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!

July 15-22

"What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." -Luke 17

7/15/09 Steve about 55
At our neighborhood weight room this morning I ran into Steve, who I have heard a lot about but never actually met in the 20 years I’ve lived here. Steve is a renovator and landlord, and people have told me “he owns half the neighborhood”. I figured now is my chance, since I probably won’t run into him for another 20 years, so after talking a while I told him I had a question he probably never expected to get asked while lifting weights. “What do you think happens to us after this life?” He told me he used to be a very devout Catholic, but said “I got tired of hearing the same sermons over and over. They all sounded the same.” He now believes that God is like an energy source, and our souls are energy and will join in with all energy when we die. I reminded him that the Bible teaches there is a day when we must give account to God, who has revealed the standard by which he will judge us in the Bible. Steve nervously said he needed to get back to his weights. In hindsight, a simple question – “What if the Bible IS true – how would you be judged?” has often helped conversations at this point. I don’t know why I didn’t think to ask it today. Maybe we will meet again sooner than in 20 years, and can continue to talk.

7/16/09 Nick about 25
There are opportunities for evangelism all around us. At Home Depot today I gave a million dollar track to a fellow shopper. Nick said “I had one of these on the wall at my store in New York.” “Did you read the back?” I asked. He hadn’t, so I proceeded to explain the message about our inability to be good enough to earn heaven because we have broken God’s laws. Nick agreed that on judgment day he would be found guilty of breaking God’s commandments, but felt that he would be forgiven if he confessed his sins everyday. I explained that a good judge doesn’t allow crime to go unpunished and neither does God. Sin has a tremendous price, which we can’t afford to pay, but fortunately God paid it himself through Jesus on the cross. Nick agreed to all this, and seemed to respond most to the analogy about the parachute – believing in a parachute won’t save you unless you put it on, and in the same way, many who say they “believe” in Jesus Christ haven’t really “put Him on” in their life. Those who really do trust in Jesus will be changed by Him. Nick was thankful for the conversation and will hopefully read the info I gave him.

7/17/09 Paul about 70
In the parking lot as I left Target I gave an elderly man named Paul a million dollar tract with a caricature of Barack Obama on the front. That was a mistake. Paul is very bitter toward Obama and his policies and he let me know it. When I finally got a word in edgewise to let him know that the tract wasn’t political but had a question on the back about eternity, he seemed apologetic, but not for long as he complained about the church and problems with priests. He agreed that we would all stand before God on judgment day, but as I asked how he felt he would be judged he changed the subject again to talk about declining morals in our society. Try as I might, Paul clearly wanted to blame others for everything he was unhappy about. His heart has clearly become calloused as I was reminded of in Ephesians 4: “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Please pray for Paul, that God will soften his heart.

7/18/09 Sergio, 24
Coming down the sidewalk was a heavy-set young man with his pit bull. I asked him if I could ask an interesting question, which he agreed to. After befriending his dog, Thumper, I asked him what he thought was on the other side after this life. Sergio had been baptized in a Catholic Church and received his first communion, but said he had stopped believing in God during high school. He believes in a “higher power” but not a God with a personality as described in the Bible. Nonetheless, I asked him how he would be judged if God and judgment day DID exist. This helped to circumvent an argument about God’s existence and instead our conversation focused on the possibility of Sergio being held accountable for his attitudes and actions toward God. Sergio said that he works as a nurse and that God would say he is a good, but not perfect person. Through a long conversation he saw that our good deeds are rightfully expected of us, and our guilt for breaking God’s commandments won’t go away simply because we confess them. God’s justice requires a penalty for sin, and Sergio began to understand what Jesus has done on the cross for us. I didn’t sense heartfelt conviction, but I believe I saw the light of understanding on his face as we parted ways.

7/19/09 Two Lawyers about 30
I live near Cellular Field, and during today’s White Sox game I went to talk to people who were in the smoking area – an area outside the stadium enclosed by a low fence. I gave out “celebrity million” gospel tracts which have a movie star caricature on the front and make great souvenirs. This helped start a conversation with two ladies, one Methodist and one Catholic who asked “Are you one of those ‘born-again’ Christians?” I asked what the term meant to her and she said she knew people who said they were “born-again”, including an old boyfriend who lied, cheated, got drunk and abusive, etc. yet said they were going to heaven because they had prayed and accepted Jesus when they were young. She thought they were hypocrites and I agreed because that’s not what Jesus taught his followers to do. The Methodist woman was very proud of her welcoming attitude towards gays, believing herself to be a much better person than “those evangelicals” because of her “enlightened” beliefs that the Bible had not been translated accurately. I tried to focus on our accountability to follow the Ten Commandments – for Romans 3 says that “through the law we become conscious of sin” - but they both maintained very pious and self-righteous attitudes. “You know, we’re both lawyers” they told me, expecting this to silence any disagreement as they left to see the game. “Law to the proud” applied to them, but not “grace to the humble”.

7/21/09 Hugh about 60
I’m on vacation at a Minnesota lake, and began a conversation with two men at the end of the dock. One quickly left, and I think I know why. His friend, Hugh, talks too much. I soon found out the hard way that he loves to tell long pointless stories. When I finally shifted the conversation to his spiritual beliefs, I heard his many theories about end times from Nostradamus to the Mayan calendar. He believes way too much of what he sees on the Discovery channel and, though he told me his wife is an evangelist, he disregards much of the Bible. He told me of searching for hidden messages and codes in the scriptures. I challenged him to try to follow the clear teachings of the Bible and he won’t have time to theorize about any hidden ones. This was a long conversation that was hard to keep on a spiritual track, because I may have spent too much time on informal chit-chat, giving him the impression that he had a listener for his opinions on any topic that struck his fancy. I’m reminded that, although it’s important to be a good listener, I must also provide leadership and direction in witnessing conversations; otherwise people go off on any one of a variety of tangents. Pray for Hugh and his “evangelist” wife. He said “She gave up trying to convert me a long time ago.”

7/22/09 Phil, Zach, and 3 friends - all about 20
At the gas station I walked over to a group of “muscle car” guys hanging out by their cars and gave them million dollar tracts. I pointed out the million dollar question on the back and asked them if they believed in eternal life. All did except Phil, who said it would be like before we were born – we wouldn’t exist. The rest said they would be in heaven. I asked them what would happen if, God forbid, they died today, but then they weren’t so sure. Apparently they trust they will be good enough later on in life to make up for the way they live now. One said he had gone to Catholic school and has heard it all before and wasn’t interested. For a while he kept trying to change the subject but Phil said he wanted to hear what the Bible said, because he had no church or Bible background. Zach, puffing his cigarette, said “I go to church and I believe in God and all that, but I don’t talk about it to others”. I said “It took me a long time to get bold enough to talk to complete strangers about God, but you have to start somewhere, so do you read the Bible?” He said he didn’t. Phil kept asking great questions and was obviously very interested, so I took him through the “good person test” about the Ten Commandments. In the end he could see he would be guilty on judgment day, and that Jesus had taken the punishment that he deserved. He was glad to get more info and thanked me sincerely for the conversation.

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