Important Messages

Friday, December 17, 2010

Keep the Light Shining


Moon Over Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Credit & Copyright: Tyler Westcott

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Colossians 1:28

A lighthouse keeper gained a reputation as being a very kind man. He would give free fuel to ships that miscalculated the amount of fuel needed to reach their destination port. One night during a storm, lightning struck his lighthouse and put out his light. He immediately turned on his generator, but it soon ran out of fuel, and he had given his reserves to passing ships. During the dark night, a ship struck the rocks and many lives were lost. At his trial, the judge knew of the lighthouse keeper’s reputation as a kind man and wept as he gave sentence. He accused the lighthouse keeper of neglecting his primary responsibility—to keep the light shining. The Church can so often get caught up in legitimate acts of kindness—standing for political righteousness, feeding the hungry, etc.—but our primary task is to warn sinners of danger. We are to keep the light of the gospel shining so that sinners can avoid the jagged-edged rocks of wrath and escape being eternally damned.

My friend, I stand in judgment now,
and feel that you’re to blame somehow.
On earth I walked with you by day,
and never did you show the way.
You knew the Savior in truth and glory,
But never did you tell the story.
My knowledge then was very dim.
You could have led me safe to Him.
Though we lived together, here on earth,
you never told me of the second birth.
And now I stand before eternal hell,
because of heaven’s glory you did not tell!
(Anonymous)

“Each person we meet on a daily basis who does not know Christ is hell-bound. That may make
some folks bristle—but it’s a fact. When we refuse to warn people that their actions and lifestyles have eternal consequences, we’re not doing them any favors. If everybody feels good about his or her sin, why would anyone repent?” Franklin Graham

“If they are breathing...they need Jesus.” Mark Cahill

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday Afternoon at the Pier

Sunday afternoon, I went back out to the pier with my friend Al from church. It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, and many people were out enjoying the weather. On my way down to the pier I had a great conversation with an older gentleman named Richard as we walked down to the pier. Richard believed he was going to heaven and when I asked him how he knew that he began to talk about the importance of living according to civilization's standards. We talked about Nazi Germany's standards, the Aztecs standards, and American standards, which one should we live by? He was very clever with words and then finally I asked him about the standard of the Ten Commandments. He agreed it was a good universal standard of morality. As we discussed a few of them he told me he had never lied, at least never to deceive anyone. He also told me he had never stolen anything in his entire life (he was probably in his 70s). He told me he had never blasphemed and if he had, it was in a conversation that as a whole was glorifying to God...what....??? I just kept going. He did admit to lust, which is adultery of the heart, and hatred, which is murder of the heart. I then shared James 2:10 with him and how if we break the Law in one point, we are guilty of breaking all of it. At this point, he said "no one in the world will make it to heaven then". This is always encouraging when people come to that realization on their own, which is really the work of the Law, written on the people's conscience (Rom 2:15, Gal 3:24, Rom 3:19-20, Rom 7:7). He told me at this point, that the message I am sharing is not one he would like to hear, nor would anyone else for that matter.

(BTW, that is also an encouraging response, because it shows me that the Law was doing its work to stop the mouth of justification (Romans 3:19) and show the person’s sin to be exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:7). Only then, will they be able to appreciate the wonderful gift God has given to us in His Son).

At that point, I was able to tell him that what I have shared with him is only half the message, the bad news, and that my main purpose for coming down to the pier is to share the good news with people. But unless people truly understand the bad news, they will never understand and appreciate the good news. It was then that I was able to share the gospel with him; the love that God demonstrated for him at Calvary, and the amazing grace and mercy of our God, Jesus Christ. He listened quietly as I explained the exchange that took place on the cross and how God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9). He nodded in agreement as I shared with him some Old Testament prophecies about Jesus' life and death and seemed to be somewhat familiar with the Bible. Finally, I asked where he was at spiritually and if he had ever put his faith in Christ to save him. Richard told me he had trusted in Jesus before but had never heard the gospel presented as he had heard it today. After hearing the entirety of the message I came to share with people, he then encouraged me to continue doing what I was doing. I encouraged him to truly trust in Jesus ALONE and not to trust in himself or his works. We all are in desperate need of forgiveness and being "good" is something we are incapable of. I thank God for the conversation I was able to have with Richard and pray for him to trust alone in Jesus for salvation.

After talking with Richard I had some short conversations with other people and then ran into a lady named Josephina. She was just sitting on a bench enjoying the view of the ocean so I walked up to her and said hello. It was only a few benches up from the bench where I had sat and spoken with a young man named Ruben less than 48 hours earlier. As we talked she told me that she would like to spend eternity at the beach and that she wanted her ashes scattered there. She wasn’t sure where she would go when she died, but told me she had been looking into other religions recently. She was brought up Catholic but was looking for a better fit. As I took her through some of the Commandments, she told me she had told at least 12,000 lies in her lifetime. She also told me she had stolen, blasphemed and lusted (adultery of the heart). Then she said that God would probably see her as innocent on Judgment Day because He is good. That’s a fairly common response but it doesn’t make any sense.

Imagine a scenario where you come home one day to find a man in your home who had just murdered your family and was covered in their blood. You overtake the man and begin strangling him when your better judgment prevails and you tie him up and call the police. At the criminal’s court case, after he admits to the murder of your family, the judge simply lets him go because the judge is such a “good and loving judge.” That is absurd in the highest degree and there would be a public outcry. You would probably call governors and senators asking for the judge to be put in jail because he is more of a criminal than the criminals he excuses. Well, that is exactly what it would be like if God simply let liars, thieves, blasphemers, murders, adulterers, etc. into heaven simply because He is good. A good judge is the one who justly sentences people and makes sure the penalty for their crime is paid. After explaining this to her she agreed that God would be justified in sending her to hell for breaking His Law.

At this point, I was able to share the good news of the gospel with her and show her how God himself stepped into that courtroom and took her penalty upon himself to save her from hell. God was demonstrating justice and at the same time demonstrating his tremendous love and mercy to the guilty criminals who were sentenced to death. After sharing this with her, I asked her if she had repented and trusted in Christ she said “oh yeah, I did that a long time ago.” Interesting…Twenty minutes earlier she was telling me she was looking for a religion that was a better fit but was now saying the she had put her faith in Jesus. My heart breaks when I see people like this who think they are ok with God because they have simply prayed a prayer or been baptized or have accepted Jesus into their heart at some point in their life. Like Nicodemus they have no concept of what it means to be born again. If they are not born again, they will not enter the kingdom of God. They seem to believe in Jesus but do not trust him. I shared Matthew 7 where people actually call Jesus “Lord” but Jesus tells them to depart from him because he never knew them. I pleaded with her and encouraged her to examine herself (2 Cor 13:5) in light of 1 John to see if she has truly been saved. In the end, she thanked me for talking to her and was going to give these things some thought. I invited her to King’s Harbor and she said she would probably come visit sometime which would be awesome. I thank God for the opportunity to meet Josephina and pray that she truly does surrender her life to Christ once and for all!

Friday Night Follow Up

Friday night was pretty mellow but God always blesses our time as we go out to share the gospel with people. I spoke with a young man named Ruben who was just sitting on a bench listening to some music on his IPOD. God prompted me to go talk to him so I did. As we talked I asked him about heaven and he believed that honest people would go to heaven. A few minutes later he admitted to lying many times as we looked at a few of the Ten Commandments. After seeing how he had broken God's Law not once, but many times, he agreed that he would be guilty when he stood before him on Judgment Day. Being guilty, and God being good and just, he realized he would be justly sent to hell if he died today. He said that truth concerned him. I was then able to share with him the tremendous love of God demonstrated through Jesus Christ dying for us on the cross so that we could be forgiven and made right with God. I also shared with him some Old Testament prophecies that relate to Christmas and he was amazed. He had never seen or understood the fulfillment of prophecies before and how they prove to us that the Bible is the Word of God and can be trusted. At the end of our conversation I asked him when he thought he WOULD repent and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He said he needed to do it but didn't know when he actually would. I then asked him when he thought he SHOULD repent and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and he said "as soon as possible"! Amen. At that moment, you could see that he understood the urgency of the message I had shared with him. Rather than ask him if he wanted to do that right then and there by saying a prayer, I just told him that if God is drawing him to do that, not to put it off, that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2). I encouraged him to humble himself when he got home that night, get alone with God, and confess your sins to God and beg him to forgive you and to save you. I encouraged him to read his bible every day and to obey what he read. I left him with my email and prayed for him as we parted ways. About 20 minutes later I saw him from a distance as he was leaving the pier area and he raised his hand high and waved to me as he left. I waved back and whispered a prayer for him. Please pray that Ruben humbles himself and trusts Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Redondo Beach Pier Follow Up

Last night, we went down to the Redondo Beach Pier to witness to people. Since the time change, the Pier is not as crowded as it usually is but there's still plenty of people to converse with about the gospel. Last night was pretty empty compared to normal so I ventured down to the lower side of the pier by the arcade. At one point during the evening I gave some gospel tracts to a guy named Jesse and a girl named Danielle. I asked them if they knew where they would go if they were to die and Jesse mentioned that he would be going to hell. He said his family was Christian but was not sure how to go about changing his life. I was able to talk with him about the commandments, our need for a Savior, and that being born again is entirely something that God does inside of us and it's not something we can do on our own. Just like we had nothing to do with being born physically, we don't have anything to do with being born again spiritually (John 3:8). However, the Bible commands all me everywhere to repent (Matthew 4:17, 3:2, Luke 13:3, 24:47, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 11:18, 17:30, 20:21, 2 Peter 3:9) and put their faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) and that is what he should seek to do to be made right with God. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) and I encouraged him to humble himself, confess his sins to God (1 John 1:9), beg God to forgive him and ask God to change him from the inside out.

One of the neat things about our conversation is that he mentioned his Brother Manny and how he had seen God change his life. Halfway through our conversation, his brother Manny walked up and was able to listen to the conversation Jesse and I had. After speaking with Jesse, I said hi to Manny and he asked if he could simply pray for me. It was a great encouragement to me. God had Jesse and Danielle down there last night and our conversation was not an accident. I was reminded of how important it is to step out of our comfort zone and walk into people's lives to share Jesus Christ with them. You never know who God will lead you to.

I also recently ran into a couple named Victor and Rachel who are engaged to be married. They said they were Christian but didn't seem to understand the gospel. I was able to encourage them in their walk with the Lord and their future marriage. Again, you never know who God will lead you to, but it's always exciting to trust Him and let Him lead the way!

Below are some links to the audio. My hope is that they encourage you in your walk with Christ.



Link to Audio

Black Friday

This past Friday was Black Friday. I think I have gone shopping on Black Friday once about 5 years ago but have never been one who gets up before dawn to take part in the "early bird" sales each year. This past  Friday was a bit different in that it was the first time I got up before dawn to go to the stores on Black Friday. A few months back I realized for the first time what an awesome opportunity Black Friday presented to reaching a lot of people in a short period of time with the Gospel. This year, myself and a few others decided to get up early to go share the gospel with the people waiting in line.
Our schedule was as follows:
1. Kohl's (South Bay Galleria) - Doors open at 3am so we got there at 230 am.
2. Target (across the street from Kohl's) - Doors open at 4am so we would go there after Kohl's.
3. Best Buy (Hawthorne) - Doors open at 5am so we got there at 415 am.
4. Best Buy (El Segundo) - Doors open at 5am so we got there right before they opened.

It was quite a morning. Personally, I was expecting to see less than 50 people or so waiting outside of these stores so I was blown away by what I saw when I drove up to Kohl's at 230 am. First, when I passed by Target, which didn't open until 4am, there must have been 500 people outside with blankets and chairs waiting to go in when they opened. Kohl's probably had 400 people outside and cars were steadily streaming into the parking lot. I immediately got nervous and excited at the shear number of people outside of these stores knowing that in a few minutes we would be sharing the gospel with them. Our plan was to start from the back of the line handing out Million Dollar Bill gospel tracts to the people in line and then preach the gospel to them as they stood in line after they had a chance to read the message on the gospel tracts. Up until about 6 months ago I would have never pictured myself as someone who would address a group of strangers by publicly declaring the gospel to them. Since then, God has been changing my heart in that area and giving me a burden to share the gospel with all creation. A lot of the change has to do with the way I see the early church living out their faith which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

When we got to Kohl's we passed out a lot of tracts and then Tony and I shared a message with the people in line. Tony started off showing people that God exists by pointing to creation as well as fulfilled prophecies in the Bible. I followed that up with God's Law, using the Ten Commandments to show people their sin before God and that they are in desperate need of a Savior, and then sharing the grace of God shown to us through Christ's death and resurrection. Tony then came back up and shared why so many people reject the gift (John 3:16-22) and encouraged them to repent and trust Christ today for salvation.

By the time we were done, there were probably an additional 200 people in line and we passed tracts out to them before we left. At Target, we distributed tracts to everybody in line and then one of the workers told us that we were not aloud to be there handing out literature. Rather than arguing with them, we decided to go to Best Buy since we had already had the opportunity to give tracts to everybody in line. At Best Buy, there were another 500-600 people in line and we spent about half an hour going through the line, talking to people and sharing the gospel with them. Our friend Carlos Ramos shared a short gospel message with the crowd and by then it was about 445. With 15 minutes left we went to the Best Buy in El Segundo and passed out tracts to the people standing in line right before they started letting people inside.

Overall, we probably distributed 2000 tracts with people on Black Friday. Most everybody took tracts and some even asked for extra to give to their family. We received some negative comments from a handful of people and also some very encouraging comments from other believers in line who thanked us for being out there sharing the gospel with people. At the end of the morning, we rejoiced that we were able to reach that many people and prayed for the seeds that were sown and for the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin, righteousness and judgment. I thank God for Black Friday and how Christians can take advantage of worldly gatherings to share the gospel with multitudes of people, especially ones who might not ever step foot into a gospel preaching church.

Below is an audio player and link to some of the audio from the message we shared with the people standing in line at Kohl's. I pray that it might be used to encourage you in your walk with Christ.



Link to Audio

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Connected Testimonies

Last night we had our regular outing at the RB Pier and were able to engage people in meaningful conversations about Christ. While we were out there I ran into a Brother named Frank who started a ministry called Connected Testimonies. I encourage you to check out there website and ministry and spread the word. It's based on Revelation 12:11:
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
Their goal is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost world and share the power of God to transform lives through the testimonies of people who have been born again and saved by Jesus Christ. It's always a blessing to see how God connects people and he connected us last night down at the Redondo Beach Pier. It's so encouraging to see how God gives people creative ideas to use things of this world to reach the lost for Jesus Christ!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tithing...The Final Frontier

Today’s devotional reading took us through Mark 12:41-44 and other parallel passages in the New Testament. Below, we read of the poor widow’s offering:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

Not only was this lady poor but she was a widow. This fact makes this story all the more amazing to me. In those days, being a widow meant your income supply was gone. As a widow, the source she had depended on to provide food, clothing and shelter was dead. She wasn’t bringing a tithe knowing that her husband would get paid again in two weeks, she brought all that she had to live on without having the security of a husband who would be providing for her needs in the days to follow.

This is one of the places in the Bible where I wish the story continued so we could see the amazing way that God provided for her. There's no question that God provided each and every need this widow had according to His glorious riches. And the same is true for us who trust in Him. God is faithful to His promises and "with the measure you give, the same will be measured back to you." Scripture's testimony is that she "put more into the treasury than all the others." God's perspective is different than ours. When I tithe, I think I know the value of what I'm giving, but what does God see? Is it more, is it less....only God knows. All I know is that my tithing should not be a "comfortable" act of obedience.

The Evidence Bible Commentary puts it this way:
It has been said that the wallet is the “final frontier.” It is the final area to be conquered—the last thing that comes to God in surrender. Jesus spoke much about money. He said that we cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). “Mammon” was the common Aramaic word for riches, which is related to a Hebrew word signifying “that which is to be trusted.” In other words, we cannot trust God and money. Either money is our source of joy, our great love, our sense of security, the supplier of our needs—or God is.

When you open your purse or wallet, give generously and regularly to your local church. A guide of how much you should give can be found in the “tithe” of the Old Testament: 10 percent of your income. Whatever amount you give, make sure you give something to the work of God (see Malachi 3:8–11). Give because you want to, not because you have to. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6,7), so learn to hold your money with a loose hand.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lessons from Luke

I was recently reading an update from the director at Heart Cry Missionary Society and was confronted with personal conviction in regards to the excuses in my life regarding the Great Commission. God has made it so very clear in His Word that we are to preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE. We are to GO into our neighborhoods, our jobs, our cities, our nation, and our world so that we might reach the lost for Jesus Christ!

Recently, our daily devotional readings brought us through Luke 14:18-20 and although I have read this passage many times before, it came alive to me this morning in a new and convicting way. Listen to the responses of these men:

“I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused… I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused…. I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come” (Luke 14:18-20).

These excuses are no different then what you would hear from three people today. What I thought of when I read these excuses was how similar they were to thoughts that have been in my mind at one time or another in my life. Similar excuses today might sound like: 1) I have a mortgage, debts to pay, and possessions I am not willing to let go of. 2) I am trying to start a business and “make it happen”, I need to invest my time here. 3) I am married, I have children, and I can’t go because of them. 4) I’ve invested too much time and energy into building a career to throw it all away and follow You.

These men weren’t even being called to go to a distant land but simply to come to a banquet, analogous to the Wedding supper, where men shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God. God is calling us to the same thing today. God is calling us to Follow Him, to go into the harvest field and labor for souls, to preach the good news to all creation and to give away all that we have for the sake of Christ. He is calling us to the greatest banquet of all time and we cling to what would amount to nothing in comparison. In Luke 18 we read about the rich young ruler and Jesus reminds us of an important truth.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:29-30.

God will give us more than we ever had before if we leave it behind for His sake. I have been reminded this morning that my excuses, what I consider sacrifices, are nothing in comparison to what God desires to give to those who leave it all behind for the sake of His Kingdom. I pray that God would help me to trust Him with my time, talent and resources and that I wouldn’t cling to possessions like the rich young ruler did.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sharing the Bread of Life


Matthew 14:15-21, 2 Kings 4:42-44
This morning’s devotional readings included Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:30-56, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-71 which tell the story of how Jesus fed the five thousand people in a deserted place with 5 loaves of bread. A similar story takes place in 2 Kings 4:42-44 in which God feeds a hundred men of God with twenty loaves of barley. In 2 Kings we read: “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he (Elisha) repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.”

In all the accounts, not only was there enough to feed the multitudes, but there was some left over. And there was enough leftover to fill 12 baskets…for 12 disciples. An important truth from these stories is that God doesn’t want us to take our fill of the Bread of Life and be satisfied. He has given us more than enough for ourselves and for those around us. Once we have partaken of the Bread of Life, we are to then take that Bread of life to our own starving multitudes. And Jesus leads the way by first showing his disciples how to feed the multitudes then giving them full baskets of their own to go and do the same.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Unsinkable Ship

"Inspired by The Evidence Bible"
I am sure that many, if not all of you are familiar with the story of the Titanic. The Titanic was ordered in July 1908 and completed in March 1912. It could hold 3547 people and was designed to include enough lifeboats to carry 4000 people if necessary. Unfortunately, on her maiden voyage from England to New York they only took enough lifeboats for 1178 people while there were 2227 people on board. Since the ship was designed to be “unsinkable” I guess the captain thought this potential risk was reasonable. Four days into the voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg and 2 hours and 40 minutes later, she sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking the lives of over 1500 people.

The reason I share this story with you today is because there are many lessons to be learned and parallels that can be drawn between the story of the Titanic and our own lives. Just like the Titanic, all of us are slowly sinking into the cold grip of death. The Bible says that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) On that Day, all of us will be called to give an account of our lives and everything we have done will be judged in light of God’s perfect Law, the Ten Commandments. Like the iceberg that sank the Titanic, God’s Moral Law, the Ten Commandments are like Ten Huge Icebergs that will take the entire world down to an icy grave.

To see evidence that we are sinking, all we have to do is look at a few of the Ten Commandments. Jesus said that if you look with lust at another person, you commit adultery with them in your heart and have violated the 7th Commandment. If you’ve ever told a lie, you have violated the 9th Commandment. If you have ever stolen anything, you have violated the 8th Commandment. If you have ever used God’s name in vain to express disgust or excitement, you have blasphemed and violated the 3rd Commandment. If you have ever hated someone, Jesus says you are a murderer at heart and violated the 6th Commandment. If you’ve failed to always put God first in your life you’ve broken the 1st Commandment.

Just like with the Titanic, it only takes one iceberg to bring down the ship. If you've violated one commandment, the Bible says you are guilty of violating all of them. If you stay on the “ship” all of your sins will come out as evidence of your guilt and you will be found guilty on Judgment Day. The punishment God has prescribed for violating His commandments is eternity in hell. God, however, is rich in mercy and does not want anyone to go to hell. Because of His great love, He has provided a way for us to be saved through Jesus Christ, the one the Bible calls the “Captain of our salvation” (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus Christ took our punishment upon himself through suffering and dying on the cross so that we can have a place in the Lifeboat of God's salvation. We violated God’s Law and Jesus paid our fine. Then he rose from the dead, forever defeating sin and death. The moment you repent and trust in Him alone for your salvation, God will forgive you of your sins and grant you the gift of eternal life.

One of the saddest parts of the Titanic story is that even after hitting the iceberg, many people never got into the lifeboats because of the “apparent safety” of the ship. According to eyewitness accounts, some of the lifeboats were less than half full as they left the Titanic. The first lifeboat that left had 28 people in it out of a capacity of 65. The Bible urges us to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Don’t be like the people on the Titanic that refused to believe the ship was sinking and failed to enter into the lifeboats provided. Those people perished because of their misguided faith in the “unsinkable” ship. Don’t be like them. Believe the Gospel today. Repent and trust Jesus Christ today and God will never let you down.

If you have any questions about what you read, the Bible, salvation, Jesus Christ, or anything else, please leave a message.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Righteousness and Wisdom

"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise."
Proverbs 11:30

As a new parent, when I read this proverb about a tree of life, my mind is initially drawn to the idea of a family tree. How precious is the promise that the fruit of a righteous person is a tree of life, especially when it comes to raising our children. As a Christian parent, the number one desire I have for my daughter is for her to be born again and to be granted eternal life through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Eternal Life that I am hoping for my child by God's grace. If God blesses me with more children in the future, the hope for them will be the same. The same goes for grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. In the end, my prayer is that the life my wife and I are leading will be a righteous life in God's sight and that the fruit of our life will lead to a tree of life for our entire family.

This proverb has application beyond our family as well.  In addition to our family it applies to the friends, neighbors, coworkers, and the strangers we come into contact with on a daily basis. Not only do I desire to see my family saved for eternity, but I desire for the strangers around me to also know Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life He offers to us. Living a righteous life is something that can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. The proverb then goes on to say that he that wins souls is wise. Every soul is of infinite worth to God whether it be our children, our friends, co-workers, neighbors or strangers. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all things will be added to you.

Here are some practical tips to help cultivate a lifestyle of evangelism:  
1) Pray that God uses you to reach the lost.
2) Ask for wisdom to use the time you have effectively for evangelism. Treat every day as though it were your last opportunity to share Christ. One day you will be right.
3) Study how to answer every man who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15; see Proverbs 16:23).
4) Find a “fishing hole” and go there regularly. Don’t wait for sinners to approach
you; go to them (Mark 16:15).
5) Use any anxiety as a catalyst to drive you to prayer and trust in God. Don’t let the fear of man paralyze you (Philippians 1:28). You will realize the spiritual nature of fear after you conquer it. Confront it with the Word of God—“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” 
(Adapted from http://www.evidencebible.com/.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why Use Tracts?

"To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians ).
Why use Tracts? Good question. The best answer I can give is that we should use them because God uses them! I remember when I became a Christian and I came to know and understand the gospel through attending Calvary Chapel Camarillo. I remember reading a gospel tract after church one Sunday that had a prayer of confession and repentance on it. I read it over and over until I could recite it from memory and then I did just that. I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, to turn from my sin in repentance, and to walk in the newness of life God had given me as a child of His. It was part of God's sovereign work in my life to save me.
I first used and learned about gospel tracts in college as I learned to share my faith through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. I continue to use them today because they are great "ice breakers" to help you start a spiritual conversation with someone you don't know. Even with friends, neighbors, or coworkers, I find that they are a great reminder to leave with them after talking with them about Jesus. For instance, I have an officemate at work that I give different tracts to on occasion and he has told me that he has shared them with his wife and son, all of whom are not Christians.
Here are a few of the reasons why I like to use tracts.
1. They speak clearly and they get right to the point.
2. They always stick to the Message and they never get distracted with rabbit trails.
3. They never argue or get angry trying to convey their message.
4. They never get tired and give up.
5. They are always ready to witness to its readers at any time and at any location.
6. They can get inside of a house and stay there, even in secret places where you cannot gain entrance, to be revealed at just the right time.
7. They convey a message that's never lost, and can be read over and over again by many people, long after you are gone and forgotten.
8. They can do a great work for God and lead many people to the knowledge of Christ.
9. ...Because God uses them.
Also, if you don't feel comfortable handing someone a gospel tract directly, they are great to leave in places where you know people will see them and pick them up. Here are a few ideas of places you can hand out or place tracts:
1. Sporting events
2. Book stores (Religious Section)
3. Barnes and Nobles.
4. Newspaper stands (leave one between each newspaper when you reach in for yours)
5. Pay phone Phonebooks (especially under "abortion" and "adult entertainment" sections)
6. Shopping carts
7. Clothes pockets in stores
8. Bills - return with your payment
9. Along with a generous tip
10. Drop in bags
11. Lobbies
12. Inside restaurant menus
13. Drive Thru Cashiers
14. State or County Fairs
15. Restroom stalls
16. Rest areas
17. Diaper changing stations
18. ATM machines
19. Credit card slots (ie. at gas stations)
20. Junk mail envelopes
21. Elevators
22. Hotel dressers and drawers
23. Magazine racks
24. Newspaper racks
25. Waiting rooms of doctors' offices and hospitals
26. On seats at airports,subways, and bus stations
27.  Plane seat pockets
29. Sleeves in DVD Jackets
30. Cabs
31. Laundromats
32. Library
33. Truck stops
34. Cases of Beer
35. Plastic brochure
36. Holder by your door
37. Movie Rentals
38. Napkin holders
39. EBay shipments.
40. Pin to bulletin boards in public places
41. Trick-or-Treat Packages (use Halloween time for God's glory!)
42. Everywhere
Be creative. You never know who might come along and read a tract that you have placed somewhere. If nothing else, leaving a tract for someone to pick up will encourage you to pray for someone. Have fun with it and ask God to use every tract you handout or leave somewhere. You never know who you might meet in heaven one day because of a tract you handed out or left somewhere.
Charles Spurgeon once stated, "When preaching and private talk are not available, you need to have a tract ready . . . Get good striking tracts, or none at all. But a touching gospel tract may be the seed of eternal life. Therefore, do not go out without your tracts."
Some of my favorite tracts can be found at the following places online: Living Waters, Custom Tract Source, Chick Cartoon Tracts.
If you have creative ideas or ways you like to use tracts, please let me know. And always remember that whatever you do, do it for the Glory of God!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Every Day

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Matthew 9:37-38

Yesterday was a great day! I spent most of the day at home with my beautiful wife and daughter. Being Labor Day, I praised God for the work he has blessed me which he uses as a vehicle of provision for me and my family. I thank God for the education he blessed me with and the opportunity to design spacecraft for a living. It is a challenging job that stimulates my mind, keeps me on my toes creatively, and allows me the opportunity to minister to the people he has placed in my workplace. Too many times I take my job for granted and forget that it is not just a place I go to pay the bills, but it is a place God has placed me for His eternal purposes. While I spend my day “laboring” for wages I need to be mindful that God has called me, and all Christians for that matter, to be soul laborers in the harvest field.

While our daughter was taking her mid-morning nap my wife asked me if I could “Shark” the kitchen floor (in case you are wondering what that means, click here)? “I thought you would never ask,” I responded as tears of joy began to well up in my eyes. My wife knew I was playing at this point and we both began laughing. She then reminded me that after all, “it is Labor Day!” It was a great morning and we got some good cleaning done.

As I thought about Labor Day, Jesus’ words from Matthew 9:37-38 came to my mind. In these verses, Jesus tells His disciples that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few and to pray that the Lord will send out Laborers into the harvest field. This is a double-edged sword in the sense that if we are not laborers, we won’t obey this command, because our conscience will condemn us. The devil therefore gets two victories: not only does the professing Christian not labor in the harvest fields, but neither does he pray for laborers. On the other hand, the Christian who labors in the harvest fields as Jesus commands will tend to pray more regularly for other laborers to be raised up because they know how important it is and have a similar passion to reach the lost.

This isn’t the spirit in which Labor Day was founded, but it was a great reminder for me. For the first time in my life, I thought of Labor Day as a great day to spend some time going into the harvest fields to proclaim the good news to people. Being a South Bay resident, the city of Hermosa Beach offers a great venue to do just that every Labor Day weekend. Known as Fiesta Hermosa, crowds in the 100,000 range gather to peruse the street vendors, listen to music, drink alcohol and hang out with friends.

So, after sharking the kitchen floor and taking out the trash, I ventured down to Fiesta Hermosa to do a different kind of laboring. My wife and I had been down there Sunday afternoon and I went down again Monday to meet up with some fellow laborers. In less than an hour, I had the opportunity to talk to several people about eternity and was encouraged to hear accounts of people who had trusted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior this Labor Day! The harvest is truly plentiful and I encourage you to make every day a labor day!

In the words of A.W. Pink: “It is true that many are praying for worldwide revival. But it would be more timely, and more scriptural, for prayer to be made to the Lord of the harvest, that He would raise up and thrust forth laborers who would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are calculated to bring about a revival.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Watchmen

In Ezekiel 33:1-11 we read about the Word of the Lord coming to Ezekiel and calling him to be a watchman for the people of Israel. Can the Word of the Lord come to us today? Sure it can, read your Bible. So often, people are looking for special revelation from the Lord before understanding the revelation given to us in HisWord. There are many voices in the world competing for our attention, so it’s important to know God’s Word and use it as a filter to make sure that what we are listening to and following is in line with His Word.

Back in the day, there was no CNN or Satellite imagery to warn us of impending danger. Walls were built around cities and Watchmen were placed on the walls to warn people by sounding a trumpet. They would look for dust clouds in the distance, horses coming over the hills, etc. It wasn’t their job to put armor on the people or make their decision about the battle, but simply to warn them of the danger ahead.

Now, what character qualities would you want a watchman to have? Some that come to mind include: alert, paying attention, not lazy, energetic, courageous, humble, not worrying what others think about you, boldness, standing for what is right, focused, good eyesight, and honesty (not sounding false alarms). Today, if you are a Christian, this it is our job to be watchman for the people God has placed around us.

Being a watchman is a serious responsibility in God’s sight. God told them that if they fail to do their job warning people, the people’s blood will be on their head. This is a serious duty not to be avoided. Over the years, I have wrestled with my own dodging of this responsibility and not taking it half as seriously as Almighty God does.

If we see people walking through life and fail to warn them of their sin God says very specifically that he will require their blood on our head. If God takes it that seriously, we need to blow the trumpet, we need to sound the truth and give them the warning. It is their choice what to do with that truth, how to prepare for the battle ahead, but it is our job to be obedient to the Lord.

In Acts 20:30-31 we read about the Apostle Paul: Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Paul warned with tears day and night for three years! Paul knew it was his job to be obedient and to let the chips fall where they fall.

Are you warning anybody? Are you sounding the trumpet? We all walk past people every day. I ask myself, when is it finally going to matter to me to the point that I don’t care what that man thinks about me, I care what God thinks about me and I care about that soul, and I’m going to walk into their life and speak truth to them. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that it is appointed once for man to die and then face the judgment. We know what’s waiting around the corner for someone who dies without the Lord Jesus Christ. We can see it in the distance. So what are we doing to warn them about it?

Friends, we need to blow the trumpet. We need to warn people. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11); none. We need to stand up and be bold. 100 years from now, we’re all dead anyways. Understand what matters. Souls matter to God. He proved it on the cross 2000 years ago. Remember, we warn people, it’s their choice what to do with the warning. But we should be dedicated to not letting a single person take their last breath without knowing and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reach Out This Summer

And [Jesus] said unto them,
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”
Mark 16:15

I’m learning that summer is a great time to do some witnessing. School is out for most students and many people go on vacation. Especially living by the beach, many of the places you go will be full of folks to talk with. Whether you go to the enjoy the parks, festivals, malls, or beaches — it is a great time to reach out.

This past weekend I went down to the Huntington Beach Pier with some friends to meet people and try to plant some seeds with them. Little did I know there was a major surf contest going on and it was packed. I have seen some pretty crowded beach scenes in Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach, but the crowds down in Huntington this past weekend made those places look like ghost towns in comparison.

The sun was out, the surf looked good, and there was music, volleyball and exhibitionists putting on shows. During the few hours we were there we talked to several people and shared the gospel with them (Click for Audio). For me, each time I go out witnessing, for the most part, I don't really know what "ultimate impact" I had on any of the individuals I met. Sometimes, it seems like people are tracking with what you're saying and other times it seems like everything you are saying is falling on deaf ears. Either way, only God knows how His Word will work on their soul after we leave. No doubt, the conversations will have some impact on them, but the extent of that impact is between God and the individuals. My goal is merely to be obedient to the Lord when talking with them.

We are commanded by God to live our faith. That means our faith will result in works. But God also commands us to talk our faith when He provides us an opportunity to speak to a prepared heart, a heart He has prepared to hear what He wants you to tell them. That command is throughout the New Testament, starting with Jesus’ command, quoted at the start of this post, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” He then goes on to encourage Timothy “do the work of an evangelist.”

I encourage you to preach the word this summer. The lost must hear to be saved. The lie must be drowned out by the truth. The darkness must be drenched in the light. So go. Preach strong. Tell someone the truth. Speak it in love. And have a great summer reaching the lost wherever you go!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

As Usual....


Acts 14:1 says "At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed." 

Acts 17:2 says: "As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures… "

Friday night I had a great time seeing and ministering with Eric, Tony, Jeff, Carlos, Arlette, John, and Helen. If you are ever able to join us I encourage you to come out on Fridays with us to the RB Pier. We usually get there at 5pm and leave by 630pm.

This past Friday I talked with 4 young adults just hanging out. We had a good conversation and they were thankful we were out there and that I stopped to talk with them. Near the end of our conversation one of them asked me if I was from a specific church. I told them I wasn't, but the fact that they associated what I was doing with a particular church in the area says a lot about that church.

As the above verses indicate, it was Paul's "usual" and "customary" business to go and speak about Jesus. It is what he was known for because he did it so regularly. After reading these verses, it made me wonder what my "usual" business looks like and to make sure that I am always seeking to bring glory to God through my thoughts, words, and actions.

To listen to the audio click here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Birthday First

Yesterday was my birthday. It was a birthday full of firsts. It was my first birthday being 29 years old! It was my first birthday being a father! It was my first birthday where my wife got me a really (and I mean REALLY) expensive present! It was also my first birthday where I got to share the gospel with a stranger!

After I got home from work my wife and I decided to walk down to the Whole Foods shopping center on PCH and Beryl. I wanted to get a smoothie and enjoy a nice walk with my wife and daughter. On the way down to the store we passed by a gentleman named Tyler and before I could say anything to him my wife was already saying “hi” to him. Apparently they had met a few weeks prior at the local grocery store. Tyler is a professional Volleyball player who just participated in the Hermosa Beach open and will be competing in the Manhattan Beach open in August with the AVP Tour. He plays Volleyball every day down at the beach and also teaches lessons. That sounds pretty fun! He asked me if I played and that he knows someone who is about 5 feet tall who is an absolutely awesome volleyball player. That was encouraging since I thought I was always way too small to be any good at volleyball. I might take him up on lessons sometime since he offered to teach if I'm interested.

After talking to him for a bit, I handed him a gospel tract and I asked him if he had ever received one of them before. He told me he had but had never taken the time to read it. It was a million dollar bill with the million dollar question on the back, “If you were to die, would you go to heaven?” His answer was that “he hoped so”, but wasn’t sure. He believed in heaven and hell and believed that a person had to be good to go to heaven. He considered himself a good person so I decided to take him through some of the Ten Commandments. He told me he had never lied or stolen anything in his life, which I found pretty unbelievable. He did admit to blasphemy, adultery of the heart, murder of the heart, as well as dishonoring his parents. By the standard of the Ten Commandments, he recognized that God would see him as guilty on Judgment Day and that he would have to go to hell because he had broken those commandments.

He told me that everyone had done those things so no one would be innocent on Judgment Day. That is exactly right according to Romans 3:23 and Romans 3:10-12. If everyone had done those things, he thought he would be ok, but I reminded him that God will deal with each person individually. Just as an earthly judge has to deal with each lawbreaker individually, so God won’t look at other people and compare you to them; He will judge us in light of the Ten Commandments and each person will be judged according to what they have done (Romans 2:6). And even if you don’t break all the commandments, the Bible says that if you are guilty in one point, you are guilty of breaking the entire Law (James 2:10). It is as if you are hanging by a chain with ten links and if just one link breaks you’re going to fall.

Tyler seemed to understand the justice of God and was concerned that if he died today and stood before God he would be guilty and the punishment would be eternity in hell. I was then able to share with Him what God did for us so that we wouldn’t have to go to hell. I explained how God sent His Son Jesus Christ to take our penalty upon himself by dying in our place and that if we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ to save us then God can legally let us go on Judgment Day because the penalty has already been paid by Jesus Christ. We have to receive that gift by faith, turn from our sin (repent), and trust in Him alone to save us.

He thanked me for talking with him and I gave him my contact info in case he has questions about what we talked about. He told me he had a Bible at home and was going to read it later that night. It also turns out that he only lives about 10 houses away from me. I encouraged him to read the Gospel of John and to get right with God as soon as possible. I hope to see him again sometime soon.

Jesus said "it is more blessed to give than to receive" and I am thankful He gave me the opportunity to share the greatest gift of all with Tyler on my birthday.
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