Posts Tagged ‘evangelism’

When Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Matthew 7:28-29

In Chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus delivers His Sermon on the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes. It was in the previous chapter that Jesus began to gather His disciples and gave them this promise: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” So they followed Jesus all about Galilee, as He taught in the synagogues, as He healed the sick, and finally to a foothill where they would receive their first fishing lessons, more commonly known as the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes are not merely moral ideals by which folks should ascribe, nor are they a Christian formula towards achieving our best lives now. No, there was a bigger picture being presented here, one that is characterized by a narrow path. It is the destination realized in the personal receipt of God’s grace via the redemptive of power of Christ’s finished work on the cross and I would submit that if we handle them in any other regard we are sidestepping their inherent worth.

As we expound briefly on each tenet, understand that the Beatitudes are characteristics, not works or steps, that identify conditions of the heart which are the result of conviction by God by means of His Holy Spirit.  It is these spiritual positions (or phases) that we should broach when sharing the Good News.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit”

If salvation in Jesus Christ is our ultimate destination (and it is), then it’s clear to see that, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” has less to do with worldly ideals or moral character, but rather it is the realization of spiritual poverty due to (our) sinful nature. I believe Jesus is conveying to His disciples that in order to lead a soul towards salvation, the lost need to take ownership of their spiritual depravity, along with the recognition that they cannot save themselves. When the Apostle Paul wrote, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), this was the point he was driving home. It is no accident that poor in spirit is first in this sequence. It is in this vital first phase that we first recognize that we’re not okay and move closer to discerning our solution in Jesus Christ and can begin to see the blessedness of the situation.

“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25a)”

“Blessed are those who mourn”

Phase two, “Blessed are those who mourn,” is the consequence of grasping phase one; if there was sincerity in that first step, we will be mournful. It’s at this place where we may first recognize the devastating effects of our sin and the blessing of Jesus as our Savior and healer. Somewhere between here and our poverty of spirit the need for repentance surfaces as we begin to grasp that we cannot continue in our former manner. We see this being played out in John 8:11 where we find the woman caught in the act of adultery. Jesus said to her (and He says to us), “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The Apostle Paul wrote of this circumstance as well: “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). We don’t get to this point unless we take ownership of Christ’s previous teaching.

“Blessed are the meek”

In “Blessed are the meek,” we may recall the maxim, ‘meekness is not weakness, but rather strength under control.’  In our Christian realm it speaks to submission to God (for) our own good, but more importantly for His good purposes. It’s here that God breaks us in the same way a rancher would break a wild stallion. Just as a broken vessel will give up its contents, so to in our brokenness we are emptied. In this place Jesus encourages us, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29). The call to repent and follow our Lord and Savior is truly where the meek are blessed.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” 

Having realized our spiritual poverty, having mourned, and having been comforted, we have been emptied. In this condition it is only natural we would desire righteous replenishment. We are hungry! At some point during the process, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence inside us to guide and to give us understanding. Micah 4:2 reminds us, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lordand to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Meekness and mourning (as with the others) are humility steps and we should visit them daily as part of a spiritual routine lest we regress in some fashion.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”

Filled with His Spirit, we discover that the fruit of the Spirit is love and out of love grows mercy towards others. We recall Luke 7:47, “Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” A saved person who appreciates the great volume of sin that Christ has cleansed on their behalf will likely extend mercy to others. This blessing, this spiritual condition bears witness to the changes God is making in us.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

Here we see the difference between the cleansed heart and the pure heart. All believers have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, but a pure heart comes as a result of submission to the sanctification (or refinement) process. We catche glimpses of God throughout our journeys, and of course we see Him more clearly when we are closest to Him, but it is when we finish well; our purified state, we shall see Jesus. Once again we’re experiencing God’s changes in us. We do not act as we once did, but find ourselves acting out of character to our old selves. The saved soul sees increasing uprightness and honesty in their conduct.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”

This speaks not to mere peace as the world knows peace, but the peace that can only be attained through a faith-relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are peacemakers as we share the great blessings that we have received in Jesus – when we share the Gospel, we’re sharing the Prince of Peace, therefore in every instance we are peacemakers. Zacharias said Jesus will Guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you”

There will be persecution.  In 2 Corinthians 12:10, Paul said, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Consider persecution a confirmation that you’re on the proper path – what a blessing! In contrast if these things are not happening in our Christian walk it should give us pause. It could be that we haven’t been practicing our peacemaking skills and hiding our light beneath a basket.

“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The Beatitudes as a series of road signs bringing us to very specific places of blessings and of course, to our final Heavenly destination. I believe that in teaching His disciples the Beatitudes, Jesus provided a checklist of the issues that needed to be addressed when sharing the Gospel message. In one sense it was coded (as were the Parables of Jesus) so the masses would not necessarily glean from them initially, but these lessons weren’t for them necessarily, but for those who would be sent out to share the Good News. We could also note that in the same manner that the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9) is a model prayer not to be recited word for word (necessarily), so are the Beatitudes a model to be recalled in sequence as a reminder to the bases we should cover when sharing the Gospel message, the continual discipleship process, and of course for periodic self-examination, as per 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

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Are you a fisher of men?

There are many ‘plumb lines’ in God’s word; those verses that we can use to decide if we’re on the right path, spiritually speaking. One of my favorite plumb line verses is Matthew 11:30 where Jesus tells His disciples, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If a Christian finds that ‘light and easy‘ is not characteristic of their walk with Jesus, he immediately knows something must be askew.

Matthew 4:19 is another one of those verses.

And (Jesus) said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

If you’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ for a reasonable amount of time, God’s promise to you is crystal clear – He will make you a fisher of men; i.e., an obedient Christian whose will is in line with Christ’s for saving souls.

What is the implication if you’re not a fisher of men?

Well that’s clear too – you’re not following Jesus as closely as you think you are. I am not saying that you’re not saved. That could be the case, but that’s not what I’m saying here. That’s between you and God. I’m merely pointing out that if you’ve been a Christian for a while and you’re not an active (regular) participant in the sharing of the Gospel message in some way, shape, or form, you’re either not following Jesus close enough or you’re just plain ignoring Him.

If that comes across as an accusation, please don’t become angry or defensive, for if you have concluded that Jesus has not fulfilled this promise in your life, it’s very good news and one of the reasons we find these golden nuggets in the Bible.

As we read God’s word, we stumble upon these occasional checkpoints and they give us pause, or at least they should. Some of us read them, make a nanosecond determination that we’ve fallen short in our Christian duty, and quickly move on to the next verse. That of course isn’t helpful. Please know that these are not tests that God puts in our path that we might fail, but rather brilliant lights that show us where we may or may not need improvement.

So, if you’re not a ‘fisher of men’ then rejoice! You’ve identified an area of your Christian life that needs attention and more importantly, you know Who to go to, to remedy the situation. Confess it and submit yourself to becoming what Jesus has promised to those who follow Him.

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Jim-Elliot-and-FriendsJim Elliot, (October 8, 1927 – January 8, 1956) was an evangelical Christian who was one of five missionaries killed while participating in Operation Auca, an attempt to evangelize the Waodani people of Ecuador. He once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 

So profound.

Jim Elliot wound up being murdered by the very same people he was attempting to share the Gospel with. After his death, and the deaths of fellow missionaries, their wives returned to these jungles and continued the Lord’s mission. As a result, the tribesmen responsible for the murders received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.


When I read Jim’s quote today, the Holy Spirit moved me to consider time. The first thing that crossed my mind is the obvious — it is something we spend regardless if we desire to or not. Time is not a thing that can be hoarded, for it is constantly being taken away. Despite the world’s claims to the contrary, we cannot keep it or save one bit of it. As we reckon and reason with time, the most effective thing we can do with it is first recognize its true owner.

Is it my time, is it the boss’s, is it the spouse’s or the family’s, or is it all really just God’s time?

I believe it is this recognition that will ultimately determine the eternal worth of the time we clockinescapably spend. We’re going to give it whether we want to or not, so should we not capitulate wisely? Before it flies, can we not determine its direction and course?  More accurately, should we not submit to the direction and course our Father wants it to go?

We should submit, and for at least two very good reasons: it pleases the Owner and He is taking notes. In light of how Jesus Christ spent His time on the cross, spending our time wisely is our reasonable service.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

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“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

This past weekend I was really encouraged by three Bible-based teachings: two from Mark Cahill and one pastorsfrom Pastor Joey Rozek. As a result, I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to ‘step it up a notch’ in regard to my evangelism efforts. The Lord used Mark Cahill to emphasize the importance of faith-filled discussions, as opposed to faith-filled presentations, while the thing that stood out from Pastor Joey’s message was his definition of the word ‘responsibility.’ He described it as, “Our ‘response’ to His ‘ability.’ ” I found that to be very profound, and also Biblically accurate.

So prior to today, much of what I’ve done in this regard revolved around playing the guitar and singing ‘Jesus music‘ on the street and/or handing out Bible tracts, but without too much dialog. I will continue to do that, but today, compelled by the love of Christ and the guiding of the Holy Spirit, I set out for the mall. Just prior to setting out, I asked my Facebook friends to pray for some Divine appointments.

Well, they must have prayed, because I met some wonderful people and had some great conversations. I met one young guy named Rich who was filling out an application in front of the pretzel place. After talking for about 15 minutes, he received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Praise be to God!

Another guy I met named John expressed a desire to recommit his life to Jesus. He was working one of those cell phone kiosks in the middle of the mall, but our conversation was interrupted (he was working after all), so I wasn’t able to pray with him.  I did encourage him to return to church and follow through with the things we were discussing.

I also had ‘pleasant’ conversations with a Muslim and a Jehovah Witness who each took a Bible tract and agreed to ‘investigate’ some of the issues we covered. Additionally, I met some Christ followers and had some nice fellowship time. All in all, about 6 or 7 people agreed to stop and talk with me. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there was also about the same number who did not want to chat. I found walking up to people and initiating a conversation rather easy, but simply saying, “Okay,” and walking away when they didn’t want to talk to be the difficult part. It was there I had to fight the urge to start a debate.

Anyway, I hope this didn’t come off sounding prideful, as in, “Hey, look what I did today,” but encouraging.  The testimonies I heard this past weekend encouraged me and I wanted to encourage you. Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and that’s exactly how I found it to be — light and easy! Most importantly, I’m here to tell you that my fears of being arrested at the mall for handing out Bible tracts and witnessing o strangers, never came to fruition.

Again, praise be to God!

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“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5)


This was Christ‘s message to a particular Church, but we shouldn’t err and think that there isn’t an application for the individual Christian as well — this admonition is not something that we can merely lay at the feet of our church leaders, even if the church as a whole has fallen. If that has occurred, then our first response should be to ask the Lord how we have contributed to the problem and how we (through Christ) might set the course straight.

First Works

Gratefully, Jesus already answered the second part of the question — do the first works. That leaves us to ask what are the first works Jesus is referring to? Is it merely that we have fallen out of love with Jesus; or that we have neglected our relationship with our Lord and Savior; or that we have taken our God for granted? The short answer — it’s probably one or more or all of those, but we want to be precise.  The Revelation verse, “Remember therefore form where you have fallen,” implies that the place where we fell is significant; we need to go back to where it happened and identify the problem that caused it to occur.

In regard to the church of Ephesus, we’re told what they were doing right, but more importantly we see how their pursuit of works caused them to ignore the passion; their fist love Jesus. Don’t misinterpret what’s being said — the works of the church are essential, but maintaining a consistent, faithful, and obedient  relationship with Jesus is of utmost importance. If we’re not dedicated to stoking this flame, the fireplace will dwindle to embers. When this occurs, and it typically does for all of us at one time or another, we must think back to the time and place where we were last going full-bore for the Lord, and then determine what work drew us away from our relationship, asking…

What was that holy (or unholy) distraction that loosed our bonds?”

All Aboard!

Imagine for a moment you’re an engineer on a locomotive and it’s your duty to shovel coal into the boiler to keep it steaming. If you should stop, the fire shrinks, the engine cools, and the train slows. The problem is that the train can engkeep going for miles without adding fuel, and we can become so caught up in the momentum of a good work, that we might not notice we’re decelerating. What does get our attention is when the train comes to a complete halt in the middle of nowhere! We scratch our pointy little heads and wonder how in the world this happened. It’s at this venue Jesus doesn’t say, “Start fueling that furnace again!” but rather counsels, “Remember where you have fallen.”  Ultimately, Jesus will have us re-kindle that fire, but first He desires we identify the problem that caused it to go out in the first place, lest we make the same mistake again.

What does it mean, Jesus will remove the lampstand?

First of all, Jesus’s warning to take away His lampstand is not a threat, but a reality. The function of the church corporately, and the divine purpose of the Christian individually, is to go and make disciples to Christ. Everything we do should serve to turn people towards this vocation. We’re to always act as Jesus would expect His followers to act, wherever we find ourselves. That doesn’t mean we’re straightforwardly evangelizing all day long. Our behavior though is to always be Christ-like, our time dedicated to pursuits pleasing to the Lord, submitted to obedience in Christ, and not quenching the work of the Holy Spirit.

If the train we’re on has stopped moving in this manner, then obviously we’re not going anywhere, therefore Jesus has no cause to keep a lampstand (His light) upon a stalled vehicle or vessel. Losing the light is a very bad thing, and it’s definitely something that should be corrected, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a person’s salvation is lost, but rather, it’s indicative of a Christian who is not functioning for the purpose in which he or she was designed.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

What are the first works?

That’s between you and God. I can’t tell you the mile-post where you decided to stop tossing coal into the stove and you probably won’t be able to find that spot on your own. Our hearts, outside of a connection with Christ Jesus, are deceitful, desperate, and wicked. The only solution is allow God access to your heart and trust that every stone will be overturned in His search for the truth. Saying the following verse as a prayer, at least once a day, and as needed throughout the day, will get you going in the right direction.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Then What?

When you find what you’ve been looking for, then stoke the fire! Do the things that by God’s mercy and grace, you get to do. Pray! Worship! Read your Bible! Be in Christian fellowship! Be alone with Jesus! Do whatever He tells you to do and persistently ask for His help and Helper (the Holy Spirit) to accomplish it. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 reminds us to be ready in any season to preach the word. In every secular conversation there’s an opportunity to bring it back to Jesus. Our voice should consistently serve to patiently convince, correct, and encourage others, while keeping a keen eye out for things that are not true.  We might not be evangelists, but nevertheless we have been called to do their work.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ‘ Revelation 2:7

I am blessed that you have taken to time to visit and read the blog. I pray that you too were somehow blessed. If you liked to post please share it, like it, subscribe to it, or leave a comment. God bless!

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“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

I confess, I spend a good chunk of time on Facebook. For me, it’s but another mission field and I try to be a good steward of the time and space. So while it’s true that I do socialize on the social network, I always try to bring Jesus Christ into the conversation.

The Indirect Route

A friend (we’ll call him Jim because that’s his name), posted to his profile that he was going to the dentist and he wanted something that was both hopeful and funny to say to his doctor. As a means to bring Jesus into their conversation I suggested he say, “Dr. ______, I thank God that you are my dentist.”

For the humorous part I told him to add, “And I pray you washed your hands.”

Where a remark like that goes is in God’s hands, but it certainly was a leaping off point. It further demonstrates that an indirect remark about faith might lead to a deeper conversation about the focus of our faith. If it dies in the water, so be it, but that’s not really the issue, is it? I believe God is looking for faith-filled, obedience and is less concerned with results.

The Direct Route

This morning, my across-the-street, father and son neighbors, Mario and Pasquale came over to do some spackling and tile work. I greeted them at the door and then left them to do their business. After a few moments, the Lord spoke to my heart.

“Go back and pray with them,” He said.

Ugh.  I didn’t want to. I grumbled a little bit, but then recalled my wife’s prayer earlier in the morning,

…And may Mario and his son feel Your presence in our home this morning.

Suddenly I saw this occasion for the divine appointment it was; I had the opportunity to be an answer to prayer; a tool in the Master’s hand! So I went up to them and asked if I could pray for them. Yes, I sensed some discomfort, but they said yes and His name went forth. Where will it go? I don’t know, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?

The In-Your-Face Route

An old high school friend posted a sign on her FB page that read, “Hurt me with the truth, but never comfort me with a lie.”

Seeing the direct invitation I wrote back, “John 14:6,” the verse where Jesus proclaims,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

She’s Jewish.

She never responded, but that’s not the point is it?

Our Christian Platform

In the video, Tim Tebow talks to the CBN host about his faith, his platform, and his purpose. He also relates some advice his father had given to him when he was younger.

“Bret Favre can go into any school and share any message he wants… when you’re in that position you can share any message you want.”

The wise counsel was not at all a knock on Bret Favre, but merely an illustration pointing out the significance of our God-given positions. Tim has never forgotten his father’s words and now constantly shares about his Christian faith. He has come to realize that the spotlight he has been given was granted to illuminate Jesus the Christ, not Tim the football player.

I’m no Tim Tebow, but nevertheless, I have a platform and a spotlight. So do you. The stage may not be as big, nor the light as intense, but the magnitude of the message is still the same. The reality is that every single encounter a Christian has is a divine appointment and not one of them should be wasted.

Be Reasonable

Is it reasonable to bring Jesus into every conversation? I submit to you that it is. I would further offer that to the degree a Christian understands their own salvation is to the same degree they will find it a reasonable thing to talk about. Consider these questions:

  • What have you been saved from?
  • What have you been saved for?
  • Who saved you?
  • Who have you told?

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

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Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalm 1

I typically do my Bible study in front of the computer. I cut and paste the text (NKJV) I am going to study into a word document, pull up a couple Bible resource sites (usually BlueLetterBible.org and BibleStudyTools.com), log onto my favorite online Bible study (SearchLight with Jon Courson), and then dive right in. With this method I have discovered that I can pause the study at any given point to further investigate or better document what is being shared by the Holy Spirit by way of the teacher. What should take about one hour (if I merely listen to the teaching), more often than not, takes two to three. I take pleasure in taking a key component from the session and sharing it in a blog. That might add another two hours. Needless to say, this is time well spent. Bible study is not something I have to do; it’s something that I get to do. I thoroughly enjoy it because the Lord blesses me in the process.

Today was different. My Bible study lasted about eight minutes.

The sun was shining and I thought it would be nice to just grab my Bible and go sit out on the deck. I soon found that while the rays were glorious, they were too bright to read by. I suppose I could have turned my chair so the light came over my shoulder, but I was way too comfy to do that. So I closed my squints and began to pray, resting the Bible on my warm belly.

I began to prayerfully replay some of the events of the last few days before the Lord. In no less than three conversations I had alienated and/or otherwise annoyed the people I was chatting with, despite the fact I was hyper-vigilant to the doctrine of tolerance; i.e., the right for others to say and/or believe whatever it is they want. And for the most part they tolerated me and my faith in Jesus Christ, but nevertheless, they were either angered or appalled by my Biblical views. God reminded me that I shouldn’t take it personally..

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

That helped.

In one of these discussions I cited that we, as per God’s word, should avoid interacting with nonbelievers as they engage in their sinful activities. That raised the ire of one disputant who quickly turned my words around so as to say I was suggesting sinners should be avoided at all costs. That notion would of course be anti-biblical. The exchange left me exasperated. He ended the dialogue soon after. Was my Biblical interpretation correct or was I just playing the legalist? What happened next was pretty cool.

“Father,” I prayed, “I need a verse that will let me know that I am on the right (or wrong) path.”

God spoke to my heart. “Open your Bible,” He said.

“Father,” I objected, “I was just taught last night that randomly opening our Bibles as a technique to studying the Word is not the best method.”

God continued, “Open it to where the book mark is.”

So I did and a marker fell out in Numbers. “Not that book mark,” He said, “keep going.”

I chuckled to myself, closed and opened the Bible again, and it opened to where a friend’s business card marked the last page of Job. “Oh no,” I thought, “not Job!”

“The other page,” He said.

Oh, Psalm One! Much better! As I began to read I felt a smile come across my sun-taunted face.

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalm 1

“Thanks Father,” was about all I could say. My Bible study was over.

These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven….But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. Matthew 8:11, 6:20-21; Philippians 3:20; John 14:1-3

I didn’t feel like going to the train station today. I shot-up one of those quickie prayers and asked God to guide me in what I should do. I was kind of hoping He would tell me to go back to bed because I needed more rest. He didn’t. I was however drawn to His word and opened it to my Psalm reading for the day; Psalm 81. Verse one read:

Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.

To the Train Station I Go!

I stopped to pray before I left and asked the Lord for some divine appointments (as usual), and added, “It would really be cool if I could lead a person to Jesus today.”

I drove the five miles or so to the train station, took up my usual spot, and began to play my guitar.


I was playing an hour or so before I saw Mario. He was talking to another fellow on the bench next to mine. When I looked up at him our eyes met and he said hello. I stopped playing and said to him, “You’re a pastor, aren’t you.”

He said yes and asked how I knew.

I said because he was wearing those hip eyeglasses that most pastors are wearing these days.

He laughed, but I sensed something about him that wasn’t right. Oh, he was smiling, and seemingly happy, but I felt this negativity. When he spoke again the pieces fell into place. “I’m a pastor and a Jehovah Witness.”

He caught me a little off guard, so I reached into my coat pocket, pulled out one my ‘Trillion Dollar’ tracts, and handed it to him saying, “How would you like a trillion dollars?” When he reached for it, I teasingly pulled it back and said, “But first you have to answer the trillion dollar question.”

“What’s the question?” he asked.

“Are you going to heaven?”


That of course set off our Biblical discussion. Mario didn’t have his fake bible, but I had my real one with me. When I (lovingly) told Mario why his bible was bogus, he replied, “There are many Bibles written today where men have changed the words or have taken words out.” As he spoke the words it seemed he realized that the negative tone of his remark cast a dark shadow over his JW translation, so he changed the topic.

We probably spoke about 20 minutes. I brought him to places in the Bible, but Mario wasn’t going to budge off his false doctrine, so I told him it was probably best we end our discussion. It was a friendly separation, but nevertheless I was saddened by how deceived this man is and also that he is leading sheep astray in the same station as me. The Bible montage (above) about Heaven is for Mario–If he continues down his path, his remark about not going to Heaven will be quite prophetic.


I played about another hour before packing up my guitar and leaving. As I walked to my car I was drawn to the bench where Millie was sitting. “Wanna answer the trillion dollar question,” I asked as I handed her and the guy sitting next to her, one of my tracts.

“Sure,” she said, “What’s the question?”

So I asked her if she was going to Heaven and she replied that she probably was not. Joe said he probably was because he was a good guy. Meanwhile, Millie told me the gospel message from memory, but she hadn’t yet received Jesus as her Lord and Savior. By the time we had parted ways, Millie did receive Jesus – praise be to God.

Then Things Got Ugly

As we chatted some more I revealed that I used to be a cop in the town where she lives. “Oh, what’s your name,” she asked. When I told her, her countenance dropped.

“I remember you now. You once arrested my son; you tackled him in the street and held a gun to his head. I’ve got it on tape.”


I told her I didn’t remember doing that, but if I did I was sorry it happened.

“Anyway,” she said, “I forgive you; I am a Christian now!”

Praise be to God!


“So Joe, how bout you, do you wanna accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,” I asked?

He said that he wasn’t ready, but he would read the other tract I gave him (with the Romans Road on it) when he got to work.

The bus came and Millie and Joe had to leave to catch it.

Please Pray

Please remember Mario, Millie, and Joe in your prayers — Mario is deceived, Millie is a new believer, and Joe is somewhere in the middle.

Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Matthew 9:37-38

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For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29:11-14

Wednesdays are typically Asbury Park Train Station days. I pack up my guitar, drive the five miles or so to the station and settle into one of the pew-like benches. The mission: to share the Good News through song. Talking about Jesus in the train station is frowned upon, but singing about Him is apparently okay; regardless of how well or un-well you sing.

I always pray before I go and ask the Lord to open doors and such, but normally there’s not a whole lot of interaction. Occasionally someone will amble by and give an appreciative nod to the music and/or the Subject matter, but for the most part I’m just praying for some evangelical seeds to be planted. I’m not concerned—God is in control. Today was more interesting than most in that I had two visitors: Rob and Gene.


I could smell Rob before I could see him. As he sat down next to me it was clear he was inebriated; matted hair hung from beneath his faded cap, stains marked the back and sleeves of his winter coat, and the front of his pants were wet down one side to his knee.

“Music sounds good; mind if I sit down?” he asked.

“Thanks. Not at all.” I said.

He introduced himself as Rob and stuck out his hand. Rob wanted to talk and I wanted to listen, and like drunks do, he repeated the same comments and asked the identical questions over and over. When it was my turn we talked about Jesus.

I knew going in that was going to be a difficult road; talking to intoxicated people for the purpose of conveying a message (any message) is generally an act of futility. Nevertheless, there we were sitting on the same bench chatting away—I’m convinced God had orchestrated this meeting and it really wasn’t any of my business to figure out why He had.

I briefly shared my testimony and Rob was genuinely intrigued that God healed me of my addictions–He then confessed that he hated every aspect of his life. I told him God could heal him right then and there if he wanted Him too. Rob told me all about Jesus Christ and sin and salvation. I told him, “Satan knows Jesus too. The difference is that Christians follow Jesus.”

Sadly he chose not to follow Him this day. Rob got up to leave.

I gave him a tract and told him to put it in his pocket and to read it when he could see more clearly.


About an hour later Gene joined me on the bench. At first I thought Gene was a drunk too. He wasn’t. He wheeled his large, green plastic garbage can in front of him and sat down. A mop stuck out from beneath the bungeed lid and I spied a shiny toaster through the breach it created.

“Music sounds good; mind if I sit down?” he asked.

“Thanks. Not at all.” I said.

He told me his name was Gene and that he thought it was no accident that he chose to sit down next to me. “God wanted me to hear this music I guess.” He said.

“Are you a Christian?” I asked.

He said that he was and threw in, “And I’ve been clean for four years August 26th.”

Praise the Lord,” I said. “What happened four years ago that set you straight.”

Gene told me his tragic story, one littered with success, drugs, alcohol, and one relapse after another. One night, about four years ago, he planned on killing himself.

“I had a rock about this big,” he said holding up his thumb and index finger to form a circle, “and I was going to smoke the whole thing. I put out nine candles all around me and sat under a blanket in the middle. I broke off a piece and fired it up. Instantly the room got dark and I felt a big black man leaning over me and pushing me down. I knew it was the devil and smashed the pipe against the cement.”

Gene acted out the scenes as he spoke.

“I’m kinda ashamed to tell you what happened next—I prayed for Jesus to save me and immediately the darkness lifted and I was able to fall asleep. But when I woke up, there was the pipe and the crack, so I did it again. And the same thing happened! So I hid under the blanket and told Jesus, ‘If I see the light coming through this window tomorrow morning, I will give my life to you’. The next morning the sun was shining through the window and that was about four years ago.”

Gene went on to tell me how his life is today and about his church and his pastor. The truth of the matter is Gene’s life is still very, very difficult. While he was talking an older teenager walked over; Gene stood up and gave him a hug. If I were to size him up, I’d say the guy was a drug dealer.

“That’s my nephew,” he said hanging his head a little lower, “I shouldn’t be hanging around guys like that, but he’s family. I share with him what I can and pray for him all the time. He’s in God’s hands now.”

The northbound train was announced; Gene said his goodbyes and walked towards the platform.

“I’m gonna pray for you Gene…how can I pray for you?” I asked.

“The whole thing,” he said, “you can just pray for the whole thing.”

Rob and Gene

I don’t know, my heart breaks for both these guys. By his own admission Rob is rarely sober enough to grasp the reality of his situation, let alone God’s grace and plan for his life. Gene on the other hand is saved and his eternal future is secure, but satan is persistently on his heals trying to drag him to an early death. In the middle there’s me trying to understand why the Lord blessed me with an almost effortless faith. It all doesn’t make much sense right now.

If you remember, would you pray for these guys.

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