Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Notes: The Importance of the Preacher's Character

In Eifion Evans' wonderful biography, Daniel Rowland - and the Great Evangelical Awakening in Wales, Evans wrote the following regarding the character of the great, Welsh open-air preacher:

These honest statements of appreciation for Rowland reflect not only the hearers' views but also the preacher's character. Evidently Rowland was a man of great warmth and compassion, for whom personal convenience was always secondary to the spiritual welfare of others. At thirty years of age, his preaching activities away from Llangeitho involved costly and prolonged separation from is wife and young children (a son and perhaps two daughters). Yet, a large measure of self-denial on their part, together with Rowland's sensitivity to the Spirit's prompting, allowed him to be flexible and open in the face of unexpected developments. Furthermore, when thus presented with an unscheduled opportunity for preaching, a knowledge of Scripture which was kept fresh each day provided him with a relevant message. There was also a passionate concern for Christ's neglected people, and this constantly motivated his decisions. In this way he reflected a care for Christ's churches which, in spirit and intensity, if not in office, was as apostolic as Paul" (p. 167).

From this brief passage, I drew the following, albeit not exhaustive, spiritual checklist for the man of God, like Rowland, who preaches either in a pulpit or atop a box in the open-air:
  1. A man of warmth and compassion
  2. A man who is other-minded (putting the spiritual needs of others before his own conveniences)
  3. A man who is able to intensely and daily serve the Lord while keeping his own household in order
  4. A man who is flexible and able to quickly adjust to unexpected developments
  5. A superior working knowledge of Scripture
  6. A passionate concern for the welfare of the Bride of Christ
Such are but some of the character traits of one of Christ's heralds.

It Really Is This Simple

The sight of the above Gospel Hall as I walked through the streets of St. Andrews, Scotland, captivated my heart and soul, and put a smile on my face. The sentence that repeated over and over again in my head as I looked at the humble structure, which has been the home of a Christian Brethren congregation for 100 years, was this: "It really is this simple."

The gospel doesn't need the help of man's strategies, methodologies, or philosophies. The gospel does not derive its power from these things, nor is the gospel's power enhanced by any of them. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Sadly, most of man's efforts to make the gospel more palatable to lost sinners only serve to obscure the beauty, truth, and power of the only means God uses to save sinners: the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

It really is this simple.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dundee Arrest: Reactions, My Responses, and Why I Must Return to Scotland

Writing at 38,000 feet above the earth, while flying home from my trip to Scotland and Norway.....


On Wednesday, January 8, while preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ on High Street in Dundee, Scotland, I was arrested. The charge: a violation of 38(1) of the Scotland Criminal Justice and Licensing Act of 2010, with an aggravation of alleged homophobic hate speech. If I am found guilty as charged when I return to Scotland to stand trial in April, the sentence could range from a fine, to a maximum of five years in prison, or both.

Although it is alleged that I told a woman who claimed her son is a homosexual that all homosexuals are of the devil and going to hell, and that I told her she is a bad mother because her son is a homosexual, what I actually said was this. I explained to those within the sound of my voice that everyone knows that all forms of sexual immorality are wrong, whether homosexual or heterosexual, because everyone knows that God is faithful.

When the police arrived they interviewed complainants and witnesses, but they did not ask for my account of what happened. Neither did they review either the video or audio we had captured of the entire incident. They simply took the word of the complainant and arrested me. It's chilling that in Scotland, as well as England--countries that profess to have freedom of speech--a person's freedom can be taken away simply because another person says they didn't like what the other person allegedly said.

I spent a total of 28 hours in custody, which included less than five minutes before the Sheriff of Dundee (the judge). There, a solicitor assigned to my case for my arraignment, entered a plea on my behalf, before I ever entered the courtroom--before I entered handcuffed to a very nice lady jailer several years my senior. I had multiple face-to-face meetings with my solicitor prior to my court appearance, during which I made it very clear I would plead "not guilty."

I spoke not a word as I stood before the Sheriff of Dundee. I stood silent, heart pounding, as the Prosecutor Fiscal, my solicitor, and the Sheriff discussed the issue of my release on bail and the conditions of the same. Up until about an hour before my court appearance, it was uncertain I would be allowed to return to the United States before my trial. All parties participating in the judicial proceeding spoke quietly in their beautiful, Scottish-English. This made it difficult for me to hear all that was being said. The only reason I knew the hearing was over was because the lady jailer nudged me and pointed to the staircase, indicating it was time for me to walk back down the stairs to the 6' x 6' holding cell. There, I waited a short time before I was released from custody.


As expected, reaction to my arrest has been frequent and mixed. Dozens of articles, blog posts, Facebook posts, and tweets have been written to express everything from shock, to consternation, to outrage, to advice, to support, to opinion, to editorial. Most of the written responses to my arrest have been very positive and supportive (like this one). Some of the responses...not so much.

One Dundee pastor wrote an online article in which he expressed his misgivings about my open-air preaching in Dundee. He based both his analysis of and conclusions regarding the incident surrounding my arrest on unfactual information he either received or developed on his own to support his presuppositions. So far afield was his written account of the incident, brief as it was, one thing is certain. He wasn't there.

My Unbiblical Responses

I must admit and confess I did not respond biblically to the pastor who wrote the negative article. I made an emotion-driven, ad hominem attack against the pastor. I made it publicly, and I apologized publicly.

And please, I must urge those who continue to attack the pastor to stop. He has not spoken so much as a mere fraction negatively about me as what is being levied against him. Please only follow me to the extent I follow Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). No Christian's salvation should ever be questioned if they disagree with open-air preaching. No Christian's salvation should ever be questioned for no other reason than suggesting I erred by open-air preaching in Dundee. Such rhetoric will not help further the gospel in Dundee, the rest of Scotland, or around the world. Such rhetoric is sinful. I should know.

So poor has my behavior been that I even got defensive with Dr. James White when all he did was mention the Dundee pastor's negative article on his radio show, and then asked thoughtful questions from different perspectives, without drawing any conclusions. I responded poorly to a man of God from whose ministry I have learned and have been encouraged much over the years. I did it publicly and I apologized publicly.

There is yet another group of people to which I have responded well. The group is comprised of Christians who are counseling me to not return to Scotland--some going as far as to rebuke me for being determined to return to stand trial, face my accusers, and put forth an affirmative defense that I hope will bring glory to Christ and attention to His gospel. The rebukes from some people have cut deep. I've been called "selfish and "prideful." Some have suggested that to return to Scotland would be to neglect my family and show no care for them. Most (if not all) of those providing insult-laced counsel do not know me or my family beyond Facebook, Twitter, or being an uninvolved third party while watching one of my YouTube videos.

As un-Christian as some of the above-mentioned behavior has been, no insult, no matter how hurtful, justifies responding in kind (Proverbs 12:16; Matthew 5:22; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Peter 2:23). I did it publicly. Here, therefore, I apologize publicly. I've questioned the devotion to Christ and the understanding of God's' Word, of those who have suggested I jump bail and not live up to my written and signed promise to appear. Anyone who suggests I not return to Scotland to stand trial is wrong. But I've responded to these unbiblical suggestions without charity, patience, and love. To those I have thusly offended, please forgive me. I am sorry.

In order to avoid stumbling in the before-mentioned ways again, and in order to do my best to prevent others from stumbling, I have deleted (as many as I could find) videos, Facebook posts, and tweets related to my arrest--content I determined might inadvertently bring about such stumbling. I will talk about my arrest during a scheduled radio interview this Friday. And I will speak to the Cross Encounters Radio listening audience this Sunday. After that, I will try to limit my public communication about my arrest to positive, devotional thoughts on this blog.

Why I Must Return to Scotland to Stand Trial

I feel I must address those who have suggested I not return to Scotland to stand trial. But this time I will do so with less anger, bitterness, or editorial. Rather, I will try to address what I believe is an unbiblical position and those who hold it with care for my brothers and sisters in Christ.

First: to not return to Scotland would be a catastrophic breach of integrity. I signed a promise to appear. I gave the Sheriff of Dundee, the Prosecutor Fiscal, my legal defense team, and the people of Scotland--friend and foe alike--my word. To not honor such a solemn commitment, to not let my "yes" be yes and my "no" be no (James 5:12), would make me an untrustworthy liar. I cannot and I will not bring such a scandalous reproach upon Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Second: to not return to Scotland would be an unloving thing to do to my Christian brethren in Scotland. It would break any bond of unity I have developed with my Scotland brothers and sisters. I went to Scotland to love the Church, support the Church, edify the Church, and to assist pastors in equipping the Church for the purpose of gospel ministry. To not return to Scotland would be to say to my Christian brethren that I will do whatever I can to help, so long as it doesn't cost me anything. I cannot and will not bring such a scandalous reproach upon Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Third: to not return to Scotland would serve as validation for those who are engaged in the sin of homosexuality (Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10) and for those who give hearty approval to the sin (Romans 1:32). It would be the most unloving thing I could do for homosexuals and their supporters in Scotland--to give them even the slightest hint that they are right and the Bible is wrong. Fighting for their freedom in Christ is more important to me than maintaining my freedom in the United States. Homosexuality, like every other sin, is a blight on every society and every life it touches. The loving thing to do is to continue to call homosexuals and their supporters to repent and believe the gospel. To do otherwise is to act cowardly. I cannot and I will not bring such a scandalous reproach upon Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Fourth: to not return to Scotland would bring immediate criticism and maybe even false accusations of obstruction of justice upon the godly men and women who serve under the leadership of Andrea Williams, at Christian Concern. Andrea and her team provided me with legal assistance after my arrest last year in Wimbledon, and they did not hesitate to immediately step up to help me following my arrest in Dundee. These wonderful people fight hard, every day, for the rights and freedom of Christians and unborn children. They have not turned their back on me and I will not turn my back on them. I cannot and I will not bring such a scandalous reproach upon Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Fifth: to not return to Scotland would be to lose the honor, respect, and trust of my wife and three daughters. While, needless to say, my family doesn't want me to be away from them for five days, let alone a possible maximum sentence of five years; my family loves me enough to never expect me to sacrifice integrity, duty, honor, and faith to make life easier and safer for all of us. And I've discipled my wife and I have raised and discipled my daughters to understand that Jesus meant exactly what He said:
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:34-39).
I love Mahria, Michelle, Marissa, and Amanda more than I could love anyone else on this earth. They love me, too. But the five of us know, no matter how costly or painful it may one-day be, we must love Jesus more than we love each other. While I have never been nor ever will be the perfect husband and father, and while my four ladies do not want me to go to prison and be away from them, they would be more disappointed in me if I didn't keep my word, stand tall, and face whatever the Lord may allow and intend for my life. I cannot and I will not bring such a scandalous reproach upon Jesus Christ and His gospel.

Finally: to not return to Scotland would be to take my eyes off Christ and His cross and put those same eyes on me. To not return to Scotland would be an act of cowardice (Revelation 21:8), faithlessness (Romans 1:31), selfishness (James 3:14-16). To not return to Scotland would be to deny Jesus before men (Mathew 10:33; John 18:25). To not return to Scotland would be a refusal to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). To not return to Scotland would be to put my hand to the plow and then look back (Luke 9:62). To not return to Scotland would be to deny my faith (Hebrews 11:6). Knowing it is right to return to Scotland to stand trial, to not return to Scotland would be to sin against God (Psalm 51:3-6) and conscience (James 4:17).


My hope is that the Prosecutor Fiscal in Dundee will decide to review my video tape and audio tape of my open-air--the sermon that led to my arrest. They have yet to review it. My hope is that once they've take the time to review the physical evidence, cooler more reasonable heads will prevail and the charges will be dropped. I also realize it could very well be the Lord's will for me to go to prison. If God allows me to go to prison, He will remain as He has always been--good, faithful, true, loving, righteous, just, and holy. If God allows me to go to prison, then I will preach His glorious gospel and the whole counsel of His Word to my fellow prisoners and the guards charged with our care, for as long as He keeps me in that mission field.

Again, on behalf of Mahria and the girls, I want to thank everyone who has encouraged us with emails, notes, and cards. I want to thank those of you who have already made donations to help cover the costs for Mahria and I to travel to Scotland. Your love, care, and support mean a great deal to all of us. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The "Toronoto Blessing": 20 Years of Deception, Delusion, and Destruction

Sadly, many deceived people, some of whom might be Christians, recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of a false move of false gods known as the "Toronto Blessing." The Arnotts (two of the craftsmen of this blasphemous movement) and Stacey Campbell (a false prophetess who I am surprised does not have brain damaged because of her shtick of violently shaking her head as she regurgitates false prophesies) are seen in the video doing what they do best--deceiving and being deceived.

Here's the video captured by my friend, Bart McCurdy.

In July of 2013, I wrote an article titled Spiritual Heroin and Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit: A Personal Testimony. In the article, I chronicle how movements like those from Toronto to Anaheim, to Brownsville, to Kansas City destroyed a little church in Southern California and harmed people I love. Sadly, nothing has changed.

While there are new and reoccurring faces and new demonic antics within the world of charismania (New Apostolic Reformation, Lakeland Revival, Bethel Church), the foundation remains the same. False prophets. False visions. False dreams. False worship. False miracles. Appearances of demonic angels. Attributing demonic spiritual manifestations to the Holy Spirit.

Yet apologists for the "Toronto Blessing" and movements spawned from it, some of them respected, will insist that much that is good and true and holy has come out of these alleged movements of God. As intelligent as they may be, they are every bit deceived as the simpleton who wonders into a church, auditorium, or tent, sees the latest alleged demonstration of the miraculous, and believes it.

To the argument that in spite of all of the false prophesies, staged healings, psychological manipulations called spiritual manifestations, gold glitter and feathers blasphemously referred to as the glory of God, adultery, greed, and avarice within the charismatic movement there is some good in it, I say this. If I were to hand you a clear, cool glass of water, and as you lifted the glass to your lips I said, "Oh, by the way. There is one drop of poison in the water," would you drink it? If you're reasonable, if your sane you would immediately put the glass down and step away. You would also likely have a few angry words to say to me for offering you the poisoned water in the first place.

Some Charismania apologists might go as far as to tell others there is little, tiny bit of poison in the water, but they will still encourage you to drink it. They will tell you that even though there is poison in the water there is so much good water in the glass that the poison probably won't hurt you. And, because men like the before-mentioned are seen as nice, reasonable, learned men (all far more intelligent than I am), many Christians and false converts will believe them, will drink the water, and be poisoned. Emotionally poisoned; spiritually poisoned; some, physically poisoned as they trust charlatans instead of God and the surgeons He uses.

If I handed you a glass of water and I told you there was a single drop of poison in it, would you drink it? The unsaved drink iniquity like water (Job 15:16, KJV). And many Christians and false converts drink poisoned charismatic drinks the same way. They guzzle it like water. Then they wait. They wait for their miracle, their visitation, their breakthrough, their healing, their gifting, and their dreams and visions. They wait while charismania apologists continue to try to make convincing arguments that Christians should accept heretics and liars like Bill Johnson, Che Ahn, Todd Bentley, Jesus Culture, John Crowder, John and Carol Arnott, C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Stacey Campbell, Sid Roth, Patricia King, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, and others as brothers and sisters in the Lord who are simply "continuationists." In doing so they introduce poison to what is supposed to be the pure waters of the Body of Christ.

Until otherwise respected continuationist theologians publicly call out, by name, the before-mentioned charlatans, necromancers (yes, necromancy), and false prophets--people who are not merely "continuationists," but who are deceptive and/or deceived tools of Satan--to genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, these theologians cannot be trusted. In spite of their solid theological prowess in other areas of biblical study, they should not be trusted. And don't drink any glass of water they might hand to you, from here on out until they cry out, "Don't drink than water--any of it! There's poison in it!"

The "Toronto Blessing": 20 years of deception, delusion, and destruction--20 years of charlantry, lies, deceit, and dancing with the Devil. "Tony! You're poisoning the well!"

The well has been poisoned for two decades. Don't drink the water.

"And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed" (2 Peter 2:2).

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’" (Matthew 7:21-23).

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Babies Are Murdered Here: A Review

For less than two years, I have stood outside an abortion clinic in Mission Hills, CA, most Tuesday and Saturday mornings, pleading with men and women not to murder their unborn children, and proclaiming the law and the gospel to the same. What motivated me to enter into this kind of ministry (the most difficult ministry of which I have ever been a part) was serving as part of the Living Waters team during the time the ministry produced the documentary, 180. Although I organized the ministry's national college and university distribution campaign, I could not shake the fact that I was not personally doing enough to fight for the lives of unborn children and for the souls of those who murder them.

Ten months ago, I contacted Pastor Jon Speed and Marcus Pittman who were in the early production stages of a new documentary titled Babies Are Murdered Here. I asked them to come to Southern California to participate in a one-day "Babies Are Murdered Here" effort at the abortion clinic where I minister. They agreed to come. On Saturday, March 23, 2013, a team of more than 45 people joined me at the abortion clinic to let the world know that babies were being murdered there.

For the purpose of full disclosure, our efforts that day were filmed and clips of our efforts are in the film.

Less than an hour ago, I finished watching a pre-release, rough cut of the documentary Babies Are Murdered Here. I cannot begin to express how fortunate, privileged, and humbled I am to have participated in a small way, in this film.

The film wasn't what I thought it would be while, at the same time, much more than I expected.

I have maintained a quiet level of concern, even apprehension, that the film might come across as too militant in the eyes of many Christians who might not have the stomach for front line evangelism and war waging against one of the great evils of our day--abortion. The reason I had this concern was that people like me were in it--open-air preachers--men who take to the streets to herald the good news of the gospel and who unashamedly and publicly call people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The open-air preaching subculture is a much misunderstood and often maligned group. Sadly, there are times when the subculture brings misunderstanding and consternation upon itself.

However, while the tone of the film is firm and resolute throughout, there is nary a hint of militancy. While the call "where is the Church" is anything but veiled, the call is bridled with edifying words to the Church to stand up, be seen, be heard, and fight the good fight.

The film is honest, true, passionate, compassionate, strong, firm, loving, and kind. And.....the gospel is preached. Yes, the gospel is preached. I would expect nothing less considering the men who produced the film and those who were called upon to participate in the it. And with the preaching of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ there is a clear and genuine message of forgiveness in the film. Those who are rightly characterized as murderers (i.e. abortive mothers and fathers, abortionists, nurses, clinicians, clerical staff, and anyone and everyone who supports them in their murderous work), can find and receive forgiveness for their sins by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

I do wonder, though, if the American Evangelicalism Church is ready for this film--not because it is gratuitously provocative. I wonder if the American Evangelical Church is ready for a film that, no matter what efforts might be made to marginalize or criticize the film, leaves the Christian viewer with the unshakable reality that the American Evangelical Church, with all of it "Walks for Life" and "Baby Bottle Campaigns" (which are good activities), is all but AWOL on the abortuary field of battle. Well, whether or not the American Evangelical Church is ready for Babies Are Murdered Here, every person who calls himself a Christian must see this film. Every person who professes to be "pro-life" must see this film. It's not only that good. It's that important.

The film is scheduled for release on January 22, 2014, which is the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

Apologia Radio and Crown Rights are working to raise $3,000 to begin a mass distribution campaign, the goal of which is getting the DVD into the hands of college and university students around the country. If you would like to help cover post-production and distribution costs, please make your donation here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Swimming Against the Stream

Thomas Watson, the great Puritan theologian, wrote the following in The Great Gain of Godliness (Banner of Truth Trust, 2006):

"In those degenerate times when men were arrived at the acme and height of impudence, and dared to speak treason against heaven, then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another. When others were plaintiffs these were defendants; when others spoke against God, these spoke for God . . . The more outrageous others are in sin, the more courageous we should be for truth . . .

"To profess religion when the times favour it is no great matter. Almost all will court the Gospel Queen when she is hung with jewels. But to own the ways of God when they are decried and maligned, to love a persecuted truth, this evidences a vital principle of goodness. Dead fish swim down the stream, living fish swim against it. To swim against the common stream of evil shows grace to be alive" (p. 5, 6).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Testimony

I am thankful to Andrew and Alex Osborne of Life Light Productions for producing this video of my testimony.