You Want Better Relationships? Try This…

Have you ever heard someone described as a person who is “just looking for a reason?” Or a person who is “looking for a fight?”

It seems a common occurrence that folks are basically “ready for battle.” Often, the people who encounter these types do very little to set them off.

Some people are just waiting for those around them to mess up…so that they can pounce on them.

What if you lived your life waiting for a reason to forgive?

What if every moment you lived you literally were looking for a reason to forgive someone? How do you think that would affect your relationships? Do you think it would encourage reconciliation and better fellowship?

For the sake of ease of use, call it pre-forgiveness. See if you can be pre-forgiving today, especially with your spouse and children and brothers and sisters and see how that affects your life. You may wake up tomorrow missing some pride and resentment…and have less of your own retaliatory sin to confess.

For more information about forgiveness in the Christian life, check out this post:
Forgiveness

Some Things Just Don’t Make Sense…

Here’s something that doesn’t make sense to me.

There are Christians that do not believe in a literal six day creation, as specified in the book of Genesis and Exodus and testified to by Christ Himself in the New Testament. I’m speaking of born-again Christians who hold the Bible to be inerrant, not just anyone labeled Christian.

This wouldn’t be so surprising, except think about this for a second.

A Christian is someone who believes God is angry with them for sin because a book that is thousands of years old says so. In order to atone for these sins, God (who is 3 persons, but 1 God ?huh?) became a man and was subjected to his own creation to the point of crucifixion. Then, miraculously, because of the resurrection of this God-man 3 days later from the dead, all of which happened 2,000 years ago, the Christian of 2012 can have all of his or her sins transferred to this point in time on the cross with Christ, and have the righteousness of God imputed to them; thus, being justified before God forever by His grace.

Couple this with the death of all first-born Egyptian sons after 9 other remarkable plagues, men who perfectly penned Words from God Himself and preserved them as scripture, and a virgin woman giving birth to the King of kings in a manger in the middle east and you’ve got a recipe for some FAITH.

So what I don’t understand is this: How can someone readily believe all these other seriously exceptional events, events which we can only conceive of because of the scripture, yet these same folks deny the special creation of God which is actually evident to all men through general revelation?

Romans 1:19-21 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. <20> For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. <21> For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This baffles me!

Humbling

“Nothing humbles me like pondering the fact that the One who I mocked and mistreated the most willingly chose to die to pay for the mocking and mistreatment. Amazing.”

–Erin Coughlin (my bride)

My wife wrote this today, and I found it irresistibly quotable.

Miami (OH) @ The Ohio State University & Why I’m Rooting for Michigan

September 1, 2012. The Redhawks of Miami University (not “The U”) are visiting Columbus to face off against Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes. The Tressel era is over. Memories of Appalachian State vs. That Team Up North swirl in my head. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to play.

But I had a different mission today than to watch football. Upon the urging of Bill Adams from Sports Fan Outreach International, and as a representative of Jesus Christ and Berean Baptist Church, I led a team of evangelists to the campus of The Ohio State University. After some back and forth, we finally agreed upon a time. Working around work schedules, we decided we’d arrive around 2:45, about 30 minutes before we’d expect the game to end, and stay until 6 or 7 to preach the gospel, distribute tracts and engage in one on one conversations.

My report below is intended to show you the surpassing power and love of God. His sovereignty, goodness and mercy were made manifest today in ways that are exceedingly and abundantly more than we could’ve hoped. Bear with my details and general wordiness, and try to enjoy the story in spite of my poor ability to transcribe it!

I am a firm believer that when you set out to serve the Lord you will face spiritual opposition. That is, you will encounter forces of the demonic who will try to thwart the mission. As difficult as this often makes life, I’ve found comfort in the opposition. I actually feel somewhat empowered in a sense, with an innate knowledge that the opposition means I’m clearly on the Lord’s side, the side I want to be on! Nevertheless, the point of the story is not to explain how I or we overcame any spiritual forces, but about how incapable I am against them. It is the power of Christ that overcomes spiritual wickedness; and God put that on display today, if only to humble us.

The story starts August 31st (Friday night). The plans are set. I’ll be picking up Matt at 1:30, meeting at Jerry’s; Jerry will pick up Fred and take us to campus. On my way home from coaching football, I have car trouble. I shut it off at a stoplight to restart it, it makes weird noise, but restarts. My daughter, Bailey, and I arrive home, but not before smelling smoke. We thought the car would explode!

So I wake up Saturday morning and my car won’t start…it won’t even turn over! Bless be the name of the Lord that allowed me to make it to my driveway the night before right before my car basically died. A call to AAA and a tow later, and I’m without a vehicle. I let Matt know he can drive. Sounds ok…except Matt’s life has been flipped upside down by family obligations last minute. Matt juggles it all and tells us he’ll meet us on campus. Jerry agrees to pick everyone else up. Joe, from Mansfield, is still on his way. All will be well, we suppose. I call the pastor to send out a prayer request to our congregation which he does right away. Then I call Tom Wilson, one of our deacons, and he prays for us and commits to continue. I feel like the Lord has already displayed His mighty hand! Even through the misfires, we are on track! Praise God. He has kept us faithful through all this and has enabled us to change our plans.

Now I realize I do not own a stool to stand on for preaching. So I find one I like online and call a friend to pick it up for me (remember, I’m without a car). Instead, Mary offers to simply bring me a stool which I can borrow! Now I have all the equipment I need; a stool, charged amp and speaker, microphone with new batteries, thousands of tracts, 27 bibles with our church information stuffed inside, a cooler of snacks and water, my personal bible and a Cleveland Browns poncho – excellent for covering boxes of bibles and our cordless speaker in the event of rain (and one really good looking combo of brown and orange as well).

The fellowship was sweet, as usual, as we made our way to Lane and Olentangy River Rd. As soon as we got there, Fred, Joe and I started passing out tracts. I immediately got into a great conversation with two young men from Lancaster who were raised Catholic, but understood the message of the gospel of grace. If I remember correctly, their names were Kyle and Ethan (sorry if you are reading this and I just got your name wrong!). If you are a brother or sister in Christ, please take a moment to pray for these two men.

I was sorta waiting for Matt to begin preaching; not sure what was holding him up. I finally stepped on the stool to preach. Very few people stopped to listen, but it was a stoplight scenario, so there were regularly 100 or so people waiting for a green light every 3 minutes for a good half an hour. Fred said he overheard someone say, “those guys were at the Super Bowl, too.” That made me chuckle!

Well, as usual, we met some “Christians.” One self-identified Christian girl gave me the middle finger and yelled F#6% you at me as I preached. I used this as an opportunity to talk about how when a person becomes a Christian, they begin to love righteousness and hate wickedness. I thank God for people like this young lady. She unwittingly drew attention to me and to my message of Christ’s glory, while embarrassing herself in her drunkenness. I remember when Ray Comfort said the best thing that can ever happen to you is a heckler; it makes sense to me now after some time preaching.

We spent a couple hours. The other major highlight was when the guys who drive the bicycles with the carriages on the back took exception to my message. They began to yell things about Satan and generally chuckle and snicker. They eventually got really close to me and cranked up some heavy metal. Again, thanks to God for bringing folks that close in order to draw attention to the message of grace and hope and forgiveness of sins which was being preached. I really enjoyed them, although I called them out a couple times as illustrations. I think they ended up pretty embarrassed by their own foolish behavior. I genuinely told them I wanted them to be forgiven of all their sins, including their attempt to thwart the preaching of God’s Word. May God grant them repentance (that’s the only way anyone exercises it).

Finally, Fred left to go home, and Joe and I still hadn’t found Matt! It turns out he was still stuck in traffic almost 2.5 hours later! Joe and I ambled to Lane and High, where there would be more foot traffic. By 6ish, Matt finally met us. Admitting he was parked illegally, we brainstormed and found a place where he could move his car. We recommended that he go to a gas station and buy a drink; Matt left. As Joe and I waited for him, I noticed Matt kept patting his pockets from across the street. I ran over to find he’d lost his wallet! He had just bought gas. We stopped and prayed. I prayed that the Lord would return Matt’s wallet to him, even if it was in a miraculous way. After a thorough car search, Matt left to go back to where he had bought gas an hour earlier.

As I made my way back across the street, I noticed my cellphone was missing! This was amazing. I had just finished speaking to Joe about spiritual warfare, and now it seemed like somehow someone was trying to prevent us from evangelizing! I went to where Matt had parked his car to look for his wallet and then look for my phone. I found neither. Eventually, I just went back to Joe and started preaching again. There were some people who had questions, and some people who just wanted to heckle, including a really inquisitive lady named Juliana. While discussing the gospel with a couple of young men, Matt walked up and handed me my phone. Praise God, I had just left it in his car when I searched for his wallet!

Matt had checked the gas station and it wasn’t there. So Matt, not realizing I had already checked, went back to his ‘illegal’ parking spot to check for his wallet. As he walked around hoping to find it, a man approached him covered head to toe in Michigan garb. “Are you Matt?” he asked. Matt instantly knew the guy must have had his wallet. What a miracle! Had Matt not planned to buy a drink, he may not have noticed his wallet was missing, and had I kept my cellphone, I may have let him know not to check the parking lot where he ultimately ran into this guy! Matt said, “We gotta root for Michigan tonight!”

Now, having seen the Lord answer prayer and overcome all these things on our behalf, we continued to evangelize for a bit. We got into a long conversation with Juliana who had much disagreement with the bible. Please pray she will have her eyes opened to God’s truth. She was enjoyable to talk to, but I had the feeling at the time and even more so now, that she was just a stall tactic. She occupied our time for a while…and I’m not sure the conversation was entirely fruitful. It actually ended with her saying “Shame on you,” to us and returning the bible we had given her that she had put in her bag.

One other quick anecdote: One young man told us absolute truth did not exist. I asked him if that was absolutely true. He said, “Yes.” When confronted by the fact that his statement was self-refuting, he just sorta got annoyed and walked away. It bothered him that we confessed to have the only message of truth about God.

All in all, it was an excellent day. I still do not have a car until Tuesday, but Matt’s nightmare ride around campus and lost wallet fiasco are all history. Joe was encouraged and encouraged us; and Fred…well Fred’s always just happy to go out. I trust the Lord did wonderful things in the hearts of men and women today. I hope he allows us to see some of those things in this life.

If you are still reading, you are a dear person. I suspect I’d have stopped by now, citing the unnecessary details and general wordiness of the author!

Thank you!

Would you support Chic-Fil-A if…

Twitter has been flooded with hundreds, probably thousands of tweets, including the #chicfila hashtag. It is all the rage right now for people to throw their opinion out there about Dan Cathy, Chic-Fil-A or those who oppose Chic-Fil-A.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy is quoted as saying.

It can be intriguing to read what people are writing on twitter, blogs and facebook. Often, it is humorous to see the arguments people use…literally attacking beliefs that Dan Cathy likely doesn’t espouse…or vice versa. Evangelicals everywhere are either promoting Chic-Fil-A and the August 1st Chic-Fil-A day or they are decrying the whole “support Chic-Fil-A” agenda as childish or at worst, useless. Some will say that supporting corporations for taking these stands is important; others would say “who cares.” Many make it a 1st amendment issue, some call it a religious right.

The fact remains that it is hard for me to believe that everyone who went to Chic- Fil-A on August 1st is a born again Christian supporting reliance on God’s Word for faith and practice. I tend to believe that the Chic-Fil-A day support was far more related to a mutual opposition to homosexual marriage AND political agreement about free speech than about the biblical Jesus for most of the attendees. I wonder if “Chic-Fil-A” day could have been a distraction, in a sense. Something which created a false sense of unity between people with opposing views of God, but who happen to agree about gay marriage and/or the first amendment.

Which leads me to wonder. Would you support Chic-Fil-A if:

  • Dan Cathy publicly explained that he believes in traditional marriage and that salvation is only through Christ by grace through faith and that there is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor?
  • Dan Cathy supports traditional marriage and clearly believes that heterosexuals who are unmarried and living together or sleeping together are as damned in God’s eyes as homosexuals?
  • Cathy pointed out that idolatry and greed are sins as well as the fact that he supports traditional marriage?
  • Cathy said he supported traditional marriage and said drunkards and liars have no place in the kingdom of God?
  • Cathy said that you are no different from the most hateful, deviant homosexual, and that you are utterly deserving of God’s wrath for your sin and that no amount of good behavior, praying or sacraments would get you to heaven? That no matter how many chicken tenders you buy to show your opposition to homosexuals, and no matter how many babies you help prevent being aborted and no matter how many prayers you say, tithes you offer or good deeds you do – that you are a wicked sinner in your own right undeserving of anything better than eternal hell?
  • Would you still be waiting in line over an hour for fried chicken?

I am not sure everyone would still support Chic-Fil-A if any of these scenarios were true. We could go deeper and within Christianity find out that Cathy believes in baby baptisms, tongues and signs or any number of secondary-but-oft-disputed doctrines. How much would you sacrifice to show support of his company that day?

Do you see my point? Sure, I agree with the quotes I’ve heard about Dan Cathy’s personal support of the traditional marriage. I agree that he is correct that God has specified one man and one woman as the design for marriage according to the bible. And I think it is great for Christians to rally around other Christians, especially during persecution to show support.

But in the end, I hope that we remember that being Christian doesn’t mean being republican, or pro-life or anti-gay. Being on the same side on any number of issues may impact culture in a positive way, but we need to be careful that we don’t just call everyone in the line at Chic-Fil-A brother or sister, just as we wouldn’t assume everyone in a church building on a Sunday is born-again.

Now here’s a tweet worth retweeting!

https://twitter.com/jrLaurinaitis/status/231388038075392000

More from Mr. Cameron

Kirk Cameron, everyone’s favorite “growing pain” has released a trailer for another movie. It is available for public viewing now at this link on Vimeo.

The trailer is compelling, to say the least! I love the hymn in the background. As with any good trailer, there is enough to make you want to see more without spoiling too much.

After my review of Monumental which you can read at the link, I am excited to give Kirk another chance; and maybe Barbara Cameron will forgive me. 🙂 Monumental was a great movie which was missing a single key element in my opinion, a clear presentation of how a sinner obtains God’s forgiveness.

Hopefully, Kirk will explain with clarity in this next movie the means by which God reconciles sinners to himself and issue a personal challenge to all viewers.

What do you think based on the trailer?

Compassion for the Lost

This is Michael Coughlin’s presentation at the first ever Psalm 117 Mini Conference held at Berean Baptist Church in Pickerington, OH. This conference was a preparation time of fellowship, teaching, prayer and strategy for our first leg of The Biggest Project. Our task: To distribute 2,500 The Biggest Question DVD’s at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.


Witnessing to folks with compassion for their condition and the condition of their loved ones.

Why should we have compassion when evangelizing? Is that the same as friendship evangelism?

Join Michael Coughlin and Berean Baptist Church at the first ever Psalm 117 Mini Conference and hear from Luke 10, the story of the Good Samaritan!


Thanks for listening.

If the player is not appearing or you prefer to download the mp3, Click here.

I will add that in the message I share that I do not think our small team would possibly distribute all 2,500 DVD’s provided by Wretched…and we ended up passing them all out so quickly that we had time to pass out tracts as well.