Outreach Report from the Ahhhnold

The gospel was proclaimed loudly and often at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in Columbus, OH on March 1, 2014. Here are some highlights:

We arrived later than hoped, about 11:40am. An interesting twist occurred when another man began preaching with a megaphone just 25 feet from where I set up to preach. I spoke to him briefly, confirmed he was preaching salvation by grace through faith alone and then wished him well.

He preached for an hour. Although we were happy about him, his preaching was … less than stellar. It wasn’t so much his presentation, but his theology. I also noticed that he rarely mentioned the resurrection of Jesus. You cannot consider yourself a gospel preacher if you do not speak of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-4).

During this time, Fred Triplett, Joe Conkle and I passed out the newly printed tracts my church, Berean Baptist Church, bought. The weather was great, about 14-15 degrees warmer than last year! Praise God for that. Joe, for the second year in a row, drove from over an hour away to help. What a lover of God!

Finally, at about 12:40, I saw Darius (the other preacher) taking a break. I asked him if I could preach, and he assented. I began by reading Psalm 47 and then proclaiming God’s goodness and grace in Christ. I didn’t stop preaching for 2 hours. I really had a fun time. After a short break I preached for another hour or hour and a half before we settled down and headed home around 5pm.

Click here for the best picture from the day. This is on Facebook, so you have to be friends with Rusty Beals to see it (Sorry!).

The day was filled with encouragement. Christians were constantly approaching us to thank us and encourage us. One little girl even approached me while I preached and put a dollar in my tract box as a gift. There was another woman, clearly listening to the preaching whose family sorta dragged her across the street. I noticed this because she was really focused and listening, and then you could see her husband sorta get her attention.

A few minutes later I looked down and she and her son were standing in front of me. She said she just wanted to shake my hand and thank me and then said other kind things about me that I don’t deserve to hear as only the grace of Christ allows me to live, let alone serve him. Her son introduced himself and they each told me they were Christians and were glad I was doing what I was doing. This is very encouraging to a preacher and to anyone else out handing out tracts. Praise be to the most high God who died for me while I was yet a sinner.

I read the Bible in the open air frequently, pausing to explain passages periodically. By the end of the day I had read the following chapters publicly: Genesis 1, Psalm 47, Psalm 19, 1 John 1, John 10, selected parts of Matthew 5, portions of Isaiah 1, portions of Genesis 2, and portions of 1 John 2.

Dear Christian, I do not mean to be offensive, but will you consider if this is even too much for your own daily reading? Consider your own state of affairs if the Spirit brings conviction.

Rusty Beals also came and helped us most of the day. Praise God for Rusty who drove 8 hours round trip to be a part of our humble team. We also met up with several men from New Life Community Church, home of the 2014 Ohio Fire! Finally, thanks to Bill Adams who publicized our little outreach, we had 2 new friends appear, Steve and Daisy Rohr. What a blessing they were as they listened to the preaching and handed out tracts with us.

Throughout the day, homosexuality and a description of homosexuality as an abomination was only mentioned twice. Interestingly enough, I was not the person who shouted that. Two (I assume) gay men, on separate occasions, found it necessary to shout something concerning homosexuality. The first man stopped and yelled, “Isn’t homosexuality an abomination?” I don’t recall what he may have been responding to in my OA. But I replied, “All our sin is an abomination to a holy God and we are all hopeless without Christ.” He wasn’t happy with my response, but he didn’t stay to discuss it further.

Shortly after that a man walked by and shouted in his best “gay voice”:

Don’t forget to call homosexuality an abomination!

I supposed I didn’t need to, as he had just drawn enough attention to the topic himself. Not that I’m particularly shy about speaking concerning any certain sin, but I have never really focused on one sin. My preaching style, if I have one, is more of a proclamation of the goodness and grandeur of God and what He did for sinners in Christ. I make it my goal to constantly refer to the resurrection, the trinity, the deity of Christ and the grace and humility of Christ while reminding the hearers frequently of their pathetic and hopeless state in their sin and flesh. For more information on how to speak to homosexuals, click here for three short talks, all of which can be downloaded as pdf.

About a decade ago a friend gave me some advice. He said, “When someone shows you their true colors, thank them.” I’ve never forgotten this and I found it applicable to this next circumstance. As I was preaching, there was a man holding a young child. You know the scene, he’s about 10 feet in front of me, and the child is rear-facing over the man’s shoulder. Now what happened next was enough to shock me. What is important to understand is the actions of the next man I’m about to describe are a to-the-letter description of the old me.

A pretty large man walked by with a group of his friends. Tired of my preaching, he turned and shouted obscenities I will not type. But in the process, he effectively yelled the ‘f’ word about 3 feet from this little child. I was seriously disgusted. I reacted, not in the flesh but in the Spirit (I hope!) and called him a vile, wicked man and told him that he should shut his profane mouth. He followed that up with more cursing. I did not let up. I commanded him to repent of his wickedness and turn to Christ to be forgiven. But in the spirit of the earlier quote, I thank this man and God for him as he became my object lesson as I used him to describe for the remaining hearers a bit about the sorry state of man. I was not angry with him personally, but there were other hearers who had words for him. I was glad about that.

God is and was very good to me that day. One of the most remarkable and unpredictable ways was that I felt like reading Matthew 5. I like to believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of the following verse as I proudly read God’s Word:

Matthew 5:11-12 ESV
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As I spent the day primarily being encouraged and feeling safe, surrounded by good brothers and righteous policemen, I still endured the reproach. People spat toward me (never on me), yelled cruel things and generally mocked and scoffed. No amount of ridicule or ‘suffering’ I could endure would ever compare to my Savior’s, but I do feel I get a little chance to identify with Him more fully through these circumstances. Praise God the most High!

Psalms 47:1-2 ESV
1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! 2 For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.

Real Friendship Includes the Gospel

Real friendship includes the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Many will disagree with me for this nit-picky point, but it is a point to be made, however tangential to the primary argument it is. I discovered an article via Twitter this week.

Overall, the article made good points. Mostly the same rational points made by every reasonable article concerning the “gay marriage” and “photographers, bakers and florists” situation. The point of the article was to explain that refusal to do a gay wedding is not the same as refusal to provide services to homosexuals in general…and that general service refusal is not actually going on. This point was well made.

But read the following excerpt from this article At DennyBurk.com (emphasis my own):

Consider the case of Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Washington State who is being sued by the attorney general of the state for refusing to involve her business in a gay wedding. You can watch her in her own words in the video above, but here’s what happened. Stutzman had been serving a gay couple in her flower shop for over ten years. She considered the men to be her friends, and they considered her to be their friend. The two gay men said that throughout their decade long friendship, they did not know that Stutzman believed homosexuality to be a sin. She didn’t treat them any differently than anyone else. She was a friend to them and served them while knowing full well that they were gay.

Do you notice anything strange here? The two gay men said “they did not know that Stutzman believed homosexuality to be a sin” which followed a sentence about a decade long friendship.

Does that sound like friendship to you? Because it sure does not sound like friendship to me. The idea of calling yourself a friend to someone without having ever reached out to tell them how to be forgiven by God and reconciled through Jesus Christ would be laughable if it wasn’t so despicable.

Correction added 03/13/2015: I do not know for certain whether Stutzman shared the gospel with these men. What we may infer is that she didn’t confront their homosexual sin. It was wrong of me to assume she had not done so simply because they didn’t know her stance concerning sexual sin.

Friends love each other. Those who love others care more about others than themselves. When you love people, you tell them the gospel because you fear for his or her soul. (Romans 10:17)

I’m not talking about someone who claims to casually know a gay man, or has an acquaintance who is gay whom he barely saw. Remember, according to the story – the florist and these homosexual men were friends for a long time.

Friends don’t let friends go to hell without warning them. Friends care more about what is best for the other than their own feelings or fears or hurts. (Proverbs 18:24)

Real friendship includes the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Look, my goal is not to bash this woman or her lack of evangelism. It is entirely possible that the “friendship” being described in the article is an exaggeration. My point is that IF you consider yourself to be a friend to someone, and you’ve never gotten deep enough in a relationship for them to know you believe the Bible then you are not really a friend. This applies equally to me. Street preaching and passing out tracts is no excuse. And those acts, although noble, are no help to your friend when he meets the Lord. We must reach out to people we know, including our neighbors and those we call friends.

If someone doesn’t know that Jesus is #1 in your life, then you aren’t really a good friend.

I get it. I have a LOT of casual acquaintances. People who know me, and I know them and I haven’t shared the gospel with them or handed them a tract…yet.

I’m not talking about those folks: like the person who calls you his friend even though you just walk by him daily in Starbucks because you go at the same time – or you’ve seen him 10 times at the gym and barely said a few words to each other.
I’m referring to the people in your life to whom you actually consider yourself a friend: the people who would act shocked tomorrow if you told them the truth about your faith. (2 Cor 6:14-18)

This is the ultimate problem with the method of evangelism called friendship evangelism about which Tony Miano has written and spoken extensively already.

Real friendship includes the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today is the day. Repent of your selfishness and your desire to be loved by men, and being making sure that people know what you believe. It would be better to simply be honest and forthright with them about it than to have them find out when you have to refuse them some service like what happened to the woman in the article. Worse, when all your “friends” find out you’re a Christian because people on Facebook start spamming your page to criticize your beliefs.

Just in case you are confused here’s a list of things I did NOT say nor imply:

  • You cannot be a friend to a nonbeliever or have a nonbelieving friend.
  • It is OK to refuse to help people because they are gay.
  • You must share the gospel with every person you meet or you are a bad Christian like the florist in the article.

In summary, here are things which I DID say or imply:

  • True friendship includes making known the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • If people around you are shocked that you are a Christian, you’re doing it wrong.
  • You and I are the problem. Not gays. Not the florist from the linked article. It is the failure of people like you and me to consistently share the gospel that is the problem.

So join me and let’s begin fixing the problem. Let’s herald the name of Christ and not be ashamed of the gospel for it is the power unto salvation. (Romans 1:16;10:13-14)

Because real friendship, real love, and actual Christlikeness include the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Added 03/13/2015: Although it is possible to “share the gospel” with someone and not confront their specific sin of homosexuality, I continue to maintain the position that to be considered friends with a person and for that person to have no idea that you consider homosexuality to be sin is problematic.

Many thanks to sister Kim Arnold for lovingly pointing out the fact that we truly do not know from the article whether Baronelle had share the gospel.

From the Mail Bag

Today, I received the following email. I offer the original content and my response (minus the person’s name).

What do you think? Would you have handled it differently?


I got your email about evangelizing at the Arnold Classic. I’m just curious. Do you distinguish between Calvinistic doctrine and Arminian doctrine, or do you just preach Jesus?

Thanks, Person’s Name

Hi Person’s Name. Thanks for dropping me a line. Did I email you or did you receive my email from another person? Just wondering because your name is unfamiliar to me.

Either way, I have to admit I feel as if your question created a false dilemma whereby I either had to say I distinguish between Cavinistic/Arminian doctrine OR preach Jesus. Maybe you believe these things are exclusive. I am not sure that I can separate my theology from my preaching about Jesus.

Nevertheless, regardless of where you stand on that divide, I would encourage you to evaluate my preaching and my writing based on its content: whether it is biblical or not, rather than based on a label which could be a broader brush than I’d wish to paint about myself.

For example, did you read the tract I wrote to distribute at this event? You can read it at this link. I’m not sure if it is too Calvinistic or too Arminian for your tastes. Let me know, I’m honestly interested. Click Here.

Secondly, I offer you three examples of my preaching for you to judge for yourself if you think I preach in a way that you’d like to be around.

I am really glad that you are interested in participating and making sure that the people you would encounter are biblical. In fact, if you want to come, I’ll have a few questions for you as well.

Hope to meet you sometime. Lord bless you.

BTW – If you couldn’t tell and didn’t delve deep enough into my website or sermons to determine where I stand – I am essentially a 5 point Calvinist. I am a CredoBaptist and a cessationist. I’m premillennial, and I believe in a pretribulational rapture. I’ve also preached with and ministered with dozens of men and women who would not agree with me on all these issues, and will likely do so again.

Love for the brethren is a distinguishing characteristic of a Christian. I’d prefer to exhibit that and share the gospel with the lost rather than miss out on a chance to preach Christ because I’m concerned about a secondary issue argument. I haven’t always done that perfectly, but I’m improving.

Michael Coughlin

Hasta la Vista, Baby…I’ll Be Back

A Scene from Kindergarten Cop

For the third time, I’ll be visiting the Arnold Classic at the Columbus Convention Center this year for evangelism. If you are interested in joining my team this year, let me know first. But even if you do not let me know, you are free to come to High Street between Spruce and Vine Saturday, March 1st. We plan to be there between 11am and 5pm approximately.

Arnold – Way Back in the Day…

I’ve ordered thousands of tracts for distribution. I will bring as many as I can haul. If you want to come pass them out, you are free to do so! Here is a link if you’d like to see the newly designed tract. You can also order your own if you like the design and the text. Gospel Tract Planet will even let you customize the tract with your own contact information! Click here to see the tract or click the image. Thanks go out to my dear bride and editor and my good friend and grammarian, Carl Cunningham, for their help. The tract text went through several edits.

Total Commitment!

Please join me in prayer for the March 1 outreach. My experience at the Arnold Classic has been a positive experience, filled with encouraging Christians and friendly people. We’ve had very few hecklers and no adverse encounters with law enforcement over the years. If you would like to help in some way other than praying or attending in person, let me know as well.

What Does it Mean to Pray in His Name?

3rd part of the series on prayer:

Last week we discussed that we do not have to attach “In Jesus’ name” at the end of every prayer. But what does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus?

We will look at the first prayer in the Bible and see what we can learn from it.

The “name of the Lord,” and “the name of Jesus” are important concepts in scripture.

Do we get anything we ask in prayer like the Bible says? What about the verses that seem to say that?

Partial list of scripture references:

Genesis 4:25-26;John 15:1-16,14:13,16:23;Ephesians 2:10

Prayer, God’s Sovereignty & Praying in the Name of Jesus

Listen to the conclusion of the teaching on witchcraft in regard to “the prayer of Jabez.”

Some questions to consider when reviewing the disciple’s prayer:

1. Is it okay to repeat yourself in your prayers?

2. Is it okay to pray in public? Can we pray with others?

3. Why pray if God is sovereign?

4. What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus? Is a prayer not a prayer if I forget to say “in Jesus’ name?”

Listen for biblical answers to these good questions which genuine Christians can have!

Scripture references includes Isaiah 46:6-10; Daniel 9; Matthew 6:5-10; 1 Chronicles 4:10; John 14:13

Sylvia Browne, Witchcraft, Prayer & Duck Dynasty

I recommend you check out my teaching on witchcraft at sermon audio. This teaching is from 2011, but the timeless truths are applicable today.

Additionally, I plan to begin contributing to the Cross Encounters blog. I hope you will check out the store and consider downloading a Classic Sermon.

But I hope you’ll read my first article “Three Typical Responses to Sinners Sinning.