So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Philemon 1:6

FRONT PAGE - here you will find the last 20 postings about recent conversations. Please pray for these people!

Intentional



 9/15/2017                 CJ               about 40

Sitting outside the waste management company he manages, CJ was enjoying the cool breeze in the shade when a passing car pulled over on the opposite side of the road, and its driver got out and began to deliberately walk over to him.  CJ didn’t know him, but figured he must have something important on his mind if he was going so far out of his way to talk to him, so he waited to see what the man had to say.

 “How you doing – I’m on my way home from work and I’m in the habit of stopping somewhere along the way to ask at least one person an interesting question” he began.  “I get different responses from everyone, and would love to hear yours.”

CJ had no idea where this was going, so he just kind of nodded in a non-committal way.
The man continued - “I’ll just let you know the question – what do you think happens after we die?”

This got CJ thinking, and he told about his belief in reincarnation and that all religions are pretty much the same.  The man observed that CJ believes he has a spirit or soul, and he said that he believes the same thing – that he is a Christian that attends a church nearby and also believes there is more to each of us than just our physical bodies.  He went on to say that Christianity teaches that all people, regardless of their religion, have a conscience or moral compass that was given by God, and that all the major religions of the world are basically trying to resolve the fact that we violate our conscience and we need to be reconciled to our Creator.  

CJ gave his belief that our good deeds need to cancel out our bad, and the man explained how we are morally bankrupt because the good we ought to do – the good deeds and actions that God rightfully expects from us – can’t “pay” for the bad things we ought not to do.  He explained how most religions teach we must ‘earn’ a better hereafter through our good deeds, but that the Bible teaches that we need a Savior.  Jesus took the punishment that we deserve and whoever puts their trust in him will not perish but can have a new relationship and new life with God.  

The two talked for some time, and CJ was reminded of many of the things he had learned as a child at his mother’s church but has long since neglected.  He thanked the man for the conversation and gladly took some additional reading materials to check out.

The man went home, rejoicing at the opportunity to share the good news that he sings about in church every Sunday.  This “opportunity” didn’t jump out at him or fall in his lap, but it happened when the Holy Spirit inspired him to be intentional about going out into the world to share the Gospel.

Scrutiny



9/13/17             Hamas                     23


Do your beliefs stand up to scrutiny?  Are you willing to find out?

Fairly early in a conversation at the park with Hamas, a grad student from Saudi Arabia, I asked if he had ever questioned the faith he had been raised in.  He had, he explained, because he grew up as a Shia Muslim in a country that is predominantly Sunni.  He was taught Sunni beliefs and traditions at school, and came to doubt his own family’s beliefs until he began to swim against the current and put both beliefs to the test.  He explained some of the differences and why he ultimately sided with Shia Islam.

Would he be willing in the same way to compare Islam and Christianity? I asked.  He was and in fact has had some in-depth conversations with Christian students at his university, enough to have boiled down the essential difference between the two beliefs as the question of Jesus’ identity – was he just another prophet like Muhammad, or truly God incarnate, Creator rather than creation, as Christians believe? 
 
I told him that to the casual observer, this might seem like a minor difference.  But it means all the world to Christians and I asked him if I could explain why.  Hamas was very interested to know, so I asked him, through a much more detailed explanation than I can include here, if He believes that God is good and perfect in all His ways.  “Of course”   So God would be perfectly loving and merciful, for example?  “Yes, that is what we believe.”  And God would also be perfectly just, right?  “Yes, perfect in every aspect.” 

So if God were to treat us with perfect mercy there would be no consequence for our sins, but if He were to treat us with perfect justice, the consequence would be just as infinite and eternal as Him whom we sin against when we break His laws.  If we could somehow “earn” forgiveness through good works or religious devotion, then God would have to compromise both His love and justice to meet us halfway, and He would not be “perfect in all his ways”. 

But if God made the perfect sacrifice of love – His own Son who has eternal existence and infinite worth – He would also be perfectly just in that the price of justice was perfectly paid.  There would be no compromise in His love or His justice.

Again, this is just a nutshell version of our conversation, but through it all I believe Hamas has to face the fact that his ideas about God cannot stand up to scrutiny.  If God is perfect he would not have to compromise his very identity.  He would have to break His many promises of both love and justice given throughout the Old Testament.   

A religion like Islam, with its works-based righteousness, cannot stand up to scrutiny.  Can yours?

Hope and Faith


https://youtu.be/4gpmY6qQQlc



9/9/17               Jonathan   (Video Click Here)            about 20

How can we find faith to weather the storms of life?  It begins with the hope we find in God’s word, but not all hope leads to faith.

So many people just float through life, blind to eternal things and wanting just enough hope to to take them through the present and near future.  That’s how a young man named Jonathan appeared to me as I talked with him at a bus stop.  His lack of concern about eternal things gave him some hopeful but disconnected and random ideas about his relationship to God. 

But when I began to explain the biblical message of salvation he seemed to have no problems with God’s authority or his need to repent.  He responded with “mental ascent” – he hopes that the Gospel is true but has not yet the faith to live it out.  He has heard the Gospel from relatives growing up but without faith he is just drifting aimlessly.

Faith is different from hope.  Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  The hope we have in the past will simply remain wishful thinking until it brings substantial and evidential faith to our present.  Hope is just in the mind while faith also reaches the heart.  Romans 15:4 says that through the Scriptures we might have hope, but Romans 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.

Our conversation helped remind Jonathan of the words of scripture that he has already been exposed to, and near the end of our time together I feel like he was filled with great hope.  But will the hope of his mind become a heart of faith?  Did he really “hear” the word of Christ?  As he said near the end, “It’s a lot to digest.”

Looking for a solid faith relationship with God in what can often seem like a hopeless world?  The Bible is the place to find the hope we need to truly hear the word of Christ, so that we can respond with faith.