September 15, 2010
My father-in-law has been involved in a jail ministry for many years. He visits inmates every Saturday morning and leads them in a Bible study. One of the ways he motivates them to learn Scripture is by offering them their own study Bible if they memorize the order of the books of the Bible. Last week a couple of men had accomplished the task, so Dad Little proudly gave them their hard-earned Bibles. They men were thrilled and so excited to have their own Bibles. I imagine they might even now be pouring over the words of Scripture as they study the word on their own from their new Bibles.
How exciting to hear of these men’s joy and delight to meditate on God’s word. May I always, like them, find such joy in it!
September 15, 2010
HJ had a doctor’s appointment today and he said she and the baby are both looking great (the baby’s due-date is Dec 8). HJ is gaining weight at a very healthy rate, her blood pressure is good, her sugar levels. We continue to thank the Lord for this report. Melody’s kicks are getting more firm and she is noticeably more active. Sometimes I put my hand on HJ’s belly and it feels as if Melody is doing jumping-jacks and cartwheels–a sign of how active she’ll be when she’s born? After the doctor’s appointment HJ and I met for lunch in Wake Forest. Some friends generously gave us a gift card to Applebee’s. It’s hard to beat a Reuben sandwich!
September 11, 2010
It was about 12:30, Monday afternoon this week. I had just finished lunch and was preparing to spend the rest of the afternoon studying. Suddenly, I heard a knock on the door. Now, this was not just any knock. This was a firm, deliberate knock–the kind you might expect from one who has experience knocking on doors. I went quickly to the door, trying to guess who it might be, possibly a neighbor? My dog barked ferociously.
Two Jehovah’s witnesses stood there, literature in hand, ready and eager to talk. My first gut reaction? “Not now, I don’t have time for this.” Of course I didn’t say that, I merely thought it. The two ladies began their practiced speech. To my surprise, I found myself agreeing with what they were saying and telling them so. They basically asked if I believed that the Bible commands us to evangelize. I replied yes. “Is it a sin, then, not to evangelize?” “Yes.” “So every Christian should be evangelizing?” “Yes, exactly right.” They were very pleased that I agreed with them. The conversation turned towards small talk, and I suspected that they were about to go to the next house.
I asked if I could share something with them. Now, you may disagree with my next move, but I felt that this was an opportunity to engage them and possibly plant a seed of truth in their lives. I told them “I do not want to start a debate, I merely want you to know that although I just agreed with you about these things, we believe drastically different things and by no means share a common faith. We are polar opposites.”
“If I understand your religion correctly, then probably the two areas we are most at odds with each other relates to salvation and to our understanding of Christ. As far as salvation is concerned, I believe according to Scripture, that one is saved by placing his faith in Jesus, not by doing any amount of good works. Regarding Christ, you believe him to be a divine-like being, I see him clearly portrayed in Scripture as God almighty.”
At this point, they confirmed that I was right in pointing out the two areas of disagreement and asked me to prove from Scripture that Christ is God. I figured that they expected me to turn to John 1. I, instead, focused on several statements of Jesus where he angered the Jews. The Jews understood Jesus on numerous occasions to make himself equal with God–when he forgave sins, when he called himself God’s son, when he confirmed the words of Pilate. For these reasons they repeatedly tried to stone him, tore their clothes, and accused him of blasphemy.
The Jehovah’s witnesses offered a few responses. After a few more minutes, as the conversation became more heated, I reminded them that I did not want to debate. I merely wanted to point out why we were different and show that we do not hold to the same faith. They politely consented. I thanked them for their time, and they made their way to the next house.
This encounter reflects a regular occurrence for me. We get Jehovah witnesses coming to the door about every month. I try to make it a point never to turn down a conversation. I do not always take the same approach, but try to be sensitive to the Spirit. When I have a conversation with them, I try to keep a few things in mind:
1. Debate is often fruitless. A much better approach is to try to plant a seed of doubt. Explain that you are not interested in debate. Share one convincing bit of theological truth saturated with Scripture, and let the conviction of the Spirit do the rest. You never know, maybe something you say will cause them to question things. Another approach is to offer to listen to them for 10 minutes if they’ll in exchange listen to you for 10 minutes. This gives an uninterupted time for sharing without debate.
2. Understand this as an opportunity. They may go door to door on a regular basis, but consider this a special opportunity where God has brought the lost literally to your doorstep. personally, my conscience won’t allow me not to talk with them.
3. Follow up with your neighbors. As soon as the Witnesses leave, go and talk to your neighbors. Ask them what they thought about the encounter. Did they find the Witnesses worth listening to, convincing? Be ready for opportunities to share with your neighbors why you disagree with the Witnesses and be ready for this to open up further discussion.
4. Be challenged by the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are out sharing their faith. We who know the truth and desperately want to see the world won to Christ should be doing more as far as evangelism goes and should be pitied if anyone out proselytize us.
5. I realize this final point may be a bit controversial, but I do not allow the Witnesses in my home, based on the words of 2 John, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work” (2 Jn 10-11).
What are some effective ways you’ve found to engage the Witnesses?
September 10, 2010
One author finds fault with google. His reasons for using sweetsearch and findingDulcina are pretty compelling.
September 7, 2010
I am deeply troubled by the NEWS REPORT about the Florida church Dove World Outreach and their plans to publicly burn a Koran this week in commemoration of 9/11. This smacks of retaliation and revenge, not of the love and forgiveness that characterize the Lord. Can you imagine Jesus, nine years after a terrorist attack in his home land, still plotting revenge? How different was his reaction to his persecutors as he hung on the cross, “Father forgive them.” Over and over again his followers manifest that same attitude, like when Stephen was being murdered and prayed the exact same words. This church in Florida is receiving strong warnings from the U.S. military that its actions will make matters worse for the troops. It needs to receive even stronger rebukes from the Christian community, both for its gross lack of love and disobedience to God’s word. How might their actions impede the work of missionaries among muslims? Their actions seem nothing but a revival of the medieval crusader mentality since they think that a battle of aggression needs to be fought against an earthly foe. I pray that Dove World Outreach takes these words to heart:
“Blessed are you when men hate you , and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil for the sake of the son of man…. Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Lk 6:22, 27, 28).
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17, 18, 19, 21).
September 6, 2010
These verses challenge Christians to be careful how they listen to God’s word. Unlike the Israelites who hardened their hearts to God’s voice, believers must hear and believe.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
Today, if you all hear his voice,
8 you must not turn a deaf ear, as some did in the rebellion,
in those days of temptation in the desert,
9 where your fathers tested me. They demanded evidence,
although they had seen my wonders.
10 For forty years I was extremely angry with them and said,
Their hearts continually wonder,
my loving ways they have not known.
11 Therefore I swore in my anger
That they would not enter my rest.
12 Watch out, then, brothers and sisters, lest there be in some of you an evil, unbelieving heart which turns away from the living God. 13 But continually encourage each other, every single day, yes today, so that none of you will be hardened by sin’s allurements. 14 For we have truly experienced life with Christ if we hold confidently onto the conviction we had in the beginning. 15 This is what the verse means when it says,
Today, if you hear his voice,
You must not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
16 For who were the ones who rebelled after they heard? The very same ones Moses led out of Egypt, weren’t they? 17 But with whom was God extremely angry for forty years? It was with those who sinned, whose carcasses rotted in the desert, wasn’t it? 18 To whom did God swear they would never enter his rest except those who disbelieved? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
For comparison, the NASB reads:
7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from The living God.
13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,
15 while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?
17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?
19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.
And the Message reads:
6-11 Now, if we can only keep a firm grip on this bold confidence, we’re the house! That’s why the Holy Spirit says,
Today, please listen;
don’t turn a deaf ear as in “the bitter uprising,”
that time of wilderness testing!
Even though they watched me at work for forty years,
your ancestors refused to let me do it my way;
over and over they tried my patience.
And I was provoked, oh, so provoked!
I said, “They’ll never keep their minds on God;
they refuse to walk down my road.”
Exasperated, I vowed,
“They’ll never get where they’re going,
never be able to sit down and rest.”
12-14 So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.
These words keep ringing in our ears:
Today, please listen;
don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
15-19 For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened, never believed.
September 5, 2010
Last week, the home-group we’re a part of discussed hell. Hell is one of those topics that is seldom talked about, but in our group discussion we noted how often Jesus discussed it in the gospels. I was reminded of R.W. Dale’s words about D.L. Moody. He felt that Moody was the only preacher with the right to preach about hell, for he never did so without tears in his voice.
The question was asked in our discussion if God was really just in sending people to hell for all eternity. Among other reasons, we noted that the gravity of a crime depends on the one against whom it was committed. The more influential a person is, the more a crime against that person will carry consequences. To illustrate the matter, we considered the infamous Iraqi shoe thrower named Muntadar al-Zeidi, who on December 14, 2008 threw his shoes at President Bush. This act signifies an act of extreme disrespect in Islamic culture, since the bottom of the foot is considered the dirtiest part of the body. To hit a leader with the shoe is, in a sense, to smear them with filth and thereby utterly disrespect their authority. As al-Zeidi threw his first shoe at Bush, he shouted, “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!” Now, if I pick up a shoe and throw it at a sibling after an argument, I’m not very likely to face any serious consequences. If I, however, pick up a shoe and throw it in public at the president of a very important country, I face the most severe punishment. For his act, al-Zeidi faced the very real possibility of years in prison.
This illustration perhaps captures a glimpse of God’s justice in sending unrepentant sinners to hell. One can see why an act of rebellion against a president carries much more severe consequences than one committed against an ordinary individual. Man’s sin, however, is not against some important politician, but against the holy, majestic King of the universe. If such an act against a world leader deserves years in prison, then the prospect of such an act against God merits even more punishment. Consider that man has not just thrown the shoe at God once, but defies his authority on a daily basis.
It seems that those who question God’s justice in sending sinners to an eternal hell have failed to grasp both the infinite holiness of God and the utter rebelliousness of sin.
September 3, 2010
I recently came across the story of Steve Kreuscher (written by Stewart Simms in The Beams, 32:17) who decided to legally change his name to “One Nation Under God.” This was actually his second name change. His first new name had been “In God We Trust.” Mr. Under God’s goal in changing his name was to help bring Americans back to being a nation under God by overturning the Roe v. Wade court ruling. Ultimately, he hopes his name changes will help remind the nation of its founding upon God.
I like the response of Simms, who points out that there is another much more effective thing God’s people can do to bring about change. “It doesn’t involve changing our name, but beginning afresh to live up to our new name, ‘Christian.’ As Vance Havner said, ‘Why not just be Christians?’” Being Christian, doing our faith, walking as Jesus walked, demands much more from me than a simple name change. Actions speak louder than words–and names.