'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full"

Luke 14:23

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cataclysm in Atlanta

catalysm: 1. a momentous and violent event marked by overwhelming upheaval and demolition; 2. an event that brings great changes. 

Arguably the most influential evangelical event in the world; the 2012 Catalyst Conference has closed its doors on yet another year. (Though they have many regional conferences). 

With this passing comes the overwhelming feeling that mainline evangelicalism has entered into a species of apostasy not seen since the time of Christ. 

Amazingly, and just when it appeared that the 150 year old 'Exxon-Valdez-Oil-Spill' of liberal theology had finally been contained; yet another barge has struck, carrying far deadlier cargo, and in much greater abundance.

The stated goal of this conference is to ignite a passion for Christ. Undoubtedly, this is a worthy goal. One must press on to ask, however, if this goal can be attained through one of the most bizarre marriages to this world-system that a professing Christian group has ever recorded. 

That 13,000 Christian leaders gathered in Atlanta to be exposed to some of the crassest entertainment possible; to hear from some of the strangest speakers conceivable;  and be instructed by some of the most unholy men imaginable, is a clear sign that powerful, creed-affirming, evangelical leaders have been given over to a terrible, terrible deception. 

May God protect us in these evil days, and may we be ever certain that our houses are built on Christ that solid rock; for the coming storms will test every man's foundation. Of this we can be sure. 

"Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches" (Revelation 2:7 et al.) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Leather Festival" in San Francisco (Pt. 2)

The Folsom Street Fair is the largest sadomasochistic event in the world and the last place I ever envisioned preaching the gospel. In fact I was determined not to. Apparently, the Lord had other plans. You can read a little bit about how we ended up there here.

We made our way over to the fair, and in situations like this there is really nothing else to do but walk right into the thing and start offering people Christ. So that's exactly what Nate did. I marveled to see the courage of this 20 year old fearlessly preaching Jesus in the midst of the most difficult circumstances conceivable. 

**Editorial Note: Young Christians, you do not have to 'try out the world' for seven years before you give it all up for Christ. You can have joy unspeakable now by simply laying it all down for the sake of the gospel :)

Sadly, it did not last long. Two police officers came over and explained that this would create a very difficult and dangerous situation for them and so they respectfully asked us to either move to the free speech zone or to cease all together. We struck a compromise where we agreed to preach right outside the entrance/exit of the fair. This worked out just as well, as all coming in and going out would have to pass by the glad-tidings. 

Once we reached our new location I began preaching. It was an extremely powerful experience and it showed me the power of the gospel and the love of God in a way that I have never experienced before. Here's how:

I. I knew theologically that I was no better than any of those people I was preaching to - but the Lord made this clear to my understanding in a very profound way. Its hard to explain - but I just knew, in the depths of my being, that the only thing that made me different from them was amazing grace.

II. The above experience gave the preaching tremendous 'contextualization.' I was speaking to their consciences and they knew it. How? What possible worldview categories could I share with people who celebrate the most deviant and ghastly behaviors,  devoting much of their lives to 'inventing new forms of evil' (Romans 1:30)???

As I said before, I knew was just like them. Yes, the power of sin has been broken in my life and I now have a principal in my members which wars against my corruption - but, alas, that corruption is ever present and it was not all that long ago when it reigned unchallenged. Simply put, I was speaking to them as a fellow sinner and not as a glorified saint. This gave them ears to hear. 

**Editorial Note: Young Christians, you do not have to get tattoos, drink a bunch of beer, and cuss in order to contextualize the gospel to unbelievers. Rest assured that you share the same devilish nature with them; thus mortify your sin, live holy in Christ Jesus, and simply go tell the starving man about where you found the Bread of Life :)

III. I simply cannot comprehend the power of the gospel. The Lord shut the mouths of the Lions!  Bless God, the gospel was going forth with such authority that it simply could not be shouted down.    Countless times I would look up, see someone just about to rail me, and then simply put their heads down and walk away. As Kuyper reminded us, there is not one square inch in the universe of which  the the sovereign Christ does not say "Mine!" Jesus was establishing His dominion - even over Sodom. 

IV. The content and context of the message: Obviously, everything pointed to Christ - primarily as the giver of life. This was the great argument: They believed that their sexual deviance was the very definition of life - but I explained to them that it was rather the very shackles of death; and that they knew it. 

When they lay in bed at night, they knew it. As they shuffled out of that fair, they knew it. As they got in their cars and drove home, they knew it. I could see it on their faces. They knew it. 

The preaching was very much - and I can't quite explain it - but it was very much the Father rebuking wayward children. No, I am not theologically confused, somehow suggesting that unrepentant sinners are 'children of God' other than the fact that God did create them, and does love them - and He was definitely making His appeal through me to 'leave the pig stye and come home.'

V. Finally, and very importantly - the Lord completely protected us from all defilement. This is huge. He knows how to preserve His people in the midst of unimaginable sin. This was Nate's testimony as well. Not a single stain on our garments after swimming in a sea of filth. Only God!

As we were leaving - that was when the railing began. People started shouting all sorts of unspeakable things from the apartment buildings that towered above us. I turned to Nate and said "Blessed are you when people revile you and utter all sorts of evil against you on My account, for great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:11-12). Nate said in return, "I feel like we just popped out of the book of Acts."

Amen. May it be so. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Leather Festival" in San Francisco (Part 1)

**Mature Content**

The $10 parking lots that are normally empty on Sundays were charging $40 and were completely full. With the exception of 'Gay Pride' weekend it was the busiest I have ever seen the city.

We asked around and come to find out that all the hoopla was over Folsom Street's annual "Leather Festival." Yes, I know.

Essentially it's a giant gathering for sado masochist aficionados. The largest of its kind in the world. Demonic with a capitial 'D' and without question, the last place on earth I wanted to preach.

We got away from that scene as fast as we could and headed down to the trolley stop where we had a rather strange encounter. An elderly African-American gentleman approached us and said, "You know, you boys should really be down preaching at that there leather festival. Those are the folks that really need it. That would be a great challenge for you. You ain't scared, are you?"

Nate and I just looked at each other quizzically and after prayer I started preaching. I could tell it was going to be a powerful day. Prior to heading into the city my soul had been in turmoil for hours. This is the kind of warfare that usually foreshadows a lot of 'spiritual movement.'

Sure enough, the Lord saw fit to attend the proclamation with clarity and unction. Unfortunately, there was not the crowd that we usually see down there; so Nate did the unthinkable: He suggested that maybe we should head down to the 'Leather Festival.'

So we did....

[Part 2 Soon]

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Catalyst of the Coming Persecution

The Atlanta Catalyst Conference, according to it’s organizers, is a “movement of world changers who love Jesus, see things differently, and feel a burden for our generation.” They go on to explain that their supreme passion is “the pursuit of God.” Scores have joined this pursuit. Evidence: even at $300 a ticket, they are having no problems filling stadiums of over 13,000 seats. The conference aims to minister to Christian leaders under 40 years of age. 
The movement is the brainchild of Andy Stanley, pastor of the second biggest congregation in the United States - North Point Community Church. The list of speakers for the three day event reads like a virtual Who’s Who of the country’s brightest and most influential thinkers. As a result, people from all over the globe are flocking to hear this eclectic ensemble of best selling authors, television producers, mega-church pastors, and progressive politicians, expound to them the principals of success which they have so obviously mastered. 

For example, Mark Burnett will be explaining to church leaders how to put forth a more viable product for their constituency. The super-producer who is the juggernaut behind blockbuster’s like the “MTV Movie Awards” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” obviously knows a thing or two about marketing. He is indeed in elite company, being one of the only producers to have a renewed series on each of the four major networks. 

Sam Adams, mayor of the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon will be addressing attendees on the subject of leadership. Sam is one of a handful of openly homosexual mayors in the country and the Catalyst webpage bio on him informs us that his partner, Peter Zuckerman, is an author. 

A lighting-rod for controversy of late, Catalyst founder Pastor Andy Stanley sent considerable shock-waves throughout the evangelical world when he not-so-clandestinely celebrated the new possibilities available to homosexuals who want to have families of their own. Stanley cited a gay couple from his own fellowship as an example. Al Mohler did a good job explaining the obvious dilemma this places evangelicals in when one of it’s most visible personalities sanctions and seemingly celebrates same-sex relationships.

Thickening the plot, three great pillars of the younger evangelical world - Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, and David Platt will be headlining the conference. The latter two are household names since their respective best-selling books Crazy Love and Radical have defined afresh what trenchant obedience to Jesus looks like. 

As these men have so persuasively reminded us, one of the more conspicuous features of fidelity to Christ has always been a healthy separation with this world system and the unbelievers who propagate its views (2 Cor. 6:14). Evangelicals hold this value of separation as part of their creed and authors like Chan and Platt have sold scores of books exhorting the church to examine their profession in light of this New Testament doctrine. Faithful have they been in challenging us to follow the Lord wherever He leads. 

This places before us a rather obvious question: Would the Lord lead one of His faithful servants to participate in a conference like Catalyst? Perhaps. He has often put His prophets in tight spots. 

Elijah, for example, was once at a worship service with 400 of Baal's choicest spokesmen and even Jesus walked in the midst of the money changers on a couple of occasions. The fact that both of these encounters ended badly, however, does not bode well for Chandler, Chan, nor Platt. 

A couple of things could happen at this event. If they do the obvious and ‘call-out’ what appears to be the boldest attempt yet to yoke the evangelical church with the world, then they may find themselves running for their lives on the backside of a desert like Elijah - or even worse - being ‘escorted’ to the brow of a hill as Jesus was by His townsfolk.

Or... they could say nothing and simply ‘spread the light.’ This, in our opinion, would place them in an even a tighter spot, for then they would have validated a movement that is clearly awry by lending their august names to it’s billboard. This would confuse a lot of sheep to say the least. 

In what must be considered a striking providence, Catalyst is not the only Christian conference in Atlanta on this weekend. A few miles away a much smaller gathering entitled “The Coming Persecution” will commence. Unlike Catalyst, a stadium will not be necessary. The organizers report that a comparatively tiny number have registered - even though the event is completely free. 

The speakers at this conference are perhaps a bit radical (to borrow Mr. Platt's word). They receive no payment for their services, they are convinced that a global persecution is imminent, and they stubbornly preach the most unpalatable of all messages - that judgment will soon begin in the house of the Lord. 

The convergence of these two conferences in the same city on the same days is a prophetic sign and in this way: The "Catalyst" gathering will undoubtedly be a major catalyst in the coming persecution that the  "Coming Persecution" folks assure us is at the door (pun, by divine decree, unintended).

Here's one possible scenario: If Chan, Platt, and Chandler do not distinguish themselves from this movement by speaking out against it’s unlawful marriage with the world then a new mould could be cast for tens of thousands of younger evangelicals - and for years to come. 

The great doctrine of separation will be shelved, the social gospel will again replace the promises, and the pragmatic model, which we thought was in the very throws of death, will rise again to horrific resurrection power. 

When the prophets eventually arise in protest they will find themselves out numbered ten-thousand to one, and unless a fiery chariot whirlwinds down to the rescue, their heads may indeed end up on a platter. Especially if they go preaching in Portland.

We shall see. We shall indeed see. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Angry Atheist vs. Sovereign God

Recently at the Santa Rosa Street Fair we were being heckled by a militant atheist. It's kind of funny because he actually looked like Charles Darwin. Anyway, he was more of a nuisance than anything else, but I could tell that as soon Nate started preaching he was going to be a real problem.

I told Nate, "Let's pray about this guy." Once we bowed in prayer he even started heckling us then: "Oh what a bunch of bull. Do you really think God hears you? What a bunch of superstitious garbage," etc., etc.

We prayed, "Lord, we know that it is your will that your gospel go fourth and this man is proving to be a real distraction. We ask that you would please remove him so that your word may be proclaimed without hindrance."

The Atheist heard every word of the prayer and all he had to do in order to 'prove' that God is a farce was to stay and continue to mock.

Nate started preaching and after about 30 seconds I looked up and saw Mr. Atheist walking across the street, never to be seen again.

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Year in Review

I realized that my post yesterday was the first in many, many months so I wanted to give a more complete update on what's been happening.

Many businesses operate on a 'fiscal calendar.' In the same way, I believe that there is also a ‘spiritual calendar’ as well.

For me, the spiritual year began on Wednesday, the 21st of September, 2011. It was here that for the first time (after 15 years of being a Christian) I witnessed a true outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

This took place at the Expect Conference in Colorado Springs. I would tell you who the speakers were but it really doesn’t matter - Jesus was there (that’s all that matters) and He poured forth the Promise of the Father. For three days we were at the very gates of heaven.

Even as I am writing this I realized something very interesting. About two years ago the Lord gave me a very clear word when I was walking down the hall of the school where I teach. It was so simple: "Autumn will be your most fruitful season."

It was a wonderful word! I grew up in New England and autumn is breathtakingly beautiful! It is truly a time of Harvest.

Anyway, I realized that autumn began in 2011 on September 23 - the day after the Expect Conference ended! How awesome of God to confirm His word to me with such a clear sign.

Moreover - I turned 40 several days ago and thus autumn has truly begun!

Since that Conference I have seen what I would call 2 general moves of the Holy Spirit at two different 'retreats.' One adult, men's retreat and one college retreat.

I have also seen 1 general move of the Holy Spirit at a local church.

Praise the Lord!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Santa Rosa Street Fair (8-1-12)

Nate and I went to the Santa Rosa Street Market tonight. This is an extremely difficult and glorious venue to preach at. Difficult because we preach to thousands of youth who are convinced we are their enemies. Glorious because Jesus literally loves these kids through us.

Have you ever felt your heart absolutely break as you plead with lost souls to come to Jesus? Have you ever had the supernatural experience of feeling Christ actually pour His love into your heart as they rail, blaspheme and mock everything that is precious and holy to you.

I met the most beautiful young woman tonight whom we will call Jane. She said, "Let me ask you a question. I am a hermaphrodite. I was co-joined with my brother in the womb and we were incompletely separated. He ended up dying and now no matter what I do I am gay and being gay is a sin."

I told her, "You’re physically broken like me and everyone else. You’re sexually broken like me and everyone else. This is why Jesus came and if you come to Him He will walk you through all these heartaches."

She began to get teary. "You know," she said, "my grandma is dead now but she was the most beautiful person I ever knew and she was a devote Christian." I told her, "Your grandma spent countless hours praying for you - that's why I am standing before you tonight. Would you take another look at Jesus?"

She looked at me and said, "I will."

Church; can I be real with you? What happened tonight was 10 billion times better than any foolish softball game. I weep for the church as she amuses herself to death. I pray she would repent of her lukewarmness and enter the fields; for they are white unto harvest.

Yes, the labor is hard, but there and only there you can find the fullness of joy...

The love of Christ pouring out of Nate...

This is 'Outreach' 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pacific Beach Men's Retreat

This weekend I had the unspeakable privilege of preaching at the P.B. Bible Church Men's Retreat. The Lord's Presence was powerfully among us.

I stopped the first sermon a little short as I observed that most of the men were weeping. The Lord fell on our meeting. One man ran out sobbing uncontrollably, shouting "I have to get things right with my wife." Several men went to call loved ones and told them to come up to the meeting as it appeared we were near revival conditions.

The next three sessions went extremely well, but there was definitely not the same sense of God's Presence as at our first session; which leads me to ask the question: "Did we somehow grieve the Spirit of God?" My fear is we may have, though I am not exactly sure how at this point.

My life was profoundly changed at this retreat though and it did much to deepen my conviction that the church of Jesus Christ desperatly needs a revival. We must have Christ come visit us in power.

The Pruning Principle

I preached this sermon at 360 Church of Petaluma on 1/21/12. I am unspeakably thankful for the Lord's Presence at this meeting and the many reports I heard afterwards of changed lives. May God send the revival we so desperately need.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Great Article

Here is a great article on the lost art of street preaching.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ashley (1-16-12)

Ki-Ki and I headed into the city today. We set up at the trolley turn-around on Market & Powell. I explained Romans 1:16-17 to the crowd for a while. The Lord blessed me with a considerable amount of clarity and conviction and thus many paid attention to the words spoken.

After about twenty minutes, William the tap dancer showed up with his massive sound system. Once he arrives on the scene he pretty much drowns out all noise but his own; and not to mention that what he does is actually illegal since San Francisco municipal codes only allow for ten watts of amplification and his system is clearly over two-hundred! For whatever reason though the police do not hassle him.

Once he started dancing we headed up to Union Square for a while. That did not last long however since one really needs to project one's voice to be heard over the cars and thus the unamplified preacher soon becomes hoarse.

So we headed back down to Market and set up outside of Westgate Mall. As I stood there I remember praying audibly to the Lord, "What possible hope is there of reaching these people? Please Lord, do something."

I was preaching for about two minutes when I noticed a girl who stopped to hear what I was saying. As I was talking about Christ I could tell that something was going on in her heart so I began to very aggressively expound on His grace - fixing my attention on her the whole time.

As I would declare things like, "Jesus says that if you come to Him, He will never cast you away" and "He's the Great Physician and He is ready to restore your soul," I noticed that she began crying and thus I began speaking directly to her: "He's ready to wash all your sins away. Will you come to Him?" "He's ready to take all your shame away, Will you come to Him?" "He said He would pardon the worst of sinners, Will you come to Him?"

At that point this young lady pretty much started weeping - in fact several people stopped to see what was going on.  I stepped down off my 'soapbox' and asked her to come over to me. When she did I asked her if she wanted to come to Jesus. She said - through many tears - that she did, but she did not know how to and she feared that He would not accept her for all that she has done.

So we both cried out together to the Lord that He would indeed meet this poor broken soul where she was at and reveal His amazing grace to her.  I have good reason to believe that He did.

Her name is Ashley and it turns out that about a month ago she was singing in a brass band downtown and she heard us preaching and said that something happened to her then that she was not able to forget.

How gracious of the Lord to cause our paths to cross again; one time for the sowing and another time for the reaping.

When we were leaving Ki-Ki said to me "Why was that girl crying?" I said, "Because it seems like she just came to the Lord." It was a special moment for sure.

God bless you as you simply and sincerely "Declare His glory among the nations!" (Psalm 96:3).