Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I know I ordinarily use this blog to talk about my personal evangelism adventures. Today, I am using it to promote a free movie that talks about the Gospel and sins' effect on our world. Please take 33 minutes of your time to watch "180 the Movie." Thanks to Ray Comfort and the entire team at Living Waters Ministries for putting this film together and making available free of charge. For more information on the work of Living Waters, please visit their website.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Off Script

There is usually a pretty consistent pattern to my evangelism: The Good Person Test, the confirmation of guilt and judgment, and the Gospel. But there are plenty of times when the Lord "calls an audible." For my non-American-Football-fan readers, this means that He will prompt me to do something that I know how to do but wasn't planning to do and it works out a lot better than what I had planned.

Such was the case yesterday at Payless. I was purchasing socks (I think that God created menial tasks like buying clothes just to make sure we keep interacting with people He wants saved). One of the young ladies there made me want to hide my eyes. Fortunately, she was only around for a few seconds, and she wasn't the cashier.

That lady told me that the reason they were slow was that it wasn't time yet to get busy: come 6 PM, they would have no time to even restock, much less take it easy and chat. With that in mind, I decided that she was ripe for a diversion: the Good Person Test.

She agreed to take it. She was sobered when I told her that hating another makes one a murderer, but then she tried to justify it. She described the offense, and I understood. But then I asked her if she could forgive the person, if she asked her to.

"I could forgive, but I could never forget."

I have heard that many times. So I asked her to consider that Jesus had said that we would only be forgiven as much as we forgave others. I asked her to think about what God had done for us, becoming one of us to redeem us for our sins against Him, a process which involved--get this--being mistreated by us directly. So that He could forgive us all.

She had to admit that she had never considered that before.

The other girl had come up during our conversation, so she got to hear that part. She was on the far side behind the counter, so I didn't have to fight with my eyes about anything. I thanked God for that.

I urged the cashier to read the Word and take it more seriously. Then I bid them adieu, though I said it in English. =P

Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Twist

You never know where obedience to God will lead you.

I was at my bank this morning conducting business when I noticed one of the tellers drinking from a mug with the bank logo on it. I forget what question I asked about the mug, but it was something silly, and I expected the conversation to stay that way.

But it didn't.

She told me that she had had two previous glass mugs, but the cleaning guy broke both of them, so she was using the plastic mug, which she knew wouldn't break. I said something sarcastic about not being able to store anything valuable, and then she told me the full story.

She and her husband had gone to Las Vegas and purchased there the commemorative mugs featuring Cris Angel, the magician.

I said that I wasn't too sure that the maintenance guy had broken them. Nervous laughter ensued. "Cris is into some pretty evil stuff, so..."

"Don't be messin' with my boyfriend," she said, playfully. But that is a serious statement.

So I said, "Hmm...let's see...'Thou shalt not covet,' 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' how many more commandments shall we break today?" as the nervous laughter continued.

I immediately knew that two of other tellers were siding with me. One I have known to be a Christian because she is a frequent guest at Cracker Barrel, the other I had suspected because I wear my Jesus-proclaiming T-shirts to the bank all the time, and she had seemed to be amicable. I was saying what they had wished to say but could not for fear of offending a coworker.

Then the first teller noticed my T-shirt. It says on the front, "WARNING: THE BACK OF THIS SHIRT MAY OFFEND YOU." Curious, and wanting to end the other conversation, she asked what it was about. I told her that it speaks of Judgment Day. Of course, she wanted to read the back, so I turned around and let all three of them stare. (You can read the words on the tract that goes with the T-shirt here.)

The first teller complimented it. I pray that she will not soon forget it. Please pray for her, too.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bearing Fruit

For almost as long as I have been doing street evangelism, the question has come from Christians who see me, "What is the fruit?" Usually, I refer them to 1 Corinthians 3, which tells us that God is the One who gives the increase, neither the sower nor the waterer are anything--and I have no idea which one I am at the time, but I know I am not God, so the issue of fruit does not particularly bother me, so long as I am faithfully presenting the truth of God's Word.

The easiest way for me to do that, of course, is to just read the Scriptures. I do that out loud in front of the Scientology headquarters in Clearwater almost every Monday. Sometimes, people get upset; other times, people mock; more ignore me; still, there are others who encourage me.

Like that man who offered me a cup of coffee last night. Or the couple that gave me $60 on the spot to give to my church (yep).

That came after a man with really awful timing insisted that I didn't need to read aloud on the street corner, because they have so many Bibles in the Scientology complex. I responded that they obviously were not reading them too well, or else they would not be involved in that garbage (yes, I said it that way). Then I read on. I realize that I was in the chapter of Amos which describes the encounter he had with a priest who tried to discourage him. The curse that God put on that priest was rather frightening, especially as I considered the living, flesh-and-blood man who had just walked in the footsteps of this priest. May he repent so that none of those things befall him.

I do thank God for the love He has given to those of us who do this for those who are perishing. Phyllis E. (who is going to hate me for embarrassing her) was not feeling well at all, but she would not stay home. I am glad she did not. Toward the end of our night, a young woman stopped as we continued a rather long and trying conversation with a self-righteous homeless man named Greg (you can pray for him--in fact, I am asking you to do so, because he is so deceived). She had passed by earlier as Phyllis was witnessing to some little boys, only one of whom spoke English (the other two, Italian; yes, he could translate). I had handed her a tract, and she had moved on.

When she came back and stopped and stood there, I beckoned her over. "Can I ask you a question? If you were to die today, where would you go?"

"To Hell," she said, trembling.

"Is that bothering you?"

She nodded as she fought back tears. I told her that I would wait for Phyllis (and Pat) to finish with Greg, and then have the ladies talk to her. I did not want to be a distraction in a moment meant only for Jesus.

Suddenly, Greg was no longer eager to leave, after we had prayed for him. So, when he had turned his head a bit, I sneaked Phyllis out of the conversation (sorry, Pat) to talk to Brandy.

Phyllis asked her about her background, made sure she understood her state before God, and then that she understood the Good News of Jesus' Redemption for us. Then we prayed for Brandy, and then she prayed. We gave her a New Testament and some words of encouragement, and she went her way.

As I was driving away, I saw her sitting on a bench reading that New Testament. I wonder if she is homeless. I do know she had food. I also know that she is in the hands of the Lord, and, though it is impossible for me to help her anymore at this time, I know that He is every thing she needs and will supply all her physical needs. Please lift her up, too.

God bless you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wrong Place, Right Time

I don't think I have mentioned that the open mic thing got derailed a little bit before the holidays. The host establishment apparently had a problem with the M.C., so he took it to another place. Well, I didn't hear about that place on time, so I missed it. So I tried to catch up with it, but it wasn't there, either. But that's where things started getting good.

I had worked a pretty hard shift and was preparing for a double the next day. My feet were hurting, and my laundry wasn't quite done. To top it off, I had put something in the oven and had to wait even longer for it. I didn't know that they were holding the open mic at another place, so I was worried about getting a late slot and being pushed back to midnight (happens sometimes), in which case, I would not have stayed because I had to be at work at 9AM. So I thought about not going.

I decided to go anyway. On the radio, the DJ was reading from Luke the story of Jesus calling Peter and John. She pointed out that one Word from the Master can change everything, from the frustrating, endless night of fruitless effort to an abundance so great that the nets were breaking and the ships were sinking. I pondered that, but I didn't think it had much to do with me, though the thought did occur to me that it might.

I arrived, and the place did not look like it was hosting an open mic. From the outside, there were too few cars. Looking in did not reveal any setup that usually accompanies it. I decided to take a closer look. Superficial glances have cost me before, so I investigated fully before giving up. Turned out to be a good choice.

As I walked in the door, one of the patrons said, "Oh, look! A guy with a guitar!"

I just kind of stood there, not knowing what to do or say. "Hello." It was polite, at least.

The bartender came out, and the patron made sure she knew I was there. She immediately realized that I was chasing the open mic, and she apologized. She explained that they had only had it the week before as a trial run, but it had failed.

The patron offered to buy me a beer if I would play a song. I gently refused. The man in front of me suggested a Sprite. I agreed to those terms! The barkeeper poured me the beverage, and I stood at the entrance to the dining room, which was empty and closed (at that hour, everyone there just wanted to drink and talk).

I was nervous, so I played my good ol' stand by: "The Rain Song," by Day of Fire. They loved it.

So I played "Born Again" and "Cry Out to Jesus," both by Third Day. Either they were sloshed or they weren't paying attention to the words (or both), but they loved them, too. So much so, that the guy who had suggested the Sprite told me that they were taking up a collection so I could keep playing. Twenty dollars. Nice. That covered most of the gap between what I had wanted to earn serving earlier in the day (hard work does not always mean big money).

The barkeeper apparently called her boss, because she said he wanted my contact information, and he wasn't there. She said that they had been looking for some dependable music for a while, and he wanted to talk to me. I gave her my cell and my email address. The I played Chris Tomlin's "All Bow Down." She videotaped part of that one and emailed it to her boss (technology these days: that was with just her phone!).

Then I was repeatedly complimented. During that conversation, they noted that I was loud enough to be heard vocally without a microphone (usually that doesn't happen, but the empty dining room behind me helped a lot, and I was deliberately louder, knowing the challenge from experience). Then someone asked for one more song. I gave them Steven Curtis Chapman's "Remembering You" (from the Narnia soundtrack). They loved that, too, even though I blew the bar chords twice (apparently, people who are not musicians don't notice musicians' mistakes unless the musician reacts to them or points them out himself; I didn't).

It was getting late, so I bid them adieu. I had put tracts in my jacket, not knowing if they would allow me to give them out or not. Well, the barkeeper was smoking a cigarette with two of the patrons, so I went for it, giving them the "Get Out of Hell Free" cards from One Million Tracts. I handed them to the two smokers and the barkeeper, too, on my way out. Then, I praised the Lord, all the way home.

Now, I am not counting on landing the gig regularly. I did explain that I only know Contemporary Christian music, though they did not seem to hold it against me at the time. I don't know what the boss's schedule is or if the barkeeper got my information to him (sometimes things get lost). I just thank the Lord that I was so blessed with an opportunity to spread His Gospel to yet another group of people I did not know.

This is after being able to review some Scriptures with one of my younger coworkers as we manned the host station.

Oh, and I don't have to work that double. I did rather well on the shift that I picked up today, and then my manager asked if I would take the night off, because there were too many servers scheduled. Sweet!!

I wonder what I should do on a Friday night? ;)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wow

I resumed my reading aloud of the Book of Isaiah last night in downtown Clearwater. I actually went back one chapter, to 54, because I felt that the Lord wanted me to do so. On my way to the end of the Book, but not too far into my reading, a man stopped by and dismounted his bicycle and stood next to me as I read.

This has happened before. People are often curious. Somehow, even though I am being very loud, they are not afraid to approach me and read over my shoulder to see what passage I am reading at the time. Of course, I don't mind that they do that. I don't stop reading unless they try to talk, though. And I did not with him, either.

I finished the Book, and turned to him. He had been encouraging passersby, mostly Scientologists, to listen to what I was saying. This does not always mean that you have an ally, as Ray Comfort can attest. Sometimes, convicted hearts or even demonically influenced people can have an ulterior motive for seeming to be on your side as you preach the truth. Paul found this to be true in Acts 16. So I did not know what to make of this--so I let him talk.

David told me that he had been recently married and things had not necessarily been going very well. He had apparently come into contact with a Scientologist at the Clearwater Pier who had told him to go to a certain place and not to stop. Well, when he heard the Word of the Lord, it rang a bell, because he had had much time to read during his (unfortunately) frequent stops in the state penitentiary. He remained and listened because he knew that it was the truth that he needed to heed, and not the other stuff that other guy was trying to get him into.

I told him that I could not promise that God would heal his marriage. Jesus did say, after all, that a man must love God more than he loves his own wife. I told him that I could promise that God would bless him for obedience, whether his family was restored or not. Then he spoke of how God had commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. I asked him if he remembered the other sacrifice that God had asked Abraham to make long before that. He did. He remembered that God had told Abram to leave behind his old life to follow God wherever He would lead. And he knew that that was what God was calling him to do.

I asked him if he had a Bible. He does. I reminded him of Jesus words in John 8:30-36, that those who continue in His Word will prove themselves to be His disciples, escape the lies of the Enemy, and break the chains of sin. I reassured him of these promises before he departed. We had a long hug, and then he mounted his bicycle and went his way.

I turned to Kevin R,, who had stood by praying as the man talked with me. I was in shock and amazement. I have never seen that before, but, as Scott said when I shared it with him, that is why we go. Praise the Lord!!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Into the Ditch

Monday evening, we were back in downtown Clearwater, singing and praising God before we split into teams. A man on his bicycle stopped to watch us, and Josh P asked him to join us, and he did. After the praise time had ended, Josh began to discuss with the man eternity and Jesus Christ. The man knew something of it, but we all could tell that something was wrong. Then the man mentioned Kenneth Copeland.

I don't know how many people know of his ministry, but Mr. Copeland believes that we have the same power as Jesus to cure diseases and other earthly ailments, particularly the afflictions we suffer ourselves--nevermind that John the Apostle did not die of persecution, that Paul's request of healing was denied, that Jesus Himself promised us tribulations and afflictions, and that God doesn't promise life without death, but resurrection. All these things I mentioned to Dave, but he insisted that he (and we) have been given the power to do greater works that Jesus Himself. Now, Jesus did say that (John 14:12), but what would be the purpose of those works? To show the Father to the world, which is what Jesus Himself came to do. Then I asked Dave a question:

"Jesus raised people from the dead, and you are talking about foot pain. How is this doing greater works than Jesus?"

He tried to bluff, but he could not answer. So I firmly told him, "You are serving yourself, you are not serving the Lord, and you need to repent." That ended our exchange.

I was greatly saddened by that man. He has swallowed a lie because he has not believed the whole Word of God. "WithHis stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5) and "by Whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24) are either falsehoods from God (because Christians die from various ailments everyday) or a deeper promise than a remedy for earthly nuisances. Jesus promised us eternal life, not the easy life. Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, etc., do not believe that, but we must, if we expect to find God true to His Word.