One Night in Athens Thursday September 12, 2013

Almost every Friday night, you will find a few men on the corner of College and Clayton, in Athens, GA, preaching the Gospel.  Since Thursday nights are usually just as crowded, with young college students, you will often find us there, as well.  This particular night began a little odd…

Terrorizing a Fire Hydrant

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Just as we were setting up to preach, a man walked over and asked if we were tampering with the fire hydrant.  He was not a city worker, policeman, or any other type of official.  After we inquired, as to what he meant, he proceeded to tell us that he wanted to make sure we were not trying to put something in the water.  After we informed him, several times, that we were not, he walked away and sat on a nearby bench. 

A few minutes later he came back, checking the fire hydrant with his hand to make sure all of the caps were tight.  Then he asked us to move our backpacks, that were leaning on the hydrant.  We told him that we were not going to move them, to which he replied, “I’ll get the cops”.  We practically begged the guy to call the police, but for some reason, he did not.  But do not fear, Athens residents!  We had our backpacks there all night and were not even tempted to poison the city’s water supply.

The Irate G.I.

After the fire hydrant was secure, a drunken soldier, walked by saying he was going to fight one of the street vendors, to the death.  After my friend informed him that the street vendor had back up, the G.I. turned his anger toward us.  He yelled at my friend for having on a digital cammo heed thingy, while boasting about wearing digital cammo to kill people, in the two wars he had fought in. 

He went on ranting, claiming to know more about the Bible than we did, etc.(typical on the street)  When we asked him to show us something, in the Bible, that he was claiming to be there, he replied, “Do I look like I have a %#@$ Bible?”  We told him we had one and he said.”Bust it out!”  When I did, he said he did not want it.  When I reminded him that he had in fact asked for it, he called me a liar.  He turned on his best impression of a Drill Instructor, which was a pitiful display, and eventually he moved on.

On a personal note:  It has been my experience that guys, who have served in combat, rarely go down the street boasting about their exploits.  Most seem to keep that to themselves and if they talk about it, it is to other G.I.s, whom can relate to their experiences. 

 

I’ll Friend You into Heaven!

We will usually have one or two people, who claim to be Christians, that want to swing by and let us know that we are going about this evangelism thing all wrong.  This Thirsty Thursday was no different.[1]  A drunk young man, claiming to be a Christian, told me I should go to Africa and help those people, instead of standing on the street corner yelling at drunk college kids.  After asking him if his friends were  Christians, he said no.  I asked him if he thought they were going to die, and burn in hell for eternity, bothered him.  He just had a blank stare.  I followed up with, “you mean that you do not care if your friends die and burn in hell forever?”  He replied, “I guess I don’t”.  I asked him why he was worried about the people in Africa, when he could care less about whether or not his own friends went to hell.  He looked puzzled, said he was sorry and continued across the street.  I’m not sure what he was sorry for.  I pray that he was sorry for neglecting the Great Commission, but I hope he examines himself to see if he, in fact, is a Christian.

Salvation is a seat on the Bus

Finally, a young fellow came to inform us, you guessed it, that we were going about this evangelism thing all wrong.  Unlike the previous young man, this guy claimed to share his faith.  I was almost excited, until we asked him what the Gospel was.  He told us that the Gospel was: Giving up your seat on a crowded bus for a little old lady.  Huh?  Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving up your seat, for a little old lady, but that isn’t the Gospel.  Yep, my excitement quickly turned to sadness.  I was hoping he just did not understand how to articulate the Gospel.  After multiple attempts to get it out of him, and even explaining it to him, he didn’t get it.  He then went off on a, CS Lewis is just as good as the Bible, salvation is just a great feeling, my friends have been teaching me the Bible for one and a half years but I do not know a single Bible verse, you’re Bible thumping Southern Baptist and don’t have Jesus, I have converted atheists to Christianity, tangent that would make your head spin.

At times this can be a frustrating and heart-breaking ministry, but God is gracious.  In the midst of this, God sent a couple of brothers in Christ, to encourage us.  As soon as the irate G.I. left, a man came over and told us he gives us two thumbs up for what we do and that he knows we go through a lot of stuff on the street.  He repeated the encouragement several times before he walked away.   A few moments later, as my friend was preaching, another young man walked over and asked me if our PA had a volume knob.  I thought it was another one of those, you’re doing it wrong, guys, but he was not.  After I told him that it did, he said we should turn it up so more people could hear us.  He gave some encouraging words and went on his way.  He actually came by later and encouraged my friend that had been preaching the first time he came by.      

Serving God can be tough, whether you’re a pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, trying to live for God on the job or a street evangelist.  Do not give in to the temptation to quit.  Do not allow Satan to silence you! 

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9 NKJV).


            [1] Thirsty Thursday happens every Thursday.  It is the night especially set aside for college kids to go out and waste their lives getting smashed at the bars.

Biblical Themes in Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” Speech

            Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death” speech is a masterpiece, weaving many biblical themes throughout.  On multiple occasions the speech comes across as more of a sermon than a call to arms.  To even mention the Bible today, in the same type setting, would provoke cries that Mr. Henry was violating the separation of church and state.  However, In the days prior to the revolution, speaking in biblical language struck a chord with most colonists.

            Mr. Henry’s introduction explains in part why he speaks in such vivid biblical language.  While he never quotes scripture directly, there is no doubt as to Mr. Henry’s purposeful use of themes found in the Holy Bible.  From the beginning, the audience is informed of their responsibility to God first and the country second.[1]  The speech goes as far as to say that silence on the matter would deem Patrick Henry disloyal to God and guilty of treason to his country[2].

            Just as Jesus often made statements such as, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”,[3] Mr. Henry says some , “having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not”[4].  He could have very well said “they buried their heads in the sand”, indicating they were ignoring the problem in hopes it would go away, but he did not.  Did Patrick Henry speak this way, because he was a devout Christian, and it naturally flowed from his Biblical studies?  There is no question that a sincere student of the Bible will be affected by the scriptures.  A later speech, however,  given by Patrick Henry on June 4, 1788, to the Virginia Convention, is not so inundated with the biblical language, indicating there was another purpose behind the method.

            To understand the reason behind Mr. Henry’s use of biblical language and why it resonated with the audience, the mindset of the American people must be understood.  At the time of the reformation in Europe, civil disobedience and the duty of Christians in the political arena began to be considered.[5]  This was largely due to the persecution of groups, like the puritans, who later came to America in order to freely worship God.  This coupled with the fact that most Americans were Christians made the audience of Patrick Henry’s speech fertile ground.  Being very familiar with persecution, the colonists were taken back by phrases like, “Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.”[6]  Patrick Henry’s masterful use of this phrase not only reminded the people of their recent persecution, but of the way one of Jesus’ own disciples betrayed him.[7]

            While “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death” has the feel of a sermon, in reality it is a political and patriotic call to arms.  The biblical phrases were not used in the context of scripture, but as catch phrases and attention getters throughout the speech.  Patrick Henry speaks of love and reconciliation which brings to mind the love God had for the world and His purpose of reconciling man to Himself, because of that love.  This, being the opposite of what the British Empire was attempting to do, must have given the audience a sense that God was on their side.  Therefore, to do nothing, was to disobey Him.

            Mr. Henry belting out, “I beseech you”,[8] with his gifted oratory ability, had a dramatic impact on all those who heard the speech.  It might be noted that the speech was also given in a church, which provided the perfect setting for the patriotic sermon.    Facing the alter of the church, where they may have been to pray in the past, the people hear, “we have prostrated ourselves before the thrown” and “our supplications have been disregarded”[9].  These were not references to the throne of God or prayers to Him, but represented the extent of the colonists attempts to gain the ear of their earthly king.

            None of this is to say Mr. Henry was using the Bible simply as a way to get to the heart of the people.  From the very beginning of his speech, Mr. Henry made it clear that he revered God above all earthly kings.[10]  Looking at Patrick Henry’s life,  a detractor would be hard pressed to prove otherwise.  The only conclusion that could be drawn is that he was speaking as a follower of Jesus Christ to his brothers in Christ, using their language, expressing his own very strong convictions.  If any in attendance thought otherwise, surely it was a very small minority.

            The culture and values were so different in the days of Patrick Henry, than we see in the United States today.  While everyone was certainly not a Christian, a vast majority was.  Many would look back on the speech, from twenty first century America, with contempt, claiming he was mixing politics with religion.  He may have been doing just that, but at the time political correctness was not an issue.  While a couple of centuries later this might have been looked at as a violation of the Constitution, the document didn’t exist in 1775.

            Patrick Henry was at least two things.  First and foremost, he was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  After that, he was a patriot, striving for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for all Virginians and his fellow Americans.  Although he was a Christian first, he did not separate his duties as a Chrisitian from his duties as an American.  Combining his love for God and passion for liberty in one speech resulted in one of the most memorable speeches in American history.  As he closes with the famous line, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”, the listener would have been taken back to the closing line of Joshua’s speech to Israel.  “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”[11]


[1]  Patrick Henry. “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” Speech to the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775.

[2] Ibid

[3] Mar 4:9 (NKJV)

[4] Patrick Henry. “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” Speech to the Virginia Convention,

March 23, 1775.

[6] Patrick Henry. “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” Speech to the Virginia Convention,

March 23, 1775.

[7] Luk. 22:48 (NKJV)

[8] Patrick Henry. “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” Speech to the Virginia Convention,

March 23, 1775.

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Josh. 24:15 (NKJV)

The Dull Conscience of a Nation

It’s amazing to me that we as a nation have so dulled our conscience that we think the murder of a human being is a legal right. You might say, “We do not condone the murder of humans in the United States of America!”, but it’s true. According to http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html in 1996 alone 1.37 million children were murdered while still in their mother’s womb, in the United States of America alone. The womb should be the safest place for a child, but in the land of the free and the home of the brave it is not so.

I often hear the argument that a woman should have the right to an abortion if she has been raped or if her death could result due to the pregnancy. Does this mean that most abortions, or at least half are done for one of these two reason? 1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient). http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html If this is your argument what do we do about the other 93%?

Recently Living Waters released a 33 minute documentary about abortion. The documentary also deals with the murder of some 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany during WWII. Ray Comfort does a masterful job of connecting the two atrocities, causing people to rethink their views on abortion.

If you haven’t seen the movie, please take 33 minutes to watch. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, it is great food for thought. you can view the movie at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI or http://180movie.com/

Until All Hear!

My Christian Life Part I – “The Pretender”

In 1997 I was a member of a small Baptist Church on Lookout Mountain, in Fort Payne, AL. In September of 1997, we were having revival meetings. I was only able to attend three of the five meetings because of school on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Monday night I left the meeting feeling very troubled. Something inside was telling me I was not right with God. How could this be? I was a Sunday school teacher, so there was no way I was not saved1.

At the Wednesday night meeting I was feeling really confused. The only thing I remember the preacher saying that night was at the end of his sermon. Gesturing with his index finger and thumb he said, “If you have this much doubt”. The next thing I remember is that I was down at the alter with the preacher’s father, who was himself a retired pastor. The pastor took me through the gospel, which I had heard many times. I had even explained it to other people myself. For some reason it all clicked. I knew at that moment that I had been pretending. Then and there I apologized to the Savior, repented of my sins, asked Him to forgive me, and placed all of my trust in Him and Him alone. At that point God began to ruin my life…in a good way.

The lesson to learn here is that salvation can never be based on being a member of any church. If your testimony sounds something like, “I have been a member of this church since I was eight”, there might be a problem. If your salvation is based on your church and not the Savior, you might need to really do some soul searching. Please do this. Do not go through life like I was. Looking back I think I always knew deep down that I was not born again1. My pride was keeping me from admitting that I was pretending. What would people think if they found out that I wasn’t a Christian? Remember, people aren’t your judge, Jesus is and He already knows the truth. Please if you have not repented and trusted the Savior, DO IT!…TODAY. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation.

Until All Hear!
Alex

Another Day in Bizarro World!

I was meeting Alex and Bobby at the bus stop in front of gate 2 at Sanford stadium for ministry. I had 1400 “After the Game” Gospel tracts and Bobby and Alex were going to read scripture and preach. As God would have it I ran into them in Athens about a block from campus so we were able to walk to the stadium together and have some fellowship time.

We arrived at the bus stop and set up to begin. Alex began reading scripture as Bobby held his “Are You Ready” cross and offered tracts to passing fans.

I stood at the top of the stairs that lead from the student center to the stadium giving Gospel tracts to passing fans. I make a point of welcoming the visiting fans to Athens and try to make them feel welcome. I guess you could say I try to exercise my “southern hospitality”. I never thought we would be able to give away 1400 tracts but God was good. We were completely out well before kick-off.

After we had been there about an hour a ticket scalper came close to where we were trying to sell some tickets. He began to say things like “JESUS SAYS YOU SHOULD BUY THESE TICKETS”, “GET AWAY FROM THESE JESUS FREAKS” and other things that I will not mention here. As he was doing this Bobby was preaching and openly told the man that he should be ashamed about what he was doing. If you would have heard him I think you would agree. Eventually Bobby was able to have a conversation, of sorts, with the scalper. As they were talking I was continuing to give Gospel tracts to fans when I heard the man yell “I HOPE YOU $#@!*&% burn in Hell forever!” at Bobby. Eventually the man went on his way and we continued with the task at hand.

Later Bobby told me that the ticket scalper had claimed to be an Episcopalian Chaplain.

Just another day in “Bizarro World”!

Preach On!

…Until All Hear!

Alex

Ken preaches the Gospel to Barbie Open Air

This is a blog I posted on the Ambassadors’ Alliance site Monday, October 6th 2008
The event actually happened several years ago.
I just wanted to remember this time with my little girl. She’s not so little anymore but seems like it was just last week we played Barbie together.

We were all sitting around the dinner table this past weekend kind of reminiscing about our children’s younger years. My wife Kim reminded us of an incident that I had forgotten about. When our daughter was about 8 or 9 she and I were in her room playing with Barbie dolls. I know, but for some reason she always wanted daddy to play Barbie dolls with her. So being a good daddy (who was secure in his manhood, by the way J) I humbled myself and did it. My only requirement was that I got to be Ken. J

We got the doll house out. She also had a car (a corvette I think). We got the dolls out dressed them all up and so the fun began. Now you may not know this but Ken is a Street Evangelists. Therefore when he came over to Barbie’s house he immediately noticed the nice house, the Corvette, and all of the fine stuff she had. He was then obligated to share the gospel with her because it was apparent that she was very worldly and there was no way she could be a Christian. Ok, I said Ken was a Street Evangelist, I didn’t say his theology was perfect. J

Ken began to preach the gospel open air in front of Barbie’s house. She was not very receptive. Barbie (played by my daughter) got a little hostile because she just wanted to have fun. She didn’t want to get preached to because it was making her feel bad about herself. You can understand that can’t you? After all she is the perfect woman. She’s beautiful, smart, and has all sorts of nice stuff. She has the perfect life. Why would she need to listen to preaching?
She was a perfectly good person. God had to be pleased with her or she would not have been so blessed. Right? You see Barbie is so much like the typical American today. They think they are good and if they do go to church they only go to be entertained or to have their self esteem messaged, so that they leave there feeling good about self.

Anyway, Barbie was greatly offended at the law and the gospel. Was Ken wrong for “forcing” religion on her? When he noticed her being offended did he think maybe he should have shut up, because he might be pushing her away from Jesus. Maybe Barbie had some friends that were Christians and they would just live their lives before her and she would want what they had. Or maybe she would hear about the church down the street that has the motorcycles jumping over the pastor and she would go there because she really loves motorcycles.

It would appear that Ken was being rude and unkind (to the naked eye).
But was he really being unkind?

I saw a couple of drunk, cussing “Christians” heckling an open air preacher friend of mine Saturday night. They called him a hypocrite and a jerk and then told him he shouldn’t be judging these people. I think I learned something. I learned that calling people hypocrites, jerks and accusing them of judging people isn’t being judgmental. On the other hand showing someone their need of the Savior by telling them about the law (because you do not want them to go to hell) is judgmental, hypocritical and makes one a jerk.

The only reason I am not more amazed at the extent to which people will go to justify their sin is because I too once did that very thing.

It’s an honor to serve such a patient, loving, kind, holy, and righteous God!

Not Just What You Say but How You Say it as well…

“It not only matters what you say but how you say it.” One of my heroes of the faith made this comment at a dinner that I attended. This really stuck with me due to my tendency to be sarcastic. I need to constantly check my methods, because I do not want to make the gospel more abrasive than it naturally is to a lost person.
2 Corinthians 6 1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.(emphasis added)
The Apostle Paul went out of his way to keep from being an obstacle to the Corinthian’s salvation. Therefore it is reasonable for me to do the same. The first and foremost thing is to make sure that I am speaking truth. Is what I am saying my opinion, or is it what God’s word says? The next and very important thing is: Am I speaking in love? I believe there are times when it is ok to speak sharply to people, but it should not be the norm. For instance, if I am trying to converse with someone who repeatedly slings out obscene statements about God I may sling a sharp rebuke or remark to that person. I do this for a couple of reasons. First I am trying to get their attention and they may not expect the street preacher to lash out at them so my hope is that it will shock them out of their bantering. Secondly if they are so flippant about their sin I fear for their soul and want to do everything I can to get them to realize that they will stand before God in judgment and have to give an account for their lives. I will give an example. Once a young man walked by as we were passing out gospel tracts. After he passed by he turned and yelled “I Hate Jesus!”. I yelled back, “I know!, It’s obvious!”. He stopped, turned around and said “What?!” So I repeated what I said. Some would say that I should not have said that, and maybe I was in error, but at least it made him stop for a second and think about it. On the other hand if I stand out on the street and yell “It’s obvious you hate Jesus!” to everyone that walks by, I think I would be going out of my way to be offensive. Therefore I must always speak in love. It is possible to speak the truth in the wrong way and be in error.
Another danger is that I may put myself on a pedestal because I am on the front lines while others do little or nothing to get the gospel to the lost. At one point in life I struggled with Christians that didn’t share their faith. I even got to the point where I started thinking that they weren’t even truly Born Again because they never witnessed to anyone. After all C.H. Spurgeon did say that if you do not desire to see others saved then you are not saved yourself. (Loose paraphrase). We must remember that even though C.H. Spurgeon was a great man of God and a wonderful preacher, he is not God and this is not scripture. While you would think that a true Christian would desire to see others saved, we cannot pass judgment and declare them all heathens. Many want to share but struggle with fear. Others do not have a clue how to do it due to lack of training in the church as a whole. I prayed about this for a long time and God changed my heart. While I still get frustrated with Christians that do not share their faith, my attitude has changed from one of self-righteousness to one of “What can I do to encourage them and help them be equipped to share”.
While doing evangelism on the street is a very humbling experience there are still dangers of becoming self righteous and arrogant. After continuous abuse and heckling one may tend to get hardened and lose compassion for the lost. We may start to think that all of these people are going to hell and they deserve it. This attitude can change our preaching attitude from one of love and compassion to an attitude of Judgment and condemnation. We must remember that Jesus is the Judge and Jesus does the condemning and the saving.
Preach On!
…until all hear!
Alex

2 Corinthians 5:18-21