Important Messages

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.