Thursday, May 31, 2012

Every Evangelist Should Belong to a Church

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bob: A Poster Child for False Conversion

In this open-air you will meet Bob. Bob was not happy with the message I was preaching, and he let me know why.

This was my last open-air during the Dogwood Festival in Midtown Atlanta, GA. Justin Edwards videoed this open-air.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Satan Appears as an Angel of Light

Saturday morning, Michelle (my daughter) and I went to the North Hollywood Metro Station where I open-air preached. During my last open-air of the morning, I was approached by a woman who claimed she was neither a woman nor a man. In her words: she was "the light."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jehovah's Witnesses and the Sermon on the Mount

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One Jehovah's Witness Stayed to Hear the Truth

Presently, I am working on a new message titled: "Wielding the Sword - The Importance of Scripture in Open-Air Preaching." The primary defensive and offensive weapon of the open-air preacher is not their quick wit, eloquence, story-telling abilities, apologetical prowess, or fiery and passionate delivery. The primary defensive and offensive weapon of the open air preacher is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

Scriptures either quoted, referenced, or put into practice in the above open-air include and appear in the following order:

Matthew 23:1-39
Romans 10:2-4
Colossians 1:1-29
Colossians 1:28
Galatians 1:8-9
Matthew 23:15 (2 x's)
Romans 1:19-20
John 1:14
Colossians 1:18
John 1:1-3
Titus 3:5 (3 x's)
Romans 1:17
Ephesians 2:8-9 (2 x's)
John 14:6
Deuteronomy 10:17
2 Chronicles 19:7
1 Timothy 2:5
John 5:21-23
Romans 2:15-16 (2 x's)
Isaiah 64:6
Matthew 5:22
Matthew 5:29-30
Matthew 10:28
Matthew 23:33
2 Peter 2:4-20
Ecclesiastes 3:17-20
2 Corinthians 9:15
Acts 4:12
Philippians 2:9-11
John 8:56-58
John 10:30
Philippians 2:5-7
Hebrews 4:15
2 Corinthians 5:21 (2 x's)
Philippians 2:8
Matthew 24:36
Micah 5:2
Luke 2:8-14
John 12:47
Matthew 26:64
Revelation 1:7
Hebrews 9:27
2 Corinthians 6:2
Hebrews 3:7-15
Colossians 2:13-15
Isaiah 53:10
Luke 24:46-47
1 Peter 2:11
Romans 1:18 (2 x's)
John 3:18
John 3:36
Romans 5:18-19
Matthew 5:48
Amos 5:10
Romans 4:1-5
John 8:31-35
Revelation 21:8
Psalm 14:1-3 (2 x's)
Isaiah 61:10
Romans 6:23 (2 x's)
John 3:16
Romans 8:38-39
Acts 17:29-31
Romans 2:12-14
Psalm 51:3-5
Romans 3:23
Romans 5:12-14
Psalm 67:4
Psalm 75:2
Psalm 98:9
Isaiah 11:1-5
Galatians 6:7
Ezekiel 11:19
Ezekiel 36:26
John 3:3
John 3:7
2 Corinthians 3:3
1 Peter 1:3
1 John 1:9
Psalm 103:11-13
John 19:30
Romans 5:7-9
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Monday, May 21, 2012

Heckled By...Catholic Church Bells?

In February, I was blessed to join more than 100 evangelists from around the country, for a weekend-long outreach at the Super Bowl. The effort was sponsored and led by Bill Adams of Sports Fan Outreach International--the same great evangelistic organization with which I will travel to London in July, for the Summer Olympics.

My last open-air of the weekend was in the midst of one of the busiest parts of Super Bowl Village, just hours before the big game--an area of Super Bowl Village, which happened to be right across the street from a beautifully-constructed Roman Catholic church.

The large church created some wonderful acoustics, which allowed us to preach to the masses (those not attending mass) without having to crank up the volume on our P.A. system.

About nine minutes into my open-air, the air was filled with the melodic sounds of the church bells. I remember thinking for a moment that the sound of the church bells must either be a call to mass or the conclusion of mass. But the bells kept ringing, and ringing, and ringing, and ringing.

I just saw the video of that open-air, for the first time. The ringing of the church bells rang for more than eleven minutes.

John Chisham, one of my fellow evangelists at the Super Bowl Outreach, had an opportunity to talk to the parish priest. To my surprise (but really, should I be surprised?) the priest admitted he was heckling me with the church bells. He was intentionally trying to drown out the preaching of the gospel.

As you watch the video of that open-air (shot by my very good friend, Brad Snow), try to discern (if you can) what aspect of the message most offended the priest. Was it the Word of God, the Law of God, or the Gospel of God?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Drop What You're Doing And.....


I am ashamed to admit that throughout my now twenty-four years as a Christian, for me the toughest spiritual discipline in which to maintain consistency and tangible growth has been prayer. This is no small matter. This is no small concern. In years past, slothfulness in prayer has caused me to examine myself to see if I was truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Charles Spurgeon wrote:
“You are no Christian if you do not pray. A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. You have no inheritance among the people of God if you have never struggled with that Covenant Angel and come off the conqueror. Prayer is the indispensable mark of the true child of God.

“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be slothfulness in prayer.”
And according to J.C. Ryle:
“We want to know whether you are actually acquainted with the throne of grace, and whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God. Do you wish to find out whether you are a true Christian? Then rest assured that my question is of the very first importance – Do you pray?

“This I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins. He cannot love God. He cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ. He cannot long after holiness. He cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again. He has yet to be made a new creature. He may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope, and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he does not pray.

“What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others? I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer. I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much.”
Strong words. And all true. Does it stir, even grip your heart to read such truth? Are these truths, uttered by two of my favorite pastors and preachers of old, words of encouragement, words of discipline, or both to you? They are both edifying and corrective to me.

Much has been written about prayer, and I do not presume to have anything new to add to the conversation. Men far more prayerful, spiritual, mature, and Christ-like than me have written volumes over the centuries about what it means to be a praying Christian, and the dangers of being a prayerless Christian. So, I would like to simply and (hopefully) humbly share my two cents regarding one small yet important aspect of prayer--an aspect, if mastered, which could very well invigorate, strengthen, and mature your prayer life. What I propose is not new. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And what I propose is something I am presently working to apply to my life. So, my hope is that we learn and grow together in this aspect of prayer.

Between Facebook, Twitter, my personal email account, and multiple ministry email accounts I receive hundreds of emails every day. Oh, and there's the electronic device that seems to spend a lot of time attached to the side of my head--my phone. Add calls and texts, and you get the picture. I spend a great deal of time corresponding with others. This is in no way a complaint. I thank God He has given me the privilege, blessing, and responsibility to speak into the lives of others--family, friends, and strangers alike.

But I have been guilty (and maybe you feel and share my pain) of sometimes failing to pray when asked. I will receive a request in any one of the before-mentioned forms and I will commit to pray. Then, maybe a day or two later, I will receive a follow-up message thanking me for my prayers.

Guilt. Remorse. Discouragement. For I didn't pray as I said I would.

Recently, as I've renewed my efforts to bring greater consistency to my prayer life, I discovered a very simple and helpful way to bring about the desired results.

Drop what I'm doing and pray.

Instead of telling someone I will pray, when I receive a prayer request, I am trying to drop what I'm doing and pray--right then and there. When I acknowledge that I've received a prayer request, instead of saying I will pray (when there's a chance I might not if I wait until later), I drop what I'm doing and pray. This way, my first response to the person who made the request is to tell the person I have already prayed for them.

Keep in mind, when communicating with God it can be for a few moments, a few minutes, or a few hours. All authentic communication with God, through prayer, is profitable. God hears His children--those who are born-again followers of Jesus Christ. And He only hears the prayers of genuine followers of Christ. He does not listen to the prayers of those who are in rebellion against Him (Isaiah 1:12-15).

So, when you drop whatever you are doing to pray about a request just received, don't worry about the length of time you pray. The Lord already knows what you are going to pray and how He is going to answer, before you begin to pray. The result has been more time in prayer throughout the day.

So, the next time someone asks you to pray, whether in person or from afar, drop what you're doing and pray.

Should OA Preachers Try to Drive Cultists from the Ground?

Friday, May 18, 2012

'180' Is Now a Secular News Story

Since the release of 180, those of us at Living Waters have been praying the Lord would see fit to allow the documentary to make the news in secular markets. Well, today it happened.

Fox News 23, a Tulsa, OK area news station, reported the story of 180 making its way onto Wagoner High School where students received free copies of the DVD and where the documentary was apparently shown in two classrooms. According to the news report, an unnamed local family approached the school to receive permission to distribute 180 to the students.

Please pray that the news story gets legs and is shared via other Fox News affiliates. Pray 180 then, finally, catches the attention of the national secular media.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Has Jesus Fallen Through the Cracks?

Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). I remember, as if it were yesterday, selecting this verse to serve as the inscription for the plaque, in the newly constructed Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station Memorial Garden. I was honored that day, as the station chaplain, to provide the invocation and a message of encouragement to my law enforcement brethren, during the garden's dedication ceremony.

Whenever I hear of a brother or sister behind the badge, or one of our military's finest, making the ultimate sacrifice--laying down their life so that others might live--John 15:13 immediately comes to mind. And so was the case, yesterday, when I read the story of Army Specialist Leslie H. Sabo Jr..

Our nation's fallen heroes--whether they served in the military, law enforcement, or fire--should never be forgotten. Far better to create more holidays to commemorate acts of true heroism than to celebrate some of the silly holidays people in the United States and around the world celebrate--holidays such as: Fruitcake Toss Day (Jan.3); Umbrella Day (Feb. 10); National Yo-Yo Day (Jun. 6); and Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept. 19).

The Fox News Story, by Justin Fishel, reads in part:
It was May 10, 1970, in Se San, Cambodia. Spc. Leslie H. Sabo Jr. and his platoon were ambushed by a large enemy force. The 22-year-old rifleman from Ellwood City, Pa., charged the enemy position, killing several soldiers, and then attacked an enemy flanking force, drawing fire away from his comrades.

As the enemy retreated, a grenade landed near Sabo and a wounded American soldier. Sabo picked it up and threw it, while shielding his comrade with his own body. The grenade blast badly injured Sabo, but he continued to charge the bunker.

Crawling toward the enemy stronghold, Sabo was shot multiple times by automatic weapons fire. When he managed to reach the opening of the bunker, he tossed in a grenade, silencing all enemy fire. That same grenade also ended Sabo's life.
It was this act of selfless, sacrificial heroism that warranted, albeit forty-two years after his death, Sabo being awarded our nation's highest military honor--the Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH).

While it's wonderful Specialist Sabo is finally being recognized for his valor, I was disheartened to read why it took more than four decades for the recognition to happen. The last sentence of the Fox News story says it all.
"The Army admits the reason the award is being given four decades later is because Sabo's story 'more or less fell through the cracks.'"
Thirty years after his act of life-saving heroism, another Army veteran discovered the written records of Sabo's day of valor and the recommendations by various officers for Sabo to receive the CMOH. They were found in a box--a box that had been tucked away and forgotten in the National Archives.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." Yet Specialist Leslie H. Sabo Jr. fell through the cracks.

Why did this happen? Was it the result of the inherently procrastinative bureaucracy of the military and the federal government? Did those whom Sabo saved that fateful day eventually move on with their lives, never completely forgetting about Sabo's sacrifice, but simply replaced thoughts of Sabo's heroism with thoughts of everyday life? There's no question that the inaccurate report of Sabo's death slowed the process of his recognition for valor. The Fox News article indicated that Sabo's widow was initially told that he was killed by a sniper while on guard duty.

What is the scene in the above photo and what does it have to do with this article. Well, if you've been to this location, you will recognize it right away. If you haven't been to this location, it is unlikely you will guess where this picture was taken.

The picture is of Golgotha, "The Place of the Skull," the location where it is believed Jesus was crucified. Today, it is but a dirty, rocky hill that serves as the backdrop for a very busy bus station in Jerusalem. As a side note, it is unlikely Jesus was crucified at the top of the hill, as most artist renditions depict the scene. He was more likely crucified at the base of the hill, along the road. Typically, the Romans crucified people along roads so that people coming into Jerusalem (or other cities under Roman rule) would receive a very clear message. "Don't mess up while you are in this city, or Rome will do this to you!"

I took this photo a year ago, as I stood in the garden--the garden in which is located a tomb--the now-empty tomb of Jesus Christ my Lord. I remember looking at Golgotha with very intense yet mixed emotions. It was the last day of a long and extraordinary trip. I was in the last historic site we would visit. While blessed beyond words every day of the trip, I was overwhelmed and sickened by the idolatry of other religions that had claimed various traditional biblical sites as their own. Relics, icons, and the visible manifestations of man-centered traditions were everywhere; and they were all for sale, in one way or another.

But not Golgotha. There it stood, weathered and eroded more than 2,000 years after that great and terrible day when it pleased the Father to crush His Son. There it stood, once stained by the murder of the Lamb of God who had come to take away the sins of the world, now stained by years of exhaust from diesel bus engines. By all appearances, Golgotha had fallen through the cracks--the cracks of time, indifference, and scorn.

While I was not there when they crucified my Lord, a year ago I stood there looking at the place where they crucified my Lord. Anger and awe; weeping and worship; disdain and devotion; pity and praise; loathing and love. My emotions regarding sinful man and my sovereign Savior were all over the map. I will never forget that day when I looked upon the place where my Lord died for my sins and then stepped into His empty tomb--empty because He is risen; He is risen, indeed!

Sadly, in the lives of many, Golgotha and the empty tomb have fallen through the cracks. They have fallen through the cracks of depravity, indifference, pride, arrogance, and unbelief in the lives of the unsaved. But, sadder still, they have fallen through the cracks of the lives of many who profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

While the Bride of Christ is beautiful, the evangelical church in America (as an institution) is not so pleasing to the Lord's eye. Sadly there are many churches that name the name of Christ but exist not to further His gospel, but to keep the church alive--to keep the lights on, the seats filled, and the salaries paid. In order to do this, churches must water-down the gospel and allow the worship of Christ to take a back seat to the pleasing of man. Like the bureaucracy of the military and the government who for thirty years relegated the sacrificial death of Specialist Sabo to a dusty box in an obscure area of the National Archives, so too have some churches in America relegated Jesus to the dusty corners of places of worship. They remember His sacrifice, but they do not give Him the honor and recognition He deserves. The bureaucracy of churches make God's people too busy to give God honor and glory. The church is so busy trying to serve the Lord with ministries and infrastructures not seen in Scripture, the church has very little time to worship Him as King.

In some churches, Jesus has fallen through the cracks.

Did Sabo's story fall through the cracks because his comrades eventually stopped fighting to have his story told and his sacrifice recognized? Certainly, this is speculative. But the reality is that Sabo's story returned to the nation's attention and consciousness as a result of one man's effort to tell his story. Sabo receiving the CMOH was not the result of thousands of Vietnam veterans or supporters of our nation's military telling his story. Yes, each and every one of the before-mentioned would likely say they appreciate, admire, and respect Sabo for his heroism; but not enough to knock on congress's or the media's door, or to take to the streets heralding the message of Sabo's sacrifice, to demand Sabo's act of valor be recognized and properly appreciated. Specialist Leslie Sabo fell through the cracks.

Sadly, the above is all-too-analogous of professing Christians in America. They live as though they have outgrown the gospel of Jesus Christ. How often (too often) I have heard the self-indicting quips of believers when I mention in conversation that I am an evangelist. "Ahh." They say with a somewhat patronizing, even sympathetic look on their face. "I used to do that in college." Or, "I remember as a new believer being on fire to share the gospel." They make the comments as if to say, "Don't worry, Tony. You'll outgrow it. You'll mature in your faith to the point where you won't have to be so vocal about what you believe."

Most professing Christians, by-and-large, do not talk about Jesus Christ. They do not extol and proclaim His wondrous and finished work on the cross. Nor do they herald His magnificent, powerful, and glorious resurrection. They are comfortable, sinfully comfortable, leaving the extolling, proclaiming, and heralding to others. Besides, they are now too mature in their faith to be bothered with something as elementary and uncomfortable as telling others about the heroism, valor, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They are, in every practical sense, like a soldier saved by a comrade who has lost interest in telling others of their comrade's heroism. Tragically, some Christians go as far (as seen and heard in their "testimonies") as to say, "Yes, my comrade saved my life when he jumped on the grenade meant for me. But did you hear about the way I dove into the foxhole? Had I not dove into that foxhole, I don't know if my comrade's sacrifice would have been enough to save me."

Translation: if you listen to the testimonies of many professing Christians, you hear much more about their life history and their journey toward Christ than you hear about what Jesus did to save them from sin, death, and Hell.

In the lives and testimonies of many professing Christians, Jesus has fallen through the cracks.

As I previously stated, there's no question that the inaccurate report of Sabo's death slowed the process of him receiving recognition for valor. The Fox News article indicated that Sabo's widow was initially told that he was killed by a sniper while on guard duty. The world was not made aware of Sabo's sacrificial death and heroism because the reports of his death did not reflect what really happened that day; and they did not reflect the exceptional character of the man. Specialist Sabo fell through the cracks.

Inaccurate reporting--not only by the unbelieving world by professing Christians--regarding the deity, humanity, death, propitiation, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ has led to misrepresentations about who Jesus was/is, what He came to do, and why He came to do it.

Certainly the intentional inaccuracies regarding the story of Jesus Christ as told by Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, the Word of Faith and Prosperity Movements, and people like Oprah Winfrey have led to millions upon millions of people being led astray to believe in a false, non-existent Jesus. But the responsibility does not rest solely on the shoulders of unsaved cultists and personalities. American evangelicalism must also shoulder the blame--even more so than our unsaved counterparts. We should expect no more and no less than lies from those who are controlled by the father of lies (Satan). But those who profess to know the real Jesus Christ (the Word became flesh; fully-God and fully-Man, without sin) as Lord and Savior, and then put themselves forward as people who speak for and in the name of Jesus Christ, have a greater, more solemn, and more consequential responsibility--the responsibility to speak the truth.

Sadly, there are many churches within American Evangelicalism that are not speaking the truth. They are inaccurately telling the story of Jesus Christ. They are inaccurately portraying Jesus as someone He is not. They are not portraying His true character--electing to emphasize the more seemingly palatable traits of love and mercy, while distorting those same traits and, instead, opting to completely ignore equally-perfect traits such as His holiness, wrath, righteousness, judgment, and goodness. They errantly and sinfully present a Jesus born out of the idolatry of their minds, fashioning a Jesus in their minds to suit themselves--a Jesus with whom they can be more comfortable. They are quick to speak of His love, but without context. They speak of His love in a way to make the unrepentant sinner the main character in the story. The presentation might go something like this:
"Jesus loves you. He loves you just the way you are. He longs to have a relationship with you. He is just waiting for you to accept Him. He is standing outside the door of your heart, knocking, and just waiting for you to answer. Won't you let Him in? What have you got to lose? Try Jesus on for size. He will not disappoint you. Ask Jesus into your heart, right now, and He will bless you beyond your wildest dreams. He doesn't want you to be sick. He doesn't want you to be poor. He doesn't want your marriage to suffer. He wants you to be the best you can be. He's waiting for you. Come to him, now, and let Him be your Savior."
Wow. That was hard to write. But it's stuff like this that is being said in churches, today. No mention of the deity of Christ. No mention of the perfect humanity of Christ. No mention of the vicarious and penal substitutionary atonement of Christ. No mention of the imputed righteousness of Christ. No mention of the character, power, and accomplishment of the risen King. No mention of the sinfulness of sin. No mention of the good and just wrath of God against sin. No mention of the righteous judgment that will befall every unrepentant, unredeemed human being.

The story that's told in many churches, today, is a love story--a story that focuses on how lovable humans are (a delusion) and how worthy those same humans are of God's love (another delusion). The stories told in many churches today are akin to one of Sabo's comrades telling his story this way:
"I was with Leslie Sabo that day. When he took off after the enemy, I thought he was crazy. Of course I'm glad he did it. If he hadn't of done it, then I wouldn't be here talking to you, today. I wouldn't have the wife, family, job, and toys I enjoy, today. I'm not perfect, but Sabo must have seen something in me worth saving to allow himself to be killed by his own grenade so that I might live. And I have felt better of myself ever since. Oh, and did I mention how well I jumped in the foxhole to avoid the blast?"
I would not expect anyone who was with Sabo that fateful day to tell the story that way. I would fully expect to hear much about Sabo and little about the one telling the story. But, because the military report the story of Sabo's death inaccurately, the world spent forty years thinking little-to-nothing about his death. He was just one of more than 50,000 nameless Americans killed in another bloody and brutal war. Specialist Leslie Sabo fell through the cracks.

Likewise, because of the many false gospels propagated throughout the world--because of the many false stories told about Jesus's life, death, and resurrection--by people inside and outside the Christian community, in the hearts and minds of too many people Jesus has fallen through the cracks.

But He has only fallen through the cracks in the minds of the disobedient and unsaved.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."

Specialist Leslie Sabo's heroic and sacrificial death is indeed illustrative of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus bore the full force of God's wrath against sin. He took the grenade rightfully meant for every sinful human being. No greater act of love will ever be done. No greater love will ever be shown. For Jesus Christ is the "Pearl of Great Price" (Matthew 13:45-46). His value to the Father is infinitely greater than the value of all humanity put together. That is why His sacrifice is sufficient to make payment for the sins of any individual (John 3:16) and for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). And those who repent (Mark 1:15; Luke 13:1-5) and believe the gospel (Romans 10:9) will be the recipients of so great and priceless a salvation.

No Jesus has not fallen through the cracks for those who truly know Him--for those who are redeemed by His shed blood (Hebrews 9:22). If he has in any way fallen through the cracks in your life, then you must examine yourself to see if you are even in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). And you must repent of your sins of forgetfulness, complacency, and silence. If you truly know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you will want to talk about Him, and talk about Him often; just as those who know now of the love, valor, and sacrifice of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, Leslie H. Sabo Jr. are doing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tony's Fishing Gear

First Annual "180 Conference"

God Has Abandoned America

Monday, May 14, 2012

Why The Message Of '180' Is So Urgent

This morning we received the following tragic email via the Heart Changer website. It is a reminder of why the message of 180 remains so very urgent.
"Dear whoever came up with this and whoever is getting this. You just gave me a 180... but not the way you expected. If anything you have almost completely turned me against Christianity all together. I am 16 and pregnant. The father, a man very well known and loved in the church. They find out I'm pregnant with his kid and he's done. He has a disability that makes it so he cannot handle stress. He is an amazing man and I love him to pieces. But we cannot handle this right now and my belief is that if it is meant to happen it will happen again. !@#$% you guys. I'm deffinately getting an abortion now. God Bless."
I immediately responded with the following email:
Dear Jane (not her real name),

Thank you so much for writing us. You, your boyfriend, and your unborn child are in our prayers.

It saddens me that you would choose to kill your baby because you are angry with the church or with the documentary, 180. By what standard of goodness can you possibly justify the killing of your child, in order to express your anger?

I can understand how scary it is to be only 16-years-old and pregnant. I have known other young ladies in your exact same position. But the fact that you and your boyfriend "cannot handle this right now" is in no way justification to punish your baby for it. You have alternatives to killing your baby. And one of those alternatives is adoption.

Killing your baby will not soothe your conscience. Killing your baby will only make your present pain worse. Killing your baby will not bring the forgiveness you need from God, for the sinful acts that led to the existence of your child. And no child deserves death for the sins of their mother and father.

If the father of your child is encouraging and/or pressuring you to have an abortion, it matters not how well-known or well-respected he is in the eyes of church people. He is not a man of God and he is not the man for you. A loving, courageous, God-honoring man would make the right decision--one that would preserve the life of the baby you now carry in your womb. If he really loves you, then he will not suggest or pressure you to do something that will result in the death of his child and will scar you emotionally, and possibly physically, for life. If your boyfriend wants you to have an abortion it is because he is selfish and not loving.

If your love for this young man would drive you to kill your baby, then your love for this young man is sinful in the eyes of God.

Jane, you do not become a mother when your baby is born. You are a mother, right now. The baby in your womb is your child. The baby is your son or your daughter who will love you more than any person in their life. The safest place for a child is supposed to be their mother’s womb. Your womb is not designed by God to be a place where death sentences are carried out. You womb, created by Almighty God, should be the safest place for your children--for this baby.

Jane, you know what I am telling you is true. I can say this because you and I both know that God has given you a conscience. You know it is wrong to murder. You know it is wrong to take the life of your baby because you are angry or scared. You know it is wrong to take the life of your baby for any reason. Your baby has as much right to life as you and your boyfriend. But your baby can do nothing to defend himself or herself. As a mother, you are the one who is most responsible to defend and protect your baby. Again, you know this is true.

Jane, we are praying you reconsider. We are praying you do what you know in your heart is right. We pray you allow your baby to live. If you cannot raise a child at this point in your life, then we pray you will love your baby enough to allow parents who can raise your child to adopt your child.

We are also praying you will stop blaming the church or a documentary for your own sins. Your only hope for forgiveness is to turn from your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. The sin of fornication (sex outside of marriage) is forgivable. And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

God can forgive your sin, Jane. But you must come to Him on His terms, not your own. You must repent (turn from your sin and turn to God) and by faith receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

He will cast your sins away, as far as the east is from the west, and He will remember them no more. Instead of His punishment against sin, which is eternity in Hell, you will receive grace, mercy, forgiveness, and true love from the only One who can forgive your sins and grant you everlasting life.

Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection made it possible for you to receive forgiveness. There is nothing you have done that is beyond God’s ability to forgive and wash away. God can wash away your sins because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, on the cross.

Turn to Christ and live, Jane. He will save you.

Please show your baby the kind of love God will show you if you repent and believe the gospel. Please allow your baby to live.

I hope to hear from you.
Please pray for Jane--for her salvation and for the life of her baby. And please pray 180 will continue to impact the world, for the life of the unborn and for the souls of people all over the world.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Time Does Not Forgive Sin

This morning I was sent a link to an MSNBC story about Yolanda Quesada. The link was sent to me by Troy Edwards and Mario Andreani (Cedar Rapids, IA), and Karen Thomas (Fort Collins, Colorado).

Yolanda Quesada who, by all accounts, was a model employee for Wells Fargo. She was recognized and awarded several times for her exemplary work ethic and performance. However, during a recent background check, Wells Fargo discovered Yolanda had two 40-year-old convictions for shoplifting. Now 58, Yolanda was 18 when she committed the crimes.

A representative for Wells Fargo was quoted as saying:
"We are bound by federal law that generally prohibits us from hiring or continuing the employment of any person who we know has a criminal record involving dishonesty or breach of trust."
Wells Fargo told the truth regarding the prohibition of hiring or maintaining an employ who has a conviction for a crime involving dishonesty or breach of trust.

The comments on the story's webpage are what one might expect. Here are some examples:
"Steal a chicken to feed your family, go to jail, and are excluded from our capitalist system. A white collar steals the farm and she gets a bonus. Hmmm. Something really backwards about this situation."

"40 years ago - highschool. So she's 58 plus minus a bit. Age discrimination."

"I jacked some cheese and crackers when I was eight. I probably shouldn't be allowed to work anywhere."

"Does Wells Fargo know the difference between the letter of the law and the intent of the law? Penny Wise, Pound Foolish. This just makes Wells Fargo look stupid, petty and unevolved."

"Sounds more like age and wage discrimination to me. They can hire someone half her age at probably half the salary."

"I stole a toy horse from a dime store when I was a kid. I wouldn't even think to disclose that to an employer because, until this discussion, I had almost forgotten about it . . . 90% of the population would be ineligible for employment if we were judged by the petty things we did between 5 and 20 years of age!"

The Huffington Post, in reporting about Yolanda's firing, referred to her shoplifting convictions as "youthful indiscretions." The report went on to say that, according to Yolanda, the reason she committed the thefts because "she was one of twelve children; money was tight; and she needed clothes for work."

Jim Stingl, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in his editorial regarding Yolanda's case, wrote:
"Yolanda Quesada loved her customer service job at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Milwaukee. She hoped to retire from there someday.

"Last week, she was fired. The reason: She shoplifted in 1972.

"Really? A minor stumble 40 years ago means she's not fit to answer the phone and help people with their mortgage questions? She doesn't handle money as part of her job . . .

"You wonder how long the minor infractions from our teen years should be held against us. Obviously, Wells Fargo thinks the answer is 40 years or more."
Admittedly and unashamedly, my heart goes out to Yolanda Quesada. If I was her supervisor at work, it would break my heart to have to let her go. Millions upon millions of people are out of work. The United States, if it hasn't reached the point already, is teetering on the precipice of another Great Depression. People are losing their homes as a result of being unemployed for the first time, for some, in decades. Despondent men and women are turning to suicide, believing they have nowhere else to turn. The world is a tough place, and it's only going to get tougher.

I think it's commendable that Yolanda did not go down the sometimes short road that leads to incarceration and recidivism; but instead, became a productive member of society. While I don't excuse her shoplifting of 40 years ago, I can understand the feelings and pressures that may have driven her to those criminal and sinful decisions. My family was on welfare during all of my teenage years. So, I can empathize with those struggling to be content with a bowl of cold cereal for dinner, coveting what others have, or contemplating stealing to meet needs (real or perceived). Again, I do not condone or excuse such behavior; but I can understand how some, in situations of the kind Yolanda found herself 40 years ago, might be tempted to sin and fall prey to that temptation because of their sinful nature (James 1:13-14).

However, Yolanda's story and the reaction to it point out an important biblical truth. Time does not forgive sin.

Everything Is In The Past

When I have opportunity to engage people in conversation about spiritual matters, after holding the mirror of God's moral law in front of the person, it never fails that I hear a common excuse for their sins against God. "That was in the past."

I explain to the person that everything is in the past. What they just said to me was in the past. What I just said to them was in the past. Every moment is in the past a moment later. Every idle word; every wayward thought; every wrong decision; every sinful act is in the past. The fact that every sin committed--whether in thought, word, or deed; whether a sin of omission or a sin of commission--is in the past does not exonerate a person of their sin. Time does not forgive sin.

Yes, according to man's law Yolanda Quesada paid her debt to society. She fulfilled the requirements of man's law by paying her fine and spending time on probation. But consequences remain. If a person steals my car, I will forgive them for their crime, but I won't allow them to borrow my car. They will receive my forgiveness, but I may never trust them again. Yes, what Yolanda Quesada did was in the past, but the consequences remain. And she should have thought about that as an 18-year-old shoplifter. But how many 18-year-olds think that deeply--that far into the future?

Be that as it may, even though everything is in the past, time does not forgive sin.

Redefining Terms Won't Save You

"Petty things;" "youthful indiscretions;" "a minor stumble;" and the list of minimizing terms goes on and on and on. Sadly, segments of the American Church have propagated the minimization of the sinfulness of sin by using similar terminology to describe transgressing the moral law of God. Sins are now referred to in many churches as "mistakes," "hang-ups," and "bad habits."

But redefining terms does not get anyone off the hook. Sin remains sin in God's eyes, regardless of how much we have minimized our sin in our own eyes, our own hearts, our own minds. And time does not forgive sin.

The Debt Must Be Paid

Even though Yolanda Quesada paid her "debt to society," unless she knows Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, she still owes an insurmountable debt to God. For while in the eyes of many she merely committed a couple minor offenses according to man's law, what she did is counted as infinitely sinful to the infinite holy Creator...Judge...God.

The debt must be paid, for time does not forgive sin.

The Word of God makes it clear: "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22). And, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight" (Ephesians 1:7-18). And let us not forgive the words of the Sacrifice Himself. "And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'" (Matthew 27:27-28).

In the end, it will either be the blood of the sinner or the blood of the Savior that will satisfy the holy, righteous, just, and good wrath of God. Time does not forgive sin, and time does not satisfy the wrath of God.

"Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15)! Yes, thanks be to God that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh to make propitiation (see Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10) to God for our sins. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, through the shedding of His innocent blood on the cross that a person receives forgiveness for their sins against God--past, present, and future.

Time does not forgive sin....but Jesus Christ does!

It Pleased The Father To Crush His Son

Saturday, May 5, 2012

This Weekend's Fishing (May 4-5, 2012)

This weekend I had the joy of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, side-by-side with family and friends, at the Westfield Valencia Town Center and the North Hollywood Metro Station.

Friday evening was our second time setting up an evangelism table at the mall. Like the first time, Friday evening's effort proved very productive. Friday night, however, gave us the opportunity to have even more conversations with people ranging in age from 10-50.

The conversation I had with the four kids in the above picture was one of those great opportunities. The age of these four respectful, well-mannered boys was 10-16. Whenever I talk to kids, I know I am making a connection with them when they refuse to be distracted or pulled away by their friends. Such was the case with these four boys.

The above photo is of two of my brothers in Christ. We are all members of Faith Community Church. Behind the table is Peter. Peter has consistently been out with me for a few months, now. He refers to himself as my "evangelism disciple." In front of the table is Josh. This was his first time out with me.

It didn't take long for Josh to get into the thick of things. I love watching brothers and sisters in Christ step outside of their comfort zones in the area of evangelism.

Of course, one of the great joys for me in evangelism is when members of my family can join me. I blessed to have Mahria and Amanda go fishing with me, Friday night. And Michelle joined me Saturday, morning at the North Hollywood Metro Station.

This morning I took the Prayer Stand with me to the North Hollywood Metro Station. It's the first time in a while I've used the Prayer Stand. That's going to change; and the change started today.

I open-aired three times this morning. Psalm 10, Isaiah 53, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 were the texts from which I preached.

Zack, my son in the faith, is finishing his first year at The Master's College. I've had the joy of watching him grow in his faith and in his open-air preaching, over the last couple of years. His preaching this morning was biblical, clear, and passionate.

I love it when people who receive a tract stop to read it as soon as they get it. That happened quite a bit this morning.

I often tell people there is nothing as sweet as the fellowship of the gospel. When I meet genuine followers of Christ on the streets, especially those who are also out there sharing the gospel with others, it never fails that the connection with them is instantaneous. Often times the fellowship with a Christian who, for all intents and purposes, is a stranger, is as comfortable and friendly as the fellowship with a life-long friend.

Such was the case with Daisy (pictured above, right). Daisy and another lady from her church were out talking to people and distributing tracts. They attend a small, Spanish-speaking church only minutes from the Metro Station. As soon as we all realized we were all followers of Christ, every wall came down and we labored side-by-side in the harvest.

It was a great weekend of fishing!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gilbert Tennent: Open-Air Preacher

The following was written by David Smithers, and appears on the "Awake and Go! Global Prayer Network" website.


"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes." (Psalm 119:71)

It was upon the bed of affliction that Gilbert Tennent was taught of God. In approximately 1728 this young gifted Presbyterian minister become extremely ill. Uncertain if he would recover, he entered into a deep vision of eternity and time of repentance. He writes, "I was then exceedingly grieved I had done so little for God . . . I therefore prayed to God that He would be pleased to give me one half year more. I was determined to promote His kingdom with all my might and at all adventures."

Mr. Tennent's prayer was answered, and he was revived in both body and spirit. He labored as never before to, "Sound the trumpet of God's judgment and alarm the secure by the terrors of the Lord." He was a man literally consumed with a vision of the holiness of God. As a result he urgently warned the stubborn sinner and hypocrite of a final judgment and eternal hell. The anointed George Whitefield writes of him, "Hypocrites must soon be converted or enraged at his preaching. He is a son of thunder and does not regard the face of man. He is deeply sensible of the deadness and formality of the Christian church in these parts, and has given noble testimonies against it." Gilbert Tennent preached as if "never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men." His preaching was far from typical of his day. A historian of the "Great Awakening" describes the average minister's methods, "The habit of the preachers was to address their people as though they were all pious and only needed instruction and confirmation. It was not a common thing to proclaim the terrors of a violated law and insist on the absolute necessity of regeneration."

Mr. Tennent himself describes this kind of popular preaching. "They often strengthened the hands of the wicked by promising them life. They comfort people before they convince them; sow before they plow: and are busy in raising a fabric before they lay a foundation. These foolish builders strengthen men's carnal security by their soft, selfish, cowardly discourses. They have not the courage or honesty to thrust the nail of terror into the sleeping souls!" From 1736 through the 1740's, Gilbert Tennent's ministry was greatly blessed in promoting revival among the middle colonies in America. His ministry overlapped and supported the ministries of such godly men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. He carried with him the very seeds of revival, and when he preached, REVIVAL FIRE FELL. It must be remembered that the American church in the 18th century would probably have died of dry rot without the Spirit-filled ministry, of Gilbert Tennent. During one of Bostons most severe winters, people waded through the snow night and day for the benefit of hearing the fiery Tennent preach. "You could criticize him; you could praise him; but you could not ignore him!" No one slumbered peacefully when he was around; not even the church. Gilbert Tennent was in truth, the voice of one crying in the wilderness - REPENT!

He could boldly warn men of the wrath of God because he had boldly agonized and travailed for their souls, "Often his soul wept in secret for the pride and obstinacy of those who refused to be reclaimed." Throughout Tennent's ministry he kept his zeal and love for Christ fervent through constant prayer. "He made prayer his chief and most delightful employment."

Proverbs 27:1 says, "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." We have no promise of another day or even another hour, yet we too often live and breathe for the things of this world. What we desperately need is a revelation of eternity, of a real hell, and of a God who is to be loved and feared! If we truly had such a vision, we would not let one day go by without urgently warning the sinner and backslider. We would not let one hour go by without fervently praying for a true heaven sent revival.