A few people decided not to behave themselves at one of the bars near us on Third Street last night so the police had to get involved. It was a bit intense for a few minutes but everything settled down quickly. And then there was one young lady who walked past us early in the night, cursing me out as she walked by. When she passed back by again, Wren tried to give her a gospel tract and she walked up to him and shoved him. For any of you that know Wren, you know that he is a kind-hearted, gentle soul. We were both a bit surprised at what had happened but I reminded him that Jesus said that we are blessed when we are persecuted for his name’s sake. So we just continued on. Later in the evening we had several really good opportunities to share the gospel with people whose hearts were open. All in all, it was a good night.
I have been reading the New Testament lately with special reference to the aggressive spirit of original Christianity. And as far as I can see, we come infinitely short by comparison. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” Look at what is implied in this commission. I believe that no generation since that first century has yet fathomed the meaning of this divine commission. Look at it! Would it ever occur to you that it really meant, “Go and build chapels and churches, and invite the people to come in, but if they won’t – leave them alone”? “GO!” To whom? “To all creation.” Where am I to get at them? WHERE THEY ARE. “All creation.” This is the extent of your commission. Seek them out, run after them, wherever you can get at them. “All creation” – wherever you find a creature that has a soul – there go and preach the Gospel to him. If I understand it, that is the meaning and spirit of this commission.
In another commission to Paul, God says “…I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:17-18) They are asleep – go and wake them up. They do not see their danger. If they did, there would be no need for you to run after them. They are preoccupied. Open their eyes, and turn them around by your desperate earnestness, intense persuasion, and moral force. Oh! It makes me tremble when I think of how much one man can do for another! ‘”Turn from darkness to light, and from the dominion of Satan to God.” How did Paul understand this? He says, “We persuade men.”(II Cor.5:11) Do not be content with just putting it before them, giving them gentle invitations, and then leaving them alone. Paul ran after the poor souls, and pulled them out of the fire. Do the same! Take the blindfold off their eyes which Satan has bound them with; knock and hammer and burn your words into their poor, hardened, darkened hearts with the fire of the Holy Ghost, until they begin to realize that they are IN DANGER! Go after them. If I understand it, that is the spirit of the apostles and of the early Christians.
Sure it’s okay to build churches and chapels; we should invite the people to them. But do you think it is consistent with these commissions to rest only in this, when three-fourths of the population utterly ignore our invitations and take no notice whatsoever of our buildings and of our services? They will not come to us. That is an established fact. Jesus Christ says, “Go after them.” He says, “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23) I will have guests, and if you can’t get them in by nice, civil measures, use military measures. Go and compel them to come In.
Oh! People say you must be very cautious. You must not push religion down people’s throats. What! Should I wait until an unconverted, godless man wants to be saved before I try to save him? Am I to let my unconverted friends and acquaintances go quietly down to damnation, and never tell them about their souls until they ask, “If you please, I want you to preach to me!” Is this anything like the spirit of early Christianity? No! Therefore we must make them look, and if they run away from you in one place, meet them in another, and let them have no peace until they submit to God. This is what Christianity ought to be doing in this land, and there are plenty of Christians around to do it. Why, we might give the world such a time of it, that they would get saved in self-defense – if we were only aggressive enough and determined that they should have no peace in their sins.
Men are preoccupied with many things, and we need to bring this subject of salvation powerfully to their attention. There is some one soul that you have more influence with than any other person on earth. Are you doing all you can for their salvation? Take them lovingly aside and say, “My dear friend, I have never spoken to you closely, carefully, and prayerfully about your soul.” Let them see the tears in your eyes, or if you can’t weep, let them hear the tears in your voice. Let them realize that you feel their danger, and are in distress for them. Then God will give His Holy Spirit so they can be saved.
Special thanks to our sweet friends Terry and Joan McMorris for hosting us at the LSU outreach yesterday. They provided sweet fellowship and yummy food.
Billy brought the cross and we walked it through the campus on the way to our normal evangelism spot. I wish I had video of the responses. Everywhere we went people stopped what they were doing to watch the cross go by. As soon as we stopped, we had people approaching us and the three of us (Me, Billy and Charles) had nonstop opportunities to share the gospel until we left. It was a good day. Praise God!
One of the youth in our church felt led by God to organize a group to go downtown street witnessing. Yesterday about 20 of us paired up and walked the streets of downtown Baton Rouge to see what the Lord would do as we sought to share the gospel. I was paired up with Shana, an absolutely delightful young lady with a real heart for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. The first man we encountered was on the levee, sitting on the concrete steps that descended into the Mississippi river. We sat next to him, one on either side, handed him a gospel tract and began to share the gospel with him. Tears began to flow down his face as he told us that he was recently homeless and had been feeling so much despair that at that moment he was contemplaing jumping into the river to drown. He felt like God had sent us to him. We spent a long time with him, encouraging him to trust Jesus and just being with him while he cried. We prayed for him and could see a visible change in his countenance when we left. We are continuing to pray for him – Paul – and believing that the Lord will water and give increase to the seeds that were sown into his heart that day. Shana and I walked away from him feeling very joyful to have been able to share the gospel with him, yet sorrowful that we had not been prepared to help with any practical needs or direct him somewhere he could obtain food and shelter.
Later that day we came across 2 men who were leaning against a fence leading to an event center. They looked like they may have been security guards. Shana and I both felt led to stop and talk to them. As soon as I began to share the good news with one of them, his attention was immediately focused on what I was saying. So much so that it was startling. He had just lost his wife and child due to a divorce and seemed to be reaching out to God as best he knew how. We encouraged him to continue all the way to salvation and a full surrender to Jesus.
At the appointed time we assembled with everyone else to prepare to leave. As we were waiting for the last few stragglers from our group to reappear I noticed a man walking towards us on the sidewalk. As he passed I handed him a gospel tract and when I looked into his face I realized that I knew him. Three years ago he was one of my clients, a business owner with a beautiful wife and he was on fire for the Lord. He would come to my office to drop off information and we would have a wonderful time sharing about what the Lord was doing. Now he had lost everything and was homeless. And away from the Lord. He stood and talked with me for about 15 minutes as I reminded him of what he had lost by walking away from Jesus. As he walked away I broke down in tears over this fallen brother.
As we drove back to the church, Keith Green’s “Asleep in the Light” was playing. I thought my heart would break.
Do you see, do you see, all the people sinking down,
Don’t you care, don’t you care, are you gonna let them drown,
How can you be so numb, not to care if they come,
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done.
Oh Bless me Lord, bless me Lord, you know it’s all I ever hear,
No one aches, no one hurts, no one even sheds one tear,
But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds, and He cares for your needs,
And you just lay back and keep soaking it in, oh, can’t you see it’s such sin?
Cause He brings people to your door,
And you turn them away, as you smile and say,
God bless you, be at peace, and all Heaven just weeps,
Cause Jesus came to your door, you’ve left Him out on the streets.
Open up, open up, and give yourself away,
You’ve seen the need, you hear the cry, so how can you delay,
God’s calling and you’re the one, but like Jonah you run,
He’s told you to speak, but you keep holding it in,
Oh, can’t you see it’s such sin?
The world is sleeping in the dark,
That the church can’t fight, cause it’s asleep in the light,
How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well fed,
Jesus rose from the grave, and you, you can’t even get out of bed,
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead, come on, get out of your bed.
How can you be so numb, not to care if they come,
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done,
You close your eyes and pretend the job’s done,
Don’t close your eyes, don’t pretend the job’s done.
Come away, come away, come away with Me, My love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, My love.
Several weeks ago I ran across a link to http://rjperalta.wordpress.com/ and spent some time reading through it. I was thoroughly amazed as this man shared story after story about his experiences while sharing the gospel. It seems that he has ordered his whole life around opportunities to share the gospel. I would encourage you to check it out. But be prepared to be challenged. I was.
I sent a link to this blog to a friend and it was the topic of several conversations. It can sometimes be difficult to find ways to witness to strangers. Most places, such as restaurants and stores and the like, are not conducive to witnessing. People are busy and don’t welcome the intrusion. This is the perception anyway. So my friend and I decided to take a day and do a bit of “eavesdropping evangelism”. We chose a couple of stores where we thought we might find people doing a good bit of browsing or waiting in line. Once we were within earshot we would begin to testify to each other about our own salvation, making sure we were speaking loud enough to be overhead (but not so loud that we were obnoxious). Several times while waiting in checkout lines, people were noticeably listening to us.
Once when we were doing this, an older lady walked by very slowly and finally just stopped to listen. She was a believer also and we talked with her for a while. She was encouraged by what she overhead and we were encouraged by knowing she was encouraged!!
When the day was over, my friend and I were both thoroughly joyful, having spent the majority of the day discussing Jesus. While this method certainly does not replace direct evangelism, what a wonderful way to make the Lord Jesus the center of even shopping trips.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus said that the sower went out to sow. Let us also, as often as we are out, be mindful of every opportunity, in every way, to sow seeds for the kingdom of God.