The Faithfulness of God

When was the last time you pondered the faithfulness of God in your life? If you haven’t I suggest you take inventory and praise Him. Might I even suggest that you ask the LORD to give you the eyes to see His grace in your life. You will be joyfully surprised.

Here’s one of my stories….

Part I
About two and a half years ago, I walked into a store to buy some jeans. As I was looking around, a very outspoken young lady asked me if I needed any help. She was very gregarious and bubbly. I told her I was just looking and if I had any questions I’d ask her. After I found the jeans I was looking for, I stood at the counter ready to make my purchase. Unbeknownst to me, she was the manager and she completed my purchase transaction. Since she was so bubbly, I decided to see if I could get a chance to talk with her with the intention of sharing the gospel.

After the transaction, the conversation continued and I got a chance to share the gospel with her and one of her friends who was also in the store. She asked me what church I attended and I told her. The very next Sunday, I saw her and her friend at church. We spoke for a few minutes about their experience and parted ways.

A few weeks later I was at the same mall and I ran into the young lady while on her lunch break. She told me that she had been convicted of some things we’d spoken about and from the sermon she heard. We went to the food court to discuss those things and also about God’s grace in Christ. She started crying. She told me that she finally understood the gospel, but it just seemed too good to be true. (She had attended a church back in her home town in another state, but never heard the gospel.) I encouraged her to read Romans and Galatians and she said she would.

She eventually started coming on a pretty regular basis, was baptized, joined a small group and is making friends and being transparent with other members of our church.

Part II
Soon after the LORD saved me in 1998, I began praying for a wife. He answered that prayer in 2012 when I was 37 years old. (Don’t worry, I look 26…lol) However, I first met my now wife, originally from Texas, in 2007 in Philadelphia, PA and a church function. When we met then, there were no sparks on either end, but we were cordial and polite to one another. She moved back to Texas in 2010 and we began chatting on Facebook and on the phone and by April 2012 we were engaged. You can read more about our story on her blogsite, A Learning Wife.

We often reminisce how the LORD brought us together and see how the LORD was faithful to answer specific prayers of ours concerning what we wanted in a spouse. Little did we know that when we met in 2007 in North Philadelphia, that we’d be married! While neither of us is perfect in all that we desire to be, there are evidences of those things and by God’s grace we will continue to love each other and mature in Christlikeness bearing fruit to the Father’s glory.

Tying It Together
Today I dropped off my wife and another sister at church so they could attend the annual women’s retreat. That other sister is the young lady mentioned in Part I. It is her first women’s retreat and she was very excited. She and my wife will be carpooling with another sister for an hour drive to the retreat site.

God is faithful isn’t He?!?

I am amazed and in awe to know that God has ordained the proclamation of His gospel by flawed human beings to those dead in sin causing them to be alive spiritually by the Spirit’s power. (Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 13, 18:9-10, Rom. 10:14-16, 1 Cor. 1:18-25)

I am also amazed that the God of the universe delights in the prayers of His people and answers them for His glory and our good! (Prov. 15:8, Matt. 6:5-15, Lk. 11, Jam. 5:16b)

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”

(Ps 89:1, 2 ESV)

Grace & Peace,

d.

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Conversing with Bryan…

Many of you know that I completely tore my right Achilles tendon roughly a year ago.  One of the major issues concerning rehabilitating a surgically repaired tendon is regaining elasticity.  This calls for lots of stretching and gradual use, which for me is jogging once or twice a week at Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin.

Rewind– Two weeks ago, after jogging downtown, I decided to take the scenic route home, opting not to utilize the freeway.  I like driving and especially driving through the city and observing the nuances of life.  I noticed my gas indicator light came on, so I pulled into a gas station.  I usually keep my music playing while I pump my gas and on this occasion the gas station employee appears from behind the building and says, “Hey, I like that! I like that old soul sample and the horns.  It reminds me of De La or Tribe.”  After I turned down Eshon Burgundy, we proceeded to have an interesting conversation about hip-hop history.  I was impressed by his knowledge of mainstream and underground artists and his sentiments that today’s hip-hop is merely refuse compared to yesteryear.  “Man, I wish the sound of the Golden Era would come back!”  he said.

During this whole time I’m contemplating whether or not to shift the conversation to matters of importance, namely the gospel.  I didn’t. The conversation ended and I drove off.  As I was driving, I regretted not sharing the gospel or even making an attempt to.  My selfishness was in full effect.

In his book, Let The Nations Be Glad, John Piper said, “Missions exist because worship doesn’t.”  What a simple, but profound truth!  This thought, on more than one occasion, has caused me to examine how much I desire to see God worshiped by me and by others.  Beholding the glory of God in Christ, as much as humanly possible, will compel us to lovingly and boldly share the gospel, come what may.  Because no matter what comes, the glory of God is better and the joy that comes from making Him known is incomparable.  If we share the gospel out of guilt, or human expectation, we share it in error and Christ is not magnified.  The glory of Christ should be our chief motivation for sharing the gospel.

Fast Forward – Last night: Same situation, same gas station, same worker, right perspective.  When I saw him in there again, I knew this was the grace of God.  After I purchased my drink, he said, “So what do you think about the NBA playoffs?”  We proceed to chat about the NBA and moved the conversation outside because he wanted to smoke.  I reminded him that we talked a couple of weeks ago about hip-hop.

Yeah, I remember and I thought about making a mixtape for you, but I didn’t know if I’d see you again. I’m Bryan by the way.”

I’m David.  Nice to meet you..again. You know, I was impressed by your level of hip-hop knowledge.”

Thanks!”

Let me ask you a question. What do you think about hip-hop being fused with “religion”?

Ah, well, that’s difficult. I think that many true hip-hop heads won’t care for God hip-hop and I don’t see religious hip-hop moving the kinds of units like say, a Lil Wayne or somebody like that.”

But what about Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, KRS-ONE, and Brand Nubian?  They all had religious elements in their music and they were relatively accepted by the mainstream, though they were pushing 5%er doctrine.”

Yeah, you’re right. I don’t know.  I hate Christian rock. It’s so cheesy. But I like gospel music and the Kirk Franklin stuff, but I don’t know if hip-hop will go over well in the church crowd. Especially since most of what hip-hop says goes against what’s in the Bible.  But I think it’s cool that people decide to use their talent to speak about better things rather that gettin’ chicks, gettin’ high or drunk or shootin’ and things like that.”

Where are you from, Bryan?

North of Houston.”

I’m from Houston!”

Cool.”

What is your spiritual background, Bryan, and I ask based on some things you’ve said.”

I grew up in a Baptist church. It was what our family did.”

So what do you consider yourself now?”

Well, honestly, I’m searching for something to hold on to, that’s real.  I mean, I see Christians in the media and they’re just weird.  They have an agenda and I don’t think it’s honest.  I mean, what’s real?  My sister is Greek Orthodox and some of my family are Methodist. Why are there these differences?”

Well, there’s a reason for that Bryan, but if you don’t mind me asking, do you know what the central theme of the Bible is?  Let’s push the denominational issue to the side and focus on the central message the Bible is communicating to us.”

Okay. Well I think the central theme is that we should love God as best we can and live in such a way that helps others so this world can be a better place.”

Is that your motivation and action 24/7/365?

No. But that’s because I don’t have the relationship with God that I know needs to be there.  I feel like once I get there then I would be a better person and God would accept me.”

Bryan, (my eyes were almost welling up) do you mind if I share the gospel with you?”

Not at all. Please share.”

After, I shared the gospel, I inquired if he had any questions or if he understood what I said.

So, the way I can be accepted by the Father is to have faith in Christ, because He was a substitute for sin and took the punishment?”

Yes! And you don’t have to work for salvation. It’s free for those who admit their sin and turn to Christ by faith for forgiveness.”

I then explained what grace and mercy was and he said, “I like that!” with a huge grin on his face.

I gave him my last Reach Records Before You Die CD tract with my number included and urged him to read the Gospel of John.  He said he would read the tract, listen to the CD, read John and call me.

We shook hands and departed company. I have a strong hunch that I’ll be stopping back by that gas station soon!

What a privilege it is to share the gospel!  What a gift from God! I can’t begin to describe the joy I get by sharing the good news of reconciliation.  The more the Lord affords opportunities to share the gospel or overhear conversations concerning “religion”, it is clear that America, not just countries on the other side of the Atlantic, is ripe for missions. 

If you remember, please pray for Bryan’s salvation and his well being.  Also, pray that the Lord would continue to give you and me opportunities to share this gospel of peace!

Grace & Peace,

d.

Encouragement for the Evangelist – Pt. 2

Five centuries before the rise of Finney, a light began to shine in Europe. That light was designed to expose the darkness of the theological heresies and political tyranny of the Church of Rome. Holding that torch was Englishman John Wycliffe, known as the Morning Star of the Reformation. With precise aggression, Wycliffe attacked the church’s heretical position on the doctrine of justification, the papacy and the sacramental system. His unwavering commitment to truth led him to translate the Latin Vulgate to English so every man, even the plough boy, might possess the Word of God in their own language. He saw this as the step to free men from the oppression of the Church of Rome.

John Wycliffe

Wycliffe’s light would extend beyond England to the modern day Czech Republic through Jan Hus who was burned alive at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church in 1415 under accusations of heresy concerning Catholic ecclesiology, specifically the legitimacy and authority of the papacy. Providentially, Hus’s last words before he was burned were, “…in 100 years God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.”

Jan Hus

Roughly 100 years later, on October 31, 1517, a German monk nailed 95 propositions to the Church Castle at Wittenberg against the Roman Catholic Church. His name – Martin Luther. Severely oppressed by his own sin and desire to please God, it was his study of Romans 1:17 that allowed him to see how God justifies sinners, which also exposed the great corruptions of the Roman Catholic Church. The conclusions Luther ultimately came to were: The church was not authoritative; Scripture was. The pope is not head of the church; Christ is. Man is not saved by his own virtuous acts and religious rituals, but graciously by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness through faith. For his contentions, Luther was issued a papal bulla or summons by Pope Leo X to appear before Charles V to recant his “heresies” at the Diet of Worms. Firm in his new found convictions, upon his insistence to recant his charges, Luther said, “My conscience is held captive to the Word of God. I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither honest nor safe. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

Martin Luther

Luther’s teachings would continue to spread throughout Europe, both favorably and unfavorably,and other reformers would rise up. But perhaps the most significant reformer since Luther was a French scholar, professor, lawyer, theologian and later pastor, Jean Cauvin or John Calvin. Just as Luther’s central doctrine, justification by faith alone, tremendously impacted Europe, Calvin’s central doctrine, the sovereignty of God, would impact Europe and beyond in ways never imagined, particularly in the social and political realms, that previous reformers failed to achieve.

Skilled with brilliant writing ability and mind for logic, Calvin published the first edition of his magnum opus, the Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536 at the age of 27. For twenty years he continued to add to Institutes as it was regarded as the most coherent and logical summation of Protestant doctrine produced during the Reformation. Planted in Geneva, Switzerland, Calvin, with support of the city government, established Geneva as a disciplined Christian community and place for ministry training.

Jean Cauvin

Aside from his social and political convictions, Calvin is most known for his soteriological position. Stemming from his core doctrine, the sovereignty of God in all things, he naturally formed his salvific view from Scripture that salvation is granted based on the sovereign electing grace of God according to His will. Though systematized after his death, as a defense against the Arminian charge of heresy, T.U.L.I.P., or The Doctrines of Grace, was conceived during the Synod of Dort in 1618, convening in 1619. The acrostic, T.U.L.I.P., is a summation of biblical soteriology.

T – Total Depravity

U – Unconditional Election

L – Limited Atonement

I – Irresistible Grace

P – Perseverance of the Saints

This, I believe, captures the truth of Scripture concerning how people are saved and kept by God for the glory of God according to His own covenant. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, this is the doctrine that Charles G. Finney rejected that led to his heresies and pragmatic church routines.

So where is the encouragement, you might ask?  The encouragement lies in understanding the purpose of the sovereign grace of God in election. To miss this is to miss the whole thrust of this beautiful truth. But as the acrostic logically lays out, we must start with our condition – depraved. Sin has catapulted us into a state of spiritual death and enmity toward God. By nature, we hate and are unable to understand the truths of God, especially the gospel. To misunderstand this spirals us into believing lies about God and us. Building from a platform of error can only produce more error. However, by God’s grace, if we see our depravity as the Scriptures plainly declare, the doctrine of election should humble us greatly and cause us to see the lovingkindness of God toward us in Christ Jesus.

In matters of evangelism, let’s build on a proper foundation so that by God’s grace, we can see how the biblical doctrines espoused in the Reformation (biblical) are encouraging. That proper foundation is…

Q. Why does God do anything that He does?

A. For His own glory. (Romans 11:36)

It is safe to say that God saves people for His own glory, since saving people is one aspect of what He does. When God saves, He is demonstrating His love, forgiveness, grace, mercy, righteousness and justice in Christ. He is bringing attention to His own character by redeeming sinners.

At the same time, He is exalting the Savior, Jesus Christ, by making Him head over all things, especially the church. Scripture tells us that salvation was planned in eternity past and Christ is the Lamb who was slain from before the foundations of the earth. (1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8) Scripture also tells us that believers were chosen by the Father in Christ before the foundation of the earth. (John 6: 39, 17:2,6, Ephesians 1:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:13) Revelation foretells of the eternal reign of Christ with the redeemed from every nation, tribe, people and tongue.

Seeing the predetermined plan of salvation as well as the consummation of salvation, ought to lead us to see the faithfulness of God in saving His elect by the means of declaring the gospel in the earth. God has chosen to save His people from His wrath by grace through faith in His Son.

The upshot of this is that we can share the gospel with confidence because it will effect God’s intended purpose because He will not leave His due exaltation and exultation ultimately in the decisions of man.

By God’s providential grace, The Reformation gave birth to Soli Deo Gloria, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura through Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Calvin and many others.

“15And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

 Grace & Peace,

d.

Encouragement For The Evangelist – Pt. 1

(Scenario 1)

[Pastor raising one hand slightly cupped toward the ceiling]

“Come. The doors of the church are open. Just come.  I know there is one more. Come.” <organ plays to stir emotions> “Today is the day of salvation thus saith the Lord.  Choose ye THIS day! Come.”

This should sound familiar to you if you’ve ever been part of or currently are part of a traditional worship service; perhaps even more so in the African-American context.  For those unfamiliar, these are the typical phrases heard at the end of a service known as the altar call or the invitation.  Sounds harmless, right?  After all, isn’t the pastor supposed to “lead people to the Lord”?  Obviously, this isn’t an article on pastoral theology, so I won’t get into the role and responsibilities of the shepherd.

(Scenario 2)

Using belligerent speech to convert people to Christ after you’ve given the gospel.  This usually happens after a person has given a clear presentation of the gospel and the listener appears the least bit concerned.  “So you’re telling me you’d rather go to hell, than accept the forgiveness Christ offers? Why would you want to do that?”  If that is not your experience, great.  But believe me, it happens.

Or perhaps you’re the kind of person that frets over your gospel presentation or you feel condemned after the listener walks away in rejection.

It is my conviction that both of these very common scenarios are evidences of an inaccurate understanding of the gospel.  These two scenarios represent common tactics of the Decisional Regeneration or Decision Theology Movement. It’s antithesis is Reformation Theology.

As the title says, I hope that this provides some encouragement for the evangelist (all believers for that matter) as we biblically assess salvation and how it comes about.

Decisional Regeneration / Decision Theology

Decisional Regeneration is the teaching that after hearing the gospel man can respond by choosing to follow the Lord and it is by that decision that he is regenerated or born again.

Decisional Regeneration gained mass popularity by the preaching of Charles Finney in the early 19th century.  It was his unbiblical position on depravity, justification, atonement, imputation and other key doctrines that led to his pragmatic revival style of preaching, which evangelicalism has yet to fully recover from.

Concerning depravity, which will remain my main focus, Finney believed that depravity resulted in a person after a freewill immoral decision was made.  In his Lectures on Systematic Theology, Finney states that the idea of moral depravity is “absurd”, “anti-Scriptural and non-sensical dogma”.  He went on to say, “Moral depravity, as I use the term, does not consist in nor imply a sinful nature in the sense that the substance of the human soul is sinful in itself. It is not a constitutional sinfulness. It is not an involuntary sinfulness.”1

This is nothing more than the resurrection of the condemned teachings of Pelagius, called Pelagianism.  Under this spurious view, it proports that Adam’s sin was not imputed to rest of the human race. Subsequently, a denial of Adam’s imputation of sin naturally leads one to reject the idea of the necessity of Christ’s imputation of righteousness through faith, and Finney did deny that.  However, Finney did believe that depravity was universal because every man everywhere makes immoral decisions.  Yet, Finney believed and taught each man is born in a state of innocence.  The conclusion – all man has to do is to stop desiring and choosing the wrong things and desire and choose the right things, namely God.  Can it be so simple, Mr. Finney?  Why does man naturally desire and choose things that God prohibits without the full revelation of God’s order?

Concerning inherent sin and the imputation of sin, Psalm 51:5 and Romans 5:12-14 reject Finney’s doctrine.

Concerning the ability and desire to choose God, Romans 3:11 and 5:6 silences that position. In Romans 3:11, quoting Psalm 14, the Apostle Paul says of man in his natural unredeemed state: “…..no one understands, no one seeks for God.”  The word the Holy Spirit led Paul to used for seeks is the Greek word έκζητων (ekzeton).  This comes from the words “ek” and “zeteo”. “ek” is a preposition which means out of and “zeteo” is the verb to seek.  When used like this ekzeton means to make a diligent or careful search. In this context, it is in the present tense and its mood is functioning as a participle.  Literally, Paul is saying no one from their own initiative is carefully or diligently seeking the Lord.  Man doesn’t do this because he is in bondage to his sin, his desires are constantly for sin and he is spiritually dead.  That’s how bad the fall affected us.  We do not desire God!  We are dead to God naturally.  Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that man cannot freely choose Christ on his own for the forgiveness of his sins and regeneration.

It is on the foundation of Jesus’ words in John 6:44 that Paul instructs us through the Holy Spirit.

“44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him….”

The results of Finney’s soteriological beliefs led to rowdy evangelistic pragmatism like the “anxious bench” (the forerunner to the altar call) and emotional tactics that often resulted in fainting, uncontrollable weeping and sobbing,  and proclaiming “new words” from the Lord.  Sound familiar?  It should as these trends have had a long lasting global impact.  Unquestionably, the worst effect of Finney’s doctrine is that it is a departure from the gospel as the Bible puts forth and the fruits of a false gospel aided by humanistic pragmatism are false conversions.

In my next installment, we will consider the biblical soteriological beliefs characteristic of The Reformation and how that affects evangelism.

Grace & Peace,

d.

1 Charles Finney, Lectures on Systematic Theology, p. 245

Pray for “Red”

The sovereign work of God never ceases to amaze me. Truly as Jesus said, the Father is always at His work, even to this very day. I know the context of that (John 5:17) is speaking about Sabbath laws, nevertheless it still rings true. Let me explain.

Tonight, I went to the gym, washed my car and noticed that I needed gas.  Now, I’m a bit particular these days about where I purchase my gas because of the varying prices.  The gas station next to the carwash typically runs a bit higher than all of the other gas stations in my area, so I passed on going there.  I decided on a particular gas station to go to and there are 3 of those within a 5 mile radius of the carwash.

I ended up going to the one probably the furthest away, but the easiest to get to based on the way the streets are laid out.  As I pull into the gas station, I see this maroon Chevy Impala pull up bangin’ some rap music.  As I am getting ready to pump my gas, I hear:

“Say man, you wanna check out some free music I’m promotin’?”

“What is it?”

“Typical dope music from the south.”

“What are they talking about?”

“Everyday life type of stuff. You know just trying to make it.”

“Nah, but let me tell you why I don’t want it. I’m a Christian and I don’t desire to listen to that.”

(I said this respectfully) 

“Ah, that’s cool man. I understand. I go to church every Sunday.”

 “Oh word? What’s your name?”

“Red.” (He had red hair)

“I’m  Dave.”

“So tell me, what do you know about the gospel?”

As we begin to discuss the gospel and what it means to be forgiven, “Red” insisted that he’s good with God, how he lives moral life, etc.  I explained to him that a truly forgiven person won’t attain perfection in this life, but that person will demonstrate fruits of repentance and no longer continually lives to please his flesh, but rather advance the kingdom of God.  After 10 minutes of further dialogue he finally admitted that he isn’t a believer and he’s not ready to make that commitment.

“You know it’s funny that you bring this up. My boss at work always talks to me about this stuff, so it’s really strange that I walk up to you and you talk about this.”

“Red, can I give you some music?”

“Sure. That’s what’s up!”

I gave him a copy of the Before You Die music tract from Reach Records and wrote my phone number on it.

“Yo Red, if you ever want to chop it up, just call me and we can rap.”

“Thanks man!”

Do you see the love of God in directing me to that gas station, the one furthest away, so “Red”could hear the gospel again? It reminds me of the route Jesus took on the way back to Galilee from Judea through Samaria.  Jews typically avoided going through Samaria for many reasons, but John 4 tells us that he had to go through Samaria.  Though there was no geographical necessity to travel through Samaria to Galilee from Judea, the Father had appointed a conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well that led to a harvest of conversions.

If you remember, please pray for the Lord to open “Red’s” eyes to his sin and the beauty of the cross!

Grace & Peace,

d.

Consistent Inconsistency

On Monday, June 29th, I had an interesting exchange with a woman. Let me clarify.  I’m going to be moving in a couple of months and I thought I’d get a head start on pre-leasing an apartment, while the summer specials are in full effect!

I arrived at a particular property on Monday expecting the usual routine: look at an apartment, visualize my furniture, take note of the amenities, etc.  This particular property was located in a great spot – literally across the street from my church.  The price was a bit more than what I wanted to pay, but I could still afford it.  After I introduced myself, the leasing agent and I hopped in the golf cart and rode to the apartment building.  She was a free spirited gregarious woman and uncommonly transparent, considering I was virtually a stranger.  She also bragged about her baby. Such a proud mom!

As we headed back to the leasing office, she shared more about her migration to Austin and all of the bumps in the road she’s experienced that she is trying to smooth out.  Turns out we’re the same age and her son and I share the same birthday month.

“So what are you? Capricorn, right? Capricorns are very cool people.”

So either she picked up on my coolness or she just said that because her son was born in the same month.  I’m leaning toward the latter.

“Well, I don’t believe in astrology, but I guess that’s what they say.”

“Well, I believe in astrology, David, and Capricorns are totally cool!  Just be you!”

Ah, there it was – my inroad to sharing the gospel.  You see, all the while, I had been keenly listening to her to get a grasp on what she thought about spiritual things.  This is why I love conversing with people.  Sooner or later an opportunity will arise to inject the gospel or inquire people’s thoughts on the Messiah based on listening to them spew their worldviews.

So we wrap up the evening, I get all forms, etc. and ride off into the setting sun of Central Texas!

“Dag! I left my driver’s license in the leasing office. I’ll get it tomorrow on my lunch break!”

I arrive at the leasing office on Tuesday, June 30th, and lo and behold, we’re basically the only ones in the office.  She grabs my license and we begin to chat more.

“You want to see him? I have a picture!” I knew she was talking about her son.

“What a handsome little man!”

“Isn’t he though?”

“What’s his name?”

“Zion.”

Ding! Ding! Another inroad. Isn’t it obvious, y’all?

“Really? What made you choose that name?”

“Well, it’s Rastafari. I’m into Rastafarianism.”

haille selassie

“Ok.  So what drew you to Rastafarianism?

“Well, I was around it a lot and it’s really peaceful, but…I just can’t get into the Bible.”

“Really? Why not?”

“It’s irrelevant.  It doesn’t apply to what’s going on here now. I’m such a wild girl and it’s too suffocating. I used to be a born again Christian. I went to church, but it wasn’t for me. I think all religions are true.”

“So you don’t believe there is one way?” (Yes, I caught the used to be born again line…)

“Nope.” <shaking her head>

“You don’t believe in an absolute objective truth?”

“Love is the only objective truth! I believe we are all God; all of us and our unique experiences. I pray to God everyday. Me and God are tight!” <crossing her fingers>

“Well, I’m a Christian and I believe objective truth has to exist.”

I then approached her on having a discourse on Christianity and Rastafarianism.

“David, you’re cool and I love discoursing, but if you start preaching to me, I’ll shut it down.  There is no way you’ll ever convince me to believe the Bible.  I’m a hard headed girl and once my mind is made up, it’s set.  And I’m not going to church with you, so don’t invite me”,  she said with huge smile.

I love the conquering grace of God on such undeserving rebels. Such was I!

“I won’t preach to you and don’t worry about church. Let’s just….discourse”

“Ok,  here’s my e-mail address.”

Resident blindness and spiritual lifelessness has caused her to miss her contradiction and inconsistent thinking.  According to her, all religions are right, save one because it’s irrelevant and antiquated. Why discount Christianity if all religions are right?  Can the Jesus of Rastafarianism be the same Jesus of Christianity?  These are questions I plan on asking.  But first I will ask her, “Why do you believe God exists?”  Then I will ask her, “Has God made himself knowable?”  Think about the two possible answers to this question and imagine the conversation.

Pray for God to grant me an unhindered chance to share the gospel with her and for her eyes and heart to be opened to the truth and necessity of Jesus Christ.

Grace & Peace,

d.

All Things Fall Apart

In my post, Comprehending Our Culture, I listed several worldviews that are prevalent in our world that we must contend with as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  On Thursday, February 18th, I found myself engaged in a discussion with a co-worker about religion. What I thought would turn out to be a very calm discussion turned into an emotional and angry (not on my part) discussion with my co-worker refusing to engage any longer. The reason for her refusal was my very polite and logical stance that absolute truth exists.  She refused to believe that.

 “It doesn’t matter if it’s true. As long as people believe what they want to believe is what matters!”

This statement was the result of my explanation to her that the Jesus of Christianity, Islam, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses are all different and there has to be truth about the identity of Jesus, forcing all other contrary ideas to be labeled as untrue.  In my mind, it was a matter of simple logic.  But she refused to logically think in these terms.

Prior to this, we discussed what she doesn’t like about Christianity.  Her first response was she hates rules.  After hearing that, I asked her if she thinks man is basically good. She replied no.  Then I proceeded to justify the need for law. She agreed that law was good as a means of restraining full blown evil in society.  Then I pointed to God as being the Lawgiver and man’s fallen nature.

Her next point of attack was the inerrancy of the Bible and the relevancy of “concocted stories from thousands of years ago.”  She unashamedly claimed there was no way to verify whether our modern Scriptures are accurate translations from the original languages. I explained to her the veracity concerning the number of Biblical manuscripts scrutinized by top linguists and Christianity’s historicity, but to no avail.

At this point, I proceeded to share the gospel, since I knew she wasn’t clear on what it was. As I was explaining to her, she remained quiet and attentive. When I concluded with the resurrection, I started introducing the various accounts of Islam, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. She replied that it’s disrespectful to tell someone they’re wrong and Christianity shouldn’t be forced on other cultures. When I tried to tell her that God created all cultures, deemed it good, yet sin is the universal problem, she vehemently replied, “I will never, ever believe the Bible!”

Now, you’ve probably noticed a couple of contradictions in her argument. This is what relativism does. It breeds perpetual contradictions.  Perhaps it should be called contradictionism.  First, she’s a self-proclaimed rebel, yet she agrees that law is good and necessary for the peace of society.  Second, perhaps the most unbelievable, was her adamant stance that all religions are true, yet claiming Christianity isn’t true.  That’s an absolute statement she’s claiming, yet it has no weight according to her worldview. By definition, relativism can’t lay hold to or claim absolutes.  Logically, a relativist should question his or her own position. Where no absolutes exist, there is no rationale, reason and meaning for everything.  Therefore, all things fall apart.

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ This is the true God and eternal life.
(1 John 5:20)

Dr. Piper’s thoughts on relativism.

Street Witnessing in Southern California

Grace & Peace,

d.

At The Carwash. . .

Tonight, I got a great lesson in pneumatology (The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit).  I believe most of us are familiar with the general workings of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, but there is one aspect of the work of the Spirit that seems to be controversial.  That act is His leading.  I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say they were led by the Spirit to __________.  Perhaps you’ve even said this. But what does it mean to be led by the Spirit?   These words are specifically found in a few places in the New Testament.  In Romans 8:14 and Galatians 5:18, the context of being led by the Spirit refers to walking in holiness and turning away from sin.

In other instances, we see the Spirit directing or guiding the courses of people.  Acts 16:6-10, the Macedonian call, tells us how the Spirit prevented Paul and his companions from ministering in Asia and Bithynia.  We also read of how the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. (Matthew 4:1, Mark 1:12, & Luke 4:1)  With Paul, the Spirit’s leading was preventative as opposed to Jesus’  leading, which was permissive.

So we see that the Spirit’s leading ultimately leads to our sanctification and the fulfilling of God’s will.  A.W. Pink said this about the leading of the Spirit.

…the blessed Spirit of God “leads” both objectively and subjectively: by pointing us to the directive precepts of the Word, that our actions may be regulated thereby: and by secret impulses from within the soul, impressing upon us the course we should follow—the evils to be avoided, the duties to be performed. The Spirit acts upon His own life in the renewed soul. He works in the Christian a right disposition of heart relating to truth and duty. He maintains in the believer a right disposition of mind, preparing and disposing him to attend unto the revealed will of God. He speaks effectually to the conscience, enlightens the understanding, regulates the desires, and orders the conduct of those who submit themselves unto His holy suggestions and overtures. To be “led by the Spirit of God” is to be under His guidance and government.”

Tonight, I experienced a leading of the Spirit (no apologies to my cessationist bretheren), not in a questionable way that exceeds the bounds of Scripture.  Rather, in a way that was wholly consistent with God’s will revealed in Scripture.

I went to wash my car and I noticed a young guy vacuuming his car. General urbanite.  He drove an Impala that was sitting on 26” rims.  Secular hip hop banging from the speakers.  His arms and his back were full of tattoos and seemed like he didn’t want to be bothered.  But as I was washing my car, I kept sensing a strong inward compelling to talk to him about the Lord. I knew it was the Holy Spirit leading me to share to gospel with Him.

After washing my car I pulled into the slot next to him to so I could vacuum.  The compel to share seemed to intensify! I had Reach Records Before You Die cd’s with me, so I grabbed one and walked over to him. I broke the ice by asking him what was he listening to, then I asked him if he’d ever heard of Christian hip hop. He said he’d heard of the genre, but not actual songs.  So then I began to ask him what he knew about God, Jesus, sin, heaven and hell.  I asked him how does one get to heaven and he said we have to be accepted by God.  I asked him if he knew how that happens and he said if we’re good enough.

I asked him if he’d ever heard the gospel and if he knew the significance of Jesus and the cross. He said no. So I began to share the gospel with him detailing the evidences of his sin and sin nature, which he admitted to, and how that makes him an enemy of God. Then I began to lay out the perfection of Christ, His substitutionary death, resurrection and double imputation. I could tell that he was really zeroing in on what I was saying. After that, I gave him the tract/cd and he was really appreciative. By the end of the conversation his whole tough guy swagger was gone and he had a different demeanor.

The leading you ask? Well, early on in my conversation with him he told me he had just recently begun going to church with his girlfriend, yet he’d never heard the gospel. Is that not the Lord?  To make it a little bit more interesting, I was going to wash my car last night, but it rained, forcing me to go today.

I wrote my name and number on the back of the tract and offered to meet up with him again. If you remember, pray for Adam’s (that’s his name) salvation and pray the Lord would continue His work in my life.

Grace & Peace,

d.

 

 

Comprehending Our Culture

In the foreword of Escape From Reason, Francis Schaeffer said,

“If a man goes overseas for any length of time, we would expect him to learn the language of the country to which he is going. More than this is needed, however, if he is really going to communicate with the people among whom he is living. He must learn another language – that of the thought forms of the people to whom he speaks. Only so will he have real communication with them and to them. So it is with the Christian Church. Its responsibility is not only to hold to the basic, scriptural principles of the Christian faith, but to communicate these unchanging truths “into” the generation in which it is living. Every generation of Christians has this problem of learning how to speak meaningfully to its own age…If we are to communicate the Christian faith effectively, therefore, we must know and understand the thought-forms of our own generation.”

What an astute observation by Mr. Schaeffer. Also, what a challenge to the church. Especially to the American church.

Faced with a pending “political” situation, the Bible tells us in 1 Chronicles 12:32 that the sons of Isaachar understood the times and the implications of certain outcomes of the crown of Israel. They chose to side with those to crown David king. Saul was no longer alive and the country was in a state of unrest and possessing keen insight and understanding, they knew David was to hold the throne.

If you’re not called to the foreign mission field, you’re presently in your mission field. The question that needs to be asked and meditated on is, “Do I understand this mission field?” Look at the landscape of America. We are a land of approximately 300 million people comprised of various races. With that comes various religious beliefs or world-views and social behaviors.

Sociologists and theologians have determined that the general current cultural attitude of America is post-Christian. Post-Christian simply means that Christianity is not the dominant civil way of life. In fact, Neo-Paganism and New Atheism seem to be the trends of many who call America their home. Other worldviews that must be contended with are relativism, humanism, pragmatism, secularism, hedonism, atheism, agnosticism and existentialism. These are some of the thought forms of our generation. These are the ideologies held by our co-workers, friends, and family members and as Jonah was sent to Nineveh, so too are we on missio Dei. We must understand our times and know how to effectively engage people with the gospel and show its absolute truthfulness against these doctrines of demons.

April 8, 1966

time-cover

The unredeemed man’s reference point is himself. He starts and ends with himself as the basis of all thought, reason and behavior. There is no room for transcendence or absolutes in his way of thinking. He is a law unto himself and we know the effects of such as Romans 1:18-32 plainly reveals.

In analyzing these worldviews, it should be easy to see that the culture is without hope and incorrectly informed about the purpose of their existence. The god of this age is blinding the minds of unbelievers that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Therefore, we must sacrificially endeavor to understand our culture and lovingly confront people, who don’t know the difference between their right and left hands, with the hope that lies within us.

Grace & Peace,

d.

85ers

“[Evangelize] an 85er // Gotta let ’em know the devil’s a conniver.”

That’s the Austin, TX skyline in my title-bar. It’s been my “home” since 1999. I was born in and raised on the southwest side of Houston, Texas, but moved here shortly after I graduated college.

Austin is a very unique city compared to the other major cities of Texas. Here are a few attributes of Austin, TX : 

  • It is the capital city of Texas
  • It’s the 4th largest city in Texas and the 16th largest in the United States
  • It has roughly 1.6 million people (counting Austin proper and the metro area)
  • Austin was ranked the 5th safest city because there are fewer than 3 people per 100,000 murdered annually
  • It is home of the University of Texas, the 2nd most populous university in the United States (~ 52,000 students)
  • It contains 3 man-made lakes
  • It is centered in the Texas Hill Country
  • Home to Dell Computers and Whole Foods Markets corporate headquarters
  • Home to regional offices for Freescale Semiconductors, Intel, Google, 3M, Apple, Inc. and Samsung
  • Its unofficial city slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”
  • Its official city slogan is “The Live Music Capital of the World”
  • Highly liberal and democratic despite being in the Bible Belt
  • Home to the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW)
  • Was the host city for the debut of Yo! MTV Raps
  • 85% of its residents are unchurched

Astounding right? 85% of the 1.6 million people in Austin and the metro area are unchurched and I would bet haven’t heard the gospel. In my research, I found approximately 975 churches in the greater Austin area of various denominations and non-denominational affiliations. The Austin Metro area has a land mass of 4,285 square miles. 975 churches in 4, 285 square miles is roughly 1 church per 4 square miles. Yet, 85% percent of Austin is unchurched. In fact, Austin is known as one of the most unchurched cities in America as many participate in New Age practices, Eastern Religions, paganism or are agnostic and antagonistic.

There is a great need for the church to begin its focus outward here. The church should be evangelistic by nature because it was birthed by faithful laborers proclaiming the gospel. The church should be missional as that reflects the heart and work of God.

One of our time’s most respected Bible teachers, John Stott, said this at Urbana 76,

“…why has God chosen us? Mysterious as God’s purpose of election remains to our finite minds, it is important to see how Scripture answers our questions. Election is with a view to witness. God chose and appointed his servant Israel to be “a light to the nations” (Is. 42:1, 6); not just to receive and guard his revelation, and certainly not to monopolize it, but to spread it through the world. So Peter continues, “But you are a chosen race…. God’s own people, in order that you may declare [or proclaim] God’s wonderful deeds.” And what are God’s “wonderful deeds” which we are to announce to the world? They are the deeds “of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” We were in the darkness of sin and guilt; he has called us into the light of his forgiveness. We were in the darkness of ignorance; He has shone upon us the light of his truth. We were in the shadow of death; He has brought us out into the light of life. No wonder Peter calls it “his marvellous light.” Are we going to keep it for ourselves?…..No, we must announce his wonderful deeds to the world; it is for this, and not for selfish enjoyment, that He has made us His people.”

“Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (~Jesus; John 20:21)

Consider your city. Consider His mission. Consider your submission.

Please pray for me as I desire and make efforts to enjoin with others in my city to reach the 85ers.

Grace & Peace,

d.