The tragedy of a wasted life


“O you sons of men, how long will you turn my honor and glory into shame?  How long will you love vanity and futility and seek after lies?”  Psalm 4:2 (Amplified)

It is possible to for a person to live their entire life pursuing the wrong things, majoring on the meaningless and worthless.

It is possible to come to the very end of your life and, looking back on it, say, “What a total waste!”

That would be horrible and a tragedy beyond tragedies.

What is the purpose of life?  Question #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?”  The answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

I often ponder this and think about it often, desiring to bring my life into harmony with its simple beauty:  glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

Do you share my conviction that this is how our lives should be lived, that the goal of our existence should be to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?

Some might claim this is the thinking of a religious fanatic, that such a medieval mindset has no part in our modern world and puts up unnecessary hindrances to the pursuit of happiness in today’s technologically savvy society.

If you think this way, I urge you to ponder Psalm 4:2; you are perhaps in the very condition that God’s Word is telling you to avoid.  You might be loving vanity and seeking after worthless pursuits that will leave you, at the end of your life, regretting you put so much time, energy and treasure toward.  That would be horrific.

The Psalmist is warning us that we can “love vanity and futility and seek after lies.”  This is usually due to the fact that we fail to give God His rightful place of prominence in our lives.  When He is not Lord, we make ourselves out to be our own little gods and everything we then do is just additional steps in the wrong direction, leading to futility and a wasteland.

Jesus said many incredible things; here is one statement that is astounding in its relevance to today’s post:

“And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.'”  (Luke 16:15 NASB)

Allow me to repeat this for emphasis:  “for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”

The examples we could give to put flesh on this bone of truth is endless, but let me mention just one of these highly esteemed things which men delight in but are detestable in God’s sight:  sports in general and football in particular.

Many Americans worship football and all that surrounds this colossal waste of time, money and energy.  I don’t want to spend much time on detailing why I believe this, and perhaps this would be a blog worth writing at another time; suffice to say, most would agree that there are people in this country and around the world that love football far more than they love God.

Can I be so bold as to say that God despises football, mainly because it is something that so many men highly esteem?  I believe I am dead center and right on track, particularly when we see that the epitome of football, the Superbowl, has degenerated into a national orgy of alcohol consumption, overeating, sex, pride, lust and rock n’ roll…pure foolishness.

If there is any concrete example of one “seeking after lies,” “loving vanity and futility,” it is football, pure and simple.

But one will never see the truth of my statement until God opens their eyes.  Until this happens, men–and women–will continue to pay huge bucks and waste gigantic amounts of time and energy to indulge themselves in this national act of vanity.

On a side note, if you doubt what I say about football and sports in general, check you blood pressure as you read these words; this will give you the best evidence that what I’m writing about is absolute truth.

We are all going to die, some sooner than later.  I think one reason why the Lord allows us to slowly age is because it gives us the chance at gaining some much needed perspective on what is truly valuable in life.

As we lie on death’s door, thinking back on our lives, I don’t think one of us will ever regret that we didn’t buy that new boat or car that we had always longed for.  No, we will regret not spending more time with our kids and grandkids, or helping out the poor and needy, or making a real difference in the world.

If we are particularly astute, we will weigh our lives in the balance of God’s measurement, regretting that we did not spend more of our lives in getting to know Him and serve Him, bringing honor to His Name and advancing His causes in the earth.

I’m sure nobody, when they realize death is right around the corner, wishes they had spent more time in building up their bank balance or thinking, “I should have painted the garage floor when I had the time and chance to do it.”

Let’s stop pursuing vanity and futility in our lives and start today to rearrange our priorities in line with those that Jesus Himself modeled and practiced.  We will never regret it.

The disturbing rise of Islam: Part two

“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.…” (1 John 2:22-23 NIV)

There are hard truths in the Bible; the verses above are just a sample.

Here is a question that eventually must be faced by those who call America their home:  does the Bible, or the Quran, teach truth?

You don’t have the luxury to sit on the fence on this, because the rise of Islam in America will soon force you to choose one or the other.

Islam is not content to be just another religious group in the world, peacefully co-existing along with others of different religious persuasions.  No, Islam seeks to dominate and exercise control over all others.  This is the problem.

Certainly there are moderate Muslims in the world who don’t share the jihadist mindset of many of their brethren.  These peaceful Muslims are much like you and I:  they want to live peacefully, desire to practice their religion free from governmental interference, and raise their families in an environment free from prejudice and fear of persecution.

But the problem with Muslims in general and the Quran in particular comes into sharp focus when they choose to live here in the United States and seek to alter the fabric of our Judeo-Christian foundation by claiming that the Quran is the inspired Word of God that all must follow and practice.

Again, for peaceful Muslims who simply want to do their best to raise their families alongside their American Christian neighbors in an environment of mutual respect and tolerance, the inherent differences between Islam and Christianity remain hidden and don’t usually create undue tension between the two faiths.

But when a group of Muslims begin spending big money in the heartland to put up billboards that boldly proclaim that Jesus is a Muslim, sparks are sure to fly and a line has been crossed in the sand.

I mentioned in my last blog how absurd it would be for the Mormons to dot the landscape with billboards that read, “Jesus was a Mormon!”  This would naturally cause a stir among evangelical Christians who recognize the falsity of this statement and the Mormons could rightfully expect a reaction from the Christian community.

It is unclear what kind of a reaction the Muslims expected the Christians living in Columbus, Ohio, to have when they woke up and were greeted with several billboards in their city which read, “Jesus is Muslim.”  Maybe they thought there would be no reaction at all, having already observed how lackadaisical the majority of people are to religious discussions and subjects.

Personally, part of my reaction is to comment on my blog and to point out that, according to the Bible in 1 John 2:22-23, anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is a liar and, even said more strongly, is an “anti-Christ.”

Those words from the apostle John, revered for his many references in the Bible to “loving one another,” suddenly take on an entirely different force and meaning when we use them as a measuring stick to determine the truth or falsity of the teachings of the “prophet” Muhammad.

Islam flatly rejects the belief that Jesus is either the Christ or the Son of God.

Islam finds it blasphemous that Christians believe that God has a Son whose name is Jesus.

Islam denies that Jesus died on a cross (Quran 4:157), striking at the very heart of Christianity and gutting it of its central message of John the Baptist when he exclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 ESV)

If Jesus did not die on the cross, the concept of the “Lamb of God” is a mere sentimental idea that does nothing to reconcile guilty sinners with a holy God.  The death (crucifixion), burial and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah, is the cornerstone of Christianity.  Remove it and the entire edifice falls (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

This is why the billboard erected with Muslim money is not only repugnant to Christians, but blasphemous.  When Muslims claim that Jesus is a Muslim, they are denying that He was crucified, that He died on the cross, and that He was raised from the dead after being buried in the tomb where He was laid after His death from being crucified.

Since this is true, what two things can we confidently assert about Muslims and the teachings of Muhammad when we compare their beliefs with 1 John 2:23-24?

Hard truths may not be easy to digest, but so are lies.

 

The disturbing rise of Islam: Part one

By now, you have probably seen the billboards in Columbus, Ohio that brazenly trumpet, “Jesus is Muslim.”

Here is a picture:

In doing research on this, I discovered that this type of Muslim advertising campaign is not new and a similar campaign was done in Australia.

Here is one link to the article:

http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/4080773866.html

These signs are disturbing, for several reasons.

First, the claim that Jesus was a Muslim is absurd.   Muhammad, the founder of Islam, lived in the years c. 570 – June 8, 632, at least 550 years after Jesus was resurrected. The claim that Jesus was ‘Muslim’ when Islam was not even on the radar screen during the life of Jesus is disingenuous at best.  At worst, the claim is an outright lie, intended to incite the religious sensibilities of Christians in the United States.

A Mormon making the claim that “Jesus is a Mormon” would be equally ridiculous, for the same reasons cited above.

Second, the claim is disturbing because it reveals an Islamic hostility toward Christian orthodoxy in general and a decidedly unfriendly  and disrespectful attitude for these Muslims living in Columbus, Ohio toward their Christian neighbors in particular.

I have to admire this particular group of Muslims for their boldness, but they fail the test when this action is graded on diplomatic finesse.  If they believe that a billboard like this is going to create good-will among Muslims and Christians and bring the two groups closer together, they could not be more mistaken.  Their lack of sensitivity and wisdom is shocking.

Imagine the uproar in the American Muslim community if a similar billboard was erected throughout, say, Dearborn, Michigan, that trumpeted “Muhammad was a born again Christian!”  This would neither be factual nor effectual in bringing Christians and Muslims closer together.  It would be the same glaring public relations disaster that this billboard in Columbus is guilty of.

Third, the statement that Jesus is a Muslim is incorrect and this particular Muslim group responsible for putting up these billboards are spreading falsehoods.  It is one thing for someone to make the unfounded claim that a Chevy truck is a better vehicle than a Ford, but to make a blatant, false statement about the founder of Christianity and the Lord of Glory is to potentially bring out understandably negative and hurt feelings in the Christian community.

Fourth, the complete lack of wisdom that this Muslim group is exhibiting by putting up such a divisive and outrageous claim leaves one scratching their head and asking, “Why? What possible good can come out of such a brazen and offensive statement?”

It is not a move that will “gain friends and influence people” and endear non-Muslims to sympathize with their agenda.  The billboard is an act of foolishness which will only cause the already deep divide that exists between Christians and Muslims to grow ever wider.

Fifth, this unwise decision only reinforces the stereotype that many people already have of Muslims that they are intolerant, divisive, unwilling to peacefully co-exist with their neighbors, and are trouble-makers.

Again, they score high points for their shocking brazenness, but fail miserably on their diplomatic skills.  “Nation (or neighborhood) building” is an attribute that these particular Muslims need a fair amount of tutoring in.

If there is any good that can come from this foolish and unwise display, it is this:  God’s prophetic Word has once again been proven to be uncannily accurate.

We find the following prophecy in Genesis 16:12 about Ishmael, the father of the Arab race:

“He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (NIV)

Clearly, this billboard and all it represents, is a stunning fulfillment of this amazing prophecy made over 3,500 years ago, proving once again the singular uniqueness of Holy Scripture.

Refreshingly, some Christians in the Columbus area are not allowing this affront to the faith to go unchallenged.  One man in particular, Dave Daubenmire, has rallied the troops to hold a peaceful, non-violent prayer vigil and rally.   Peaceful and non-violent are the important words here, and there can be no cause for anyone, Christian or otherwise, to react in any other fashion but to follow the words of Jesus when He said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).

Here is a quote from Mr. Daubenmire taken from the linked article above:

“Although we support the Islamic community’s right to free speech, as well as their right to post messages on billboards, we do not support the hi-jacking of the name of Jesus Christ in their attempt to lure uninformed Christians into their religion,” Coach Dave Daubenmire said.

“‘Jesus Christ was crucified, died, and resurrected over 600 years before the birth of Mohammed.  Although Islam honors Jesus as a prophet, they do not believe that He is the risen Son of God.  During this most Holy Lenten Season we find the messages on the billboards to be insensitive, dishonest and deserving of a response from concerned Christians. We will be on the streets to proclaim Jesus is NOT Muslim but Jesus is Lord!’, he continued.”

Daubenmire has a Facebook page dedicated to the upcoming rally:

https://www.facebook.com/events/303710629778422/

If you are in the Columbus area, I urge you to attend this prayer rally.  Stand up and be counted for the sake of truth and the honor of the Lord Jesus.

Being “gracious”

“The Lord is gracious…”  Psalm 145:8a (NASB)

Are you a gracious person?  What does it mean to be gracious?  Does it even matter?

I believe it matters a great deal, because a gracious man or woman is a blessing to humanity.  If true, then an ungracious man or woman is a curse.

The Bible describes God as being gracious; since this a fact, ought His children–Christians–strive to be like Him?  And if He is gracious, we who are called by His Name should strive to not only mimic His behavior, but become like Him in every aspect of our lives.

We are exhorted in Scripture to be “imitators of God, as beloved children…” (Ephesians 5:1).  This Greek word “imitator” is an interesting one:  mimetes.  It comes from another Greek word, mimeomai, which means “a mimic, an actor.”

In other words, we are to “mimic” God’s behavior, much like what an actor does when he or she plays a part in a movie or play.  You may have heard the term “getting into character,” a mental and physical process actors use to absorb themselves into the mindset of the person they are imitating on the set.

Similarly, we are to “get into God’s character” by studying and meditating on His Word, striving to bring our personalities under the control of His Holy Spirit.  This is easier said than done, of course, but is an endeavor worth every ounce of effort.

My childhood was a disaster, filled with violence, hatred, rage and other dysfunctional weirdness.  It was so bad, in fact, that I ran away from home at 15 years old and never went back.  All this to say, graciousness was not an attribute in my home that was  regularly practiced and mentored.

When I began to walk with Jesus, I knew that I had countless issues that I had to deal with.  It was easy for me to acknowledge that I was a messed up individual, and I longed to be a better man.  At an early age, perhaps as young as 17 or 18 years old, I decided that Jesus was someone I wanted to emulate and chose Him as my role model.

For a couple of years, I have been studying about the gracious character and nature of the Lord.  Psalm 145 has become one of my favorites and speaks of His gracious nature.

The word gracious is defined in several ways; I like the way “free dictionary.com” describes it and will list just the first three definitions:

1. Characterized by kindness and warm courtesy.

2. Characterized by tact and propriety: responded to the insult with gracious humor.

3. Of a merciful or compassionate nature.

One could spend a lifetime in musing over these three characteristics of the word gracious and still not exhaust every nuance of meaning.  In looking them over, the obvious question to ask is, “Am I gracious?”  Better yet, let my personalize it by asking myself:

“Roy, is your personality and the way you deal with other people characterized by kindness and warm courtesy?”  Asking such a question takes moral fortitude, because I am probably not far off the mark when I suggest that most of us are deficient in this area.

“Roy, is your personality and the way you deal with other people characterized by tact and propriety?”  In other words, how do you and I treat people in our everyday lives?  How do we treat our wives, husbands, or children?  Our roommates?  Co-workers?  Rude or clueless people on public transportation?

How do you treat your enemies?  People who neither like nor respect you?  This is a tough one.

“Roy, do you have a merciful and compassionate nature?”

Have you noticed that people, in general, are kind to animals?  Did you know that Adolph Hitler was an animal lover?  I bring this up because, contrary to popular opinion, someone who is kind to animals does not always guarantee they will extend that kindness to their fellow humans.

Being a gracious person is a high and holy calling.  I understand that there are people who are seemingly born with a gracious nature and are elegant and royal in their treatment of others.

An image that comes to my mind when I think of a gracious individual is someone from the antebellum South or a 19th century well-bred English gentleman or lady.  A person with impeccable manners who carries themselves with a certain noble air and demeanor.

God is a gracious God.  His character is marked by compassion and mercy.  Jesus was no doubt the quintessential gentleman, exemplified in the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11.  I long to be like that.

Being around a gracious individual is like walking around in a comfortable pair of slippers.  They are easy to get along with.  An excellent test of whether or not you are a gracious individual is how you are when you are traveling with others, or staying as a guest in their home.

I had a friend that I traveled with every now and then.  He was not a gracious person.  For example, whenever he made a cup of coffee, he never thought to make me one while he was in the process of making his.  I know this is a little thing and not something to make a big deal over, but this kind of behavior was not isolated to this one particular incident.  He is a selfish individual who is concerned primarily about his own needs and wants.

When we were deciding where to eat, he always wanted to eat at his favorite place.  Again, not a big deal, but indicative of a man who was neither gracious nor that pleasant to travel with.  Everything had to happen on his schedule, and as long as you were on the same timetable as his, things went smooth.  If I wanted to do something different that he might not have preferred, he would accommodate my request but didn’t enjoy it as much as if he had called the shots.

Finally, after years of dealing with his selfishness, I cut ties with him; it was one of the best decisions I made and I was glad to be free of that constricting mentality.

I wonder what kind of a traveling companion Jesus must have been.  Did He insist on using the shower first in the morning?  Of course not.  Would He get up in the morning and only make coffee for Himself?  No, I couldn’t imagine that.

Do you think Jesus, when Him and His disciples went into someone’s home for the first time to spend the night, checked out the spare bedroom to find the most comfortable bed to sleep in and, finding it, put his tunic on the bed, signifying to the disciples that He claimed it for Himself?  Again, I couldn’t imagine Him doing this.

But we do this, don’t we?  I mean, if you go to someone’s house and have the choice of sleeping on a nice bed in your own private room with its own bathroom or the living room couch, which one would you choose?  Friends, being gracious is not an easy thing to be.

Again, I long to be a gracious man, but I realize I have a long, hard journey ahead of me in this area.  Hopefully, as the Scriptures teach, “… we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  (2 Cor. 3:18 KJV)

I know I’m not where I want to be in this area, but I’m hoping I’m not where I used to be.  To be slowly transformed from “glory to glory” is the great hope, so that one day we can hear from others as they hang around us and observe our characters, that we are gracious individuals.

Like an old pair of comfortable slippers.

 

Berkeley Blitz: Final week

“A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul…”  Proverbs 13:19 (NKJV)

The “Berkeley Blitz” has officially ended.

Almost three weeks of daily, bold and unashamed evangelism was concentrated on the liberal campus of UC Berkeley.

The results far exceeded my expectations, so much that I am planning on extending my stay here in Oakland for at least another month.  I believe the Lord showed up, answered some prayers, and blessed our efforts.

I have seen an increased fire for evangelism being fanned into flames, with Berkeley students becoming more enthusiastic for sharing their faith in Jesus with their fellow collegiates.  It has been remarkable in many respects.

There is a vibrant and growing community of believers on the campus, something I never expected to see in such an ungodly place.  And what has been even more surprising is that the vast majority of these young, passionate believers that I met are Asian.

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(Above photo:  Asian Christian students from a local church being bold for their faith in front of famous Sproul Hall, the place where the Free Speech Movement started in 1964.)

They come from exotic places like Hong Kong, China,  South Korea…and not so exotic Los Angeles.  Some were born overseas and others here in the States.  They bring a freshness, respect and seriousness to Christianity that I have not often seen in their Anglo counterparts.

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(Above photo:  Arnold, from Hong Kong (holding Bible), witnessing to another student (middle).  Matthew (left) is another Christian joining in on the conversation.)

I have been stunned by their respect towards me.  For example, I previously blogged on a lunch that I had with three believing Asian students.  The restaurant where we ate was a place you order your food at the counter and then find yourself a table. When the meal is ready, you are called and return to the counter.

When my order was called out, I was in the bathroom and didn’t hear it.  When I exited and went to our table, my bowl of duck soup was waiting for me along with a glass of water, my silverware and napkins; one or more of the Asian students had done this for me.

This act of respect and kindness stunned me.  In all my years of ministry and dealing with predominantly Anglo students, I cannot recall this happening to me before.

For our evangelism meeting on campus where eleven of us ministered together, a female Asian student, Rachel, whom we had just met that morning, came to the group with four large Gatorades in her arms and handed them out.  I was blessed with one of them.

An hour or so later, Kali, a Russian, gave me a bottle of water.  Several days later, another Asian student walked by and handed me a Korean pastry.  Elizabeth, another Asian student, wrote a poem for me.

Arnold, a student from Hong Kong, bought me lunch.  Vieng Wong, co-pastor of the campus fellowship “In Christ Alone,”  bought me lunch twice and invited me to his home for dinner.

Looking back on these incidents, it all becomes somewhat surreal.  I have had kindness, generosity and respect poured upon my life like few times before.  This alone would make me want to return to Berkeley on a permanent level.  Compared to what is happening here, Tucson is a dry and barren desert.

The difference between the Asian and Anglo students are startling.  I grew weary years ago with the disrespect and immaturity of Anglo university and college students.  College was at one time a place of serious preparation for life, but has been reduced, on many campuses, to just another playground for young men and women who have yet to grow up.

My sudden immersion into a university environment where Asians command a large percentage of the student body has been an unexpected breath of fresh air.  And I must admit that I prefer the oftentimes serious and sober demeanor of the Asian students far above the usual tomfoolery of your average Anglo one.

So much happened at UC Berkeley that it is hard to process, but the experience was so positive and uplifting that I will prolong my stay for at least another month.  I covet your prayers as I seek the Lord’s will for further direction.

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(I’m sitting with Teddy (middle) and his friend Freddie at UC Berkeley, ready to have a bible study.)

 

 

 

Evangelism explosion!

“HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS! Romans 10:15(b)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014, was an incredible day for the “Berkeley Blitz.”

On this day, a team of eleven men met together on the campus for the specific purpose of bringing the gospel to UC Berkeley.  The picture below shows the team, minus one student, who joined us minutes after the picture was taken.

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This was the first on-campus evangelistic meeting for this outreach where various men and students met on the campus of UC Berkeley for the expressed purpose of implementing plans for reaching the campus for Jesus.
After a brief introduction, we prayed and split up into teams to evangelize on campus.
At one point, we had at least four teams open-air preaching (simultaneously) on the campus that I was able to count as I walked around.
There are, of course, too many stories to tell from just this single outreach, but one fact is clear:  UC Berkeley is hearing the gospel and students are being affected.
I had two Christian students come up to me several days ago, one of them informing me that because of my preaching, they have been encouraged to evangelize more.  The other student, David Kim, is interested in learning how to open-air preach himself.
Note the following story in Mark 1:35-38:
“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.  Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”
Jesus said that He came to preach.  This is of such singular importance that it must not be overlooked.  Since the mission of preaching is of such vital importance to Jesus, why is it that so few are doing it?
“Wait a minute,” a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon might say, “we are preaching the gospel.  We go door-to-door, spreading the good news, and spend a significant amount of money and manpower to accomplish this all important mission.”
I can’t disagree with either of these two groups that they are expending much time and treasure in going house to house to spread their perverted viewpoints of what they consider the gospel.  Quite frankly, they put the vast majority of Christians to shame with their zeal for spreading their own heretical version of the gospel.
My focus is on the true church of Christ and the mandate given to His  Church to spread the gospel to every corner of the globe, and in particular, my own country of the United States.
Why are Americans, in general, so timid and afraid to share the gospel?  Why do we not look on preaching, the main method of spreading the Good News, in the same way that Jesus did?  As we have previously noted, preaching was the main mission of the Son of God.
I hope to explore this topic in other future blogs and how our neglect of this has resulted in untold amounts of damage to our culture.  But for now, as the above picture shows, there were at least eleven men who were concerned enough about the Great Commission to dedicate a portion of their Tuesday to bring this precious message to a decidedly liberal and God-hating university campus.
The fire still burns.  I hope to see it spread across the land.

Berkeley Blitz: End of week two

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”  Romans 10:14 (NASB)

Week two of the Berkeley Blitz was nothing short of remarkable.

On Friday, March 14, Larry and I had an evangelism meeting with three UC Berkeley students:  Arnold, Matthew and Todd.  This particular meeting was suggested by Matthew in a text to Arnold and I that read:

“Hey Roy and Arnold!  This is Matthew.  I thought it might be a good idea to meet up sometime for lunch or dinner to discuss some concrete things we can do for the Berkeley campus…”

We had lunch at the Lotus House in what is known as the “Asian Ghetto,” mere blocks from the Berkeley campus (I had duck soup…very good).  Over 36,000 students attend Cal, of which we estimated that only 3,000 are Christians.  This translates to 92% of the student population not knowing Christ as their Lord and Savior.  How can this vast number be reached with the everlasting and life-changing gospel?

I have to be blunt with the students…gentle but truthful.  The reason for this disparity is due, in large part, to the disobedience of the Christians on campus to take the Great Commission seriously.   Until the Christians on campus understand their vital role in evangelizing their fellow collegiates and do what Jesus commanded them to, this lopsided percentage will only grow wider.  They must be challenged to reach their generation.

This week I also met with Pastor Vieng, one of the pastors whose campus church I attended last Sunday.  Vieng is on fire for evangelism.  I suggested we have a meeting with whoever is interested in evangelizing UC Berkeley and hammer out some ideas on the best way for the campus to be reached.

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(The photo above is Pastor Vieng boldly preaching on the campus for the first time in years.)

He was enthusiastic for the idea and we have set that meeting for tomorrow, March 18, at 1:00 pm.  Immediately afterwards, we will break out into teams and begin bringing the light of the Gospel of Jesus to the campus.  Please keep this in your prayers.

At one time Vieng would open-air preach on campus but has not done it for some time.  Because of the Berkeley Blitz and our emphasis on the public proclamation of the Gospel, the fire for this kind of evangelism has been rekindled in him and he open-air preached this week.  As Vieng ponders the Word, he is convinced that he needs to once again take up the holy mantle of open-air preaching  and make this a regular part of his evangelistic efforts on campus.  Hallelujah!

Others are catching the fire to up their evangelism efforts on the campus.  Gerard is an open-air preaching friend of Larry’s who has come out on campus twice since I have been here.  He preached non-stop for almost two hours this week, pouring out his heart to the students.   He did a tremendous job, so much so that Arnold, one of the Asian students on fire for the Gospel, jubilantly shouted out “Hallelujah!” as he listened.

I am praying that both a revival and an awakening break forth on the campus of UC Berkeley.  If the Lord might answer such a prayer, I am convinced it will happen when the Christian students lead the charge and begin to boldly and unashamedly proclaim their love and devotion to Christ in the public areas.

 

 

 

Berkeley Blitz: Hatred towards Jesus

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  This is why the world hates you.”  Jesus, John 15:18-19 (NIV)

Larry Dubois, my co-laborer in the gospel, is just beginning to lift up his voice on the campus of UC Berkeley and unashamedly proclaim the excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Within minutes, a woman approaches Larry, angst etched in her face.  She interrupts him and says that her elderly grandfather and her are unable to have a conversation because Larry’s voice is too loud and she can’t hear her grandfather’s soft voice.

This is where I step in.  People often interrupt street-preachers for a myriad of reasons; the majority of them are because people become riled up when someone is speaking about Jesus, sin, judgment and one’s need for salvation.

Larry is an excellent preacher; very Jesus based and biblical.  He has memorized more Scripture than I have and quotes freely from the Bible in his open-air sermonette’s.  We are in the midst of a class break where we have an opportunity of reaching thousands of students in a matter of minutes, but only if Larry stays focused and does not have to deal with distractions…like this woman.

I approach her, deflecting her attention from Larry.  She asks me if I am with “that guy.”

“Yes.”

“Can you do me a favor?  I’m sitting with my elderly grandfather trying to have a conversation with him.  He is old and can’t talk loud and we’re having a hard time hearing his soft voice over your friend’s preaching.  Would it be all right if you stopped for about ten minutes so we can finish our conversation?  I’m not against what you are doing, but I just can’t hear my grandfather.  Can you give us ten minutes?”

She is presenting me with a true conundrum.  I don’t want to be a jerk and tell her to go take a hike; after all, I’m a Christian preacher and how would an attitude like that go over?  It certainly would not give glory to God and would also reinforce the stereo-type of open-air preachers being loud-mouthed idiots.

Certainly I don’t want our preaching to ruin her conversation with her frail and soft-spoken grandfather.  Her request seems reasonable, but something doesn’t seem right.

“Let me stand by where you are sitting so I can hear for myself if Larry is too loud.”  We walk the twenty to thirty feet over to the wooden bench where her grandfather and two other men are chatting.  I stand a few feet from her grandfather and can hear him perfectly.  His voice is not as soft as she described it; I was expecting him to barely squeak out a whisper.

“I can hear him just fine,” I say to her.

To be fair, I wait until Larry turns in our direction.  At this point, Larry is loud, but they can still carry on a conversation.  When Larry is not facing them straight on, there’s no problem.  The woman is lying.  I don’t like that.

I repeat that I can hear her grandfather just fine and can’t understand her issue.  She becomes angry and asks, “So you’re not going to ask him to stop, even for ten minutes?”

“No, I’m not.”

Our conversation is finished and I walk back to where Larry is preaching and stand near him, holding one of our gospel signs.  Within minutes, the four of them leave, passing right by us.  As they do, the feeble, soft-spoken grandfather that speaks so softy his concerned granddaughter could not hear him shouts out, clear as a bell and almost as loud as experienced street-preacher Larry with his trained voice, “Jesus su*ks!”

I’m dumbfounded.  Now the issue becomes clear:  the granddaughter knew of her grandfather’s hatred of Jesus and Larry’s preaching on Him was what was ruining their conversation.  The lie about him being soft-spoken was a ruse to get us to stop Larry boldly lifting up His Name.

“That’s a wicked thing to say and you should be ashamed of yourself!” I call out after the old man.   As they walk away, one of the other men, the grandson or even the husband of the granddaughter, lifts high his right hand and gives me the middle finger.

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These are the four people sitting on the bench left of Larry.

 

 

 

Berkeley Blitz: Day’s Two and Three

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The first week of the “Berkeley Blitz” is over.  Today is Monday, March 10, 2014, a time to reflect on the past three days before I leave the house in less than an hour to start week two.

The photo above is taken in front of Sather’s Gate, a main conduit for UC Berkeley students; thousands pass through here every day and we have one of our preaching spots right here.

UC Berkeley is much different than any other major university I have ministered on.  To put it kindly, there are a lot of strange people that float in and out of this campus.

For example, while Don Harman was preaching, an elderly, white-haired man was performing some bizarre antics near him.  He pulled his camouflaged jacket over his head and, bent over, began to slowly turn in circles while waving his arms and hands up and down, whispering occasional chants while doing this slow-motion dance (see the video below).

Again, while Don was preaching, another man, a non-student, would stand near Don and raise his voice, telling the students that there is no such thing as a Christian.  He held in his hand a piece of paper with verses from the Sermon on the Mount printed on it and saying that no one lives up to its standards.

Along with the bizarre, there are also the curious.  I was blessed to have many conversations with students who stopped to engage in fruitful conversation.  Yesterday was an example of this.

I was standing with one of my posters that asks, “Are you right with God?” in bold, white lettering on a black background.  On the bottom is reads, “Repent and believe the Gospel.”  (Mark 1:15)  This is my favorite sign because of the power behind the question.

I like to ask the students questions to try and engage them in conversations.  For example, when a student passes by me I will gently ask, “Young man, are you right with God today?”  Their reactions can be startling; it’s not something they are usually asked on this liberal, anti-God campus and it pulls them up short.

Sometimes they respond, “F**k God!”  Or you will hear the occasional “Hail Satan!”  I might get the silent treatment with their only response being to show me their middle finger as they walk  by.

Many smile and say, “Yes, I am.”  And then I say something like, “Have you repented and believe in the Gospel?  Because that’s what Jesus said is necessary in order to be right with God.”

Many don’t like to hear that.  The smiles quickly fade and their jaws set, no doubt because this is something that clashes with their false, preconceived notions of how one gets right with God.

But then there are some who continue to smile even after I tell them of repentance and belief in the Gospel.  They might say, “Amen!”  I will then ask if they are Christians and some will enthusiastically reply that they are.  These are the ones that warm and encourage my soul and I praise and encourage them in their faith in Christ.

A teen-ager, probably not even a Cal student, with bright, dyed red hair and torn jeans, came up to me.  She asked me about one of my signs, the one that reads “Evolution is a lie,” a sure conversation starter.

I was struck by her friendliness, freshness and innocence.  She was respectful and curious, and I felt that I was speaking with one who had yet to be corrupted by the wicked culture of the San Franciso/Berkeley area (she is in the video).

Hopefully, the few seeds I was able to share with her will take root in her life and she will give her life to Christ before she becomes one of the countless other young people who succumb to drugs, alcohol and loose living.  I am thankful to be there, to offer hope, warning and reconciliation to God through Jesus.

I am blessed to have other brothers in the faith joining me in this tough mission field:  Larry, Don, Dave and others.  Their faith, boldness and love of Christ inspires and motivates me, pushing me forward in this great cause that binds us together:  a band of regenerated brothers.

Nick is another student attracted by my “Evolution is a lie” sign.  I was busy talking with another student when he first came up and didn’t have a chance to speak with him before he left, no doubt to his next class.  About an hour later he returned and stayed for over two hours to stand and talk, along with a small knot of other students.  They are hungry and they are searching.

Nick is proud of his Catholic background and education.  At the end of our conversation, I ask him if he is born again, quoting Jesus in John 3:5.  He replies that yes, he has, but through the rituals of the Catholic church:  baptism and confession.  It is clear as we talk that he has little clue of the true meaning of being “born again.”  Few Catholics do.

He is relying on the fact that he is a member of the Catholic faith and that doing good works is how one becomes “born from above.”  I quote to him Ephesians 2:8-9 and gently explain that this kind of thinking is going to send him straight to hell.

That’s what Protestants believe, he counters, and I tell him that’s what the Bible teaches.  I urge him to read the entire third chapter of the Gospel of John and also Ephesians 2:8-9 when he goes home.  He tells me he will and I hope he does.

On Sunday, I attend an on-campus church called “In Christ Alone,” made up predominantly of Asian students.  I met one of the pastors, Vieng Wong, while open-air preaching and we hit it off.  He is very evangelistically minded and their church, made up of approximately 30 people, has been on campus for about ten years.

Afterwards, Vieng buys me lunch at a Korean restaurant off-campus. Joining us is Arnold, a young Asian student from Hong Kong on fire for the Gospel.  You will see both Veing and Arnold in the first few seconds of the video.  Arnold is young firebrand, full of zeal and passion, and young men like him, mentored by committed pastors like Veing, will turn UC Berkeley upside down for Jesus.

Veing invited me to speak at his church and also to dinner this week at his house.  He is excited to learn how to open-air preach and wants me to “show him the ropes.”  Hopefully, this week, March 10-14, 2014, I will be able to do just that.

My first three days at UC Berkeley has been nothing short of remarkable.  I am astonished at how many people I have met and been privileged to share the realities of the kingdom of God with.  Not every conversation is easy and friendly; there are haters of the Gospel here and the spiritual battle is very real, but I could not ask for a better start to the “Berkeley Blitz.”

If you feel led, please keep us in prayer.  We desperately need it.

 

 

 

The Berkeley Blitz: Arrival Day

I arrived safely at the Oakland Airport, always grateful to God for a safe take-off and landings when I travel by air.  My almost three week evangelistic outreach to UC Berkeley was beginning.

Walking to the baggage claim area, I notice something becoming more commonplace:  Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Lately, they are becoming even more high-profile than what they already are.  Not content to go door-to-door, they are now setting up their literature tables in many public places.

There was also a group of approximately 20-30 young Mormon missionaries that had arrived at the Oakland airport.  The women all wore dresses and the men, suits and ties.

Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, both in one place intent on deceiving the California population.  It was a strange moment.

When I saw the JW table with two middle-aged black women sitting behind it, I smiled.  Why?  Because it is the year 2014, the 100 year anniversary of one of the major false prophecies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WTBTS).

The WTBTS falsely predicted that the 1914 generation would not “pass away” before they saw the return of Christ to earth and Him reigning in peace.  There is far more to this 1914 date than what I can explain here, but this link will help those who are interested:

http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/failed-1914-predictions.php

For JW’s, 1914 is an important date.  But as the years pass and this entire generation is dying off without the world seeing the fulfillment of this “prophecy,” this has become yet another embarrassing black eye for an arrogant organization who claims to be God’s only true mouthpiece.

I made a Youtube video on this:

2014 should prove to be a tough year for faithful JW’s, knowing that they are in an organization who can’t seem to stop embarrassing itself.

I approached these ladies at the Oakland Airport and asked them what they thought of this failed 1914 failed prophecy, the “generation that would not pass away.”  One said she knew of some JW’s who are still alive, so my claim that this generation has passed away is not true.

I pointed out to her that the Watchtower magazine that had various elderly people on its cover which said that they would not pass away were all dead (please see my youtube video for a complete explanation)…every single one of them.

“Well, it is true that we have made some mistakes in our past, but we have publicly apologized for these.  We are not prophets, nor claim to be,” she replied in defense.

“Really?” I asked.  “How much money do you two ladies have between you?  Because I will bet all the money you both have that what you just said is incorrect.  Your organization has claimed to be a prophet, and this is the entire problem.  True prophets cannot make false predictions.”

“No, we never claimed to be prophets.  You’re wrong.”

“Then let’s make a bet.   How much money do you both have?” I pressed.  I saw a simple way right in front of me to help pay for my evangelism trip to UC Berkeley.  This would be like taking candy from a baby.

“We don’t gamble,” she replied.

Of course they don’t, and if they were lying, they would be making a fool’s bet; I had this one in the bag.

“Let me prove it to you,” I said.  I pulled out my iphone and googled something like “Watchtower claims to be a prophet.”  Within seconds, I had my evidence.

Here is the link I shared with them:

http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/jehovahs-prophet.php

By now, these ladies were looking a bit stunned, like what a cat or raccoon looks like when caught in a trap.  I felt sorry for them.

John Adams wisely said:  “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the states of facts and evidence.”

It is a fact that the WTBTS has claimed to be a prophet of God.  History has proven them to be a false prophet, time upon time.  Like any other false prophet that caught with their pants down, you would expect some creative damage control to be done by them in an attempt to save face.  This is exactly what the WTBTS has done.

One of the ladies said that there are people still alive who knew some of the 1914 generation.  These are known as the “overlapping generation” and are thus included in the original 1914 group.  Thus, the WTBTS has conveniently extended the false prophecy by at least another hundred years or so.

But thinking people see through this nonsense.  Unfortunately, people like these kind women are prisoners of a mind-bending cult which, sadly to say, may hold them captive for the remainder of their lives.

Hopefully, my words may help to loosen their chains, to put yet another chink in their armor that someone else will gently widen with more information until they can finally break free.