Friday, September 28, 2007

2007 Desiring God Conference -- Stand

My daughter, Marissa, and I are attending the 2007 Desiring God Conference this weekend, in Minneapolis. So I won't be blogging or posting comments this weekend. My recent post, An Open Letter to a Pastor, is generating some comments. So, if you post a comment on that or any other article, your comments will not be posted until Sunday evening.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

An E-Mail Law & Gospel Conversation

The following is an e-mail conversation I have had with a lady, over the last few days. I have no idea who this person is. She contacted me out of the blue, through my ministry’s website’s contact page. I’ve changed her name to protect her anonymity. The only changes I have made to her e-mails are in the areas of spelling and grammar. I’ve also changed a couple specific references to places, in order to further protect her anonymity.

I thought it would be helpful to share this conversation so you can hear the heart and mind of a false convert. Pay particular attention to the level of self-righteousness, as well as the self-deception, as “Mary” creates a god in her own imagination.

I hope that reading this dialogue will help you in your own conversations with unbelievers, regardless of their spiritual and/or religious background. Notice that I spend no time talking about her religion. My goal was to keep the conversation focused on the Law and the Gospel. As you will see, Mary didn’t like what I had to say; but I tried to speak the truth in love, anyway.

Mary: I have been told by my son, who was raised in the Catholic Church that I am going to hell because I am catholic; I worship idols, and a false God. Thinking he had gotten some misinformation from his unordained, Baptist preacher, I contacted the preacher to let him know that my son had gotten some misinformation. The preacher let me know that my son was not misinformed, and that I was, indeed, bound for hell. I was floored! I now know that this man has never been ordained or even attended a seminary or school of divinity. Do all protestant churches teach this type of garbage to their parishioners or is it just this one church? I am the one who prayed this guy back into a religion. It seems this church isn't much better than his church of Wicca. My son has even threatened to send his honor society daughter to a school in [another state] just because she doesn't like her step-mother and spends all her time in her room studying! No drinking, no drugs! Just school band and school work! She doesn't even date! She wants to go to [college] for a degree! She doesn't argue with her step-mom, she just avoids her! Somehow I feel he got all mixed up and this lunatic is trying to brainwash him. What happened to the values I tried to instill in him?

Tony: I'm a bit confused. What prompted you to contact me? Was it simply to vent? Or do you have a question?

What do you think a person must do to go to heaven?

Mary: The question was what are protestant churches teaching their parishioners? I am 61 yrs old and this is the first time I have run into this kind of thinking. First of all, our statues are considered religious art. We do not pray to them. We do not pray to Mary. We are asking Mary to pray for us. All of our art is representational.

Next, I cruise all kinds of religious websites. I subscribe to several newsletters and daily devotionals; because I love God and I thirst for His word. I am trying to find the path He wants me to walk. I lost my way for a while, when I lost my husband of 35 yrs. I know He has a purpose for me, but I don't know what that purpose is meant to be. Am I supposed to fight my son for custody of his daughter? That is what she wants. I am on soc. sec. and cannot afford attorneys and court costs, yet I am afraid that his zealotry and false ideas will turn her away from church altogether. She already refuses to attend any church with her father because she knows it hurts him. She has only lived with her father and step-mom for 6 yrs. I raised her since she was 5 1/2 mos. old. She will be 17 in January. I taught her that God didn't much care which church she attended as long as she praised and worshipped Him. I told her that Jesus said "nobody comes to the Father but through Me", meaning that unless you believed in Him you had no chance at heaven. I taught her to love everyone as she loved herself and to treat them the same way. I taught her formal prayers and to talk to the Lord as if He were sitting on the couch with her. I taught her father the same things.

I taught them and led them both by example. The only bad example I set was smoking cigarettes, and now I’ve stopped that after 46 yrs of smoking. I never drank booze. I tithed [to] the church.

Now, this ignorant preacher comes along and convinces my son that I am headed for hell because I’m catholic and for no other reason! It makes no difference to this preacher that my life was dedicated to my God and my family. I had no other outside interests! It has never mattered to me what religious affiliation other people choose to have as long as we all pray to the same God, no matter what they may call Him. Have I been wrong all these years?

Oh, yeah, the venting did help a bit!

Tony: Okay. Catholic and Protestant differences aside: what do you think a person must do to go to heaven?

Mary: I personally believe that we must walk as close to His footsteps as is humanly possible. I believe that the only way to get "even" with someone who has wronged us is to forgive them. I believe that He made us in His likeness in all colors because He is all colors. I believe that He created us to worship Him and to glorify His name. I believe that to serve Him, we must serve others first as Jesus did. I believe that each of us has the power to heal others through our prayers for them. I believe that what we send out to the world in His name is returned to us tenfold. That is the sum of my religious knowledge and beliefs. My concern is that someone is teaching my child and grandchild that only certain religions get to heaven and that I must be converted to the Baptist teachings to save my soul. I am happy with the God I have happily served for nearly 60 yrs, thank you, and I am not interested in other churches and what they preach except as it pertains to me. Do I have to be rude to get my son to believe that I am happy with my own religion and I am not interested in the teachings of his newly adopted church? Frankly, if they are teaching that all Catholics are going to hell, I really don't think I want to hear any more of their teachings. I don't want anything to do with any church that condemns other sects out of hand. There is room in this world for all kinds of beliefs and teachings. It is the intolerance that causes the wars and strife, not the beliefs. Like I told that preacher, if that is what you truly believe, then all I can do is pray for Him to open your eyes and heal your heart.

Tony: People do not go to hell for being Catholic, or for being Protestant. People go to hell because they have broken God's Law.

Would you consider yourself to be a good person?

Mary: In spite of having broken a few of the commandments in my youth and inexperience, overall, yes I consider myself a good and caring person.

Tony: Since time does not forgive sin, let me ask you a few question to see if you are, in fact a good person. Please answer honestly.

Have you ever told a lie?
Have you ever stolen anything? The value is of no consequence.
Have you ever taken God's name in vain--meaning you have used His name to express disgust or excitement, or used it in a flippant or casual way?
Have you ever committed adultery in your heart by looking at another person with impure thoughts (Matthew 5:27-28)?
Have you ever committed murder in your heart by harboring anger, resentment, bitterness, or hatred in your heart for another person (Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15).

If you answered yes to the above questions then, like me, you are not a good person. God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, murdering, adulterer at heart. Even if you tried to assert you have only broken one of the above commandments (and we have only looked at 5 of the 10 Commandments), you would still be guilty before God. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all" (James 2:10).

Remember, only God is good (Mark 10:18). There is not a person, past or present, accept for Jesus Christ (who was God in the flesh), who is good according to God's standard of goodness (Romans 3:10-12). This would include you and me.

When you stand before God, He will not judge you according to the standard you have set for yourself. He will judge you according to His perfect, holy Law. And having found you guilty of breaking His Law, being a good and just Judge, He will sentence you to eternity in hell, as the just punishment for your sins against Him.

Not only is God holy, righteous, and just--judging the sins of man, but He is also loving, merciful, and kind. That is why God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ--fully God and fully Man, without sin. He lived a perfect, sinless life. He went to the cross, taking upon Himself the punishment you and I deserve for breaking God's Law. Three days later, He rose from the dead, forever defeating death. He provided the only way of escape from His holy wrath.

Mary, your only hope is to repent (turn away from your sin), and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone to save you. Jesus said that unless a person is born again, he will not see the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3, 7). Your own perceived goodness cannot save you. Your church cannot save you. My church cannot save you. Good works cannot save you. You cannot cooperate in your salvation by trying to be a good person or by trying to do good works. Jesus does not need your help. A person is saved from the wrath of God, by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

I am praying that the Lord will draw you to Himself, that he will draw you to genuine repentance and faith, and that He will extend to you the free gift of eternal life.

By the way, you will notice that I have not mentioned religion--yours or any other. We are not talking about religion. We are talking about a relationship with the Only One who can save your life. If you look at the gospels, when Jesus talks about religious people, more often than not He talks about them in a negative way (Matthew 7:21-23).

Praying for you. :-)

Mary: I have used the same arguments you just used. My son uses them too. The only difference I see is that with my religion, I get to go to confession, enumerate my sins, confess, repent and ask forgiveness. I know when I walk out of the church after having done my penance that those sins have been forgiven. I don't harbor hatred or hard feelings against anyone. I did steal as a child as well as telling lies. I honored my parents even though one of them beat me till I couldn't walk every time I missed one of my chores. I don't take the Lord's name in vain. I only have one true God. I didn't commit adultery. I didn't covet. I’m happy for other people to have whatever they want. I don't happen to need it. I am happy to help those less fortunate than I am. I still say that overall, I am a good person. I don't judge people and decide they are going to hell based on my particular criteria. That is up to God, not me. You still haven't answered the original question to my satisfaction. Is it a routine thing that protestant churches teach that Catholics are hell bound without reserve?

Tony: I explained why people go to hell. It is because people break God's Law--His commandments. Regarding Roman Catholicism, I have no desire to debate you regarding your religion. Unless a person truly repents of their sin and places their trust and faith in Jesus Christ ALONE for their salvation, relying not at all on their good works or the church for their salvation, they will receive the just punishment for their sins against God, which is eternity in hell--regardless of what kind of church they attend, Catholic or Protestant.

Penance will not save you, Mary. You will never be able to do enough penance to merit forgiveness. You being satisfied with your own goodness will not save you. You say that you do not harbor hard feelings against anyone. It's obvious you do because of why you contacted me and what you've said about this other pastor. And your most recent message is filled with self-righteousness.

I'm still a bit confused as to why you chose to contact me. Be that as it may, it's been nice chatting with you; and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share the Law and the Gospel with you. I hope you will consider these things carefully. It would be terrible for you to one day stand before the Lord and have Him say, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matt. 7:23).

Mary: How sad that you believe in a powerful, wrathful, vengeful God! I was under the impression that that God was an Old Testament God. When God became Man the emphasis shifted from that vengeful God, to a kinder, gentler God. Didn’t Jesus, himself teach Love and Compassion? Wasn’t it His message that all things are possible through God? Weren’t the very nails they used to pin Him to the cross signaling forgiveness?

If protestant churches are teaching hellfire, damnation, and eternal suffering, no thanks! I much prefer the loving, compassionate, forgiving God that my church teaches.
As for that other preacher, I resent the lies he is telling about my church and my God. I believe he is a misguided, ignorant man spreading lies on a subject he knows nothing about. I wish him only forgiveness. There is no malice in that. My God will judge me by the same yardstick that I use when i judge others, namely lovingly and compassionately. Your stick doesn't leave room for love or compassion or forgiveness, and that is sad.

I contacted you and others to find out if this is a universal belief in protestant churches, and to find out just what you base your findings on. It’s too bad you never got around to answering that question. I won't be bothering you anymore.

Tony: Again, the bitterness and resentment you continue to express to me, a stranger, about the Baptist pastor shows that you are a murderer at heart. "And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15).

Sadly, what you have done is created a god in your own imagination, which is a violation of the 2nd Commandment. You have created a god to suite yourself. You are right that your god is not powerful, wrathful, and vengeful. You are right that your god is only loving, compassionate, and forgiving. You are right that your god will judge you according to your yardstick you use to judge others. Your god cannot and will not exercise power, wrath, vengeance, or judgment because your god does not exist.

Since you have convinced yourself that somehow God's character and nature has changed from Old Testament times to New Testament times, let's take a look at what God says about Himself in the New Testament, since the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "He who believes in Him [the Son of God] is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

John the Baptist said, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).

The Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

The Apostle Paul wrote, "But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world" (Romans 3:5-6)?

The Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience" (Colossians 3:5-6).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews wrote, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). He also wrote, "For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.' It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:30-31).

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, said this, "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

From the gospels to the Book of Revelation, it is clear that while God is merciful, loving, and kind; He is also holy, righteous, and just. God will not overlook the sins of people. God will not turn a blind eye to sin. God will not overlook your sin, Mary. Because God is good He must judge sin. And He will, just as His Word promises.

Mary, your issue is not with your son, or with the Baptist pastor, or with me, for that matter. Your issue is with the Word of God--with God Himself. Your argument is not with those who disagree with what you believe. Your argument is with the truth of God's Word; and it is an argument you cannot win. It doesn't matter what you believe, Mary. What matters is whether or not what you believe is true.

If what I've shared with you is not true, then it will mean nothing to you, in eternity. But if what I am telling you is true (and Scripture shows that what I am telling you is true), then eternity hangs in the balance. You will one-day stand before Almighty God, and unless you repent of your sin, and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (the Lord and Savior written about in the Scriptures--Old and New Testaments; not the Jesus you have fashioned for yourself), you will receive the just punishment for your sins against God. You will spend eternity in hell.

Mary, I tell you these things because I DON'T want you to go to hell. Repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15)--not your gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), the gospel of the Scriptures. Therein lays your only hope.

I cannot save you. Your church cannot save you. I cannot change your mind. Only God can change your mind and save you from His just and holy wrath to come. Only God can bring you to genuine repentance and faith, and extend to you the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). I truly pray that He does.

I will continue to pray for you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You Can't Handle the Truth! (New Tract)

It's one of the most famous lines in recent movie history. "You Can't Handle the Truth." Leon Brown came up with the concept. Alex Persegona came up with the artwork. And I wrote the text.

The tract is available NOW, on

Here's the text.


“You want answers!” “I want the truth!” “You can’t handle the truth!” It’s one of the most memorable pieces of dialogue in movie history. The egotistical and self-righteous Colonel Nathan Jessep would later angrily admit to the arrogant and brash JAG Officer, Lieutenant JG Daniel Kaffee, that he broke military law. Colonel Jessep believed he was justified in violating the law. He got up from the witness chair and began to march out of the courtroom, as if he was above the law and the authority of the court. But the judge ordered him detained by military police, telling the colonel, “You aren’t going anywhere!” Colonel Jessep’s courtroom outburst in a Hollywood film illustrates a sad reality. Most people cannot handle the truth—the truth about themselves. Most people consider themselves good and they easily justify their actions. Do you consider yourself to be a good person? If you do, then ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Then according to God’s Law (The Ten Commandments), and by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart. Every lawbreaker will one day find himself or herself standing before God, the righteous Judge. The verdict will be “guilty.” And, like Colonel Jessep, you will not be able to justify yourself, assert your innocence, and leave the courtroom. Instead, having been found guilty of breaking God’s Law, the sentence will be “death”—eternity in the torment of hell. The good news is that God doesn’t want to send you to hell. So, He sent His sinless Son, Jesus Christ—God in the flesh. He took upon himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God when He shed His innocent blood and died on the cross. Three days later, He defeated death when He rose from the grave. So, what must you do to be saved? You want answers? You want the truth? You must recognize that you cannot save yourself and escape God’s judgment. You must confess your sins against God, repent (turn away from your sins), and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Repent and place your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, right now. You will pass from death into life and receive the free gift of eternal life. Please consider these things carefully. Can you handle the truth?

And That's What I See in You

The following is the text of a message I brought during an Officer Appreciation Luncheon, in Canon City, during my recent mission trip to Colorado Springs. About 20 members of the law enforcement family, from the Canon City Police Department and the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, attended the luncheon.

The luncheon was hosted by Living Stone Calvary Chapel.

Pray for Chaplain Dustin Whitson, who, in addition to serving as the assistant pastor at Living Stone Calvary Chapel, is also the chaplain for the Canon City Police Department. Chaplain Dustin was responsible for putting the luncheon together, which afforded me the opportunity to present the Law and the Gospel to members of the law enforcement family.

Thank you Chaplain Dustin, Pastor Sean, and the entire Living Stone family for reaching out to your law enforcement community, with the love of Jesus Christ.


Much of what I’m going to say to you, my brothers and sisters behind the badge, are things you already know, somewhere in your heart. But sometimes it can be encouraging to hear it. So, what I would like to do is share with you a few things I see in you, my brothers and sisters behind the badge.

Believe it or not, the Bible contains story after story about people made of the same mettle, the same grit and determination, that’s in the man or the woman that chooses a career of service as a member of the law enforcement family. I would like to take just a few minutes of your time to share a few of these stories, which serve as examples of what I see in you.

In the Book of Genesis there’s the story of Abram. The story recounts the time when a group of kings combined their forces and made war against weaker nations, weaker communities. Abram’s nephew, Lot, was kidnapped as a result of the attack. A person managed to escape the carnage and bring word to Abram about what was happening. Abram responded by gathering 318 men, pursuing the gang of thugs when others were likely running away. Abram rescued Lot, and recovering all of the stolen property. Abram and his men were outnumbered and outgunned (so to speak). But that didn’t matter. Abram received a call for help. He answered the call, and handled the call to completion—protecting life and property.

There’s a verse in the Book of Proverbs, a verse that others have shared with me when I needed some encouragement and a reminder that what I did as a deputy sheriff was important. It says this. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29). That’s what was seen in Abram’s life.

Although he was not a perfect man, Abram was a man of faith and courage, with a sacrificial heart. He was a man who was skilled in his work, skilled in his service to others. I see that same kind of courage, skill, and selflessness in you, my brothers and sisters behind the badge.

Then there’s the story of Caleb and Joshua. These two men, among a group of twelve, were sent by Moses to do some recon to make sure the land they were about to enter was safe for the nation of Israel to inhabit.

Ten of the twelve came back with their faces in their hands having seen only difficulty and danger, impossibility and fear—each of them unwilling to take even reasonable risks to accomplish the mission. They had no faith. They were not men of courage.

Caleb and Joshua saw things differently. After the ten gave their initial report, Caleb told the people to stop their whining and sniveling. Then he turned to Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of [the land], for we will surely overcome it” (Numbers 13:30b).

Like the good street cop on a burglary in progress or a barricaded suspect call, Caleb and Joshua did the recon, had an ops plan in mind, weighed the risk, and saw only victory as the outcome. They weren’t about to back down. Fear did not keep them from advising Moses to do the right thing.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” That’s what was seen in the lives of Caleb and Joshua. And that’s what I see in you.

Many of you are probably familiar with the story of Daniel, in the Bible. Daniel was a man promoted to a high position in the government of King Darius—not because of whom he knew or whom he stepped on along the way, but because he was loyal, trustworthy, wise, and skilled in everything he did. Like the vast majority of us who wear the badge, Daniel was not concerned about the political correctness of the day. All that mattered to Daniel was doing the right thing regardless of the consequences, being a man of integrity, and serving his God without hypocrisy.

Those of us who have been on the job for any length of time may have experienced, in a figurative sense, being thrown into the lion’s den for sticking to our guns and doing what we believed to be the right thing—thrown into the lion’s den whether by way of citizen complaint, media scrutiny, or the ever-popular lawsuit.

Daniel experienced the lion’s den in a very literal way. Yet he didn’t waiver, he didn’t falter. He didn’t cave in to the pressure. He didn’t compromise. He stood his ground and kept the faith, all the while knowing that the consequences for his decision could be uncomfortable, to say the least.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” That’s what was seen in Daniel’s life. And that’s what I see in you.

Much of what Christians would refer to as the New Testament chronicles the life and the writings of the Apostle Paul. Paul is hands-down the greatest preacher and missionary Christianity has ever seen. Paul was a man whose life was marked by many great character traits, many of the same traits I see in my brothers and sisters behind the badge.

But Paul never let it go to his head. Like the tens of thousands of cops around the country that do heroic things everyday yet refuse to call themselves heroes, Paul never lost sight of the fact that he was simply a man—simply a person made of flesh and blood that was more than capable of making mistakes, just like you and me.

Another way Paul reminds me of the members of the law enforcement family is in his perseverance. You don’t need me to tell you that what we do as law enforcement professionals requires a great deal of perseverance.

The career each of us has chosen requires perseverance as we take on the responsibility of handling and solving the problems of other people—people that either can’t or won’t help themselves—while we set aside our personal concerns and needs, for the time being, so we can get the job done.

The career each of us has chosen requires perseverance as we experience, up close, the very worst man can do to his fellow man, while trying to maintain some sense of normalcy in our own lives, all the while fighting off the very real tendency to become bitter or indifferent.

The career each of us has chosen requires perseverance as we set aside our own fears, going into places and facing circumstances most of the public would never even fathom facing themselves. That’s why they call us. It’s the kind of perseverance that enables us to walk down a dark alley, or approach a blind corner, or make our way—“Code-3”—toward gunfire, brawls, smoke, or screams realizing that most people would see what we’re about to do as unreasonable—even foolhardy; but we see it as a call to duty, a call to honor, and maybe even a call to sacrifice.

Paul was called by God to fulfill His mission. And God gave Paul the necessary perseverance to get the job done. Paul humbly described his own perseverance in one of his letters. Paul writes that he was wrongly imprisoned several times, “beaten times without number, often in danger of death.” Five times he received thirty-nine lashes, beaten with rods on three occasions, and once he was pelted with stones. He was shipwrecked three times, spending an entire night and day drifting in the open water.

Paul also said, “I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brothers; I have been in labor and hardship, through sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches” (II Cor. 11:26-28).

Paul was a man whose life was marked by incredible perseverance.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” That’s what was seen in Paul’s life. And that’s what I see in you.

Paul, Daniel, Caleb, Joshua, and Abram were all men skilled in their work. But they also had something else in common. They were people of faith—people who, regardless of the circumstances, put their faith, hope, and trust in God. They realized that no matter what the world threw at them, the Lord would see them through, if they would only place their trust in Him. They believed in their heart that God would never leave them or forsake them. They believed they could do all things through Him who gave them strength.

Each of them believed the truth contained in Paul’s words when he wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (I Cor. 10:13).

There is one more Person I would like to mention as I reflect on what I see in you, my brothers and sisters behind the badge. And that is Jesus Christ. Over the centuries, Jesus has been described in many ways—some accurate, and some not. One word used to describe Jesus is “meekness.” Now when we think of meekness we often think of it in terms of weakness.

If asked what kind of person we would want to roll to assist us if we needed help, meek would probably not be the first descriptive term to come to mind. That’s because the world’s definition of meekness is inaccurate. The true definition of meekness is “power under control.”

And who in our society is called, everyday, to exert more power while exercising more control than us—the law enforcement community? Something that separates us from the criminal element of our society, with whom we do battle everyday, is our ability to exert power under control.

Every day we hit the streets carrying with us the authority to take away someone’s freedom or preserve it, to take away someone’s life or preserve it. Everyday we are faced with temptations, from a variety of sources—temptations of the type that if we fall prey to them can cause us to exert the power and authority given to us in the wrong way.

We have been entrusted with a great deal of power and authority. And along with that power and authority comes a great deal of responsibility. It’s the ability to exercise “power under control” that, in part, makes the law enforcement community so special, and so very worthy of our nation’s and our communities’ respect.

As a Christian, I believe there is no greater example of “power under control” than Jesus Christ. The night in which Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas, along with a contingent of 600 Roman soldiers, servants, and civilians came to the garden to arrest Him. Peter—the apostle who often acted first and thought about it later (a supervisor’s nightmare)—drew his sword from his belt and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.

Jesus’ response was amazing. Instead of calling for a full-on assault, Jesus simply told Peter to put away his sword. Jesus reminded Peter that He was more than able to call twelve legions of angels, some 72,000 angelic warriors for back-up—calling them down from heaven to handle the situation. But that would not have been in keeping with His heavenly Father’s will. Jesus knew that He must sacrifice His very life on the cross to fulfill His mission—to handle His call to completion. So, in the greatest demonstration of love, compassion, and sacrifice we see the perfect example of “power under control.”

Jesus once said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). More than 120 members of the law enforcement family from around this nation have made the ultimate sacrifice so far this year. Many others have endured tremendous physical and emotional pain and suffering because they were willing to give their all to protect a fellow officer or maybe someone they had never met before their critical moment in time. These brave men and women, our brothers and sisters, serve as the earthly embodiment of what Christ modeled for us all —“power under control.”

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Jesus Christ was the perfect fulfillment of this verse, all the while maintaining perfect meekness. He perfectly exercised power under control. While such perfection none of us can attain, we have no better role model for this character trait than Jesus Christ. During twenty years of law enforcement service, I have seen brothers and sister like you exercise remarkable power under control.

Part of my encouragement to you today is this. Never forget that what we do as law enforcement professionals is important. As men and women skilled in our work, we are important to the safety and well-being of every member of our society—whether it is the person living in poverty, or the President of the United. And it is an honor to serve alongside you people like you.

While I hope what I’ve shared thus far has been an encouragement to all of you—especially my law enforcement brethren, there is something of vital importance I must say to all of you.

Let me begin by sharing the following analogy.

You and I are working as patrol partners. You’re the driver and I’m the book-man. We see a car and decide to stop the car. I know the car. And I know the driver of the car. I’ve arrested him before. I know that he is often armed.

I quickly get out of the car to provide cover as you make your approach to contact the driver. I let you make the approach without telling you what I know about the driver. I let you walk into a dangerous situation without warning you about the danger.

Are you getting angry? I’m getting angry just thinking about it. Would you think I was a good partner if I allowed you to approach the vehicle without warning you about the danger? Of course you wouldn’t! In fact, not only would I have no business being your partner, but I would have no business working the streets as a patrol officer.

A good partner would warn you about the danger and would tell you what you should do to avoid getting hurt. We would conduct a felony traffic stop and do everything we could to safely remove the driver from the vehicle.

I know that what I’m about to say may offend some of you. But I care too much about each of you to be concerned about how you feel about me when I finish speaking and return to my seat. Like a good partner who would warn you about a danger you might not perceive, because I love you and care about you, I must tell you this.

Those of us who wear the badge know that every 57 hours one of our brethren is killed in the line of duty. We likewise know that every 10 minutes one of our brothers or sisters behind the badge is assaulted somewhere in this country. Those of us who don the badge know what the rest of society struggles to comprehend. There is no such thing as a routine call. We know that on any given call, on any given vehicle stop, on any given contact with a suspicious person on the street or in a park could be our last.

We know these things are true, but we don’t like to talk about them. Why? The reason is that we cannot worry about such things and safely do the job, at the same time. We cannot approach a person, a building, or a vehicle and hesitate because we are preoccupied with what might happen. We know that hesitation could be deadly.

But because I love you and I care about you, I must ask you this. Are you ready for the next call, the next building search, or the next vehicle stop? I’m not talking about being physically or mentally ready. I hope you are ready in that way. I’m talking about being spiritually ready.

There is one statistic that no one in this room can avoid. 10 out of 10 people die. No one knows that better than the members of the first responder community—police, fire, EMS, and emergency room personnel. While my hope is that no one in this room will face death, the reality is that every person in this room (myself included) will face it one-day. Are you ready?

The conversation I am having with all of you, right now, is a conversation I have had with thousands of people around the country—people with whom I’ve shared a patrol car, people who have found themselves in the backseat of my patrol car, and people who will likely never sit in the front or the back seat of a patrol car.

Many people with whom I speak of such things often assert that they will go to heaven because they are a good person. They believe God will judge them according to a standard they have established for themselves. Many of my brothers and sisters behind the badge have been led to believe that serving in the most noble of professions is somehow a ticket to heaven. I wish this were so, but it is not.

I once believed that if I were a good person, I would one-day go to heaven. And, early in my law enforcement career, I was convinced that my chosen profession earned me extra, heavenly credit. But then I looked into the mirror of God’s Law—the Ten Commandments, the basis for the laws we enforce today. What I saw in the mirror concerned me.

This being a gathering of law enforcement professionals and those who appreciate the law enforcement community, let’s take a look at God’s Law and see if we are, indeed, good.

Who among us has never told a lie?

Who among us has never stolen something? The value of the item matters not. Oh, and it doesn’t matter how long ago we’ve broken God’s Law. Time does not forgive sin.

Who among us has never taken God’s name in vain—using His holy name as a curse word, or using it flippantly or as the punch line of a joke?

Who among us has never committed adultery in our hearts, by having lustful thoughts about people other than our spouses?

Well, if you are like me and guilty of breaking God’s Law in this way, then God doesn’t see you as a good person. He sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart.

Maybe you’re thinking that you are not guilty of all of these things—keeping in mind, we’ve only looked at four of the Ten Commandments. Maybe you can look in the mirror and say, “I’m only guilty of breaking one of these laws.” That won’t help you. The Bible says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10).

If you were to die today and stand before Almighty God, do you think He would find you innocent or guilty of breaking His Law? If He finds you guilty, because He is good, holy, righteous, and just He will sentence you to eternity in hell as the just punishment for breaking His Law.

That may offend you. But think about it this way. As an officer, you make a good arrest of a murderer. The evidence is solid. The suspect voluntarily confesses to the crime. The case goes to trial and the jury takes all of an hour to deliberate, coming back with a guilty verdict.

On the day of sentencing, the guilty criminal stands before the judge and says, “Your honor, I know I am guilty of a horrible crime. But because I believe you are a good and kind judge, I hope you will forgive me and let me go. Besides, while what I did was terrible, I’ve done more good things than bad things in my life. I think you should let me go.

The judge looks at the criminal and says, “Okay. You’re free to go.”

What would you think of the judge? Would you consider Him to be a good judge, following the law? Do you believe justice was served by letting the criminal go simply because He was sorry and asked to be let go?

The answer to those questions should be obvious.

Well, God’s standard is high above that of any earthly court. God is perfectly just, and because He is perfectly just and holy, He cannot let people escape the punishment for their crimes against Him, simply on the basis of their confession or their own perceived goodness.

But there is good news. While, yes, God is holy, righteous, and just; God is also merciful, gracious, and kind. God provided the only way to escape His wrath to come. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to earth by way of the virgin birth. He lived a perfect sinless life and died a horrible bloody death on the cross—the just for the unjust. Through His death on the cross he took upon Himself the full fury of God’s wrath. He took upon Himself the just punishment each of us deserves for breaking God’s Law. Three days later, He rose from the grave, forever defeating death; and He is alive, today.

My encouragement to each of you, today, is this. Repent. Turn from your sins and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Salvation is a free gift. We cannot earn or deserve it. We will never be good enough to be worthy of the gift. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

If you will repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, the promise is this. When you stand before Almighty God—and it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe you will one-day face God. What matters whether or not it is true—when you stand before God, instead of receiving the just punishment for your sins against Him, which is eternity in hell; you will receive what you don’t deserve, which is God’s grace and mercy and the free gift of eternal life.

That’s my hope for everyone, here. My hope is that one-day everyone in this place will spend eternity in heaven.

I know there are some of you, maybe many of you, who did not like what you just heard. But I was asked to bring you a word of encouragement today. And there is nothing more encouraging than the offer of eternal life. I care too much about you to bring you words that might be pleasing to your ears, but provide no benefit to your souls.

Please consider my motives. Yes, I want you to be encouraged; but of greater concern to me is where you will spend eternity. So, it is with love that I say these things. Most of you, I may never see again. Just as a good patrol officer will not knowingly allow his or her partner step into harm’s way, I thought it important to care enough about you to do the same for you.

Avoid Identity Theft (New Tract) !

One of the fastest growing crimes in the nation is identity theft. So, I have once again teamed up with Leon Brown of to produce a new gospel tract--Avoid Identity Theft. Alex Persegona has hit another home run with his artwork. Here are a couple of easy transitions for putting the tract into someone's hand. "Have you ever been the victim of identity theft?" Or, "Here are some tips for avoiding identity theft."

Here's the tract's text.


More than 9 million people are the victims of identity theft annually. Victims spend more than 600 hours over a three-year period, and an average of $5,700, recovering from identity theft. Here are some quick tips for avoiding identity theft: 1) Shred everything, including junk mail, before throwing it in the trash. 2) Use only locked mailboxes for incoming and outgoing mail. 3) Never give your credit card or social security number to anyone, over the phone. 4) Don’t respond to unsolicited e-mails and never click on links in unsolicited e-mails. 5) Don’t leave personal information in your vehicle or in plain view, in your home. 6) Check your credit report regularly. Most people agree that their identity is important to them. Most people also identify themselves as a good person. If this includes you, take this simple test to see if you are, in fact, a good person. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Then according to God’s Law (The Ten Commandments), and by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart. Does that sound like a good person? If God judges you according the perfect standard of His Law, He will find you guilty and sentence you to eternity in hell, which is the just punishment for your sins against Him. But there is good news. God doesn’t want to send you to hell. So, He sent His sinless Son, Jesus Christ—God in the flesh. He took upon himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God when He shed His innocent blood and died on the cross. Three days later, He defeated death when He rose from the grave. So, what must you do to be saved? You must recognize that you cannot save yourself or escape God’s judgment. You must confess your sins against God, repent (turn away from your sins), and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime. But that should not be your biggest concern. While a person will become a victim of identity theft every four seconds, more alarming is the fact that two people die every second. When you die and stand before God, how will He identify you—as a person who is guilty of breaking His Law and deserving eternity in hell, or as a person who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and has undeservedly received the free gift of eternal life?


The tract will be available soon, through the website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An Open Letter to a Pastor

This blog article was posted on Thursday, September 27.

On Sunday, September 2, a brother in Christ contacted me. He heard a sermon preached at his church, by a visiting pastor. My friend was bothered by the sermon's content--specifically what he felt was a man-centered approach to evangelism that did not include the proclamation of the Law and the Gospel. He asked me to watch the video podcast of the sermon and he requested my feedback.

Click here to watch the video for yourself. I encourage you to do so, before you continue reading. Form your own opinion.

I was disturbed by what I saw and heard. My first thought was to simply share with my friend my opinion of the message. But all too often we, as Christians, settle for talking about others instead of talking to others.

So, I decided to write a letter to the pastor, which I e-mailed to him through his church's website, on Monday, September 3. Having received no response from the pastor or the church, I mailed a "hard copy" of the letter to the pastor. In the envelope I included the following CD's: Hell's Best Kept Secret, True and False Conversion, and Hollywood and God.

It has been more than two weeks since I mailed the package to the pastor. I have yet to receive a response. In the pastor's defense, since he pastors a mega-church, it is quite possible that he never received the e-mail or the package I sent him. It is possible that an assistant stopped the correspondence short of the pastor's computer or desk.

Three days ago, I called and left a detailed phone message on the pastor's personal line, at the church. Since the voice on the voice mail was that of a woman (possibly his assistant), it is possible that he did not receive the message. I believe two full business days is enough time to return a phone call.

I think it is also worthy to note that I have verified that the pastor of the host church, where the pastor to whom I wrote the letter preached the sermon in question, has received a "hard copy" of my letter. It has been almost a month, and there has been no response from the host church or the host church's pastor.

It is inevitable that some who read this blog will ask, "Tony, why are you posting this now? Why are you naming the pastor? What do you hope to gain from doing this?" These are excellent questions--ones that I have asked myself.

I will begin by answering the last question. What do I hope to gain from doing this? In a word--nothing. In fact, there is the chance I will lose more than I might gain. I have dear friends who support my ministry, who attend the pastor's church. Posting this blog could affect relationships and, of lesser importance, my family's financial support.

While I hope to gain nothing, personally, by posting this blog, I do believe there is something to be gained by the pastor and others, by posting this blog. I hope that will become apparent as you read the letter.

Why am I naming the pastor? After careful consideration, and after seeking the counsel of two brothers in Christ, to redact the pastor's and church's name from the letter, and to not make available the video message that predicated the letter, would strip the letter of its context. I wanted to avoid the posting of the letter to appear as though I am simply and sinfully seeking attention for making a stand. I am neither seeking the praises of men, nor do I wish to provoke the scorn of men.

I am naming the pastor because I am concerned for him and his teaching. That is why I tried, more than once, to contact him directly with my concerns. I am concerned for the genuine followers of Christ who sit under his teaching--specifically as his teaching pertains to evangelism. I am concerned for the unbelievers who attend the church (whether regularly or just once) who may hear the kind of teaching I heard in this message, and who may find comfort in their sin and unbelief.

Maybe someone who knows the pastor or attends the church will read the following letter, will be impacted by the message the letter contains, and will go to the pastor and encourage him to preach according to what Scripture actually says, as opposed to preaching what he wants Scripture to say. Maybe there will be those who attend other churches where similar messages are preached and they will consider what they are hearing from their own pastors, in light of the letter's content.

Why am I posting this now? I believe I have given the pastor ample time to respond. Beyond that, there is nothing noteworthy about the timing. And believe it's never the wrong time to do the right thing (James 4:17).

Finally, a word of caution before you read the letter. If, after reading the letter, your conscience is pricked to the point that you, too, want to contact this pastor, or your pastor, or any other pastor that preaches this kind of message; know this. If you approach this pastor or any other pastor without love for the pastor, then you are sinning against God.

If your purpose is to simply make sport of the pastor and/or ridicule him, then you are sinning against God.

If you use the content of this letter as a ruse to gossip about this pastor or any other pastor, then you are sinning against God.

If your speech is not seasoned as it were with salt, then you are sinning against God.

I can present these cautions without hypocrisy because I have been guilty of all of these sins in the past. And I have tried not to make the same mistakes this time, with this letter. Hopefully, the motives for posting this letter, which I have tried to articulate, will be evidenced by the letter's tone and content.

With the above in mind, here's the letter.



Dear Pastor Rusty George,

My name is Tony Miano. I am a missionary and law enforcement chaplain, residing in the Santa Clarita Valley. Yesterday, a friend of mine who attended Shepherd of the Hills Church the day you recently preached sent me a link to the video of your message. My friend asked me to watch it and review its content. I am writing you to share some thoughts regarding matters of great importance. While you may disagree with some or much of what follows, please know that I am writing you with an attitude of Christian love, kindness, and a genuine care and concern for you and your ministry. I pray you will read it in its entirety—not with an open mind, but with an open Bible and a heart and mind focused on Christ, His Church, and the lost.

First, I would like to caution you regarding what movies you encourage Christians to watch. The two movies you personally enjoyed and encouraged others to watch by your enthusiastic endorsements—The Bourne Ultimatum and Transformers—contain blasphemy. The Bourne Ultimatum has no less than six instances of blasphemy, and Transformers contains more than a dozen instances of blasphemy (according to the Plugged In Online reviews). I’m sure you would agree that reverence for the holy name of God should be more important to us, as Christians, than our desire to be entertained.

You shared a number of stories and analogies in your message. Allow me to begin with one of my own. I am an unsaved person living on your street. To my right lives another unsaved family—a very nice and friendly family. To my left lives you, a Christian—also a nice and friendly man with an equally nice and friendly family.

You decide that you want to develop a friendship with me, with the hope of one-day either inviting me to church or sharing the gospel with me, personally. So, you invite me and my family to your house for a no-strings-attached barbecue. We become fast friends. We learn that our children are about the same age and attending the same school. So, we share in carpool duties. We both enjoy sports, so we join a local softball league together. Our families get so close that we even share vacations with one another. Over time, our children grow older and our hair grows thinner.

Like you, the person living on the opposite side of my house, wants to develop a relationship with me. After all, like you, he is friendly and kind. So, he invites me and my family over to his house for a no-strings-attached barbecue. Like you and I, we also become fast friends. Our children are also about the same age, so we share carpool responsibilities. He likes softball, too, and joins us in the softball league. After a couple of years, all three of our families enjoy vacations with one another.

One summer evening, you and my other neighbor arrive home from work to find an ambulance outside my house. My wife, along with your wife and my other neighbor’s wife are standing on my front lawn holding each other and weeping. You and my other neighbor rush to find out what happened. You learn that I died, suddenly and unexpectedly, of a massive heart attack.

I knew you were a Christian. I saw you go to church every Sunday. I really appreciated the fact that you didn’t try to “push” your religion on me. You were pretty proud of that fact, too. In fact, I talked to my other neighbor (the unsaved one), and we agreed that you and your family were very kind. We both figured it had something to do with your religion.

But now I find myself standing before the Judgment Seat of Almighty God. I try to argue that I was a nice guy, just like you, my Christian neighbor. But God judges me according to the holy, just, and righteous standard of His Law. Even though I was a nice guy to you and many others, God sees me as a lying, thieving, adulterous, murdering, blaspheming coveter. He finds me guilty of breaking His Law and He sentences me to eternity in hell—something about which you never talked to me, because you didn’t want to offend me and jeopardize the relationship you worked so very hard (and sincerely) to cultivate.

And while you stand outside my house, while my body lay inside growing cold, you try to console my unbelieving wife. Do you weep for her? Do you weep for me? Do you weep because you never took the time to share the Law and the Gospel with me? You know I wasn’t saved. You know I wasn’t born again. You thought that someday you would get me into church where maybe, just maybe, someone else would speak the truth to me, in love. And at that moment, you come to realize that your ability to make friends with me, in the end, did nothing to prepare me for eternity. And now like the rich man to Lazarus, I scream through the unquenchable and eternal torment I now endure, “Rusty! Tell my wife! Tell my kids! Please tell them what they must do to avoid experiencing the wrath of God I now experience! Please tell them what you never told me!”

But you can’t hear me. Sadly, instead of sharing the Law and the Gospel with my wife and kids, you are now more determined than ever to be an even better and kinder friend to my widow and children. Why? Because that’s what a very sincere, well-intentioned, and kind pastor told you to do one Sunday morning.

With the above in mind, Pastor George, I must tell you that, in your message, you built an entire philosophy for evangelism upon what the Bible doesn’t say.

In your interpretation of the calling of Matthew, in Matthew 9, you imposed your presuppositions and preferences upon the text. This is called eisegesis. Instead of drawing the truth of God’s Word from the text (exegesis), you imposed your philosophical thesis upon the text. The Bible does not teach this form of evangelism, which, in reality, as most Christians practice it today, is no evangelism at all.

To tell a congregation of thousands that Jesus must have had years of relationship building with Matthew before He called Matthew to follow Him is pure speculation. There is nothing in the biblical text to support such a conclusion. It would appear that since you want Jesus to be a proponent of today’s “friendship evangelism” models, you imposed your desire upon the text, and upon our Lord. At best, that is poor hermeneutics. At worst, it is false teaching (2 Tim. 4:3-4; James 3:1).

Another verse you misinterpreted was Romans 2:4. The kindness of God mentioned in this verse references the common grace God extends to all people. It is the kindness He shows to every person when He holds back His wrath instead of instantaneously sending every person into eternal judgment the moment they break His Law, even once. Reading verse four in its proper context (Romans 2:1-16) will help you to see that the verse is not meant to serve as a proof-text to support the idea that evangelism begins with kindness. The verse, again, references the kindness of Almighty God, which is evidenced in the fact that He allows time for some sinners to repent and turn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This verse does not at all support the idea that the kindness of Christians leads people to repentance.

Scripture is clear. The Gospel alone is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). It is not our ability to be kind to unbelievers or to make friends with unbelievers that leads them to repentance and faith.

I should pause for a moment to say this. Your efforts to encourage Christians to be kind to others is certainly commendable (although announcing the number of acts committed by your church members seems to give the glory to the church members instead of to God). These efforts are also biblical (Matthew 25:34-36; 1 Cor. 13:4-7; 1 John 3:17-18). But kindness without the proclamation of the Gospel (Romans 10:14-15) is not evangelism. It may be Christian service. It may be Christian charity. It may be Christ-like love (all of which are very important aspects of the life of the Christian and the Church). But without the proclamation of the gospel, it is not evangelism.

Please consider this, pastor. As is the case with Matthew, there is no scriptural support for the notion that Jesus spent years making friendships with the other apostles, before He called them to follow Him. What we do see is Jesus taking, at times, mere moments to establish a rapport with a person, before speaking the truth to them, with kindness and love, and calling them to repentance, faith, and obedience. (The woman at the well is a good example.) Let us not forget that His earthly ministry only spanned 3-3 ½ years. Yet today, Christians brag about having relationships with unbelievers that have lasted twice as long as Jesus’ entire earthly ministry and, sadly, they have yet to mention the Law and the Gospel to their unsaved friends.

The kindest, most loving thing a born again follower of Jesus Christ can ever do for an unsaved person is to share the Law and the Gospel with them. While the “Linebacker” parody you showed during your message (considering the context in which it was used) might bring a laugh and a moment of relief and consolation to Christians who don’t share their faith in the first place; it is an offense to those who are lovingly and kindly spending their time on the streets, in the coffee shops, in homes, at work, and elsewhere speaking the truth in love—sharing the Law and the Gospel with people bound for hell (most of whom don’t realize it).

You also spoke about apologizing to unbelievers for the Church. You mentioned events like the Crusades, etc. What we should be telling people is that such barbarity, while committed in the name of Christ, was not committed by true followers of Christ. Such acts were committed in the name of religion, by false converts—like the millions of false converts who fill American churches every Sunday.

I and my friends who are actively engaged in sharing the Law and the Gospel (with friends and strangers alike) do, however, find ourselves apologizing for the Church. But our apology is different. We find ourselves apologizing when people ask, “Why hasn’t anyone told me this before?”

We find ourselves apologizing for the estimated 98% of those who profess to be Christians in America who never open their mouths because they do not really care about where unsaved people are going to spend eternity. We often find ourselves apologizing to young people who attend active, church youth groups of various sizes, but never hear the Gospel. We’ve spent many Friday nights standing outside the theater where you hold your church services, having wonderful, kind, loving, and eternally-important conversations with people of all ages (without any yelling and screaming, by the way).

Pastor George, I do not question your sincerity. I do not question your salvation. I do not question your love for Christ or your love for people. I do not question your motives. While you talk about a “conspiracy of kindness,” I do not for a moment think you are involved in a conspiracy to intentionally lead people astray. But please consider these things carefully.

I know of at least two unbelievers who heard your message, at Shepherd of the Hills. They both came with my friend who asked me to watch your message. One was an Atheist doctor. The other was a lapsed practitioner of the Armenian Orthodox religion. Both came away from your message encouraged to show kindness to others. Sadly, both agreed they could be kind to others without being a Christian. Sadder still is the fact that they both left the church as comfortable in their sin and unbelief as when they walked into the church. Why? It is because they did not hear the preaching of the Law and the Gospel.

You pastor a large church. I needn’t tell you of the spiritual responsibility that carries (regardless of the size of your church). So, brother, from one pastor and preacher to another, let me encourage you to rightly divide the Word, no matter how uncomfortable that may become; and no matter what it may cost you. Love your people enough to kindly and tender-heartedly admonish them to be mortified by the sinfulness of their sin and to flee from their sin, and encourage them to pursue Christ-likeness in every aspect of their lives. Love them enough to hold them accountable for the fulfillment of the Great Commission in their lives, which means actually telling someone about the way to eternal life.

And preach the Gospel! Preach as though lives depend on every word that proceeds from your mouth. Yes, it is true that we can neither condemn nor save anyone (James 4:12). But what a great and sobering privilege we have to serve as ambassadors of Christ—speaking the truth in love—bringing the Law to the proud and grace to the humble.

One last thing, pastor: with a church the size of Real Life, I wonder what the results would be of a two-question poll. And the poll questions are as follows: “How many of you know someone who has died and you never shared the gospel with them? How many of you wish you had?”

Should we be kind to everyone we meet? Absolutely! Should we try to develop relationships with unbelievers? Yes. So long as we understand that our kindness and ability to make friends with people will not save a single soul. If our motivation for being kind and making friends is any less than to share the Law and the Gospel with them, then, in the end, our efforts are more about us than it is about the people we claim to want to reach. In the end, our failure to share the Law and the Gospel with lost people shows that we care more about our friendships than we do about our friends.

Pastor, it is neither with resentment nor bitterness that I write this letter. It is not written with a haughty, “I’m better than you” spirit. It is written with the recognition that I am a fallible man in constant need of God’s grace and forgiveness, who also needs the accountability of others. It is written with the sincere hope that you will be able to see Christian love and kindness in my words.

I want to encourage you to listen to two important messages preached by my friend and mentor, Ray Comfort (The Way of the Master Ministries). They are: Hell's Best Kept Secret and True & False Conversion. I also encourage you to watch Hollywood and God. I’ve enclosed all three with this letter.

I also want to extend an open invitation to you to join me and my friends for open-air preaching and street evangelism, so you can see firsthand the biblical principles we employ to bring the Law and the Gospel to lost people, with kindness, gentleness, and respect.

I am praying for you, pastor—praying that God will be glorified in your life and your ministry.

Sincerely: with the kindness of a brother, and with the love of Christ,

Chaplain Tony Miano
Director of “Ten-Four Ministries”

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mission Colorado Springs -- A Word of Thanks

After a good night sleep, in my own bed for the first time in a week, I knew that the first order of business for the day was to share with you a few words of praise and thanksgiving, for all that the Lord accomplished during last week’s mission trip to Colorado Springs. I hope to spend some time during the next few days chronicling what took place during the mission trip. But, before I do that I must say thank you.

To Mahria, Michelle, Marissa, and Amanda: This was the tenth mission trip I have made since the inception of Ten-Four Ministries, in April 2002. Each time I make such a trip, you, my four ladies, sacrifice so much. I felt your love and prayers each and every day. Your phone calls and text messages warmed my heart. I know the Lord, in His sovereignty and grace, used your prayers to encourage me and keep me going during the most labor-intensive and fruitful mission trip I have ever taken. While, due the nature of my mission trips to the law enforcement family, you cannot make the trips with me, I know you are with me in prayer and in spirit on every trip. Never underestimate how vitally important your love, your prayers, and your efforts to “hold down the fort” are to me, our mission, and to our Lord. Thank you, my loves.

To Greg Maxwell (reserve deputy sheriff/chaplain for El Paso County Sheriff’s Office) and Jeff Strossner (detective for Colorado Springs Police Department): Words cannot express my love and appreciation for the two of you. For those of you who are not aware, Greg and Jeff had the vision for my trip to Colorado Springs. By God’s amazing and sovereign grace, it was the prayer and preparation of these two brothers in Christ who made this trip possible.

I have gotten to know Greg and Jeff over the last year or so, through phone calls and e-mail correspondences. But I met them in person, for the first time, when I stepped off the plane last Monday. We were already friends before I landed in Colorado Springs; but I can now say that these two brothers in Christ are among my very best friends. What we experienced together during the last week, as we quite literally spent every waking moment together, has, for me, forged the deepest bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime.

These two brothers in Christ (and behind the badge) sacrificed so much and worked so hard for the Lord during the last week that they served as reminders to me of what it means to love the Lord and to love others enough to willingly sacrifice one’s self for the furtherance of the gospel. They are both humble, selfless men of God who were as patient, kind, and generous to me as any two men could be. I love you guys. While it seems woefully insufficient, thank you for everything. While our week together in Colorado Springs is over, our ministry together is just beginning.

To Linda, Heather, and the Kids: Thank you so very much for allowing me to monopolize Greg and Jeff’s time this last week, as we served the Lord together. Thank you for giving so much of yourselves throughout the week, almost all of which was behind the scenes. We could not have accomplished the mission without your help, your prayers, your support, and your love. Thank you for making me feel so welcome. You were a great encouragement to me. Go Steelers! :-)

To Pastor Eric Cartier: Thank you, pastor, for your love and support of the law enforcement community. Thank you for supporting Greg and Jeff in their vision for reaching the Colorado Springs law enforcement family with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for the honor and privilege of stepping into your pulpit, and for allowing me to share the vision of Ten-Four Ministries with the Rocky Mountain Calvary family.

I enjoyed our conversations and times of fellowship. I was blessed to sit under your teaching throughout the week. I appreciate the shepherd’s heart our Lord has given you, your love for His Word, and your love for His people.

To Sean Rafferty, Missions Director for RMC: Thank you, brother, for our time together on Sunday, and throughout the week. Thank you for your passion for reaching a lost and dying world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for sharing Pastor Eric’s desire to reach the mission field that is the law enforcement community with the one, true gospel. The conversation you, Greg, Jeff, and I had Sunday after church really ministered to my heart. I was blessed by how quickly you started talking about the next step—talking about what we should do next to reach the global law enforcement community with the gospel.

To Steve (a brother behind the badge) and Gail (a fellow painter with words) Sprenger: The two of you taught me much this week. Thank you, both, for your love for the Lord and your love for the lost. Thank you for the care and love you showed me last week. I count you as friends. Steve, thank you for your love and burden for those in our society many, even within the church, might deem unlovable—those who make the street their home. Thank you for your love and care for those who need it so desperately—those who find themselves in hospice care. Gail, your passion for reaching the lost and for putting pen to paper—painting with words—is an inspiration to me.

To the Rocky Mountain Calvary Family: I have ministered to and have been ministered to by many churches around the country. I have been blessed to enjoy fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, in many states of our nation. I have seen a love for Christ and a love for the law enforcement family in many churches. I have been the recipient of the generosity of God’s people, in many places. But you, the Rocky Mountain Calvary family, showed a level of love, care, compassion, and generosity that amazed me and caused me to glorify our Father in heaven.

Thank you to all of you who attended the special service on Thursday evening. Thank you for spending almost three hours with me as we studied God’s Word together and talked about how we can reach the lost with the Law and the Gospel the way The Master did it. And thank you to those of you who joined me in Acacia Park on Friday night, for open-air preaching and one-to-one evangelism. You blessed and encouraged me.

Thank you to all of you who worked so hard on Saturday to bless the law enforcement family, during the Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon. Your behind-the-scenes efforts did not go unnoticed by me and, more importantly, by our Lord and Savior.

Thank you for the hundreds of you that stopped by the table after each service this week to pick up a copy of Take Up The Shield to give to friends, family members, and neighbors who are members of the law enforcement and military families. I’ve never seen anything like it. Thank you for partnering with me to bring the gospel to the law enforcement family.

To Mom, Cheri, Ian, and the Kids: I love you. How blessed I am to have other family members who love Christ. Thank you for your love, your prayers, and your support. Ian and Cheri, thanks for being two of the best “fishing buddies” I have. Thank you for your love, which I know is forged with a great deal of patience. :-)

To My Granada Hills Community Church Family: Thank you for the years of love, care, and support you have showed me and my family, as we seek to fulfill the mission our Lord has given us. You have always been there for us—in word, thought, and deed. I love you very much and I thank God for each of you. Thank you for your prayers during my mission trip.

To My Brothers and Sisters at The Way of the Master and Adventures in Christianity: Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for serving as role models to me—role models for what biblical evangelism looks like. Thank you for motivating me to serve the Lord with a sense of urgency, as if lives depend on it. Our Lord is going to return soon! There is much work to do. Too many people are dying every day, bound for hell. Here we are, Lord. Send us!

To The Ten-Four Ministries Family: Thank you for the years of love and support you have shown me and my family over the years. Thank you for helping us to serve as missionaries to the law enforcement community. Thank you for your always timely, always appreciated support. Thank you for your prayers during this mission trip.

To Lynn Copeland, Genesis Publishing Group: Thank you, Lynn, for publishing Take Up The Shield. The Lord allowed us to put the book into the hands of hundreds of police officers and military personnel, during the mission trip. Others who received the book before I arrived said it has been an encouragement and challenge to them. With your help and support, almost 10,000 people have read the book, with as many as half that number being members of the law enforcement and military communities. Thank you for believing in the book and its potential to reach people on both sides of the badge, with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

To Randy Hayes, Sunshine Sports & Marketing: Thank you, Randy, for designing the Ten-Four Ministries Challenge Coin. I gave 130 of the coins away to police officers throughout the greater Colorado Springs area, thus putting the Law and the Gospel into their hands. The coin was very well-received. It was a much appreciated gift, which I know the Lord will use to further His kingdom. People around the country are asking for the coin. We need to make more. The 300 we minted in the first run are almost gone. :-)

To The Colorado Law Enforcement Family: To the men and women of the eight law enforcement agencies I visited, I say thank you. Thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for the station tours, briefings, ride-alongs, and good conversations. One such conversation, in which I was blessed to share the Law and the Gospel with a brother behind the badge, is forever etched in my heart and mind.

Thank you for being part of the greatest profession in the world. Thank you for being part of my family. Thank you for your daily sacrifices. Thank you for your courage, integrity, and service. Thank you to your families for their daily sacrifices, which all-too-often go unnoticed.

My prayer for each and every one of you is that you will one-day repent and believe the gospel, if you haven’t already. May God bless you all.

To My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: Although mentioned last, You are first in my heart. Thank You, Lord, for loving me enough to save me from the just punishment for my sins. Thank You, Father, for pouring Your wrath upon Your Son, instead of upon me. Thank You for allowing Your Son to take upon Himself the punishment I rightly deserve for my sins against You, when He went to the cross. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for defeating death through Your glorious resurrection. Thank You for saving me—a sinner.

Lord, forgive me for the times that I sinned against You. Forgive me for those moments of weakness, apprehension, and fear. Forgive me for the times I fell short of Your glory, during my mission trip.

Lord Jesus, thank You for protecting and sustaining my family while I was in Colorado. Thank you, Lord, for safe travel, on the land and in the air. Thank You for placing all the above-mentioned people (and those not mentioned) in my life. Thank You for the love and support of the brethren.

Thank You, Jesus, for allowing me to serve You. Thank you, Lord, that hundreds of people on both sides of the badge heard the proclamation of the Law and the Gospel, this week in Colorado Springs.

Thank You, Father, for the friendships that were forged during this mission trip.

Lord Jesus, I put my trust in You. And I ask that You draw unbelievers in Colorado, on both sides of the badge, to genuine repentance and faith. All for Your glory, Lord. All for Your glory! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tracts Now Available at

Hey, everyone! I've partnered with Leon Brown of to publish three new gospel tracts: Jump or Perish, The Ride of Your Life, and You Can't Handle the Truth. Just click on "Product List" to see the artwork, read the texts, and place your order.

Friday, September 07, 2007

On the Set of Way of the Master Television

Yesterday, I was blessed to participate in the filming of a WOTM television episode. The episode, titled 'Fear Factor,' deals with the fear of God and the fear of man, and how both fears impact evangelism and the life of every person--saved and unsaved..

I invite you to visit my AiC photo gallery. There, under "WOTM 'What Scares You' Episode," you will find a bunch of pictures and captions that tell part of the story.

But yesterday, was so much more than I had expected. It was so much more than a day of filming.

Unbeknownst to me before I arrived on the set, the majority of the film crew were not part of the WOTM family. They had been hired for the day, from the film industry, which meant that the majority of the crew were unbelievers. It was a long, 15-hour day. But that didn't keep the Great Commission from being fulfilled on a dusty, western, movie lot.

Evangelism happened all day long!

The first instance was Scotty, WOTM sound engineer. Scotty arrived at the lot shortly after 6:00 am. Within minutes, he was engaging Bob, the fire marshal for the day, in spiritual conversation. I gave Bob a Ten-Four Ministries challenge coin, which includes a gospel tract.

The prop masters and armorers for yesterday's filming were two retired deputy sheriff's from my department. Both of them received challenge coins. And Leon (EvangelismTeam) must have talked to the two of them for over an hour, taking both of them through the Law and the Gospel.

Ray, Kirk, and E.Z. (and I'm sure other WOTM team members) engaged crew members in conversation, throughout the day. From time to time, blasphemy could be heard coming from the lips of a frustrated or jocular crew member. Later in the day, I saw Ray handing out "Hollywood and God" DVD's to members of the crew.

The second half of the day involved the filming of the scenes that included dialogue. So, all of the unsaved crew members involved in lighting, sound, directing, etc all heard the preaching of the Law and the Gospel, as Ray and Kirk went through the .

I've always believed that The Way of the Master was more than a television show. But after yesterday, I don't think I will ever watch an episode the same way again. From now on, whenever I watch WOTM I will think of the unsaved people behind the cameras. I will think of Ray, Kirk, E.Z., Todd, Scotty, Duane, and the other members of the WOTM team between takes, caring enough about people to speak the truth to them in love--bringing the Law to the proud and grace to the humble.

It was a great day! :-)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Behind the Scenes of Way of the Master Radio (09-04-07)

Usually I pass the phone off to our guests during the "street fishing" segments of the Way of the Master Radio show, so that Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and/or Todd Friel can share the Law and the Gospel with them. But during the first hour of today's show, Todd had me do the interview. So, my cell phone became a microphone. :-)

David is only 14. He was at the courthouse with his aunt, Debra. I never did learn why they were there. Even at the age of 14, David was a disillusioned, lapsed Catholic. He could not reconcile himself with the fact that the Catholic faith teaches the veneration of Mary and the saints. In his mind, the Catholic faith worships Mary and the saints more than they worship Jesus.

David told me he believed in reincarnation. He based this belief on what he has heard from others, and what he has read. The most interesting of David's beliefs was his belief in the existence of hell, but he doesn't believe in the existence of heaven. This is the opposite of what many non-Christians believe. Most would say they believe in heaven, but not hell--for reasons that should be obvious.

Click here to listen to my conversation with David, which seemed to impact his aunt, too. I apologize for the sound quality. I had to put the recorder on the table, so I could pass the phone back and forth, between us.

Our guest for the second hour of the show was Lakesha. Lakesha was at the courthouse to answer for her 80-mph speeding ticket. Ouch.

Lakesha professed to be a Christian, yet she believed that people who never heard of Jesus would go to heaven. She misunderstood the nature of God's grace and His judgment. I explained to her that people do not go to hell because they've never heard of Jesus. They go to hell for breaking God's Law. That gave her a moment of pause.

I put her on the phone with Ray Comfort. What you can't see on the radio is the look on a person's face as their life is held up to the mirror of God's Law. I could tell that the conversation was pricking Lakesha's conscience and it was making her uncomfortable.

Was Lakesha a false convert? Was she a sincere person who thinks she has a relationship with Jesus Christ, but now she realizes she doesn't? I don't know. But she heard the Law and the Gospel, today.

Unfortunately, Lakesha only had a few minutes before she was due in court. And I certainly didn't want to make her late. I wish I had more time to talk to her. But God is sovereign over everything, even the limited time I had to talk to Lakesha.

As she handed me the phone, I handed her a copy of How To Live Forever Without Being Religious. I hope she reads it.

Please pray for David, Debra, and Lakesha.

It was another good day of fishing. :-)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Epic Game of Ping-Pong with Ray Comfort

For two years, I have tried to beat Ray Comfort in Ping-Pong. Recently, I finally won a game. The game-deciding rally was captured on video. Just in case you can't recognize us: I'm wearing red, and Ray is wearing orange. In order to maintain some semblance of humility, I must admit that Ray remains the better ping-pong player. But it did feel good to beat my evangelism mentor--even if it was just one game. :-)