Easter Outreach at the Flea Market

IMG_5624For Easter, we took the remaining Gospel coins (from our St. Patrick’s Day outreach) and stuffed them into multi-colored Easter eggs, along with candy, stickers, temporary tattoos and million dollar bill tracts.

Both Megan and Lexi enjoyed putting the materials together.

I booked a table at the local flea market, and we set up our booth as per usual.

Unfortunately, it was a bitter cold morning with sporadic rainfall (i.e., miserable conditions). But Megan was persistent and gave away most of the “Resurrection Eggs”. I was able to hand out a lot of Bibles and Gospel tracts, though conversations were few and far between.

As always, we pray that God would bless our efforts and use the materials we distributed to open the eyes of the spiritually blind.

St. Patrick’s Day Outreach

IMG_4717For St. Patrick’s Day this year, we decided to go see the parade in uptown Charlotte. We had never gone before, so it was quite an adventure. Megan and Lexi were excited to dress up, and I was excited to make the event an evangelistic outreach.

I was inspired by a video from Living Waters (see below), making excellent use of their Gospel coins. We ordered a cheap, plastic cauldron online and two hundred coins from the ministry.

And that was really all the prep we needed.

We arrived at the parade late, so we were way at the fringe of the festivities. We thought we could stand at the end of the parade and hand coins out to everyone as they left.

Surprise, surprise… Our nerves got the best of us, and we made excuses for why it wasn’t an ideal place to hand out coins. So, we walked against the flow of foot traffic, and were able to use Lexi to hand out coins.

By the end of the event, we handed out about 50-60 coins and had a LOT leftover. “Next year,” I thought, “We’ll get rid of them next year.”

I had no idea it would actually be much sooner than that.

Christmas Outreach to the Neighborhood

IMG_4219In the days leading up to Christmas, we prepared over 250 door hanger bags containing a New Testament Bible, New Testament reading plan, Gospel tract, homemade cookie, and a personal invitation to join our family for a home Bible study.

Initially, we just wanted to invite the 10 or so households in our cul-de-sac. But we had hundreds of bagged Bibles and tracts from an outreach we planned for our former church, which never materialized for one reason or another.

So, we invited our whole neighborhood.

It was a cold winter, and we felt the pressure to abandon our task. We weren’t going to speak to anyone directly, but even the act of leaving something as controversial as the Gospel on the doors of our neighbors filled us with apprehension.

To ease the burden, my parents decided to join us and make it a family outreach. But Satan had other plans.

My parents, wife, daughter and I piled into my parents’ minivan, and as soon as we pulled out of our driveway, we got a flat tire. We drove it about one block before realizing what happened — and ended up on the side of the busiest road in the neighborhood.

My mom decided to stay with the van, as she waited for AAA to show up. My dad, frustrated, decided to take our daughter back to the house to wait for us to finish. So, it was up to Megan and I.

One of the reasons I wanted to marry Megan was because of her boldness in passing out religious literature to complete strangers. She has an outgoing delightfulness about her that is appealing to everyone. As I wrestled with discouragement and anxiety, I relied heavily on Megan to keep us moving forward.

For the next few hours, we went up and down every street and cul-de-sac in our neighborhood, hanging the good news packets on our neighbors’ doors. We finally stopped, when the sky became dark.

We were completely exhausted — physically and spiritually. But went out again the next day.

For the second outing, it was Megan, Lexi, Nikki (our dog) and I. We had a red wagon that carried Lexi and the packages. This seemed a lot easier, because we weren’t dealing with as much adversity. It was actually kinda fun — especially when Lexi rang her jingle bell as we walked along.

We finished handing out all of the bags and completed the outreach. Now, all we had to do is wait to hear if anyone was interested in doing a Bible study at our house.

Unfortunately, we only had one response to our online survey — so we decided it wasn’t the right time to host a neighborhood Bible study.

However, we are very pleased to have participated in Jesus’ mission to the world, starting with our own neighborhood. We pray that God would use our efforts and the materials we shared to open the eyes of the spiritually blind and bring lost souls to Christ.

Tract or Treat

Tract or TreatToday is Halloween — or, as Ray Comfort likes to say, National Evangelism Day, when people actually come to your doorstep for free stuff. It’s probably the easiest opportunity to hand out tracts and engage your neighbors in casual conversation.

Since this was only the second year we’ve lived here in Charlotte — and we didn’t participate last year — we had no idea how many kids would show up at our door. So, we bought 42 full-size Hershey bars and wrapped them with Million Dollar Bills. (Note to self: We ran out in less than an hour. Get more candy next year.)

I figure, if you’re going to give out Gospel tracts, you don’t want the stigma of being “that person” in the neighborhood, if you can help it — so at the very least, give out the best candy you can with the tracts.

I actually had one parent respond, “Oh, this is the good house!”

I almost challenged her definition of “good,” but thought that could wait for our next encounter.

For more evangelism tips for Halloween, visit Living Waters.

Christian Music Day 2018 Gospel Outreach

Once Blind booth at Christian Music DayOn September 22, 2018, Once Blind (my wife and I) sponsored a booth at the annual Christian Music Day festival at Carowinds park in Charlotte, North Carolina. We shared our booth with two other Christian ministries in Charlotte — Justice Ministries (anti-human trafficking) and Love Life Charlotte (pro-life).

Over the course of 7 hours, we spoke to about 50 people and took them through the “Good Person Quiz,” which is basically our modified version of The Way of the Master. Everyone who took the quiz received a free copy of the Settled DVD or Heroine CD. Despite its age, the Heroine CD was a big draw for attendees who came to the festival to hear Christian music.

It was a blessing to have the other ministries at our table, as each struck a chord with concert goers and brought people to our table. We all benefited from sharing our resources.

Megan and I primarily spoke with professing Christians, who may or may not have a clear knowledge of the true Gospel. Many professed their own goodness and bristled at the thought that they — or anyone else — deserved God’s judgement. But when we walked through the Law — the way Jesus did — we shined a light on sin, and most came to realize the degree to which we all fall short of the glory of God.

Pray for those we spoke to — that God would convict them and bring them to saving faith, if He hasn’t already.

Overall, I think this was the best outreach we’ve ever done. We will definitely be sponsoring more events at Carowinds — and sharing our booth with other ministries seeking to impact the city of Charlotte with the message of Jesus Christ.

WVU Freshman Hears the Gospel

WVU Freshman EliseOn our way home from vacation on Labor Day weekend, we stopped by the WVU campus in Morgantown, West Virginia and ran into Elise, a college Freshman and former Catholic, with whom we shared the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. She is a lovely person and was very gracious to us. She seemed appreciative of our efforts and open to reevaluating Christianity by reading the Gospel tract and Bible we gave her. Please pray that God would reveal Himself to her.

[Video removed at the request of the subject.]

Why does God allow evil in the world?

I don’t know about you, but every time I turn on the news, I’m disgusted with what I see. Whether it’s a politician saying something hateful about another person, or another mass school shooting, or a natural disaster that’s devastated a small country and killed thousands of people… I ask myself, “If God is good, then why does He allow these evil things to happen?”

Maybe you’ve asked yourself the same question.

Well, I’m going to answer this for you today. First, with the short answer… Love. God allows evil in the world, because He loves us.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “That’s a ridiculous answer. Are you trying to tell me that, because God loves me, He allows bad things to happen to me?”

What I’m telling you is that, because God loves us, He allows evil to exist in this world.

Now, let me explain…

The Fall of Man & Nature

In the beginning, God created man and woman in the Garden of Eden, and they were sinless. They lived in perfect harmony with God and nature. There was no violence in the world. Lions laid next to lambs, and there were no natural disasters. It was a paradise. Adam and Eve had unfettered access to God and walked with Him daily in the garden.

At that time, God established one law – one rule that Adam and Eve had to follow. He told them not to eat fruit from one particular tree in the garden – and, if they do, they will surely die.

God established a law, and the penalty for breaking His law was death.

So, what did Adam and Eve do? Well, with the help of Satan, Eve decided to take and eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. Then she gave it to Adam, and he ate.

God had one law, and because of their pride and rebellion against God’s authority, they broke His law.

Because of their sin – that’s what sin is, the breaking of God’s law – God cursed man and nature. From that day forward, mankind was born in sin. You, me – we’re all born with a sinful nature. Our default disposition is to reject God’s authority over our lives, because we want to be our own bosses. The Bible says we are at enmity with God. We are His enemies.

To illustrate what it means to have a sin nature, think of a car that has its alignment off. If you leave your hands off the steering wheel, it veers to one side or the other. By nature, we are constantly veering away from God, because our alignment is off. We’re born with this sinful nature, because of what Adam and Eve did in the garden.

However, not only was man cursed, but nature was as well. God said that man would now have difficulty tilling the ground – and that nature itself is groaning because of man’s sin. We have natural disasters and fear wild animals, because we live in a fallen world. Man is fallen, and the world is fallen – and together, along with Satan, we produce the evil that’s in the world.

But God is patient, not willing for any to perish. Which is why he allows evil to continue in this world today. If He were to get rid of all evil in the world, He would have to wipe out all of mankind. He almost did that with a flood six thousand years ago, but because of His great love for us, he kept a small remnant safe from His judgement.

So, love is why God allows evil.

God’s Law

Remember how I defined sin? It’s the breaking of God’s law. Well, after Adam and Eve fell and were banished from the Garden, God gave us more laws through Moses. The most famous of these are the Ten Commandments. If you want to know what sin is, just look at the Ten Commandments.

Do you think you’ve kept them? Let’s go through a few and see…

The ninth commandment is You shall not lie. How many lies do you think you’ve told in your lifetime? I’m talking about lying to get out of trouble with your parents, or lying about your charitable giving on your tax return, or lying to your spouse about what you did last night with your friends. Do you think you’ve told one or two lies in your lifetime? Hundreds, maybe thousands? What do you call someone who tells hundreds of lies?

A liar.

Let’s look at the eighth commandment – You shall not steal. Have you ever stolen something in your life? I’m talking about shoplifting, or taking home office supplies from work, or showing up late and leaving early at your job yet reporting a full day’s work, or checking that box on your tax return saying you paid sales tax on all your online purchases this year (yeah, right). This is called stealing. What do you call someone who takes things that don’t belong to them?

A thief.

The seventh commandment is You shall not commit adultery. Now, some of you may have actually committed adultery by cheating on your spouse with another person. But if you haven’t done that, listen to what Jesus said about this commandment… He said that even if you’ve looked at another person with LUST, you’ve committed adultery with them in your heart. Have you ever looked at another person with lust? Either through pornography, or gawking at people at the beach, or through the bombardment of sexual advertising we see everyday?

In the same way, Jesus said if you hate your neighbor, you’re guilty of breaking the sixth commandment – You shall not murder. Have you ever hated another person? I have.

So…

I’m not judging you, but by your own admission (if you’re honest), you’re a liar, a thief, an adulterer and murderer at heart. And those are only four of the Ten Commandments!

The Bad News

If God were to judge you based on the Ten Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty of breaking His law? If God required perfect obedience to His law in order to be with Him in Heaven, and you were to die today, would you go to Heaven or Hell?

You would go to Hell.

Does that concern you? It should! We’re talking about your eternal destiny here. I don’t even know you, but I don’t want you to go to Hell!

Did you know that 150,000 people die each day? One hundred and fifty thousand people die every single day. You could drive down the road today, be hit by a drunk driver and find yourself facing God’s judgement. Today. And based on your performance, it’s not going to be pretty.

The bad news is that you – and I – have broken God’s law countless times and deserve to die physically and spiritually. God says the wages of sin is death. That liars and murderers and adulterers will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity.

How many times did Adam and Eve have to sin to be judged by God as guilty and condemned to death? Just once.

That’s the bad news. And, indeed, it is bad news.

But do you know what God did so that you wouldn’t have to go to Hell? He provided us a way to escape His judgement.

The Good News

God sent His one and only Son to Earth to live as a man, perfectly obey His law (something we are incapable of doing), and die in our place on the cross. Jesus gave up His glory, majesty and privilege in Heaven to come down here and pay the penalty of our sin.

Have you ever been to court? I have. I went for reckless driving. I fell asleep at the wheel one night, ran off the road and hit a tree. Now, imagine if that turned out differently – that instead of running off the road, I swerved into the oncoming lane and hit another car head on, killing the other driver. And imagine if there was a traffic camera that captured it all on video.

I would go to court and plead guilty. I’m guilty. It’s obvious and everyone knows it. I’m guilty of breaking the traffic laws and I’m guilty of murder. The penalty for what I’ve done is death – I’m going to the electric chair. But just before the judge pronounces me guilty and sentences me to death, a man I don’t even know rushes into the courtroom and says, “Stop! I will pay the penalty for this man.” This man volunteers to get strapped into the electric chair and die in my place. Now, the judge can let me go free. The penalty has been paid by someone who wasn’t guilty of the same crime. Justice has been served.

This is what Jesus has done for you and me. We broke God’s law, and Jesus paid our fine. It’s a legal transaction. God is a good judge. He cannot let sin go unpunished. But because He loves us so much, He punishes His Son in our place. Instead of requiring us to die and go to Hell, God kills His Son and sends Him to Hell.

But Jesus rises three days later, conquering death and giving us hope in a resurrection.

Summary

So, the bad news is that we’re all guilty of breaking God’s law and deserve death, but the good news is that Jesus will pay your fine, if you repent from your sins (that means turn away from them) and place your trust in what Jesus has done for you to save you from God’s coming judgement. Give up control over your own life and submit to God’s authority over you. Make Jesus your Lord.

Don’t trust in your own goodness to save you on Judgement Day. None of us are good enough to get to Heaven. We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Only Jesus Christ was good enough, and it’s only through His righteousness applied to our account that we can enter Heaven. So trust in Jesus to save you.

Read the Bible and do what it says, and God will never let you down.

Following Jesus isn’t easy. It’s hard, and it gets harder in this country everyday. But salvation from God’s eternal judgement is worth it. Momentary sacrifice in this short life is worth eternity in Heaven.

Think about these things. Get right with God today, because you never know if you’ll be gone from this world tomorrow.