Movie Theater Witnessing

I planned to go out witnessing the first Saturday of 2012. My initial plan was to go to my normal fishing spot, downtown Columbus. There is plenty of foot traffic in the “bar district” to provide a lot of opportunity to distribute tracts and get into witnessing encounters.

But last night, as I was on my way out, (without my usual partner), I decided I’d try to stay closer to home. A large part of the Saturday night downtown witnessing is the fellowship in the car. And the Marcus Cinema Pickerington is only a couple miles from my local church, so I am always hopeful that if a convert was made there, they would be able to come to Berean Baptist Church as well!

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw the theater building emptying quickly! I figured a movie must have just finished. I hurriedly parked my car and jumped out, excited to share the gospel. Popped opened the trunk and, voila!, no tract bag. I ALWAYS keep a tract and bible bag in the car! Alas, not tonight. So I walked toward the theater entrance with only the tracts that are “customarily” kept in my coat, about 40 of them.

I was walking toward the large entrance when I saw a couple of young men coming out the “side” exit. I strolled over and offered them tracts. Their names were Markell and Anthony. They are juniors at the local high school. I asked them standard questions about what they think happens after death; Anthony has a church background. They were both happy to talk. Anthony had a “mildly” strange belief that you go to 1 of 3 heavens. He said there was a heaven for people who accept Jesus and remain sinless, a lesser heaven for people who accept Jesus and still sin, and a third heaven for everyone else: which he said was basically hell. I had never heard anything like this before. I asked them what happens to a good Hindu boy who is raised Hindu and never hears of Jesus, and they were quite sure that boy would go to Heaven. When I explained the contradiction in their own “theology,” they understood and seemed interested in resolving the conflict. They each admitted to several sins and understood all the courtroom analogies about the good judge and the Judge of the earth doing what is Right. I explained to them about the glorious grace of Christ and challenged them to read the book of John: just 1 chapter a day. They agreed. Hopefully, the Lord will save them by his gospel.

One of the interesting notes of this conversation was their belief that people are born “basically good.” I explained to them about Adam and Eve and original sin and why we are all born sinners. This gave me opportunity as well to talk about the virgin birth. Praise God for the only consistent worldview, a biblical one. I honest can’t imagine how many cultists keep track of the lies they believe. But getting to talk about Adam and Eve was a blessing, because it allowed me to bring up the fact that there is only one race, the human race. These two young men, as well as most everyone I met last night would be commonly considered “black” and I would certainly be called “white.” I hope that being able to communicate to them that I believe we are essentially cousins through Adam and Eve greases any friction they may sense due to “racial” problems we’ve brought upon ourselves in our culture.

I then ran into Chris and Tiara. Obviously a ‘teen date-night.’ Chris was wearing an ornate rosary. I stopped him and asked him what it meant to him. I was, admittedly, shocked when he had no idea what a rosary is really for or what it represents. His girl was proud to point at it and say it “has Jesus on it.” So I asked them who they thought Jesus was and eventually got them to go through a good person test. Chris had a lot of trouble admitting sin or even keeping eye contact with me. Tiara is a professed Christian. Neither of them had any idea how they would obtain forgiveness, but Tiara seemed to know it had something to do with repentance and Jesus. I left them with tracts and a challenge to believe the gospel.

I continued to hand out tracts and finally made it near the large theater entrance. TEENS EVERYWHERE. I approached a couple young boys named Dayquan and DeBron. Another Dayquan and a boy named Christian eavesdropped as well. These kids were extremely interested in the entire conversation. Even when distracted, they kept coming back to the conversation. Dayquan (1), after the gospel presentation, indicated that he had been baptized. It always amazes me when right after a gospel conversation, people seem to have no idea what I just told them. I reminded him that salvation was offered by grace through faith alone and I trust the Spirit of God can and will use His gospel to regenerate the hearts of these young men if they are of His elect. I wasn’t trying to boast, but at one point in the conversation I was trying to communicate how important this message is. I told them that the message itself, and their souls, was so important to me that I was missing time with my wife, “and the Lions game,” I said. At that point, I realized how really low I God had to reach to pull me out of the gutter…I am sortof a Lions fan. 😉

I was pleased that these guys were apparently friends with Chris and Tiara, who came back. They chuckled when they saw their friends talking to me. Praise God that they all allowed me to pray for them (as did Anthony and Markell) as we stood in a circle in public. I can tell you I would have NEVER let some freak pray for me in public when I was in high school!

Finally, I found another group of teens “milling about.” As I approached them I reaching into my pocket and pulled out my tracts. Upon seeing this, these guys (who must be from a rough neighborhood?), sorta “freaked out.” I realized what they thought and I made a joke about a guy “pulling out a piece in public.” One of the guys laughed and said, “M0t4er f***er just said ‘pull out a piece!'”

This isn’t exactly mind-blowing. Of course, I personally try to avoid profane language (eph 5:29), but what is most interesting to know at this point is that during the course of the conversation with these 4 guys (Montrel, Doug and two unnamed individuals), I found out they all go to the same church. Salvation is by grace, but I don’t imagine God’s people using that type of language, at least not for long. When I asked them about what happens when they die, they said that they either go to hell, or if they get the “holy ghost” they can go to Heaven. I asked them how to get the holyghost. They weren’t sure, but Montrel had recently gotten baptized, which he indicated was a step in the right direction. This was a tough bunch, distracted through the conversation, proud of the fact they were ‘presently lusting’ and disruptive to the point that I sternly chastised the one young man to simply be quiet. I told him that if he did’t care about his own soul, that was ok, but I cared about it and maybe his friends cared about their own. I thanked him afterward for controlling himself.

I finished off all my tracts and took my frozen fingers to my car and returned to my wife. It was really a wonderful experience, and I hope the Lord will save one or many of these young people. I was really impressed overall and had a fun time talking to young people. Thanks be to God for the opportunity and for His wonderful faithfulness.

Pro-Life & Pro-Choice?

When considering the pro-life and pro-choice arguments which are often presented, I find it interesting that a lot of people lose sight of the real reason why abortion should be made illegal. Biblically speaking, it is simply wrong to murder an innocent human being, so there are no circumstances where abortion is OK.

When you yoke yourself with a PRO-LIFE group which DOES NOT derive their basis for knowledge and morality from the revealed scriptures and faith in Christ alone, but rather, from the tradition of men, you run the risk of offering poor argument for legislation. In fact, even if the arguments offered are convincing, you still may be arguing illogically or invalidly. There will be plenty of very intelligent non-believers ready to jump on your hypocrisy and irrationality. Another problem comes from the approach that would be considered “pragmatism.” In essence, this is the idea that you can achieve your desired result through some means.

Let me cite the example which is currently in my mind. I’ve seen legislation offered (like Ohio’s heartbeat bill which no Christian should support) which attempts to somehow reduce abortions. The goal is not to declare that the unborn are, in fact, people, nor is it to protect all unborn life. The goal is simply to reduce abortions. Often, I’ve seen it argued that it is a “step in the right direction.” Unfortunately, these types of bills do more harm than good. Precedents are set which actually make some abortions legally more legitimate than they already are considered. Loopholes abound in these bills.

People who understand the Bible and depravity know that men (and women) will find a way to kill babies regardless of the laws.

So the big question becomes: IF we were actually able to label the unborn as persons LEGALLY, how would we prosecute abortionists and people who have abortions? Would they all be tried as murderers? Would “baby daddy’s” who throw money at the problem be co-conspirators? Assuming all clinics are shut down, wouldn’t women just end up having “back alley” abortions resulting in poor sanitation and the loss of more lives due to the lack of sterilization and safe locations for abortions?

These are all questions that have no relevancy to the real issue. The real issue is that it doesn’t matter whether people will still have abortions or not. My goal is not to prevent abortion, per se, with legislation. I am pro-life…but more specifically, I am pro-choice too! I believe everyone should be allowed to make choices. But let me further qualify my position. I am PRO-CHOICE-WITH-CONSEQUENCES. I believe that people ought to be free to choose to violate the law!

In cases where the illegal act can be prevented, those in authority and/or brave men may prevent the evil altogether! In cases where the illegal act is discovered after commission, the accused person(s) will receive due process.

I have no problem labeling every aborting mother, doctor, nurse, secretary and funding party as a murderer guilty of pre-meditated homicide and susceptible to the law of the land’s sentence for that crime. It doesn’t really matter to me if this ends up acting as a deterrent to other potential aborters or not. I am not in control of man’s depravity or God’s grace in the lives of sinners. I cannot prevent people from lying or stealing or fornicating or blasphemy or idolatry either. My main point is that the fact that we may not actually be able to prove we can prevent abortions is not a reason that abortion (murder) should be legal. My secondary point is that attempts at legislation which are designed to limit “some abortions” or “certain types of abortions” ultimately, in my opinion, do more harm than good and end up saving no one. They simply legitimize some abortions!

I love Jesus Christ and if there is one thing that He most certainly loves it is children, babies included; so I love babies too. I trust that the preaching of the gospel and fervent prayer are the two greatest acts that anyone can do on behalf of the unborn. Pleading with potential aborters, sniping doctors and passing laws will all have some temporary effect, but hearts transformed by the reality of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what will really last for eternity anyway.

Please note that I am in no way advocating violence toward abortionists. It is a sad reality that some misguided pro-lifers have chosen the hypocritical road by resorting to murder themselves. Without repentance, we can likely assume these folks will suffer the same fate as the very abortionists whose lives they extinguished.

Nor am I saying you ought not plead with mother’s to avoid abortion! Please don’t misunderstand me. I do believe we ought to help educate people who are ignorant about abortion and plead for the lives of the unborn, just as you would try to talk a friend out of a plan to steal from work or commit adultery.

Dear brother or sister: be rational, be pro-life and be ready to explain why we believe what we believe and how willing we are to accept whatever consequence there is to adhering to those beliefs. Leave the results in God’s hands; He will do what is right.

How Does Our Language Affect Abortion Rights?

Recently, I was having a conversation with a person when they said something that made me really think about how we view the unborn. I suspect that those who are pro-choice, pro-life and “undecideds” are all guilty of this act I am about to describe.

First, let it be assumed that our language, that is, the words we use are, in fact, important. Jesus said “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). I think it is important that we understand the way we communicate, and there must be a level of objectivity by which we determine what is being communicated to us and from us.

I was telling a person I worked with about the baby that God gave my wife and me a couple of years ago. At the end of 2009, the Lord gave us a child who died before ever seeing the light of day. I told my coworker that we had named our child, Lily. She seemed to find it incredible that we had named the child already (Lily died in the first trimester) and said, “you already named it?”

At that point I realized how our attitude toward the unborn is manifested in our speech. No one reading this blog (in the realm of reason) would ever refer to an adult or child of unknown gender as “it.” Yet we call unborn babies “it” as easily as we refer to inanimate objects in the same manner. Maybe if those of us who DO KNOW that unborn babies are people would start to eliminate this word from our vocabulary when referring to babies, we might show our due respect for others who are made in God’s image and impact those around us who will be affected by unborn babies being personalized.

So the next time you refer to a person of any age of unknown gender, say “he or she” instead of “it.”

God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen – Extra Lyrics for you!

For those of you who enjoy singing hymns in church, I find God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen to be an enjoyable hymn to sing and research. Here are some things I learned about the song.

There should be a comma between the words “merry” and “gentlemen.” It is an unfortunate consequence of the pace of the tune itself which has brought about the idea that the address is to “merry gentlemen.” Rather, the truth is that the Lord is being asked to “keep” the gentlemen in merriment. I even found one place where the idiom “rest you merry” was treated as one phrase, like “jump in the shower.” A phrase which, when taken literally doesn’t exactly mean what it has come to mean colloquially.

My initial research also indicated that the word “merry” actually meant “mighty;” but I found the more I dug into the etymology of the word and into credible sources, it is correct to interpret the word “merry” in that great hymn as you might think: jovial, mirth or pleasurable. It actually derives from “mirth.”

The idea is that we are beseeching God to keep us merry, happy, even joyful! Upon closer inspection of the lyrics, we do see that it appears the song is far more about joyfulness in the coming of the Savior than “mightiness” in any sense.

Nevertheless, I even chose to add my own lyrics to the end of the song. If you want, sing that along with the tune, and I hope you find it encouraging and rich in biblical truth.

The door to God’s Heavenly place
By this pure son was breached.
Yet in spite of these glad tidings
There still remains unreached
With urgency and fervency,
the gospel must be preached.

O, tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O, tidings of comfort and joy

Merry Christmas!

Why Jake Plummer’s Opinion is Irrelevant…

Recently, Jake Plummer, former Broncos QB was asked his thoughts on Tim Tebow. You can read the article here. Here is an excerpt of his comments:

“Tebow — regardless of whether I wish he’d just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates — I think he’s a winner, and I respect that about him. I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I’ll like him a little better…I don’t hate him because of that; I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff. … Like, you know, I understand dude where you’re coming from.”

Ignoring the obvious irrelevancy of Plummer’s opinion entirely, let’s see if what he says even makes sense. Summarizing Plummer’s statements, it is fair to say that he doesn’t want to hear over and over again about Jesus Christ – but he makes it clear that he doesn’t want anyone to think he has a problem with Jesus. Is this true? Here’s a “what if” for you:

Imagine after every game that Tebow wins, Tim decides he is going to make mention of Jake Plummer. He wants everyone watching to know how much Plummer helped him learn the game of football, how he looked up to him as a young athlete and how thankful he is that Plummer led the way in Denver for guys like Tebow.

Do you seriously think Plummer would have a problem with that? Do you think Jake the Snake would be saying, “Look, we understand Tim that you appreciate me. Let it go and stop talking about me.”

Of course not! The problem is that Plummer, like most people, doesn’t like to hear about Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ makes people uncomfortable who are living in their sin. Jesus Christ is a name which forces people to make a decision to love their sin or turn from it and love Him. And there is no other name under whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Dear Christian – do not be deceived. When evil men tell you that they respect your belief in Christ, but would prefer not to hear it “all the time” realize that they are deceiving even themselves. They would not mind if you wanted to applaud their works, any more than they would mind if you used their name as a curse word all the time. Do not also fall into the trap that men who do not adore Christ being proclaimed are regenerate. Fuzzy and clever rhetoric will abound with reasons why – but the underlying theme is always the same. Men want to magnify themselves and other men and not God.

Jake Plummer’s opinion doesn’t matter because it is wrong. It is an effort to de-magnify Christ. Tim Tebow may not do everything right (neither do you, by the way, dear reader), but in a league that has had hundreds of men profess to be Christian, giving testimonies on I am Second websites and starting ministries for dad’s – Tim Tebow is the first athlete or coach I have seen consistently unashamed of the gospel. He appears to fear God more than man! Christians, if you appreciate this about him, pray for him. If you do not, pray for him even more.

🙂

180 Movie is a Hoax?

Recently I read a to be expected attack against 180 movie. To be brief, the article basically said that Ray Comfort fixed the responses of the people in the 180 movie in order to meet his Pro-life agenda. The accusers even provided some forensic evidence by highlighting the reflection of what they proposed to be a cue card in one of the interviewee’s sunglasses.

So how should we view an accusation such as this? In short: biblically. “Biblically” is, in fact, the way we should view EVERY event in life. I know, I know: you who are Christian want to come to Ray’s defense; and the non-believers out there are outraged, wondering “What is the real truth?” Let me slow you down and ask you to consider using the Proverbs 26:4-5 approach. The general idea is that we “do not answer” foolish accusations according to their fallacious reasoning so that we might not make the same mistakes; but that we “do answer” foolish arguments according to their fallacious reasoning in order that we might expose the foolishness. Bear with me as I explain how that applies in this situation!

First, let’s categorically deny the accusation. Ray Comfort, in fact, did not pay actors or people on the street to say what he wanted. He is my brother in Christ, and I trust that the Lord who could pay for Ray’s sins can also keep him walking in integrity in his Christian walk. I don’t truly entertain the possibility that the film was altered. For many Christians, this should be sufficient reasoning to reject the accusation since they have no more reason to believe the original “arbitrary” accusation than to believe this refutation of it.

But for the sake of argument, let’s say Ray Comfort did in fact “script” this entire 33 minute movie. Let’s assume that instead of an honest documentary, what we really watched was a scripted movie which exhibited nothing but the opinions of the movie makers and script writers. That would not change the message which was exposed, nor the personal feelings it is meant to draw out of viewers!

Think about it – we watch movies ALL THE TIME with paid actors who convey a message through a story which we know is not TRUE. Even if 180 is not honest in that sense – the change that can occur in a viewer’s heart and mind are still valid.
The point is that no pro-life message portrayed in the movie is invalidated by the authenticity of the movie itself.

IF the movie was not truly a documentary, then the pro-abortion movement gains nothing except the satisfaction that Ray Comfort and his team are lying, hypocrites.

In conclusion, let’s be clear that I do believe this movie to be authentic, which I do believe ADDS to the credibility of the argument from an emotional standpoint. But the comparisons made in the movie and the logical reasoning used against abortion are sound either way.

May God get the glory and may He bless Ray and his staff for their labor of love.

Proud to Support Un’Comfortable’ Abortion Movie

Many people have still not seen the shocking documentary, “180”, yet. But over a million people have! What it is about this movie that makes it worth viewing?

Frankly, it makes you un’comfortable’. The quotes are a play on words, since the primary voice you hear in the interview is that of evangelist, Ray Comfort. Mostly known for the Way of the Master television show and evangelism training kits, Ray uses a unique and innovative style of analogy and interviews to change people’s minds on abortion.

Amazingly, in our culture today – we have access to millions of gigabytes of information at a moment’s notice, yet many people form strikingly ‘uninformed’ opinions. Ray Comfort, realizing the utter shallowness of the average American young adult, has found a gentle yet effective way to exploit this! By carefully and honestly asking several young adults some very simple questions about the WWII Holocaust, Ray effectively provides a method for getting people to verbalize their own idea that they ‘indeed value human life.’

Ultimately driving the conversation to the issue of abortion, Ray is able to help people to see that if they would think through the application of what they truly believe, then they must also adamantly defend all human life; including that of the unborn.

What you get in the end is a shocking picture of the ignorance and persuade-ability of American youth. It will make you uncomfortable either because you may be pro-choice; or you may realize how silent you’ve been on a topic you thought you felt strongly about. But you are left with HOPE as well. There is hope that as more of us will become willing to imitate Ray as he imitates Christ that (one person at a time) we will be able to have an impact on our culture for Christ and the unborn that He loves.