Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | September 7, 2013

Shouldn’t We All Preach?

After months of teasers and sound bytes, our brother, Tony Miano, has published his book, “Should She Preach?” Throughout the almost daily postings about his efforts to establish a biblical case against the notion that women could or should preach in the “open air,” lots of men commented on it. And throughout the “biblical evangelism” community (and yes, we are a “community” within the Body of Christ, though we are not the Church) the postings and the eventual publication created quite a stir.

To Tony’s credit, he has written a book, and gotten it published, something many of us would like to do, but which he has done. But I kept waiting for the inevitable outcry of dozens of women who regularly preached in the open air to rise up and dispute his position. And it never happened.

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There’s a reason for that, of course. The reality is that there are very few women who regularly preach in the open air, at least in our camp (that of the essentially Reformed, orthodox, “biblical evangelism” group). And the sadder reality is that there are very few people anywhere, of either gender, preaching the risen Christ in the open air, exalting the name of Jesus, our great God and Savior, throughout the highways and hedges of America, which is stumbling further into the darkness of depravity with ever increasing velocity.

In South Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach), there are approximately 7 million people. In Palm Beach County alone, there are 1.3 million people. According to a recent survey (http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Palm-Beach-County-FL.html), 55% of the population, or 630,000 people, claim some type of religious affiliation. Of that number, 300,000 are Roman Catholic, and 167,000 are Jewish. That means that a staggering 74% of people who claim a religious affiliation will likely never hear a gospel presentation in their places of worship!

Now, how many “open air” preachers do we have in Palm Beach County? I know of potentially half a dozen of us, who regularly proclaim the biblical gospel and call on our hearers to repent of their sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ. Our problem, brothers and sisters, isn’t women preaching the gospel. Our problem is that there aren’t nearly enough laborers in the field to sow the seeds of the gospel, so that there might someday be a harvest of revival!

Instead of dithering over the non-issue of women proclaiming Christ in the highways and hedges (not in the pulpits of our churches), shouldn’t we instead by obedient to the LORD’s command that we should “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”? Frankly, as our culture spins into the widening gyre of sin and depravity, don’t we really need “all hands on deck”? Do we really fancy the illusion that we can discriminate against our sisters who may be called by God to proclaim Christ in their cities, where no men are apparently willing to do so?

In the city of San Antonio, Texas, the city council voted overwhelmingly to approve a measure sanctioning those who do business with the city who have expressed disapproval of homosexuality. Those who do so are precluded from contracts with the city, nor can they run for elected offices or receive appointments to positions within the city.

Should a woman preach Christ and His resurrection in a city so blinded to sin? I would say, “Absolutely.” Will Jesus be left without a vocal witness where so much darkness is rising up? Who will stand in the gap for the people?

Should a man be preaching Christ and His resurrection in a city so blinded to sin? I would say, “Absolutely.”

Shouldn’t we all be preaching Christ and His resurrection in all our cities? I would say, “Absolutely.”

Perhaps we can revisit this non-issue when it becomes an issue, on that great and glorious day when every street corner is occupied by faithful witnesses for Christ, proclaiming His kingdom to the nations, and when men can’t find an open space to preach the gospel. Then, if women are occupying a prime piece of real estate, perhaps that will be the moment to invoke our “rights” as men, and share Tony’s book with them.

Until then, preach on, sister.

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Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | July 6, 2013

YGKs (Youth Group Kids)

For the past few weeks, I’ve begun ministering the Word on the weekends at Juno Beach, primarily at the Pier, where there is good foot traffic and a natural gathering place at the entrance to the pier.

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I arrive around noon and preach for 90 minutes to two hours, depending on how long my water lasts (it’s hot!). There are many young people, from ‘tweens to early twenties. Most either ignore me or quietly give an encouraging smile or “thumbs up” as they go by, but many are quite blasphemous, shouting,  “Jesus!” or “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” repeatedly as they pass by.

One girl stopped to criticize me for “judging” people. She was about 14 years old, wearing a couple of post-it notes and a diaper for a swimsuit, and had a prepubescent boy-child draped over her like a poncho. She made a more astute Biblical reference, however, than the usual Matthew 7. I asked her where she learned the verse, and she responded, “In my youth group!”

Surprised (I don’t know why), I asked her a few more questions. She said her name was “Heather” (name changed to protect the parents). She admitted being a member of a youth group at a large church, claimed she was a Christian because she “asked Jesus into her heart,” and firmly believed she was bound for heaven as a result. She had a passing knowledge of Christ’s virgin birth and His death on the cross, but no real understanding of why He did it, other than to say, “For my sins.” Heather did not know what specific sins, however, a “nice girl” like her might be guilty of.

I took Heather through a few of the commandments, including the third (“You shall not take My name in vain”) and the fifth (“You shall honor your mother and your mother”), and asked if she thought she had kept those. She began to shift a little, and her juvenile male poncho was clearly losing interest, whining that they had come to the beach “to have fun.” Heather begged off, admitting that she wasn’t “perfect.”

Because, however, she claimed to be a Christian, I was able to probe further and be a bit more confrontational. I explained that perfection, in Christ, was the standard that God would use to judge her (and her pimply boyfriend) when she stood before Him. Like most young people, Heather had been to the funeral of a young friend, so death was not unfamiliar to her; her conscience was stinging under this examination. I told her that Christ died to take the punishment that was due to her, and that if she had really been converted and born again, as the Scriptures describe, her heart would be softened to the proclamation of the Word, and she would rejoice to hear Christ preached.

Finally, her young friend’s pleading prevailed, and she told me she had to leave. I offered her a gospel tract, which she declined, but clearly, some of the “fun” had gone out of the afternoon.

I take no pleasure in deflating a young person, but I’m aghast at the false belief in salvation that seems to permeate some youth ministries. Say a prayer, ask Jesus into your heart, and you’re saved? Without a thought to the awful consequences to Christ for bearing our sin in His own body on the cross? Without a specific knowledge of how we have offended Him, and contributed personally to the death of the sinless Son of God? Without a sound repentance for our great and personal transgressions against the One who loved us and gave Himself for us? With no supernatural gratitude for the abatement of the eternal penalty all of us so rightfully deserve? With no fruitfulness in our lives as we continue to pursue our impure passions and pleasures?

Heaven forbid.

Last week, I met Michael, a precious young man, who had also come to the beach to “have some fun.” This young man, however, had a different spirit. He heard the Word preached, then came over to speak with me. We spoke for half an hour as he shared what had happened to him, and what he was facing. His humble heart and the meekness with which he received God’s message were testimonies to the effective work of the Holy Spirit in his soul. He left with tracts and my business card, and made a promise to read his bible at home.

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As we look to the future of God’s Kingdom on earth, let’s not presume too much on youth ministry that emphasizes entertaining worship and “busy work” to the neglect of the gospel of everlasting life.

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As our team ministered the gospel on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach on July 4, we were visited by a team of YGKs from a church in Fort Myers. They were armed with 4th of July gospel tracts, and their youth leader, Ben, was taking a small group of them to Flagler Drive to hand out the tracts and engage in conversation. This is the “work of the ministry” that we are each called for! We were encouraged by their zeal for Jesus and for winning the lost to the Savior. I thanked them for encouraging us and prayed for their effective ministry.

No king but Christ!

Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | June 14, 2013

The Liberal Hypocrite: Nancy Pelosi’s “intrinsic value” model

The Liberal Hypocrite: Nancy Pelosi’s “intrinsic value” model

In the link above, Nancy Pelosi can’t articulate a distinction between Kermit Gosnell’s butchery of infants and pre-born children, and late term abortions. But more evident is her acknowledgment that her five children have value and Gosnell’s victims and other late-term abortion victims do not.

Pelosi obfuscates her beliefs by deploying the “politics” shield. Like most pro-death abortion supporters, Pelosi justifies the murder of the unborn by her underlying presumption that the child’s value is determined by the mother, and not by any inherent value the child has as a human being made in the image of God. Although she parrots her “devotion” to the Roman Catholic Church and claims her beliefs are “sacred,” and therefore not open for discussion, she “bobs and weaves” because she recognizes how out of step she is with RCC theology and policy regarding the divinely intrinsic value of human life.

Pelosi’s children have value simply because Pelosi gives it to them; therefore the intrinsic value of her children is determined by Pelosi, and no one else. If she (or any woman contemplating the murder of her child) determines the child has no value, because giving birth will infringe on Pelosi’s self-value, then the child is sacrificed on the altar of Pelosi’s narcissism.

This is classic liberal ideology. The self-love generation rebels against the notion of a transcendent Creator who created the human race in His divine image (though they are now horribly marred by sin), and that a person (pre-born or mature, handicapped or elderly) derives value from his Creator, not the birther. Though I am no fan of the Roman Catholic Church or its semi-Pelagian theology, even they get this right.

Pelosi’s hypocrisy comes from her professed respect for the RCC and purported practice of its beliefs. Like all hypocrites, she mouths one thing and practices another. She is an idolator, a violator of the second commandment, for she has made a god in her own image. But she’s not having that conversation because of her own agenda.

 

Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | May 27, 2013

Christian, do you hate America?

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To my Christian brothers, who this day (and other days we set aside to honor our nation) disavow their allegiance to America, and decry her wickedness and proclaim God’s judgments against her, I pose the following question:

Were God to answer our prayers and grace our labors so that revival would break out across our land, from sea to sea; that another “great awakening” would grip our country, and in a single generation, righteousness would be “restored” to us; that the courts would “again” honor our LORD and Savior; that the people would cry out to God for His mercy, and all the evils that now plague us would be rebuked and set aside, and His commandments and His word and His Son would once “again” be the rule of law;

Would you love America again? Would you give her your earthly allegiance and rejoice in the great liberties you enjoy as a result of God favoring you with placing you here, rather than in another nation not so blessed?

If so, then you are a fickle lover. Your “love” is conditional, your loyalty is contingent; you are, in fact, disloyal and unfaithful. And in your apparent eagerness to facilitate Christ’s return, you look to the headlines for your hermeneutic and not to the Scriptures that command us to “honor the emperor” and “be subject to the governing authorities.”

Do you imagine that George Whitefield, whose spirit we so frequently invoke in our gospel efforts, hated England? Do you imagine that his labors were tainted by ill-will toward the nation in which almighty God had placed him, and which provided him the liberty to proclaim Christ to thousands gathered in the fields? Do you imagine that England as a nation in the early 18th century was less corrupt than America is in the 21st? Only in degrees, my brothers.

A casual reading of Hosea reminds us that the LORD loved Israel, and while He chastened that people, His love remained for her. And whether you believe or not that God has loved America, can you seriously deny for a moment the tremendous blessings we have enjoyed, and still enjoy, as the result of the LORD placing us here in her midst?

The prophets cried for their nation. They wept that she would be restored, and their sorrow motivated them to proclaim God’s holiness and justice to the people, in the hope that God would restore them, as a nation, to the place of His favor. But is there any doubt that Isaiah loved Israel, and was loyal to her? Or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, or Daniel, or Ezra, or Nehemiah?

I urge you to repent of your antipathy toward America. The truth is that there was never a time that a nation, any nation, fully honored God with all its heart, soul, mind and strength. There has never been a time that a nation was not filled with fallen men, sinners for whom Christ died while they were His enemies. And while America is sick, perhaps unto death, with the weight of the tremendous evils our leaders have permitted (with our support), yet we enjoy the most permissive liberties of any of the nations of the world, and that most precious liberty, to proclaim Christ to the nations of the world.

This Memorial Day we honor those fellow citizens who paid with their lives for the freedom you and I take advantage of to express our love for the Savior of mankind. And I will plant a flag in my yard, and express my earthly allegiance to the nation God has placed me in, and continue to pray in faith that God will answer our prayers and reward our labors with revival, that another “great awakening” would grip our nation, and that Christ would be proclaimed throughout the world as a result.

May God, in His infinite mercy and grace, bless our great nation.

Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | May 24, 2013

Daughter of Apostasy Preaches Christ

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Bobby McCreery joined me last night as we preached at Clematis by Night in downtown West Palm Beach. I appreciate so much this beloved brother, who was raised here and still has family here. As this picture depicts, the weather was near perfect – clear skies and a full moon, with palm trees stirred by a slight breeze; the quintessential Florida evening.

While we had several gospel conversations, we encountered resistance both from passersby, and from a woman who crossed the street to tell us we were “bothering” her and her son as they were having dinner outside a restaurant.

She complained that her son could hear our preaching as they ate dinner. “I don’t want him to hear all this crap,” she said.

“Really?” I answered. I told her she was privileged to hear the gospel herself, and her only hope of salvation was to repent of her sin and turn to Christ.

“I come from a family of ministers,” she claimed. “I’ve heard all this before.”

I replied that she, then, of all people, should rejoice in hearing the gospel proclaimed and Jesus exalted! After all, her family had labored for generations in the gospel. I continued to preach, and she began a conversation with Bobby, who was standing nearby handing out tracts.

She disclosed to him that her “family of ministers” were actually part of a liberal, apostate denomination, and that they would “be offended” to hear the gospel presented in public.

No doubt.

She returned to her table, and I could see her complaining to her table mates. It dawned on me that she was evidence of the power of the gospel: “That in every way, whether in pretense (or hostility) or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” What a privilege we enjoy to still be able to proclaim Christ publicly, that all may hear Him exalted, that His word still shines as a light in this dark and wicked generation! This woman, a daughter of apostasy, was doing the work of the Lord, albeit unwittingly.

On this day, the Boy Scouts of America, a bastion of morality committed to training up young boys to be “brave, clean and reverent,” folded to the pressure of the homosexual activists. Yet, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.” So the gospel will continue to go forth in power, transforming children of wrath into children of God. While the culture continues its breakneck plunge into wickedness, our Creator is still sending forth His word, displaying His love and mercy in His crucified and risen Son.

Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | April 27, 2013

Honest Questions, Gentle Responses

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It was John Coble’s turn “on the box” on a cool sunny Saturday afternoon at Atlanta’s annual Dogwood Festival. The crowds were streaming in at the 12th Street entrance at Piedmont Park, and our evangelism team was engaged in preaching, handing out tracts and having gospel conversations.

 

John had only been up for a few minutes when he attracted the attention of a slightly built woman in her fifties. “Lisa” stood across the street for a few minutes, listening intently as John proclaimed the gospel, but her interest emboldened her and she approached John’s footstool.

 

Several of us were standing nearby paying moderate attention. After all, open air preaching attracts a fair number of scoffers, pranksters, blasphemers and the occasional “drive-by shouting,” so an approaching person didn’t immediately set off alarm bells.

 

The woman began asking, politely, some reasonable questions: How could we claim the Scriptures are true, men wrote them, it all happened long ago; the usual comments of a skeptic. What made the exchange noteworthy wasn’t the woman’s comments, but her demeanor. Lisa seemed genuinely interested in John’s replies.

 

I have had the pleasure of laboring in the gospel with John on several occasions and have always been endeared to his reasonable and calm approach to preaching. Frankly, I’m a little “over the top,” so our styles are a great contrast. Rather than confront the woman strongly with the law, he engaged her with questions. Why didn’t she believe? he asked. Had she read the Scriptures herself? What did she think would happen to her when she died?

 

A growing crowd of people were drawn to the exchange. As the woman expressed her doubts, and her desire to believe, it became apparent to us that the Spirit of God was working in her soul. So John kept asking her questions, and provided carefully considered answers. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) In this case, grace was flowing to both the inquirer and the inquired.

 

Others were gathering and asking questions and John turned his attention to them. I approached Lisa and was able to continue the conversation John had so carefully cultivated. The LORD was clearly doing a work of repentance in Lisa, and she left with a New Testament and made a promise to read it.

 

All of us who witnessed the exchange were touched by the grace and patience exhibited by John, and in turn, by Lisa. There was no doubt we had witnessed a work of regeneration in those long minutes, the fruit of which will only be known in eternity. But we thank God for the richness of His mercies toward fallen sinners through His humble servants.

 

Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | March 25, 2013

Coming out at Pridefest, with a cross

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Pridefest is the annual event for the LGBT community in South Florida. On the third Sunday in March, thousands of gays, lesbians and transgendered and their families converge on Lake Worth for a weekend of activities, including a parade through the downtown area along Lake Avenue.

This was my third year evangelizing at Pridefest, my second with the “Are You Ready?” cross (see last year’s blog here: http://tinyurl.com/78e93hg). Like last year, a brother and I stood along the street with our crosses. The response is always electric; the cross of Christ always evokes a strong, visceral reaction, and, it seems, especially at this event.

We don’t go to Pridefest to condemn gays, although that’s the assumption when we arrive. We go because there are sinners there, and the nature of the sin is less important than the fact of sin, which condemns every man, woman and child to an eternity in hell. Our message is salvation in Christ alone; the cross is a reminder of the price He paid to liberate us from the slavery of sin.

The cross is offensive (Galatians 5:11). It reminds us of our sin; it tells us clearly we are sinners, and that God hates sin. “God hates the sin and loves the sinner” is a misstatement of Scripture; God hates sin, and warns the sinner to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

This afternoon, like last year, we experienced anger, derision and scorn and we stood silently along the street. Within a few minutes, a woman began standing behind us with a fluorescent orange sign that said, “To Party.” (Our crosses said, “Are You Ready?” Get it?) She was angry with us.

My brother-in-Christ, Marcos, and I tried to engage her in conversation, but she wasn’t having any of it.

“You’re judging these people,” she said scornfully.

“I’m not judging them,” I said, “I’m guiltier than most of them because I’m older than most of them.”

Over the next few minutes, we had a tense exchange, she holding her brightly colored sign as high as she could as a backdrop to our crosses. Meanwhile, we were holding on for dear life to our crosses, as the winds were threatening to wrest them from our hands. The last thing we wanted was for some innocent bystander to get kaboshed by a flying cross.

She revealed that she had attended Loyola University in New Orleans and studied Jesuit theology. She also disclosed she owned a business along Lake Avenue. Meanwhile, the parade was passing by, with several of the vehicles in the motorcade stopping to deride and mock us. The crowd around us alternated between wild cheers for the marchers and making crude gestures toward us.

After a few minutes of this, I was inspired to ask our sign bearing friend a question. I admired her stamina in being able to hold a sign above her head for fifteen minutes. I was constantly adjusting my cross to keep from losing hold of it.

“Look,” I said, “my name is Mark, and this is my friend, Marcos. What’s your name?”

She stared at me for a moment from behind big, dark sunglasses.

“I’m Shelley,” she replied. A friend standing next to her said her name was Mary.

And with that, we began to chat. I asked her about Loyola and if she like New Orleans. I mentioned that Marcos and I had been in NOLA for the Super Bowl the month before. We both commented on the wildness that is Bourbon Street and how she actually left town for Mardi Gras every year she was there, because it was so out of control.

Shelley stated she was a “cradle Catholic,” and had grown up in the area. I asked where she had gone to high school, and we discovered that we both attended the same Catholic High School. (She graduated long after I had, of course.) We talked about some of the teachers and staff there, and then talked about the new pope.

A remarkable thing was happening around us at the same time. While vehicles and marchers were still stopping and gesturing, the crowd around us became less volatile; two young men standing alongside us began listening to our conversation. It was as if the Spirit of God had manifested right there, and placed us in the shelter of His wings for a few moments.

Marcos was approached by a woman who offered him a wristband. He accepted it, but on the condition that the woman take a gospel tract. She did, and thanked him as she walked away. Mary, Shelley’s friend, shared with us that she had attended Liberty University, than a Baptist Bible college in the Midwest.

For the next twenty minutes, the four of us, with occasional exchanges with Chuck and Adam, had a conversation. Shelley acknowledged our constitutional right to make our statement at the parade; we acknowledged her right to her beliefs and to protest our presence. And we shared with her, and Mary, and Chuck and Adam, the gospel, how God compelled us to come to this event, and to every other event where large groups gathered, to share the message of everlasting life through Christ, and Him alone.

As the parade came to an end and the crowds broke up, the wind finally snatched Shelley’s sign and blew it across the street. I thanked her for her conversation, and discovered where her business was.

“Don’t boycott me,” she said with a smile, as she and Mary walked away. Marcos offered them each a gospel tract, and each of them politely accepted one. So did Chuck and Adam, and we shared a brief moment with them.

We left exhausted at the experience, but alive with the grace of our great God and Savior, and His faithfulness to shelter us and provide us an opportunity to engage four souls with the gospel. I had contemplated preaching on the street afterward, but the cross had done all the talking that morning.

I came away with an insight: sometimes, Dale Carnegie’s techniques are more effective than coming across like Schwarzenegger. Not every encounter with the gospel requires “going to guns.” Solomon wrote, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1) And in the spiritually dark and oppressive bondage that Pridefest celebrates, the light of Christ shines brightest and a wooden cross is a more powerful message than any sermon.

Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | March 18, 2013

What’s “The Bible” all about?

Millions of people are watching “The Bible” miniseries on The History Channel. The production is not necessarily accurate in its depictions of biblical events, but rather is a dramatization of those historical events, similar to a child’s book of Bible stories.

In a prior post, I wrote down five points that would be clear to someone who watched the first episode of “The Bible.” You can read about them here: http://tinyurl.com/cp22llk. In this post, I want to make clear what “The Bible” is really all about; it’s about God’s creation, man’s rebellion, and God’s ultimate sacrifice to redeem man and the creation.

Here, from my friend John Barber, is a concise explanation of what “The Bible” is really all about:

God says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Maybe you lied, took something that didn’t belong to you, or simply lived for yourself rather than for God.  Regardless, once you sin, God says “the wages of sin is death.” That means eternal separation from God in a place Jesus called Hell. Now most people don’t want to admit they’re sinners. But God says, “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
 
But here’s the Good News. Jesus did 3 very important things for us. First, he lived the perfect life all of us were supposed to live, but did not.  The Bible calls Jesus the “spotless lamb of God.”  Second, he died on a cross and there paid the penalty for our sins so that we don’t have to. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is paid.” Third, he rose from the dead, conquering death so that we can have eternal life; and a full and meaningful life now. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Everything Jesus did is practical for you when, by faith, you trust on him. To ‘trust’ means to believe that what Jesus did in his life, death, and resurrection he did for you personally, and that what he did, is all you need to have the gift of eternal life.

There you have it, the gospel message, which is really what “The Bible” is all about. All who place their trust in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone, will receive the gift of eternal life; forgiveness of their sins and an inheritance imperishable among the saints, laid up for us in Heaven, where moth and rust and thief cannot corrupt, or rust or steal.
Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | March 4, 2013

A Proper Response to “The Bible,” Week One

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Some believers who have chimed in on the History Channel’s mini-series, The Bible, have complained about several things, including its dramatization of biblical events. They have even questioned the integrity of some of the nationally known pastors who have endorsed it.

Yet, The Bible (produced by reality-show guru Mark Barnett and his wife, Roma Downey) has generated tremendous interest in social media, and for the network itself. First reports indicate a strong viewing audience, perhaps many of them Christians responding in support. But there are no doubt many unbelievers who have tuned in out of curiosity, and even atheists and agnostics, eager to mock and scoff at God’s miraculous work of redemption.

Either way, as the great apostle tells us, “Christ is preached.”

Here are my takeaways from last night’s edition, week one. Anyone who watched the show would have seen demonstrated the following biblical truths:

  • God is the Creator of heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1)
  • He is all-powerful (omnipotent), and sovereign over the earth: “Our God is in the heavens, He does all that He pleases.”  (Psalm 115:3)
  • He punishes sin and warns sinners. Sodom was the example of God’s justice against iniquity and rampant immorality (Genesis 18:20, 32); Pharaoh and Egypt were the examples of God’s justice against disobedience and idolatry (Exodus 7:14).
  • He is personal, and He has made Himself known, both in the created order and by His spoken and written word (Romans 1:20, Exodus 20).
  • He has called men to Himself to worship Him and to be His people (Hebrews 1:1-2, Exodus 6:7).

Many may be critical of the presentation of biblical truth in a 10-hour made for television mini-series, but are we as disciples of Jesus Christ going to turn down the opportunity that this event presents? Rather than harp on the shortcomings of a dramatic production, let us concentrate instead on the “water cooler” conversations that these episodes will drive over the coming weeks, as we begin to prepare ourselves for the season of the Resurrection.

Soli Deo Gloria! No king but Christ.

Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | March 1, 2013

Super Bowl Outreach: Donnie the Gangsta

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Our team was on Canal Street on Friday, preaching in the afternoon. It was the first outreach of our 3 day mission, and as I was warming up, I was reading from the Psalms. A young man and his friend walked past. They were wearing low hung shorts, had numerous tattoos, and ball caps turn sideways, rapper/gangsta-style.

 

None of this was remarkable. The city was filled with all types of people and group gathered for the Super Bowl. Donny and his friend were white, and appeared to be in their late teens. What was remarkable was one of the young men’s response to the Scriptures! He stopped in front of me, listened for a short time, and then began reciting Bible verses.

 
I was preaching out of 2 Corinthians, talking about how the Scriptures were veiled as Moses was, after he had been in the presence of God. The young man before me quoted the next passage: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
 
I stood there, dumbfounded. Hecklers I anticipate; but this was something special. After a few more exchanges, I stepped off the box and introduced myself. The young man introduced himself as Donnie, and said he was 16. I asked Donnie how he came to know the Scriptures. He told me he had been taken to church by his mother, and had grasped the word of God as a child and a young teen. 
 
Meanwhile, his friend stood a distance off, nervously looking around to see if anyone was watching his buddy talk to one of the street preachers. 
 
“Are you saved, Donnie?” I asked.
 
He looked up at me. He was a full foot shorter than me, not yet a man, yet responsible in the eyes of God.
 
“I think so,” he said, shrugging.
 
I felt great affection for him. He had a cigarette in his hand, and by his clothing and street talk, I could tell he may have been overlooking and ignoring at least a couple of the commandments.
 
“Do you know the book of Hebrews, Donnie?” I asked.
 
He took a puff of his cigarette. “Which part?” he asked.
 
I opened my bible to chapter 12 and pointed to verse 14 and read it to him: “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
 
Donnie shifted, now uncomfortable. I asked him if he was living in holiness, and he admitted he wasn’t. I was touched by his honesty and open spirit. He wasn’t dissembling, making excuses, or running away. So I pressed him further.
 
“Donnie, you’ve been given a great gift. You have a wonderful grasp of the Scriptures, and it’s clear God has been calling you to Himself. You have your whole life ahead of you, but still, God could call you to account at any time.”
 
He nodded, looking down at his shoes. “I know that’s true.” 
 
I pleaded with him to repent of his disobedience and turn to Christ. I told him that his memory of bible verses would be no comfort to him if he died in his rebellion. And I reminded him that his generation is dying faster than any generation before in the modern era, from car crashes, drug overdoses, and violent crime. He admitted to me that some of his own friends had died. 
 
We prayed right there. Not a “sinners prayer” to give him a false hope of salvation, but a prayer that Donnie would repent and believe the gospel; that God would turn him from his rebellion and into the kingdom of His dear Son. I admonished him that he had been given a great gift, a gift that he would ultimately give an account for; that like the wicked servant who hid his master’s talent in the ground for fear, Donnie would someday stand before God to explain what he had done with the talent God had given him.
 
Donnie thanked me and rejoined his friend. He looked humbled and sober, yet only God knows what impact our conversation and prayer had on his spirit. 

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