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!

Silence!



10/18/17               Cesar                  about 35

So should we conclude God doesn’t exist because church people don’t act like Christians? 

That’s basically what Cesar, about 35, told me in an outreach conversation today.  He gave the pedophile scandal among priests as evidence for his doubts about God’s existence, and the hypocrites he saw attending mass in the morning and drinking out of brown paper bags in the afternoon.  He was basically saying God doesn’t exist because of the sin and hypocrisy among church members.

But what, exactly, does that prove?  For people looking for a reason to doubt God, it provides a convenient excuse based on the bad conduct of others – the perfect way to dodge accountability for one’s own actions.  Cesar went on about the misconduct of church people, making himself look innocent by comparison. 

But instead of allowing him to turn the focus of our conversation to the misconduct of church people, I turned the focus on God’s holy standard, such as the Ten Commandments.  How did his conduct compare to God’s standard?  Instead of judging others, how about using them to judge himself?

During the course of our conversation, something miraculous happened to Cesar.  He stopped calling himself an atheist!  He didn’t even stop at being an agnostic.  Suddenly he was a sinner trying to justify himself before a holy God.  He had stopped judging others and began to judge himself, and his focus turned toward wondering how he could be justified to God.

What happened in such a short time?  Romans 3 says “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”  Cesar’s confident assertions of atheism had fallen apart under the scrutiny of God’s holy law.  His mouth had been silenced and he was ready to listen.

I explained how Romans says that God’s law can’t save us, but it does let us know we need to be saved: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” 

Cesar had become conscious of his sin, and was now ready to hear about the forgiveness that comes through a faith relationship with Jesus.  It was a welcome message, though I believe that in such a short time we had only talked on an intellectual level.  Let’s pray that as he processes what he heard the Holy Spirit will reach his heart!

Default



10/17/17            Will            about 45

Though my window for neighborhood outreach is getting smaller as the days get shorter (after work and before dark), I’ve had some good conversations on my neighbors’ front steps.  Yesterday, a man named Will answered his door and cheerfully agreed to answer my question about his beliefs in life after death.  He was interrupted, however, by his daughter, in her early teens, who had heard my question from inside their living room and poked her head around the side of the door, volunteering her own answer.
 
Her father agreed to allow her give her perspective, and the look on his face was one of curiosity at what his daughter might answer.  It was obvious they really hadn’t talked about this before.  He had a look of surprise on his face as she told us about her belief in reincarnation. 

After his daughter explained her beliefs in more detail, she wanted to know what her father believed.  He really couldn’t say much more than that he thought we would all be rewarded for our good behavior here on earth.

I understand from the Bible that God’s gracious gift of salvation comes through faith in Jesus, not through our own good works, but I didn’t want to just blatantly correct a father in front of his daughter.  I found some common ground in our belief in God and that we all understand there is a spiritual dimension in addition to the physical.  I found out Will does attend church (though I’m not sure how often), and as I reminded him of basic Christian doctrine in regards to our sin, our need for forgiveness and God’s gift of the Savior, he agreed to all the important beliefs he hears at church but failed to mention with regards to his own faith.

I wonder how things could have been different, had Will actively conversed with his daughter about the Gospel as she grew up, reading her Bible stories and praying with her, or even helping teach Sunday school at church.  Not only would she have a solid understanding of the Gospel, but Will would too because those who teach others end up with a far deeper grasp of their own beliefs. 
I explained to him how it is our human tendency to constantly drift toward faith in our own goodness and efforts rather than faith in Jesus.  We need not just the constant reminder of Gospel truths on Sunday mornings, but the greater faith that comes from getting out of our comfort zones and putting the faith we do have into action. 
 
Parents, can you explain the Gospel to your children?  Do you?  Do you read from the Bible and pray with them?  Are you encouraging church involvement through your own example?  Or do you really want them to depend on their own imaginations or on what pop culture will teach them by default?

Tangents



10/5/17          Ray             mid-30's

I feel like a whole new world has opened for me on my neighbor's front porches.

For years I’ve initiated Gospel conversations with random people on Chicago streets and in its marketplaces, parks and coffee shops.  I’ve learned a lot from the experience, but felt I was missing the people in my own neighborhood, most of whom I rarely see because they come and go by car and don’t typically hang around outside.  How to reach them?

I’m starting to document my experiences knocking on their doors with the initial question “What do you think happens after this life?”  I don’t have a “spiel”, but rather respond to wherever they might be at in their spiritual journey.

Today the first door I knocked on was answered by an Asian man in his 30’s, whom I found out later is a paramedic named Ray.  Though his parents are Buddhist, he quickly asserted his belief in no afterlife whatsoever.  I asked a few clarifying questions, but that seemed to be the end of the story and he looked like he was about to close the door.

40 minutes later, we were still talking.  I had shared the Gospel and he was engaged in asking curious questions about it.  How does that happen?

His house is fairly new, and I remembered some of the history behind the land upon which it was built.  Before he could shut the door, I asked if he had lived there long and if he was aware of the history of the area.  He had not, and was very interested to find out that he lived on the former parking lot of the International Amphitheater, where the Beatles once played and where the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention had taken place along with the rioting that it brought to Chicago.  Our conversation livened up considerably!

So Ray was interested in talking about local history, how then to get the conversation back in a spiritual direction?  It was easy, because that’s where the conversation had started in the first place.  I just asked “So getting back to that original question, do you feel you have a good understanding of what the Bible teaches about eternity?”   

Ray didn’t feel deceived, because we had begun to talk about eternity in the first place.  And I felt free to diverge off on a tangent, because I had already received permission to ask about spiritual things in the first place and could easily get back on the topic.

When it comes to sharing the Gospel, whether on the sidewalk or on someone’s front porch, I believe  the best way to start the conversation that can stay on topic despite tangents is a bold but simple question (which I usually introduce by asking if I can ask a crazy or interesting question) – “What do you think happens after this life?”