boyradd

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Archive for the tag “evangelizing”

As American as Apple Pie, Baseball, and….Mormonism?!?!

Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

A few days ago, my girlfriend got us tickets to go see the Minnesota Twins play the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. She and her boys are big baseball fans so we headed out for a night on the town. Now I am not a baseball fan. I like futbol and football, in that order. Columbus Crew in the USA and Argentina internationally for soccer and the Pittsburgh Steelers for football are my faves. If they are on, especially if the Crew is playing DC United or the Steelers are playing the Ravens, you better believe I will be enjoying the game somehow. But this was neither soccer nor football. It was baseball, much longer than either of those other two sports. Strangely enough, it was on the 98th anniversary of the fastest baseball game ever played. And the Twins even played in that game, the Winston-Salem Twins. That game was 31 minutes long for 9 innings. Ah whatever happened to the good ole days.

But I digress.

As we were walking into the stadium there was a single man on the street corner giving a fire and brimstone sermon. Clearly Christian, this man was yelling Bible verses AT people. Everyone, including myself, gave a second glance thinking this guy was crazy. I felt bad for thinking that and went on into the stadium to watch the game.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes

Part of the way through the game we saw a couple young men, no older than say 25, walking up one of the aisles wearing black dress pants, a white shirt, and a name tag. My first inclination was, “There are some Mormons at the baseball game!” I never expected to see a couple Mormons in uniform at a baseball game, but I figured, “Heck, they need to get out and have fun just like the rest of us, right?”

They were clearly enjoying the game, but I don’t think that is why they were there.

Later, as we were leaving we saw a LOT more.   It seemed as if they had enough Mormon men there to place teams of 2 in a majority of the bleacher sections. As we walked through the stadium to the exit, there were groups of people taking pictures with the Mormons and speaking with them.

Then at a red light near the stadium, they were talking to people in general conversation. I overheard very little of it, but what I did hear was talking about Mormonism.

One man even walked a family to their car! He shook hands with the family and I saw them talking about something for a little while before we drove off.

Now, Christian, I am first going to say that Mormonism is a cult. I posted about that here. But quickly, here are a lot of things where Mormonism runs counter to Christianity:

  • God used to be a man on another planet (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321)
  • God resides at a star called Kolob (Mormon Doctrine, p. 428)
  • After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential to become a god (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347)
  • There is a Mother God (Articles of Faith, p. 443)
  • God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516)
  • The Trinity is composed of three separate gods (Articles of Faith, p. 35)

Those are just a few of the ways Mormonism differs from Christianity.

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

But one thing is very similar in both: Evangelism is the key to spreading the message.

So which do you think is more effective?

Standing on the street corner blasting through a very loud P.A. system that Jesus is the only way to save you from hell….

or…

Spending time getting to know the people at the stadium, walk with them to their cars, and help them as they spend time with their families at the baseball game.

One of the rare times that we saw Jesus lose His temper was directed only to the religious elite. Every time He spent time with the sinners, He was filled with grace and compassion.

And that is precisely what the Mormons were doing at the baseball game. They were showing grace, compassion, and genuine love for their fellow humans.

James 2:26 – For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

I hate to say it, Christians, but Mormons got us beat in the evangelism arena. We have a lot of catching up to do. It is as if we know we have the right answer (which we do) and yet we lord it over people rather than love them into the community.

I’ve heard it said before (on a DC Talk album) that the “greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who proclaim Him with their lips and deny Him with their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Christians, it is time for us to evangelize. Yes, we need to use words. But even more so, we need to use actions. Faith without works is dead. When the people see the man on the street corner yelling the Bible at them, they do not see the man who would potentially walk beside them in the tough times. They just know this guy is yelling at them.

When they see the Mormons talk about their faith as they are walking a family late at night to their car, then they gain instant credibility because they are acting out that faith.

We need to act out the faith we proclaim. We need to break down the defenses of the world around peoples’ hearts before they will listen to the words we speak to them. If we simply go AT them with the Bible instead of going TO them and walking with them as they struggle, they will shut us out.

So let’s take a lesson from the Mormons. No, I don’t mean listening to any of the heresy they proclaim. But I do mean evangelizing like a Mormon. It will add credibility to your message that you are trying to preach.

James 2:18 – But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Have You Been To The Dentist Lately?

For those of who read this blog, you know that when I mean dentist, I most likely don’t mean dentist.  But in this case, I am going to talk about both the real dentist AND the metaphorical dentist, in this case, Christ.  So if you are like me and the sound of the dentist’s drill totally makes you want to faint, then man up and read anyway.  Paul said we are to not have a spirit of fear  (2 Timothy 1:7) but of boldness.  I fully believe that he is talking about proclaiming the Word of God, so I am still allowed to have my fear of the dentist.

A few weeks ago I started feeling a sharp pain in my teeth whenever I drank or ate something cold.  Knowing it was not normal for me to cringe in pain whenever I ate something, I felt it was important to head to the dentist.  Now, I am quite fearful of the dentist.  As a matter of fact, I can’t recall the last official time I had been to the dentist.  It had to be at least 7 years, probably more.

I WAS PETRIFIED WITH FEAR!

When the receptionist answered the phone, I paused for a few minutes, thinking to myself, “Do I really want to go through with this?” and “I wonder what snide remarks they will make about me not going to a dentist for so many years.”

But I made my appointment and showed up early.  They took me back, took some X-rays and pictures, poked me with a few sharp instruments, and came up with the conclusion:  I needed 2 crowns and a filling.

I thought they would be saying words about me not going to a dentist in years or how poorly my teeth look.  But they didn’t.  They were very nice, very accommodating, and very helpful.  I am still not a fan of multiple shots to numb my face or the sound of that drill or the 2 hours that I had to keep my mouth open.  But I will say that they not only took care of my issues in my mouth, but my issues with my fear.  They made me feel comfortable.  They understood the issues I have with fear of dentists.  They knew I needed to be there, but totally empowered me to know that I needed the services they provided.  Before I continue, I want to give a shout out to Dr. Doring and his team.  You need dental services? They are the people to call! www.doringdds.com.

But as I was lying in that chair with my mouth open, I started wondering if people see church the way that I see the dentist.  Could it be that people are so fearful of going to church that they simply do not choose to go.

The church could easily be seen like the dentist to a culture that is scared to experience the truth.  God’s Word is very clear.  Much of society’s focuses (views on homosexuality, the marginalizing of Jesus, etc….) are all items that make people uncomfortable when discussing.  And churches are known (at least the Bible-believing ones) for preaching a Gospel that is countercultural.  When you preach a countercultural message, you make people uncomfortable.

Like the dentist’s drill (which I can still hear in my ears days after leaving the dentist’s office), the Word of God is fashioned to cut away the rotted out parts of our lives.  The author of Hebrews puts it perfectly:  For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (4:12)

So if the Word of God is going to hurt, why would anyone want to walk into a Bible-believing church?

The answer is simple:  because God’s people are (at least we should be) people who will disciple those who have a desire to learn more.  To disciple means to walk beside someone, in the good times and the bad.  To disciple is to stick with someone as they are scared to hear the Word of God.  Like the dental assistant who sat with me and talked to me, and knowing how uncomfortable I was calmed me down so that the dentist could do the work on my mouth that was necessary.

If we think of God as the dentist, it is our job to be the dental assistant, comforting the scared and walking beside them so that God can do His amazing work in their life.

I have been re-reading a book that I really like, Radically Unchurched by Alvin Reid.  In it, he shares the story of Bill.  Bill shows up late to a fully packed church dressed like he just came off the streets.  Since the church is packed, Bill sits down in the aisle up front near the stage.  Everyone looks nervous when they see a deacon in his eighties get out of his seat.  This particular deacon looks very nice, dressed in his three-piece suit and well-groomed.  He walks slowly over to the young man.  Everyone in the church is expecting the deacon to explain a little bit about church decorum to the man.  A silence fills the sanctuary.  Eventually, the old man reaches the young man, puts his cane on the floor and slowly (and most likely painfully) lowers himself and sits next to Bill just so he wouldn’t feel alone during the service. (Reid 2002)

Is this you?  Is this your church?  How welcome do we make people feel as they walk through the doors of our churches?  The message is a hard one to hear, especially when it runs countercultural to our current situations.  Are we as Christians making it more difficult for others to hear it because of how we react to outsiders, sinners, and those who don’t fit our Christian mold?

So, for all the Bills out there, how long has it been since you’ve been to the “dentist?”

And for all the Christians out there, how long has it been since you have taken the role of dental assistant?

Maybe it is time we look very closely to our churches and make it as comfortable as possible so that Bill can be discipled and we can all get our souls fixed.

Amen.

*I was not paid for my endorsement of Dr. Doring.

Bibliography

Reid, Alvin. Radically Unchurched: Who are they and how to reach them. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002.

 

 

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