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.

Mike Stockwell Encouragment Fund

As you may have heard, Mike Stockwell of Cross Country Evangelism was recently found Guilty in a court in the UK due to his faithful preaching of the gospel.

The prosecution is seeking approximately $5,000 in fines between Mike and his preaching partner, Mike Overd.

If you would like to donate money to help Mike with any expenses at all, use the link below and in the comments put, Mike Stockwell.  Your donation will go to a 501c3 non-profit where I can transfer the funds to Mike’s very easily.

This is simply a love gift for Mike, regardless of how things end up with the court and fines.  Mike solely lives off the donations of good folks like you, so I’m sure any gift will help him with his life and ministry.

Thanks for considering encouraging this brother in the Lord and sharing his burden.

(Please do put Mike Stockwell in the description field so I know if your donation is for Mike or another purpose)

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO MIKE

 

This link seems to have a lot of detailed information about the trial and verdict. Link

Responding Like a Pharisee

Last month I received a card in the mail from Legacy Church here on the east side of Columbus, OH.

I posted a couple tweets with screen shots as you can see below.

 

 

 

I received one particular reply which I wanted to respond to in a blog post.

 

 

 

 

I want to give Lisa Manning the benefit of the doubt. Even though I don’t think she’s asking an honest question (I believe she’s making a point in the form of two questions if you include her hashtag), I want to respond graciously, explaining a few of my own thoughts.

First of all, let’s take a look at this statement

What if one person gets saved or changed their life because they change their thinking?

Change Their Thinking

It seems Lisa has deftly understood that I do not agree with the concept of the mailing I received. I do not think that man’s problem is that our thinking is negative, thus pulling us from our goals and potential.

So, in response to the second part of Lisa’s question, “what if someone changed their life because they changed their thinking?” my answer is that I don’t really care, unless of course that thinking was changed from whatever a person thinks to thinking God’s thoughts, which we know according to His Word.

1 Cor 1:11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual

If somehow a person changed their life because they changed their thinking, apart from salvation in Christ and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, although those changes could be positive changes, it is a not the purpose of the church to help people better their lives with better thinking. It is our purpose to preach God’s Word to people and let them fall under the conviction of the Holy Spirit where the only real helpful change occurs (cf Phil 3).

What if one Person Gets Saved?

Next, let’s consider the first part of Lisa’s question. What if a person changed their thinking and got saved? This sounds great on the surface.

In fact, don’t we always say, “such and such sacrifice would be worth it if it helps just one person?”

Well, let’s take Lisa’s tweet in context. She is recognizing that I am opposed to the use of the crude vulgarity on a church mailing. And instead of defending it as a righteous and good practice, she proposes that maybe it will attract someone who ends up saved. Either that or she recognizes that someone may come to church because they want to have more positive thinking, but find Christ while there.

This sounds OK, until we substitute some other verbiage to see if it makes logical sense. Let’s say we have a stripper pole at a church meeting, find some beautiful ladies willing to share what God’s blessed ’em with and invite men from the area to come and enjoy “God’s creation.” Sounds despicable, doesn’t it?

But what if one person gets saved?

“What if one person DOES get saved?” I’d ask.  Who cares? What bearing does it have on the morality of the act? None. Zero. The point is this, someone hearing the gospel and getting saved is a wonderful act of God’s mercy – but whether or not that occurs has no logical bearing on whether your method of getting the gospel to them was legitimate.

I would go so far as to say that if you are willing to sin, follow methods NOT prescribed by God for dispensing His Word, or use language NOT becoming of a Christian (Eph 4:29) in order to get the gospel to someone, then you probably are not saved, and you are just practicing a religion you call Christianity, with a god you call Jesus who forgives people of their sins…to assuage your own sin guilt.

Am I a Pharisee?

So does all that make me a pharisee? The implication here is staggering to me because of what pharisees were in Scripture (outside God’s kingdom). Lisa’s tweet goes from an honest question -> to a hashtag which effectively labels me as outside the kingdom of Heaven.

This is a big deal to me because Lisa seems to come from the easy believism camp of Christianity – which is nearly indiscernible from Universalism. My point is this, she seems to be almost a universalist, but she draws a comparison from me to the very people Jesus called a “brood of vipers!” (Mt 23:33)

Of course, maybe Lisa didn’t mean it so literally analogous to biblical pharisees as I took it. Maybe she was just asking me if I was being legalistic or if I was unrighteously judging (John 7:24).  I will leave that to you, the reader to decide. But remember, if you judge me to be unrighteously judging for passing any judgement at all, you are caught in your own trap.

I appreciate the good folks who wrote this post which sums up the problem with playing the pharisee card. I strongly suggest you read it.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we need to be a holy people in a wicked and perverse generation. We need to do things the way God has instructed in His Word and trust Him with the results. And we need to keep in mind when we judge others that we ourselves are not committing the same errors we are correcting them for.

Church Attendance ’16

In 2016 I decided to keep track of my church attendance. I have been impressed by sermons and posts online about the importance of local church membership and attendance. I hope that this does not become some type of legalistic standard for any to follow. My intention was to measure my church attendance in 2016. I don’t actually know quite how to interpret the results, but here they are if you are interested.

My church meets Sunday morning for Sunday School, then again for a service, then again Sunday evening. We also have a Wednesday night prayer meeting.

All that being said, with the various cancellations in 2016, my church offered 205 opportunities to hear God’s Word and pray with the brethren.

I attended 84% of those services or 172 times.

I attended another church 10 times when it was at the same time as my church, bumping my total attendance to 182 meetings or 89% of possible time. Or seen another way, I attended my church 88% of the time after “excused absences.”

If I subtract out family matters which kept me from church, my overall attendance rises to 94%.

I don’t know if that is good or bad or whatever. It is just what it is. I do know that if a person just attended my church on Sunday morning for one service, they’d have a 25% attendance rate so it is better than that. If I only went to 3 of those services each week, I’d have a 75% rate.

I also taught or preached 25 times. That is about 5 months of teaching once a week. This was spread all throughout the year. But out of 205 “services” I ministered 25 of them, meaning I teach about 12% of the time, or every other week on average.

So how are you doing? It is early enough in 2017 for you to start keeping track and seeing how you do. What would your commitment be if you bought season tickets to a sports team? Better than 94%? I think this is a thoughtful way to try to measure yourself without condemning yourself or finding your hope in your church attendance. If anything, I hope it would help you in some way.