The Man Who Wore His Pants So Low

The crowd of ticketed passengers was waiting at the gate for our flight from Portland to Salt Lake City.  As is typical, we were avoiding eye-contact, yet all the while profiling our fellow passengers.  There was the severely overweight man; I hoped not to have to squeeze into a seat by him.  There were the ladies with necklines so low I would be embarrassed to have to sit next to them.  There was a foreign-looking guy with scraggly hair and pants so low his belt was actually below his buttocks.  I’ve never seen a man who wore his pants so low.  Fortunately, he wore such a long-tailed shirt that that he was not exposed.  I mused, “I think I could handle sitting next to him.”

I boarded the plane and found my assigned aisle seat, 27C.  A lady came and took seat 27A by the window.  Finally, just before closing the doors, the man with the low pants came and sat down beside me in 27B.  He immediately fiddled with his cell phone so as to avoid any contact.  After awhile I interrupted him by introducing myself.  “My name is Ze,” he returned.  I found out to spell his name and that he was a Pilipino from Manila.  I told him my trip with my wife to Mindanao and our wonderful experiences in the Philippines.

After the plane took off I asked, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?”  He replied affirmatively, yet so vaguely that it left me wondering.  As we conversed I discovered that he was born a Roman Catholic, that he had received Christ as a child, (“a long time ago”), and that he had been divorced four years ago.

As the flight continued, I shared parts of my life and my story with Ze.  He began asking questions about my life.  He was very interested in our farm and what else I did.  I told him I was a marriage counselor and we talked about the many benefits of marriage.  He began to open up about how his marriage had fallen apart and how he had tried, without success, to keep it together.  Ze knew I was interested, so he shared his life.  He has a Bible (“I have many Bibles”), he reads almost daily, doesn’t go to church, and has no current job.

Near the end of the flight I asked if I could pray for him.  “Sure,” came his welcome response.  We had talked almost non-stop for the duration of the trip.  Surprisingly, Ze was more interested in me and my life than perhaps any stranger I have ever met.

Want to make a friend?  Take courage and simply ask, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?”  I find this works for me.  If you’re leading people to Christ regularly, I’d like to know how you do it.

Nine Things the Bible Says about the Environment

The Bible speaks hundreds of times about the earth and environmental issues.  This is a Christian issue and the church should own it.  Those who understand and obey the Old and New Testaments are the world’s greatest environmentalists.

1)      God created the earth and the heavens.  (Genesis 1:1)  The earth is His “baby” so to speak, and exists only because of His will and pleasure. (Revelation 4:11 KJV)

2)      The earth belongs to God.  The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  ( Psalm 24:1)  All the rights of ownership belong to Him.

3)      God commands humans to take care of His earth.  (Genesis 1:28)  Dominion means “to take charge of, to rule over.”  Here He delegates His ownership to humans and makes us responsible to protect and care for the earth.  He mandates some of us to become chemists, biologists, geologists, agronomists, farmers, etc.

4)      God made a covenant with the animals.  (Genesis 9:8-17)  Among other things, the rainbow is a sign of God’s commitment to care for animals of the earth.

5)      The earth is vitally important to God and His purposes.  (Romans 1:19-20)  God values creation.  .  Everyone who claims, “I see God in nature,” knows visible creation reveals the invisible God.  But God’s purpose in nature is greater than a good feeling or general revelation.  His attributes, namely His “eternal power and divine nature” are “clearly seen” and “understood” through the created world.  As a result, nature has an evangelistic purpose: to reveal God Himself.  This environmental witness in nature is so strong that those who deny God’s self-revelation come under divine judgment:  “So they are without excuse.”

6)      God will destroy those who destroy the earth.  (Revelation 11:18)  No clearer statement of God’s care for the environment can be made.

7)      The Bible guards against environmental extremes.  Animal sacrifices and the eating of meat were enjoined.  The tabernacle was covered with animal skins.  Gold and precious stones will be part of the New Jerusalem.  Natural things are to be used, not avoided.

8)      The earth will be destroyed.  This present earth is not eternal.  (2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 16:3)

9)      The earth will be redeemed.  God’s plan includes restoration of planet earth and all the heavens.  (Revelation 21:1 and 5; Romans 8:21)

What does the Bible tell us about environmentalism?  In short, color your Bible cover green–God is the Chief Environmentalist of the Universe.

Witnessing at Wendy’s

The Wendy’s Restaurant at the Detroit Airport was not only crowded, it was chaotic.  People were literally shouting to be heard.  This was not your ordinary suburban Wendy’s.  The tables were close; the aisles narrow and loaded with standing travelers trying to down a burger.  I spotted a couple stools against a far wall but with a Frosty in one hand, a burger plus baked potato in the other and luggage over my shoulder, I felt hopeless to reach the far side of the restaurant.  With relief I noticed one empty seat right at my feet.

“May I take this seat?”  I asked the lady sitting at the table.

“Yes,” came the reply.

I ate silently and quickly.  Clearing my garbage, I thanked the lady for the seat.  She smiled, “You’re welcome!”

We engaged in brief chit-chat and shared our travel destinations.  I asked her, “Have you given your life to Jesus Christ?”

“Yes, we have,” she replied, apparently including her family.  “And we all go to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Omaha”.

Since I had once lived in a black neighborhood in Omaha I related a significant event I had experienced there.  We got acquainted in the next minutes as her family joined in the conversation.  With smiles we blessed each other as I left for my departure gate.  Strangers across race and distance had become bonded in Christ, pleasantly satisfied by our brief encounter in a crowded restaurant.  It was all possible because of the question, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your Life?”

How to Make a Friend: Howard and the Butcher Plant

I raise grassfed Lamb.  My work takes me to a butcher plant in a neighboring town.  An employee named Howard and I have talked briefly several times over a period of years. You could say we have “chewed the fat” about weather, lambs, his work and so on.  I knew his name, but I don’t know if he knew mine.  We were acquaintances, nothing more.

One day I dropped off some young lambs at the locker.  Howard and some other workers were arriving.   We greeted each other with a “Hello” and “Good morning”. Then I took courage—it’s often breathtaking—and asked Howard in front of another worker, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?”  He looked at his co-worker, who turned away, busy with his preparation for the day.  Howard turned to me and began to pour out personal stuff from his heart.  Stuff most men don’t often open up about.  “Well, I think so, but I’m not sure.”  He went on telling some of his struggles and admitting his faults.  I could tell he really wasn’t sure. Nonetheless, as he kept talking, he was making a public confession of his faith in Jesus Christ, perhaps for the first time in a public way.

I was not able to go farther with Howard that day.  Yet something had changed in our relationship. . . .

The next time I saw Howard was several weeks later.  He was standing in a group of workers and customers at the locker.  He immediately turned his attention to me and introduced me to another worker.  His introduction was kind, gracious and full of wit, claiming that I was “a wise man and filled with wisdom”.  He made jokes about how he and I each had the same occupation.  Always pleasant in the past, this time he was overtly friendly.  You see, we had both taken a risk and shared something in common—faith in Christ.  We were brothers.  We had come to the same table and eaten together.  And he wasn’t afraid to show it in front of a group of co-workers.

I experience this “brother factor” phenomenon repeatedly and with few exceptions.  Men (and women) want authenticity.  People want to talk about their faith and their struggles with God.  All of us are looking for real people with whom we can open up.  Sometimes it’s easiest with a stranger.  Would you give someone the opportunity?

Texas State Student Opens to Christ

A surprise knock on our door at 8:30 one morning brought me face to face with a handsome young man named Troy.  He was pitching children’s books to pay for his education at Texas State.  After making it clear we had no children in his target age group, we chatted briefly about Texas football—the Aggies and the Longhorns.  Shortly, the inevitable question came easily:  “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?”  He demurred, but I could tell he was interested.

Since he asked for a plat map of our neighborhood, I disappeared into the house to fetch the map.  When I returned I asked again, “Have you given your life to Jesus Christ?”  This time he answered clearly, “No, but I want to.  I was raised Catholic.  My grandma has been diagnosed with cancer with only 6 months to live.  I pray for her every day.”

I commended Troy for his desire and his prayers, but did not want to get sidetracked.  I continued with the gospel message about Jesus Christ dying for our sins and rising again for us.  “Salvation is a free gift that we can receive in simple child-like trust.  Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to receive Jesus Christ into your life right now?” I asked.  He affirmed his desire to receive Christ and “get back with Him”.   I explained how he could receive Christ either right now or at home when he was alone.  He affirmed that now he knew how to receive Christ as Savior and chose to pray alone that night.

I blessed him and he went on his way.

It’s Fun to Witness at Gas Stations

At a Costco Service Station in Mt Vernon, Washington I was trying to buy gas.  Unfortunately, my card didn’t work.  An attendant came over and offered to help.  With his instructions, the gas began to flow and I was left for the 3 minute fill with a helpful attendant.

“Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?” I queried.  “Yes, I have!” came his cheery response.  “And this job is a result of my faith.  I was out of work and needed a job.  God answered my prayers and this job suddenly popped open.  They selected me and I really enjoy what I’m doing.  I get to help people all day long.”

“That’s great,” I remarked.  ”Your faith really shows.”  He helped me in my moment of need and I was able to encourage him in his faith.  We parted with the happy satisfaction of being new friends and brothers.

Have You Received Jesus Christ into Your Life?

My lack in evangelism has embarrassed me. Though I am a Spirit-filled pastor, I have gone months, sometimes years without leading anyone to Christ outside of church services.

One night God impressed me, “Lift up your eyes and see the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4:35) Weeks passed until I finally thought, “If God said that, I better test it out.” So when a man came to buy a lamb I had raised, I asked him straight out, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?”

“No,” he replied.

“But you’d like to, wouldn’t you?” I asked.

He paused pensively for a moment and then stated, “Yes, I would.”

I gave him a brief gospel lesson, “Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again from the dead.” “Would you pray to receive Jesus Christ right now?” I asked.

“Yes, but I don’t know how,” he said with fright in his face. I led him in a simple prayer, which he repeated after me. After prayer, he looked up with the sweetest words and expressions of gratitude.

The next day I brought a Bible to his house. He was cutting down a tree, so I took the axe and helped. When his wife came out, I introduced myself and asked her if she had received Jesus Christ into her life. She replied no, but that she wanted to. I gave her the same gospel message. She wanted to pray silently, so I acknowledged her wish.

This began a series of encounters with people I met in everyday life. I’ve been able to lead a girl to Christ at a flower shop, a young man at Wal-Mart and a fellow at an auto repair shop. Not everyone receives Christ on the spot, of course. Recently, while waiting for someone, a college girl named Cassie was in the same room. After chit-chat, I asked her, “Have you received Christ Jesus into your life?” Unlike most, she couldn’t say yes or no although she admitted she was searching. This opened the door to give her a Josh McDowell booklet to help answer her quest and boost her along the road to discipleship.

I’m still learning. Here’s what I’m discovering. Evangelism is a lot of fun.

Jesus is right—the harvest is ripe. People are ready; they just need to be shown how to receive Christ.

Surprisingly, this key question, “Have your given your life to Jesus Christ?” does not seem to offend people; rather, they welcome the opportunity to talk about their faith. Almost everyone—more than 9 out of 10–answers the question yes or no.

The great commission is best translated, “As you are going. . . make disciples.” I’m able to begin this discipleship process in the normal course of life without going out of my way.

This simple question is a great opener, but more than a starter. It leads to salvation. We are called to reap, not just sow or water. (John 4:37) If appropriate I often ask, “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to receive Jesus Christ into your life right now?” Some people are prepared and waiting. Other Christians have already done the legwork with them. We come along and follow up on their labor. Jesus gave this principle about evangelism, “One sows and another reaps.” Jesus said, “I have called you to reap.” (John 4:37-38)

There is power in the gospel. Invariably, I give a clear gospel summary according to I Corinthians 15:1-4. Jesus Christ died for our sins. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. Get a handle on this one if you can! Use the simple gospel. Use the name of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t follow up everyone. If He didn’t try, why should we? Let the Spirit lead.

When I’m filled with the Holy Spirit and have vision for people (seeing the fields), evangelism comes more naturally. The risk is still breath taking–but what an adventure!

I have made a decision not to criticize but rather be supportive of various forms of evangelism. There’s a lot of variety. “Different spokes for different folks.” What works for one may not work for another. Find a style that works for you and use it.

The world is waiting. We’re winning not just “souls”. It’s Judy or Jim or Megan or Brett who are going to hell. We turn them around by caring enough to ask simple questions and giving the simple gospel.

Follow-Up New Believers? WWJD?

What would Jesus do about “follow up” of new converts?  Do you remember WWJD and the wristband phase of the 1990’s?  I didn’t wear the wristband, but like many, I was challenged to ask, “What would Jesus do?” when I needed to make a decision.

Fortunately, we can learn what Jesus did about follow up of new converts by looking in the Bible.

The whole question about what to do with new converts became real to me after I led a new acquaintance to Christ.  The very next day I drove to his home to give him a Bible.  While in his back yard I met his wife and asked her, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life like your husband?” She replied simply, “No.”  But I could tell she was interested, so I led her also to accept Christ as Savior.

Soon—I think it was while I was driving away—I felt a strange impression, “Don’t follow up on this couple.”  Since I’ve always been big on not leaving new converts out in the cold to die, I was shocked and perturbed.   I’ve led the follow-up committee for several crusades.   My teaching at evangelism seminars has been,” You wouldn’t neglect a new-born baby to die of starvation.  Don’t let that happen to a spiritual baby either.”

Was this “no follow-up” impression from God or from my own mind?  I did a Scriptural search to find out.  Reading through the New Testament, I found two instances where Jesus actually met again with a new believer. The first instance is the story in John 5:14 of the man who had been lame for 38 years.  The second is found in John 9:35, where Jesus went to the blind man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  The second instance seems to me to be an intentional attempt to locate and follow up.

Perhaps Jesus did follow-up other new believers, but these are the only two recorded instances that I have identified.  This truth set me free.  Numbers of times I have chosen not to witness knowing I could not follow up with someone because of distance or some other reason.  Now I can freely witness and let the Spirit lead:  With some I will follow up, with others I will do what Jesus did—trust God for the seeds to grow.

What Is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

Can you define “gospel” in a sentence or two?

Amazingly, many Christians are unclear about the gospel.  Oh, I knew the Greek word for gospel which is “euangelion” (εὐαγγέλιον) and could translate it accurately into English.  But I was unable to say the gospel clearly in such a way that people understood and experienced its power.   I was a seminary graduate, yet  I was fuzzy about the “good news” until I read a little pamphlet by an unknown author.  The writer pointed me to I Corinthians 15:1-4 where St Paul defines the gospel clearly and succinctly.

“Now I make know to you, brethren, the gospel. . .”

What follows is a clear definition:  Christ died for our sins—Christ was raised from the dead.

Since the definition of the gospel is of high importance verification is added:

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.  Christ was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures.

Still further verification is added:

Christ died for our sins and He was buried.  The burial gives evidence of His death—we don’t generally bury live people!

Christ was raised from the dead and He appeared to Cephas (Peter), the twelve disciples, and more than 500 at one time.

Why is the gospel definition so important?  Because it is the power of God to save (rescue and deliver) people.  I was once expressing my faith to a clerk at a grocery store.  My words were just that—words—until I mentioned, “Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins.  He was raised from the dead” and gave us the free gift of salvation.  The gospel words struck the clerk’s heart.  She responded to the further invitation to receive Jesus Christ then and there.

Let there be no confusion about the gospel–it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.  The gospel strikes hearts and needs to be a part of any clear witness of Jesus Christ.

Evangelism –Who Fights, Who Wins the War?


Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.
–C. T. Studd

The battle rages, but in the context of conflict, the greatest warrior of the New Testament era remarks that it’s not the God of war, but “the God of peace who will soon crush satan beneath your feet.” Romans 16;20

When it comes to evangelism, the battle for souls has been won.  Christ on the cross paid sin’s penalty in full and opened the door to heaven. He defeated the devil and nullified his claims against us. The battle has been won.  Now remember, the God of peace will crush satan under your feet.

I have written some poetry to memorialize this truth.

Jael drove the tent-peg thru ‘ol Sisera’s head;
Samson pushed the pillars—he killed the Baal-worshipers dead;
Jonathon fought the Philistines ‘til they all just fled—
But the God of Peace will soon crush satan ‘neath your feet.

Moses killed the ‘Gyptian, hid him in the sands;
David slew the lion, used his own bare hands.
Ehud freed the people from the evil king’s demands—
But the God of Peace will soon crush satan ‘neath your feet.

God cast the demon-power to the ground–
That Ancient coward who  refused the church to abound;
The day has come—let your invite now resound!
The God of Peace will soon crush satan ‘neath your feet.

Christ crucified with the victorious army at His side
Leads captivity captive—We will not be denied!
Those old demons, guilty as tried–
The God of Peace will soon crush satan ‘neath our feet!