Sunday, December 30, 2007
The Lord has used Ten-Four Ministries to bring the Law and the Gospel to tens of thousands of first responders, around the world. Untold thousands outside the first responder community have likewise received the Law and the Gospel. The Lord has accomplished all of this through books such as Take Up The Shield and Running Beyond Inspiration, tracts, street evangelism, the website, The Centurion Papers blog, preaching in churches and in the open-air, and several mission trips across North America. An unknown number of first responders and their family members have received one-to-one counsel, by phone, e-mail, and in-person. To God, and God alone, are all the praise, honor, and glory.
With all that the Lord has already accomplished, it should come as no surprise that the Lord, in His sovereignty and grace, would begin a new and exciting season in the life of Ten-Four Ministries.
If you have closely followed the ministry for any length of time, you have likely noticed a gradual shift (for lack of a better word) in the ministry’s direction, which has corresponded with my personal growth in Christ and my service to Him. What began as a ministry entirely focused on bringing the Law and the Gospel to the law enforcement community has expanded to include open-air preaching and street evangelism. These new areas of ministry have brought me into relationship with the team at Living Waters (The Way of the Master), which has included membership in the ministry’s Board of Directors and participation in the Way of the Master Radio show.
This brings me to the subject of the new season upon which Ten-Four Ministries is about to embark. I have been offered and I have accepted a full-time leadership position with Living Waters. I will serve as the Director of a brand new aspect of ministry called The Ambassadors’ Alliance. In my new role, I will oversee the development of an intensive evangelism training program, as well as the development of a network of street evangelists and like-minded churches and para-church ministries.
Both my family and my closest advisors (namely, the Ten-Four Advisory Board) agree that this new role is in keeping with my personal, spiritual growth and the growth in my service to the Lord.
While I have served as the voice and the face of Ten-Four Ministries, the ministry has never belonged to me. Ten-Four Ministries belongs to the Lord. I have merely served as God’s steward of one of His ministries. Because of my new role with Living Waters, it is necessary that I step down from my role as Director of Ten-Four Ministries. It was a difficult decision—one that has been bathed in much prayer and assisted by much counsel. It was a difficult decision, but it was the right decision.
I give thanks to God that He has provided Ten-Four Ministries with a new leader who will undoubtedly lead the ministry well and be the instrument God uses to continue to build Ten-Four Ministries, through this new season and beyond. His name is Travis Yates.
Captain Travis Yates (Tulsa PD, a 14-year veteran) has been a member of the Ten-Four Advisory Board since its inception. I first met Travis in 2005. He organized and facilitated my mission trip to Tulsa, OK, that summer. Travis is a godly man who is well-respected in his church (serving as a deacon), in his department (serving as a supervisor), and in and beyond the larger law enforcement community.
As the new Director of Ten-Four Ministries, Travis brings several gifts and talents to the table. He has a good deal of experience as an administrator. He is a writer. He designs and maintains websites. He is growing as a public speaker. And, most importantly, he loves the Lord Jesus Christ and has a genuine burden for reaching the law enforcement community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, he is committed to employing biblical principles in every aspect of ministry, including evangelism.
I have complete confidence that Travis Yates is the Lord’s man to continue the vision, goals, and mission of Ten-Four Ministries, which is surmised in the phrase: Providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community.
Although Travis will begin to serve as the new Director, effective immediately, we anticipate the transition of the ministry to take several months. I will work side-by-side with Travis every step of the way. I have also offered to stay on as an advisor for the ministry, once the transition is complete.
While my life and ministry is changing direction, the law enforcement family will always be part of me. I will continue to work diligently to bring the Law and the Gospel to the law enforcement family, as often as and wherever the Lord provides the opportunities to do so.
Needless to say, we all recognize the important place Ten-Four Ministries has in the Lord’s plans to further His gospel and His kingdom.
We have been so very blessed these last several years by the prayerful and financial support many of you have provided to Ten-Four Ministries and to the Miano Family. My sincere hope is that you will continue to support the ministry with your prayers and your generous giving.
For now, and during the ministry transition period, please give as you always have. We will let you know as quickly as possible when the manner in which the ministry receives donations changes.
You will soon receive another letter from me, which will provide more details regarding my new ministry, along with information regarding how you can support the effort, if you choose to do so.
On behalf of the entire Miano Family, thank you for your loving support of Ten-Four Ministries.
I am excited to see what the Lord will do next through this ministry, on Travis’ watch. And stay tuned for a post, within the next week or so, from Travis Yates, in which he will further introduce himself and share his vision for Ten-Four Ministries.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Despite our excuses, Acts 1:8 tells us that we will be given the ability to witness. This is urgent. Thousands of retired and current law enforcement officers die each year. They must be told about the Law they will be judged on. They must be told about the Gospel. We must do everything we can to make sure our fellow officers do not go to Hell.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Not all was lost in the adventure. As we approached the ticket counter I proclaimed to the crowd that I would gladly buy them a ticket if they could pass my test. My family is used to this offer but most of the Youth Group at my Church are not. We are introducing the WOTM Basic Training Course to the Church in February so hopefully in time, I'll have a little "backup" in these fishing expeditions.
The majority of the crowd was young people and one young man emerged from the crowd and raised his hand to take my test. He looked to be about 14 years old and he was excited to get his free movie ticket.
I asked him if he thought he was a good person. He said he was and agreed to continue with the test. "Have you ever told a lie", I asked. He admitted that he did.
"What does that make you?".........................."It makes me a sinner."
He went on to admt that he would be called a liar and that when he stands in front of God on Judgement Day, he would be judged guilty. I sensed that he had a religious background so I asked him if he went to church. He went to a large Baptist Church in the area.
This young man had the knowledge that Jesus Christ died on a cross for his sins but when I asked him what he had to do to accept that gift, he said something that may be one of the most common answers in modern day religion.
"I Have to Believe"
He didn't know what else he needed to do. I explained to him that in James 2:19, the Bible tells us that the "....devils also believe, and tremble." Belief alone does not save anyone if with that belief there is not repentance and a trust in Jesus Christ. When this was explained to him he looked surprised. I handed the young man a $5 bill for his movie ticket (yes, in Oklahoma some movies are still $5) and explained to him that he failed the test but God's Grace gives us an opportunity to spend eternity with him. My $5 bill to him was an example of grace.
While these encounters are usually one on one, there are always others listening. That was the case on this night. Please pray for these young people that the presentation of the Law & Gospel will move them to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.
We entered the theater and passed out Million Dollar bills......right before I took my nap.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
It's Christmas Day. 2008 is just days away. With the new year will come significant changes in life and ministry--all of which will be revealed, here, in due time. :-)
In the meantime, I hope you will blessed and encouraged by this simple video montage.
All for the glory of God!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The Curved Illusion tract was particularly popular, today. While there are many tracts I like to use, the Curved Illusion tract is, for me, the most fun to use. It is so much fun to see the different reactions on people's faces as I share the illusion with them. Two young girls were particularly stunned. More about them in a minute.
Another woman, seeing the illusion, blasphemed God with a loud exclamation of surprise. She immediately clasped her hands over her mouth and looked at me and my daughter with fear in her eyes.
"You're the religious people aren't you?" She said with a whisper.
"Yes." I replied with a similar hushed tone (i wasn't going to let her off the hook). "Do you realize what you just did? You blasphemed the name of God."
"I know. I am so sorry."
I handed her the optical illusion tract. "I think you should read this."
"I will. I promise."
The woman and her husband walked away.
About an hour after meeting the first two girls mentioned above, I saw them sitting on a bench. I walked over to them and said, "Since I've already scared you with the optical illusion, would it be all right if I interviewed the two of you for my radio show."
"You're on the radio?" They asked.
"Yep." I gave them each a card and told them about the Last Words Radio show. They agreed to be interviewed.
Their names were Paulina and .......... Paulina. :-)
Toward the end of the interview, you will hear Paulina #1 describe, with a single word, how she felt after hearing the Law and the Gospel.
The Lord, being sovereign in and over every detail of life, allowed an ambulance to roll "Code-3" right after I explained to the girls that they had no idea when they would take their last breaths. It was a poignant moment.
Please pray for Paulina and Paulina, and for the hundreds of people who received the Gospel, today.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Recently, I posted an article entitled Mail Fishing. In the article, I made a suggestion for sharing the gospel by placing a gospel tract in the postage-paid return envelope provided by banks and credit card companies when they send their credit card and loan offers.
Before and since posting the article, I've asked myself questions regarding the propriety of using the postage-paid envelopes, at the expense of the business sending the offer. Since the Bible neither commands or condemns this activity, it is, therefore, an issue of conscience.
Recognizing the fallibility of my conscience, I have sought both the counsel of others and the Scriptures to discern, to the extent I am able, if my conscience is consistent with the will and Word of God, on this issue. Two friends and brothers in Christ (John and Ian) have been particularly helpful.
All this to say, I have changed my mind as to how I will conduct "mail fishing" in the future. Saying that I have changed my mind is not to imply that you, the reader should change yours. Needless to say, I am not your conscience. :-)
From now on, instead of using the postage-paid envelope provided by the business, I will use my own envelope and stamp and address the envelope to the address given on the postage-paid return envelope. In addition to a gospel tract, the envelope will include the postage-paid return envelope (this way they can use it again, if they wish), and the following letter:
To Whom It May Concern:
Thank you for your recent offer to provide me with a line of credit. As a matter of stewardship, I try not to accumulate debt; and I limit my credit card use to one card--the balance of which I pay before accruing any interest.
I respectfully request that you remove my address from your mailing list, since I will not avail myself to your credit offers.
Enclosed with this letter is something that speaks about a debt everyone owes, but no one can pay. Please take a minute or two to read it—maybe on you next break.
You are in my prayers.
Now, I'm going fishing! :-)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I hope it is an encouragement to you. Merry Christmas!
Not long ago, a very wealthy man hosted a large Christmas party. The man had many friends. Some were genuine. Others hoped the man’s wealth would rub off on them. The party was lavish, and the guests were dressed for the occasion.
As the evening wore on, the time came to give the man his Christmas presents. He sat on a chair in the middle of the room, with his guests surrounding him. One by one, he opened his presents. The man politely smiled as he opened each gift. Realizing that his friends had gone to a good deal of trouble and expense to give him the gifts, he took great pains not to let the bored look of a man who had everything show on his face.
He worked his way down through the pile of brightly colored, foil-wrapped gifts until only one gift remained. With a look of both confusion and disdain, the man stared at the object on the floor. The sound of embarrassed murmuring spread quickly among the guests.
Sensing the uneasiness filling the room, the man reached down to pick up the object. He tried to lift it with one hand, but it was too thick and bulky. A layer of dust covering the object made it slippery and all the more difficult to handle. With two hands, and a bit of effort, the man finally picked up the object. The crowd in the room already tense now fell silent.
It was clear that the object the man had strained to place on his lap was a book. It was older than any he had ever seen. Its worn leather cover was tattered, yet it protected the pages with an air of dignity. The man noticed it was scratched—as if thorns had been raked over its surface. It was held closed by a purple ribbon that unmistakably had been torn from a larger piece of cloth. Upon closer inspection, the man thought he could see drops of blood sprinkled on the purple ribbon; but he quickly dismissed this as insignificant and determined it to be just another quirk among an already strange set of circumstances.
The man untied the ribbon. Although badly frayed, it did not unravel further with the man’s nervous manipulation. As he slowly opened the book, it dawned on him that it had no title.
To the man’s noticeable surprise, the condition of the pages within the book was not consistent with its cover. The paper was the purest white and felt like the most costly satin. On the pages—all of the pages—names were written in ink that was a deep, scarlet red.
The man read some of the names, none of which he recognized. He noticed that many were written in foreign languages, recognizing the romantic languages of France, Italy, and Mexico, and the artistic characters of the many Asian languages. Yet, there were just as many names written in languages he had never seen.
Slowly, the man turned page after page, noticing that the book was filled exclusively with names. More unusual than that, however, was the way the names were written. The ink was the same color and consistency for each name, and every entry took up the same amount of space on the page. It was as if each name carried no more, and certainly no less, importance than any other. The man flipped through the pages for several silent moments, before he carefully closed the book and looked up at his bewildered guests.
“Who gave me this book?” He asked.
The crowd of smartly dressed people parted slowly. A small boy emerged from the crowd and stood in front of the man.
“I brought the book, sir,” said the boy. “But the gift is not from me. If you will open the book to the last page, there you will find your gift.”
The man opened the book, keeping a wary eye on the plainly dressed little boy. He flipped to the last page and, just as before, saw lists of names. “If you will look beneath the last name, I believe it is Terry Brown, you will see your gift,” explained the boy.
The man ran his finger down the page until he found, Terry Brown. As his eyes moved below the name, he saw only a blank space. His puzzlement turned to frustration.
“What’s going on? Where’s the gift?” He demanded.
“Oh, I’m sorry, sir,” replied the boy. “I think you misunderstand the gift. The gift is not the book, nor is it anything you may have been looking for in the book. The gift is the opportunity to have your name written in the book.” The boy explained.
Becoming angry, the man stood up from his chair. He gripped the book so tightly that his fingers turned white.
“Who are you?” he roared. “I don’t know you, son, but by looking at you, I can tell you’re not here with your parents.”
“Look around you,” the host continued. “I have more money than I could ever possibly spend. I have a house full of people, some of whom I even like. I have spent the better part of the evening opening beautiful, expensive gifts, and you expect me to be impressed with a blank space in a book of names.”
The man reached into his jacket and pulled out a pen.
“You have an unusual way of getting autographs, kid”, he said. “As soon as I sign your book, I think you should go.”
He tried to scribble his name on the page. To his surprise, the pen would not write. He asked his guests if anyone had a pen that worked. Time after time he tried to write his name on the page, but no pen worked on the regal and pristine pages.
“You don’t understand, sir,” the boy said, confidently. “The opportunity is not to write your own name in the book, but to have your name written in the book. You see, there is nothing you can do on your own to earn your name’s place in the book. To have your name written in the book is a free gift that can only be given by the Owner of the book. Having your name in this book will secure you a room in a mansion far greater than yours, for all eternity.”
“Who is the Owner of this book?” The man asked. “I’m sure I could afford whatever price he is asking.”
With a look of pure joy on his face, the boy said, “The Owner of the book has already paid the price for you. The Owner is my Lord, Jesus Christ.”
“So this is about religion. Interesting approach, kid.” The man said. “Look, you’re entitled to your beliefs, and I’m sorry I was rude, but nothing is free in this world. I’m a good person. I give to charities. Everything I have, I’ve earned. Except for the occasional hostile takeover, I’ve never stolen anything from anyone. When my time comes, I’m not worried about where I’ll end up. Like I said, I’m a good person.”
The man closed the book and handed it to the boy. “Thanks, son. I’m not interested. Since it looks like the party is over, I’m going to bed. You all can show yourselves out. Thanks for coming. Someone make sure the kid gets home.”
As he walked up the majestic spiral staircase, he turned to see his guests huddled around the little boy. He could hear them questioning the boy about the Owner of the mysterious book. He shrugged his shoulders, stepped into his dark bedroom, and closed the door behind him.
Many years after that unusual party, the man became very ill. Neither his money, nor his possessions could save his life. Sadly, the once wealthy man passed away, and at the moment he breathed his last, he found himself standing before a Great White Throne. Seated on the throne was One who could only be described as Holy, and standing right next to the throne was a small figure. The man quickly recognized the person as the child who brought the book to the party, all those years ago.
Both curious and fearful, the man asked the One on the throne, “Are you..........God?”
“I Am,” He said. After a brief moment, He continued:
“Why didn’t you accept my gift of eternal life that the boy presented to you? The book he showed you was the Book of Life. There is no greater gift you could have received and no greater gift you could have rejected. You threw a Christmas party to glorify yourself, instead of remembering the precious gift I gave you through the birth of My Son—a gift the prophets foretold and My angels heralded. ‘For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ (Luke 2:12).”
The man’s jaw dropped and his eyes filled with great sorrow as the Lord pulled the old tattered book from within His spotless, majestic robe. The Lord gently caressed the book’s cover and said, “The leather cover is made from the sandals that my Son—God in the flesh—wore as He shared My gospel throughout Judea. My Son told the people, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose’” (Luke 4:43).
“The scratches in the leather are from the crown of thorns He bore for you. The purple ribbon is from the robe He wore as He was publicly mocked, much the same way you mocked Him at the party. The drops of blood on the ribbon are His blood, which He shed as the payment for your sins. ‘They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head’” (Matthew 27:30).
“The pages are whiter than snow because all the names written in the book are of people who were washed clean by the blood of the Lamb of God, My Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. These people were forgiven their sins because they confessed and turned away from their sins and, by faith, put their trust in My Son alone for their salvation. They received the gift of eternal life that only I can give.”
The man began to sob for he knew how this conversation would end.
“But Lord!” He cried. “I’ve been a good person! Please don’t send me away!”
“How can you say that you were good?” God asked. You broke My Law and mocked My commandments every day of your life. You lied, stole, blasphemed My holy name, and committed adultery in your heart every time you looked at a woman inappropriately. Your hatred for your fellow man amounted to murder in My eyes. I certainly wasn’t first in your life, and you worshipped the false god of your money and possessions.
“I’m sorry,” said the Lord, with a tear in His eye. “I am the God of mercy, but I am also Holy, Righteous, and Just. Your deeds cannot save you. They condemn you. I do not know you. You are not one of my children, so you must depart from Me.”
The man walked to an open door with his face in his hands. The doorway was as black as coal. In the distance he could see roaring flames. The man, weeping bitterly, stepped through the door, never to be seen again.
The boy standing next to the throne was also weeping. His tear-stained face glistened as the glory of the Holy One shined upon him. “I’m sorry, Lord,” he said through quiet sobs. “I tried to share You with that man. I couldn’t make him listen.”
The Lord softly cradled the boy’s chin in His hand and lifted his head. “One never fails when one shares My gospel with others. The failure is when one does not take up his cross and follow me. Your work at the party was not in vain, my little one.”
The Lord pointed to a group of people that were now standing in front of the throne. The boy wiped his eyes and saw that the group of people had all been guests, all those years ago, at the man’s Christmas party. They saw the book for what it really was. They came to know the Lord for who He really is and received Him as their Lord and Savior. Like the boy, they received the perfect gift, paid for by the ultimate sacrifice, and given by the only One who could give it.
One by one the members of the group stepped up to the throne, bowed humbly, confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord, and spoke his or her name. The Lord reached down and helped each one to his or her feet. With tears of joy now streaming down His face, He embraced each one as if he or she were His only child. “You may enter into Heaven,” He said, “for your name is written in the Book of Life.”
One day, everyone will stand before the Lord. Will your name be written on the pages of His Book?
Although the narrative you just read is fictitious, it contains a great deal of truth. The Bible says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Heaven and hell are real places, and there is but one-way to heaven, through Jesus Christ. 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).
You cannot earn or deserve entrance into heaven. None of the things you do, which you may perceive to be “good works,” will purchase your way to heaven. Because God’s standards for living are perfect, even on our “best days,” this is how He sees our good works. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). “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” (Ephesians 2:8-9). If you are trusting in yourself to get to heaven, in any way, you will not get there.
God is holy and, by your very nature, you are sinful. Like the rich man in the story, you have broken God’s Law. See for yourself. Honestly answer the following questions. Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? The value doesn’t matter. Have you ever used God’s name to express disgust or excitement, or use His name as a filthy word? Then by your own admission you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The just penalty for your sins against God is death—eternal separation from God, in hell.
But there is good news! “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The good news is the free gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus the Lord. “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).
God—so good, so loving, and so kind—has provided you with the only means of escape from His wrath to come. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to die on the cross to take upon Himself the full and just punishment you deserve for your sins against God. He then defeated death when He rose from the dead. He is alive, today!
Your only hope is to repent—to turn away from your sin. Ask Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior today.
The promise is not merely eternity in a better place; and it is not merely a promise of something as shallow, limited, and fleeting as a better life here, on earth. The promise is an eternal relationship with the one, true God who created you and who alone has the power to extend to you the free gift of eternal life—eternal life in a place called heaven.
But heaven would not be heaven if God were not there. Heaven would not be heaven without the indescribable, unending joy of a perfect and eternal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift you could ever receive—this Christmas or any other—than to have God, the only God who has the power to both save and destroy, welcome you into His family as one of His beloved children.
So, where will your name be written? My Christmas wish for you is that it is, or will be, written in the Book of Life.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I noticed two young girls sitting on the floor, against the balcony of the second level. One of the girls, Chelsea (17), was wearing a sweatshirt from a Christian high school. I introduced myself and explained to the girls that I was with a Christian radio show that focuses on evangelism. I asked Chelsea if I could interview her about how she shares her faith with others. She agreed.
I asked Chelsea what she would say to me if I asked her what I must do to become a Christian. Her answer saddened me. Her answer revealed that she is likely a product of the modern gospel.
I would eventually share the Law and the Gospel with Chelsea. Her friend, Paige, also a student at the Christian high school, found text messaging on her phone to be far more interesting than the spiritual conversation taking place right next to her. But I made sure to talk loud enough for Paige to hear.
Listen to my conversation with Chelsea.
Some have expressed discomfort with mailing tracts, knowing that the company will be charged postage to receive the tract. Companies provide postage-paid envelopes hoping to receive completed applications, not gospel tracts, in the return envelopes. Companies also pay to have, in some cases, millions of envelopes printed knowing full-well that the vast majority of the envelopes will be shredded and thrown in the trash. It's a cost of doing business.
I believe whether or not to engage in this type of evangelism is a matter of conscience. If a person feels uncomfortable using postage-paid envelopes for tracts, instead of using them for their intended purpose, then the person should not engage in this kind of evangelism. Conversely, if a person's conscience is clear, with the understanding that the Bible neither commands nor condemns this specific activity, then that person should feel free to engage in this kind of evangelism.
As for me, every postage-paid envelope will be returned to the sender with a gift-- a "free" gospel tract. :-)
An another note: I went to the local Barnes & Noble this morning. I Placebo'd books by McLaren, Manning, and others. I had hit the Osteen books during my last visit to the store. Well, I had just slipped a tract into a book when a store employee rounded the corner with a dolly full of Osteen's latest book. I almost got caught! :-)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I had a very nice conversation with a young man named Brent. Brent described himself as Buddhist; but he admitted that he is only Buddhist because that's what he was taught growing up.
Listen to my conversation with Brent.
While the conversation wasn't very remarkable (although every opportunity to share the gospel is special), I think it shows that the Law and the Gospel remains the same regardless of the spiritual background of the person with whom you are speaking.
Be encouraged. And pray for Brent's salvation. He seemed very open.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I began my fishing at the courthouse. It was cold and windy today, so there was no one outside the courthouse. Not wanting to run the risk of coming up empty for the show, I quickly drove to the mall.
Now, for those of you who are new to The Centurion Papers, I am somewhat, shall we say, "unwelcome" at the mall. I've never been told to stay away, but I have been asked to leave or to at least cease and desist in my evangelism efforts. So I went to the mall very low key--just a few tracts in my pockets, a tape recorder concealed in my jacket, and my cell phone.
Just as my segment was to begin, I found a young man named Leron who was willing to be on the show. However, Todd started asking me questions about the admissibility of forensic evidence in a court case--you know, a lightweight topic. In answering his question, I talked about my experience as a deputy sheriff, in courtrooms.
When I turned to give Leron the phone, he quickly got up from the bench and said, "Umm, I gotta go."
While it is speculation on my part, my years of law enforcement experience led me to believe that Leron might have had less than positive contact with law enforcement in the past. I think when he heard that I had served as a deputy sheriff, it made him just a tad bit nervous.
So, now I was left with finding someone in a matter of seconds. I quickly asked two men if they would like to be on the radio. They blew me off pretty quickly. The next person I saw was a young woman sitting on a bench. When I explained to her who I was and what I was doing she hesitantly agreed to be on the show.
With Todd listening in, I asked the young lady her name. She thought about the question long enough to tell me she was about to lie to me. Usually "What's your name" is an easy question to answer.
"Amy." She said with a smirk on her face.
"Amy it sounded like you were making it up as you go." I said.
"No. That's my middle name." She answered after another pregnant pause.
Without any prep or background, I handed Amy my phone. Listen to Todd's conversation with Amy.
I could tell that the conversation wasn't going well as Amy grimaced and repeatedly shook her head in disagreement.
When the conversation was over, Amy stood up, handed me the phone without saying a word, and started to walk away.
"So, how did that go?" I asked
"Well, I had my debate for the day." She said.
My conversation with Amy was short and sad. She was so inoculated against the Law and the Gospel that she just pushed the thought of eternity out of her mind and she created a god in her own imagination to suit herself.
Listen to my conversation with Amy.
Laura would eventually walk away, having had enough of our conversation. My heart broke for her.
I shook off the sorrow of the conversation so I could refocus on finding someone else to talk to. After a couple of friendly rejections, I made my way down the street, through the center of the mall complex.
As I passed a corner building, I noticed a young security guard pop out of a door. I recognized him, which meant he probably recognized me. Sure enough-- he started following me down the street. When I glanced back at him, he tried to duck into the doorway of one of the stores. I had to laugh.
I called the WOTMR studio. "Way of the Master Radio!" Answered the familiar voice of "Hip-Hop" (David).
"Hey!" I said with an animated whisper. "I'm being stalked by mall security!"
David laughed. He, too, noticed the irony of a retired deputy sheriff being followed by a security guard who likely has less time on the planet than I had in law enforcement.
"I can't seem to shake this tail!" I said with a laugh.
David put me on hold. When Todd got on the phone, I told him that I was trying to lose the security guard who was tailing me. After talking to Todd for a moment or two, I noticed that the security guard was not in sight.
So, I quickly walked up to a group of young Hispanics and asked them if any one of them wanted to be on the radio. They started speaking in Spanish amongst themselves. I was about to give up and politely say good-bye when one of the girls answered me in very clear English.
I was still on the phone with Todd. "Can you find someone if I give you another four minutes?"
"Yep. I think I have someone, now. Four minutes should be just fine."
After a few minutes of somewhat undignified begging and pleading, the young lady agreed to be on the show.
"What's your name?" I asked.
The group, again, began to talk in Spanish.
"Come on! That's not fair! I can't understand what you're saying." I joked.
That seemed to loosen them up a bit.
The young lady eventually said her name was "Laura," admitting that she was lying to me.
Laura said she was 18-years-old. That, too, was likely untrue. She wore a gold crucifix on a long, gold chain. She considered herself to be a good person and believed that good people go to heaven.
After Todd and I joked a bit about me being stalked by security (who, by the way, showed up again and watched me from inside a nearby arcade), I handed my phone to Laura.
Listen to Todd and Laura's conversation.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, she came across, as Todd said, "As the second perfect person who ever lived." And Todd was right. When you run into a person who truly sees themselves as, well, just about sinless, you do have to dig deep and work hard to help them see their sinfulness--longer and harder than the short time of a radio show segment permits.
Once she was off the phone, I took Laura through the Law. It took some effort, but not too much. She admitted to being a liar, a coveter, and a person who has dishonored her parents. I also showed her that you don't have to physically murder someone to be a murderer at heart.
It wasn't that Laura was arrogant. She, like so many others, was simply ignorant to her true condition, in light of God's holy and perfect standard. When she expressed concern about standing before God, being found guilty, and being sentenced to eternity in hell, I shared the Gospel with her.
Two of her friends (who couldn't keep their hands off each other) got up and left. But one of her friends stayed and heard the Law and the Gospel.
Listen to my conversation with Laura.
It was another good day of fishing! :-)
Thursday, December 06, 2007
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Once the draft of the document, "A Common Word Between You and Us", was completed, it was signed by 146 (to date) Muslim clerics. The document was sent to "Christian" leaders around the world.
In response to the extended hand of this group of Muslim leaders, members of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture took it upon themselves to speak for Christians around the world, by taking the hand of the Muslim clerics, as a show of reconciliation and friendship. The "Loving God and Neighbor Together" document was signed by no less than 300 Christian theologians, authors, speakers, and pastors from a wide array of denominational and non-denominational backgrounds. Just to make sure the whole world knew what they were doing, the organizers of this effort took out a full-page ad in the New York Times, in order to publicly display the letter and reveal the plethora of signatories.
The signatories of the "Christian" response include such notables as:
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
David Yonggi Cho, Pastor of reportedly the largest church in the world, in South Korea
Pastor Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church
Tony Jones, an Emergent Church leader
Brian McLaren, an Emergent Church leader
David Neff, Editor in Chief & Vice President, Christianity Today Media Group
Dr. Robert Schuller, Crystal Cathedral
Rev. Dr. John Stott
George Verwer, Founder of Operation Mobilization
Jim Wallis, President, Soujourners
Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Church
The signatories represent a number of notable Christian colleges, seminaries, and organizations including:
Fuller Theological Seminary
Union Theological Seminary
National Association of Evangelicals
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Asbury Theological Seminary
Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
Association of Vineyard Churches
Books can be written (and likely have been written) about the numerous false assertions made by the authors and signers of the "Christian" response. I will not take the time to do that here. Instead, I will briefly turn my attention to statements made in three subsections of the "Christian" response: "Common Ground," "Love of God," and "The Task Before Us."
In the subsection titled "Common Ground," the authors and signatories state the following:
"What is so extraordinary about A Common Word Between Us and You is not that its signatories recognize the critical character of the present moment in relations between Muslims and Christians. It is rather a deep insight and courage with which they have identified the common ground between the Muslim and Christian religious communities. What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both: love of God and love of neighbor. Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam as well. That so much common ground exists—common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith—gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together. That this common ground consists in love of God and of neighbor gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities."
And in the subsection titled "Love of God":
"We applaud that A Common Word Between Us and You stresses so insistently the unique devotion to one God, indeed the love of God, as the primary duty of every believer."
The "placebo" in these sections of the letter should be easy to identify. The authors and signatories of the "Christian" repsonse not only suggest, but wrongly affirm, that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The god of Islam is not the God of the Bible. This spurious linking of arms with Muslims is predicated upon the false belief that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Have the signatories forgotten that Islam denies the deity of Christ? Koran 5:75 says, "The Messiah, son of Mary, is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate!"
Have the signatories forgotten that Islam sees Jesus as merely a great prophet, second to Muhammad, and that He is not the Son of God? Koran 9:30 says, "The Jews said, 'Ezra is the son of GOD,' while the Christians said, 'Jesus is the son of GOD!' These are blasphemies uttered by their mouths. They thus match the blasphemies of those who have disbelieved in the past. GOD condemns them. They have surely deviated."
Have they forgotten that Islam denies the crucifixion of Christ ? Koran 4:157-158 says, "And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him - they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise."
Finally, in the subsection of the document titled "The Task Before Us," we read:
"Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that 'our eternal souls' are at stake as well."
The future of the world depends on the ability of Christians and Muslims to live together in peace? Are you kidding me? Our eternal souls are at stake, based upon our ability to be at peace with the practitioners of a false religion? What verse is that?
Have Fuller, YWAM, Biola, Navigators, and the other supposedly evangelical organizations represented by the signatories of the "Christian" document forgotten that the fate of the world and the salvation of each and every person is not contingent upon human ability?
The future of the world has already been determined by the One True and Sovereign God--the God of the Bible. And the salvation of mankind is not up to the efforts of mankind. Have these "Christian" leaders and organizations forgotten that a person is saved by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone?
Have they forgotten that salvation is not by works, or by calls for peace when there is no peace, or through ecumenism, or through efforts to make the world a "better place"? Salvation is the gift of God the Father to those whom he draws to Himself by the power of God the Holy Spirit, extending to them the gifts of repentance and faith in God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ--ONE GOD in THREE PERSONS!
Should we love our neighbor? Yes, we should love our neighbor, whether they are Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, Atheist, or whether they come from any other spiritual or non-spiritual background. But we should not love them the way the signatories of this blasphemous document suggest we love them--by linking arms with members of false religions and leading them to believe that we have anything in common, spiritually speaking. We should not love people by lying to them about their true, spiritual condition and the reality that if they worship any god other than the God of the Bible they are idolaters and bound for hell.
We should love our neighbors enough to die for them, even at their hands, as we speak the truth to them, in love--the truth of the Law and the Gospel.
I wonder if the signatories will try to find a way to get this "can't we all get along letter" to real Christians who have been imprisoned and tortured and have refused to bow their knee to the false god of Islam? I wonder if they will send the letter to the families of Christian martyrs who live in Islamic controlled areas of the world? And I wonder how it would be received.
Sadly, many professed Christians are going to swallow the placebo being offered by the signatories and others like them. I pray that you, the reader, are not one of them. If you are, then please, read on.
There are many spiritual placebos being distributed these days. Here’s an example: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He longs to have a relationship with you, just the way you are. You’re a good person, but you have a God-shaped hole in your heart that only He can fill. Just pray a simple prayer and Jesus will come into your heart. Then, He will fix your relationships, heal your diseases, get you out of debt, and help you make the most of your life.”
If you have heard a message like this, then you’ve been given a placebo—a message intended to please you, but will do nothing to heal your disease. The disease is called sin and, without a cure, it is fatal. Examine yourself and see if you have any of the symptoms.
Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Then by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart. When you die from this disease (sin) and stand before God, He will find you guilty of breaking His commandments and sentence you to eternity in hell.
But there is good news. There is a real cure, and there is only one. 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 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 confess your sins against God, repent (turn away from your sins), and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. Receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, right now. Stop taking the placebo. It cannot save you. Repent and believe the gospel. It is the only cure and your only hope.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
There must have been some magic in that old silk hat he found; 'cause when he placed it on his head, he began to dance around. And a very good friend of mine turned into Frosty the Snowman. :-) So, who's in the costume? Well, you will just have to read on to find out.
Today marked the annual Granada Hills Holiday Parade. For the last couple of years, my family and other fellow evangelists have gone to the parade to distribute gospel tracts and to share the gospel with parade watchers, during one-to-one conversations.
This year's parade seemed bigger than ever, which meant more people to reach. By God's grace, our team (Michelle, Marissa, Amanda, Ty, Hannah, Mike, Nicole, Dave, Celia, Melissa, Mark, Dru, Chris, and me) was able to distribute about 2,000 tracts in just a couple of hours! One of the special blessings about today's efforts was that several people on our team had never before been out with us.It seemed that every kind of tract we gave to people were hits: Big Money, Billion and Million Dollar Bills, Christmas Cash, Avoid Identity Theft, Pink/Blue Optical Illusion, The Smart Card, Ten Commandment Coins. People just ate them up; and it wasn't uncommon for people who had received tracts to come up to us later asking for more. The Optical Illusion tract was particularly popular with everyone who saw it.
I was blessed to take a group of parade watchers through the Law and the Gospel. It was akin to a mini open-air session. Due to the noise of the parade, I had to raise my voice to be heard; which meant that not only did the group with whom I was speaking hear the Gospel, but so did the people nearby. This was evidenced by one man, all decked out in Christmas red, who angrily yelled while pointing at the street behind me, "Hey, the parade is over there!"
"Yeah. But my conversation is over here!" I replied. :-)
The man got up and stomped away.
I took the group of six through the Good Person Test, offering all of them a $5 gift card to In-n-Out Burger if they passed the test. Obviously, no one passed the test. But they all got the gift cards when I finished sharing the gospel with them. I explained to them that they were receiving the gift cards, not because they earned or deserved them, but rather as an example of grace. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Well, it's time to reveal Frosty's true identity. Chris spent more than two hours in the costume. He was as popular as the parade itself. While the weather was cool, you should have seen Chris when we helped him out of the costume. I'm sure he lost a few pounds today.
Children of all ages wanted to hug him and take pictures with him. However, he wasn't quite as popular with the numerous tiny, foo-foo dogs along the parade route. Toward the end of our time at the parade, Chris actually ran into the street and joined the parade! :-) Thank you, Chris, for willingly and lovingly being a fool for Christ, this afternoon.
And thank you to the entire team. It was a blessing to serve alongside all of you. It was a great afternoon of evangelism, in our community--all for the glory of God.