2017 Arnold Report – 5 (Final)

This is part 5 of a series.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Finally, I want to leave you with some thoughts of where I failed, my repentance, and God’s encouragement to me.

Even Christians who can rightfully be called *seasoned* evangelists and leaders are fallible men and will err. Allow me to describe the circumstance to you that we faced Saturday.

The cult called the Seventh Day Adventists (herein called SDA) has been noticeable for over a year now when I evangelize. The purpose of this post is not to prove they are heretical, but that fact is assumed. If you disagree, let me know and I’ll telly you why.

We encountered an SDA fellow Saturday. It took me a moment to recognize him but I remembered him from another outreach where he had tried to convince Kurtis and Nick that hell wasn’t eternal, and of some of their other errant doctrines with which they yoke people and try to seal the condemnation of others.

Matthew 23:4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Dave actually chuckled about how quickly I exited the conversation with this man. He is divisive, and I see him as sent by demonic forces to obstruct our mission.

Titus 3:10-11 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

But the SDA folks immediately engaged our young people. A part of me wanted to stop it, but it was toward the end of the day so we weren’t really being diverted from the mission, because it had settled down by then. And, “Maybe our young people would engage the SDA folks and win them to Christ,” I thought.

From a team leadership perspective, I want to keep my team on task. So there are times I break up what may seem like enjoyable fellowship, to remind the team we are there for a reason, to reach the lost that we encounter. I also will try to keep people from being tied up with one person if it seems warranted.

But at the same time, I see the debate that ensues with an SDA as a chance for a young person’s faith to be tested. They are forced to consider their own hermeneutic as the SDA person references Scripture after Scripture to defend his or her cause. I was pleased to see this, and that our youth grew stronger in the faith once for all delivered to the saints!

But, alas, in our kindness and friendliness toward even those who are enemies of Christ, I believe I made quite an error at the end of our outreach. Before we walked to the car, we all gathered around to worship the Lord in song. I have a dozen waterproof hymnbooks I produced with about 54 hymns in them. As we were starting to gather two polite SDA ladies approached us and a couple of our members invited them to sing. I had an urge to tell them no they could not sing with us; that we did not worship the same God. But I desired to avoid that conflict and thought that it wouldn’t hurt if a person simply wanted to sing a song while we sang.

And had they simply joined on their own accord or been standing at a distance singing along, that would have been OK. But these ladies sang with us as if they were with us. And it made me very uncomfortable. Then, I noticed while we were singing, one of the women was passing out her heretical gospel-less tracts! What a failure on my part to stand up for what was righteous and good and separate from the world. But Christ gives grace and I rely on His righteousness to sustain me.

So finally, as if it were simply meant as an act of encouragement to me, the Lord who directs my steps directed me to take my children to lunch Sunday after church where we met a kind waitress named Tammy. What we didn’t know is that Tammy needed encouragement. So I wrote Tammy a ‘gospel’ note on the back of our receipt for I had forgotten my tracts, and Tammy responded by emailing me that she is a new believer who needed encouragement!

Praise the Lord for His providential will in the life of this child of His!

2017 Arnold Report – 4

This is part 4 of a series.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

What a great day we had! Our prayer stand received very little attention, but Kurtis and I combined for at least a couple hours of preaching, our young people handed out almost 1000 tracts and distributed 150 The Biggest Question DVDs.

Here I am showing my #UnpopularTheMovie hoodie. Hopefully people who didn’t stay to listen to preaching will still watch that movie online!

There was one significant story I wanted to share about a witnessing encounter. I met a dear couple, Casey and Alexa. They were unmarried and had traveled to the Arnold together. Somehow in the course of conversation I found out they were staying in a hotel together.

Each of them told me they were a Christian (Casey even had a scripture verse tattooed on his arm!). I was very tempted to say, “Praise the Lord, it’s great to meet a Christian brother and sister,” then insist they read the tract and watch a DVD. But something didn’t feel right.

I asked them if it was ok if I said something that sounded judgmental. They said sure, so I actually asked them if they were fornicating based on the fact they had a hotel room together. They admitted as much and didn’t seem phased by it.

So I explained as politely but firmly as I could that they were living in open rebellion to God, and that they didn’t sound like they had been converted. I pointed out that a person who had been redeemed by Christ ought to want to do things God’s way. They listened politely and neither repented outwardly nor defended themselves.

Alexandra and I enjoying Kurt’s preaching.

I told them I didn’t want them to just walk away and commit to waiting for marriage though. I told them what I wanted was for them to be sexually pure for the sake of their faith in Christ and His gospel!

I then reminded them of the gospel. This was a sweet moment as I know this couple goes to church and, in fact, they each have their entire lives. I am quite certain whatever church they go to isn’t challenging them to live a life a holiness. May they be delivered from whatever false gospel they are chained to!

We must praise the Lord because the day was mild as far as weather is concerned. It was dry and cold with very little wind. Cold enough to make you cold though! We had frozen toes by 4pm!

Finally, after a long, cold day, I took my team to Raising Canes which is unofficially our post (and sometimes pre) evangelism eating spot!

I hope that series of posts was helpful to you. Feel free to drop me a question or a comment below if you have one!

2017 Arnold Report – 3

This is part 3 of a series.

Part 1
Part 2

While I was preaching outside the Arnold Classic, a man sat and seemed to listen for a long time. Kurtis noticed this and went over to talk to him. This was an excellent thing for him to notice.

Kurtis ended up talking to this man for several minutes and it ended with Kurtis praying for the man. Some people won’t let you do that in public, but this guy did!

Praise the Lord! Open air preaching resulted in this gospel conversation where Kurtis was able to minister to this man.

Next, I asked Kurt if he was ready to preach. Unlike most stories I’ve heard, he did not become afraid and back out! Kurtis grabbed his waterproof Bible and read John 3 in the open air, then used that text to launch into about a 20 minute open air sermon.

He was approached by several people who shook his hand, gave him a fist bump or hugged him! He got more hugs in his first open air sermon than I ever have. (Not to mention I think half my hugs have come from transvestites, but that’s another story).

Here is a photo of Kurtis while he was reading the Bible on High Street!

Kurt reading John 3

In addition to the good reactions he received, a man named Josiah and his friend Kevin sat down and were really excited about what Kurt was doing. They started a t-shirt business and were at the Arnold showing people their work. It was encouraging to talk to believers from another place in the USA and see them encouraged to hear Jesus preached in public.

Tune in Monday to hear more about this exciting day!

2017 Arnold Report – 2

This is part 2 of a series.

Part 1

Our standard procedure is to arrive early when going to an outreach. But in the case of the Arnold, there is a constant stream of traffic all day, so that wasn’t a big concern. Nevertheless, we arrived before our 12:00 goal.

We did what we usually do and one person dropped everyone else off at the location, then that person went and parked. (Thank you Dave!) This allows us to bring lots of stuff like boxes of tracts and Bibles and a prayer stand without the need to lug those items very far.

We got the prayer stand setup about 20 feet from where we planned to open air preach. This was an exciting day because Kurtis was planning to open air preach for the first time. Kurtis is a 17 year old believer who wants to see people come to know Jesus Christ and understands the necessity of preaching so that they will hear (Romans 10:13-14).

I went first and preached Jesus as the Christ. After a little while, a man start to argue with me and use foul language.

Handling a situation like that with grace and truth is difficult and it is essential to be Spirit led that you may not fall into the flesh. Being able to react and respond on your feet is something that can be learned, but you only get one chance. I have certainly failed to be godly in the past.

What was encouraging this day was that there was a man who afterward came up to me specifically to tell me he thought I handled myself well and that he liked the way I preached. I was shocked to find out he is a non-believer! He told me he’d heard preaching before and wanted me to know he appreciated my approach. I have actually stayed in touch with him. His name is Dan and he and I plan to discuss Christianity and his thoughts on philosophy. Open air preaching often results in good conversations about the gospel!

Tune in tomorrow to read what happened next…

2017 Arnold Report – 1

The Arnold Classic is an annual athletic event held in Columbus, OH which attracts a large number of people from all over the world. For several years in a row we have gone to the central location for the event and preached Christ crucified, handed out tracts and engaged people in conversations.

Here is a multi-part post where I will share with you some of the stories from this weekend’s evangelistic outreach. I am hoping to make this series educational for others.

Allow me to introduce you to our team of evangelists. From left to right in the front row Pam, Kenton, Alexandra, then me. In the back row are Dave, Luke, Nick and Kurtis. You will notice that our team has 4 teenagers and one almost teenager! Praise the Lord for giving these young people a desire to see souls hear about Christ.

The day started long before March 4. We spent days and weeks praying, announcing the event at church and studying the Bible so that we would be ready. The night before and morning of the event I was charging my speaker, packaging tracts, finding DVD movies and watching the weather report!

We met at our church at about 11am on March 4. Due to there being 8 of us, we borrowed a generous brother’s van which seats 8. Right before leaving the church for downtown Columbus, our pastor prayed that the Holy Spirit would go before us and change hearts, something we cannot do.

On one sad note, two dear brothers who were scheduled to go with us could not make it due to illness. One of them was sick and the other couldn’t come because of how that affected him. This is very common! Pray for your outreaches and those of folks you know.

Click to read part 2..

Google & International Women’s Day

If you visit Google.com today (go ahead and click the link to open a new tab), you will see that for today’s doodle they have a nice representation of women who have done wonderfully heroic and academic things from all cultures. This is in celebration of International (Working) Women’s Day which is March 8.

A few quick thoughts:

  1. Watch the Google Doodle and you will notice that in almost every picture the woman is pictured with a child. It is as if Google cannot deny the importance of motherhood (which they good people at Google cannot).
  2. You will also notice that there isn’t a single depiction of a heroic, brave, woman having an abortion, going into an abortion clinic nor performing an abortion. It is as if this vital, empowering act of womanhood isn’t really something people celebrate when it is considered seriously.
  3. Finally, absent from the doodle are the woman who have risen up against the patriarchy to prostitute their bodies for men, display their talents in pornography or shake “what their momma gave ’em” at a strip club. What the doodler reveals to us unintentionally is the worldview that we are all born with written on our hearts (God’s law) which reveals to us the importance of women and their inherent value as made in God’s image, rather than what they can do for us sexually.

Even the average heathen has a conscience, one they cannot violate without consequence. Today is a day that many people celebrate the good contributions women make to our world – and a day many others celebrate their anti-God attitude toward a woman’s true, high calling from the Lord Jesus Christ.

So dear Christian, do you celebrate woman as God would have you? Do you want to tell others the good news that God Himself sent His only Son, Jesus Christ into the world to die for women who are sinners?

International Women’s Day is a cry for help. This isn’t a day that people finally have risen up to “stick it to the man” as so many are so certain. This is a day when women everywhere are being told their significance, their worth and their value are in how they contribute to a society, rather than found in another, Jesus Christ.

Women who pursue virtuous endeavors are to be lauded to the extent that they obey Christ’s commands for their lives and in the context where God has placed them, and this is righteous judgement for praising the accomplishments of a man or woman. Don’t get caught up in the social justice of it all.

I appreciate any comments you may want to leave for discussion. I have more to say, but want to keep the post under 500 words.

Why I Don’t Do Go Fund Mes

You want to raise money for a worthy cause; I get it!

Go Fund Me is a website that allows you to do that super easily, and securely.

But there is a price – Let’s say you raise $2,500 for your worthy cause…well, Go Fund Me is collecting nearly $125 of that. Credit card processing fees will be another $75 approximately.

So your buddy who needs new stuff after a fire only gets $2,300 even though folks who care about him actually provided $2,500.  (This was purely an example, the actual costs may vary, but the concept is the same, you are paying for the service).

Note – I am not saying there is anything wrong with this. Go Fund Me is providing a valuable service to most people who use it by providing a website and payment collection system. 5-10% or whatever the agreed upon amount isn’t actually a terrible fee for the service.

But, in some cases, those things are not necessary. Let me provide 3 examples.

  1. There is a gofundme alternative at YouCaring.com. It is basically the same service with no fees. But when you donate there, you will be asked to make an additional donation to help keep the site running. At least in that case the donation and the amount is optional. YouCaring is also a crowd sourcing site like GoFundMe and I will explain the benefit of that at the end of this article.
  2. In cases where sending a check is sufficient (that is, the money is not needed the next day), you can save all the credit card cost by allowing people to donate by check. Imagine my scenario above, by sending a check for $100, you ensure the donation is received in full, rather than the person in need only getting approximately $94 or so.
  3. And, in the case like I did recently with Mike Stockwell, since I already have a website and a payment processor, I was able to receive credit card payments and only incur the very small fee I pay as a non-profit. And with the help of a kind donor who covered the CC fees, Mike will receive every penny that was donated.

The ability to collect a credit card payment is a necessary evil, as many people simply would not donate without that ease.

So, if you MUST create a crowdsourcing page, I recommend YouCaring.com as a way to do it without the same overhead as Go Fund Me. But consider the fees involved and maybe you’ll find another solution.

P.S. Sites that Go Fund Me and You Caring will try to get more donations than what you are able to get with your reach. They make money off every donation, so they make it their goal to simply hook up people with causes they care about. So if you have a really big need where you need to reach people outside your normal sphere of influence and those who would help you create a buzz, a crowdsourcing site like You Caring or Go Fund me is a great idea.

If you simply want a place where people you already know and maybe those who also know your Facebook friends can donate, then a site like I set up for Mike Stockwell is more sufficient – and, I’ll submit to you, a better form of stewardship.