Saturday, July 12, 2008

Preaching Podcast

Shine, Rain, Clear & Preaching

Today is Saturday & again to the beach to share the Good News!

As this is summer time in SW Florida, rain was a factor. We met around 3:30 pm and began talking to people and handing out tracts.

I met Kevin and his friend. Kevin was open and questioning about the Gospel, while his friend was very closed and NOT open….we talked of the coming Judgment of God and God’s Righteousness. Kevin seemed bothered, while his friend was losing patience.

Later, I met Andreas & Louis; young men. These guys had some kind of church background, but considered themselves good guys and hoped they’d get to Heaven. Both professed to have kept the Ten Commandments, so without comment I began to go through the commandments to see….they failed miserably. After seeing their guilt, they professed concern, so I explained the incredible Grace of our God in rescuing his chosen from the terrible grip of sin, exhorting them to repentance and faith.

It began to rain, so we all gathered in the shelter of the Dairy Queen awning to talk together of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What awesome conversations these are, to enjoy Christ together and his amazing Word.

The rain let up a little, but it seemed that everyone had abandoned the beach, we all decided to go home. I hadn’t got to preach open air and felt a pull, so hung around a little, walking around the block. I got back to the square and saw people coming and going from the pier….thought about preaching & wimped out.

Returning to my car, I had the door open when I was approached by a man I’d talked to about the Gospel (Kevin). He and I chatted for a long-time, getting deeper into the Word, showing the Righteousness and Sovereignty of God. I finally asked him if he’d stand in as my rent-a-crowd for an open air…he agreed & I preached across from a ice cream shop….lots of folks stood around listening….no comments or hecklers though.

I send Kevin home with a Bible to read….pray for him.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fourth of July Evangelism

Many from the Gunnery Road Baptist Church met Friday to go hand out tracts and share the Gospel at Veteran’s Park here in Lehigh Acres, this 4th of July. I mentioned it to the Pastor last week, he made an announcement encouraging people to come out & many did. Each person went out armed with 100 tracts and a 2-hour commitment. Very cool!

When I had first arrived, I met a woman pushing a baby carriage. I gave her a tract & she introduced herself as a Christian. As usual, I told a story; a story that I was on the ground at her feet, knife in my chest, bleeding out with 2-minutes to live, scared of Hell….How do I get to Heaven? She couldn’t explain the Gospel & said something like “I’m born again & you’re being too pushy….she was mad”. I’m sorry I made her mad, but expect it’s most likely a result of being bothered that she couldn’t explain the Gospel after professing to be a Christian.

I began handing out tracts to people sitting around tables under a sunshade (sunshades are popular during the summer in Florida. At the first table, I met Joe. Joe is from New York, where he was involved in evangelism with folks from his church. We visited for a short time, encouraging him to preach the Gospel & inviting him to come to church with me.

I moved on & began to hand out tracts to everyone sitting along the tables; at the far end of the tables, I met Debbie & Richard. A young girl was sitting at their table, but left as we began a serious conversation. Debbie showed a very strong conviction of sin. She and Richard both claimed to be Christians, but talking to them, I’m not sure. She’s said she’d not been born again – had not truly repented of her sin & put her faith in Jesus Christ and the Blood he shed for sin on the Cross of Calvary. We talked for quite a long time, thoroughly explaining the Gospel & the exhortation of scripture to “examine yourself, whether you be in the faith” (I Cor. 13). Sue joined the conversation and we invited them to join us at church in Sunday. Sue stayed to chat with them while I eventually moved on to talk with others. She hugged Sue when they left.

It turns out they did come to church today & sat with us. Pastor Vance preached on I Corinthians 13:5 as we’d been discussing a couple days earlier & he preached a strong, clear message. Pastor knew they where there…he and I were talking later & both had noticed the songs we sang about being freed from the bondage of sin…hoping they’d touch her. They had to leave right after church but said they were glad they’d come & would be back. Please pray for Debbie & Richard; very nice people, be so good to see them come to true repentance & faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Later, I moved back along the tables & found that all the people had moved…all new people…cool! I began to hand out tracts and talk to people. I met a couple women, seems that everyone from the church had also talked to them. One said she was new to the area and looking for a church. I was able to chat with them & a bit light-heartedly use my standard knife-in-the-chest story to ask her to explain the Gospel. I got a squishy response, so we chatted about what the scriptures say about the Judgment of God, substitutionary atonement, repentance and faith. It is sad to see professing Christians so unclear on the Gospel.

Further down the tables, I met a couple girls, older-teens or early twenties. They thought they were good people & good enough to get into Heaven. We discussed the Law to show them their sin & what the scriptures say about God’s righteous judgment (Hebrews 9:27, Acts 17:30-31, Revelation 21:8, I Corinthians 6:9-10). They showed concern & took an “Are You Good Enough to Get Into Heaven?” tract.

The man who was operating the kid’s inflatable water-slides talked to me for a while. I can’t recall his name now, but he admitted he’d sinned before God, but felt that everyone else had too (very typical) & thus God would overlook sin. He felt that God knew that he’d done his best & was ‘comfortable’ that this was good enough. It took some chatting for him to seemingly hear that God’s standard was absolute moral perfection….that “he will be no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7). Is this pretty common feeling simply the depravity of man, or is the modern church partly responsible, with it’s preaching of ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life’…preaching of the Love of God, but forgetting entirely of His Righteous Judgment. I eventually was able to explain to him of God’s standard. Often, a story works well. I say something like, ‘Imagine that someone murdered your daughter, slit her throat and dumped the body. The police caught the perpetrator; he stood before the judge and admitted his guilt, but asked the judge to forgive him, to let him go. If the judge let him go, would that be justice? What would you feel about the judge?’ I ask if God’s standard of justice is higher or lower than man's….higher! This often begins to open their eyes….though in this case, he was not very open…but seeds are planted. People often feel they are only successful when sharing the Gospel, when someone falls on their knees and repents. We are really successful when we are obedient to His command to share the Gospel; when we lift up His name and preach His Word, for His Glory….let our Lord create the increase.

My family was trying to get me to finally leave. Walking for the parking lot, a group at a table off to the side, asked me for some of the Million Dollar Bill tracts I was handing out. I was able to talk to them for a bit….one showed conviction of sin…I talked to him for a bit & invited him to the church here in Lehigh.

Pray for those who heard the Gospel, may the name of Jesus Christ be glorified and praised.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Bobby Backslider?

A couple nights back, heading home at the end of the day, I passed a car. I’d just turned off the main-road and was beginning the 8-mile run up Sunshine Blvd home, when I passed a cross-street; on the corner of the cross-street sat a small car; hood up and driver pacing back and forth, calling on his cell-phone...I drove by. I felt a tug inside; turned around and drove back.

As it turns out, Bob had just installed a new battery in his little Hyundai the night before and had failed to properly tighten-down the positive battery terminal, thus his alternator was not properly charging his battery – in short...’he be stuck’. Bob was a little agitated, as he was rushing to pick up his dear wife at work. “You need a boost”, I asked Bob....yep, he did....but I could sense hope drop in him when I asked if he had cables...he didn’t. I cheerfully turned around with a smile & lined my van up with the front of his car anyway, figuring I’d find cables from someone. Half a minute later, a lady in the house right beside us began backing out of her driveway....she had cabled & loaned them to us....I boosted Bob’s car.

As I was disconnecting Bob’s car, I asked what would happen to him when he died...Bob was polite, but assured me he’d take the time to talk another time, but was late picking up his wife....what do you know; his car engine quite before he could drive off. I now had time to talk to Bob while I figured out why it quit (found the loose battery terminal & fixed it) then re-boosting the car.

It turns out that Bob is a sinner and a lawbreaker, guilty before God and deserving of punishment. Bob told me that he loves the Lord, but is a backslider. I told Bob that we don’t see that in scripture (i.e. a man who falls away from the faith, but is still on his way to Heaven)....I pointed out that I John 2:19 says “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” That seemed to bother Bob; I trust he was convicted.

Pray for Bobby the ‘backslider’.