Soulja Boy’s Great Witnessing Advice

I have never felt guilty or like I did the wrong thing after sharing about Jesus with someone. Never. It is kind of crazy. I think there have been times where I have pushed too hard, other times where I left truths out and was too soft. Other times where the person seemed in a rush and I was inconveniencing them. Other times where I felt very unsure before initiating the conversation, but EVERY SINGLE TIME my feeling after has been the same. I am glad I shared the Gospel. A peaceful feeling has followed, every time I decided to tell them about Him.

If you are not familiar with Soulja boy, he is a rapper who hit the scene with his 2007 song, “Crank That.” He is not a Christian rapper and I cannot condone his lyrics, but his rapper name is interesting. It is not just “Soulja Boy”, but rather the name on his albums is “Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em”. And that is the advice that we should take from him.

Tell ‘Em

Dr. Bill Bright was a great evangelist who started Campus Crusade for Christ, a ministry which now shares the Gospel on 5,300 college campuses across the world. He gave some wonderful evangelism advice along these same lines.

“Failure in witnessing is failing to witness.”

He followed it up with a simple encouragement on how to “succeed” in your witness for Christ.

“Success in witnessing is sharing Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results with God”

My wife Rachel and I were discussing this principle recently and found both our experiences were the same. We never felt like we misstepped when we shared with someone, but we often felt guilt or unsettled when we passed an opportunity by. When you put each opportunity in view of eternity, this makes sense. God is in the business of rescuing people from hell and reconciling them to himself. He uses us to do this. 2 Corinthians 5:20 states, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God we’re making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” If an ambassador for the American government decided not to go on an assignment given by the President, they would probably feel bad too.

Here are 2 simple stories to illustrate this truth.

#1 Just this week, I saw a gentleman at a facility I where I was doing some grief counseling. As I walked by something in my Spirit leaped and I felt I should engage with him. But…I ignored it. After taking a few steps and seeing a tattoo of a devil/demon on his arm, I felt a confirmation in my Spirit that I had crossed his path for a reason. Maybe just to show him a loving Christian and plant a seed. However, I still ignored it. As I walked to my car, I felt I had missed an assignment.

I prayed in the car that God would send other believers his way and prayed for his salvation. But, it still didn’t cure my guilt. I will have to live with the “what if” of that missed opportunity.

#2 A few months back I had a few open minutes in my schedule. I needed a swimsuit so I decided to seize the opportunity to look for a swimsuit at the annual Dunham’s Sports tent sale! (Shout out to Dunham’s for offering sporting goods that I can afford, compared to Dick’s.) A young man directed me to the suits and I browsed them. Not really finding anything worth the purchase that would compliment my skinny beach body, I began heading back toward my car.

The young man who had helped me was by himself sorting a few items. I am unsure if I felt a strong prompting from God to talk to him, but I took a step of faith. I told him I was a Christian and asked if he had ever heard the Gospel before. He surprised me by answering, “No.” I shared how God loved him, but his sin had created a separation between him and God. Then I explained how Jesus had come and died in his place so that he could be reconnected to God and spend eternity in heaven. I then asked if he would like to put his faith is Jesus.

Sadly, he declined. But he cited that he felt he would need to learn more. And that is understandable. In the same way he would not marry a girl the first time he met her, he may not make Jesus the Lord of his life at first introduction. I am always encouraged by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” Hopefully things work out for me like they did for Paul. Maybe some guy named Apollos will come along and seal the deal for my new friend.

Take the step of faith today. Tell someone. Silence the enemy’s voice and your fears and share your faith. As long it you open your mouth, you will succeed! Go and tell ’em. “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” Romans 10:14.

The Role of Prayer in Evangelism

I will be honest, sometimes I feel stupid when I evangelize. I am trying to communicate with the individual about spiritual things and my words hit such a wall, I might as well be speaking a different language. I bear my heart with the truth of Jesus’ love and saving power, and it is met with a “no comprendo, senior.”

There is a reason for this. It is because the Gospel is not natural, it’s SUPERnatural. So to the natural man, it won’t make sense. In fact, 2 Corinthians 4:4 states clearly,

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Satan has blinded the mind of the unbeliever. Blind means can’t see. Means no vision. Means eyes are closes. Means darkness. Blind. No wonder we encounter people that don’t understand the Gospel. Going further, Jesus referred to unbelievers as having a “strong man” that must be bound before they can believe. The strong man is a demonic stronghold of unbelief in one’s life.

So, what is the solution to this seemingly immovable problem? The answer is simple and attainable: it is prayer. If I could say that prayer is EVERYTHING in evangelism, I would. However, we often do have to speak the words of the Gospel to seal the deal!

If we want to win the lost, we must learn to pray for them. Prayer for those who don’t know Christ must be motivated by love and be teamed with determination. We must “pray through” for those who don’t yet know Christ. “Praying through” is more than a one line prayer. It is wresting, pulling down strongholds, warring, claiming God’s promises, groaning, and praying in the Spirit.

We know that Christ is more powerful than the enemy, but prayer is the currency of the Kingdom that brings the victory to pass. Jesus affirmed the need for fervent prayer through the parable of the persistent widow. If you are not familiar with this story, basically a widow annoys a judge enough to get him to act on her behalf. Then Jesus asks a few powerful and pointed questions as he finishes the story in Luke 18:7-8:

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Will not God? What powerful words. Will not God answer us? He will, when we cry out day and night. When we come with faith and fervency.

A couple years ago, I had the blessed opportunity to do a Bible Study with a few neighbors. Two of my neighbors were pretty engaged in the studies that I led, but one of them stayed distant and uninterested. He would often sleep upstairs through the studies, stay on his tv monitor, or act disinterested.

One night before our study, I decided to pray for the third neighbor. Not just a few sentences to God, but doing war in the Spirit for him. I probably went 20 minutes, imagining armies of angels to block the demons attacking him and calling out what I envisioned.

I will never forget the study that followed. I would have thought he was a different person. Not only was he not sleeping or watching TV, he was engaged full-throttle with more questions than anyone else. Interestingly enough, a lot of his questions were about the spiritual realm, angels and demons. He showed genuine interest in the Scriptures and participated all the way through.

I wish I could finish by telling you that he received salvation that night. He did not. But, I learned definitively, that night, the power of prayer. It was as if he learned the language I was speaking as I prayed. That is what the Holy Spirit does. He teaches natural people the supernatural.

One more story. A pastor in New York had a daughter who went wayward. She got involved with a guy older than her and ended up getting kicked out of Bible College because of their immoral relationship. Shortly after her exit from Bible College, she ended up pregnant. After struggling through the decision to keep the baby, she found herself living in her friend’s house with her child, hopeless and far from Christ. One night, her friend went to a prayer meeting that was actually hosted at her parent’s church.

The pastor and his wife shared with the church that night about their eldest daughter’s situation and asked the church if they would pray. The church took that time to pray earnestly for her life. Meanwhile, the girl at home was having a particularly difficult night and climbed into bed early. Unable to sleep, she looked up and saw a dark figure creep up to the foot of the bed and declare that he owned her and her daughter’s life. However, suddenly, another figure, full of light, joined them in the room and overtook the dark figure. She instantly felt complete freedom and joy fill her. She woke up the next morning and the feelings of peace had stayed. She repented of running from Christ and her sin, and reconciled with her parents later that day!

The prayer that night was so powerful, no person was even needed to witness! The angel defeated the demon and two lives, both the young woman’s and the daughters, were saved in that night.

I am reminded of a final story in Scripture that will encourage us. Peter was placed in prison and Scripture says that his Christian friends prayed earnestly for his release. You can read about the miraculous deliverance God orchestrated in Acts 12.

I want to encourage you that you could free one of your friends or family members from the prison Satan has them in through your earnest prayer! What a beautiful picture and beautiful hope.

Practical tip: When we talk about intercessory prayer, it can be intimidating. The enemy would want you to feel discouraged before you even start. You might say, “I don’t know the first thing about pulling down strongholds.” Here is a helpful tip that will give you everything you need to “pray through” for someone—

Just imagine that you are in their shoes. You are the blind one, headed to hell. How would you want someone praying for you? What would they need to pray for to free you from that prison? Just pray what comes to mind when you switch roles!

Prayer: Oh God, I pray that you would teach us to pray for the lost. Help us to not give up and hold you to your promises. You said your will is that all people would be saved and come to repentance. And you died so that their salvation is possible. Pull down blinders in Jesus’ name and open doors for those reading this blog to bring your Gospel to those who need it now. Amen.

PS. The girl’s name from the previous story is Chrissy Cymbala Toledo. You can read her full story through an internet search or in her book Girl in the Song.

Nothing Kills the Flesh like Witnessing

My pastor told me that he was on vacation once and he met a gentleman who told him that he did a lot of “street witnessing”. The man explained that he made it a point to regularly share the Gospel of Jesus with the people he encountered. Then he made this statement, “Nothing kills the flesh like street witnessing.” I have found that statement to be very true.

It is very hard to be selfish when you are telling others about Jesus. There are reasons for this. You are not talking about yourSELF, or making the other person feel good by talking about them, but rather you are making the object of the conversation, Jesus. The devil and your flesh (the sinful part of you) don’t like Jesus because He comes destroy Satan’s work, subdue your flesh and awaken your spirit. Thus, the flesh gets upset when you talk about Jesus.

Just this morning I walked into a McDonald’s on my way to a counseling appointment. I had driven for about 45 minutes and needed a potty break! As I stepped into the restaurant, a woman caught my eye and the Holy Spirit whispered, “She is why you are here.” As I went to the restroom, the fight commenced between my flesh and spirit. People might think that it is easy for someone like me to talk about God with people, but it’s not. It is usually a battle. Phrases like, “I don’t want to,” “This will be uncomfortable,” “What if she gets offended,” immediately rush into my mind. That is where I use the truth to combat the lies of the flesh. I respond, “The Gospel is God’s power unto salvation,” and “You love me by obeying my commands.” I remind myself that by faith, something wonderful could happen.

I stepped out of the bathroom and asked about the game she was playing on her computer. Then, sat down. I proceeded to tell her I felt God had prompted me to come talk with her and asked how she was doing. She closed her laptop and shared that her friend was suicidal and she was going to talk with him today. We prayed together for her friend and she was very grateful. She then encouraged me for my boldness!! I don’t get that every time I witness. Then, I found out she had faith in Christ and I encouraged her to give go all the way with Christ and life her whole life for him. As I got up to go, she said, “You made my entire day!”

It is true. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Even after encounters life these, I can feel my flesh gripe and complain. But I encourage myself in the Lord and praise Him for positive encounters. Here’s a couple tips on how to kill the flesh:

  1. Keep an eternal perspective. The flesh is focused on the temporary. The Spirit is focused on the eternal. When you can step back and remember that you have the ability to introduce someone to the “spring of water welling up to eternal life,” it makes witnessing easier. Your minutes of discomfort could save them from an eternity of discomfort.
  2. Use Scripture. One of my favorites is Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We have to remind ourselves that our flesh is good for nothing. Our flesh is what gets us into trouble, the thing that led us into sin and away from Christ in the first place. But now, through Christ, it is dead! Let’s keep it that way through reminding ourselves of Scripture.
  3. Pray. Pray for opportunities, pray for boldness, pray in the Spirit. Paul asked the Ephesians to “pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…as I should.” Pray this over yourself, ask your church to pray it over you.

I love how even the Apostle Paul shows us the struggle is real. If witnesses was easy for anyone, surely it was for him. But here he is, saying, “pray for me to keep preaching as I should, it’s not easy to keep denying this flesh, I need your support.”

Kill that flesh and watch God use you in miraculous ways today!

Dealing with Rejection In Witnessing

If you have lived for any length of time on earth, you have dealt with rejection. Getting turned down for a date, not making the cut for a try out, getting passed over by a prospective job, or being laughed at by friends or family. Rejection has a way of hurting like few things do. However, when we are rejected for your faith, Jesus gives us special promises that can be great encouragements to us.

There are a series of statements found in 1 Peter 3:14-15 that help us with rejection. “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” First of all, Peter encouraged us to remember that the blessings in our lives for doing the right thing and following God are not contingent on people’s opinions. The verse goes on give us further courage, “Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened”. Sometimes when people reject you, it can literally scare you. But Scripture says “The fear of man will prove to be a snare.” So, we can avoid that snare by fearing God and not man. In one of Paul’s letters, he states, “If I was living for the approval of men, I would not be a servant of God.” Peter actually hits on this concept with his next statement, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” Why does he make this statement here? Because we can easily make an idol our of people’s approval. But Peter says, keep Christ on the throne of your heart and not what people think of you. Peter finishes by saying, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” This is exactly what we are called to do, make know Christ and prove His significance to all who are willing to hear.

And sometimes, when we share, people don’t like it. I can recall several times where I have been rejected for my faith. I will share a few stories here which hopefully will comfort you and help you in your witness.

My senior year of high school, many of my peers knew of my faith. I was leading the Christian club and had the opportunity to go one morning to go on the video announcements in front of the whole school and invite them to a Christian outreach event. As I walked into the lunch room that day, a classmate who I knew fairly well shouted, “Jesse, you’re nothing but a Jesus freak!” I was not able to respond but as I reflected, I thanked God for two things. One- he had notices my fervor for Christ and two- that I was being persecuted for righteousness.

Several years back I felt a prompting from God to share a Scripture with a gentleman across from me at Starbucks. I was hesitant but meditated on the Scripture and prayed for the courage to approach the man. I finally walked up to him and asked, “I was praying and felt God would like me to share a Scripture with you, can I share it with you?” The man looked at me and said simply and firmly, “No.” And that was it, I walked out of the Starbucks. While I felt discouraged afterward, I was glad that I acted on my faith instead of letting an opportunity pass me by. I rarely feel guilty for stepping out in faith, but have feel guilty plenty of times for passing up open doors God is giving me for the Gospel.

A number of weeks ago, I was at the mall and approached a young man and handed him a little pamphlet with the Gospel and a testimony contained in it. We had a very short encounter and I told him that I simply wanted to encourage him in his faith. The conversation did not go much further so I proceeded about my walk. A few minutes later, I received a text message on my phone from a gentleman who identified himself as the young man’s father. I initially thought the young man was in his adult years but realize now he could have been a teen. This is a copy of the message:

Certainly, the text took me back at first glance. But I quickly was reminded that Jesus’ name brings up these kinds of emotions in people. I do not have any anger toward this friend of mine, I love him. We can be amazed that such a simple pamphlet could create such a response. But we must keep in mind that the battle is spiritual. This simple Gospel seed has “stirred the hornet’s nest.” Thus, I pray that the blinders of the enemy are taken off his eyes and if he has been hurt by a church or believer, that he would be healed.

Here are 3 simple truths that I remind myself when faced with rejection when witnessing:

  1. We are getting just a taste of the rejection Jesus experienced. Remember, Jesus was ultimately crucified for the message He preached. And John the Baptism beheaded. I’m thankful I have not experienced these yet but feel closer to Christ when I am rejected for him.
  2. The only failure in evangelism is not sharing. This was an idea presented by Dr. Bill Bright who started campus crusade for Christ on college campuses. Our only duty is to share the good news, the individual’s response is out of our hands. We don’t save, we just share.
  3. Jesus said we are blessed if we are rejected for him and have a great reward in heaven because of that persecution. Blessing and heavenly rewards are pretty great consolation as we endure a few moments of emotional pain.

I pray that my words have encouraged you to be bold with the Gospel. I am willing to be rejected by everyone if it means one person can spend an eternity with God and I hope you are too! Remember, Jesus said, “If they hated me, they will hate you.” The cross will always be an offense to sinful humanity, but it is God’s power for salvation!

Christmavangelism

Christmas and evangelism. This might be one of the first years I realized just how ripe this season is with evangelism opportunities! And, when you think about the Christmas story itself, we are reminded how dearly God loves the sinner and the lost. And He wants us to have the same heart as He does.

First, let’s re-consider the Christmas story through the lens of evangelism. Two things have struck me this year about the story of Jesus’ birth.

  1. The way in which He was born.
  2. The fact that it was God COMING to us.

First, Jesus’ was born into humble circumstances to say the least. After Mary and Joseph’s 90 mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the exhausted couple was not greeted by Joseph’s relatives but instead relegated to a barn to deliver the Messiah. Then, Jesus was laid in the animal’s feeding trough as His first crib. I bet the cows and sheep were surprised. Going back for a little more the animals must have said to themselves, “Oh dear, that’s a human baby, I ain’t eating that!”

The way in which Jesus was born should teach us a very simple truth. He came for everyone. He came for the commoner. The dirty one. The sinful one. The lowly one. The one who has been cast down or cast out. No one is too far gone for Jesus. Jesus is not about position, wealth or power. His life on earth was very “normal” and even lowly. And He comes for those of us and around us who have no qualifications to receive His grace.

Second, Jesus came to us! I read a Scripture this morning in Church that I love:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 6:9

The words unto us clearly display God’s heart for the lost. Jesus is a gift from God given to us. We just have to receive it. He gave His Son. People who don’t know Jesus often think He wants them to be “good” and “religious”. And it sounds like a lot of work to them. But little do they know, He just wants them to receive, believe, and love Him.

Let’s share that truth with people this holiday season. There is a gift available to them. All they have to do it take it! And what does that gift contain? As Isaiah shares, they receive a counselor, a father, the spirit of peace and God himself. All of these blessings are contained inside this child born unto us.

So, here a few practical ways to engage with those in your life you would like to reach with the Gospel this Christmas:

  1. Invite them to a Christmas service. Friends and family are more willing to accept an invitation to Church this time of year.Take advantage and invite them!
  2. Use the season as a way to start a conversation. Ask your co-worker if what they do for the holiday. You could ask if they go to church on Christmas or Christmas Eve. I was asked to share the prayer at my work’s holiday dinner. This was a great opportunity I had to share my faith during the holiday season.
  3. Include the Gospel in your Christmas cards. We just received a Christmas card from one of our friends who did this. It was a great way to share Christ, along with a nice family picture.
  4. Give an unexpected gift. This could be to someone not expecting to get a gift from you. Or a gift with an unexpected Gospel-theme to it. For example, one year, I gave my boss the gift of a Billy Graham devotional. Little did I know that when he received it, he shared with me that he loved Billy Graham and used to watch him on TV as a child! This could also be a gift that does have have direct spiritual significance but catches someone’s attention because they had no expectation of getting a present from you.
  5. Pray and ask God for your own creative way to use the season to be evangelistic. God will give you great ideas I guarantee it!

God bless you as you look for ways to use Christmas to be evangelistic. Happy Christmavangelizing to you!

She asked if God could ever forgive her…

One faith sharing memory from about 2 years ago stands out among many others. It was another night with our street witnessing team from church and we were at a local outdoor mall. My wife and I approached a group of 4 teenagers and engaged with them about their faith. They were cordial and we had a short, pleasant conversation. We encouraged the non-believers in the group to consider Christ and the believers to look for ways to deepen their existing faith. Then, off they went.

I didn’t think too much of the encounter initially. It was positive but nothing extravagant or unbelievable. Then, suddenly, one of the girls turned back to us and told her group that she would catch up with them. She had a concerned look in her eye and had a question for us that took me by surprise.

She said she had done something really bad and was unsure if God would forgive her for it. She started getting tears in her eyes as we inquired about what she had done. She went on to say that she had cheated on a past boyfriend. With the tears still welled up in her eyes, she asked “Could God ever forgive me for that?”

I was so glad to explain to her that the Bible states that God forgives all our sin simply if we ask Him for forgiveness. If weconfess (which she was doing), I told her that God promises to forgive us. In fact, I went on to tell her, that “as far as the east is from the west, that’s how far He removes our sin from us. From New York to LA. He takes your sin away.”

As she prepared to leave and rejoin her friends. She was filled with joy as she smiled and gave us both hugs. “Thank you so much,” she said.

Forgiveness. That is the Gospel. That is the good news. David said in the Psalm 32, “Blessed is the one whose sins are forgiven. Blessed is the one whose sins the Lord does not count against him.”

I never want to forget that the Gospel is good news. Yes, an individual must understand that they are sinful and that their sin will lead to death and ultimately hell. But Jesus came with Good News. In Luke 4:43, Jesus states, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God…that is why I was sent.”

And that is why we have been sent, too. To preach the good news. While we witness, let’s not forget to include God’s forgiveness in our story. Admit that you are a sinner who needed a Savior. A Forgiver. And then ask if the listener has been forgiven. And watch what God does. Remember, the Gospel is the power of God that brings salvation!

The Harvest is Plentiful…at Biggby

I took a class at a local church recently that taught evangelism. I was so pleased to hear that there was a local church offering such a class and looked forward to it very much. At the class, I learned a great deal that helped me in my witness for Christ. The main strategy that the Pastor taught was called the “3 Questions” approach.

The idea of this approach is to engage with someone about the Gospel by asking them 3 questions. You can begin the conversation by stating that you have a few spiritual questions for someone. Most people will oblige to this without hesitation. The questions are as follows:

  1. If you were to die today, have you come to a place where you are certain that you would go to heaven?
  2. If you were to die today, and God asked you why should He let you into heaven, what would you say?
  3. Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God, cover to cover?

The first 2 questions were originally coined by Dr. D. James Kennedy who started the ministry Evangelism Explosion. His church was about to fold before he began using these questions to engage people with the Gospel. He and his church members began talking to people in their community in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His church ended up growing from 17 to 2,000 people in 12 years of ministry. His church became the fastest growing church in the nation and his evangelism training is now used around the world.

The reason the Pastor at my class added the 3rd question was because in his experience, if someone believes in the Bible, you can use very simple Scriptures to explain their need for Jesus. If they don’t, it is much more difficult and can require a different strategy to convince them of their need for Christ.

These questions enable you to get right to eternity and how someone believes they can get to heaven. Many people answer that good works will get them there. However, this approach enables you to explain how God’s grace, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, is the only way to heaven.

Our homework assignment for the class was to use the 3 questions to start Gospel conversations with people. I ordered a drink from Bigby and because the coffee shop was slow, asked the barista if I could ask her a few questions for a class I was taking.

She came over from behind the desk after finishing up something and engaged with me at my seat. I shared the questions with her and she expressed that she was not certain that she would go to heaven. I forget exactly how she answered the second question, maybe citing good works in her life, but she was clear that she was unsure about her eternity.

I took the opportunity to ask her if she would like to know how she could be certain that she was going to heaven. She said “yes” emphatically. I explained to her that she, like every other human, has sin in her life. I then explained that Jesus died so that her sin could be forgiven and if she put her trust in Him, she could have eternal life. I asked if there was anything holding her back from putting her faith in Christ. She said “no”. I shared a prayed for her to follow and she did so joyfully. Then she said, “Thank you so much, you have no idea how much I needed this today.”

Truthfully, I do know how much she needed it and it was not just for that day! My prayer for her is that she finds a church and someone to help her become a true disciple of Christ. Would you join me in praying for her when you think of her?

Jesus said in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest.” Verse 36 states that Jesus looked at the crowds with compassion and saw them as sheep without a shepherd.

I want to pray today that you would have the same compassion as Christ for those around who have yet to hear the good news He offers! I pray that the Lord of the harvest would send you out. Let my short story be an encouragement to you. There are people out there ready to accept the Gospel. Nothing is holding them back, they just need a messenger.

As Romans 10:14 says, “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” Let’s make Him known today, because the harvest is plentiful at coffee shops and anywhere your feet step today!

Will Jesus be ashamed of us?

I recently was talking with a student about following Jesus. He is still on the fence about believing in Jesus. He says that it is hard for him to believe in something he has not seen. He has come to the youth group where I pastor for about a year, and we have had many conversations about his faith.

He has gone through some difficult things that I think hi-jacked some of his faith that he has as a young child. Throughout our conversations, he has shared different reason why he is apprehensive about committing himself completely to Jesus. I have appreciated his honesty very much.

Recently, I was asking him if anything would hold him back from giving his life to Jesus. He stated, “Peer pressure.” I asked him to expound. He said, “All my friends would be like, ‘who is this guy, he’s all about Jesus all the sudden.'” He continued, “It would not line up with the way I act now, and I just don’t wanna have to endure what would come along with being a Christian in my friend group.”

Again, you have to appreciate his honesty. And I am glad that he is counting the cost. Follow Jesus comes with a cost. There are two sides: the world and Jesus. And you can’t be on both sides.

There are two portions of Scripture that come to mind in regard to my conversation with my young friend. First, Proverbs 29:25 states, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Right now this student is in that snare. It seems safer to be accepted by his friends, not make any waves, not experiences any mocking or jeering. But this thought is truly a trap, like an imaginary fence keeping him from the safety of Jesus.

The next Scripture that comes to mind is Jesus words in Matthew 10:32-33, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Jesus doesn’t want closet followers. He wants us to confess him before those around us. He states that if we deny Him, He will deny us.

That is a tough thought. Being denied by Jesus. We want to think of Jesus as the cuddly, accepting everyone, ‘come unto me’ guy…but His admonition here carry a different tone. Yes, He welcomes us in, but He wants us to welcome Him in too.

While this is true of our salvation, it is also true of our testimony to others and evangelism. We need to keep confessing Christ to people daily through our actions and words. Let’s not try to make ourselves famous (and potentially leave Jesus out), let’s try to make Jesus famous.

As I close, I am reminded of Peter. If you remember, he denied Jesus right before Jesus was crucified. And not just once, but THREE times! Thank God for his grace as he reinstated Peter and gave him courage again to confess Him to those around him.

If you have been ashamed of Jesus lately, or hiding your faith- let me encourage you to draw from God’s grace and make him famous today. Let’s pray together, “God, let them see You in Me.”

The day I broke a couple up…

This has to be my craziest story while I was out sharing about Jesus with people. The times when people were converted are obviously crazier because of the miracle of salvation, but this one was just CRAZY.

I was at a mall near my house with a small group from my church, and after we had prayed for a while, we went out to share our faith with people. The first couple I went up to was sitting at a table just off the food court having a quiet conversation by themselves.

I approached them and asked if I could share a bit about what God was doing in my life with them. The woman quickly replied that she was not interested. I responded by asking if she would share her religious thoughts with me. I assured her I would only listen and not try to argue anything. She reiterated her previous position, and added, “Politics and religion should not be discussed.”

Typically, I may have left this couple alone at this point. But apparently I was feeling extra courageous and turned my attention to the guy sitting across from her. I asked, “Could I share with you?”

This is where things took a turn. I honestly could not have wrote a crazier plot twist…

The gentleman sitting at the table looked at me, then at the woman and stated, “Honestly, I did not know that about you. I did not know that you did not have any faith. And that is a deal breaker.”

With that, he stood up and walked away. I repeat. He walked away. I was dumbfounded. And there I was, standing next to this poor girl who just got dumped.

I quickly apologized and assured her that my goal was not to break them up but just to share about Jesus with them. (As if I needed to clarify that I did not come over to break up the couple.) To my surprise, her countenance turned very gracious instead of defensive. She gathered her things and walked away.

I later found the guy in the mall and asked him what that was all about. He stated that he had been going online to look for dates and knew he should not have been. He said my coming to the table was confirmation that he should not have been out with that girl. We talked a little further and I found out about his faith. He was raised as a believer and still had strong faith, but had not been attending church regularly. I reminded him that Scripture encouraged us not to “forsake the gathering” and to find a church that he could call home

Now, I can’t say that I won any converts that day at the mall, but I guess I helped this guy from being in a relationship with an unbeliever. My advise would be to let her down a bit more graciously next time!!

I think stuff like this can only happen when we take a step of faith and get outside our comfort zone. I encourage you to be bold. I was bold that day, more bold than I usually am probably! If I would have just let the table after the girl tried to shut down the conversation, the rest of the story would not have unfolded. Be bold, take a step of faith. Heaven’s currency is faith!

She said Hitler should go to heaven…

It never ceases to amaze me what I hear people say when we begin to engage about spiritual matters. But today may have taken the cake. It took dinner too I think. 

I was at work doing training for a new job when I met a lady named Nancy who was a volunteer. She was a friendly woman, probably in her 60s or 70s and we began a pleasant conversation. After a while I felt it would be good to turn the conversation toward spiritual things. This is something I practice often because I believe the message of Jesus and the destination of others’ souls to be important enough for the spiritual to be brought up whenever possible. 

I asked Nancy if she attended a church. She said she did not currently, but grew up Catholic and had knowledge of the faith. However, she admitted that she did not have much knowledge of the Bible. As we moved through our conversation, she made it clear that a major sticking point for her when considering Christianity is believing in a God who sends people to hell. “How could God send someone like Ghandi to hell?” Nancy asked. This question of how a loving and merciful God could send people to hell is one that I have heard often, it is a sticking point for many people, not just Nancy.

I asked Nancy if she thought everyone should go to heaven, to which she said yes. I inquired about Hitler. Surely not the man responsible for the death of 11 million innocent lives I thought to myself. But indeed, when she said everyone, she meant everyone. She said that everyone is justifying their actions and will realize their errors after death. Should God punish our sincere efforts while on earth to do what we each thinks is good?

This is really a form of relative truth which maybe people are turning to today. If it is true for you, then it is true. When I encounter this perspective I often use the “color of the chair” illustration. I look at the nearest chair. For example, if the nearest chair is blue, I will say, “If I say the chair is red and you say it is blue, are we both right?” Usually the person will concede, the chair is blue, that is absolutely true. Then, I can argue for absolute truth.

I was astounded by Nancy’s viewpoint. Even Hitler should achieve heaven, because he really did not know better! Dear Lord, I am glad she did not have a career in the judicial system!

I was not able to convince Nancy to drop everything and follow Jesus but I am hopeful that I helped her understand absolute truth and that there could be eternal consequences for our sins.