Friday, June 26, 2009

Reflections on the Death of a "King"

For many who lived through the 1980’s, the death of the “King of Pop” today came as quite a shock. I remember listening to his music in my early tweenage years; I was not a huge fan, but I liked his most popular songs. I also remember the popularity of Michael Jackson paraphernalia such as the single glove and imitation red leather zipper covered jackets.

In the eyes of the world, he had a stellar career as an entertainer. He made millions and millions of dollars on his popular music and related products and still carried an impressive following. In later years, he was a figure surrounded by controversy and nearly went broke paying legal expenses.

When Michael woke up this morning, he was preparing to launch a major comeback in his career. By the afternoon, the man know as the "King of Pop" was struggling to hold on to life as his heart failed him. At 2:26 PM, Pacific Time, June 25, 2009, he was pronounced dead.

All of his fame, fortune, talent and popularity could not hinder his appointment with death.

His passing away is a reminder that no one is immune to death. 10 out of 10 people die. If I were to put a calendar in your hands today and asked you to put the date and time of your death on the calendar, could you do that? I doubt it.

The Bible says, “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…”(Heb 9:27 ESV) So when you die, you will stand before a holy God and give an account of the things you have done in this life. According to Jesus, every idle word that you have spoken will be accounted for in the day of judgment. Every lie, every time you disobeyed your parents, every time you stole something - be it a car or a pencil or time from your employer, every lustful thought - everything will be brought to light.

What will you say when you face the KING of the universe?

You might say that you were a good person or you did many good deeds. You might say that you were a church member, that you had been baptized or that you tried to keep the 10 commandments. You may not know what you would say.

God will want to know how you responded to his offer of salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. You see, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Jesus died on the cross for your sins and my sins. The Bible teaches that “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:21 NLT)

The only way to have right standing before God on judgment day is to put your faith and trust completely in Jesus Christ. God will accept no other excuse, no other way other than His way. “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Act 3:19-20 ESV)

Invite Christ to forgive you today. Allow him to take control of your life. You can begin that important step by calling upon him in prayer. Pray like this or in your own words…“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and have broken your laws. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and came back to life on the third day. I am sorry for my sins and with your help, I turn away from them. I ask you for forgiveness. Take control of my life and help me live for you from this day forward. Thank you for saving me and giving me eternal life. In Jesus name, AMEN.”

If you invited Christ into your life today, please let me know by e-mailing Darrel at onlyfoundation dot org. I want to send you a follow up Bible study to help you grow in your faith.

“How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Heb 2:3 ESV)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stories from the Streets - Tiffany

Tiffany knew she was going to hell…

We met Tiffany in Wichita, KS during the 2009 Riverfest Outreach. A group of us were riding out a severe thunderstorm and tornadoes inside Metropolitan Baptist Church – our base camp for the street outreach. Some of our team members tried to go out and witness but I just don’t do storms.

We were waiting in a Sunday school classroom when Shawn, one of the team members, brought several young people in to dry off and warm up. Tiffany was among them.

These young people were members of a group called the Juggalos – a counter cultural movement made up of fans of a rock group called the “Insane Clown Posse.” They range in age from early teens to late 20’s and hang out in “The Pit,” an abandoned fountain on the banks of the Arkansas River, right across the street from the church.

Since arriving Thursday, Penny and I had spent most of our time in the Pit talking with these kids and found that almost every one of them came from backgrounds of broken homes, abandonment, abuse, rebellion and tragedy. Their experiences have hardened their hearts toward church and Christians – and especially against God.

We began to chat with these young people. It was very clear that Tiffany was the outspoken one. Her language was like a sailor and she had no regard for the fact that she was inside a church building.

Soon, the conversation turned to spiritual matters. When we asked if they would spend eternity in heaven or hell, Tiffany said, “I’m going to hell,” she laughed, “I’ve been going to hell for 18 years.”

She then began to share her story with us. Her father abandoned her when she was young. He was killed shortly thereafter; he was drunk and stumbled in front of a car. Tiffany sternly warned us, “And don’t you tell me you are sorry about that either!” Her mother had had a series of men afterward that abused Tiffany. She had moved out of the house at age 18 because of it.

Tiffany began to spew out all of her pain and anger from the years of injustice she had experienced through those abusive relationships. It was obvious that she had been hurt many times and that she was trying to prove to us that she was unlovable.

Many times people who have experienced very little love from their parents grow up believing that they don’t deserve to be loved. They then make this a self-fulfilling prophecy by pushing people away who attempt to love them. You see this in the way they act, dress and speak. It’s as if they are saying, “You’re not going to love me, so I’ll give you a reason to reject me since you weren’t going to love me anyway.”

Tiffany was going down that same path with us. She kept saying off-the-wall things like, “I have multiple personalities. One is a demon and one is a vampire.” She also continued to use profane language. I think she was expecting us to be shocked and tell her to leave. Instead, several of us began to tell her how valuable she was in the eyes of God. She didn’t deserve the things that had happened to her in the past. God had something special in mind for her future. Tiffany, and many other girls we talked to that weekend, had no concept of a loving heavenly Father because they never knew a loving earthly father.

Unfortunately, I have to leave many of the details out for the sake of space. The turning point came when Penny grabbed a Bible and began to read Psalm 139. As she read, she began to substitute Tiffany’s name for each of the impersonal pronouns. “I praise you for Tiffany was fearfully and wonderfully made…”

A peace descended upon that room that I cannot describe; it was clear to us that the Holy Spirit was present and doing His job of drawing Tiffany to Jesus. He kept leading Penny to share scriptures from the Roman Road and to speak words of peace and love to her. She began to listen intently to the gospel. Her countenance and demeanor changed.

Finally, Penny said, “Tiffany, I know you joked about going to hell a few minutes ago. I can assure you that hell is no joke. Are you ready to give your heart to Christ tonight?”

Tiffany, holding back the tears, said a simple “yes.”

She didn’t feel comfortable praying out loud so Penny led her to trust Christ in her heart. Then Penny asked, did you mean what you just prayed? Tiffany said yes. It was as if the whole room breathed a sigh of relief. We gave her a New Testament and some encouragement. Shawn and I took Tiffany and her boyfriend home that evening.

The next day, we had another opportunity to sit down with Tiffany and disciple her. Penny told her that God was going to make some changes in her life. She said something to a friend and almost used a curse word, but stopped herself and looked at Penny. “See Tiffany! He’s already changing you!”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pray for ICE Louisville - June 14-24

Next Sunday, June 14, I will be joining the ICE team in inner city Louisville, KY for a week of hardcore street evangelism and spiritual warfare. I have the privilege of leading the team working with Galilee Baptist Church. I covet your prayers for this outreach and for the other 6 ICE anchor churches and their respective teams.

On top of the normal ICE team members, we are expecting 113 seminary students and 150 youth from out of town to join us in our street evangelism efforts! We are also praying that a number of local church members will come out to be equipped and join us during this week.

A typical day for me at this outreach begins around 5:00 AM with prayer preparation followed by breakfast around 6:30 AM. Our team leaves for the host church at 7:30 AM and have our team devotion and prayer time from 8:00-9:00 AM. We leave from there to go to our individual churches for witnessing. We will return to the host church for lunch and dinner. The day ends around 9:00 PM. By Thursday, every muscle in my body hurts and I am ready to crawl back in the bed, but the Holy Spirit empowers me to keep going.

Louisville, like many cities has its share of inner city issues – especially generational poverty and crime. They also have a growing gang problem. According to my research, much of this gang activity is located in the area where my team and the Guiding Light, Emmanuel and Bible Community teams will be witnessing (Portland, Shawnee, and Chickasaw areas.) Here is a link to the map of the areas that we will be working in. Please use this to pray for our teams.

Please pray for my family while I am on the field. The enemy would like nothing more than to distract me with issues back home such as sick or rebellious children or broken down cars/appliances and etc. Pray for Penny as she will be taking care of the children on her own for 10 days. I will be staying after the outreach to help man the NAMB tract booth and attend the SBC annual meeting.

You can also join this effort by donating. Much of the cost is covered by NAMB but I will still need to cover some miscellaneous expenses and ministry support. I still need around $750 for this project. If 30 people would give $25 this week, the need would be met. Please pray that God would meet this need this week.

Thanks for praying and I look forward to sharing the stories of changed lives in Lousiville.

You can also give via tipjoy through twitter.