Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fishing Report: Transformed (the next day)

(This is Part 3 of a 3 part series. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

This morning was Sunday and the day after the Transformed conference. I got to church early to practice for worship, and my fishing buddy says, "Come with me after church. I want to go talk to somebody about Jesus. I'm making it my goal to talk to at least one person a day."

We take turns in witnessing, alternating who drives the conversation. We learned from experience that 2 people trying to drive a witnessing encounter usually makes for a long, frustrating conversation that goes nowhere. Instead, one of us mostly carries the conversation while the other prays.

Of course that meant that today was my turn.

Something else I learned: at a men's prayer meeting, I had the opportunity to talk with a guy who came to check the fire extinguishers. But I barely got into the conversation before we ran out of time and were interrupted. The solution? Always carry gospel tracts with you. It happened again today, but I was prepared.

We went to a gas station near church, because time was short and the weather was rainy and yucky. (Yes, the gas station is covered.) Charlie is my eyes, so he found someone to talk to. We approached the man as he was pumping gas and asked if I could share something with him that I was asked to practice from a conference I just went to. He agreed. I asked if he was a good person, and he said no. I asked if he had a Christian background, and he said "nondemoninational." So I asked if he'd kept the ten commandments, and went through a few of them. He admitted to being a liar, and theif, and an adulterer in the eyes of Jesus. I asked if he'd be innocent or guilty, and he said....innocent. I reasoned with him: would you say it's fair to say that you've committed 3 sins a day? No, of course not.

"Really? God sees every thought. Everything you've done in secret. 3 sins a day?" He agreed.

"Man, that's 1000 sins every year of your life. If God is just, how can he let you go with a wrap sheet like that?" He agreed. At that point, he was finished pumping his gas. Feeling like I might be pushing my luck, I pulled out a World's Best Optical Illusions tract from my pocket and handed it to him. I said, "I know you're done, and I appreciate you talking with us. This tells you how you can get to Heaven." He took the tract, shook our hands and was off. Unlike our church's fire extinguisher guy, he got the Gospel even though we ran out of time.

Charlie stirs me up. I'm serious. If you don't have someone who stirs you up, pray for him or her. Pray for open doors in your conversations today. Look for them. They're all around each of us. Mention something having to do with God in your natural conversations, and say, "Do you ever think about spiritual stuff much? What do you think happens when we die? Do you think there's a Heaven? Do you think you're good enough to go there?" and you're off and running. My primary goal for this blog is to encourage you to share your faith. Remember that God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to reach this world for Jesus Christ. The FOOLISHNESS of preaching. Count me in.

Fishing Report: Transformed

(this is Part 2 of a 3 part series. Read Part 1 here.)

My fishing buddy is fearless. Driving home from the Transformed conference, he pulls into a gas station and drives around for a few minutes. Then he leaves and finds another gas station. I kept asking what he was doing, and he said, "you really don't no?" Nope. I was cluless.

"No use going to a conference if you're not going to apply what you leanred."

So Charlie saw 2 guys starting to pump gas. "Hey guys, you pumping gas? Do mind if we talk to you for a few minutes?"

They agreed. All four of us hopped out of the car, and Charlie and I went up to the 2 guys while the others stayed back a bit.

Charlie approached them. "Hey, we just came from this conference, and we want to apply what we've learned. Please indulge us for a couple seconds."

He pulled out a witnessing tool we purchased at the conference called the Lie Detector. It's a pocket-sized box that reads, "Lie Detector. Are you a good person? Let the cube decide. Drop it onto the box." It has 2 circles: yes and no. The cube, of course, is magnetically drawn to "no" no matter where you put it. Charlie asked both men to put the cube on the box of either yes or no. Of course, they both went for "yes," and the cube went to "no" both times. They really got a kick out of it.

So Charlie asked them if they've kept the ten commandments. He took them through the commandments, and as we continued, the look on their faces became somber as they realized their guilt before God. One of them admitted that he was a liar. But he hadn't stolen anything. I joked, "come on, man. You just told me you're a liar!" He laughed, but overall the mood became very somber as Carlie continued, and they admitted that if God judges them by that standard, they'd be guilty and end up in Hell. Charlie told them about the cross, the forgiveness God offers, and the neccessity of repentence and faith. He reasoned with them about how long eternity is, and reminded them that they could choose to live forever with the one who died in their place.

I concluded the conversation by pleading with them. I clapped my hands once a second as I said, "every second, 7 people die. Many of them didn't see it coming. It came upon them unexpectedly." I continued to clap the seconds as I spoke. "Shouldn't you give this some serious thought tonight? Shouldn't you make sure you're right with God tonight?" With thoughtful, somber faces, both men shook their head "yes." The Gospel clearly had an impact in those 2 men Saturday night, and I pray that the seed that was planted grows mightily. It was one of the most amazing witnessing encounters I've ever had.

The conversation was 5 minutes long. But I'll never forget it. If you ride roller coasters or skydive or bungee jump for a rush, I'm telling you that nothing beats the rush of sharing with someone how they can have complete forgiveness of sins, eternal life, a clear conscience, and the peace that comes only from the One who died in our place, sacrificing Himself so that we could go free. Sometimes, people laugh and snicker. It's still a rush. But Saturday night was unforgettable. Please pray for these 2 guys. Satan would like to snatch the seed before it takes root in their hearts.

My fearless fishing companion wasn't done, however. Sunday morning, he greeted me with another surprise...



I must admit that, being very familiar with the ministries of guys like Ray Comfort and Todd Friel, I wasn't sure I'd get much out of the Transformed Conference.

Still, I was excited to go with my fishing buddy Charlie and 2 others from our church who wanted to be encouraged and equipped on how to share their faith. I knew I'd enjoy the fellowship on the drive (no, I didn't drive) and maybe pick up a few pointers along the way that would help me to share my faith more effectively. I can say that in a real sense, I left this weekend truly Transformed. Any Christian that has a chance to spend a few hours on a Saturday at the Transformed conference ought to do so. You'll be glad you did.

The first speaker was Ray Comfort. God used Ray's "Hell's Best Kept Secret" message to save me, so I've been familiar with his ministry for quite some time (my way of saying I really don't remember the date of my spiritual birthday). I forgot how funny Ray is! Somebody sneezed in the audience, and Ray said, "God bless you! See? Every sneeze is an opportunity to witness."

The thing I remember most from Ray's message will probably stick with me for some time. He challenged us: If you knew you would get $10,000 for every person you witnessed to, could you swallow your fears and share your faith? If we love money that much, how much more should the horrifying reality of Hell and our love for the Savior compel us to share our faith?

The next speaker was Todd "friekishly tall" Friel, who gave us a vivid picture of the true meaning of the biblical word "repentence." He said, "What if I told you we were going to drive south of here (we decided to drive to Venice - one of very few places south of Kenner), and you got in the car and we drove and drove for hours on end. You notice that it's getting colder, and you get the feeling we're going the wrong direction. Your feelings are confirmed when you see a sign that says "Canada - 40 miles.

"Now what would you want me to do? Change my mind about the direction we're going? No. You'd want me to do 6 things.

1. Recognize that I'm going the wrong direction.
2. Stop.
3. Apologize.
4. Turn around.
5. Start driving in the opposite (correct) direction.
6. Keep going until we get there.

Said Todd, "THAT'S biblical repentance." God commands all men everywhere to repent (and trust the Savior) because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.

Next up was Mark Spence, the dean of the School of Biblical Evangelism at Living Waters. I like Mark, because he's a to the point, practical, hands-on guy. He went through some video clips and strategies for dealing with people of different backgrounds. I love Mark's "ok, so what? What do we do with all of this?" style.

The final speaker was Emeal "EZ" Zwayne. EZ packed a whole conference's worth of exhortation into about 30 minutes. He talked faster than an auctioneer. He used probably at least 5 illustrations that would help me in witnessing, if he talked slow enough for me to catch them all. Luckily, you can find videos of other Transformed conferences on Youtube. When I have more time, I'll get all of the illustrations down.

He did present the Jesus A-Z poem. I actually memorized that poem today, so that I more readily have a framework to remind myself of all the reasons Jesus is worthy of praise. Praying is hard. Distractions come and I lose focus very easily. The Jesus A-Z poem helps to remind me that I'm in the throne room of almighty God when I come to pray, and that He's altogether lovely, the chief cornerstone, the bread of life, the Great Physician, and all those other amazing things.

Another thing EZ said that really stuck out to me was this: "Biologically, I'm a Father. Nothing I can do will change that. The question is: what kind of Father am I? You are an ambassador of Jesus Christ. The question is: what kind of ambassador are you?"

But the most amazing impact on the conference came afterward. If you don't have someone in your life that is stirring up the gifts that God has placed in you, please, I beg you, pray fervently for God to bring you that type of person. I know now, more than ever, why God's word tells us not to forsake assembling together.

Why do I say that? Stay tuned for the next fishing report.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jesus Is...(from Transformed Conference)

I won't start writing about the Transformed Conference, because it's late and I'm exhausted. I'll save that for tomorrow-ish. But I want to share a poem that Emeal "EZ" Zwayne presented at the conference, that really meant a lot to me. He didn't mention the author, so I'm sorry that I cannot give proper credit. In context, EZ presented this as he talked about Jesus' claim in scripture to be the Alpha and the Omega (or in English, the A and the Z). EZ emphatically pointed out that He's everything in between, too, saying:

Jesus is...
To the artist, He is the altogether lovely one.
To the builder, He is the chief cornerstone.
To the chef, He is the bread of life.
To the doctor, He is the great physician.
To the educator, He is the master teacher.
To the florist, He is the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley.
To the geologist, He is the rock of ages.
To the horticulturist, He is the true vine.
To the intellectual,, He is the wisdom of God.
To the jeweler, He is the head of the church, which is the pearl of great price.
To the king, He is the prince of peace.
To the lawyer, He is the judge of all the earth.
To the manufacturer, He is the creator of all things.
To the newsman, He is the glad tidings of great joy.
To the occultist in search of the light, He's the light of the world.
To the philanthropist, He's the gift of God.
To the queen, He's the king of kings.
To the rabbi, He's the messiah.
To the scholar, He is the truth.
To the theologian, He is the author and finisher of our faith.
To the undertaker, He is the resurrection and the life.
To the visionary, He is the revelation of God.
To the waiter, He came not to be served but to serve.
To the x-ray technician, He is the Word of God, to whom all things are naked and bare.
To the youth, He is the life.
And to the zealot, He is the Son of God, for whom life is worth living.

More on Transformed coming...and yes...GASP....a FISHING REPORT! :)