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.

 

 

Wisdom is better than gold

“How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding.
For her profit is better than the profit of silver
And her gain better than fine gold.”  Proverbs 3:13-14 (NASB)

What is wisdom?  How does one find it?

There are many definitions of wisdom, some better than others.  I could spend an entire blog on just defining the word, but for now, here is a description I find helpful:

“The purpose of Proverbs is to guide the reader into wisdom, a word with many nuances.  It is related to the intellect and the control of human behavior.  It is a way of thinking about reality that enables us to pursue what is good in life.  Through wisdom, God reveals what the values of life are and how they may be achieved.” *

As mentioned in my previous blog, I have been an ardent pursuer of wisdom for most of my adult life, starting in my late teens and continuing to this day.  It is an unending fascination as I strive to incorporate the principles of godly wisdom into my daily life.

Proverbs tells us that wisdom is better than silver or gold.  Who talks like this today?  What financial pundit gets on television and says, “Stop spending so much time worrying about your stock portfolio and take time to study the book of Proverbs.  It will be better than all the money tips I could ever give you.”

That person would lose their job, replaced by another who will dutifully carry forth the party line of “money is the answer to everything.”

Wisdom is intricately intertwined around the kingdom of God.  Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom of and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt. 6:33

These “things” that Jesus said will be added to those who seek first His kingdom are the necessities of daily life: food, clothing and shelter (see Matt. 6:25-32).  Being a practical God, He knows full well that His creatures need to eat every day, wear clothes, and have a place to sleep.

The problem arises when our priorities become skewed, a situation that is doubtless true for most of us.  Instead of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, we pursue money and all the dainties and treats that it can buy.

This is where wisdom comes in, speaking softly to us, wooing us away from the ceaseless false chatter of materialism.  But there is a catch to knowing wisdom: we must seek her as ardently as a lover pursues his first love (Jeremiah 29:13).  Wisdom will be found only by those who appreciate and diligently seek her.

I again encourage my readers to spend time in the book of Proverbs.  For starters, read the first chapter.  Mine the rich ore you will find there and become delighted in the discovering the riches found only in the kingdom of righteousness.

* Note from “The Reformation Study Bible” by Ligonier Ministries.

The power of self-control

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”  Proverbs 25:28 (ESV)

 An individual who has mastered both their emotions and bodily appetites will be someone of wisdom and maturity.

Are you a person of self-control?  The above proverb informs us that if any one lacks self-control, they are like a city that has lost its all-important defenses.

Ancient middle eastern cities relied on high, fortified walls to keep enemies at bay.  Any breach, or opening, into these walls was a place for violent intruders to enter the city.

Solomon, the writer of most of Proverbs, used this striking metaphor to instruct readers of the importance of self-control.  Without such, he warns, we become vulnerable to any number of enemies.   We are left spiritually naked without necessary defenses.

Too many of us lack self-control, hurting not only ourselves, but those around us.

For example, the ever increasing rates of obesity in this country is shocking.  Individuals who are within their normal weight level are becoming the exception rather than the norm.

Recently, while riding my bike to the park where I exercise, the  people I saw walking to their cars or driving on my neighborhood street were each grossly overweight.  I made a mental note of this travesty without having any clue that I would be writing about it the next day.

I spend much time among university students and have front-row seats to an entire population that, in general, lacks self-control.  One predominant area where this is seen, or rather heard, is in their foul language.  They drop more f-bombs in one day than what the US military dropped over Vietnam in its multi-year conflict.

Over-eating and not being able to control the tongue are unmistakeable signs of a lack of self-control.  According to the wisdom of Solomon, this signifies that the walls of these people’s cities have been breached by an enemy, creating vulnerabilities into its defenses.

Experience teaches us that sin never operates by itself.  It loves company.  In other words, an individual guilty of over-eating will surely lack self-control in other areas of their life.  They might regularly get angry over trifles, burst out in foul language, incessantly gossip, be frequently overcome by lust, etc.

This is a fact established in Scripture.  Paul exhorted us in the New Testament book of Romans to “not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness (6:12-13a)…for just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification (vs. 19b)

Sin breeds more sin as surely as righteousness breeds more righteousness.  This is a “Law of the Spiritual.”

Strive to become a person of self-control.  Ask God for this wonderful gift.

 

 

Lies hurt

A friend of mine recently lied to me.  That hurts.

It wasn’t one of those insignificant “white lies” that some people claim are no big deal.  This particular lie damaged our friendship.

Lying is a serious matter.  Lies breed distrust and can cause serious emotional pain.  Her lie makes me question whether anything she has said is true.

“Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”  Proverbs 12:22 (NASB)

The NET Bible puts it this way:

“The LORD abhors a person who lies, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.”

Note how God views lying; it is an abomination to Him.  This is a strong word, defined as, “a person or thing that is disgusting; intense aversion or loathing; a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc.”

I have learned that habitual liars cannot be trusted, with emphasis on the word habitual.  Even the best of us, those who detest lying in all of its wretched forms, occasionally stumble into lying.

For example, imagine I ask someone I trust to read my blog and tell me what they think of my writing.  Not wanting to hurt my feelings, they could say, “Great…some of the best writing on the Internet!”  In reality, though, they might actually think, “My two-year-old can write better than this garbage.”

I’m not talking about this type of lying, as regrettable as it is; I’m targeting those whose lying is a normal part of who they are.  These people lie as easily as they tell the truth.  If telling the truth benefits them, they are truthful, but if lying is more expedient and advances their agenda, then telling lies is acceptable.

I was aware that my friend was not the most truthful person because I heard her lie to her own family members.  In my more clear headed moments, I understood that if she lied to those closest to her then she was capable of lying to me.  But I never thought she would actually lie to me.

When that moment arrives when you realize that someone you trusted has lied to you in a matter of importance, it’s shocking.  You feel violated and angry, disbelieving that this person could do this to you.

Worse, you question every thing they now tell you, thinking, “Are they lying to me again? ”  That sacred trust you once shared is shattered.  Putting the pieces back together might be impossible.  Something in your relationship has changed forever.

I don’t believe most of us realize how grave a matter lying is.  The Bible lumps liars into the same group of the following unsavory characters:

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  Revelation 21:8

Maybe its time for some of us to do some serious soul-searching, followed by repentance.