Monday, January 31, 2011

Trotting in the Toddler (Abortion Tactic)

From Alvin:

“This morning I was sharing the law with someone who was just about to commit a murder (abortion) (literally in the street in front of the abortion mill).  She acknowledged it was wrong, but she said God/Jesus will forgive her if she does it, and she gave David's sin of adultery and murder as an example.  What do you recommend saying to someone who tells you this?”

Great question Alvin!

Here we have a young lady that gives an admission to two crucial criteria. (1) Abortion is murder and (2) God is the Ultimate Authority. Unfortunately she deals with God’s Authoritative Word in an underhanded fashion and this must be made known to her.

It is truly ironic that she appeals to the historic event of David and Bathsheba as her justification for committing and abortion because given the above circumstances we ought to play the part of a Nathan! Remember, this is not a matter or showing you what to say or think but how to think and respond. For those of you that have been following my previous posts remember that my hope for you is that after seeing the treatment of such issues you don’t memorize what to say but how to think about such issues.

Every chain of thought is ultimately and inescapably connected to some foundation. That is to say that every explanation has an explanation of it’s explanation which relies upon more explanations until you finally arrive at the ultimate explanation or Ultimate Authority (the foundation). For the Christian our Ultimate Authority is God and His revelation.

The young lady above has labeled herself as one of us who acknowledge God’s Word as the Ultimate Authority yet willfully steps forward in contradiction to it! I think of Jesus’ Words “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me” (Mk. 7:6). You cannot premeditate a horrible sin such as murdering an unborn child and then use David’s adultery as your catch all. Such a person ought to heed Paul’s words: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5).

In responding to this young lady we ought to reveal her error the same way Jesus did with the Pharisees and Nathan did with David... Ask questions that expose the double standard and the dangerous condition of the heart!


Aborter: I acknowledged abortion is wrong but, Jesus will forgive me if  I do this. After all just look at David's sin of adultery and murder!

Christian: Oh I see. I do remember the story so how about you play David and I will play Nathan.

Aborter: Uh...What?

Christian: Young lady...Let us suppose I walked up to you today asking for your advice. I tell you, I am a Christian and I am having thoughts about murdering my grandmother who lives with my family -She is a real burden to our household- could I plan this thing out and just do it?

Aborter: Are you crazy? Absolutely not!

Why not?

Aborter: Because that is murder you psycho! You can’t just go around murdering people and think you will be OK with God! Jesus is not just some “get out of jail free card!”

Christian: I would never really do such a thing... But as you stand here, you play the part of the psychodikt man! I am very concerned for you! If you could really premeditate what you recognize to be murder and go through with it expecting to be covered by the blood of Christ it is a wonder if you really are covered at all to begin with?

 Aborter: Well I am a Christian!

Christian: Friend please, if you claim to be a Christian let me open the Bible and show you some things that speak perhaps of the very condition you are in!


At this point I personally would take her through 2 Cor 13:5, Matt 7:16-23; Mk 7:6; Heb. 10:26-27.  As Christians we are suppose to be good soldiers of Christ who are prepared (2 Tim. 2:2-5, 15) to use God living Word (Heb 4:12) as our device to bring every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5)! Don’t be lazy and don’t settle for mediocrity! Be a good soldier and prepare for battle in such a way that will please Him who has enlisted us! (2 Tim. 2:2-5)

"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries."

Heb. 10:26-27

Posted by: Chad Williams "Street Apologetics" 

How To Justify Sailing Past Sinners

If you care about the lost, you will probably identify with me when I tell you that I don’t like evangelism. This will be because, like me, you have a continual battle with your fears. You are aware that you are commanded to tell people things they don’t want to hear, and that makes you feel uncomfortable. Very. Spurgeon called evangelism an irksome (an annoying) task.

Recently I realized that I hadn’t witnessed to anyone for almost a week. This was because bad weather had stopped us from doing our weekly open air preaching at Huntington Beach, here in California. Despite the annoyance of the task, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t reach out to the unsaved. I would be like a professed firefighter, who let people burn to death, because I preferred air conditioning to the smell of smoke and the heat of the flames. So I asked God to give me someone with whom I could share the gospel.

As I peddled my bike to the ministry, I saw three workmen standing at the back of a truck. I immediately knew that these three were hardened men, who no doubt spent most of their day blaspheming God. They hated Christians, and the last thing they wanted to happen that morning was for some religious nutcase ramming religion down their throats.

As I sailed passed, the thought also entered my over imaginative mind that this was a group of three men, and it was best to witness to people while they are alone. I thought, “What am I talking about!” and slammed on my brakes so hard the rubber tire skidding on the sidewalk. I turned the bike around and went back to share the gospel.

Two of them didn’t speak English, but one named Brian did. He was 17 years old, had a Bible at home that he hadn’t read for some time, his parents were Catholics, and he was very concerned that if he died that day, he would end up in Hell.

So how do you approach three workmen and talk about the things of God? I began with, “How are you doing? Did you get your Trillion Dollar bill?” When he took the tract, I asked for his name, told him mine, and then quickly followed with, “It’s a gospel tract. What do you think happens when someone dies?”

When he gave his thoughts about Heaven, etc., I asked him if he thought he was good enough to go there. He said he was. I went though some of the Ten Commandments to show him God’s perfect standard, and that’s when he realized he was heading for Hell. Then I shared the cross, repentance and faith in Jesus. He was very grateful I went back, and I was sure glad I did.

So the next time you struggle with fear, take comfort that you are not the only one, and keep in mind that a wise man once said--“Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the conquering of it.” So ignore your fears, and do it anyway.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open-Air in a Hospital Chapel

On today's episode of On the Box, we answered a question from the mailbag regarding the distribution of gospel tracts in hospitals. During that segment I briefly shared about a time when I open-aired in a hospital chapel.

Most hospitals have non-denominational chapels. About 2 1/2 years ago, my friend, Dru, was at an area hospital. The occasion was the birth of his fourth child. While at the hospital, Dru discovered that the hospital provides a live television feed in every hospital room, of the hospital chapel.

Dru and I went to the hospital a few days later, June 27, 2008. The acoustics in the chapel were very good. When I began preaching, we were the only people in the chapel.

About half way through my message, two ladies entered the chapel and sat toward the back. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they weren't expecting to walk into the middle of a sermon. I made sure to reiterate the Law so that the ladies would hear the Gospel in its proper context.

When I finished, I sat down for a few minutes, and Dru and I prayed. I thanked Dru for finding such a wonderfully creative way to reach people with the Law and the Gospel. It was a real blessing to share the moment with him.

I wonder who heard the Law and the Gospel that day. I know the two ladies in the chapel did. But how many more heard from their hospital beds? How many of those who heard will I one day see in heaven? I can't wait to find out!

Here's the audio of my hospital chapel open-air.

If you have difficulty with the player, you can click here to listen to the audio.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Your View On Abortion Is Sickening!"

We received the following email in response to recent episode of "On the Box," in which we discussed the recent indictment of an abortionist, on eight counts of murder.

"I couldn't help but notice views on abortion. You all seem to be very convinced that abortion should be illegal, no matter what.

"What if a woman was raped, incest was involved, or the woman has a high risk of dying in child birth? Then that should be a good reason to go with an abortion. What if a teen aged girl was raped? Why should the government or anyone else tell her "You have to have the baby!" That to me is disgusting. Can you honestly look at a pregnant teenage girl, who’s a victim of rape, and tell her that [she] must bear the child because your Bible tells you so!?! As a Christian myself, a Congregationalist to be exact, wouldn't someone like Jesus understand that if a little girl was brutally raped, and got pregnant, she should have the right to decide whether or not to keep the child? These kinds of situations happen all the time in American, and around the world. In countries governed under religious law, such as Muslim nations, abortion is illegal, no matter what. Rapes happen all the time, but unlike here in America, the girl is forced to have the child, even if the girl is as young as 12 years old.

"I can understand that abortion is wrong when used as a form of birth control, but other than that, I'm mostly pro-choice. Rape, incest, or high risk of death during child birth should be a good excuse for an abortion. I'm sorry, but I lost so much respect for you all. Please, think for rape victims, incest victims, and young girls who are just far too young to physically go through childbirth. Your thinking is like that of someone living during the dark ages. It's sickening to me.

"If you guys decide to respond to this, please, just answer one question for me, whether is by an email response or on an episode you post on YouTube, I don't care. My question is, if you could change the abortion laws in America, how would you change them? Pretend you're a politician running for public office, etc." ~ Francis

Francis: thank you for your email and your candor.

Rape and incest are grievous sins against God. So, too, is fornication (sex outside of marriage). And murder is also a sin against God.

Francis, by your own admission, that which is carried in a woman’s womb is a child, a person, created in the image of God. Even the secular, non-Christian science community has long-since come to terms with this reality. Therefore, in the cases of rape, incest, or for any other reason, the premeditated termination of an unborn child’s life is murder.

You ask about situations in which the life of the mother may be in jeopardy. In such cases, the doctor, whose Hippocratic Oath states, in part, "Above all, I must not play at God," should do everything in his or her power to save both the mother and the child; because they are both lives created in the image of God. This is also the responsibility of the parents, of the child--to do everything they can to save the life of the child.

Statistically, "abortion because of danger to the life of the mother" situations account for less than a fraction of 1% of all abortions. The birth of our first child was a difficult one for both my wife and my daughter. If the doctor had come to me and said, "Mr. Miano, both your child and your wife are at risk. I don't think we can save both of them." My initial response would be, "Doctor, do everything you can to save both of them."

If the doctor came back to me and said, "We've done everything we can. We've exhausted every medical option at our disposal. But only one can survive;" then I would make the very difficult decision with the help of my wife, my family, and the Lord. I would make the decision knowing in such a situation there is no "best option;" only painful and tragic ones.

Francis, you asked, "Wouldn't someone like Jesus understand that if a little girl was brutally raped, and got pregnant, she should have the right to decide whether or not to keep the child?"

Let's be clear. The murder of an unborn child is a forgivable sin. Those who repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be forgiven all their sins—past, present, and future. If you are reading this and you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you have had an abortion, or you are a man who was an accessory to the murder of an unborn child by suggesting to or compelling a woman to have an abortion, please know that there is forgiveness for your sins, through Jesus Christ. Turn to Christ and live.

No, Francis. Jesus would not understand, in the manner you suggest. He would neither condone nor turn a blind eye to the sin of murder. As many others have said, "Hardship is not an excuse for homicide." While God is loving, merciful, and kind; He is also holy, righteous, and just. All sin is detestable in His eyes; and to suggest that God would overlook sin, any sin, including the murder of the unborn, is to cheapen His grace and, ultimately, create a false god in your mind to suit yourself, which is idolatry.

Francis, your last question is how would I change the laws regarding abortion, if I were an elected official. I would seek to have abortion outlawed and categorized as murder; with the very rare and multi-faceted exception of medical emergencies in which a family, once every possible medical option has been weighed and tried (with abortion never being the default position) must make the very difficult decision about who shall live and who shall die.

I believe this is a biblical position and consistent with a Christian worldview, whereas your "pro-murder" position is not.

Thanks for writing, Francis.

For several months, now, we have been putting together a plan for a large-scale evangelistic project, which centers on the abortion issue. We are not ready to disclose any details at this time. Francis’ email drives home for me both the necessity and urgency of this project. So, stay tuned for more details.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Is This 'Hell-Fire' Preaching?"

In response to a segment on the January 24, 2011 episode of "On the Box," we received the following questions via email.

"I noticed that Marcus seemed to not have much of an audience while preaching. Granted a crowd would seem to make us look less weird, however, should that matter? If we basically share the way Marcus did, could that not be considered, Hell-fire and Brimstone preaching? Yes I sensed his concern and passion, however, is it an effective approach?" ~ John, Oregon

Great questions, John.

The video John is referencing is a video of Marcus Pittman. Marcus, an Ambassadors' Academy team leader. In the video, Marcus is in Battery Park (NY), standing atop a short concrete wall, preaching the Law and the Gospel to people hanging out in the area, or simply passing by.

John's first question is in regards to how an open-air preacher appears to his or her audience and whether or not that matters. The answer is, well, yes and no.

To a lost and dying world, I don't think open-air preachers look any more or less weird drawing a crowd than they do not drawing a crowd. Let's face it. To many people, open-air preaching seems odd. What was commonplace (open-air preaching) to people inside and outside the church, only a hundred years ago, is not seen by many as normative. Be that as it may, open-air preaching is biblical and has stood the test of time for more than 2,000 years. So, in that sense, we ought not worry about "looking weird" to those within eye or ear shot of open-air preaching.

That being said, the open-air preacher ought not, by their words or demeanor, seek to be offensive simply to get a reaction out of people. The gospel is offensive enough to lost people (1 Cor. 1:18) without inappropriate conduct on the part of the preacher adding to the offense. So, in that sense, we should be concerned about how we, as open-air preachers, come across to our audience. Granted, some people are so offended by the gospel message and hate Jesus Christ so much, one could be the nicest person on earth while open-air preaching and still offend some. But the open-air preacher should always be aware of his or her overall demeanor, tone of voice, and rhetoric; and how they sound, not only to themselves, but to others.

John's second question asked whether or not preaching without intentionally drawing a crowd, as Marcus did in the video, is considered "Hell-fire and brimstone" preaching. The answer to that question is no.

Marcus' presentation of the Law and the Gospel was measured and balanced. Yes, he was loud. Marcus has one of the biggest voices in the open-air preaching community. But he is raising his voice to be heard, not because he is angry. Sometimes I will tell my listeners that I am raising my voice because I cannot use amplification (if applicable) and because I care about them and I want them to hear what I have to say.

While some, again inside and outside the church, may consider Marcus' style of open-air preaching as "Hell-fire and brimstone" preaching, you don't hear Marcus calling people names. You don't see him angrily pointing at people. What you see is Marcus speaking the truth in love.

John's last question: is this kind of preaching effective? In a word...absolutely!

While Marcus does not have a crowd of people standing directly in front of him, people are listening. One heckler standing behind Marcus engaged him. One man off in the distance told Marcus to take off his glasses so he could see Marcus' eyes. And there was an untold number of people passing by and standing within earshot that heard what Marcus had to share.

I remember one night preaching on Brand Boulevard, in Glendale, CA. The crowds were very small. I had turned down the volume on my amplification after finishing an open-air. Shortly thereafter, as I began to preach again, a lady came out of a nearby restaurant. She walked directly to the box on which I stood and politely asked, "Could you please turn the volume back up. I'm having a hard time hearing you in the restaurant." So, you never know just how many people are listening to the preaching of the gospel, in the open-air.

The way Marcus was preaching the gospel, as well as open-air preaching in general, is a wonderful tool for others to initiate one-to-one conversations. I (and other open-air preachers can attest to this, too), have heard people several minutes after the preaching, and a good distance away from the preacher, talking about the preaching. So, if you are in the area when open-air preaching is taking place, listen to the conversations in the area and see if there is an opportunity to contact someone and ask, "What do you think about what that guy (or gal) has to say?"

So, in that sense, open-air preaching in the manner in which Marcus did it in the video is effective. But it is effective in another way.

Open-air preaching is effective--regardless of the size of the crowd, regardless of whether or not the preacher tries to draw a crowd, preaches to a static line of people, or just simply preaches to whoever may hear. Open-air preaching is effective because it is an act of worship on the part of the biblical open-air preacher. Open-air preaching is effective because it lifts up and exalts the name of Jesus Christ. Open-air preaching is effective because it is an act of obedience toward God, as well as an act of love for God and for people.

Do You Like Metaphors?

Metaphors are a wonderful means of communicating biblical truths. You can easily spot them because they usually contain the word "like," but not like it is used in the popular culture--"like totally" (I once counted a teenage girl’s use of "like" an amazing 82 times, in ten minutes).

Jesus once used three different metaphors to convey one biblical truth. He said that the Kingdom of God is like a woman who lost a coin. It was like a shepherd searching for a lost sheep, and it was like a prodigal son returning to his father.

I am about to use a few metaphors to communicate a biblical truth. See if you can spot the "like." Hopefully, it will help to hit home something that is very important.

There are four types of people in this world: unbelievers, hypocrites, believers, and disciples. These four categories are like four types of people after the tragic sinking of the Titanic. Some are drowning. Some are managing to stay afloat, but will drown in time. Some are in a lifeboat and they are talking among themselves and polishing brass, and some are reaching out to desperately reach drowning people.

In this great tragedy we call "humanity," we are surrounded by people who are dying. They are all around us. We call them "unbelievers." There are also hypocrites around us. These are people who name the name of Christ, but live in hypocrisy. In time, they will perish. Then there are the many believers. These people are not hypocritical. They read their Bibles, pray, go to church and do things that a Christian should, but they are not involved in what Spurgeon called the “irksome” task of evangelism. The fourth category are the relatively few disciples. These are those who are reaching out to the lost. To them, every unsaved human being is like someone who is drowning, and they desperately make every effort they can to reach them.

Let's look closely at the third category, and liken them again to people in a lifeboat. The ship’s captain courageously dived into the deathly cold water to save drowning people. From the freezing water he cries out to those in the safety of the boat, “Reach out and save those who are dying!” These people see and hear him, but they deliberately ignore what he says, and happily chatter among themselves as they polish the lifeboat's brass.

Here now is an important question for you. How would you describe the moral character of those people? Do you think that they love and respect the captain? Do they love and care about dying people? How would you categorize them--as kind, loving, obedient, disobedient, cold-hearted, cruel, or perhaps even evil?

In John 8:31-32, Jesus said "to those who believed on Him: If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed..." (italics added). Are you are a disciple of Christ? Are you disciplined to do what He tells you to do? Or do you just believe, but you don’t obey His Great Commission? Do you verbally share your faith? Do you reach out to the lost? Do you care about the unsaved? If you don't, how then would you categorize yourself--as kind, loving, obedient, disobedient, cold-hearted, cruel, or even evil?

The biggest moment for you in this life will be the moment you pass into eternity. Isn't that true? It is breath-takingly big. At that instant, you, of all things in the life, must be assured of your salvation.

After nearly 40 years of seeing this category of believers--who ignore the Captain of our salvation's command to reach the lost, I'm nervous that they may not be saved…or they may be saved, but only just be saved by the skin of their teeth.

Here's another metaphor to help drive home what I am trying to say. The contemporary world is like four people waiting to jump out of a plane. One isn't wearing a parachute. One is wearing one, but he has cut the main straps and it is hanging by a thread. The third man's parachute is very loose, and the fourth is very tight.

If you aren't sharing your faith, your parachute seems to be very loose, based on my understanding of Scripture. Maybe you are like the rich man who let Lazarus starve at his gate, like the servant who knew his lord's will, but didn’t do it, like the servant who buried his talent, and was called "wicked" by Jesus. You call Him "Lord," but fail to do what He tells you--to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. What do you think? Am I wrong? I hope so. This issue is too important for me to worry that I may offend you. It's not my job to examine you to see if you are in the faith. It's yours. Make sure you do that.

If you suspect that you are in this category, don't shake off conviction (a sense of guilt) by saying that evangelism isn’t your gifting. Imagine those in the lifeboat using that excuse for not reaching out to dying people. And don't make things more difficult for yourself by putting the cart before the horse. By that I mean that those who are truly saved, seek the lost because the love of God is in them. They delight to do God's will. They deny themselves daily. So this is what I would strongly suggest that you do. Get before the Lord right now and ask Him to forgive you for being hard-hearted about the lost, and plead with Him to give you a love that will swallow your fears. You will then have to do your bit. Study how to reach the lost. Deny yourself legitimate pleasures, and instead apply yourself to this irksome task of evangelism. Then, once you have all those things connected, let the horse of the love of God and love for the lost pull the cart, and take you where you are supposed to go.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My First Open-Air

Recently, while cleaning my office, I came across an envelope from a one-hour photo shop. It contained several photos of one-to-one conversations I had when I used to do street fishing for Way Of The Master Radio (now known as Wretched Radio). I started street fishing for Todd Friel, the host of Wretched Radio and Television back in October of 2006. It's hard to believe it has been almost four years since Todd asked me to participate in the show. I do miss street fishing with Todd, and I hope someday he decides to bring the segment back to the show.

As I flipped through the pictures, I came across the above photo. At first I didn't think much of it. I thought it was just another picture of me open-air preaching. But something about the photo held my attention. Then it hit me. The photo I held in my hand, the one my good friend Dale Jackson turned into to the piece of art you see here, was taken by either my wife, Mahria, or my youngest daughter, Amanda. It was taken during my first open-air. It was taken shortly after I climbed atop a box for the first time to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, outside the four walls of a church. The photo is undated, but it was taken during the summer of 2005.

I often share the story of my first open-air, during the first night of the Ambassadors' Academy. So, I thought I would share it, here, for the benefit of my readers. I hope by sharing the story other Christians will be encouraged to step out in faith and, as we like to say in evangelist circles, "break the sound barrier."

Prior to my first open-air, I had been distributing gospel tracts and going to places like local malls to engage people in conversation. I had recently published Take Up The Shield, which afforded me the opportunity to visit Living Waters and meet Ray Comfort and the Living Waters team. The publishing group that published my book also publishes many of Ray's books.

By God's grace, I began a friendship with Ray and Stuart "Scotty" Scott (Ray's fishing buddy for many years). Both men made themselves available to answer my questions about all aspects of evangelism, including open-air preaching. I traveled to Huntington Beach to listen to Ray preach. And I visited Scotty several times at his favorite fishing pond, at one of his local theaters.

As I spent time with these two godly preachers, my desire to open-air preach grew. The thought was both exciting and frightening. For what seemed like months, I vacillated about whether or not to climb atop a box to preach in the open-air. Scotty bore the brunt of my indecision, receiving frequent e-mails and phone calls, seeking his advice and encouragement. He was both patient and kind.

One afternoon during such a phone call, Scotty said, "Tony, just swallow your fears and do it!" There was something in the way Scotty said it that gave me the final push I needed. Now the question was where. Where would I preach my first open-air message?

I knew it wouldn't be in my own community. The reason for this was two-fold. First, Santa Clarita, being such a "planned" community, there are very few truly public places where people gather en masse. Second, while I thought I had worked up the courage to preach, there was no way I was going to preach in an area where deputy sheriffs I knew and with whom I worked might be called about the "crazy guy on the box."

So, I chose a location almost sixty miles from home--Marina Park in San Buenaventura. Marina Park is a quiet little park adjacent to the beach. I chose the park because I was familiar with the area and I was certain no one I knew would see the spectacle I was sure I would make of myself.

My team that cool and overcast Summer day consisted of my wife, Mahria, and my youngest daughter, Amanda (who was about ten-years-old at the time). Mahria is, by nature, a quiet person--one who enjoys being in the background, quietly and prayerfully supporting her more extroverted husband. Amanda, well, she takes after her mother.

We arrived at the park at about noon. Because of the unseasonably cool weather, there were few people in the park, which was just fine with me. I brought with us a canopy, table, Bibles, and tracts. It took a little time to set up our makeshift evangelism booth. I then spent the next hour working up the courage--the courage to do this.

"Mahria, I need you and Amanda to go gather a crowd for me."


"I need you to walk around the park and tell people that I'm going to give away money for answering trivia questions."

"Umm. No. We're here to support you, but we're not going to do that!"

Amanda's eyes were as big as saucers. Her eyes expressed a fear the two of us most definitely shared.

"Look! If you don't go draw a crowd, then we're going home! And we would have driven all the way out here for nothing!"

This was not a particularly spiritual or chivalrous high-point in my life.

Mahria took little Amanda by the hand and the two of them, literally dragging their feet, headed west toward the beach. I watched as my two ladies disappeared over the small rise that separated the park from the beach. For a moment, I foolishly wondered if I would ever see them again.

It was then that I had a not-so-spiritual conversation with the Lord.

"God, if you want me to open-air preach, you'll have a crowd standing in front of me, in the next ten minutes. If not, then I will take that as a sign that I should pack up and go home."

And I waited; half-hoping no one would come. I was scared.

Within a few short minutes of that unbiblical prayer, I noticed Mahria and Amanda in the distance walking back to where I stood. And then I saw something that scared me more than the thousands of angry people I encountered as a deputy sheriff, during the four days of senseless rioting in Los Angeles, in 1992.

People. Mostly teenagers. Lots of people. In my mind's eye, which, at the time, was distorted by fear, the people coming toward me over the rise looked like a colony of hungry ants marching to a picnic. What in my mind was a throng of people was, in actuality, thirty to forty people.

I would later learn that Mahria and Amanda, once they hit the beach, wandered into a "Sweet 16" birthday party. As soon as the group of young people heard that someone was giving away money, they moved the party from the beach to the park. Within moments, I was surrounded by a small crowd of smiling young faces. They weren't happy to see me. They were looking forward to separating me from my money.

There was no turning back, now. Mahria had a look on her face that said, "Well. Go on! You wanted a crowd. Here it is. You better preach." Since that life-changing moment, I have preached hundreds of times in the open-air. What happened next was a phenomenon that stays with me to this day, almost every time I climb atop the box.

With trivia questions and dollar bills in hand, I placed my right foot on the box. Then it happened. My right foot found its way to the top of the box relatively quickly; but my left seemed to be glued to the ground. It wouldn't move. It was as if the gravitational pull underneath my left foot was so strong, my foot felt like it weighed hundreds of pounds. And there I stood in that position, for what seemed like several minutes. In reality, it was probably less than a minute.

Today, the phenomenon appears far more spiritual. With Bible in hand (more often than trivia and cash these days), I place my right foot on the box. Then I begin to flip through my Bible, giving the appearance that I'm searching for a text from which to preach. That decision was made long before I stepped onto the box. What I'm doing, in reality, is buying time--buying time for my left foot to be released from the ground so I can finish climbing onto the box. It's that twinge of trepidation that is with me to this day, every time I preach in the open-air.

Eventually, my left foot joined the right atop the box; and I began to ask the crowd of people trivia questions. After relieving myself of several dollars, I asked the crowd if there was anyone present who would like to try to win $20. With a small roar, every young hand in the crowd shot in the air. I chose a young man in the crowd and took him through the Good Person Test.

And then I preached the gospel for the first time, in the open-air.

There was nothing eloquent about my preaching. I knew that I had preached "better" from the pulpit. My sermon was short and to the point. I ended my sermon much the same way I end almost every open-air sermon to this day.

"So please, repent. Turn from your sin. And by faith, and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior while God has given you time. And thank you for listening."

I did it! I preached the gospel in the open-air. I survived. No one tried to kill me. There was no weeping or gnashing of teeth from the crowd. In fact, what happened next both amazed and encouraged me.

The crowd did not disperse. They just stood there as if they were as amazed at what they heard as I was to have preached. I even motioned with my hands to the crowd, as if to shoo them away.

"I'm finished." I said. Yet they would not leave. Some of them wanted Bibles. Others had questions--not the typical kind of questions angry atheists ask for no other reason than to justify their unbelief; but real, sincere questions.

I fought back tears as I realized two things. First, I came to the realization that, for many years, I had sinned against God. I had sinned against Him by not proclaiming the gospel in the streets. I had thought that the Lord had destined me to fill a pulpit, to shepherd one of His flocks--one of the greatest callings a man can ever have placed upon his life. But I realized at that moment that there was another equally important calling--that of the herald of the gospel of Jesus Christ--that of the person who is called to proclaim the gospel in the highways and byways to a lost and dying world. Second, I knew at that moment that I had discovered my true calling in life. I finally knew how the Lord would have me serve Him for the rest of my life--as an evangelist.

After a little more time talking to the young people in the park, we packed up our stuff and headed home. Mahria would know best; but I don't think a smile left my face the entire way home. All I could think of was that crowd of people who had just heard the gospel, and where the Lord would have me preach next.

That was a little more than five years ago. Today, I can't think of anything else I would ever want to do with my life, other than preaching the gospel and encouraging and equipping other Christians to do the same.

Often times when people ask me how I'm doing, I answer, "Better than I deserve." It's a true statement. Whether the day is good or bad in my mind, by the grace of God I am always doing better than I deserve. To be allowed by my Lord, Savior, Creator, and King to herald His gospel in the streets is to be given a precious gift that is far and away more than I will ever deserve.

To my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be all the honor, praise, and glory. Him I proclaim!

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Is My Use of Money Tracts Sinful?"

"I work a second job at a large retail discount store and use that opportunity as one of my times to hand out tracts and witness. I keep the Million Dollar tracts sticking out of my back pocket, ready to hand out. This also brings some people to tell me I need to be careful because they could have grabbed the money sticking out of my back pocket with out my knowledge.

"My question is: Am I sinning by enticing people to covet or even steal the "money" sticking out of my pocket." ~ Tom, Delaware

Great question, Tom.

While I think, in the end, it is a matter of conscience; I don't believe you are sinning by carrying money tracts in your pocket, in such a way that others can see them--no more than driving a nice car makes you responsible for tempting someone to steal it.

However, if your goal is to have people see the tracts in order to initiate opportunities to hand them out, I would suggest carrying them in a front shirt pocket, as opposed to a back pants pocket. There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first reason is safety. You should always exercise care and caution when carrying anything that resembles money in such a way that others can see. A would-be thief or robber will not stop to ask you if the money is real before they take it from you--possibly by force. Having the money tracts in your back pocket puts you at a disadvantage since the would-be thief or robber will likely approach you from behind to take what they think is real money.

The second reason is tactical. By carrying the tracts in a front shirt pocket, it allows you to see who is looking at the money in your pocket. As your walking through the store or anywhere else, it's very easy to discern when someone is staring at your shirt pocket. You might find that you give out more tracts this way.

When I carry tracts in this manner and I notice someone looking at the bills in my pocket, I will smile and say to the person, "Oh. Here ya go. This one's for you. Don't spend it all in one place." Invariably, once the person realizes that the money is not real (which is almost instantaneously) most people get a kick out of it and gladly accept the tract.

Initially, Tom, I said the issue was a matter of conscience. If you feel that you might be causing someone to stumble by causing them to covet or contemplate stealing from you, then don't carry money tracts exposed anywhere on your person. To do otherwise would be to sin (James 4:17).

Abortion Argument Tactic

What I used in the above conversation was a variation of a tactic I learned from Greg Koukl known as “Trotting in the Toddler.”

Trotting in the toddler is a method used to help the proponent of abortion see that whatever arbitrary
reason or standard they give to validate or justify abortion... Ultimately fails to be a valid reason to kill a toddler or in this case human beings in a building. Furthermore, what this reveals is that the proponent of abortion assumes that the unborn is not a human being right out of the gate. For if they had started with the proper presupposition they would never attempt to justify murdering an innocent unborn human being because of say, hardship. Hardship is not an excuse for homicide! It is their presupposition and it is a very dangerous one at that, as their failure to acknowledge the unborn as a human being results in murder.
Christian: What reason do you have to justify taking the life of the unborn?
Detractor: Well I think if a woman is raped she should be aloud to choose for herself!
Christian: What if the woman already had the baby? Would it be alright for the woman to kill her 2 year old toddler because it continuously reminds her of the hardship?
Detractor: Certainly not! Are you kidding with me?
Christian: Bear with me for a moment... So why would that not be acceptable?
Detractor: Because it is a human being!
Christian: Clearly then, you presuppose that the unborn is not a human being right out of the gate! That is a very dangerous presumption friend. Hardship is not justification for homicide! Speculating that the unborn is not a human being and then killing it is like blowing up a building with no certainty that human life is not inside.
Detractor: I have never thought about it this way...You bring up a good point.

Folks you can "Trot in the Toddler" as a test to
any standard or reason that one gives as justification for abortion. It reveals the inconsistency, it reveals the double-standard and it reveals the dangerous presumption that pro-abortion folks maintain right out of the gate.

As a U.S. Navy SEAL I can't imagine going out to one of our demolition ranges on San Clemente Island to blow up a building or an obstacle in the ocean without having absolute certainty that there is no human life present! You would get kicked out of the teams for such a tremendous error!

It is happening right now, this moment as you read! It is a modern day holocaust as the screams of the unborn cannot be heard!

"God will judge the secrets of men" (Rom. 2:16).

Posted by: Chad Williams "Street Apologetics"

His Name is Jesus!

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
5. Name the last six Academy Award winners for Best Actor and Best Actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?
The point is none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
These are no second-rate achievers.
They are the best in their fields.
But the applause dies.
Awards tarnish.
Achievements are forgotten.
Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Now take this quiz...

1. Name the only person who has ever lived whom without money and arms conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon. Without science and learning He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined. With out the eloquence of schools this person spoke such words of life that have not been spoken before or since and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet. Without writing a single line He set more pens in motion and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, works of art, songs of praise, learned volumes than the whole mighty army of ancient and modern times?

I will give you a hint…

He was born in a stable in an obscure village and from there He traveled less than two hundred miles. He never won an election. He never went to college. He never owned a home. He never had a lot of money. He became a nomadic preacher and popular opinion turned against Him. He was unjustly condemned to death, crucified on a cross among common thieves, on a hill overlooking the town dump, and when dead laid in a borrowed grave.

A close friend betrayed him and the others ran away. Nineteen centuries have come and gone. Empires have risen and fallen. Mighty armies have marched and powerful rulers have reigned; yet no one has affected civilization as much as He has. He is the central figure of the human race. He is the Messiah. He is the King of kings and He is the Lord of Lords.

More than nineteen hundred years ago he was born contrary to the laws of life. He lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He received no formal education and never possessed wealth or widespread influence. He never traveled extensively. He only once crossed the boundary of the country in which He lived. But this man’s life has changed the course of history.

In infancy, He startled a king; In childhood, He puzzled doctors; In manhood, He ruled the course of nature, walked upon the waves, and hushed the sea to sleep.He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His services.He never wrote a book. Yet, His life has inspired more books than any other man. He never wrote a song. Yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the songwriters combined. He never founded a college. But all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students.

He never marshaled an army, nor drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun. Yet, no leader ever had more rebels surrender without a single shot fired.He never practiced psychiatry. Yet, He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors far and near.The names of great statesmen have come and gone. Scientists, philosophers, and theologians are soon forgotten.

However, the name of this man abounds more and more.Once each week the wheels of commerce cease from turning, and multitudes gather to pay homage and respect to Him. Though time has spread two thousand years between the people of this generation and His birth, He still lives. His enemies could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him.

This man stands alone upon the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by His people, and feared by devils, as the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.He’s the King of Kings and He’s the Lord of Lords. There’s been nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. He’s had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign.

He is: Lord God Almighty, Omnipotent King, Lion of Judah, Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Provider, Protector, Paternal Leader, Ruling Lord and Reigning King of all the Universe. He is Helper, Guardian and God. He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all He keeps.

He is The Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times. He always was, is, and will be: Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone. He was bruised, yet He brought healing. He was pierced with excruciating pain. He was persecuted yet He brought freedom. He was dead, yet He brought life. He is risen and He brings power. He reigns and brings Peace. The world can't understand him, the armies can't defeat Him, the schools can't explain Him, and the leaders can't ignore Him. Herod couldn't kill Him, the Pharisees couldn't confuse Him, the people couldn't hold Him! Nero couldn't crush Him. Hitler couldn't silence Him, the New Age can't replace Him and you can't explain Him away!He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God.

He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are right, His Word is eternal, His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me! His is my redeemer, He is my Savior, He is my guide, He is my peace, He is my Joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules my life. I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is joy in Himself. I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the over-comers, and the sovereign Lord of all that was, is and is to come. And if that seems impressive to you, try this on for size. His goal is to glorify Himself by having a relationship with ME!

He will never leave me, forsake me, mislead me, forget me, overlook me, and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives me. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am lost, He is The Way. When I am afraid, He is my courage. When I stumble, He steadies me. When I am hurt, He heals me. When I am broken, He mends me. When I am blind, He leads me. When I am hungry, He feeds me. When I face trials, He is with me. When I face persecution, He stills me. When I face problems, He comforts me. When I face loss, He provides for me. When I face Death, He’ll carry me Home!He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and in every way. He is God, He is faithful, I am His, and He is mine.

My Father in Heaven can whip the father of this world, and so, if you're wondering why I feel so secure, understand this: He said it, and that settles it. God is in control, I am on His side, and that means all is well with my soul.

When Hecklers Are Unreasonable

Recently my good friend and member of the "On the Box" team, Brad Snow posted the above picture on Facebook, with the caption: "Don't try telling me that I ain't got no pancake mix!" Both the photo and its caption were in reference to the following video--a video that received almost a cult-like response with more than two million views. The young man in the video is also an entrepreneur, capitalizing on the popularity of his 45-second video by creating a "You Ain't Got No Pancake Mix" t-shirt, which he sells online for $17.99.

Note: I have no idea who the woman is in the video. Sharing the above video is not an endorsement of her. I have no idea what she believes or what gospel, if any, she preaches.

Brad, one of the nicest, gentlest brothers in Christ I know, posted the picture for no other reason than to put a smile on the faces of his Facebook friends. Of course, Brad was asked the obvious first question: "What's the story behind the photo?"

Brad went on to explain that on more than one occasion he has had someone heckle him the same way--by yelling, "You ain't got no pancake mix!" Brad, always thinking, and obviously enjoying pancakes the morning he posted the picture, had a thought: "Why not have a box of pancake mix on hand, just in case I'm faced with a 'pancake mix' heckler?"

Well, not everyone saw the humor in Brad's post. One person suggested that unsaved hecklers are not to be made fun of because they are lost and bound for Hell.

I certainly can understand and affirm the point. No Christian, preacher or otherwise, should ever make fun of the spiritually dead and lost state of the unbeliever--no matter how vile and mocking their heckling might be. Of course, Brad would agree. In fact, he said as much in the comment thread associated with the picture he posted. Brad wasn't making light of the heckler's spiritual condition. He was thinking tactically.

As I watched the comment thread grow, I, too, began to think tactically. But I wanted to make sure my thinking was also biblical. To respond tactically but not biblically to hecklers is to do little more than war in the flesh, to clash verbal swords on a level that does little more than promote and display the sinfulness of all parties involved.

I tried to put myself in the place of the woman preaching. It wasn't hard to do as I've been in that very position more times than I can remember. I asked myself, "How would I respond?" I also asked myself if Brad's suggested tactic could be supported biblically. I believe the answer to the second question is yes.

"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself" (Proverbs 26:4).

"Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes" (Proverbs 26:5).

Answering hecklers is not easy. The war between the flesh and the spirit, a war that rages within the heart of every born-again believer including the open-air preacher (see Romans 7:7-25), can make knowing how to respond to a heckler a challenge, especially in the heat of the moment. "Do I answer? Do I let the comment pass?"

If I were preaching in the open-air and, like in the video above, a young man with a smirk on his face (and premeditation in his heart as the first few seconds of the video indicate), began to shout, "You ain't got no pancake mix," while mockingly pointing at the Bible in my hand (as the young man did in the video);" if I had a box of pancake mix on hand I would take it out and say, "Why, sir, but I do have pancake mix."

I think such a tactic would "answer [the] fool in his folly," keeping him from being wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:25), without making me a fool like him (Proverbs 26:24). It would likely win at least part of the crowd to my side and may shut the mouth of the fool.

It's also important to note that presenting a box of pancake mix in this particular situation would not be "responding in kind" to the heckler (Proverbs 26:24). Attitude is everything. Making light of the heckler's antics, not his spiritual condition, is not sinful; so long as the intention of the one holding the pancake mix is simply to diffuse the heckler, taking away the hold he or she may have on the crowd.

The above can be applied to any situation involving an unreasonable heckler--one who is bent on keeping the preacher from preaching and keeping the gospel from being preached. If you are an open-air preacher and you find yourself in this kind of situation, before your respond to the heckler, simply ask yourself the following:

If I say or do what I'm thinking of saying or doing will it make me like the heckler (Proverbs 26:24)? Or will it will it rightly show him for the fool he really is (Proverbs 26:25)?