Election Lesson

One of the takeaways from this election is the message of the gospel and the life of the messenger must be one and the same. I heard from many Christians across America that they could not support Trump because of his personality or character flaws. Many other Christians were willing to overlook personality or character issues, and voted to support the platform. Both groups agreed that the platform of the Republican party were far more aligned with Biblical values. One group rejected the platform because of the life of the messenger. The other group said that “pride does not kill millions of unborn babies,” and they thought it unfathomable to vote for anyone supporting abortion.

God has called the church to preach the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul was very concerned about the message of the gospel and the life of the messenger. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, he wrote, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” He did not want anything in his life interfering with the preaching of the gospel message.

In Titus 2:9-10, he encouraged bond-slaves to be subject to their masters, be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of our Savior in every respect.” Again, he did not want the life of these slaves to contradict or hinder the message of the gospel.

In Philippians 1:27, Paul wrote, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” The way that we conduct ourselves, in speech and in lifestyle, needs to be in alignment with the message of the gospel. If we want the world to accept the gospel message, they need to see us living the gospel message.

Two Decisions That I Am Thankful For

Today is a VERY special day for two reasons. First, it is Thanksgiving, a day to stop, reflect, and give thanks to our Father in heaven. Second, today is Karen’s birthday. Earlier this morning I was giving thanks to God for my salvation, and for reaching out in love to me, and drawing me to Himself. I was also giving thanks for Karen, my beautiful bride for the past forty years. She is an anointed woman of God, full of life, and an incredible partner in life and ministry.

As I was giving thanks to God, I remembered an incident on a Saturday morning at the Greater Hartford Open in 1993. I was getting ready to tee off on the seventh hole, and I noticed a young man in the gallery wearing a sweatshirt with the following message: “College is where you learn to make good decisions.” In that instant the Holy Spirit gave me a message for him. After I nailed my tee shot down the middle of the fairway, I went over to my golf bag and pulled out a Titleist golf ball for a souvenir, and one of my testimony tracts that had a picture of our family on the cover. I handed these two items to the young man and said, “College is where I made the best two decisions of my life. I invited Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord, and I decided to marry this incredible young lady that God brought into my life.” Today, I am still giving thanks to God for these two decisions that were made in college. I am a blessed man and have much to be thankful for.

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 4

I have been sharing about evangelistic opportunities that I had at the car dealer last week. God gives me lots of opportunities to share with people. I remember my daughter, Kathleen, telling me once that she did not think that I had ever met a stranger. I was always starting conversations with people. The truth is that I was always looking for opportunities to share the gospel, or share an encouragement with someone. I also looked for opportunities to pray for people.  Larry Tomczak wrote a book many years ago called, Divine Appointments. I am always looking for these divine appointments. I believe that God wants to give all of us divine appointments. He has given all of us the mandate to preach the gospel. Why do some people have more of these appointments than others? I believe that one of the primary reasons is prayer.

Paul wrote to the Colossians and asked them to specifically pray that God would open up a door for the word so that he could share the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:3) Paul prayed for these open doors or divine appointments, and he asked other people to join him in asking God for more of these divine appointments. Karen and I take time each morning to present our lives to God as living and holy sacrifices. We offer our lives and our service to Him every morning. We ask God to give us divine appointments and opportunities to minister to people. Often, I will take time to pray that God will give divine appointments to the people in our church. I believe that prayer is one of the most important keys. Then, look expectantly for these opportunities. The opportunities at the car dealer are just examples of how God answers those prayers. When you are carrying out God’s work, He will give you opportunities. I ask you to join me in asking God for open doors so that we can speak forth the mystery of Christ.

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 3

After I had handed the golf tract to the new car sales manager, one of the salesmen came up to me and asked for a copy of the golf tips. His name was Mohammed, so I asked him if he was a Muslim. He replied that he was a Muslim, and he made sure that I knew that he was a practicing Muslim. He was part of the Sunni sect of Islam. I told him that I grew up in Iran, where they are Shiites. I asked him if he played golf, and he said no, but that he wanted to learn to play golf, which is why he had asked for the golf booklet. I told him that I would be happy to send him one, but that the one I gave to his manager was my last copy.

When I returned home, I took a copy of the Good News About Fundamentals and I wrote a note and a prayer in it. I said that I hope he enjoys the golf tips. But, I also wrote that I prayed that the Lord Jesus Christ would reveal Himself to him. I said that millions of Muslims around the world are turning to Christ. I told him that he was one that was seeking after God, and that God promises that those who seek Him will find Him. I not only wrote these things, but I took time to pray for Mohammed. I am continuing to pray that God will remove the veil from his eyes, and he will have an encounter with Jesus.

Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16) Paul was not just unashamed, he was bold in his witness. Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him to have boldness in sharing the mystery of Christ. Let’s pray for boldness. Let’s look for opportunities, and then step out boldly in sharing our faith with others.

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 2

While at the car dealer to get my truck repaired, I also met the new car manager. He was a young man to hold such a position. He asked me what I did for a living. I allowed him six questions before I  gave him my answer. After six questions, he was not even close. So I told him, years ago I played professional golf. He said that he was an avid golfer and had played on his high school golf team. I told him that I had something to give him. I took a gospel presentation that I had written for golfers called, “Good News About Fundamentals,” out of my briefcase. I also added a personal note and gave it to him. He was very appreciative.

When I travel I try to keep two gospel tracts with me. Because I played professional golf for twenty years, I carry the golf booklet with me. The Lord gave me that idea thirty years ago, and I have given out thousands of those gospel presentations. It has golf tips on every page, and then a part of the gospel message that ties in with the golf tip. It has been an effective tool. The other gospel tract that I carry with me is Billy Grahams, Steps To Peace. It is an excellent bridge illustration of the gospel. It was the primary tool that I used in prison ministry. It is clear, precise, and an excellent gospel presentation.

I make an effort to keep my briefcase stocked with a few gospel presentations because we are exhorted to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15) We have to be prepared. There are a few steps that are important in shodding our feet with the preparation of the gospel. First, we should be familiar with the gospel message. Get familiar with a good gospel tract, like Steps To Peace, so that you can share it. Second, carry gospel tracts with you. Third, look for opportunities that God will bring to you. Fourth, ask God for springboards into conversations so that you can share the gospel. God will use you and I when we shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel.

Evangelism – At The Car Dealership # 1

Last week, I had to go to Midland for a conference, and then on to Austin later that week for another conference. On the first day of the conference in Austin, my car window died just after I had lowered it to get my ticket in the parking garage. Since it was thirty-four degrees, and I did not want to drive home with a window down, I looked for the nearest Nissan dealer and drove my truck to get repaired. While at the dealer, I struck up a number of conversations with people. One of the people I met was the manager of the dealership. We discussed a number of things, and I mentioned that I was a Christian. Later, when I returned to the dealer, he came up to me and said, “You really are a Christian.” I did not immediately connect his comment to the one that I had with him on my first visit. I asked him what he meant by that. His response caught me off guard. He said he had gone to my truck and looked to see what music I played. When he turned the radio on, it was set to a Christian station in Austin. This manager had gone out of his way to go to the service area and see if my life and my words matched up. He was looking for authentic Christianity.

The world is watching you and me more carefully than you may realize. They are listening to our words, but they are also listening to the message our lives are sending. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” The world wants to know that we are conducting our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This man equated the music that someone listens to as the acid test of faith. Jesus said in John 13 that we are to love one another, and “by this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” Love is the best proof that we are true believers. What kind of message is your life preaching? Does your walk match your talk? Let’s live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Connecting # 1 – Through the Gospel

Three weeks ago I was returning from South America, and on the last leg of my flight home, the Lord gave me a divine appointment. After a little small talk, the lady next to me shared three different dreams that she recently had. In the first dream, she saw Jesus from a distance being crucified. In the second dream, she was much closer to the crucifixion. In the third dream, she was at the foot of the cross, and she could see the stakes in Jesus that were holding him to the cross. She asked me if I knew what the dreams meant. I told her that all three dreams were one and the same. God is drawing you to the cross. I explained to her that our sins had separated us from God and that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins. I took her to Romans 10 and shared the rest of the gospel with her.

Afterwards, I told her that it was important for her to get connected to a local church, where she could get fed, cared for, and grow in her relationship with God. I told her it was important to get connected to other believers. Since she lives in Santa Fe, I gave her the name of a church in Santa Fe, the pastor’s name, and his contact information.

At the Connection Church, this is what we do, we help people get connected to God, and to people. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, and the second is to love our neighbor.