Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Shelter Sitting on a Hill

I am going to interrupt the "I Object" series this week in order to share a few thoughts that the Lord has given me this week. Here is the question I want you to think about: Has the Church become a shelter on a hill from which we watch the world go to hell?

I am leading revival services this week at a church that is in a state of decline. God led me to preach on Jonah 4. In Jonah 4:5 we read, “Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.”

Most people are familiar with the story of Jonah. God called him to go to the city of Nineveh and preach a message of impending judgment for their wickedness. Jonah, because of his hatred and prejudice against the Ninevites refused to go, fled to Tarshish on a ship, A storm arose, he was thrown off the ship by the crew, eaten by a whale, repented in the belly of the whale, was spewed out of the whale onto the beach, and finally went to Nineveh to preach God’s message. Nineveh repented and God spared the city.

Or, to put it in once sentence, God got Jonah’s goat, Jonah began to gloat, got on a big boat, went for a float, was thrown in the moat, went down a whales throat, sat up to take note, remembered what God wrote, was spewed out with his coat, and finally went with God’s message to promote.

It is sad - no tragic - that Jonah had such a bad attitude about the whole affair. He had experienced the mercy of God when he was delivered from death, yet he did not want the Ninevites to experience the same mercy.

A well known atheist, Penn Jillette of the magic duo, Penn and Teller said it best, "How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn't believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there's a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that."

Today, we as believers let our attitudes, our prejudices, our fears, our preferences and so many other things get in the way of sharing the gospel with all people. We may not intentionally do what Jonah did (Build a shelter and watch for God to judge sinners) but through our actions, our apathy and our attitudes toward others, we practice what Jonah did!

Most churches are shelters on a hill from which the members watch sinners perish. We don’t want to reach out to that group because they are….black, Hispanic, poor, rich, snobby, pagans, middle class…let’s face it, they don’t look and act like us.

It is time we repented of this nonsense and obeyed Christ by taking his message to the lost. The world needs Jesus. There is no evidence in scripture that Jonah ever changed his attitude toward the Ninevites. Let it not be said of the church of Jesus Christ.

OK, I’ll put away the soap box now. Thanks for letting me vent.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Free Prayer Walking Seminar - March 30

I want to invite you to join me for a free webinar training on prayerwalking, March 30 from 8:00-9:00 PM eastern time. This opportunity is being offered in cooperation with Chris Walker of

Chris is an evangelism trainer who lives in Panama, Central America and travels throughout North and South America to train people in evangelism. He also maintains, an evangelism blog that I read quite frequently. When you sign up for the webinar, you will be given the option of connecting to the session either via the internet or telephone. If you connect via the internet, you will see the visuals as well as hear the audio portion of the training.

There will be a time of questions and answers at the end of the session which Chris will moderate. I will lead in the teaching time.

There is no cost to join us and no product pitches will be made. You will have an opportunity to give after the webinar to help offset the cost of the webinar service. To register for this webinar or to see more details, visit

I hope you will join us for this training. If things go well, I may start offering free webinars through our ministry.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Object! Countering Atheists

You can now listen to or download this as a podcast by clicking here...

This is first in a series of articles on handling objections to the gospel. I want this to be interactive so I am asking you to submit a topic for consideration. What is one objection to the gospel that you have encountered that made you think or had you stumped?

I would even invite someone who does not believe to submit a question for consideration - that is, if you really want an answer. (No stump the Christian questions like, "can God create a rock so big he can't lift it" and so forth.)

I will write a article on how to respond when that objection comes up. Fair enough? So send me your suggestions to info at onlyfoundation dot org and I will consider them for an upcoming topic.

Recently, I was working with a team of street evangelists in New Orleans prior to Mardi Gras. While standing in the middle of a very crowded Bourbon Street around 9:00 P.M., I was accosted by two college-aged guys who claimed to be atheists.

They were in my face expressing their opinion quite vocally while I was trying to get them to think honestly about the fallacy of their position. These guys were what we on the Intentional Community Evangelism team affectionately call "DTs" or "Drunk Theologians." (Get a few beers in them and they become ______________ [insert name of your favorite theologian here])

First of all, it has been my observation that most people claim to be atheists because they don't want to be accountable to a Holy God and not because of the preponderance of evidence for the non-existence of God. It's kind of like saying that your electric bill does not exist in the hope that that will excuse you from making the payment. Soon you will find yourself in the dark for not paying the bill.

Second, I am amazed that people like this would pour so much energy into objecting to something that they don't believe exists. If you don't believe that God exists then leave it at that. You might choose not to believe in gravity if you want. Just don't jump off of any 12 story buildings when I am around - I faint at the sight of blood.

They expend energy defending their position in hopes of making God disappear.

This is why it is best to speak to the conscience of this type of atheist. The Way of the Master Training is one of the best courses to help you witness in this instance. I don't agree with Ray Comfort in regards to the sinners prayer, but using the Ten Commandments to bring conviction in the heart of the atheist (or anyone else) is right on target.

A sample conversation would go something like this...

Witness: Do you consider yourself to be a good person?

Atheist: Of course I do...

Witness: Have you ever told a lie?

Atheist: Sure, everyone has.

Witness: What does that make you?

Atheist: It doesn't make me a bad person.

Witness: If I told you a lie, what would you call me?

Atheist: A liar.

Witness: So you are a liar by your own admission...

Atheist: If you want to call it that.

Witness: Have you ever stolen something regardless of value?

Atheist: Yes.

Witness: What does that make you?

Atheist: A thief.

And so forth...

As they are listening, the Holy Spirit is using the law to reveal their sinfulness to them. For the sake of brevity, I will not go any further with the script...

As far as philosophical and apologetic responses to this objection are concerned (No, I am not apologizing for my faith, Apologetics is the practice of defending the faith) I believe that the argument from the existence of morality is the best approach to giving convincing proof of the existence of God.

Christian apologist C.S Lewis was converted as a result of this argument. His argument is detailed in the book Mere Christianity.

Lewis once believed that God could not exist if evil existed. A loving and good God would not allow evil to exist in his creation. One day Lewis asked himself where his definition of Good came from. Was good merely something that he preferred and evil something that he disliked? This made his definition of good, subjective (meaning that what was good for him might not be good for someone else.)

If that was true, then his argument against God fell apart because what he considered evil was merely something that he did not prefer. Good and evil had to come from some outside, objective source. Hence: God. Even if the idea of good and evil came from society, it would still be subjective and irrelevant.

As it says in Romans 2: "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. - (Rom 2:14-15)

Morality and good exists because God exists. Evil exists because sinful man chooses to reject the good in favor of evil. Or it could be said that evil is the absence of Good.

There are many other arguments that could be shared with the atheist. This one has the most teeth as far as I am concerned because it allows you to transition back to using the law to bring conviction. So if the atheist is open to an honest dialogue, use this approach to sharing with them.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

This is just for fun and is a must see...

Link to the video for you receiving this via RSS -

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Are You Living in a Cocoon?

I rediscovered a quote the other day that made me think - and hopefully it will make you think too.

"Church has become the place we go to get away from the people Jesus sends us to." - Dr. John Avant.

I'm going to let that linger for a minute...

Christians have fallen victim to the same phenomenon that the rest of our culture has...cocooning. What is cocooning? Think of it this way....

Most people drive home from work into a gated community. They open their garage door and drive their car inside shutting the door behind them. They go inside and isolate themselves from the rest of the family - Sally is in her bedroom listening to her iPod, Mikey is in his room playing Xbox, and mom is in the office surfing on the Internet.

We rarely interact with people in our neighborhood. We don't even know the people in their neighborhood.

Furthermore, my "Friends" on the Internet - i.e. Facebook and Twitter - are people that I barely know who are constantly trying to grab my attention by telling me every little thing that they are doing. The quantity of my relationships has increased while the quality has decreased. Social interaction in the information age is faceless.

The average church member has few if any close relationships with anyone outside of their church. This poses a serious problem- especially when you have a church full of cocooned Christians. If we don't know people to evangelize, then how are we going to obey the great commission?

We need to emerge from our cocoon to engage our community.

It is time for Christians to intentionally build relationships with the lost in order to win them to Christ, build them in faith and send them back into the world to influence others. That is what FriendFluence is all about. Building friendships in order to influence others for Christ.

How do we do that?

A native once said to a missionary, "You built a bridge of love between my heart and your heart and Jesus walked over." How cool is that?

Begin by walking across the street to say hello. Host events in your home that are designed to get to know your neighbors. Have a backyard barbecue where you supply the burgers and ask your neighbors to bring all the trimmings. Host a Backyard Box Office night where you invite our ministry to show a Christian film like Fireproof or Facing the Giants in your backyard as you provide popcorn and drinks for your neighborhood guests. Prayerwalk your neighborhood and as you walk, stop to ask how you can pray for the neighbors.

There are lots of ways you can intentionally build a bridge to the neighborhood. Just get outside of your cocoon and build more bridges for Jesus.

For more info about the Backyard Box Office, contact us at darrel at onlyfoundation dot org.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

K.I.S.S. the Gospel

I used to be into amateur radio (a.k.a. Ham radio). I still have my license and callsign, KD4CMA, and will some day buy new equipment and get back in to the hobby.

We had an acronym that was heard quite frequently in reference to technical stuff. It was K.I.S.S. which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid.

I'm not calling you stupid by any means; the acronym had a point. Don't make things too complicated.

For nearly 2000 years now, people have tried to complicate the gospel. They have tried to add this requirement and that requirement to salvation making it much more complicated than it really is.

Even the apostle Paul had to deal with this issue as seen in the book of Galatians. Certain false teachers had crept into the church claiming that circumcision and law keeping was one of the requirements of salvation in addition to faith in Christ. They had even persuaded Peter and Barnabas to join their cause. (See Galatians 2 for a detailed account.)

Paul wrote: "yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." Galatians 2:16 ESV

An encounter that I had this weekend reminded me of this tendency to complicate the gospel.

I was at Moore Square handing out tracts in the rain when I offered a tract to a man standing in the food line. He refused the tract saying, "I have a different belief." Not one to let a witnessing opportunity go past, I asked, "In your opinion, what does it take for a person to go to heaven?" After all, he could have been a Muslim or a Jehovah's Witness or something.

"You have to be born again," he said. I assured him that that was what the tract said. Then he said, "I don't believe that you can just accept Christ. You have to be baptized, filled with the Holy Ghost and you have to live the life." Well that sounds close to the truth doesn't it?

He was all about trusting in his own faithfulness to God in order to save him and not in Christ's death. He had no assurance of salvation as promised in the Word of God. If it is possible for you to "live the life," then Jesus death is nothing more than a travesty. I could go on dissecting his faulty theology, but it would not be prudent to do so.

The point is clearly taught in scripture, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV.

When you are sharing the gospel, make sure you are sharing the simple truth of faith in Jesus Christ alone. Not in attending church, being baptized, keeping the rules or any other add-on to the gospel. Some might even argue the point that Baptism is a requirement for salvation. We will have to agree to disagree on that one. (See explanation below)

Keep the gospel simple because it is simple. Faith in Jesus Christ is what saves a man. Even that faith is a gift from God. In turning to Christ, you must be willing to forsake and repent of your sin and simply rely upon him for forgiveness.

From now on, K.I.S.S. the Gospel!

Baptism is often argued as a requirement for salvation. People even use their favorite scripture to justify such belief (Acts 2:38 is one of them). I am not against baptism. I believe that believers baptism by total immersion is a Christians first act of obedience to Christ. It is an outward sign of an inward reality - namely, that a person has died to the old life and has been raised to walk in the new life. However, the idea that baptism somehow saves us is a carry over teaching from a heresy called baptismal regeneration which teaches that the waters of baptism mysteriously wash away sins. It is a false teaching with no basis in scripture. Again, we might agree to disagree on this.