Friday, July 27, 2012

Sandra Bullock hit movie… Blasphemy?

www.HollywoodandGod.com 

Want to find out what current movies contain blasphemy? Check out our website, which was discussed on today's show... www.HollywoodandGod.com 

Did you know Ray also wrote 2 books about God and Hollywood?


HOLLYWOOD BY THY NAME

In the beginning Hollywood said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And there were cameras. And the spirit of Hollywood moved across the face of the earth. Hollywood created. It picked up unknowns from the soil of humanity and breathed into them the life of celebrity--a golden image, whose sole purpose was to bring in big money at the box office. But something went terribly wrong. In 1968 a serpent appeared in the garden. Movies became filled with blasphemy, adultery, and violence. The bright light that once was became a gross darkness, and Hollywood began to suffer the ultimate delusion of grandeur. It enthroned itself as God and began to spout blasphemy against the heavens. It became a law to itself. It answered to no one. Not even God. So they believed. Click this to get your own copy of Hollywood Be Thy Name.
  • What was it that made the Columbine killers and mass murderer Cho Seung-hui hate Christianity?
  • Why did the crime rate triple in the U.S. in the late 1960s? 
  • What was it that Hollywood did in 1968 that changed everything?

"If people would apply what Ray Comfort is addressing in this book, it would revolutionize America." - Rich Christiano, Director (Time Changer)

“Shocking and Enlightening! A must-read!”- Alex Kendrick, Director (Facing the Giants)


WHAT HOLLYWOOD BELIEVES 

Did you know that George Lucas produced Star Wars so young people would seek after God, or that Frank Sinatra believed in God and in the Sermon on the Mount? Which Hollywood star thinks God is a woman? Who are atheists? What did John Wayne say about God just before he died? How many Hollywood celebrities pray every day, and believe the Bible?

As he shares the spiritual beliefs of over 120 top Hollywood stars from past and present, Ray compares many of the celebrity views against the Bible, so that the gospel is clearly communicated throughout the book’s pages. Readers will be challenged to examine their beliefs as they are gently persuaded by God’s Word. In addition, the book will strengthen you in your own faith by discussing the evidence for the existence of God, inspiration of the Bible, divinity of Jesus, etc. Buy one copy for yourself to gain insight into what others believe, and another for a lost friend or neighbor to lead them to the truth.  Click this to pick up a copy of What Hollywood Believes. 

  • "I love this book! It's fascinating . . . perfect to give a friend." - Janet Parshall (Janet Parshall's America).
  • "This is one of those books you can't put down!" - George Carden (UNI Radio News)
  • "It will keep you spellbound . . ." - Carol Henry (WKTO, Daytona Beach FL)
  • "This is one of the most intriguing books I've read in a long time! This incredible resource is a fascinating look at the faith of some of the most famous names in Hollywood. . . . After you start reading it you don't want to put it down." - YouthWorker Journal

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The End of One Season, and the Beginning of Another

As many of you know by now, today is my last day of service at Living Waters.

Conspiracy theorists, gossips, and twisted atheist bunker minions will try to make my departure from Living Waters something it is not. So, I write this blog post to set the record straight, in order to leave no doubt as to why I was laid-off and as to the state of my continued relationship with the Living Waters family.

The decision to end my time of service with Living Waters was strictly a financial one. The world-wide financial down-turn has greatly impacted churches and ministries around the world. God, by His grace and mercy, has sustained and continues to sustain Living Waters. But Living Waters has felt the growing financial pressure of a failing economy.

I am confident beyond words that my release from Living Waters was a "last resort" decision based entirely upon the financial health of the ministry.

I have and will continue to have the utmost love and respect for Ray, E.Z., and the rest of the Living Waters family. As I state in the below letter, they are my family. I love them all very much; and I know they love me.

Nothing I do in the future, regarding my evangelistic ministry, will ever be fueled with so much as a drop of anger, bitterness, or resentment toward Living Waters. Nor will it be fueled by any sense of competition with my Living Waters family. It stands to reason that whatever I do next will resemble what I have done with Living Waters the last several years; but only because I'm an evangelist--again, not because of any desire to compete with Living Waters.

I love Living Waters and everyone who serves with the ministry--a ministry that has greatly blessed me and my family, and has better equipped me to serve as one of Christ's gospel heralds.

What follows is an email I sent to the Living Waters staff the day after I learned I was to be laid-off. Once you have read the letter, I will share a few thoughts about the future. Here's the letter.
To My Living Waters Family:

In 2007, never in a million years did I think I would one-day be part of the Living Waters Family. I was one of those evangelists that dreamed of what it would be like to serve alongside Ray, E.Z., Mark, Scotty, and the entire staff at Living Waters.

I remember as if it were yesterday coming to Living Waters in 2005 to meet Ray. It was arranged by Lynn Copeland, who had just published my book, “Take Up The Shield.” What would later be my first office was, at the time, the renowned “Ping-Pong Room.” Ray and Scotty schooled me that day. It was one of the VERY few times in my life I didn’t mind losing. I was hanging-out with two of my evangelism heroes.

And then I got the call from E.Z., in November 2007, asking me to join the team to design and lead the Ambassadors’ Alliance. We all like to think we pray long and hard about big decisions; and sometimes we do. But, truth be known, it took very little time for me to accept and answer the call to come serve, with all of you, at Living Waters.

I have been so very blessed to work with each of you, to one extent or another, over the last 4 ½ years. It has been a joy. An honor. A privilege. A very rare gift. Thank you.

This would be a very long email (not that I’m opposed to such things  ) if I were to thank each of you individually. And, with all honesty, I cannot convey at this time how much I love and appreciate each of you. Each of you are family to me.

As to what’s next, well, I haven’t a clue. I know what I would like to do (full-time missions on the street), but I need to determine, to the extent I am able, what our Great God and King would have me do. I will keep you posted.

I do hope we will all stay in touch . . . You can also join me on this new chapter in my life by following me at my blog: www.crossencounters.us.

What is happening at Living Waters is no one’s fault; because what is happening is according to the sovereign plan of God—the God who never fails, never errs, never lies. The fact that all of us, at this moment, are enduring sacrifice and maybe some hardship in no way implicates God in turning His back on any of us, or on this wonderful ministry. While He is not working as maybe we’ve each planned, He most certainly is at work; bringing Himself glory through each of our lives and through this ministry.

Let us all remember that the work of God is far more important than any single worker or group of workers. The Lord of the Harvest and His work is infinitely more important than those of us in the field. I say this to remind us all that what the Lord has done for decades, what He is doing now, and what He will continue to do through Living Waters, is more important than any of us as individuals.

While I most certainly do not want to leave, I consider it a worthy sacrifice if my departure means Living Waters will be around longer and grow healthier as a result of my absence. The work of Living Waters is more important than I am. It must continue for the glory of God, the edification of His Church, and the salvation of the lost.

My last day is next Wednesday [today]. I will be out of the office tomorrow, as Mahria and I travel to San Jose for the NorCal Fire conference. I will be back in the office Monday. I will shepherd “On the Box” Monday through Wednesday. And then I leave for London, on Thursday [tomorrow].

I will miss each of you very much. I will never forget the many, many fond memories, laughs, and tears I’ve shared with you.

I won’t bother to ask for prayer, because I know you will be praying for me and my family.

The Lord’s very best for you all, my dear friends.
As I state in the letter, my immediate future consists of two weeks of open-air preaching, on the streets of London (UK). I cannot wait to go where I have never been to proclaim a gospel some have never heard. And I cannot wait to enjoy the fellowship, accountability, and encouragement I will undoubtedly receive from my teammates.

Come Monday, August 13, however, I do not yet know what the Lord has planned for me. My hope, my fondest wish, is that the Lord will allow me to preach His gospel on the streets of cities around the country and around the world until He determines to take me home. If not that, then I would ask Him to allow me to step back into a pulpit and to pastor one of His flocks--a church.

If I've learned anything during my 24 years of Christian life, it is this. I've learned never to say, "God wouldn't do that." I've also learned to never question God, as if to see Him as One who has made a mistake. He is perfectly omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is complete sovereign over everything, including my life and the life of my family.

He knew, from eternity past, this day would come. He is never taken by surprise. And He knows perfectly exactly what He is doing. Therefore, I can trust Him--really trust Him. And I do trust Him.

While my family and I have experienced significant seasons of change (law enforcement to church planter; church planter to missionary; missionary to Living Waters; Living Waters to ???), such seasons can be filled with uncertainty. And, from experience, one of the great traps during times of change is convincing one's self that what they want to do is also what the Lord wants them to do. I do not want to make that mistake. So, I am surrounding myself with men I trust who will give me godly counsel; and I am seeking the prayers of others--friends like you.

On my new blog, "Cross Encounters," you will find, at the top of the page, a link for "Speaking Requests." Here you will find my bio, videos, and few pictures; along with a "speaking request" form. As the Lord reveals how He would like me to serve Him next, I am looking forward to more opportunities to preach in pulpits, speak at conferences, and encourage and hit the streets with my faithful street evangelism brethren, through trips to their area.

Stay tuned. I will keep you posted as the Lord determines my steps.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jake Was Not a 'Clump of Cells'

The following article contains images that may not be appropriate
for younger readers. Viewer discretion is advised.

Last night we received an email, via our Living Waters, general email address, from Leslie (South Dakota). Leslie wrote:
Hello.

I was reading your latest newsletter about the "180 baby" and wanted to share with you a picture of my baby. We did desperately want this baby. He was not unwanted. Unfortunately, something was just wrong and he was born too early. I was 13 weeks along. When I "lost" the baby, I was in Target shopping. I called my doctor and she told me that many people think that they are losing the baby but it is usually just a clump of cells. I took him to her just to prove her wrong. His name is Jake, and he is praising Jesus with all the hosts in Heaven.

Thanks.

Leslie

And here is a picture of Jake...a baby boy.


A little person.


A human life.

You cannot look at Jake and see a "clump of cells." Only the most hardened of hearts and dishonest of minds could look at Jake and not see a baby boy. And one example of the hardness of hearts and the dishonesty of minds is given in Leslie's email, when she shared her doctor told her that Jake was likely just a clump of cells. Yet abortion clinics, doctors, nurses, abortion advocates, politicians, and teachers continue to refer to unborn children, in the early stages of physical development, as a "clump of cells."

As my good friend, Brad Snow, pointed out, most pro-abortion people use the term "clump of cells" in such a way as to infer what is growing in the womb is something unorganized becoming organized. Interestingly, this way of thinking fits nicely with an unscientific, nonsensical, even atheistic worldview. Those who hold to such a worldview often see the universe, the word around us, and life in general as unorganized, lacking design and purpose, and the utterly random, happenstance result of something coming to life, existing, and evolving out of nothing (a scientific impossibility).

So, Brad and I decided to do a little checking. What exactly is a "clump?"

Medical dictionaries define the term this way: "a clustered mass of particles (as bacteria or blood cells)."

A term related to "clump" is "agglutination," which is defined this way: "a reaction in which particles (as red blood cells or bacteria) suspended in a liquid collect into clumps and which occurs especially as a serological response to a specific antibody."

One of the many synonyms of the word "clump" is "hodgepodge," which is defined this way: "a heterogeneous mixture; a jumble."

This definition aroused my curiosity, so I looked up the definition of "heterogeneous" and discovered the word means this: "different in kind; unlike; incongruous; composed of parts of different kinds; having widely dissimilar elements or constituents: The party was attended by a heterogeneous group of artists, politicians, and social climbers."

Take another look at Jake. Does he look like a clump, a hodgepodge, a heterogeneous mass of cells that are different in kind, unlike, incongruous, having widely dissimilar elements?

No. Jake was a beautifully designed little boy who was intricately woven in his mother's womb. "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well" (Psalm 139:13-14).

If you have ever had an abortion, you did not remove a clump of cells from your body. You ended the life of your baby.

If you have ever encouraged or coerced a woman to have an abortion, you did not encourage or coerce her to have a clump of cells surgically removed from her body. You aided and abetted the systematic killing of the woman's baby--and your baby, if you were the father.

If you are a doctor or nurse who is involved in abortions, you are not relieving women of tissue, you are killing children--children like Jake.

If you profess to be a Christian and you believe a woman should have a right to do this to the Jakes of the world, then you should examine yourself to see if you are even in the faith. You are not pro-life. For no follower of Jesus Christ would knowingly and wantonly buy the lie that what grows in a mother's womb is a "clump of cells." And no genuine follower of Jesus Christ would serve as a co-conspirator in the murder of the unborn by voting for politicians who are pro-abortion.

But your sins are forgivable, but only through genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Please read the following closely. Your very soul may depend on it.

When you die (and we will all die someday), you will stand before God and give an account for your life--every decision made, every action taken, every idea thought, every word spoken. He will judge each of us according to the perfect moral standard of His Law. If we have sinned against Him in any way (and all sin is against God)--if we have lied, stolen, looked with lust, taken His name in vain, hated another person, or coveted someone else's possessions; He will find us guilty of breaking His Law.

We also sin against God when we fashion a Jesus in our mind to suit ourselves--when we create a Jesus in our imagination with whom we are comfortable. This is called idolatry. It is idolatrous to change the character of Jesus Christ and make Him into Someone who turns a blind eye to sin or even applauds sin.

When you stand before God, if He finds you guilty of breaking His Law, He will punish your sin. And the punishment God has ascribed for sin is eternity in Hell. He must do what is right, because He is holy, righteous, and just.

I don't want that for you. I don't want that for anyone.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. In addition to being holy, righteous, and just; God is also, loving, merciful, and kind.

2,000 years ago, God the Father sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was and is fully God and fully Man, yet without sin. Unlike you and me, He never once violated the Law of God in thought, word, or deed. He couldn't because He was and is God in the flesh--the sinless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

Jesus lived the perfect life (a life pleasing to God the Father) that neither you nor I can live. About 33 years into His earthly existence, He voluntarily went to the cross. He suffered and died a horrific, bloody death to take upon Himself the punishment you and I rightly deserve for our sins against God. Three days later, He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. He is alive today, and He will return at a time of the Father's choosing.

What God commands of you is the same thing He commands of me and all people everywhere. He commands that we repent (turn from our sin and turn toward God); and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

You may have heard this (or something similar) in the past, maybe even in church. But it is not enough to nod your head in agreement and then believe in a Jesus whose character is different than the one, true Jesus of the Bible.

Like everyone else, you must come to Jesus Christ on His terms, not your own.

Please, repent of your sin and, by faith and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, while He has given you time.

~~~~~

Leslie, we are very grateful to you and your husband for allowing us to share your testimony and your pictures of little Jake. We pray, as I know you do, that Jake's short life and early death will serve to awaken the world to the reality that babies like Jake are not clumps of cells. They are people, created by God for His glory.

And let me encourage everyone who reads this article to watch this important documentary.

"You're Nothing Without Me" and Other Atheist Misunderstandings and Straw Man Arguments (Part 3)

By Tony Miano


7. "You're a terrible person and you need me to be better."

Many of these assertions/objections are simply reworded statements, which all have the same underlying premise. "I'm a good person." Therefore, I will simply restate the answer I gave to assertion/statement #4.

The statement drips with arrogance, self-righteousness, and sinful delusion. A person who would make such a statement as an objection to Christianity is a person who actually believes in their deluded mind that they are better than God.

There's no need to spend a lot of time on this one, because the person who would make this statement has already shown their inability to reason, and an inability to see themselves in their true light.

God alone is good (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19).

No mere human being is good (Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 51:1-3; Romans 3:10-18), according to God's standard: moral perfection (Matthew 5:48).

8. "You're not worthy of my love."

Again, the faulty underlying premise that people are inherently good is obvious in the eighth assertion/statement.

If you are reading this and you are a person who thinks you are worthy of God's love, there's no other way to break the news to you than to simply tell you the truth.

You are not worthy of God's love. No one is. No one.

No one deserves a gift. Anything received that is deserved is a wage, payment, or credit. And God, in His Word, has much to say about wages, payments, and credit.

The wages earned for your sin is not God's love, but death.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23, NIV, emphasis added).

You will never pay God enough to be worthy of His love.

"No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—o that they should live on forever and not see decay" (Psalm 49:7-9, NIV, emphasis added).

And God gives no credit, let alone extra credit, for simply doing the things every person ought to do, in obedience to God and His Word.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full (Luke 6:32-34, NIV, emphasis added).

The word "worthy" appears 44 times in the ESV translation of the Bible.

Jacob realized that he was worthy of nothing from God.

"And Jacob said, 'O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, "Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good," I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children'" (Genesis 32:9-11, emphasis added).

John the Baptist realized he was not worthy to be in the presence of the Lord.

"Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:10-12, emphasis added).

A Gentile soldier realized that he was unworthy to have God incarnate step foot in his house.

"And he said to him, 'I will come and heal him.' But the centurion replied, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, "Go," and he goes, and to another, "Come," and he comes, and to my servant, "Do this," and he does it'" (Matthew 8:7-9, emphasis added).

Jesus made it very clear that whoever loves other people, even one's self, more than they love Jesus are not worthy of Him. Three times in the span of two sentences Jesus drives this point home.

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37-38, emphasis added).

Nowhere in God's Word will you find a statement by God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, or the disciples that in any way affirms the false notion that sinful people are worthy of God's love. And this is what makes God's love so amazing. This is what differentiates the beautiful, pure, and holy love of God from the selfish, lustful, and otherwise sinful forms of love so often touted by people as "good."

God's love for sinners is not tainted by sin.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).

The only one who is worthy of praise, honor, glory, and love is Jesus Christ the Lord.

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created" (Revelation 4:11).

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever" (Revelation 5:13)!

So, again, it is true and will always be true. No one is worthy of God's love. And until those who think otherwise come to terms with their unworthiness, they will not and cannot love God, nor receive His gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.

9. I'm only doing this because I love you.

Those who would try to use the above statement as some kind of ammunition against God and against biblical Christianity likely ascribe to one of a few schools of thought (of course there might be others). They have either been victimized in some way, with the perpetrator insisting what they were doing was an act of love. Or they remain the spoiled brats they were as a child, maintaining the narcissistic belief they should receive whatever they want whenever they want it. They may have never come to terms with the reality that parents discipline their children or withhold things from the children because they love their children.

Another school of thought, which I won't spend any time dealing with here, is "Why do bad things happen to good people?" Since it's been well established in this series of articles that, according to God's Word, there are no good people; suffice to say bad things don't happen to good people. Bad things (of varying degrees) happen to everyone, because no one is good--no not one (see Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:10-18).

God lovingly disciplines His children.

"Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.'

"It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:3-17).

Only those who are graciously adopted by God, through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, are His children (born again followers of Jesus Christ; John 3:3, 7). All others are not children of God, but rather children of wrath.

"For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:34-36).

"So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:12-17).

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind" (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Those who are not God's truly adopted children do not face the discipline of a heavenly Father. They face the wrath and judgment of a holy Judge.

"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth" (Colossians 3:5-8).

"Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand'" (Revelation 6:15-17)?

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

10. Don't listen to anyone who doesn't understand what we have.

This last assertion is rather nonsensical, which is consistent with the atheistic worldview as a whole. But, for the sake of this article, I'm going to assume the author is, in some way, espousing views consistent with the intolerant and utterly inconsistent "COEXIST" lobby.

Every time I run into a "COEXISTer" and dare to challenge them on their worldview, regardless of how gentile I am with my words (and, yes, I'm capable of that), they seem to be gung-ho to tolerate everything--everything but biblical Christianity.

The reason there is no room for biblical Christianity (and not the pseudo-Christianity of most liberal denominations) on the "COEXIST" bumper sticker is because unsaved people cannot tolerate the exclusive claims of the real Jesus Christ. Their sinful, self-righteous, self-absorbed nature just will not allow it.

And any person who claims to be a Christian while denying the exclusivity of Christ and biblical Christianity, is likely not truly saved. They may very well be false converts who has never come to genuine repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Note to Atheist Readers: You can leave your Scotsman friend at home. The fallacy you like to trot out to appease your conscience and skirt around a significant and true biblical issue (true and false conversion) carries no weight here. The Word of God is true, while one of your favorite fallacies is full of holes.

Following the false and blasphemous gods of Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, Scientology, Raelism, Urantianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Oprah-Winfreyism, or any other man-made religion leads only to death, punishment, and eternity in Hell. There is no hope of real forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life apart from genuine repentance toward and faith in the one true Jesus Christ, the Creator, the God of the Bible.

Here are some of the exclusive claims of Jesus.

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:6).

"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28).

"I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9).

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14-16).

"'God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.' The woman said to him, 'I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.' Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he'" (John 4:24-26).

The same cannot rightly or truthfully be said about any other god or any other representative of any of the myriad of false gods that presently plague the earth.

~~~~~

There you have it--a Christian response to a piece of artwork, which is based on a fallacious, atheistic worldview--a worldview derived from a depraved ignorance to what the Bible actually says and what Christians actually believe. And all who place themselves under a godless worldview will nonetheless stand before God to give an account for their lives. On that great and terrible day, they will not be able to claim innocence or ignorance.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen" (Romans 1:18-25).

But you do not have to remain in your self-induced ignorance, maintaining your self-proclaimed innocence.

Please read the following closely. Your very soul may depend on it.

When you die (and we will all die someday), you will stand before God and give an account for your life--every decision made, every action taken, every idea thought, every word spoken. He will judge each of us according to the perfect moral standard of His Law. If we have sinned against Him in any way (and all sin is against God)--if we have lied, stolen, looked with lust, taken His name in vain, hated another person, or coveted someone else's possessions; He will find us guilty of breaking His Law.

We also sin against God when we fashion a Jesus in our mind to suit ourselves--when we create a Jesus in our imagination with whom we are comfortable. This is called idolatry. It is idolatrous to change the character of Jesus Christ and make Him into Someone who turns a blind eye to sin or even applauds sin.

When you stand before God, if He finds you guilty of breaking His Law, He will punish your sin. And the punishment God has ascribed for sin is eternity in Hell. He must do what is right, because He is holy, righteous, and just.

I don't want that for you. I don't want that for anyone.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. In addition to being holy, righteous, and just; God is also, loving, merciful, and kind.

2,000 years ago, God the Father sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was and is fully God and fully Man, yet without sin. Unlike you and me, He never once violated the Law of God in thought, word, or deed. He couldn't because He was and is God in the flesh--the sinless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

Jesus lived the perfect life (a life pleasing to God the Father) that neither you nor I can live. About 33 years into His earthly existence, He voluntarily went to the cross. He suffered and died a horrific, bloody death to take upon Himself the punishment you and I rightly deserve for our sins against God. Three days later, He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. He is alive today, and He will return at a time of the Father's choosing.

What God commands of you is the same thing He commands of me and all people everywhere. He commands that we repent (turn from our sin and turn toward God); and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

You may have heard this (or something similar) in the past, maybe even in church. But it is not enough to nod your head in agreement and then believe in a Jesus whose character is different than the one, true Jesus of the Bible.

Like everyone else, you must come to Jesus Christ on His terms, not your own.

Please, repent of your sin and, by faith and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, while He has given you time.

And let me encourage you to watch this important documentary.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Father's Day 2009 at Gettysburg

In June of 2009, my family and I took a two-week vacation to Washington, DC. For me, one of the most memorable times during our trip was the day we spent at Gettysburg National Park. It was Father's Day.

A week or so before our trip, I contacted Gettysburg National Park and obtained a permit to open-air preach, during our visit to the park. Park officials gave me just a few options regarding the location I would preach. One of the options was Devil's Den.

It seemed like an appropriate place.

The crowd in that part of the park, especially considering the holiday, was small. But I was very blessed that a few local Christians heard I would be there, so they came to lend their support. And two of my spiritual daughters, along with their brother, drove more than three hours from Northern Pennsylvania to be there with us.

Being an amateur (emphasis necessary) Civil War historian, I was overwhelmed to be on such historic and hallowed ground. Add to that my general nervousness about open-air preaching in such an important place--a place, up to that point, I had only dreamed of visiting--well, I was shaking just a bit.

My pulse was racing as I stepped down from the rock. It certainly wasn't my best open-air; but the gospel was preached and that's all that really matters. And it would be an open-air I will never forget.

It would be hours after my Devil's Den open-air experience, while my family and I looked down upon the ferocious killing place from atop Little Round Top, that my emotions would finally catch up with me. I fought back tears as I thanked God for the opportunity to preach the gospel where thousands of men, almost 150 years ago, had given the last full measure; and for my family who helped to make it possible.

Here is my Father's Day 2009 Gettysburg open-air.

A Conversation with Sarah (Part 3)

You can read Part 1 of my conversation with Sarah, here. And you can read Part 2, here.

To Sarah:

Hi, Sarah. :-)

It was a busy weekend. And things are going to be pretty busy for me the next few weeks, as I am traveling to San Jose this coming weekend, and then I’m off to London for two weeks.

I hope you had a nice weekend and, as before, I hope this email finds you well.

I would like to address a couple things you wrote in your last email. I will address one, now; and the next one in my, well, next email. :-)

You wrote:

“I understand the concept, about a building needing a builder; and a painting needing a painter. However, when I look at the world around me, I don't see it through the same eyes as you do. I suppose, it could be a suppression of some sort, but I don't think I am suppressing anything. I try to see things logically, and intellectually. For me, my belief is logical. However, I'm not 100% sure on anything anymore, so yes, I could be wrong.”

I would like to talk about logic. I understand what you are saying—that you want to look at and see things through a logical and intellectual lens. But I would assert that you cannot do so apart from the reality of God. And here is how and why I can make such a claim.

Let’s look at the characteristics of logic.

  1. Logic is immaterial. You cannot go to your refrigerator and pull out a stick of logic. Logic is not something you can touch, see, or quantify in some intelligible way.
  2. Logic is absolute. Logic is not limited by restrictions or conditions. Logic is independent of any outside influences. Logic must be perfect in quality or nature, and it must be complete, or, by definition, logic becomes illogical.
  3. Logic is universal. Logic affects everyone, everywhere. The various laws of logic apply in the United States, exactly as they do in Canada, Mexico, and a grass hut in some remote region of the world.
  4. Logic is eternal. There is not beginning or end point of logic. Logic exists outside of time.
  5. Logic is unchanging. Logic is constant. They are unchanging.
  6. Logic is impartial. Logic is unbiased and unprejudiced. The laws of logic are not subject to the opinions or whims of men. While men are influenced by the laws of logic, men have no influence whatsoever on the laws of logic.
  7. Logic is transcendent. The laws of logic are preeminent. They are supreme. Nothing can legitimately undermine or circumvent the laws of logic.

Now, let’s look at some of the characteristics/attributes of God.

  1. God is immaterial. The Word of God declares that God is Spirit (John 4:24).
  2. God is absolute. God is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:31). If God was imperfect, He would immediately cease to be God.
  3. God is omnipresent/universal (Psalm 139:7-10).
  4. God is eternal. He has no beginning or end. He is outside of space and time (Isaiah 57:15).
  5. God is immutable/unchanging (James 1:17).
  6. God is impartial. He cannot be bribed (Deuteronomy 10:17).
  7. God is sovereign/transcendent (1 Timothy 6:13-16).

You see, Sarah, without God there can be no logic. Logic is, by its very nature and design, a reflection of the character and attributes of God.

Apart from God you (and no one else, for that matter) can give no accounting for your ability to reason.

Without God, we would live in an utterly random, illogical, unintellectual, unreasonable universe.

Evolution can give no legitimate accounting for logic, intellect, or reason. They have to take from the Christian worldview in order to do so—in order to argue against the Christian worldview. According to theoretical atheistic evolution, we are merely the byproduct of chance encounters of meaningless particles in a chaotic, disorderly universe, which, in and of itself, cannot give an explanation for the obvious intricacies of the design and order of the universe.

And, again, I submit to you, Sarah, that you do see what I have just shared with you, in the world and universe around you. I greatly appreciate your honesty regarding your uncertainty. The problem is you are trying to apply logic and reason to your thinking while denying the One who not only created logic and reason, but gave you the ability to think logically and reasonably…God. It is an impossible task to remove the Great Logician from one of the very things that testifies to His magnificent character…logic.

In addition to reading this, which I know you will, I hope you will also take time to read the Scripture verses I referenced. Barring a change in direction, which I welcome (I’m here to serve you), in my next email I will address why you find the Bible strange and not compelling.

Have a great day, Sarah! Praying for you!

From Sarah:

Good morning Tony,

I hope your trip to London is a safe one, and that you have a good time.

My family & I are doing well.

I cannot deny that I do see what you are saying, and I read the Bible verses.

We have talked about our oldest daughter, and we have pictures of her all around the house. What my daughter said to me really made me think, and then you tell me about logic.

My daughters were invited to VBS this week, and that is where they are now. Yesterday, my one girl brought home a paper; on this paper she had simple drawings...flowers, trees, and in the center was what looked like a hand to me, and in this hand was what looked like a baby. She said, "Look Mommy! Look what God made!" I said, "That's very nice. I like it. Is that a baby?" My daughter said, "That's my sister, and you know what? God made her Mommy, God made her! He made trees and flowers and birds, too! I think God has my sister in his hand, 'cause if he can make flowers he sure can make a baby."

What words from a 6 year old!

I kind of sat there for a minute and didn't have much to say. I read your email last night, and it all kind of hit me at once. I guess, in some ways, I borrow from the Christian worldview. Never thought about it, and certainly never really thought about logic. Yes, I cannot give an account for our ability to reason. I can't say anymore, that I don't see proof for God. Kind of strange, because I've always believed I never did. Simple drawings, and a little bit of real logic changed the picture for me.

I think I can't account for alot of things.

Part of me, doesn't like writing this email. I've always been comfortable in what I believe, and truthfully, this does not make me comfortable.

With that said, I won't stop emailing. I'll continue to be honest in what I type. I don't have any arguments against what you emailed.

I guess with that said, I don't know what to ask next.

Thank you, Sarah. :)

To Sarah:

Sarah,

I could not help but rejoice and thank God after reading your email. All though it is still early here, in California, I can honestly say you have made my day. :-)

Thank you so very much for sharing your little girl’s story from VBS. It takes me back many years to when my girls were that age. They are now 25, 22, and 17.

The Bible speaks much about children and the innocence and simplicity of faith. We grown-ups have a tendency to complicate things. Sometimes, contrary to what many think, we can become too smart (at least in our own minds) for our own good.

Regarding children, Jesus said:
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” ~ Luke 18:15-17 (see also Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 10:13-14)

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” ~ Luke 17:1-5
Sarah, I understand your discomfort in writing your last email. I remember feeling the same way when, as an unbeliever, my ideas about God and myself were being turned upside down as a Christian friend challenged my thinking. My prayer for you is that the internal turmoil continues until God reconciles you to Himself, extending to you the free gifts of repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and salvation. It is not that I want you to suffer in any way. On the contrary: my prayer is that you receive the freedom, peace, joy, forgiveness, grace, and mercy only Jesus Christ can give. I want the very best for you.

As far as where we should go next: if it’s okay with you, I would like to continue with my plan to address what you shared in your previous email regarding your questions/misgivings regarding the Bible. I will try to do that in the next day or two.

Praying for you and your family.

From Sarah:

Yes, that is fine and I do appreciate it. Thanks for your patience! :)

~~~~~

Stay tuned for Part 4 of my conversation with Sarah.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"You're Nothing Without Me" and Other Atheist Misunderstandings and Straw Man Arguments (Part 2)

By Tony Miano


4. "You will never find ANYONE good as me."

Again... And?... So?...

The statement drips with arrogance, self-righteousness, and sinful delusion. A person who would make such a statement as an objection to Christianity is a person who actually believes in their deluded mind that they are better than God.

There's no need to spend a lot of time on this one, because the person who would make this statement has already shown their inability to reason, and an inability to see themselves in their true light.

God alone is good (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19).

No mere human being is good (Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 51:1-3; Romans 3:10-18), according to God's standard: moral perfection (Matthew 5:48).

5. "You brought this upon yourself."

This can be true and not true, depending upon the circumstances.

The victim of an unprovoked crime, such as an act of violence, did not bring the attack upon themselves. A child does not bring upon themselves the verbal or physical abuse of a parent or relative. A convenience store worker does not bring upon themselves a robbery at the hands of a criminal opportunist. The Jews did not bring upon themselves the Holocaust. And an unborn child does not bring upon themselves their own murder at the hands of his or her parents and the depraved physicians who carry out the act.

The drunk driver brings upon himself his arrest for drunk driving. The drug addict brings upon herself the overdose that almost kills her. The adulterer brings upon himself the end of his marriage and the destruction of his family. The man who lacks integrity or is a sloth at work brings upon himself his termination from his job. The liar and the thief brings upon herself the loss of trust of her friends and family. The coveter brings upon himself a life of perpetual dissatisfaction and lack of contentment.

The idea that a person can't or won't believe in Jesus or God because they believe God would say to them in a given set of circumstances, "you brought this on yourself," carries with it a couple of logical fallacies. One is the "appeal to pity" fallacy. In this fallacy, the person making the assertions expects the hearer(s)to accept their argument based on an appeal to emotions or sympathy.

Another fallacy employed with this line of "reasoning" is known as a "non sequitur." Those who engage in this fallacy will make comments or present information that does not logically follow from a premise or the conclusion. Again, the premise expressed in the image about which I am offering this commentary is that there are "truths" about Christianity (and thus God and Jesus Christ) that turn people away from Christianity. And the alleged conclusion is that Christianity is invalid.

I don't like governments that persecute Christians, therefore North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China are invalid governments that do not exist.

It's a ridiculous line of thinking, isn't it?

And it is even more ridiculous to assert Christianity is invalid because the God of Christianity does or says things you do not like--especially when the allegations made are based on a misunderstanding of the character of God and a misapplication of His Word, the Bible.

The bottom line, however, is this: you are responsible for your sins against God. If you have done, said, or thought anything contrary to His Law (lying, stealing, looking with lustful intent, blasphemy, idolatry of the mind, hatred, coveting, etc.), then whatever consequences you may face in this life, and the eternal consequences you will face when you stand before God in judgment, are consequences you have brought upon yourself. You have no one but yourself to blame.

6. "I know best."

As expected whenever an unbeliever tries to compile a list like this (take for instance the ludicrous and fallacious musings of the man who put together the "Why won't God heal amputees" video), the assertions get weaker with each passing number. This assertion is a case in point.

The person who worships the false god of self is the person who presumes to know more or better than God. Inexcusable ignorance and sinful arrogance are the driving forces behind such thinking.

God is omniscient, while the unsaved man is woefully, spiritually blind by sin. Of course God knows better than man!

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?' 'Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:33-36).

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness" (Isaiah 40:12-17).

"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit" (Psalm 147:5).

"Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed" (1 Samuel 2:3).

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).

"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything" (1 John 3:19-20).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is Open-Air Preaching Effective? Ask Mohammed and Cathy


I was joined this morning at the North Hollywood Metro Station by Steven Masters, Bill McCarty, John Brady, David Carosa, Peter Garon, and Pastor Geoff Kirkland of Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St. Louis, MO). I'm very blessed to have a small group of faithful men who are willing to give of their time to join me in harvest work.

Today marked Week 2 of my participation in Challenge 66--an effort to encourage open-air preachers to craft at least one open-air sermon from all 66 books of the Bible. My first open-air of the day was drawn from Exodus 3:1-14. I've titled the message "The Great I Am is Jesus Christ."

Shortly after I began to preach, I heard a commotion near the entrance to the metro station, more than 50 yards away. I looked in that direction and saw a security guard and a vendor take a man to the ground. I would later learn that the security guard contacted the man after he received complaints the man was bothering people outside the station. When the security guard approached him, the man pushed the security guard. It was his first mistake.

David called 9-1-1, and within minutes sheriffs deputies, firefighters, paramedics, and more security guards converged on the area. At the height of the chaos there were at least 30-40 first responders at the metro station. And they all arrived directly behind me. The aftermath is the scene in the above photo.

The man was handcuffed, treated by paramedics for injuries he sustained during the altercation, and transported to the hospital via ambulance.

I thank God for the incident. A crowd gathered to watch the happenings. The first responders milled around for quite some time, collecting and exchanging information. All of which gave me the opportunity to preach the law and the gospel to more people--including my brothers and sisters behind the badge, many of whom received gospel tracts from other members of the team.

Here's the first open-air.



Next to preach was Bill McCarty. As Bill preached, I joined the rest of my brothers distributing gospel tracts, snapping a few photos along the way. The below photo captured one of the most blessed moments of the day.


This is David Carosa talking to Mohammed. When David handed Mohammed a gospel tract, Mohammed said he did not know how to read. So, David took the time to read the gospel tract to Mohammed. As I watched David and Mohammed, I thought of the church in the first century--how excited they were to receive a letter from Paul or one of the other apostles. Most people in the first century were not blessed with the ability to read. So, they often heard the gospel and the doctrines of the Word of God while listening to others read the letters of the apostles.

Once David read the gospel tract, he prayed for Mohammed.

Yet many Christians foolishly assert gospel tracts are ineffective, irrelevant, passe. Such people would have an impossible time convincing my friend, David, of that. And they would probably have an equally-hard time convincing Mohammed.


Toward the end of our time today at the metro station, Bill McCarty and I found ourselves in a conversation with a young lady who insisted baptism is required for salvation. She denied being a member of the International Church of Christ, but her tactics and rhetoric had all the markings of one of the cult's "disciple-makers."

The conversation with the young lady motivated me to preach my second open-air, choosing as my text Galatians 1:6-10. I titled the message "Beware of 'Other' Gospels."

It was getting close to noon and the temperature was approaching 100 degrees. There were people sitting around waiting for their buses to arrive. I noticed one lady sitting about 100 feet away, to my right. I watched as she repeatedly wiped tears from her eyes.

Her name was Cathy.

Open-air preachers--those of us who have been at it for awhile--pray to see even one person moved, not by our preaching, but by the message we preach. And our prayer is not that people would be emotionally moved, but rather moved by the Holy Spirit as they are drawn to God the Father, and given the precious gifts of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. My prayer as I preached was that Cathy's visible emotion was the byproduct of godly grief producing repentance leading to salvation, and not merely a worldly grief leading only to death (2 Corinthians 7:10).

At times, I felt as though I was only preaching for Cathy's benefit.

My open-air was interrupted by three people. One woman frantically asked for prayer, for the group. Another person in the group was a blind man. The third person turned out to be the adult daughter of the frantic woman.

I stopped preaching to pray for the three people. You can hear my interaction with them, in the below audio.

Once I had prayed for the people, I gathered the team together to close our time at the metro station, with prayer. I am not ashamed to say I was overcome with emotion as I thanked God for what He allowed us to do, and for allowing us to see Him work--all for His glory.

We headed to our cars. The plan was to enjoy some fellowship at our favorite hamburger joint--In-n-Out Burgers.

As Steven and I walked to the car, Cathy, the lady who wept during the open-air, stood up and said, "Is that it? Did someone tell you you had to leave?." She seemed genuinely upset that there would be no more preaching.

"Oh, no. No one told us to leave. We've been here since nine o'clock this morning. And, well, we're just done for the day. That's all." I said.

I asked Cathy if she had a Bible. She said she did not. So, I gave her one. It was then that I asked her name, telling her I wanted to know for whom I would be praying.

Cathy said, "Please do. You see, I have stage four cancer."

I asked Cathy if Steven and I could pray for her, right then and there. She allowed us to pray for her.

Many Christians foolishly assert open-air preaching is ineffective, irrelevant, passe. Such people would have an impossible time convincing me of that. And they would probably have an equally-hard time convincing Cathy.

Are gospel tracts and open-air preaching effective? Ask Mohammed and Cathy.

Here's the second open-air.

Friday, July 13, 2012

"You're Nothing Without Me" and Other Atheist Misunderstandings and Straw Man Arguments (Part 1)

By Tony Miano


This is Part 1 in a series of blog posts.

The above image, which is making its way around the Internet, is titled: "The Parallel That Turned Me Away From Christianity."

I would retitle the image: "The 'Truth' That Turns People Away from Christianity." In order to show why I would change the title to what I have offered, I will show that each of the ten statements in the image are either a truth unbelievers hate, or a "straw man" argument created to justify the person's hatred of God and His truth.

1. "You're nothing without me"

The only time the phrase "you are nothing" appears in the Bible is in Isaiah 41:24, which reads: "Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you."

A simple look at the context in which Isaiah 41:24 is found will show that God did not use the phrase when speaking of people in general, but rather of the idols (in the forms of false gods) people worshiped at the time. See for yourself as you read Isaiah 41:21-24.
Set forth your case, says the Lord; bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob. Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come. Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified. Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you.
What the image quotes as something God would say, sounds more like what a child might hear from an abusive, sinful mother or father. Sadly, it is not uncommon for people to mistake God as having the same characteristics of the childhood authority in their lives--mom and dad. And if their parent(s) were verbally or physically abusive, it's not hard (although wrong) for that same child-now-grownup to make the same mistaken leap. "God is an authority figure. My parents were authority figures. My parents told me I was worthless. God must think I'm worthless, too."

Another reason people may employ the "God thinks I'm nothing" mantra is because they do not want to be in submission to anyone, let alone God. The fact that God has a moral standard, one that is written on each and every person's heart; the fact that everyone knows God exists and they will one-day stand before Him to give an account for their lives, brings out the sin nature that has indwelt ever person since their individual conception. They deny God exists and, at the same time, are angry with Him because He would dare to hold them accountable to His law--His moral standard. So, to appease their own guilt and to justify their sin, they simple suppress the truth of God's existence and their accountability to Him, through their unrighteousness.

Yet one more reason for the above sentiment is people believe they are inherently good. And, believing thus, they cannot comprehend why God would make them feel less than good by asserting He alone is good and by making it very clear in His Word no mere person is good. They cannot comprehend why God would judge them as unrighteous, according to His standard, when, according to their own standard, they are very good.

So, in order to more comfortably deny the negative truth they already know about themselves, some people build a straw man argument and then tear it down. They illogically argue: "I think I'm good. God thinks I'm nothing. Therefore, I cannot accept Christianity."

While God nowhere says in His Word "you are nothing without me," He does make it abundantly clear people--all people--are lost and bound for Hell without Him.
"The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:35-36).

"As it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.' 'Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.' 'The venom of asps is under their lips.' 'Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.' 'Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.' 'There is no fear of God before their eyes'" (Romans 3:10-18).

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind" (Ephesians 2:1-3).
But the good news is this: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

God, in fact loves those who are unlovable. He loves those who are utterly unworthy of His love and affection. He saves those who do not deserve to be saved. He forgives those who cannot earn His forgiveness.

God is good. The problem isn't with God. The problem is with sinners who refuse to submit to Him and love Him as they should.

2. "If you even think about leaving me..."

This sentiment, like the first, has all the markings of being made by someone who has experienced abuse at the hands of a parent or a spouse. Many times during my law enforcement career I dealt with women who were the victims of domestic violence. It was not at all uncommon for women who desperately wanted to be safe refuse to leave their abuser because of threats like: "If you even think of leaving me..." It was often difficult in such circumstances that her very life depended on her taking the courageous step to get away from the person who sought to harm her.

Again, the person who would hold such a sentiment against God have no idea who God is. The person also is likely one who is adamantly independent--sinfully independent. The issue, once again, is one of submission. Whereas the victim of domestic violence truly is a victim and would be right to separate themselves from the abuse and the abuser, the person who wants to separate themselves from God is not a victim and God is not their abuser.

Just as the unbeliever believes they should be able to sin without any consequences from God, the unbeliever also believes he should be able to distance himself from God, without suffering any consequences. The unbeliever sees himself as autonomous and paints the sky of his fantasy world an acceptable hue with the brush the broad brush of unbelief, as if denying the existence of God somehow grants them the privilege of autonomy. Such a mindset is illogical and foolhardy (Psalm 14:1-3).

The truth: insisting on independence and autonomy from God carries with it eternal consequences. And the consequences are meted out, in the form of wrath and eternal judgment, against those who rebel against God, not because God is in any way sinfully hateful or malevolent. On the contrary: the threat is so ominous and the punishment so harsh because God is holy, righteous, just and good.

Should it not be so? Should it not be so that the person who rejects the one who promises to never leave or forsake those who are His would faces consequences for that rejection.

The truth: no born-again follower of Jesus Christ will ever reject Christ and turn their back on Him. To those whom God gives the gift of eternal life, no one will ever snatch them out of the Father's and the Son's hand (John 10:28-30). No one will ever separate the genuine Christian from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). So the "if you ever think about leaving me" objection is a non-starter.

3. "You don't deserve me."

And?... So?...

Every unbeliever is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 21:2). Many unbelievers, while maintaining their belief they are good people, call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20)--things like homosexuality, abortion, adultery, and the list goes on. Most unbelievers will not think of submitting to the authority of God because they believe they are righteous enough without Him (Romans 10:3).

But the Bible makes it very clear that no one is good in God's eyes (Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 51:1-3; Romans 3:10-18), for God's definition of "good" is moral (Exodus 20:1-17) perfection (Matthew 5:48). Every human being falls short of that standard (Romans 3:23). And God has promised in His Word that no one gets off the hook. No one will have their eternal case thrown out of court because God is holy, righteous and just. As a good judge who will not turn a blind eye to the sins of people. He will not exonerate the guilty (Nahum 1:3) simply because they think they are good people and deserve to be forgiven and set free.

No one receives God's forgiveness because they have done what they perceive to be good works (Ephesians 2:8-9) or because they believe they have performed any righteous deeds (Titus 3:5). Salvation is a free gift (Romans 6:23). It can not be earned or deserved. It is based entirely on God's mercy (Titus 3:5), which was made possible to receive through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross (Romans 3:21-26; Romans 5:6-11; Titus 3:4-7).

So, the answer to objection #3 is easy. The person who finds themselves denying Christ because he senses God doesn't see him as worthy of His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love must come to terms with the fact that they are not worthy and will never be worthy of salvation through Jesus Christ.

To be continued.....

Should a Woman Testify in the Open Air?


Some believe that a women should never testify in the open air, because she would be in direct violation of Scripture: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). However, it is clear from the words “Let the woman learn in silence” that this is a reference to church conduct, not to reaching out to the lost. Paul is merely reaffirming church structure he had already put in place within the local church: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, italics added, NKJV).

If Paul was speaking of the task of evangelism when he said that a woman should be silence, then all Christian women should ignore the command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Instead, they should be in silence. Again, if this is a general conduct admonition to the Christian woman, she should neither testify one-to-one or one-to-a hundred. She should be in silence.

However, there is no reason to believe that the Great Commission was restricted to men. God saw fit to give women the power to be witness on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 1:14, 2:1-4). God had promised this power to witness to women as well as men: “And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit” (Acts 2:18, italics added).

The Bible doesn’t say “How beautiful are the feet of the men who preach the gospel of peace . . .” or “Go (men) into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” In both cases the word “preach” is the Greek word kerusso and it means "to herald (as a public crier)." If you are a man or woman you are commanded to preach the gospel--to raise your voice as a town crier.

After the woman at the well met the Savior, she witnessed to men (see John 4:28). Did she do this on a one-to-one basis, and become silent if more than one man gathered in the open air to listen to her testify? Thank God that she wasn’t silent: “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did” (John 4:39).

When giving the do’s and don’ts of preaching in the open air, R.A. Torrey said, “None but consecrated men and women will ever succeed in open-air meetings.”(1) The Salvation Army were famous for their open air preaching-- “The Salvation Army gave women equal responsibility with men for preaching and welfare work and on one occasion William Booth remarked that: ‘My best men are women!’"(2)

Scripture names a number of women who were Paul’s "fellow-workers" in the Gospel (see Romans 16:3,9,12). This is a reference to the task of evangelism-- (sunergos) as "those who helped (Paul) in spreading the Gospel."(3) Paul used this term not only for men,(4) but he also used it for women, as in the case of Priscilla (see Romans 16:3), Euodia and Synthyche (see Phil. 4:2-3). Other women Paul commends for their "labor in the Lord" were Mary, Persis, Tryphena and Tryphosa (see Romans 16:6 and 12).

Charles Spurgeon included women when he spoke of Jesus making his hearers “Fishers of men.” Although it’s not clear if he is speaking of testifying in the open air, he exhorted both men and women to be fishers of men: “Now, if never before, every glow-worm must show its spark. You with the tiniest farthing candle must take it from under the bushel, and set it on a candlestick . . .You men and women that sit before me, you are by the shore of a great sea of human life swarming with the souls of men. You live in the midst of millions; but if you will follow Jesus, and be faithful to him, and true to him, and do what he bids you, he will make you fishers of men.”

I thank God that He chose women rather than men to be first to herald the good news of the resurrected Savior. These faithful woman took the good news to a group of hard-hearted, faithless men, who were cringing in fear behind locked doors. That makes me wonder if the men who want women to be in silence, preach in the open air themselves. Could it be that they are embarrassed by the fact that women are doing what they don’t have the courage to do themselves?

God isn’t averse to using women. He used Deborah as a prophet, a judge, and a deliverer in Israel (see Judges 4:4-10). What specifically is the objection to Him using women in the New Testament age, outside of the defined order of the local church? Is it because more than two people are listening to her or because she lifts the volume of her voice? Then just think of open air preaching as one-to-one witnessing, with some extra listeners and a little more volume. I was overjoyed when a friend sent me video of his wife surrounded by about 80 boy scouts in a public park, listening to her every word--as she lovingly lifted up her voice to tell them how to find everlasting life. How could any Christian object to such a wonderful sight? But if you do still object on the grounds of your interpretation of Scripture, then read Philippians 1:15-18 and put it into practice. Rejoice with me anyway that the gospel is being preached.


Ray Comfort

__________________________
(1) R.A. Torrey, "Methods of Christian Work " (Chapter 6, pages 222-233).
(2) Captain Norman Armistead in 'The War Cry', 4 April 1964 (p1),
(3) The Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich Greek Lexicon, (p. 795).
(4) Timothy (see Romans 16:21), Epaphroditus (see Phil. 2:25), Clement (see Phil. 4:3), Mark and Luke (see Philemon 24).

A Conversation with Sarah (Part 2)

You can read Part 1 of my conversation with Sarah, here.

To Sarah:
Sarah,

Thanks for your patience. It’s been a very busy few days; but what else is new. :-)

I do hope this email finds you well.

Here’s the link to the first blog post regarding our conversation: http://www.onthebox.us/2012/07/conversation-with-sarah-part-1.html

In order to not barrage you with too much information all at once, and since you brought up several questions/issues, I’m going to answer your original email a piece at a time. I may ask some questions myself along the way, so I can better understand what you are thinking, how you feel, and what you mean by the words you say.

Please know, Sarah, email is an inherently challenging way to communicate. It’s hard to gauge a person’s tone of voice without being able to actually hear their voice or see the look on their face. If at any time you feel I am being sarcastic or mean-spirited, please know it is not my intent. And don’t hesitate to let me know if you do not like my tone as you perceive it, or if my answers create more questions, or if anything I write is confusing or vague.

Okay, here it goes! :-)

You wrote:

“I don't believe in any particular God. I do not see proof for a God.”

My first answer may seem a little pretentious and even contentious, and that is because I enter all conversations like the one we are having not merely believing God exists, but knowing that He does. I can say this with confidence because I appeal to an authority outside of myself and greater than myself—an authority not created by man’s wisdom, feelings, or subjective beliefs…The Word of God (the Bible).

The agnostic and/or the atheist must admit that they cannot definitively say there is no God. They would have to assume perfect knowledge of all things to say there is no God. The agnostic must also admit that if God does exist then He is able to communicate with people and reveal Himself in such a way that people can understand and know He exists. And this is exactly what God has done for the Christian. The Bible says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17).

But God has not simply revealed Himself to Christians. He has revealed the reality and truth of His existence to all of creation, including all people. You see, Sarah, I also enter all conversations like the one we are having not merely believing, but knowing the person with whom I am speaking knows that God exists.

The Bible says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:18-23).

All this to say, I do not believe you believe there is no God and that you do not see proof for His existence.

I am not saying you are intentionally lying to me when you say you do not believe in God. Not at all. What I’m saying is that while intellectually you may try to deny belief in the existence of God, doing so is merely an effort to suppress the truth by your unrighteousness. It’s not that you can’t believe in God, or that you don’t believe in God. The heart of the matter is that you don’t want to believe in God. And the reason for not wanting to believe in God is one you share with every other unbeliever. You don’t want to submit to God’s authority in your life.

One of your questions (and I’m guessing you already have several) undoubtedly is, “How can you say these things? We’ve never met. You don’t even know me.”

I can say these things because every human being is in the same boat. Every human being shares the commonality of an inherited sinful nature. Quite literally… no one is perfect. And it is because of the sin in people’s lives that any person would deny the existence of God. They simply are trying to suppress the truth about who God is by their unrighteousness (their sin).

I’ve already given you plenty to chew on; but I want to briefly address your statement that you don’t see any proof of God’s existence.

Again, I would assert you see plenty of proof of God’s existence. When you see a beautiful painting, your first thought is not: “I wonder how long it took for this painting to evolve? How long did it take for the paint to make its way onto the canvas and form the amazing smile of the Mona Lisa?” When you look at a remarkable piece of architecture, your first thought is not: “How did the glass, metal, wood, stucco, and paint come together, on their own, to form that building? Did it take one million, two million, three million years?”

It sounds silly, I know.

Sarah, when you look at a beautiful painting you don’t think twice about whether or not there was a painter involved. When you look at an extraordinary building you don’t think twice about whether or not there was a builder involved. The fact that the painting and the building exist testify to the reality of a painter and a builder.

And all you have to do is take a mere glimpse at the world around you to know there was and is a Creator. You cannot have creation without a Creator. The world is so intricately designed—you are so intricately designed—you know such beauty, grandeur, magnificence, and sophistication could not happen without the involvement of a Master Craftsman, an Amazing Artist, an Intelligent Designer…..GOD. And you know this to be true, whether or not you assert unbelief.

Sarah, you are going to discover in our email conversation that I love to write. :-) I’m sorry if I seemed a little long-winded; but I am trying to lay a foundation for the rest of our conversation.

Again, I do hope this email finds you well. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Your turn! :-)
From Sarah:
Hi Tony,

Thank you, again, for responding to my email.

I understand the word 'busy' all too well.

Your email is fine. I love to read, so it's no problem for me!

I agree, email is a challenging way to communicate. I don't take offense easily, but I will let you know if something does come up. I will be as honest as I can, with what I know. Sometimes, it may seem, I am not completely open-minded and that is not my intention. I try my best to word things, as to not be offensive towards another person. I've been agnostic 20+ years, so anything a Christian says seems strange.

I've come to know the people in chat, as genuine (even though, I know none of you personally) and I appreciate their honesty. To find people who actually will listen to you, and not talk over you, is rare. They've allowed me to share what I believe. Mutual communication is important. I can't stand it, when I've run across Christians who act like they're better than me.

I am glad to be in communication with someone from chat, who offered me their email.

This morning (Thursday), my husband was on his way to work. The light was green so he proceeded through the intersection. Another driver drove through a red light at approx. 50 mph.. The speed, at which, the other driver was going would have killed my husband instantly, hitting his driver-side door. They suspect he was texting. My husband, Adam, says he doesn't know what made him slam on the brakes. He didn't see the other vehicle coming through the intersection. Literaly ft. away from being crushed. The other driver didn't even realize he nearly killed someone, and kept driving for quite a distance and finally stopped his vehicle. I am so thankful he is alive! Back pain started tonight, and he plans to see a Chiropractor tomorrow.

You attached a link to the 180 Movie. In my area, many people have been passing the DVDs out. Last week, I took one, and it sat at home for a few days. You showed a video of a parade, where they were passing out '180'. I became more interested and sat down to watch '180'. Good presentation, and excellent explanation. I can say I am NOT pro-choice anymore. I always felt it should be left up to the mother to decide, but I would never personally have aborted a baby.

Almost 13 years ago, it was recommended that I abort my first baby girl, because she was not going to live anyway. I refused. She was stillborn. I am SO glad I made the right choice. While we miss her, I have hopes of seeing her again one day. We now have two precious 6 year old girls. I don't know how I feel about the end of the movie yet. Overall, very powerful movie!

I agree, that I cannot say with complete assurance "there is no God." I can also agree, that if God does exist, he could possibly reveal himself to people. The Christian says he does, but people in other religions say this, also. I haven't actually seen it in my own life though.

My husband says "there is no God". He says this as if it's absolute fact. Here's where it gets interesting...he claims God does NOT exist & yet he hates God. He finds Christianity fake, and says, "I don't believe it anymore". I bring this up, because I say you can't hate something, that you say doesn't exist. Why bother arguing over something that you say doesn't exist? He reads Richard Dawkins books, like Christians do their Bibles. I refuse to read those books.

I understand the concept, about a building needing a builder; and a painting needing a painter. However, when I look at the world around me, I don't see it through the same eyes as you do. I suppose, it could be a suppression of some sort, but I don't think I am suppressing anything. I try to see things logically, and intellectually. For me, my belief is logical. However, I'm not 100% sure on anything anymore, so yes, I could be wrong.

Concerning the Bible: I was asked in chat, if I had read it, and if I had ever read ALL of it. I explained that as a child, I was made to read Genesis, but have never read anything else. They challenged me to read the book of John & Romans. I had told them earlier I was opened-minded, so when they challenged me to read the Bible, I couldn't refuse. I've finished John and have started Romans. It's just words on a page to me. I realize Christians take the Bible as their ultimate authority, but I don't see how you can take one book as absoulte truth. If I'm completely honest, I find the Bible strange.

Concerning sin: I have a hard time understanding what Christians mean by sin. I agree we are not perfect, but I think we all try our best.

Yes, in some ways, I think what we believe is based on personal experience. Personal experiences vary, therefore beliefs vary between people. Many beliefs doesn't make them all true, though, and I understand just because I believe something to be true, doesn't mean it is true. That's what I'm trying to find out.

Thanks, Sarah. :)
To Sarah:
Sarah,

I am so very glad to hear that Adam is okay. As a deputy sheriff for twenty years, I know all-too-well, the devastation a car accident can be, not only to the person or people in the car, but to the people who love and care for them.

I so appreciate your candor. Honesty is much more than the “best policy.” It’s the only way we can have any real communication. You’ve brought up some fascinating points, which I look forward to addressing—especially what you said about logic and logical thinking.

It might be a day or two before I can write my next response, but I will do my very best not to keep you waiting too long.

Praying for Adam’s full and speedy recovery.

Oh, and forgive me. I forgot to mention how very excited I was to read that watching 180 changed your mind about abortion. And thank you for sharing so personal a story with me regarding the life and death of your first child. I have an important question to ask you regarding your child who did not survive pregnancy; but it will have to wait a bit, since I want to address some of the other things you said, first.

As the father of three daughters (25, 22, 17), I know how precious little girls are. Two six-year-olds. I’m not the sharpest tack in the box, but I’m guessing they are twins. :-) A dear friend of mine who also serves at Living Waters has twin 14-year-old girls.

Hoping you have a good day.
From Sarah:
Yes indeed, twins they are :)

One thing I forgot to mention, I never intend to go on bunny trails (or squirrels lol) I will do my best to stick to whatever we are in conversation about, at the moment. If I don't have an answer, I usually don't say much.

Elizabeth's fiance is a Deputy Sheriff. I believe it'll be 10 years in Sept.

Thank you. Have a wonderful day.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my conversation with Sarah.