Sunday, June 24, 2012

Your Best Life Now and The Chief End of Man

I'll start this off by saying that I have not read the book Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen.  I will also say that I have no intention of doing so (the video below should be reason enough).  I like what John MacArthur says about the book.  "Your best life now is only true if you are going to Hell".  Very well put.  Now, knowing that Mr. Osteen teaches a gospel of prosperity and a victorious life in Christ based on earthly blessings, I can stand with MacArthur on his quote and also stand in 100% opposition to Joel's line of thinking and teaching.  More importantly, the Bible stands opposed to his teaching.  Don't get me wrong. Joel Osteen is a gifted speaker who incites the "warm and fuzzies" in people and I'm sure that he gets some stuff correct. But remember that the Bible says, "And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." While Joel promises a bed of roses and abundance of life, the Word of God promises hard times, troubles, tribulations, sickness, persecution and the like. However, is there something to take away from the title of Osteen's book from a biblical perspective?  What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Right?  According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism that is what we are to strive for.  In this life the only way to do that is with a right relationship with God which can only come through His Son Jesus Christ.  Because of our fallen sin nature, fellowship with God is broken because He can not tolerate sin.  But once someone turns from their sin and puts their faith and trust in Christ, fellowship is restored. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus". Christ's atoning death for sin, for those that trust in it, is the only way while we dwell here in this fallen world to enjoy God.  Of course this carries over into the end game in which we will enjoy him forever in eternity and nothing is more glorifying to God than the worship of His precious Son; when we worship Him in spirit and truth.  That truth is that Christ died to save sinners from the flames of Hell and to restore fellowship with the Father. His bloody death was not to make sinners prosperous.  Someone once said that if prosperity in Beverly Hills is not the same as the prosperity in Uganda, then it probably isn't what the Bible is referring to.  Good point since the Gospel is for all men in all corners of the world. This is a great reminder of how spoiled American Christianity really has become.  To make the Gospel about earthly blessings, possessions and achievements is a slap in the face to the poor sinners in third world countries who, like Christ did, live here as homeless people. These humble souls are just happy to have their names written in the Lamb's book of Life.  Shouldn't we all be so grateful?  While I am happy to be able to enjoy God in this life through the reading of His Word, singing songs of praise, and through prayer, I know that my best life is the next life. Revelation 21:4 vividly describes how wonderful the next life will be.  "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Even with a rightly restored relationship with God and a great life because of that on this earth, what's described in Revelation is easily and infinitely better.  That is what I hope in.  The hope of Heaven. If you want that hope too, repent and trust in Christ today.  If you are not sure what sin is or what you need to repent of or why you need the Savior, visit today. Also, if you are in a church where you are unsure of the teachings, be sure to be like the Bereans in Acts 17.  Examine the Scriptures daily to make sure that the things your pastor is saying are so.  God bless.  SaulBecomesPaul/Virg.

  Job 13:7 English Standard Version (ESV) Will you speak falsely for God and speak deceitfully for him?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

God and Jesus in Comic Book Movies

Aliens are pouring from the sky as heroes whiz by the foreground of the movie screen.  An explosion takes out an attacking enemy, careening his ship into a city skyscraper.  Glass is falling towards the panicking bystanders below as the alien craft teeters precariously above.  You hear a small child cry out for their mom.  A superhero gets to ground level just in time to save the innocents from a deadly shower of shards.  As he takes off to save others, blasphemy pours from the movie theater's surround sound speakers. "Blankety blank, that was close!"

Obviously the above is a generic example of a typical action flic but you see God's name being misused more and more in comic book and superhero type movies.  This is so strange to me.  You see, this is a chance for the writer or director, who more than likely are not believers, to leave God completely out of the equation.  This is the movie maker's opportunity to help people forget for an hour and a half that there is a God who has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness and that every lie, theft, lustful look and blasphemy will come into play when that day comes.  Instead, the choice in creative development goes towards reminding movie goers of the Creator, meanwhile heaping judgment on themselves in the process. These people obviously do not understand what God tells us in His Word that, "the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain."

Now, am I saying that I think God should be forgotten about in or removed from works of fiction? Not at all. Nor am I suggesting that in non-comic fiction it's ok that there's blasphemy. But, with movies that are supposed to take place in a realistic setting you will obviously be hit with things like this because we are all sinners and "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." It makes more sense in those types of movies because the language used is an extension of the world the writer lives in. In comic book movies however, blasphemy just stands out so much more because you have a completely fictional world filled with outlandish characters and locations yet they misuse Christ's precious name out of nowhere. How does God even work within a fictional world of heroes dressed in spandex?  It just doesn't seem to fit. Or does it?

There are times, even in works of comic book fiction, when God can be used effectively and in a way that makes reasonable sense.  Take for instance the picture at the top of this article(Thanks to for permission to use it).  The director of the Avengers, Joss Whedon(who is a humanistic atheist), masterfully used Captain America to actually stand up for God.  As Cap goes to chase after Thor, Black Widow says something to the effect of Thor being a god.  Of course Captain A says, "There's only one God ma'am and I'm pretty sure He doesn't dress like that."  I get chills just thinking about it.  It was an epic line and it made sense because Captain America has supposedly come from a time, WWII, where God was way more prevalent in American thinking and culture. Even though this scene was done by a non-believer I rejoice with Paul and his take in the book of Philippians. "Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice." Sadly, even though there is the occasional chance to rejoice,  the good uses of God's name are far outweighed by the bad ones.

So why is it that God's name is so abused in these types of movies, games, etc? I mean, I understand geek culture. I've been a gamer all my life.  I love comic books and I thought the Avengers was amazing. Unlike me, a lot of gamers and comic book fans aren't interested in the things of God however.  It makes more sense that fans and makers of these movies would want to not be reminded of Him at all.  Like I said, this is your world director.  Do with it what you will.  This is your chance to create a world without God so what do you do with it? You ask Him to damn things or you slander His Son's name. But why?  They know God exists. That's why. The Bible says that, "what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them" and to try to do away with God is to suppress the truth in unrighteousness like the Bible tells us in Romans chapter 1.  It's also because the unsaved person is against God from birth. These are the reasons why they not only acknowledge Him in their fictional worlds but are abusive towards Him as well.  Romans 8:7 says, " For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." Sure there are some that leave God out completely in an effort to put their head in the sand about Him.  They can try to run from Him but He has written His law and eternity on their hearts.  He is everywhere.  We can not escape His sight.  Hebrews 4:13 says,  "And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

All that being said, every one of us(geek, gamer or otherwise) will be held accountable to God on Judgment Day and we will be without excuse.  This is a day when Thor, Batman, Spidey or even all of the X-men will be of no use to anyone. Those fictional heroes can not help you when you stand before a Holy God as a liar, blasphemer, adulterer, murderer, thief, fornicator, or idolator. Only Jesus can help you on that day because like the Word tells us, " there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” and that"for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  And that is what we need in the end.  Righteousness.  None of us have that on our own.  We are guilty and deserve Hell which is the price to pay for sin.  Either you can pay for the penalty yourself for an eternity in torment or trust that Christ paid the penalty for you.  The Bible also tells us that, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed."  Christ, fully God and fully man, was tempted in every way we are yet without sin.  He lived a perfect life and died on a cross.  He took the wrath we deserved for our sin upon Himself.  Jesus got off that cross and 3 days later He rose from the grave defeating sin and death forever.  If you would repent and trust in the only true superhero, Jesus Christ, your sins will be forgiven and you can spend eternity in Heaven. I pray that you trust in Him today, then read your Bible daily and obey what God's Word says.  God bless,  SaulBecomesPaul/Virg.

Psalm 139:7-10

English Standard Version (ESV)
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
     If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Indy 500 Outreach

 Well the purpose of our trip, was to head out to the Indy 500 and share the Gospel through custom tracts, one to one conversations and open air when possible.  We left Friday morning the 25th, the crew who went was mostly from West Hill Baptist Church in Wooster where the Evangelist team, The Lord's Kerux, meets and equips Believers to boldly share their faith, except for me who drove down to go with them and another, Tim, who took a Greyhound from PA to meet up with us and share in Evangelism.

Our plan was to hit Broad Ripple that evening from the time that we arrived, however our plans were changed and we stopped at the place where we were going to be staying at first, which was at the GMAU (Gospel Martial Arts Union) Headquarters.  This was a huge blessing and orchestrated with Barry, a new friend that Jeff had made, as our stay was no charge and accommodated all of our needs.   With Broad Ripple behind us we decided to head down to Monument Circle as there was some festivities going on down there and we were going to test out a new battery powered amp for open airs.  So we traveled out there and quickly got setup, most of us split up and started engaging the crowds through one to ones or through tract dispersals.  The rest of us stayed behind and a few of us got to use the the new Battery powered Speaker setup.  Roy and I got to go first, Roy gathered a crowd with some questions and money for correct answers once we had them we offered a final question for a participant who felt that they were a good person.  In stepped Isaac, he was a teenager, he climbed up on our step stool and went through the Good Person test and heard the Gospel presented as did many folks within earshot of the mic.  Isaac was a great participant and we later learned that he was there with a youth group and was real encouraging to me and the team about what we were doing and to him and others from his youth group as they wanted to be out sharing their faith too.  Several conversations came after the open air which was a huge blessing as you never know truly who hears and or might respond.  The first that I saw and experienced was Dennis, Dennis approached me asking if I knew where the library was, being from out of town I told him no and that I was not from around here.  He then went on to say that he really liked what he had heard and also appreciated us being out there telling folks about Christ.  Dennis was just released from Prison that day on some domestic charges and spent 2 months in jail.  While he was in jail he was able to get a Bible and start reading and trying to get his life back on track.  He had many questions, some more specific than others but they kept coming back to the issue of sin and looking for understanding and clarification around what the Bible says.  He then told me that his wife was a JW and didn't know how to respond or what to say to her.  I thought immediately to a recent study that I did where I prepped myself for the next time they come knocking on my door and grabbed my Bible where all my notes where put in regards to what they believe and how to refute Biblically.  I snapped a picture of that and emailed Dennis.  He was very happy and then we looked on my phone and found the library for Dennis.  Dennis was challenged and convicted and my prayer is that he truly repents and puts his faith and trust in the only God who saves.  Many other conversations and tracts were handed out that evening and Melissa, who came down with us from Wooster got a turn at an Open Air.  The evening was busy with people and festivities, there was a band who was across the street from our setup and seemed to always play their music louder when we started preaching.  We wrapped up after another hour or so of engaging folks in conversations and providing folks with the curved illusion tracts and whatever other tracts we had with us to distribute.  Then it was off to bed.

Saturday morning came and was a little more laid back for us as we prepared for the parade that would march through downtown Indianapolis, this parade was supposed to have around 300,000 people in attendance.  This parade was the largest that I have been a part of or witnessed in person.  We met Barry and another gentleman Mike at a Church that was before where the parade would start, they brought some folks with them and we all discussed our game plan and how we were going to setup and where we were going to be and distribute tracts, once we were ready we prayed and off we dispersed to our appointed areas and there we started part 1 of our major tract dispersal,  The tracts were great and custom created for the Indy 500 so people were very happy to get one.  The parade was extremely busy and full of people, we managed to hand out a ton of tracts, get some open air preaching in throughout the different areas as we made our way through.  We wrapped up around 1 and then decided to head into the mall to get some much needed A/C, water and lunch, this weekend ended up being a record breaking heat weekend.  While we were in the mall we passed some tracts and had some fun with the 10 commandment coins rolling them out from under the table into an area we could see folks pick them up or in some cases see kids fight over who got it.  One of us got to go up the 4th floor escalator and flutter down a few million dollar bill tracts, one which practically landed in someones face coming up the below escalator, it was like money from the sky, it was great!  After we rested up and fed ourselves we headed back to Monument Circle where we had many conversations and dispersal of tracts.  The area was getting busier and busier as there was a event called GumBall 3000 which happened to have a stop at the Circle from its race from New York to Los Angeles.  There was around 120 different race cars that slowly came in and allowed crowds to grow and become recipients of tracts and conversations.  Jeff, Mitch and others were able to spend a decent amount of time in a one on one with a man who was very receptive to the Gospel.  Jim and I went off and handed many tracts and had conversations, one which really stood out was with a 16 year old boy named Jack, he started out telling us he was an atheist and quickly more represented a agnostic.  As we shared our faith with him he was open and asked some great questions, we took him through the Law and shared the Gospel with him and answered all of his questions, he said he has some Christian friends and this sounded very familiar from things they had said or how they lived which was different than other 16 year olds like himself.  We left him with a New Testament, A Biggest Question DVD and a tract bookmark that helps explain where to go and find the scripture that we discussed.  He seemed very genuine and I pray that the Lord would reveal Himself to him and that he might come to know Him.  We met some street performers who were contortionist painted up silver, singers and had chances to speak with many folks that were there and converging on that area.
Towards the end of the evening we had some folks who were done for the day and needing rest from the heat and knowing we would be getting up really early to get to the Race Track first thing Sunday morning.  The rest of us met up with another Evangelist, George, who was at Georgetown street evangelizing with folks.  This place was jam packed with people every turn we took, these folks were a lot more rowdy and full of alcohol vs. anyone that we came across so far, this was a huge party scene.  We quickly got into conversations and started passing tracts to everyone we came in contact with.  Tim who was with us from PA, positioned himself on a street corner and preached to everyone within earshot and to the crowds that kept coming and going from one side of the street to another.  Others of us setup on other street corners to catch the crowds as they passed by from one place to another, others setup on a wooden bridge which became a great conversation piece as it had a good sized hole in the floor that folks could had stepped in and possibly got hurt.  It started out with Jeff warning someone there was a hole there right after they rejected his tract and were saying some not so nice things to him over their shoulder not looking where they were going (heading for the hole!) and Jeff was able to yell watch out for the hole!  which once the guy realized Jeff saved his foot and ankle he yelled back thanks and sorry I didn't take what you war giving.  Melissa and George were able to get into some great conversations and discussions with folks and share the Gospel.  Many heard and received tracts that evening, we wrapped up around 9:45 and headed to get dinner and some rest before Sunday morning arrived.

Sunday we met up with Mike and other brothers and sisters at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for part 2, the largest part of our weekend in passing thousands of tracts and those thousands, man did they go fast!  The event was supposed to have 500,000 people attend, I don't know what the final attendance was but thats a lot of people!  We stationed ourselves at all the major intersections where folks were walking from wherever they might have parked at.  They had to in some cases cross the street other cases they walked on the same side.  Either way we had them covered.  There were not as many conversations this time around, but people sure took tracts especially our custom tracts.  As people huddled up at the corner waiting for the Policeman to allow them to cross, that was my queue to get in and quickly distribute sometimes 15-30 tracts at a time, and most people gladly took it, I quickly stated, "welcome to the race, here you go, everyone gets one of these, here you go, etc. and etc. all down the line of everyone lined up waiting.  Of course some folks didn't take them or threw them on the ground (in most cases those would get recycled and redistributed)  Some folks quickly flipped it over and realized that it was "religious" some folks who were Christians were great and provided encouragement by thanking us or telling us great job and to keep up the work that was being done.  Those little moments as all of us discussed later that day were HUGE for each one of us as we received that encouragement from a brother or sister in Christ out on the mission field.  In many cases it helped us to keep going and remember the importance of getting these tracts in peoples hands.  We delivered thousands of tracts Sunday and even more collectively over the weekend.  While some of us exchanged emails with some folks that we had conversations with and have already heard back from some, others are in Gods hands.  Remember God's Word will not return void or empty, but it will accomplish its purpose.

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:11

Thank you for taking the time to read about just these few stories that were shared, there were so many more that occurred there from others that just wouldn't have fit here.  Thank you to each and everyone of you who heard of this outreach and took time to lift up those hearing and receiving the Gospel and for us out in the field, your prayers were an encouragement and a blessing!  We prayed and will continue praying for all those who received tracts and those who heard the Gospel that they might come to repentance and faith in Christ.  This event was a huge and purposeful it rallied together folks from at least 3 different states to come together with 1 purpose, share the Gospel to a lost and dying world.  Many friendships were strengthened, some introduced and established but a sweet union together and fellowship all weekend long laboring aside one another.  I encourage you to consider attending the next outreach you have an opportunity to attend as the laborers are few and could always use another brother and or sister in Christ working together towards the Great Commission.  

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Luke 10:2

There is no better experience than to be an instrument of the Lord and to be used for His Kingdom.  Will you consider the Great Commission and how God can use you?

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  Mark 16:15