Saturday, July 14, 2012


Last week I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a man called, Kirby.  He was interested in talking about the things of God and told me that in 1980 he went to church and was 'on fire' for Jesus, but then his eyes looked away as he told me that he eventually fell away. 

I asked him why he came to Jesus; what was his motive for becoming a christian and he explained that he thought that his life would be so much better and without the kind of problems he was facing at that time if he became a christian.  He soon found out that his life's circumstances weren't any better and so when trouble hit, Kirby left the church.

It was sad to hear that story again where a person's motives for becoming a christian are self-centered instead of Christ-centered or Gospel-centered.  Perhaps Kirby thought, 'what can Christ do for me?'...'how will Jesus fix my life?', when the question should be, 'What can I do for Christ?'.  What kind of a Gospel message did he hear before he 'became a christian'?  All too often the Gospel message is reduced to an offer of a better life if you will just say a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart...with NO mention of our sin, our spiritual depravity, and our desperate need to repent before a Holy God. Jesus' message was repentance, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15 and "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13:3 and 5.  How often do we hear the word repentance when we hear the call to salvation in church? 

If all a person hears is that if you come to Jesus, he will give you a better life, like Kirby, they will be sorely disappointed because life is hard and walking with Jesus doesn't mean your problems disappear.  The problems for the early believers and apostles didn't get better in Christ - if anything they got worse - most were martyred for their faith or terribly persecuted to the end of their lives, but they persevered and had a peace and a joy that passed all understanding because they had died to self and fixed their eyes on a future hope in Christ.  No, trusting in Jesus means that the living God will be with you throughout your life, whatever the circumstances.  He will come and live IN you to strengthen, comfort you and guide you as you walk through all the trials and tribulations of life, even as he promised, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'. Hebrews 13:5  What a wonderful promise and I know this to be true in my life.  As Paris Reidhead says in his sermon, Ten Shekels & a Shirt, "Isn’t man happy?  Did God intend to make man happy?  Yes.  But as a bi-product and not prime product." 

The Gospel is not about us - it's about God and His great love for us while we were yet sinners.  Did Kirby hear that God is Holy, Holy, Holy and that one day he would stand in His awesome presence and have to give an account for his life?  Did he hear that we can't bribe the judge of the universe with our good works because God, who is good, won't take a bribe and that in God's sight, none of us actually have any good works!  As Scripture says,

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.   All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good; not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.  The poison of vipers is on their lips.  Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  Romans 3:10-18

Did he come to a place where he understood that what he really deserved was God's wrath and justice, but that Jesus Christ bore his sin on the cross, paying his debt in full so that on that Great Day, Kirby could leave that heavenly courtroom free from acusation and covered by the righteousness of Christ?

Perhaps if he understood what he had been saved from and caught a glimpse of the richness of God's kindness and mercy toward him, he would have mourned over his sin and died to self, surrenderring his life as a thank offering to the glory of the One who died for him.

Kirby shared that as a cat has nine lives, he felt that he had been given twelve lives.  I noted a large ugly scar on his forearm and wondered about the circumstances of that injury.  I told him that his life was in God's hands and that God, by His common grace had kept him alive and wanted him to come to the knowledge of salvation while he yet lived.  He nodded thoughtfully.  He said that all this made sense to him and that he understood he had to get right with God.  I prayed with him - for his dad and for God to reveal these truths to him.  I left him with some reading material and went on my way.   Please remember Kirby in your prayers and may God open his eyes and bring him to that wonderful place of repentance and faith.

"Oh man, you're going to lay your head on the pillow tonight with a heartbeat between you and eternity..."  A.W. Tozer

Christian, get up, get out and share your faith. There are thousands of Kirby's out there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God's Surrounding Beauty

Tonight Bob asked me if I’d like to go for a drive to a park.  I tried to guess a few of the parks that he may have chosen, but he refused to tell me.  As we drove, I thought he would turn toward the beach, which technically isn’t a park, but perhaps Bob’s idea of a park is wherever you stop the car!
Anyway, we drove along and came to a very familiar dirt road.  We turned in and wound down to a small parking lot next to an empty baseball diamond.  We got out and together walked over a small bridge to a sparsely treed, overgrown and obviously abandoned patch of grass to our right.  An orange fence surrounded this area with a sign that read, ‘Area Closed – Hazardous Trees – Do Not Enter’.  Apart from this one unkempt area of the park, the rest of the park was beautifully well groomed and cared for.

As I stood looking at this restricted area memories came flooding back of a day eight years ago where family and friends gathered together to celebrate the marriage of our daughter, Tara and her young beau, Preston.  It made me cry as I remembered the day, the people, and the hope of a young and eager love in this bride and groom.  But now this very place where they said their vows was an eerie reminder of the night our world would come crashing down with a single phone call late one September night when Preston was suddenly taken home to be with the Lord.

Through my tears, I looked around at the beauty of the rest of the park surrounding this abandoned area and saw that it was truly a picture of God’s immeasurable faithfulness to us through it all:  the healing, the joy of the birth of Micah Preston Newby, the blessing of seeing both of our daughters trusting the Lord for their futures whatever they may be, seeing our youngest marry her true love, Brad, and just this past week, witnessing how God has provided in a husband for Tara and a Daddy for Jacob and Micah in Kevin.  In that moment my heart was overwhelmed with the reality of God’s kindness and goodness in the midst of our loss.

I’m glad Bob took me to that park tonight because it reminded me that no matter how difficult or even tragic life is; no matter how alone or abandoned we may feel, God is faithful and as we journey with Him, He will continually surround us with His presence, His blessings and  His provision in so many wonderful ways.  Pray for those who are hurting or who have suffered loss, even if they look okay on the outside...and remember that no matter what you may be going through, take time to see the blessings of our Lord for they  are many and He is faithful!

"Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies."  Psalm 36:5

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Learning to share the Gospel

In Sunday School we have been learning how to share our faith with strangers, friends and family.  We use the Living Waters Way of the Master method - which is the method Jesus and the apostles used as well, where He gave Law to the proud and grace to the humble. 

Many people we talk to will answer that they are a 'good' person and feel that they merit heaven because of their goodness, but when we take them through just a few of the Commandments, they see that they have fallen far short of God's standard of moral perfection.  We all have - and that's why we ALL need a Savior.  Without the mercy and kindness shown by God through Jesus Christ, we would all perish and our punishment would be justified because our sins are against God, our Creator, more than they are against our fellow man.  Think about it, if God is absolutely GOOD, which He is, then He must be absolutely JUST(or He would no longer be good) and He wouldn't be God if He could be bribed by our good works, would He?  Why would Jesus Christ have to have gone to the cross if we could save ourselves by our own good works?

So when a person has come to the knowledge that they are guilty before a Holy God and their conscience bears witness to that fact, we share the good news of the Gospel with them - where God the Son stepped into time and became one of us and lovingly took our punishment.  He bore the wrath of God in our stead so that we could be justified - in right standing with God!   God could legally dismiss our case on Judgement Day because the debt we owed for our sin was paid in full by Jesus Christ at the cross.  God calls all men everywhere to repentance and faith so that your sins, no matter how great, can be forgiven.  What a wonderful message!!! 
I think that a lot of Christians struggle with how to Biblically share their faith.  Over the years, I have come up with a three step way to share their faith using symbols and letters:  What Did He Do?  What Will He Do?  What Do You Do?  Here is Breyden who has learned this method.  He is ready to share His faith when the opportunity arises.  I hope this helps you as well.  If anyone is interested in learning it, please let me know!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Get up, Get out and Share Your Faith!!

Sharing our faith does sound scary and that's why it's so easy to fall back on the ever popular method of 'lifestyle evangelism' where we do our best to live out our faith in the hope that people will ask us why we are so different....yet, how many people actually ask you or me that question?

Some of us are intentional about starting relationships with others so that eventually we can share Christ with them.  The trouble with that is that the deeper the friendship gets, the less likely we are to share our faith for fear of losing that friendship when we get around to sharing.

Yet Jesus said to Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation (Mark 16:15).  He called us to preach the Word, to be prepared in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), and to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)

This is something that none of us can ignore.   The message of the cross is offensive and we WILL face persecution, but it will be nothing compared to what those without Christ will suffer for all eternity.  Consider this...

FOR US - the worst thing that can happen is that we could be spit upon, or told to, 'Get Lost', or even tortured or murdered.  JESUS said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11

FOR THEM - The worst thing that WILL happen to those without Christ will be a conscious eternity in Hell:
"Everlasting punishment" (Mathew 25:46)
"Weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 24:51)
"Fire unquenchable" (Luke 3:17)
"Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish" (Romans 2:8,9)
"Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
"Eternal fire...the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 7,13)

How can I be silent knowing what I know about the reality of Hell?  Yes, people may ask me questions I can't answer - that's okay, I can admit that I don't have all the answers, but for me, the most important thing is to try and keep them on track.  I want to get them back to their conscience;  the part of every person where there is conviction of sin.  I hope that through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they will see that if they die in their sin and stand before a Holy God they will get Justice from a God who is good and who cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that they are lawbreakers.  His Holiness and Righteousness demand that He must punish all sin and that place of punishment is Hell.  If they fear going to Hell (and many do) then I will share the Gospel with them, rather than cast the pearls of God's salvation before a proud person who continuously tries to justify their own goodness.  For those who hear the Good News, most are thankful to God and even amazed by His love that He would punish His Son instead of the ones who really deserved it.

After sharing, my prayer is that now that the seeds have been planted, God will grant that person repentance and faith.  My prayer is that those who've heard the Gospel will understand that they are not the ones who must accept Christ, but that He must accept them...and the only way He will do that is if they turn from their sins and put  their trust in Jesus Christ who has paid their debt in full upon the cross......a debt that none of us could pay ourselves.

So, I would encourage you to study and practice and be ready to share your faith.  I believe that God is calling His Church to be ever more diligent in these last days to share the truth of the Gospel with a lost and dying world.  The time is short and Satan is well aware of that.  The road to destruction is gaping open and many are running headlong down it's deadly path, but there is only ONE narrow road that will lead to life and only a few find it.   

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Romans 10:14

Here is an excellent resource page to get you started:

Get up, Get out and share your faith!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Don't Quit!!

What a difference a day can make! Yesterday I went into Vernon to share the Gospel. After praying, I met a young man taking pictures of the scenery who was quite willing to listen to what I had to say. He said that he was a decent human being and that he did his best to be kind, but as we went through God's moral Law, he saw that he fell short of God's perfect standard. He was concerned that if the Bible was true, he would not be going to Heaven. I shared the Gospel and when I asked him what he thought of God taking a punishment that he rightly deserved, he acknowledged that God was "very kind and pretty awesome to do that for me". I gave him something further to read and went on my way.

The next fellow, Gabriel, was a French-Canadian fellow who told me that he was going to Valhalla when he died. He said that it was a type of waiting place, but I've since learned that it is thought to be a place where Norsemen go to do battle after they die. They then go on from there to feast with Odin and other warriors. You'd be surprised at the myriad of beliefs out there when you take the time to ask. I read once that a person's idolatry is as far-reaching as their imagination. Man forms a god to suit themselves or more specifically, to suit their sins and then worships it.

I asked him how he happened upon his belief in Valhalla and he said that it just sounded good to him. It would be something he'd like. He admitted that he was a pretty good person and again as he looked into the mirror of God's moral Law found in the 10 Commandments, he saw himself in truth and agreed that by God's standard, he was not good at all.

He still insisted that he was going to heaven though, so I asked him what the judge would say if I told him that on my way into court for robbing a bank, I had washed the judge's BMW. Gabriel laughed at the analogy and reluctantly admitted that his 'good deed' couldn’t bribe a good and just judge, nor could it free him from paying the consequences of his crime.

He was concerned enough for his soul that he wanted to hear the Gospel. He struggled with the fact that many of his friends were either Jewish, Muslim or Hindu and found it hard to believe that they would be going to Hell. I explained to him that only God can convert a human being; that it is a supernatural work. If God convicts you and grants you, Gabriel, repentance and faith, you can run to your friends and share the good news of the Gospel with them and they don't have to die in their sin. I told him the road to life was narrow and that only a few find it, because men love their sin and would rather hold on to it, than forsake it all and follow Christ. I asked him if he'd part with his eyes for a million dollars - I told him that with the money he could see the world!! (bad joke) But he said that he wouldn't and understood that his soul was worth far more than his eyes. Matthew5:29 We finished our conversation and he walked away reading a little booklet as he went.

Finally, I talked to three young fellows who when asked if they'd ever stolen anything, chuckled and admitted that they had done that very thing a few minutes ago!

Quick as a wink, I pulled out my police whistle and blew it with all my might, then screamed, "Thieves, Thieves, over here!!!" ...okay, I'm kidding, but that may have been kind of funny ...just kind of. Anyway, one of the three took the conversation very seriously, which is what I often find. Others may joke around, but one will be listening and it is always best to speak directly to that person. I know that as he listened, his face expressed concern and my hope is that he was under great conviction. May God continue to draw him in.

The next day, however, was different...
Curtis Baycroft (who really needs some lessons on how to apply make-up) and I went out into Armstrong to evangelize. The first fellow we talked to was painting pigs on windows to display the theme of this year’s IPE "Going Hog Wild". I gave him a million dollar bill and when I told him what it was, he picked it up, held it in front of me and looking into my eyes, proceeded to rip it in half! He crumpled it up and threw it on the ground. Either he was rich and had enough million dollar bills, or he had a bit of a problem with Christianity.

He said, "There is no god, Babe! You can go to the farthest galaxy and ask them if they believe in Jesus and they'll say, 'no'." I wanted to say, "I ain't your Babe", but I wasn't very quick on the draw. He went on to show his absolute displeasure with anyone 'religious', and went up one side of me and down the other side of Curtis.

We listened and interjected a few things here and there, but it seemed that everything fell on deaf ears. I wanted to leave him with something to think about and knowing that the Word of God is a sword that can pierce the soul, I calmly said, "The fool says in his heart that there is no God. That's not a fool like the three stooges kind of fool. The kind of fool described in the Bible is someone who knows the truth, but suppresses it. Sir, you know there is a God because of creation all around you and your conscience bears witness to the fact that there is a God. In the end, you'll have no excuse."

He went on to tell us how sorry he felt for us, so we politely said our 'good-byes' and went away.

Now here's the thing. It would be so easy to quit at that point because it wasn't a very pleasant experience. It was discouraging, somewhat shocking, embarrassing, frustrating, belittling and just plain difficult to listen to. It would have been easy to say out of self-preservation that I am never going to chance getting berated like that again...

Yet I have to think that what that man said to us is nothing compared to what Christians have had to endure in the past and are even enduring at this very minute...which is a reminder to pray for our brothers and sisters sharing the Gospel in so many hostile countries.

For me, it was a learning experience. How am I going to handle a similar situation in the future? What did I say that I could have said differently and more effectively? Will I ever look at pigs painted on windows in the same way again?

One of the many things I learned from the AmbassadorsAcademy last July was that no matter what, we can't with that in mind, we carried on to another part of town. We prayed first and then met a man who took the million dollars and then listened to what we had to say. We left feeling encouraged and blessed after a bit of a trying morning.

I am reminded of a verse in 1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Whatever you are doing in His service, never quit...take courage and carry on. Our labor is not in vain.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Sovereignty of God

Not quite a year ago, the weather was nice, Malory was finishing off her LPN training, Tara and Preston were settling in to their new townhouse in Tualatin. Life was drifting along as it should, as we'd hoped and planned and dreamed and even prayed it would, but that's not how it turned out. In a single the end of a heartbeat all of our frail, finite, human plans came to an end forever.

As a parent the thought that our eldest daughter, Tara, was married to a wonderful, responsible and loving young man was a great comfort. It's not that our daughter was 'hard to marry off' and that some blind fellow had finally come along and scooped her up, it was that the young man who came into her life was just so right for her and she for him....a perfect match. We always felt that she was in such good hands with Preston Clay Newby.

God knew this as well and throughout their six short years together, Tara taught Preston about life beyond books and study and work and he in turn taught her the things of self-discipline and a deeper faith and what it is to live in pursuit of Godliness.

On the night of September 15th, I had come home from work, grabbed a bite to eat and dashed off to get my hair done. I was excited to see Tara, Preston and my precious grandson, Jacob the next afternoon when they would arrive from Portland, Oregon. I busied myself around the house getting their room ready and thought of the upcoming week. Tired and satisfied that the house was as good as it was going to get, I climbed into bed and began to drift off.

The phone rang...that awful sound you dread to hear so late at night. It was Tara telling me that Preston had been hit by a car and to call his parents. I made the despairing call, tried to calm their worst fears and told them that I would call them back as soon as I talked to Tara again. I dialed Tara's cell again and as she tried to explain what had happened, I heard a paramedic's voice in the background say, "I'm sorry, Ma'am, he's gone."

This couldn't be happening; it's not the way we'd planned it. As I tried to make sense of what I had just heard, as I cried out to God to bring him back, Tara said over the phone, "It's okay, Mom, he's dancing with Jesus." Yes, some would put it down to the fact that she was in shock, but there was a peace and a calm assurance in her voice, not in keeping with what she'd just gone through, that I know could only have come from the presence of God in her...words that brought me back to reality.....the striking reality that if Preston was really gone from this earth, he was at that very moment, actually in the presence of Jesus. Still, that didn't change the harsh fact that Tara stood alone on the side of the highway and we couldn't get to her fast enough.

Some would question the reality of God at this point. Others may wonder if through some fault of our own, God was punishing us...those thoughts do tend to go through our minds. For whatever reason God chose to call Preston home that night, I am forever grateful that God had prepared me for this crisis weeks before.

I had been listening to teaching on the Sovereignty of God. I learned that if God is surprised by events taking place on this earth, then He ceases to be the omnicient - He ceases to be the all-knowing God and He isn't in control. There is nothing that surprises Him and nothing that He hasn't ordained.

The night before the accident, I was listening to Todd Friel talking on this subject and he said, "Christian, tragedy is going to strike. Don't think you can avoid it and when it does, you had better know what you believe about the soverienty of God so that you can trust Him and rest in Him and even praise Him through it all."

I shut off my Ipod and the tears began to flow. I got on my knees and prayed to God. I acknowledged that tragedy had never struck our family, but that if it did, I would continue to trust in Him, to praise Him and to look to Him because He is God and He is in control. I remember individually committing each member of our family to Him and said that if He would take any of them, I would still praise Him...I would still trust Him. God was close to me in that time of prayer and I felt a blessed assurance as I settled into bed that night.

The next night, we received Tara's call and as I drove down to Portland through the night, although the tears flowed and the grief was intense, I was overwhelmed with a peace that really does transcend all of our earthly understanding. Tara was not alone on the side of that unforgiving stretch of highway, God was with her and Micah and Jacob... and God was still in control and I could praise Him and even thank Him for whatever it was He was doing in our lives.

Do you understand the Sovereignty of God? Do you know full well that nothing surprises or shocks Him; that He has seen the end from the beginning and in spite of all our earthly plans, His plans will always trump ours. If you know this, when tragedy strikes, you will continue not only to walk with Him in faith, look forward to what He will do through and beyond that valley, but you will continue to praise Him and His peace will cover you.

Isaiah 45:5-7 I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I form the light and create darkness; I, the LORD, do all these things.

God is good and worthy of all praise.

Credited to our Account

Lately, while listening to my favourite radio host, he spoke of the righteousness of Christ being credited to our account. I had never really given that much thought except to consider that I would be covered by the righteousness of Christ instead of my sin....but what does that really mean?

If 2000 years ago, Jesus had just come to this earth as a mature adult, established himself as God and that same day, died on the cross to pay for our sins, as christians, we would have indeed been found not guilty, but we would still have just had a blank slate, which of course, would have been far better than the filthy slate we presently have.

But because Jesus, the man/God, was born and raised among us... because he was tempted in every way we are yet was without sin.... because he obeyed the Law in thought, word and deed, not breaking it at any point...all of his obedience which resulted in His perfect righteousness can now be credited to our account. Think about it, our slate won't be blank, but will have all of HIS credits on it! God won't just say that we're forgiven; He'll say that we're not guilty. It will be as if we had lived that same righteous life Jesus did. Wow!! That is imputed righteousness and that is truly amazing grace!!

Look at Romans 8:3-4 "For what the law was powerless to do (in that it couldn't save us) in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, (because we can't keep it perfectly) God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be FULLY MET IN US, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit."    Christ'sRighteousness

What a kind God we serve!!! Not only did Jesus take our punishment and pay our fine, but he gives us His perfect righteousness. How great and merciful is our God!!


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