Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13)
Friday Night Notes
Saturday, January 26, 2008
a sense of dread... I get a nasty feeling that pastor Tim and I were preachers unto condemnation tonight. While we never know what the Lord will do, there really isn't much of anything positive to report. We were mocked, cursed, and grumbled at repeatedly by pretty much everyone we dealt with. Despite all this negativity, I preached the Gospel for the glory of my God, and I was blessed.
There were an unusually high number of homosexuals in the marketplace. There must have been some kind of gathering/festival for them because there numbers were quite larger than usual. No one hates us more than the sodomites. I mean the lude, vile, disgusting insults they come up with... it's quite an ungodly talent! What's hilarious is that often, after serving us a good portion of insults and curses, they cap their diatribes with: "You're so hateful!"
I had a chance to share a few words with a young homeless lady tonight. I've seen her around now for a few weeks, and I had been meaning to share the Gospel with her, but she would never give me any time (always too busy begging for money for her next fix)
. Well tonight, probably under the influence of some kind of illicit drug, she came to me and said:
"So, you want to buy me dinner?"
"No," I answered quickly, "I don't want to invest in your misery. You realize that you're killing yourself on these streets, right? I've seen lots of young ladies over the years, in your exact situation, and none of them lasted too long. You know what I'm saying?"
"Yeah, I know," she replied, "but I don't really care, I've almost died once before... no biggie."
"If you had died," I began, "or if you were to die tonight, what do you think would happen to your soul?"
"I've already thought about that," she answered while rolling her eyes at me. "I'm all good."
With that, the young lady left, still somewhat insulted that I would not buy her dinner at one of the restaurants. I tried to continue the conversation, to keep her from going away, but she would have nothing of what I had to offer. The Lord have mercy on this poor soul.Collin dropped by again tonight
. No change with him. Please, brothers and sisters, continue to pray that the Lord would truly convert him and give him life, eternal life.
I was really affected by the plight of my audience tonight. While being sorely mocked by a group of sodomites, I prayed that the Lord would give me a right spirit to both endure and show genuine love to these men, and the people of the market at large. It was then that I had this thought:
There is surely a man out here tonight who will trade away a chance at eternal life and godly peace for a cheap punch line at my expense to impress his ungodly friends. This man will go on through life avoiding the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ like the pest, and whenever faced with it, he will continue to blaspheme, curse and mock. He'll justify himself by claiming that the preachers are stupid/hateful/crooked/hypocrite and therefore, merit the full extent of his contempt. He will live his life this way, and then he'll die.
Much to his shock, he will awaken in agony. He won't understand what it is going on. He'll think he's in Hell, and he will blaspheme against God, claiming that the Lord did wrong by him. He'll wonder how he could be in this terrible place without having had the chance to defend himself in the presence of God. He'll then put away such questioning and look anywhere for relief, but he will find none.
After what will seem like thousands of years without rest or relief from the flames, he will be called out of Hades and his spirit will be joined to an indestructible body. At first, in his ignorance, he may think that the Lord "came to His senses" and was finally going "to do right by him". His hopes will quickly be dashed when he realizes that he, as a guilty sinner, will now be judged before a Holy God. This is where the poor man will get a terrible sense of dread; he will be all too aware of the mountain of evidence against him. Every wicked thought, word and act... all of them, right there in the open.
The verdict will be swift and just: GUILTY. The man at this point will be beside himself. Just the thought of going back to the flame will send him into uncontrollable distress. He'll cry out: "But that's not fair, I'm a good person... I've made some mistakes, but nobody's perfect... I just didn't know anything about this, no one told me!"
The man will then be ushered into the Lake of Fire, Hell. He will be tormented both spiritually (like in Hades), and physically... forever. Adding to his torments will be the terrible thought of the day he turned his chance at godly peace and eternal life into a cheap punchline at the expense of a Gospel preacher, to impress his ungodly friends.
Those of you who think that this thought is some sort of hope for retribution, let me assure you, it's not. What this thought did for me out there tonight, was remind me of just how hollow and meaningless the cursing and mockery of the wicked are; they truly are nothing to get worked up about. When one considers the true plight of the unregenerate, it is near impossible to feel anything else but a deep sadness for them.
The Lord forgive all them who were vile toward us tonight.
The Lord have mercy.
Labels: Friday evangelism
Friday Night Notes
Saturday, January 19, 2008
an up-and-down night...Friday night has truly become synonymous with street preaching for me now. I've been at this for over seven years now, so I'm well settled in this routine; and that's a good thing. The Lord has truly blessed me through this ministry and has shaped me into a half-descent evangelist. That said, there is plenty of room for improvement... I assure you of that!!!
Street evangelism was a bit weird tonight. A number of things were good about it, but there were a number of things that I was most displeased with. Here are two lists of the bad, and the good that came out of our time of open-air Bible preaching:The Bad (I always start with the bad news):
-My voice is significantly weaker than before the Holidays. I blame it primarily and that nasty cough I had last week. The cough is all but gone now, but for the second week in a row now, I barely have any voice left by the end of 30 minutes of preaching.
-A group of young ladies (8-10 of them) came by to speak to me during my second round of preaching. They said they wanted to hear me preach. I explained what it was I was preaching and why I was preaching it. They were very favorable to my ministry. A number of the young ladies (not all of them) claimed to be born-again. Shortly after the declaration of faith, I was told that many of these ladies attended a "non-denominational church" just outside of town. This got alarm bells going in my head. "Non-denominational" in my country, usually means a group of people who have no time to study the Bible; a group of people who pretend to be believers. Still though, I gave them the benefit of the doubt, which I probably shouldn't have done. Then one of the ladies asked me if I believed that the Lord Jesus gave His people victory over sin. The question perplexed me for a moment. I mean, Christians are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, and positionally, we are holy and without blame in Christ... but there seemed to be more to the question posed. It didn't take long for the truth to come out that some of these ladies believed in the attaining unto sinless perfection in this life. Oh dear. I made it clear that I didn't believe in the teaching, and that pretty much wrapped up our time together.
-I spent too much time tonight second guessing myself. For example, after dealing with the ladies I mentioned above, I was irritated with myself for not confronting their claims of being born-again whilst being part of what I was pretty sure was a flaky church. I was also slow at engaging people, who seemed to show some interest in what I was doing, into conversations. This was and is pretty aggravating to me; and I know full well why things were like this for me tonight. I was looking to the flesh, and not to my God in prayer.The Good:
Well, she's been coming to Sunday morning service for a number of weeks now, and tonight, she came out with us to distribute Bible tracts. She even took a Bible sign with her! She has great zeal and I believe, an honest love for the Lord Jesus Christ. She does carry with her a baggage of false doctrines (arminianism, easy-believism, new evangelicalism)
, but she has shown herself willing to learn and do right. The Lord make us a blessing to her, and may he make her a blessing to us.
-Praise God! I finally had a straight, honest discussion with Collin, the parking garage attendant
who has actually been coming to church these last few weeks. I've been wanting to deal with him for months now over his spiritual situation. It has been quite clear to me, these last few months, that Collin liked
and still likes
the Faith, but there had to be some sin in his life that he just absolutely loved
and continues to love
. Well, it all came out tonight, and my suspicions were proven right. To his credit, he fessed up with remarkable honesty; he told me that he had no interest in being a phony. I encouraged to continue seeking God and to pray for His mighty salvation. I asked him to consider whether his sin was worth an eternity in Hell. I hope that Collin will learn to fear the Lord
. It is his only hope.
-Amélie and I had the opportunity to speak of the Gospel to two young men at a bus stop. What was remarkable about these conversations? One of the men was a Muslim, the other, a homosexual, and we all talked and everything remained civil and respectful. They listened and asked a few questions about the Scriptures, and we did our best to present the Gospel of Jesus to them. The Lord use our words as He sees fit.
That's the notes for tonight. I'm going to bed now. Have a great weekend, dear readers. I appreciate your continued prayers, dear saints of God.
God bless you all,
Labels: Friday evangelism
Our Evangelistic Method
Sunday, January 13, 2008
method to our madness...My friend Franklin, very recently commented about our use of Bible signs in our evangelistic efforts. He mentioned that he personally didn't favour the use of signs due to the wicked deeds of Fred Phelps and his entourage (who use wicked statements on signs); and all too often, again, according to Franklin, signs are used as sensationalistic tools to protest all manner of things. His statements reminded me of a request another regular on my blog, Robert, had made; that is, to describe why we evangelize the way we do. This post is my answer for both Franklin and Robert.
Before we begin, let me confess that everything I will describe and profess in this post doesn't come from my little head; I have come to these positions through the power of the Holy Spirit, by the human agency of my pastor, who is the most driven and faithful evangelist I have ever known. I have been involved in mass evangelism for roughly 7 years now. My pastor has been at it for over 30. Without anyone to push him along, pastor Tim has consistently, and compassionately been preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the highways and byways of at least three cities/towns. I believe that these credentials make him a valuable, and relevant resource for the topic at hand.
The first thing I learned from pastor Tim's evangelism was that his main objective differed from the goal of most evangelists I knew. You ask any evangelist you know: "Why are you preaching the Gospel?" The overwhelming majority will answer, without missing a beat: "So men can be saved!" While the salvation of men is a desired outcome of our evangelistic efforts, I assure you that it is not the primary objective. The number one goal of our Friday night efforts is God's glory."Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)
I am not just being cute here. It is important for you all to understand that there are lots of things that would change in our method of evangelism if glorifying God wasn't our chief concern. For example, let us consider the use of Bible signs. I see myself with my big John 3:36
sign from time to time when I pass in front of a large store window. My first thought is always the same: "Man! do you ever look like a bozo!" Now, if I think I look like a clown, well, it only follows that almost everyone who sees me will see me as just that, a clown. So why in the world do I do it?
God is watching, and He is glorified.
Brothers and sisters-in-the-Lord, consider my words: how do you think God feels when He sees me walking in the most wretched part of my city with a sign that has His Word all over it? Do you think He is embarrassed for me? Do you think He sees me as a clown? Perhaps you do... but I just can't see it. In the carnal realm, I am a Bible sign carrying bozo. In the spiritual realm, I am holding forth the Word of Truth, to the praise and honour of my God.
There are a million carnal reasons to believe that using Bible signs and plain Bible tracts is ineffective and even detrimental to the work of evangelism. The thing is, I couldn't care less about these carnal reasons, our evangelistic efforts are spiritual. Confrontation? Discomfort? Annoyance? Yes, these are carnal reactions to the work of Biblical evangelism. You see it all through the book of Acts, and that is why I do not worry about my preaching being an affront and a scandal and foolishness to carnal men. Consider:"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)"To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." (2 Corinthians 2:16-17)
My faith in the Doctrines of Grace
plays an important role in my evangelism here. You see, I don't believe that being culturally sensitive, or seeker-friendly, has any relevance in evangelism. I REALLY, REALLY DON'T. I believe that wherever I go in the world, if I stand on a street corner with a Bible sign and preach the unadulterated Gospel, this is what will happen:
1- The unconverted will be annoyed and/or amused and/or angry at me.
2- The elect of God will hear and be changed forever.
Franklin, in his comment said that he believed "that the method of delivering the message makes a difference."
I couldn't agree more, but I fear that he and I aren't talking about the same thing. You see, when my good friend speaks of "method", he is speaking carnally, as in worldly considerations (ex: Fred Phelps/hippie protests... etc)
. As far as I'm concerned the only consideration one should have when developing a method of evangelism is this: "Will this method set forth the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ clearly and directly enough to be foolishness to carnal men, and be the power of God to God's elect?" I assure you, all other considerations are carnal and irrelevant.
Evangelism is a spiritual work that requires much faith. Faith that God will save His people through the "foolishness of preaching" (1 Corinthians 1:21)
. Faith that no matter how much of a bozo the preacher may feel like, God will use him as a fisher of men. This is why I don't like using "gimmick tracts" (with some kind of flashy, flesh-appealing content)
, or sketch boards on which one can use art to tell the Gospel story. It is too easy for us preachers to start believing that the type of tracts or the type of paint can make a difference. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes a difference. No one and nothing else.
If God is going to save a man on a Friday night, He will use our evangelistic efforts, or He will use someone or something else; but be sure of this, God will save him. Whether the man likes signs or hates them. Whether he takes a Bible tract or refuses to even look at it. Whether he loves the sound of a Gospel preacher, or hates it to the uttermost. The Good Shepherd's calling is irresistible to His sheep. They know His voice. They don't know Fred Phelps' voice, because they don't belong to Fred Phelps. They belong to the Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, what's in it for the Gospel preacher? Why does he preach when the salvation of God's elect is certain? God's glory. He commanded that all His saints go out and preach the Gospel to all. The Lord is then well-pleased with those who bring the Word of Life to the unconverted, whether these souls convert or not. It is all about the glory given to God through the faithful obedience of His children.
Perhaps that isn't good enough for many evangelists, but I assure you, it's good enough for me.
RandPs: Great minds think alike... listen to this short audio clip by Missionary Paul Washer. He sums up very concisely what I learned from pastor Tim.
Friday Night Notes
Saturday, January 12, 2008
a very wet night...I know the Scriptures command us to never "grow weary of doing good", but I have to confess: I'm both weary and exhausted. I considered staying at home tonight (I'm still not 100% recovered from a nasty virus that has been plaguing me for a solid week now, and work has been somewhat overwhelming), but I really didn't want to miss yet another Friday night of preaching the Gospel of Jesus. When I miss too many evangelistic endeavours, it is quite difficult to get back into the "groove"... street preaching is quite the discipline, I assure you of that!
It rained much of the time we were out tonight. We usually skip our time of evangelism when it rains, but it only started raining when we were already downtown, so we toughed it out. Street evangelism is a real pain when it rains. Everything gets soaked with water (jacket, pants, gloves and Bible tracts), and then a damp cold usually sets in, making one long for a cup of tea and a warm, dry blanket.
I took the first shift of preaching at our usual spot in the marketplace of my city, and just a few shorts minutes passed before a man stopped and read my Bible sign. It was clear that he didn't like what he was seeing. He claimed to be born-again, but he didn't see the profit in my holding up such a "negative" verse of Scripture, and preaching out-loud the Gospel of Jesus.
"You should just love people and hang out with them," the man said.
I must admit that at this point, I didn't think much of this man, and I didn't think our conversation was going to go anywhere, but I gave it a shot nonetheless. I started by affirming that I could not love my fellow man in truth without preaching the Gospel to them; I used Romans 10
and the way the Lord dealt with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4
to prove the point. I then dealt with the root of his problem with my preaching, that is, that it is unpopular and unappealing to carnal men. I used the feeding of the five thousand in John 6
and the subsequent parting of the disciples as an illustration that the preaching of the Word of God was never popular or appealing to the unconverted.
Then, much to my surprise, the man admitted that everything I was saying was right and true. He apologized for thinking ill of my evangelism and admitted that what I was doing was pretty much what the apostles did in the book of Acts. The man told me his name was Ernest and he told me he might drop by our church sometime to learn more about us. The man not only shook my hand, but embraced me and thanked me for my time. The Lord bless Ernest, and I truly hope he will join us sometime for worship.
Moments later, when pastor Tim was preaching, I dealt with a rather nutty old man. After reading my Bible sign, the man said:
"I don't believe in Jesus! If He were real, why are there wars and problems around the world?"
I told the man that the Lord will return someday and judge all men, including him, and rule the world in righteousness. I stressed the point that the Lord would judge him whether he chose to believe it or not, and that his sin would sink him to Hell. To this, the man replied:
"No! no! I'm catholic!"
"What!?!" I replied. "Okay, I don't think much of "Catholics", but last time I checked, "Catholics" believe, at the very least, in a "jesus". So how in the world do you claim to be "Catholic" while not believing in "jesus"?
"Well, I believe that stuff to a point..." the man replied.
I realized after this brief exchange that the old man was actually quite drunk, so I didn't bother reasoning with him any longer. I concluded our exchange by impressing on him that if he didn't seek the Lord by reading and studying the Bible, his sin would find him out (Numbers 32:23)
After this disappointing exchange, I met "the devil". No, really! A young man walked up to me and claimed to be the prince of darkness himself, and he was on a mission to defeat me. I believe my response was something like:
Seeing I was less than impressed with his nonsense, the young man walked away and I went back to preaching the Gospel. I guess that makes it Rand: 1 "the devil": 0.
With that, I'm closing the notes for tonight. I'm physically, emotionally, psychologically finished. I need to sleep. Thank God for sleep."It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." (Psalm 127:2)
God bless you all, dear readers. Have a good weekend, especially the Lord's Day.
Labels: Friday evangelism
Saturday, January 05, 2008
sick and tired... literally...
There will be no notes again tonight... I've caught a really nasty virus that's basically taken my voice away. Tough job preaching the Gospel when you have no voice!
I apologize for the lack of posts, I've been away alot these last few weeks. The holidays always mean a lot of traveling for my family and I. I hope to be back at it next week.
Take care, and God bless, dear readers.