Friday, May 29, 2015

An Ocean of False Conversion



By: Daniel Martin.

When you start stepping out in faith and make attempts to share the gospel you might come with a couple of biases based on lack of actual experience. You might envision yourself with the gospel like it mentions Peters shadow in acts 5:15. Virtually every person you pass by will come to saving faith, you will imagine yourself in front of an ocean of faces bowing to God in overwhelming submission, you think of those stories you heard in church of that one mission trip where so many people turned their hearts to Christ that there is near no needs left in the world at all.

Maybe you will come from the other direction. You thought that everything you touched would crumble away. You understand mosses in Exodus 4:10 when he says, “I’m slow of speech.” You rarely venture outside of reading in your free time, and since no one has ever listened to you before you don’t think a whole lot will happen when you talk to someone who doesn’t even know who you are.

Prepare for the unexpected. I have held both of these views at times because I have seen them happen. Well the first one has never happened to me but I have been in several places where it has happened for someone else. I can’t count the times I have shared the gospel one on one with someone. I can’t count it because the amount doesn’t matter. It’s the faithfulness to God that matters. God could spread the gospel himself. But really isn’t it a shame that he would have to? Isn’t it a shame that we would have the greatest gift and the greatest message in history, (one more important than anything else you could have in this life and the next) and it matters so little to us that we won’t share it? Could we care more about what people think of us, than the people that are doing the thinking? If so we have missed the heart of God for humanity. If God is special to us, how much more are people special to God?

When I hear of people in radical Islamic countries having a vision of Christ I am amazed. I am also saddened. We should bring the gospel to places of where it is not allowed. That is the heart of Christ. Jesus gave his life for us and we must give ours to Him. God can do it himself, but God told us to go. We get to share Gods love. Why horde the wealth?

If our mind is not rooted in the glory of God and obedience out of love to his commands, we will be swimming in a sea of false conversions. That was the thing I never planned on and never thought about. I never thought that Christians that I knew for 5 or 10 years would abandon the faith. I never thought that people I spent time with pouring my life out for would turn against God and at times against me. I didn’t think that those I would reach would selfishly do works of service for the glory of the title. It’s something that is unfortunately all too common. Jesus talked about this happening in scripture several times. Mathew 13:, John 6:70, Mathew 25: 31-46, Mathew 7:21 to name a few.

We have to keep the Glory of God and loving obedience to his commands the focus. God promised he would reward us. Also, think of the reward of seeing more people you could be friends with in heaven because God changed their hearts and saved them. This is not heaven, and any pat on the back for parading tallies of conversion will pale in comparison. Don’t get upset about the cake they spelled your name wrong on after working there for thirty years. God does not forget what you do in Jesus' name.

Out of all the people I have shared the gospel with, there exists only a handful in memory that made a decision for Christ in front of me. And after later experiences in life I can honestly say of those, I am not sure which ones actually repented. Like the harvesting angels in the parable of the weeds and the wheat, only God gets to know. Don’t let that dishearten you. This life is a drop in the bucket. God has made promises. Taste and see, has God kept promises to you? Won’t he keep the ones about his reward being with Him? Should we give up working in the field long before the harvest because we don’t see the kind of fruit we expected right after we put the seed in the ground? Is it for the other field hands we are working when they acknowledge “man, you are a seed spreading master”, or say “wow, don’t quite your day job buddy.” Should it matter to us one way or the other?

I encourage you keep God the focus, work for the glory of the owner of the field. He hired you, and He has more to offer than any earthly thing you could get. Don’t fall for the lie of preaching an ear flattering non-gospel for the praise it would receive. Don’t miss out on life by asking God to send someone else. If you do we will all be swimming in an ocean of false conversions; false salvation in which people will carry the name of Christ when it suits them, and when it does not will discard it like an old coat out of fashion. Think of their surprise on the day of judgment when they realize that Jesus Christ wasn’t a cool club, that their whole life He was begging for their heart to turn and repent, but all they wanted was to be looked at as a good person. Jesus will say “I don’t know you!” I have to say that it’s something I had to learn the hard way. At times telling people about Jesus comes with too much praise, or too much discouragement. I thought that not Christians would just sort of acclimate to repentance by my holy lifestyle.

There isn’t much on earth that is attractive about following Christ. It’s the right way to live, and fulfilling but it is always a life of self-denial for His kingdom. Our reward is Christ and is coming with Christ (Revelation 22:12 look it up it’s great). Let’s keep that the focus and work all the more as we see the harvest approaching. Let’s do our best to offer the same quality of good news mentioned in the scriptures. Let’s make disciples and not disciple look a alike, so that we don’t drown in an ocean of false conversion.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Street Witnesssing Group.



By: Daniel Martin.

My first week with the street witnessing group at Bible College was the first time I did evangelism out in the open. We all had to be a part of a ministry at that Bible College.  I think that is a great practice for any school.  Students have to grow and learn and then apply what they have learned.  The teachers had really talked about growing with the Lord and being out of your comfort zone. I wanted that. I wanted to step out of the status quot.  I wanted to grow as a solid Christian. I didn’t want to stay in stagnant immaturity.

I don’t know how I ended up with street witnessing. It sounded terrifying to me. I often thought that those were the kind of people who were a little over pushy and too bold. I thought that maybe I would just give it a try and if it didn’t work out I would move on to something else. I was also helping with a ministry that folded bulletins for a church. It’s simple but being a pastors kid I know how much of a burden that takes off the secretary. It’s time consuming and someone has to do it. I also would then have that to fall back on if things didn’t work out with the street witnessing group.

 When I went to our first get together I felt nervous and awkward. To me it seemed like everyone there was of the non-popular crowd.  I knew I was a part of that group as well, so it eased my fears about being there. We met together and our leader came in. She was a sweet lady in her forties with sandy brown hair. She looked about as nervous as the rest of us.  I can now say she had an immeasurable impact on my life, whether she knows it or not. Even if it was just the fact that this evangelism group was an option, it still made a huge impact in what I am today.

She introduced herself talked shortly about the need for evangelism, and then quickly turned the chair over to a previous student.  I recognized him from when he came to my home church to visit. He shared his testimony a little bit sheepishly and in a very dry straight forward way. Our evangelism leader had brought him to Jesus. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the whole thing made more sense. Now I know the whole story about him.

He was a stoner from seaside maybe three years prior. Karen (our leader) was working at the conference center when he walked in and said, are you a Christian?  She said yes why? I need to know about Jesus right now. So she stood up gave him the gospel and he accepted Christ. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when we were working together that I asked him about what happened. I promised him I wouldn’t tell anyone the other details of why he came searching for the nearest Christian but I want you to know it was nothing short of miraculous.

He said, that after he became a Christian weird things started to happen, he felt like he should take the pornography off his walls. No one ever told him that stuff was wrong. Amazingly right after he took the posters down, Christians showed up at his door to see how he was doing. I know that this is true because I met one of his non Christian friends.  He worked at the mall and had not talked to him since that time. He said that his life just changed over night. “He was doing drugs and hanging out with all of us and then all the sudden he just was like instantly sober and we didn’t see him much.”

It is crazy story but it was why we were all there. Karen felt so compelled by the Holy Spirit to start the group.  I am certainly glad she did. It’s why I am writing this right now.

When the testimony was over, we prayed sang some worship songs and practiced doing evangelism with each other. Today I am here doing what I do in life, because of a brave lady who responded to a need locally. It’s weird to think that in the United States, there is still a “Macedonian call” but there is! There is a call of God for the lost people of the world now more than ever. They are across the world and right next door. As a matter of fact, every day I have spread the gospel in the United States; I have always found someone who didn’t have saving faith in Christ. If you are thinking that the United States is a “Christian place”, think again! Its Biblical base is being eroded by a reconstruction which seeks to remove its “useless old foundations” that are not deemed worthy of its new info structure. If our course continues in the vein of the last several years, our children are going to grow up in a land where they will be hated for the name of the Biblical Christ. The only way to change that is one person at a time. They need to know the justice and the love of Christ. There is no protest, war, or fight that unless it reaches the souls of the lost will make an inch of difference. The battle that is before us is not just one of the intellect but of the heart. Let us not be asleep in the valley well our enemy waits on the hill. We might wake up and find him sleeping in our tents. Let’s preach the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.    

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Community

By: Rachel Martin

Hebrews 10:24 & 25

I have had people give me the various lists of why they don’t go to church.  Everything from I don’t like the music to I can’t find a church that teaches me on the level that I am at.  There are many rebuts to those like:  I always find a little nugget of truth to come away with no matter what kind of church I am at. Worship music is about your heart and joy with God not the kind of music they play at your church.  Maybe the people at your church are stuffy. Find the ones that aren’t.  Or better yet stick with the ones that are stuffy and be a light.  Do you have slight difference of beliefs, then talk about it and figure it out.

My point is that is does not matter your reasons it is very important to go to church for one major reason regardless of where you are in your spiritual walk.  Community.  We as believers need community.  I know that when the hard stuff happens I can call or e-mail the staff or pastors at our home churches and have prayer going for us in a heartbeat.  I can call the pastor of our local church and they will be on their knees the next minute. One time we needed to take my son to the doctor and didn’t have enough funds.  Our church here at the time helped.  That is what church bodies are supposed to do.  Pray, support, help, give, encourage and generally walk alongside those in the body.

There is no excuse big enough to keep you from a church family.  When we first moved here to Mexico we attended a church of a different denomination then one we would normally choose.  We differed on what I consider a big deal, loss of salvation.  However that did not stop us from walking with other believers in the congregation.  Helping them, supporting them with prayer, finances, encouragement, and love.  It was also the church that helped us with the trip to the doctor for our son.  We were new to Mexico and had no idea where to go for even a simple checkup. 

Disagreeing on an issue was not even enough to keep us from caring for each other and helping each other.  In fact the disagreement we had was something that made me pause and go back to scripture and become more solid in my thinking about loss of salvation and also to know where they get that from in scripture.  That brings me to the point of iron sharpens iron Proverbs 27:17.  How can we be ready to go fight the battle God has laid out for us if we don’t sharpen our swords?  You need church body to do that.

A while ago when a friend of mine was complaining about needing help with a really difficult situation.  I asked her a simple question.  Have you asked your church?  When she replied that she was not attending a church in her new found home town I asked her why.  Her response was there was not one of her denomination.  While I understand not attending a church of a vastly different faith, I could not believe what she told me.  There were three different churches in her town all of Christian doctrine and two within walking distance.  In my opinion there is no reason she should have been in need having been in this new town for 6 months.  A church is the first thing you look for! 
Slight differences are in my humble opinion not even enough to keep your from a church.  That is something living in a different country has taught me quite well.  Often you take what you can get as there are few options.  If the church is not giving enough teaching maybe your personal devotions should be better.  I don’t get worship music in my language at church so I listen to it on the internet at home. 

This is not to say we are loose with our doctrine quit the opposite.  Dan has been to more than one Bible school and grew up in church with a pastor / father with a doctorate in biblical theology.  I grew up in a church that had teaching so heady and deep it rivals many of the deep thinking scholars I see on line.  We have very definite thoughts on scripture and desires for music.  We would love a church filled with young people our age, youth to mentor and older people willing to disciple.  We have never found all three in one church. My point is that not finding your perfect church should not keep you from Christian community. If there is a church with your exact Biblical beliefs and you have the pleasure of attending it so much the better.  What I am saying is that is not always an option and yet you still need to attend church for community.  

No matter whom you are or where you are, being lifted up and walking with fellow believers in Christ is important.  If you are not part of a church I ask you why?  Is it fear of being found out a sinner?   Is it plain old laziness?   Is it too easy to sleep in on Sunday’s?  Is it fear of turning your life truly over to Christ?  Is it that you might be convicted and have to change your ways?  My humble suggestion is to figure it out what is keeping you from it.  Ask God to help and direct you to the right place and do not forsake the gathering together of fellow believers. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Kite Guy



The Kite Guy
By Daniel Martin.


One day while walking around Seaside praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me; I walked into the  mall. It’s a large building with turist shops around the edges and a carousel in the center. I would frequent that area asking for Jesus to lead me to someone who needed the gospel. On this occasion I ended up in the kite shop. The man working there had a computer and was playing a video game. Hard at work I see.  I said jokingly pointing to the computer screen. I always look for an opening. I don’t know if it was quite the best opening, as a youth I wasn’t very keen on being tactful. I think this was the first time I was really bold about what I had to say about Jesus, and from the get go let him know why we were there.  He said that he was waiting for an answer to life’s big question (who is God and what is the truth about existence). He said that he had been to allot of churches and religious places looking for that answer. He said that he was waiting for something to reach out and grab him. It wasn’t the answer I expected at all. 

I don’t remember what I told Him but I kept visiting him. It was the first time I made a regular effort and not one that was just a one time drop by. I wanted him to know that Jesus cared about him. I would drop by here and there.  He told me he spent his free time scuba diving and finding things of value people through in the river. Once I saw him with a huge kite on the beach and I watched him hop through the air. I really didn’t know what to do. Friendship evangelism is still one of my weaker points. I like to get it all out there, but once I’ve got it all out there, I don’t know what to say. He invited me to a party at his house and it just seemed like it would have been very uncomfortable. That was when I stopped visiting all the time. It’s something that I don’t know if I regret or not. I do hope that the gospel got through in that case. I think what I learned from him was that some people really do want to know the truth. They aren’t sure yet. Being “not sure” is a good place to start. The Bible encourages us to test it and see if it’s true. Jesus never encouraged people to make a rash conversion. In Luke 14:25-33 it sounds like he is turning people away. But Jesus is telling the truth; we don’t earn salvation, but there is no salvation in which Jesus doesn’t have all of us. You can’t add God to your life, its God that purchased you. Turning from self-ownership to Christ ownership is something worth thinking about. It’s not something you should put off thinking about, but it’s also something you can do without total commitment. There will be no person forgiven who has not first surrendered in desperation to the lordship of Christ. He is the same Christ who gave up his thrown in heaven, to be crucified for our sins. It cost God so much that it deserves much more than a raised hand or Sundays and Wednesdays.

 I feel like I dropped the ball in this event a little. I was taken back that someone was looking for answers. It was new for me. I hope that he took seriously the claims of the Bible. I have found them true. That is why I am a Christian. I have seen that what the Bible says is true. It will probably always be a harder life than a life of sin.  But it’s a life where I stand forgiven by a loving and adopting Father.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cultivating good thoughts. by Rachel Martin


Cultivating Good thoughts.
My thoughts on Philippians 4:8

by Rachel Martin

Finally, brethren whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think upon these things. I have always thought that verse was just a suggestion that we think on things that are good and nice and not sinful things. However when you isolate the first part of the verse Philippians 4:8 tells us in part to think upon things that are true.

The thing about thinking on things that are true is it gets rid of tons of other things we should not be thinking on.  Fear, gossip, people speaking unkindly of us, worry about the future.  Thinking on only things that are true gets rid of all of that.  It frees us up to think about things that as the scripture says are noble, right, pure ect.  It allows us time to do as God asks and work on our relationship with Him and what we could be doing for Him.

Thinking on things that are untrue has only gotten me in trouble.  It has either worried me to the point that I get upset or stressed or mad for no reason.  Have you ever thought on something that is untrue (like a perceived insult) for so long that your first instinct when coming across that person who may or may not have hurt you was to be snappy and unkind?  Well I for sure have and have followed through with the snappy retort too.  It was thinking on things that are untrue that got me to that point.  Thinking the untrue is basically worry which is a sin.  Read Mathew 6:25 to 34 if this is a particular struggle for you.  God is constantly working on this with me.  He has worked in me a lot in the past few years and I feel that there has been some headway made but it sure is slow going sometimes. 
Last year at this time there was a rattle snake lying across our front walk when my son and husband went out for a walk.  Did he get bit.  No.  Did God protect him.  Yes.  Do I need to worry that somehow my prayers to God for safety on his behalf are going unheard.  No of course not. While yes there are snakes and other things there that can hurt him, thinking on that and worrying about it is thinking on things that are untrue.  I would much rather think upon the possibility that he is going to be a true, nobel, right, pure, lovely, admirable young man and how I can train and teach him to become such.  I would rather pray to that effect than think on the worst which is untrue.

Often whenever I have been told something was a sin and to fix it I have never really been given the tools.  This is one of the times where I can say, we should not worry, it’s a sin and here is a tool to help.  When I find myself worrying or fearing or upset.  I remind myself, think on things that are true. I claim Philippians 4:8 as my own.  Thinking on things that are true frees up our lives and our minds and allows us to love God wholeheartedly.  Thank him for his goodness and continued presence in whatever your fear or worry is.  Consider next time you find yourself falling into fear or doubt or worry to quote Philippians 4:8.