Archives For Evangelism

As a warm-up to Reformation Day–next week Monday–I decided to re-run this post, which I wrote when Benedict XVI became the first pope ever to resign from his post.

Pope Benedict XVIYou’ve got to admire Pope Benedict XVI for knowing how to quit while you’re ahead. As far as climbing the corporate ladder goes, getting the keys to the kingdom and the company Popemobile is a sign you’ve maxed out your promotability. An ironic flavor or the “Peter principle.”

The responsibility of being infallible is a burden no octogenarian should have to bear for long. When you’re getting on in years, and noticing an increased frequency in “senior moments” you don’t want to have to invoke St Anthony to help locate your misplaced keys.

As for the new kid on the block, weighing in at a spritely seventy-six years young (getting the white smoke green light two years sooner than his predecessor), Pope Francis the First ushers in a new era of pontificating. Personally, I think the name Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a cooler name than Francis (no offense pastor Chan), but having a 1 in your name certainly scores points for originality.

My concern whenever the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) perennially makes the news, is that Evangelicals get swept up in debates with their Catholic counterparts at the water cooler without really knowing what Catholics believe. Evangelicals assume that Joe Catholic at work knows and believes what the Pope teaches.

I grew up in a loving, fun, and staunchly Catholic home. When my Evangelical schoolmates lobbed half-baked assaults on my Mariology, purgatory, indulgences, and praying to St Christopher for a safe bus ride, they accomplished no more than convince me they were ignorant of my beliefs.

My Baptistic buddies learned, from their youth pastor no doubt, that Catholics believe in arcane ideas like the treasury of merit, that contraception is evil, and that Mary was born sinless and was assumed into heaven without ever tasting death. It was true that the Pope and other die-hards knew, understood, and believed in all those doctrines, but I could dismiss most of their attacks by honestly denying that I believed any of it. This curtailed their conversion attempts, and left me just as Catholic in my own mind as I would be if I actually did subscribe to the official teachings of the RCC.

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret a nun taught me in the 1st grade when I questioned transubstantiation (it turns out trace elements of Sola Scriptura were already stashed deep in my spiritual DNA from before the foundation of the world, according to Eph 1:4). Here it is…

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October 21, 2016

That’s the Gospel

by Mike Riccardi

Recently I had the privilege of presiding over my first “installation service” for a friend of mine, Alan, who served alongside me at Grace Church while he was in seminary. An installation service is basically where a new pastor is ceremoniously installed as the pastor of the church he’s been called to. It usually involves a personal and passionate call to the task of the ministry by another pastor whom the new pastor considers a mentor and/or friend. I was humbled and privileged to do that for the first time for a dear brother of mine. It was a wonderful time to be with him and his new church family, and I’m encouraged what the Lord is doing and will do through Bethany Community Fellowship in Sylvania, Ohio.

While I was there, Alan also asked me to do a series of seminars on evangelism as a weekend conference ahead of the installation service. I was delighted to do oblige, as it was a treat for me to discuss the motivation, message, and method of evangelism with the saints at Bethany. Toward the end the seminar in which I was teaching through the various points to cover in a Gospel presentation, I tried to encapsulate all I had said in the previous hour in a three-and-a-half minute summary, while also modeling for them what it looks like to succinctly proclaim the Gospel to someone. It turns out that the gang at Bethany turned it into a short video, which I share with you all today. My hope is that it serves as an example of how we can evangelize both with brevity and accuracy, and as an encouragement for you to speak the Gospel to those to whom the Lord brings you in your daily lives. Transcript below.

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October 17, 2016

Saints on a Mission

by Clint Archer

The Mont-Joux pass is the erstwhile name of a particularly treacherous mountain pass in the Alps straddling Switzerland and Italy. For centuries thousands of lost sojourners perished trying to cross it in the biting winter. When a snowstorm unpredictably arose, there would be a whiteout, and with no way to stay on course travelers would get disoriented, distressed, irrevocably lost, and slowly freeze to death.

percopio-stbernardBut, suddenly, in the 1700s the death rate declined drastically. The reason was not due to any serendipitous technological advances. The climate hadn’t changed. The reason for the increased survival rate was a dog; or to be more accurate, a breed of dogs. This uncanny canine breed possessed a prodigious aptitude for navigation in the blinding fog, a preternatural stamina in below freezing temperatures, and an almost mystical ability to locate lost people in a blizzard.

By this stage in history the pass had been named for the monastery founded by St Bernard of Mont-Joux, so naturally the dogs were also canonized, as St Bernards.

During the 200 or so years that the faithful saints served on the St Bernard Pass, over 2,000 lost souls were rescued from the frost-bitten clutches of an icy death. When the “saints” found a lost soul, they would rescue the iced travelers with a simple but effective, methodical process: first, they located them in the snow with their super-sniffer abilities, then they would deliver a life-saving supply of whiskey and bread in quaint oaken barrels strapped around their necks, and finally they would lead the revived popsicle back to the monastery at a blood-stirring pace by borrowing a pathway with their broad chests at a determined gait.

The rescue dog breed is an apt metaphor for the intrepid sub-species of Christian, the full time missionary. This is a breed of believer that exhibits extraordinary stamina and perseverance, and the exceptional abilities to sniff out local spiritual and physical needs, and lead disciples by example, into the soul-saving truth. Missionaries  also admit that they are impotent to help the lost soul, except for delivering the life-giving elixir they carry with them, namely the gospel message.

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October 13, 2016


by d p

Image result for fishing net sunrise

strengthen feeble hands
and tighten loosened cords
for we must throw these nets wide n’ long
n’ our ropes must hold strong as we hold on
’till every catch has been caught
’till every cast has been fought
’till our deck is filled with all the fish that we got

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lucky charms and honey combs.001

One of the most overwhelming figures in Scripture is the giant angel that John encounters in Revelation 10. Between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgements, after witnessing the death of 1/3 of the earth but while waiting for the ministry of the two witnesses, John’s vision is interrupted by a figure with no parallel in the Bible.

This angel descends from heaven, and lands with one foot in the water and one foot on the land. He towers over the earth, and raises a hand up into the heavens. His feet are on fire, and he wears a rainbow like a crown of glory.

He has divine characteristics. For example, he is clothed in the clouds—an idiom which in the Old Testament is reserved for God himself (Psalm 97:2; Job 38:9).  He is holding the scroll in his hand, which back in Revelation 5, only Jesus was worthy to open.

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Shakespeare was a sonnet maestro. A sonnet, from the Italian word meaning little sound, is a structured form of poetic expression. An English sonnet has 14 lines, each one must contain 10 syllables and there are certain rules for rhyming. The point of the sonnet is to show the poet’s prowess commanding the language to conform to strict limits, while still expressing what he wants to communicate in an artistic way.tweet button

The Bard used sonnets, we use tweets. Twitter limits our expression to 140 characters. This is somewhat easier than what Shakespeare had to do, but for many loquacious youths these days, any type of limit is a challenge.

Founder, Jack Dorsey, explains,

[W]e came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

The brevity of the tweet is what makes it simultaneously both appealing, and potentially useless. But Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard says,

The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful.”

But just because a message is short, does not mean it is insignificant.

Horatio Spafford saw his life collapse when he heard his four daughters had drowned in a shipwreck. This news came from his wife’s poignant telegram: “Saved Alone.”

World War 2 ended with the words “Unconditional Surrender.”

My wife made my day, and my life, with two words: “I do.”

In Jonah 3 we see five (Hebrew) words that changed history for over 600,000 people, with implications that echo in our very lives today.

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seals jumpingNavy SEALs and other elite military units are experts in a death-defying insertion maneuver known as HALO, or High Altitude Low Opening parachute deployment. From oxygen starved altitudes of 30,000 ft, where the temperature is -45C/ -50F, out of the range of surface to air missiles, the troops free fall at terminal velocity, and deploy their chutes just in time to land on earth alive.

The effect on an unsuspecting enemy is undeniable. One moment you are casually plotting the demise of democracy (or whatever villains do nowadays) and the next moment you are inundated with a disorientating shock-and-awe rapid-fire invasion.

It’s not only SEAL teams who are trained for this style of descent. We learned to do this in seminary.

Well, that’s how it felt to me. Our Apologetics and Evangelism professor had us do every kind of evangelistic technique known to man. I suppose the purpose was to equip us for whatever our future ministries needed, but to me the HALO-style campus evangelism was the hardest to do.

I could preach to a hostile crowd, or craft a written apologetic argument, or even approach an unbelieving friend with a face to face gospel discussion. But what terrified me was being dropped off at the local secular college campus armed with a Bible, a fistful of cheesy tracts, and a brown paper bag for my hyperventilation.

I was expected to accost total strangers with a gospel presentation they had neither invited nor expected. I can’t tell who was more uncomfortable, me or the single guy eating his lunch in peace until he made eye contact with me, which activated my jelly-legs to carry me over to sit next to him.

It was a rewarding exercise, which made me really admire Christians who are gifted at that kind of cold turkey evangelism. Countless souls have been won to Christ through such bold efforts. But there are also other ways to evangelize.

The Apostle Paul—not known to need much prodding toward evangelizing!—wrote to the Colossians, with a surprising prayer request…

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January 14, 2016

How the gospel works:

by Jesse Johnson

I recently came across a video ambitiously titled, “Proving that nobody can get into heaven.” It was produced by Marshall Brain, the same guy who founded the How Stuff Works website, and the author of How “God” Works, which is essentially an argument for atheism.

The video is ten years old, but it’s still making the rounds online. To spare you the 8-plus minutes of it, I’ll summarize Brain’s argument here. He claims he can prove that heaven is “a fairy tale” by looking at the eight times Jesus was asked what it would take to go there. According to Brain, here are the eight answers:   Continue Reading…

*Greetings Crippledgators!  I’m back for a single article!*

Many moons ago, in the comment thread of the first part of the Shack Up, an LDS (or “Mormon”) commenter showed up and we had a little back-and-forth.  In the post, I claimed that no other world religion has writings that claim “to actually be written by God by means of people who were writing on behalf of, and empowered and guided by, the Spirit of God himself.”  The commenter suggested that the book of Mormon did indeed claim to be inspired, as according to the above definition.  I asked for citation, and he gave a series of references that I challenged as insufficient.  He also gave a smooth-sounding argument for additional scripture, which I’ll summarize:

1. The people recorded in the Bible added to the Bible without violating the commands of the Bible.

2.  Men chose which books to include in the Canon of Scripture, but they learned which books were inspired because they prayed about it.

3.  You too can pray about it and discover whether other books (i.e. the Book of Mormon) are also inspired.

4.  Therefore, pray about the book of Mormon so that God can tell you whether or not it’s inspired.

If you’ve had any interaction with LDS folks, the you’re likely encountered some form of the first three arguments but you’ve certainly encountered the fourth.  Conversations with LDS people often close in an exhortation to simply read the book of Mormon and pray that God would convict you, one way or the other, regarding the truth of the book of Mormon.


Seeing that this question comes up from time to time in my life and I’ve never taken the time to actually write out a response to it, I’m going to do that for the benefit of both myself and you, the Cripplegate readers. Continue Reading…

By now you’ve heard that ISIS has struck again, and again they have directed their hate towards Paris. Over 100 people enjoying dinner, enjoying entertainment struck dead without a thought.

Before you think this is only a French problem, know that there are over 1000 active ISIS probes in the United States.

So many men and women, probably living in your neighborhood, are actively plotting someway to kill as many people as they can.

It doesn’t end there. There are earthquakes happening. Tsunamis are coming. There are tsunamiburglars murdering pregnant pastor’s wives.

There are mentally deranged killers walking on our college campuses.

There are thousands of people all over the world actively driving drunk. There are people who have no idea, but their bodies are filled with a sickness that will take their life at any second.

How do we deal with this reality?

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