to Southern California. They gave him a new name. They gave him new clothes. And they gave him a new home. Jay was not merely a guest in the home. He was not merely a new relative. He was part of the family, having all of the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of my sister’s natural born children.

Now, I have a few important questions for you. Did Jay do anything to make the police officer pick him up out of the dirt and take him to the orphanage?

Did Jay do anything to make the orphanage take him in and take care of him?

Did Jay do anything to motivate, much less command my family members to fly to Uganda, adopt Jay, and bring him home to America?

The answer to all of these questions is “no.” What happened in Jay’s life was entirely the result of intervention from outside sources.

The same is true with our salvation. Salvation is of the Lord. We are in Christ because God wanted us in Christ. We have been adopted by God as His beloved children because God wanted us to be part of His eternal, heavenly family.

And when God does that miraculous work, when He draws you to Himself and causes you to be born-again, He gives you a new name. You are no longer called “wretched.” You are now called “redeemed.” You are no longer called “lost.” You are now called “found.” You are no longer called “condemned.” You are now called “saved.” You are no longer called a “child of wrath.” You are now called an “adopted child of the Most High God.”

And when God saves you, He gives you new clothes. You are no longer clothed in the filthy, putrid garments of your sins and your perceived good works, which are nothing more than an abomination and a bribe before God. You are now clothed in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ.

And when God saves you, He gives you a new home. You are no longer of this world. You are of another world. Your final destination is no longer Hell. You are homeward bound—bound for Heaven to spend eternity in the perfect presence of Jesus Christ.

My friends, if we are mindful of who we were before Christ saved us, and we are mindful of who we are today in Christ, then why is it still so very difficult for most Christians to open their mouths and declare the glory, goodness, and grace of God, which is given freely to those who turn to Christ, repent and believe the gospel? Why would we withhold from anyone, even our most ardent enemies, the great kindness, mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, and freedom we have received in Christ?

Only a sense of depraved indifference toward those who are lost could keep the Christian from boasting—not in his good fortune, but in the Pearl of Great Price, Jesus Christ the Lord.  Only a tragic lack of love could keep the Christian from telling the world what was done for him, an unworthy sinner, by the One who did it all, Jesus Christ the Lord.

Only a sense of false superiority could keep the Christian from pointing unsaved, unredeemed, unforgiven people to the cross—the cross where his Lord and Savior died for his sins. My pastor put it oh so very well when he said of the cross and the darkest three hours of human history as the wrath of God the Father was poured out upon God the Son. My pastor said the cross shows us the enormity of our sin and the immensity of God’s love.

The cross: where justice and mercy kissed. The cross: where the enormity of our sin was dealt with as the wrath of God the Father was poured out upon God the Son. The cross: where the immensity of God the Father’s love for sinners was displayed for the world to see, as He allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the enormous sin debt owed by sinners.

Never forget who you are in Christ by constantly remembering what Christ has done for you. Do this, and you will not be able to keep yourself from testifying of God’s immense love and the Lord’s great sacrifice, and Jesus’ eternal victory over sin and death. Do this, and you will not give up on the people of our society or any other in the sense that you will want Christ to save others as He has saved you.
What God Has Called Us To Do

What God Has Called Us To Do

In order to avoid falling into the ungodly trap of giving up on the people in society, we need to remember who we were before coming to faith in Christ. We need to remember who we now are in Christ. And, lastly, we need to remember what God has called us to do. This brings us to the last verse of our passage, Ephesians 2:10.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

The born-again follower of Jesus Christ (and there is no other kind) is the very workmanship of his or her Creator. The Greek words in the verse, when used in a secular context, quite literally mean: “to fabricate a product”—“a workmanship created.”

God did not cause any Christian to be born again for the purpose of simply sitting the Christian on a shelf, on display for the world to see. God has adopted every Christian into His eternal family to do something—“good works”—and not only do them, but to do them continually. As a way of life, our Christian walk should be a walk filled with good works.

And what are “good works?” Good works are any activity done for the glory of God and not for the glory of self, and are consistent with the Word and the will of God. We could spend the rest of the afternoon listing activities—activities we could likely find in the Bible—that we could classify as “good works.” But considering the theme of this morning’s message, and this entire weekend, I will focus on just one. It shouldn’t be hard to guess which one.

But before we do that, I would like you to turn with me to John 14:11-13. Now, unfortunately, this is a passage often taken out of context or misapplied in such a way that we, as Christians, will perform greater miracles than Jesus. First of all, no mere sinful human performs a miracle. In fact there is some debate in the theological community as to whether or not miracles still take place. I have not come down on one side or the other of that debate. But I do know that many ministries, particularly those of some televangelists, will take this passage to justify false healings and other false miracles.

Now, am I saying God no longer heals? Of course not. God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is still the Great Physician. But if all the men in the world claiming to have the ability to perform greater miracles than Jesus were legitimate, there would not be a single occupied hospital bed, today. The reality is there is not enough room in our hospitals, today. People still get sick. People still die. And some televangelist still get richer by the day, as they bilk vulnerable people out of not only their money, but their hope.

There is one “good work,” for which we were created that we can perform to a much greater extent than Jesus did. Oh, we will never do it better, for we will not have His perfection this side of Heaven. But we can do greater in the sense of the quantity of the work. And that work is evangelism.

Yes, Jesus Christ, the Creator of the world did change the entire world when He came to earth, lived, died, and rose again. But he did that from a small, insignificant area of land, in a tiny country, with little to say for itself on the world’s stage.

I was blessed to go to Israel in May of 2010. One moment among many very memorable moments was my time on a boat, on the Sea of Galilee. There were about twenty-five of us from our group on the boat together. At one point, our tour guide asked us all to stand in line, facing the northeast shore. He then asked us to extend our arms to our side so that the tips of our fingers touched. He then explained that from the area of land, within the span of our line, was the approximate area where Jesus conducted 90% of His earthly ministry. Our span couldn’t have covered much more than a quarter-mile of shoreline.

Think about that for just a moment. God in the flesh, the Creator of Galilee its Sea and the entire world, the One who came so that the world might be saved through Him—relegated Himself and His ministry to a relatively small patch of land near the shore of a desert sea. His personal ministry did not span the globe. He did not have the benefit of the various forms of transportation we have today; or the various forms of instantaneous communication we have today.

On the other hand, you and I can hop online, right now, and send the gospel out to thousands—maybe millions.  If the financial resources are available, we can literally travel the entire world, in much less than a lifetime, to proclaim the gospel to the lost. Or, we can simply hop in our car and cover more territory in an afternoon than Jesus did in three-and-a-half years of earthly ministry.

God, by causing us to be born-again—by saving us from His great wrath, a wrath He poured out on His Son instead of those of us who have repented and believed the gospel—has opened an extraordinary window of opportunity, a door to the entire world, to preach the good news of salvation by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. God, by His grace and steadfast love—not only for us, but for the rest that He would saved, has granted us the amazing gift and huge responsibility of taking His gospel to people and to parts of the world, Jesus did not reach during His time on earth.

This is not only a good work. This is the greatest work—to make Him known to a lost and dying world. This is the yet-to-be-finished work that is the reason why the Lord has not yet returned to take His people, His Church, home.

This, like all of the good works God has for us (and, again, there are many good works that do not involve evangelism)—evangelism is a work God has determined for us to do from eternity past. And it is a work He fully expects to be an ongoing, regular part of our walk through life. Evangelism is a good work in which, according to Ephesians 2:10, we should walk.

Is evangelism a regular, noticeable, significant, consistent aspect of your Christian walk? Is evangelism, a good work for which you have been created, part of your life—even a way of life? My dear friends please do not be deceived. The Great Commission—Jesus Christ’s evangelism and discipleship mandate for world missions—was not given only to eleven frightened men on a mountain top, outside the City of Jerusalem. It is not a mandate; a commission given by God to a select few especially gifted Christians of today. It God’s command to everyone He has determined to save and everyone He has destined to be His very workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.

If evangelism is not a normal part of your Christian walk (and sadly this is true of far too many American Christians), then you have, for all intents and purposes, given up on society. You have given up on the stranger you pass on the street. You have given up on your co-worker. You have given up on the soccer mom who stands next to you on the sidelines. You have given up on your friend—a friendship you allegedly established for the purpose of reaching that friend with the gospel. And you have given up on your unsaved family members.

My friends, we do what we care about. And if we are not doing whatever we can to bring the gospel to lost people, then we do not really care about lost people as much as we think. And if this is you (and only you know if this is you; I certainly do not know), you must repent. You must repent of your lack of love for lost people. You must repent of being more concerned about your comfort than Christ’s glory. You must repent of the indifference you express toward the state of lost souls by the lack of evangelism in your Christian walk. And you must repent of your disobedience of God, for God has commanded you to share the gospel with the lost.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a horrible mistake. I gave up on a lost soul; and I did it in a terribly sinful way. His name was Maurice.

It was a very hot Saturday morning at the North Hollywood Metro Station. It had not yet reached the Noon hour and it was already over 100 degrees.

Maurice, a 24-year-old, African American, son of a pastor approached me as I was standing atop my stepladder preaching the gospel. I cannot remember his initial question. But the conversation soon deteriorated into an argument between two sinful men—the open-air preacher and a pastor’s kid.

I was angry with Maurice. He became belligerent and disrespectful. And, to my shame, I responded in kind. After it was all said and done, my team and I gathered to pray. We prayed for Maurice, but I think in my heart I had given up on him. I knew I would likely never see him again, and I had little hope for his soul.

Over the last couple of weeks, reflections of my conversation with Maurice, along with a very timely and important conversation with my sister, Cheryl, about my open-air preaching, have caused me to take a moment of pause. My sister shared with me that she thought I was sounding angrier, over the last couple of months, when I preach.

I didn’t take what she said with a grain of salt. I took it to heart.

So, Thursday morning, I was once again at the North Hollywood Metro Station, preaching the gospel. I tried to be vigilant to watch my tone of voice and the sharpness of my rhetoric.

After I finished preaching for the morning, I noticed a young man standing off in the distance, close to the subway structure. I walked up to him and tried to hand him a tract.

The young man glanced at me, and I could tell he was already unhappy.

“You don’t even remember me, do you?”

It was Maurice.

Maurice, while remaining calm, let me have it. And I thank God he did. He told me that I belittled him and humiliated him in front of his friends.

I apologized to Maurice. I made no excuses. I told him he was right. And I asked him for a second chance.

We spent the next half-hour together, talking to one another—listening to one another. This time Maurice heard the law and the gospel. I do not know if the Lord saved him at that moment; but I do know God the Holy Spirit was at work in both of our lives. The conversation ended with us embracing each other, with a hug.

I sinned against God in a terrible way. I used the preaching of the gospel as a hammer to beat a struggling young man over the head and through the heart. I did something I vehemently oppose—something I make very clear to those I teach and disciple they should never do.

But God is greater than my sin! And God is so loving and gracious and kind that he allowed me the opportunity to be reconciled to an unsaved young man upon whom I had given up.

Have you given up? Have you given up on the people in the world around you—the lost people who, if they died today, would spend eternity in Hell as the just punishment for their sins against God? If so, repent. Turn from the sin of writing off the people of the world—of writing them off as less important than yourself, or unimportant altogether. Don’t give up. Don’t quit.

Instead, engage. Engage the culture, not by diving into it to the point no distinction can be made between you and the lost person with whom you make contact. Christianity is counter-cultural. The gospel is counter-cultural. Jesus was and is and always will be counter-cultural. The culture, society, our world is captivated by sin and captive to darkness. You have been called to be a light—a representation of His light, through the proclamation of the gospel.

As a Christian, you alone have the only real hope to offer every person on Planet Earth; and that hope is salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t keep it to yourself any longer. You know it’s wrong. You know you shouldn't do it. Repent.

There is much work to be done. I believe there are many, maybe multiple millions of people God will yet save before the window of His grace and mercy is closed forever, and He closes the door to His Kingdom to anyone who is not already inside. God does not need our help to accomplish His plan, but He has made it abundantly clear in His Word that His people, His Church, preaching His gospel will be the means by which He will draw sinners to Himself, for His glory.

So, in conclusion, don’t give up on society. Remember who you were without Christ. Remember who you are in Christ. And remember what God has called you to do.

And let us not forget this important truth. All of the lost people in the world are not out there. Some of them are right here, in Christian churches, across the United States. So I would be remiss if I preached about not giving up on lost people in this world, if I did not share the gospel with the lost that might be with us, today.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Weekend with Faith Bible Fellowship Church

What a wonderful weekend in beautiful Lancaster, PA!

I was the guest of Dwayne and Cheryl Eberly and Faith Bible Fellowship Church. It was a wonderful weekend of fellowship, discipleship, open-air preaching, street evangelism, team building, and pulpit ministry.

What follows are the audios of two of my open-airs and two of my sermons.

Here is my first open-air on Friday evening.

Here is my second open-air on Friday evening.

And here is a short video of Friday night, put together by Dwayne Eberly's daughter, Sarah.

I preached this message on Saturday morning, during the church's men's breakfast.

I preached this message during both Sunday morning services.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

CSUN: A Conversation with Monique

CSUN: A Conversation with Estelle

As part of my effort to engage students on the CSUN campus in spiritual conversations, I'm asking them the following question--a question I took from my friend, Greg Elsasser's, evangelism playbook:

"If you knew you only had three minutes to live, what would be your last words, and to whom would you say them?"

This question led to the following conversation with Estelle.