Monday, May 16, 2022

THE POWER OF ASKING AND RECEIVING!



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

Hello Friends:

     The last three weeks I have posted about superhero power.
  1. “Does the Church Have Superhero Power? If Not, Why Not?"
  2. “Holy Spirit Power Like A Powerful Muscle Car!”
  3. “The Living, Active, Enduring Power of God’s Word!"
     Today is likely my last post about superhero power. We often talk about the power of prayer. But I want to dig a little deeper into the power of praying to an omniscient and omnipresent God.
     Omniscient means that God is all-knowing, and has infinite awareness, understanding, and insight. David, in Psalm 139:1-6 explains it more eloquently than I ever could:
“Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
you understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me.
This wondrous knowledge is beyond me.
It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.”
     Omnipresent means that God is always in all places at all times. In Psalm 139:7-14 David goes on to explain:
“Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I fly on the wings of the dawn
and settle down on the western horizon,
even there your hand will lead me;
your right hand will hold on to me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me,
and the light around me will be night”—
even the darkness is not dark to you.
The night shines like the day;
darkness and light are alike to you.
For it was you who created my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.
Your works are wondrous,
and I know this very well.”
     Bible passages like these two simply blow me away! But what blows me away even more is the fact that with God’s omniscience and omnipresence, that he is just waiting for us to use “The Power of Asking and Receiving!”, which is the title of my last superhero power post.
     I’m not going to elaborate long on the following ten Bible passages that explain the power of asking and receiving. The verses speak for themselves. Let them sink deep into your soul. These are not just feel-good verses. They have power to change the way we think about God.
     Also, I encourage you and I not to get hung up on the fact that our prayers haven’t been answered in the past. God’s Word is true, and we need to take them at face value. Wondrous answers to our prayers are on the way:
  1. Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 11:9-10: “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
  2. Matthew 21:21-22: Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
  3. John 4:10 (Jesus and the Samaritan Woman): Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”
  4. John 14:12-14: “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
  5. John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.”
  6. John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.”
  7. John 16:23-24: “In that day you will not ask me anything. Truly I tell you, anything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
  8. 1 John 3:21-22: “Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight.”
  9. 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have before him: If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked of him.”
  10. Lastly, Revelation 3:20: "See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me."
     This last Revelation 3:20 passage to me is by far the greatest example of the Power of Asking and Receiving in the Bible . . . for us to ask Jesus to come into the door of our lives. And for him to enter and eat with us . . . for eternity!

See you next time,
Arlen


Sunday, May 1, 2022

THE LIVING, ACTIVE, ENDURING POWER OF GOD'S WORD!


“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

Hello Friends:

     Last week the post “Holy Spirit Power Like a Powerful Muscle Car” was viewed almost a record number of times . . . at least for me. I didn't use Bible verses like I usually do in my posts. But I think it was a good analogy of a weak car overhauled to be a powerful muscle car . . . being like God by His Holy Spirit overhauling a weak person to make them into a powerful person, at least powerful in his or her inner spirit.
     Today I want to WOW you with the post, “The Living, Active, Enduring Power of God's Word!" I really love the Bible, and God speaking to us from the Bible. Many of you have heard the joke about a man trying to seek God's direction by randomly opening Bible passages instead of reading the Bible systematically:
  • The first passage in Matthew 27:5 reads: “Then he (Judas) went and hanged himself.”
  • The second passage in Luke 10:37 reads: “Go, and do thou likewise.”
  • The third passage in John 13:27 reads: ”What thou doest, do speedily.”
     The joke is funny
 . . . but I strongly question the premise that says a person cannot be directed by God by reading random Bible passages. In fact, I would further go on to say that the Bible is so jam-packed with powerful words, that a person can in fact read random Bible passages to be inspired!
     But I digress. Back to the post. I used the three adverbs: living, active, and enduring in the title of this post because that’s exactly what the Bible says about God’s Living Word in the following scripture passages:
  • Hebrews 12:2: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword.”
  • 1 Peter 1:23: “ . . . because you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.”
     In the post we’ll also explore the term: “God's Word”, or “Word of God", or some derivative used over 1000 times throughout the Bible. I'll say it again. OVER 1000 TIMES!
     First, if you explore the Old Testament the terms are used almost exclusively related to words spoken directly by God to the Israelite leaders and prophets. The leaders and prophets in turn repeated God’s words to the people. If the people accepted and obeyed words from the Lord spoken to the leaders and prophets, the people curried God’s favor and received His blessings. BUT, when they openly disobeyed God’s spoken words, they received God's curses that resulted in death, famine, or plagues.
     God’s leaders and prophets many times intervened with their own words of petition back to God to have mercy on the people, and most times God listened and relented. Although he didn’t eliminate the punishment entirely, in most cases he lessened it.
     Another example of the importance of God’s Word in the Old Testament is found in Psalm 119, which is the longest chapter in the Bible. It has 176 verses, and each verse talks about the importance of listening to, and obeying God’s revealed words, laws, instructions, decrees, commands, statutes, etc. Think of it. The psalmist thought God’s Word to be so important that he wrote 176 consecutive verses about it!
     To further the point that the power of God’s Word is living, active, and enduring are the following breakdowns of the term used in the New Testament:
  • The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John refers to the term God's Word, Word of God, or some derivative: over 80 times.
  • Book of Acts: 40 times.
  • Epistles, which are the writings of Paul, Peter, John, Jude: Over 60 times.
  • Revelation by John the Revelator: 17 times.
     So, the total references to the terms about God’s Word is used almost 200 times in the New Testament alone! The conclusion can be made that the almost 1000 Bible references to the terms about God’s Word should give us some indication of how important it was to God getting His message across to mankind, and how powerful it was!
     But what was God’s real plan in His written message with so many references to the term God's Word, or Word of God, etc.? It’s clear that He was making known with His written Word . . . about His “Living Word”!
     The following four scripture passages make it clear:
  1. John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
  2. John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
  3. 1 John 1:1-4: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.”
  4. Revelation 19:13: “He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God.”
     So, who was made flesh (a man) and dwelt among us (which means living among the disciples and the rest of the people in Israel at that time)? And who was revealed to the disciples, that they saw with their own eyes? And who was the only person who wore a robe dipped in blood? It’s evident from these four passages that the Living Word of God was and is Jesus!
     So, Jesus, God’s Living Word . . . and the over 1000 references to God’s written Word throughout the Bible give reassuring evidence of: "The Living, Active, Enduring Power of God's Word!"

See you next time,
Arlen

Thursday, April 21, 2022

HOLY SPIRIT POWER LIKE A POWERFUL MUSCLE CAR!

 



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. I’ve decided to forego, because of lack of interest, my “Evangelism Questions” series I was going to do. I laugh with my wife at my usually “un-viral videos" . . . but the Evangelism Questions series were especially un-viral. I do look at the number of views of each of my videos, but I don’t think I’m obsessed about it . . . at least not yet! (Note: I’m only joking. I realize that videos about soulwinning isn’t on the radar of most people as “must-see TV”.)
     I’m going to aim my focus again on power for evangelism. Today’s title is “Holy Spirit Power Like a Powerful Muscle Car!” During research for my recent website posts I found out that the word “power” is mentioned 385 times in the Bible, and 121 times in the New Testament alone I am astonished that not more attention is given to the topic of Holy Spirit power for evangelism.
     There has been over my forty-four years of Christianity a lot of talk about “the power of prayer”, “the power of happiness”, and even “the power to get wealth”. There are many books about the Holy Spirit. But I have never seen a focused sermon, book, or video about Holy Spirit power for evangelism. I’m not saying they don’t exist. I’m just saying that in my over forty years of Christianity I haven’t seen any.
     I looked today and John Wimber in the mid 1980’s wrote a book entitled “Power Evangelism”. It was about the signs and wonders that accompanied the apostles in the Book of Acts, and how we can today engage the Holy Spirit to gain that same power, accompanied by signs and wonders that will lead to evangelizing others. I don’t want to minimize signs and wonders that will likely accompany the power of the Holy Spirit. But I first want to focus on some of the basics, and the first one is to understand and embrace that the power is real.
     I want to focus more on why Jesus and His apostles so many times used the term power associated with the Holy Spirit. And why they repeatedly stressed so many times in their speech and writings the power that lives inside each believer. Also, the fact that we rarely talk about that power, rarely feel that power, and rarely acknowledge that the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives even exists. Most of us, myself included, don’t feel very powerful in our Christian lives.
     A lot of preachers and teachers get up in front of their congregations and speak their message loudly and forcefully. They try to exude confidence that what they say is very powerful, and worth hearing. I can understand where they're coming from. After all, in these videos I'm trying to use confidence, and share with a degree of power words that are worth hearing. But I’m not talking about forceful and convincing messages, and even videos. I pray that God will take care of that in each of us at the appropriate times.
     I’m talking more about an inner strength that the Holy Spirit gives, that most times has a quiet power about it. It’s the kind of power that hums quietly like the powerful engine of a muscle car, that can come to life at any time when the driver pushes the accelerator pedal. It allows the driver to get to the destination with a slow steady pace, or a powerful fast pace, depending on the need at the time.
     I’m asserting that you and I as Christians are just like that powerful muscle car. Our engine was overhauled by God when we came to Christ. Before Christ we were like a 1970 Ford Mustang with a V-6 engine. I’m using that example because a 1970 candy apple red Mustang was my dream car that I desperately wanted at the age of eighteen. It was a plain Mustang with very little real power, but it was very nice looking. My Dad, however, had to sign for me to get a loan for the car, and he quickly put an end to my dream. He wanted me, at my young age, to get a bigger, safer car, which I ended up doing.


     But if I took that beautiful candy apple red Mustang and had it overhauled with a 428 cubic inch Cobra Jet engine, adjusted the suspension and some other parts of the car, it would have turned into a true muscle car, much like a 1970 Ford Mach 1.


     This is like us after we are overhauled by God. We turn from a plain 1970 candy apple red Mustang, which looks nice on the outside, but has very little real power . . . to a 1970 Ford Mach 1 muscle car. We just need to learn how to harness that raw power to reach the destinations God has for us. One of those destinations He wants us to go to is to a place of telling others about Jesus.

See you next time,
Arlen

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

DOES THE CHURCH HAVE SUPERHERO POWER? IF NOT, WHY NOT?

 


“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. I’m doing another brief interlude to my normal posts. This post is something I thought about with my last Evangelism Question post. It’s entitled “Does the Church Have Superhero Power? If Not, Why Not?” I’ve touched on this theme before, but I think it’s a very important topic to consider again and again.
     I think that Christianity gets a bad rap because many, many people, especially our younger generation, think of the church to a large degree, as being wimpy and boring. They don’t see Christians as having any real power, and if you get right down to it, any real joy. I will own up to my own part that I play in that.
     Young people, and even many older people, are almost addicted to action games and movies where they live vicariously through the online or movie heroes that save the world, or at least their part of the world, against an evil villain. I love westerns and am amazed how drawn into the Old West action I get, and I will even say Old West violence. After all, the heroes are justified in using violence to save innocent people. Right? But that’s a debate for another day.
     Where’s the church losing out? What can we do to instill a sense of action and adventure into our Christian faith? I don’t advocate for us to drum up false excitement and adventure, or to renew our somewhat failed seeker sensitive strategies. But just like the goal of my Soulwinnersr.us website was to instill the focus for myself, and perhaps others, toward evangelism . . . I think that we should perhaps have focus groups or if you will, think tanks, to figure out how to instill the sense of adventure and great joy back into our Christian faith. We’re failing, and it’s critical to look at why we’re failing.
     We’re not failing because of a wimpy and boring story. The Bible is packed full of adventure, intrigue, action, and power. After all, God, His son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit are the most powerful superheroes ever, right? Let’s look at the term “power” in the Bible. Through the wonder of the internet, I counted how many times the term power, powerful, powered, etc. was mentioned in the Bible.
  • 385 times
  • 264 times in the Old Testament
  • 121 times in the New Testament
     For the sake of time, I’m only going to look at just a few New Testament references to the term power:
  1. John the Baptist referred to Jesus in Matthew 3:11 as “more powerful than I.”
  2. Jesus’ hometown people of Nazareth were “astonished” at His miraculous powers in Matthew 13:54.
  3. Jesus said in Matthew 24:30 about his return to earth “on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
  4. The angel Gabriel in Luke 1:35 told Mary, the mother of Jesus, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
  5. Luke referenced Jesus in Luke 4:14 as going to Galilee “in the power of the spirit”, where the “news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity.” In other words, Jesus went viral. 
  6. Luke referenced one of the Bible’s many instances of Jesus’ power to heal in Luke 6:19, where it says, “The whole crowd was trying to touch him, because power was coming out from him and healing them all.” 
  7. Jesus gave out His power to others for the first time in Luke 9:1 where he summoned his disciples, and “he gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases.” 
  8. Jesus in Acts 1:8 told his disciples before he ascended to heaven on a cloud that they would receive Holy Spirit “power” to be witnesses everywhere they went. 
  9. Paul referred to Jesus in Romans 1:4 as “the powerful Son of God”, and in Romans 1:16 that Jesus demonstrated “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” 
  10. Paul wrote in Romans 15:13 that he wanted the Romans to “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
     I could go on and on a couple hours about references to power in the New Testament alone. Ephesians 1:19 refers to ‘the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength”. Don’t you and I usually feel wimpy and insignificant. So, it’s difficult to think of the limitless power that we have in God and His Son Jesus!
     We talked earlier about the power of superheroes to save the world from evil villains. The evilest villain in the entire history of mankind is Satan. Satan’s plan is not only to kill people, but to make them suffer unbearably in the process.
     Only God’s plan can thwart Satan’s diabolical scheme. Acts 10:38 reported that Jesus healed “all who were under the tyranny of the devil.” Where have we heard of the tyranny of a dictator recently? 
     Ephesians 6:12 says that we struggle against “the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.” The definition of cosmic according to Merriam Webster is the following: “Of or relating to the cosmos, the extraterrestrial vastness”. Then Merriam Webster further defines cosmic as the following: “Characterized by greatness especially in extent, intensity, or comprehensiveness.” In other words, our struggle against the devil and evil is so big the human mind can’t comprehend it. Talk about the need for superhero power!
     Many young people and older people alike are transfixed by stories of cosmic implications like the Marvel movies, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, and many others. How can we instill in them, and us, the cosmic implications and need for church superhero power . . . before it’s too late?

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, April 10, 2022

EVANGELISM QUESTION 1: BIBLE EXAMPLES


 

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. Last week I did a post on “The Divine Intervention Show”, a take-off on the show “Intervention” about drug and alcohol addicts that are facing death if they don’t get help from intervention specialists to overcome their addictions. The Divine Intervention Show, on the other hand, would be about people facing spiritual death if they don’t get help from divine intervention specialists filled with God’s Holy Spirit, leading them to give their lives to Jesus.
     Now I’m back to the seven-post series about evangelism questions to try to shed a bright light on some very important specifics to introduce Jesus to unsaved family members, friends, and others. My first post is entitled, “Evangelism Question 1: Bible Examples.” I want us to look at key Bible, or scriptural examples of what evangelism is all about.

First, let’s define evangelism:
  • The Cambridge Dictionary defines evangelism as “the activity of persuading people to become Christians, often by traveling around and telling people about your beliefs”. A pertinent Bible verse explaining evangelism is found in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Therefore since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people.” This Bible verse doesn’t use the exact word evangelism, but it clearly defines it by using the phrase, “persuade people”.
Next, let’s define an evangelist:
  • The Cambridge Dictionary defines an evangelist as “a person who tries to persuade people to become Christians, often by traveling around and organizing religious meetings”. So, evangelism is “the ACTIVITY of persuading people” . . . and an evangelist is “the PERSON who tries to persuade people to become Christians.
  • Ephesians 4:11 talks about the ministries of Jesus, including using the specific term “evangelist”. Here it is: “And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” Paul specifically used the term “evangelist”.
     Now, let’s look at whether only a trained and gifted “evangelist” is authorized to do evangelism, or to “persuade people to become Christians”. D.T. Niles, in his book “That They Might Have Life” declared the following well known statement:
  • “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” I know that quote isn’t directly taken from the Bible . . . but isn’t it the very essence of evangelism . . . “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread?”
     Jesus didn’t just commission trained evangelists to go out, organize evangelistic meetings, and persuade people to become Christians. Acts 1:8 is one of several Bible passages where He commissioned ordinary fishermen, tax collectors, and various other untrained people to do the work of evangelism. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
     Please, please recognize the power we have as Christians when we are filled with the Holy Spirit as were the disciples in Acts! I realize that a couple places in Acts have examples of people speaking in tongues . . . and there are groups of people that emphasize speaking in tongues as being the catalyst by which all Holy Spirit power is manifested. But the filling and power of the Holy Spirit doesn’t come exclusively to those who speak in tongues. Let’s look at tongues just a little bit to clarify:
  • Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:4: “The person who speaks in another tongue builds himself up.” So, tongues are generally to build a person up in his or her personal faith.
  • Paul then wrote in verse 39, “do not forbid speaking in other tongues.”
  • BUT, Paul wrote in verse 19 about public church gatherings, “I would rather speak five words with my understanding, in order to teach others, than ten thousand words in another tongue.”
  • So, I think it’s safe to say that tongues can serve a purpose, just like many other Bible-based practices. Tongues can never, however, be the foundation piece that we stand on to be able to do evangelism.
     The Holy Spirit’s power inside us doesn’t come exclusively from speaking in tongues. It comes from the following sources:
  1. First, the Holy Spirit’s power comes inside us immediately when we confess and turn from our sins, and do as Paul wrote in Romans10:9, “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  2. Second, the Holy Spirit’s power comes to each of us after we commit our lives to Christ, and each of us is now a “temple” of God, filled with His Holy Spirit.
    • In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul states emphatically to Christians, “Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in You?” God’s temple isn’t just the one in Jerusalem built by Solomon. And it’s definitely not the church structures where Christians meet. God’s temple is you and I, individually and collectively, where God’s great Holy Spirit power now resides.
  3. Third, the Holy Spirit’s power comes from having a close, intimate relationship with God and His love. James wrote in James 4:8, Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” I think the Bible is plain. Closeness to God is the greatest catalyst toward having tremendous Holy Spirit power, including great power for you and I . . . to be evangelists.
See you next time,
Arlen

Saturday, April 2, 2022

THE DIVINE INTERVENTION SHOW!

 



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. I was planning, and am still planning, on doing a seven-week series on “Evangelism Questions”. But something else grabbed my attention. I mentioned two days ago in a Facebook post, “The Missing X-Factor”, where I referenced the “Intervention” TV show about drug and alcohol addicts that are virtually on the last leg of life due to their addictions. Their loved ones are desperate to the point they called the show to give them help to literally save the lives of their family members.
     You will likely think I’m a little bit, in mental health speak, too “religiously preoccupied”, but when watching the Intervention TV show, it reminded me of another “death” that is far more diabolical than the earthly death feared by the families of the addicts in the show. It’s eternal death in hell.
     I think with all my heart that Satan wants to minimize in our minds and hearts the impact of this death. He wants us to put off thinking about it so long that we die before we find the answer to turn around to avoid it.
     I’m proposing another TV show. It’s called “The Divine Intervention Show!” The focus of this show will be about loved ones so concerned about the fate of their family members heading toward eternal death in hell, that they also call on a team. They call on a team of “Divine Intervention Specialists”. These specialists are filled with God’s Holy Spirit, and they have a direct line to God through the Spirit that help them with the supernatural intervention that is needed to turn the afflicted family member around.
     One thing that struck me about the current Intervention show is that God was rarely mentioned by the Intervention team, and if so, it was only in passing. Then, if the family member agreed to take up the Intervention specialist offer to go for treatment, the family member was sent by plane to the treatment center destination. At the airport they were greeted by treatment professionals, I didn’t see "God" being mentioned in treatment direction, and He wasn’t referenced at all in any of the names of the treatment centers.
     It reminded me very much of the Dr. Phil Show, who follows the same pattern. Dr. Phil offers treatment, all expenses paid to many of his guests, and may mention God in passing, but rarely does so. The show is almost exclusively about secular self-help strategies that can be good to some degree, but they don’t reach the root of the problem, which is sin.
     The Divine Intervention Show, on the other hand would address sin straight up. Sin is, after all, the driving factor in addictions, dysfunctions, violence, and a myriad of other maladies leading to eternal death.
     Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”
     None of us want our family members to go on the broad road to destruction and eternal death. Let’s cry out for Divine Intervention and divine intervention specialists, if you will, to help turn them around to accompany us on the narrow road. It’s the only thing that will save their lives!

See you next time,
Arlen

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

EVANGELISM QUESTIONS: INTRODUCTION

 


“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. Last week I finished the seven-week “Steps to God” series. I really enjoyed making the series based largely on The Roman Road to salvation plan to discuss some basic principles of the gospel. I want to start another 7-week series I have entitled “Evangelism Questions”.
     I want to qualify the fact that I’m not a trained Bible scholar with a degree from an accredited Bible college. I am, however, a longtime Christian layman of over 44 years, and have read the Bible through many, many times. I believe that gives me some credibility in addressing evangelism and soulwinning tips.
     I pray that you find the posts meaningful, but more importantly, that they sway you to take one of two actions:
Action 1: If you don’t already know Jesus as your personal Savior, I pray that you will give Him consideration as someone that can radically change your life.
Action 2: If you are already a Christian, I pray that you will be swayed by these posts to consider reaching out more and more to introduce Jesus to the people in your family, circle of friends, and others.
So, here we go with a basic introduction outline to the seven-week series entitled “Evangelism Questions”.

Week 1. Evangelism Question 1: Bible Examples of Evangelism
  • We’ll discuss Bible characters who Introduced Jesus to other people, and the effectiveness of their actions.
Week 2. Evangelism Question 2: Mass Evangelism Effectiveness
  • Evangelism crusades led by evangelists were very prominent in the past. Many older people remember the “tent revivals” held prominently in their communities. A few ministries still hold them. They are an example of “mass evangelism”. We’ll discuss whether we think that holding mass evangelism crusades are an effective method of introducing Jesus to people . . . or are mass evangelism crusades the easy way out?
Week 3. Evangelism Question 3: One-On-One Evangelism Effectiveness
  • One-on-one evangelism is intimidating to some. It’s intimidating to me. Does one-on-one evangelism have to be intimidating?
Week 4. Evangelism Question 4: Gospel Tract Evangelism Effectiveness
  • Some believers are active in distributing gospel tracts to share their faith with others. Other believers don’t distribute gospel tracts. What do you think about gospel tract effectiveness to introduce Jesus to people?
Week 5. Evangelism Question 5: Christian Clothing and Jewelry Effectiveness in Evangelism
  • Some believers feel comfortable, and others uncomfortable wearing and sharing their faith literally, “on their sleeves”. Where do you stand with wearing clothing and jewelry with a Christian message?
Week 6. Evangelism Question 6: Gospel Sharing Plan Effectiveness
  • Some people state their fear of the fact that many leaders encourage using a specific plan for evangelism. For example: Some encourage using “The Roman Road”, which I use to some degree, to share systematically the gospel with unbelievers. What do you think about using a gospel sharing plan to introduce Jesus to people?
Week 7. Evangelism Question 7: Scripture Memorization Effectiveness in Evangelism
  • Some people state their fear of the fact that many leaders encourage scripture memorization to be able to share specific important scripture verses with unbelievers. What do you think about using memorized scriptures to introduce Jesus to people?
     So, there you have it. I’m greatly looking forward to the next seven weeks as we go through the seven “Evangelism Questions” posts.

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, March 20, 2022

STEPS TO GOD 7: TRANSFORMED!

 



"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

Hello Friends: 

     We have today pictures and examples of transformation. You’ll see pictures of people and things that look normal at first. But after a life-changing alteration by an outside force, they were completely transformed into superheroes to save the world. Most of you will readily recognize Clark Kent transformed into Superman

     The second is a picture of the Transformer toy and comic book/movie character, Optimus Prime. Instead of explaining what a Transformer toy is, for those of you who don’t know, I put the link of a very humorous YouTube video about an automatic transformation of the Optimus Prime Transformer. I hope you like it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0SEYM9jHVg

     The title of my Soulwinnersr.us post is obvious. It’s "Steps to God 7: Transformed!" You will likely say to me that in no way can the transformation of a person be as dramatic as the transformation of Clark Kent into Superman, or a non-descript semi-truck into Optimus Prime. I’m here to say, however, that it’s exponentially greater than both!
     Many of us have the false notion that to become a Christian is to accede to becoming a boring person, or even a “bore”. I think that many churches have made becoming a Christian non-attractive by their rules and traditions. The church’s, I’ll call, “four-wall mentality” of being “God’s House” is archaic and quite frankly untrue. The church is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit living inside of us individually and collectively, not inside the four walls of a church building. Another truth is that God is just waiting to unlock creativity, passion, friendship, and love within us that we never thought possible.
     I’m not talking about manufactured excitement that many of us think about when we think of a church that is “alive”. I’m talking about deep and profound mental insight that we never had before. Paul encouraged in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed by this age, but transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
     What happens when you and I are transformed by the renewing of our minds. I’ll list some examples:

1. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.” Imagine us being transformed to becoming a light on a hill, that can’t be hidden, that others are able to follow, and navigate by!
2. Paul said in Ephesians 2:7, “He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” We aren’t subject to just a little bit of grace and love, but grace and love that is so huge that it can’t even be measured.
3. Jesus said in John 15:15, “I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father.” Jesus isn’t withholding any blessing or insight from us. He’s making known “everything” He heard directly from God.
4. Lastly, Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:16-21 about the great transformative power and love God gives us through Jesus, “I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

     All I can say is, “WOW!" Does that sound like a dull and limiting existence, or an exciting and limitless experience? Also, the transformative power we have as Christians is not only for our own benefit, but also to transform us into superheroes to save our world!
     This is my final Steps to God post. I pray that you found them meaningful. I keep joking with my wife that I’m going downstairs to make my “un-viral video”. That’s OK. My goal in the first place for my Soulwinnersr.us website wasn’t for my videos to become viral. I make the videos to motivate myself first, and perhaps encourage a few others along the way, to join me in the exciting adventure of soulwinning.

See you next time,
Arlen

Saturday, March 12, 2022

STEPS TO GOD 6: SEALING THE DEAL!

 



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     When I asked Dee to marry me, after she agreed we started making arrangements. But one of the most important steps was to obtain a marriage license. We had to have it approved by a judge with signatures by a court official and a minister that made it official and binding. In essence we sealed the deal of our marriage.
     I’ve been using the tenets of the Roman Road gospel as the basis for most of my seven-post series, with a few other important Bible principles sprinkled in. This sixth post about “Sealing the Deal” is the absolute most important contract we will ever encounter. I want to stress again its vital importance.
     The deal is between two parties, just like the written one here. It, however, is not with a human person, company, or government entity. It’s between you and God only. No one else is involved in the transaction, although there are those standing by our sides, perhaps not physically but in spirit, cheering on the deal. Then we can readily imagine a great roar of approval, perhaps applause, and even a great deal of angelic singing in heaven after the deal is complete.
     So, let’s move on to the precursors and specifics of the deal. We’ve talked about some of them in previous posts:
  1. Recognize our sin. We talked about this in two posts. The first post, “A Veil Over Our Hearts”, is where we determine to do right, but the path to doing right is veiled from us. We don’t even recognize that we have sin getting in our way. My second post, “Help, I Need Somebody”, is the realization that “we need somebody, not just anybody”, but the “somebody” is still not revealed to us. Paul uncovers the barrier directly to us in plain words in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The recognition of sin as a barrier to God is our first step.
  2. Understand the wages of our sin: I referenced it in the post “Unwanted Wages”. Paul in Romans 6:23 stated, “For the wages of sin is death. . .” This isn’t just a physical death, but scripture is clear that it also includes a spiritual death. This death, according to the Bible, results in an eternity in hell with eternal pain and suffering. We all want the best for our lives, right? Acknowledging that we don’t want to live in pain for eternity is the second step.
  3. Accept the gift of God: We talked about this gift, or offer if you will, in a previous post, “An Offer We Can’t Refuse”. After we acknowledge the wages of sin written about in the first part of Romans 6:23, we immediately observe the wonderful gift that God is reaching out His hand to offer us. Here’s the offer, “BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God didn’t leave us long to ponder the dire consequences of our sin before He immediately made us aware of His offer of the gift of eternal life.
  4. The nature of God’s gift: The gift offered to us is eternal life “in Christ Jesus our Lord” that we just talked about, but how and why did it come about? It came about, as Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ bridged the gap that we couldn’t bridge ourselves.
  5. Sacrifice for our sins: We often talk about the sacrifice of soldiers who die defending the freedom that we have in America. They’re held up as heroes, and rightfully so. But Christ’s sacrifice was exponentially greater. His sacrifice on the cross was for everyone, not just Americans, so that we all can have the freedom Jesus mentioned in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus then said a little later in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.”
     So, there we have from the Bible “Steps to God” that I outlined in my five previous posts. Now, how do we seal the deal? We’ve already concluded that the contract isn’t a physical one where our signature on a piece of paper is the binding factor. We’ll discuss two components of the deal:
  1. Proximity of the two parties entering into the agreement. Before getting married Dee and I met together often, took classes with our pastor, made the decision to get married, then sealed the deal with a signed marriage contract and wedding ceremony. In the same way God draws near to us, or wants to draw near to us, or enter close proximity with each of us: 
    • “See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
    • “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8.
    • “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble”. Psalm 46:1
    • “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
  2. Taking action to enter the relationship. At one point I needed to take the step, as scared as I was, to ask Dee to marry me. I really didn’t know exactly how she was going to respond. In the same way, it’s scary to take a leap of faith to trust God, who is so foreign to most of us, and ask Him to enter a personal, intimate relationship with us. We’ve learned from the Bible, however, that God is very close, and just waiting for our invitation. Romans 10:13 states, "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 
     The above listed occurrences we talked about in “steps to God”, occur somewhat naturally. We only realize their significance after the fact. But when we come to the end of ourselves and realize that we can’t draw close to God with our own power, we are invited heartily by God to take action to call on His name to save us.
     Romans 10:9 states, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” When I was a young Christian, I didn’t know the impact the name of Jesus really had. I now understand the great power taking the action of confessing His name has in my life and the lives of others. It makes me want to proclaim His name more and more.
     So, “sealing the deal” of beginning a relationship with God can be somewhat intimidating. Most of us already know that fact by the response we get from family members and friends when we tell them about Jesus. Some of them have said to me, “Arlen, I don’t want to hear about that.” They think I’ve gone off the deep end into religious fanaticism. If so, I’m in very good company. Paul and the apostles met with the same opposition. But the Bible verses about the “broad” and “narrow” roads spurs me on. We’ll talk more about that in my final “Steps to God” post.

See you next time,
Arlen

Saturday, March 5, 2022

STEPS TO GOD 5: SCROOGE NO MORE-GIFT OF A SECOND CHANCE!

 



"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men," Matthew 4:19

Hello Friends: 
     Last week was the fourth installment of the seven-post series “Steps to God”. I shared the post, “An Offer We Can’t Refuse!”. It used a takeoff on a memorable Godfather quote . . . but exponentially more important than the quote, is the offer made to each of us by God that is far better than we can even conceive or think about.
     The fifth post is entitled, “Scrooge No More-Gift of a Second Chance!”. I reference the great story A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens which details the life of the fictional character Ebenezer Scrooge. Many of us probably know the basics of the story, and many of us from time to time have been called “a scrooge”, called somebody else “a scrooge”, or at the least said “bah-humbug”.
     The Christmas Carol story about Ebenezer Scrooge is a wonderful example of the gift of a second chance, or a before and after story. The television and media industries have repeatedly and successfully used the gift of a second chance, or before and after themes. Even “Extreme Home Makeover”, and “Decked Out”, the show that I’m transfixed on now about transforming backyards into backyard decked paradises, are about turning a drab, dull, and difficult existence into an exciting, meaningful existence.
     What was the state of Ebenezer Scrooge before being given his second chance?
  1. Scrooge was a very cantankerous, “bah-humbug” type of old man, especially around Christmas. He didn’t see the bright side of anything, except when it came to making and saving money. He treated his nephew Fred with disdain when Fred invited him to the family Christmas party.
  2. Scrooge was a cold-hearted miser. He hated the thought of Christmas, a time where he was expected to use his hard-earned money to give gifts, and he cringed at the thought of giving to a charity fund to feed the hungry. He treated Bob Cratchit, his overworked and underpaid banking employee, as a necessary evil. Being kind to Cratchit on account of Tiny Tim, Cratchit’s disabled son, didn’t even cross his mind.
     How did Scrooge’s gift of a second chance come about? (Note: I want to qualify, first, by saying that I typically am not into talking about ghosts. I hope and pray you see the reasoning behind me talking about the ghosts in the lives of this fictional character.)
  1. The Ghost of Christmas Past: This ghost showed Scrooge that his typical happy life as a young man turned sour with the usual unloving gestures of his father at Christmastime, the death of his favorite aunt at Christmastime, and the spurned love of Belle, who left him one Christmas many years prior, after she could not put up with his overwhelming love of money. Scrooge saw his past as one with nostalgia and deep regret.
  2. The Ghost of Christmas Present: This ghost showed Scrooge how his greed and selfishness hurt others, particularly Cratchit, who couldn’t afford on the salary provided by Scrooge to provide adequate medical care for Tiny Tim. The ghost told Scrooge that Tiny Tim would die unless something changed financially for Cratchit to pay for medical care. Scrooge realized how much his heartless words and deeds hurt others.
  3. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come: This ghost showed where Scrooge, without a radical transformation, would end up. He would end up in an overgrown grave, with unpaid servants stealing his belongings, with debtors relieved at his passing, and with Tiny Tim dying because of Cratchit’s inability to pay for medical care. Scrooge saw this and begged the ghost fervently for another chance. A few moments later he woke up in his bed on Christmas morning and was so overjoyed with the possibility of a new start, that he immediately got up and went to the store and got Christmas gifts for Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family members, went joyfully to his nephew Fred’s Christmas party, and gave generously to the charity fund.
     I used story of Ebenezer Scrooge because of the supernatural and transformational power it describes. More importantly, You and I, with God’s HOLY GHOST power, are prime examples of wonderful before and after stories. Paul in Romans 6:23 wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So, you and I can be living and breathing examples of the absolute best “Gift of a Second Chance”.

See you next time,
Arlen



Thursday, February 24, 2022

STEPS TO GOD 4: AN OFFER WE CAN’T REFUSE!”

 



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:
     Last week was the third installment of the seven-post series “Steps to God”. I shared the post, “Unwanted Wages!”. It was about a difficult realization what the Bible says about wages, in our lives and after our lives that are “unwanted”.
     The fourth post is about us accepting what I entitled, “An Offer We Can’t Refuse”. The title is a takeoff on the famous statement by Don Corleone, the Mafia boss in “The Godfather” movie in 1972. That movie still gives me nightmares with the vicious attacks made by Mafia crime families to get what they wanted. Just like I didn’t endorse the Beatles when quoting one of their songs, I’m for sure not in any way endorsing the Godfather movie. 
     Don Corleone made the statement, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”, meaning the other person would acquiesce to his request, or face consequences. In the same way God is making us an offer we can’t refuse, but it’s not just to avoid consequences. God’s “offer” is one, if we accept it, that will bring us everlasting happiness and contentment, especially in heaven after we leave the heartaches that accompany living in a fallen and sinful world.
     Below is the offer, told repeatedly in different ways by Jesus and His disciples in the Bible:
  • In John 15:15 Jesus said,
“I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends . . .”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have many real friends. Which of us can turn down the offer of having the best friend ever?

  • In Revelation 3:20 Jesus said,

“See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Which of us can turn down the greatest invitation ever to share a meal, and lifetime, with the best friend ever?
  • In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said,
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Are you weary from the burdens you carry? Do you want to find rest and have help to carry your burdens? Which of us could ever turn down a request to have the best friend ever help us carry our heavy burdens?
  • In John 10:10 Jesus said,
“I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
Jesus isn’t talking here about a mundane, meaningless life. He’s talking about an abundant life that is almost beyond comprehension that lasts forever! Which of us can turn that down?
  • In 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul quoted Isaiah who said,
“What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him.”
In this verse Paul quoted Isaiah one of the most hopeful promises ever made! Which of us can turn down what God has prepared for us that is so good that we can’t even conceive it in our minds?
  • In John 14:2-3 Jesus said,
“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms (Note: Most versions say “mansions”). If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.”
Which of us has ever dreamed of living in a spacious mansion designed exactly for us?
  • Last, but not least, Revelation 21 and 22 tells about the wonders that await us in heaven. 
  1. Revelation 21:1-4
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away."

2. Revelation 21:10-11

“He (an angel) then carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a precious jewel, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal."

3. Revelation 21:18 

 "The building material of its wall was jasper and the city was pure gold clear as glass.”

4. Revelation 21:22-23
“I did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb."
5. Revelation 22:1-3
“Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse."
     Wow! Imagine living in a city made of gold where there’s no sadness or suffering, and God and His Son Jesus provide the only light needed . . . forever!
     I could go on and on with many more Bible verses that tell us about the wonderful offer we have in front of us. But I hope and pray that these few have begun to open our eyes to, “An Offer We Can’t Refuse”.

See you next time,
Arlen

Thursday, February 17, 2022

STEPS TO GOD 3: UNWANTED WAGES!

 


“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Last week was the second installment of the seven-post series “Steps to God”. I shared the post, “Help, I Need Somebody”. It was about the realization that we can’t come to God using our own power and will. And for the veil over our hearts to be removed we need three identified sources outside ourselves. These sources are the three persons of the Trinity: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible shows that each person in the Trinity is very close to us, and just waiting for us to call out, “Help, I need somebody, not just anybody”.
     The third step to God I've identified is a rather difficult realization. Most people look forward to wages that they have coming to them at the end of a hard day, week, month, and year of work. But this third post is about “Unwanted Wages”. Wages that most of us would rather not think about.
     So, let’s look at wages a little bit. First, what I will call “wanted wages”:
  • In John 3:14 John the Baptist told a group of soldiers, “Don’t take money from anyone by force or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.” They were earning their wages by doing their job of protecting citizens, and likely arresting bad citizens. At least that's what they were supposed to be doing.
  • Jesus said in Luke 10:7 about his disciples who he was sending into various towns, “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they offer, for the worker is worthy of his wages.” This means that a person doing his or her job of spreading the gospel should be paid accordingly.
  • Paul reiterated Jesus’ wage theme in 1 Timothy 5:18, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and the worker is worthy of his wages.”
     Now let’s look at “unwanted wages”. The examples where the term wages that are "unwanted" are much fewer in the Bible than “wanted wages”:
  • Solomon wrote in Proverbs 10:16, “The reward of the righteous is life; the wages of the wicked is punishment.”
  • Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death . . . “ We might say, “I haven’t been wicked” . . . or “I haven’t sinned.”
     Let’s look at what the Bible says:
  • “Wicked” people or “wickedness" is mentioned 353 times in the Bible.
  • The Psalms alone mentions them 99 times.
  • Proverbs mentions them 84 times.
     The writers of these books state repeatedly the dire consequences of wickedness, and the wonderful blessings of righteousness.
     Again, most of us don’t think of ourselves as wicked or sinful. The Bible disagrees. We are all born wicked and sinful, and we need help to overcome it.
     Paul wrote in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” He's saying, that according to God’s standard, we have all sinned and need a Savior to save us from our sins.
     Still not convinced. John wrote in 1 John 1:8, “If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
     You might still say, “So, I have sinned a little bit, but I’m not as wicked as that guy over there.” Paul’s words in Romans 6:23 are clear; everyone that sins have “the wages of death” awaiting them, no matter the degree of sinfulness.
     Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 about Satan giving the antichrist authority to perform “every wicked deception”. Paul makes it clear that all people not accepting “the love of the truth” to “be saved”, are controlled by Satan and his wickedness. What then are the “wages of sin”, which Paul described as “death” in Romans 6:23.
     Some theologians, prominent Bible teachers, and even one so-called friend of mine minimized the fact that death consists of eternal torment in hell. They say, “What we have on earth is what we get.” I was repeatedly told not to focus on the importance of salvation of the lost to avoid an eternal death in hell . . . but only to focus on the wonderful life we will all have here on earth and in heaven when we come to Jesus. I agree that coming to Jesus is a wonderful life compared to the loneliness and despair I felt without Him. But the Bible's very clear about what the wages of sin are.
     The prominent teacher, Tim Mackie, of the popular “Bible Project” website emphatically states there IS no literal hell, and that every person will end up in heaven at one time or another once they finally see the error of their ways. Mr. Mackie has a very large following who are being deceived as we speak.
     After all, pain and suffering comes with physical death, doesn't it. So, it's logical to assume that pain and suffering will accompany a spiritual death.
     Not being a Bible scholar, but only a layman I researched a literal hell as mentioned in the Bible. The numbers alone will make you think twice about a literal hell.
  • The terms “hell”, “hellfire”, “hades”, and “sheol” are mentioned 54 times in the Bible.
  • 31 times in the Old Testament. 
  • 23 times in the New Testament. 
  • 11 times directly by Jesus.
     Jesus also mentions in Matthew and Luke seven times that sinful people against him will be thrown into:
  1. “Outer darkness” (3 times) . . . where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
  2. A “blazing furnace” (2 times) . . . where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. 
  3. A “place” (2 times) . . . where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
     My question is: “What other place would there be where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth except in a literal hell?”
     The term “Lake of fire” is mentioned 4 times in Revelation 19 and 20:
  1. Revelation 19:20 says of the beast and false prophet, “Both of them were thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur."
  2. Revelation 20:10 says, “The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” 
  3. Revelation 20:14 says, “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
  4. Revelation 20:15 lastly says, “And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
     So, it’s very, very sad, but true according to the Bible. The “unwanted wages” each of us will receive if we don’t invite Jesus to save us from our sins is an eternal death in hell. BUT there’s good news coming! My post next week is about God making us “An Offer We Can’t Refuse!”.

See you next time,
Arlen

Thursday, February 10, 2022

STEPS TO GOD 2: HELP, I NEED SOMEBODY!



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. Last week I started the seven-week series “Steps to God”. I shared a post about the first step toward God is realizing there lies “A Veil Over Our Hearts”. It was about the fact that a veil exists that covers, conceals, and disguises the gospel to our eyes and hearts. We might try to find God in various ways, but the veil isn’t easily removed, especially by our own efforts. Our hearts need to be primed and ready to give over to God what we thought we could do on our own. I gave the example of a veil covering my own heart.
     What’s the next step to God? I again will use my own life as an example. It’s the experience I know best how to explain. I finally came to the realization that I had no power in myself to find God. I came to the end of myself and my own devices. I needed somebody outside myself. So, I entitled my second post, “Help, I Need Somebody!” I used the words in the Beatles song “Help” to explain the process of coming to the end of ourselves, and realizing our desperate need for help, that “I need somebody, not just anybody”, as the words of the song say. (Note: Again, I want to say that by using the lyrics of the Beatles song I am in no way endorsing the Beatles, their lifestyles, or their spiritual beliefs.)
     I think God realizes that most of us need a time of struggling in life to come to the inevitable conclusion that we need help from outside sources to come to Him. But what are those outside sources? I think I have the answer. I think you’ll readily recognize the three sources I’ve identified:
  1. God, the first person of the Trinity: Scripture repeatedly declares that God is very close to each of us at all times. All we need do is to call out to Him for help.
    • The Bible declares in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble”. So, when we are in deep trouble, whether it is physically, emotionally, spiritually, or some combination of the three, God is right there to give us refuge, strength, and help.
    • The Psalmist in Psalm 34:18 wrote, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.”
    • In the New Testament Paul declared to the Athenians in Acts 17:27, “He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."
    • So, it’s clear. God is very close to us at all times, and He is just waiting for us to call out to Him for help.
  2. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity: It’s clear that Jesus is also very close to us, ready to answer when we call out to Him for help.
    • John quoted Jesus in Revelation 3:20, “See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
    • Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.”
    • Paul wrote in Romans 5:6, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”
    • The writer of Hebrews 4:15-16 wrote, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”
    • So, you can see that Jesus, God’s Son, is just waiting for us to call out to him for help.
  3. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity: God sent to us the Holy Spirit through Jesus to help us in our time of need. Jesus, as a human, was limited to some degree. But after he ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us, to live inside us, to help us. You can’t get any closer than that!
    • Paul wrote in Romans 8:26, “In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.”
    • John quoted Jesus in John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”
    • So, it’s clear. God gives us great help through His Holy Spirit sent by Jesus, who lives inside us.
     These verses show exactly what happened to me on the day of Grandpa’s funeral in 1977 over 44 years ago. I was in deep trouble emotionally and spiritually. I cried out . . . to who or what I didn’t know at the time. I cried out as the Beatles song said, “Help, I need somebody, not just anybody”. The “somebody” I cried out to was God. He heard me, and by His Holy Spirit sent by Jesus, talked directly to my heart. The long wait was ended for the veil over my heart to be removed.

See you next time,
Arlen

Thursday, February 3, 2022

STEPS TO GOD 1: A VEIL OVER OUR HEARTS



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Imagine trying to go someplace with a veil covering your eyes. It would be very treacherous, wouldn’t it? Unless you are like my brother, who is completely blind. He has gotten used to navigating familiar places without sight. But unfamiliar places are another story.
     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. Last week we discussed that in the coming weeks I would be sharing a series entitled, “Steps To God”, following mostly the Roman Road to Salvation with a few sidebars along the way. My first post is entitled “Steps to God 1: A Veil Over Our Hearts”.
     What is a veil? Here are a couple meanings:
  1. The common one is the veil for centuries worn by brides when getting married. The veil is meant to signify purity.
  2. The curtain of the temple in the Old and New Testament of the Bible was known in older versions of the Bible as a veil. The curtain, or veil, was torn in two by a mighty earthquake during the crucifixion and death of Christ.
     But today, I’m talking about a veil with a different meaning. The dictionary definition of this veil is: “To cover, conceal, or disguise." Moses, in Exodus 34:33-35, used a veil to “cover, conceal, or disguise” his shining face after talking directly to God, because the people were so afraid to approach him as he was covered with God’s glory. Paul talks about this type of veil in 2 Corinthians. He wrote the following in Chapter 3:12-16:
“We are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from gazing steadily until the end of the glory of what was being set aside, but their minds were hardened. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ. Yet still today, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed." 
     Paul went on to write in 2 Corinthians 4:3:
“But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.”
     Those are stern words. I’m going to tell the story of how I had a veil over my heart to the gospel. I’m telling it because it is what I experienced firsthand. I hope that you can identify with me in your own lives the veil over your hearts before coming to Christ. Here’s my story of a veil over my heart:
     “After high school and into my early 20’s I felt hopeless to find real meaning in my life. Right after high school I grew my hair long with a beard in my attempt to be what I call a hippie wannabe. I hung out with the drug and alcohol using crowd, and I dabbled in them myself. Maybe being an enlightened drug-using hippie would give me meaning.
     While living the hippie wannabe lifestyle I still felt empty inside, so while living in Wooster where I worked, I went to a local church. With my long hair and beard in a conservative, evangelical church I went forward at an altar call. I thought I found what would end my emptiness. I had some degree of excitement about what I did, but soon after, with little follow-up from the church, I was back hanging with the wrong crowd and again dabbling in drugs and alcohol. I do want to preface that I didn’t get too far into hard drugs because I was too much of a wimp, and it scared me out of my wits to think about getting caught and going to jail and even prison.
     So, I cleaned up my act, and started working very hard, got a very good job, and I started trying to buy happiness. I bought a top-of-the line sound system and a brand-new Camaro. I was also socking money away into my savings account. Maybe making good money and buying everything I wanted would stop my emptiness. A degree of contentment lasted for a short while, but it quickly faded back toward my empty feelings worse than before.
     I didn’t even realize it. I did all kinds of things to try to be relevant, to be enlightened and even spiritual. I strove to have positive outcomes, to meet my needs, many times to excess. I went through extended periods of time thinking I had things all figured out. I even went to church, and even went forward at an altar. But a veil over my heart remained.”
     So, how is a veil over our hearts removed? We’ll talk about it in the coming weeks.

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, January 30, 2022

STEPS TO GOD: INTRODUCTION

 



“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Welcome to the Soulwinnersr.us website. Last week I shared a post about “Loyal Shepherds Who Will Lead You With Knowledge And Skill”. In the coming seven weeks I want to start sharing a 7-week series entitled, “Steps To God”. It, in essence, is following the Roman Road to salvation, with a few sidebars along the way. I want these posts to educate and encourage soulwinners, and also to enlighten unsaved people.    
     I’m walking through this journey with you, and I don’t claim to have all the answers, but Jesus and His Holy Spirit do have all the answers.
  1. Post 1: “A Veil Over Our Hearts” 
    • If we haven’t fully committed to Christ we have a veil over our hearts toward the gospel. We need the veil lifted/removed before we can move forward to see God clearly. We’ll discuss how that happens.
  2. Post 2: “Help, I Need Somebody” 
    • I use the words in the Beatles song “Help” to explain the process of coming to the end of ourselves, and realizing our desperate need for help, that “I need somebody, not just anybody”, as the words of the song say. (Note: By using the lyrics of the Beatles song I am in no way endorsing the Beatles, their lifestyles, or their spiritual beliefs.)
  3. Post 3: “Unwanted Wages” 
    • Only after realizing we desperately need someone to help us help, can we understand the “why” of needing help. It’s due to our sin, and the consequences, or wages of our sin.
  4. Post 4: “An Offer We Can’t Refuse” 
    • I’m using the quote from “The Godfather” movie where Don Corleone, a mafia boss, so famously said, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”. (Note: I’m in no way endorsing “The Godfather” movie, but only the premise of the statement in relation to God.) God is making us an offer we can’t, or shouldn’t, refuse.
  5. Post 5: “Scrooge No More” 
    • We’ll discuss the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol”. We’ll remember the many gifts that Scrooge never accepted in his younger years that turned him into a crotchety old scrooge of a man. Then the change when he accepted the gift that was being offered to turn his life around. We too are offered a gift to turn our lives around.
  6. Post 6: “Sealing the Deal”
    • Instead of a written signed contract that we use in today’s world, the transaction between God and man is a verbal one of confession who Jesus is, and what we believe about His death and resurrection. It comes only after our recognition of the fact that we can no longer live without God’s help, so we seal the deal, or finalize the transaction between He and us.
  7. Post 7: “Transformers” 
    • As the famous transformer toys that many kids played with in the late 80’s and early 90’s that turned from vehicles to superheroes, after the deal is sealed, we in essence become transformed superheroes to save the day in the world in which we live, and in the lives of the people around us.
So, there you have it. I’m greatly looking forward to the next seven weeks as we go through the seven posts about “Steps to God”.

See you next time,
Arlen

Sunday, January 23, 2022

LOYAL SHEPHERDS WHO WILL LEAD YOU WITH KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL

 


“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:

     Last week we capped off Pastor Aubrey Maye’s Pentecostal Witnessing book, Chapter 4. We discussed the mental attitudes we must have to be effective soulwinners. Also, the benefits of having a plan to share Jesus with people.
     This week I was a little stymied in direction. I prayed and I’m sharing a post about “Loyal Shepherds Who Will Lead You With Knowledge And Skill”, and I’m trusting God’s Holy Spirit to use it. It’s based on Jeremiah exhorting the scattered Israelites to return to God. Jeremiah then made a declaration directly from God in Chapter 3:15, where God said, “I will give you shepherds who are loyal to me, and they will lead you with knowledge and skill.”
     First, what leads to sheep being scattered? It’s likely due to shepherds that don’t really care about the sheep, and/or ones that don’t attain the knowledge and skill needed to lead and guide them effectively and safely. Think of the times that we had knowledgeable and skillful bosses. They knew each employee and the strengths each possessed to draw them in to move collectively toward getting the job done. 
     Then compare it to a boss that might have been promoted but doesn’t really have the best interests of the team or the goal in mind. That boss wants to exert authority and they usually make decisions to show that he or she is as my wife sometimes says, “are large and in in charge.” The employees under them usually are unsettled and in many cases scatter toward other jobs.
     Most people, me included, usually gravitate toward the boss that really cares, and has a great deal of knowledge and skill in guiding the needed processes toward getting the job done. The boss doesn’t even need to be the most personable person on the planet if they know what they’re doing and can encourage and draw in their employees to follow the path toward the goal.
     Why is it in churches that we don’t require, or at the least encourage those same types of qualities? We think that if a person has a somewhat dynamic personality with a degree of charisma, that he is a good fit to be the leader of a church.
     Think of the time of Saul and David. Saul was chosen to be the Israelite king. He was what today we might call “a man’s man”. The problem was that he was very insecure, had very poor judgement, was full of jealousy and rage, and he proved to be a very poor leader.
     Then comes David. He was the runt of his family. Everyone thought that Samuel would have chosen his bigger, more experienced brothers to be the next Israelite king in place of Saul. David was just a shepherd boy. Oh, but what they didn’t figure out was that this little shepherd boy was very knowledgeable and skillful in leading and guiding his flock, and in slaying imposing predators. He didn’t meet the “eye test”, but he certainly met the loyalty, knowledge, and skill test needed to be a good king of Israel.
     I’m not posting this to just dog the church as it exists. I understand the importance of loving and supporting the church body and its leaders. But as a layman and a longtime Christian, I am posing these questions with concerns that I think church leaders should consider moving forward.
     What is the motivation of someone wanting to be the shepherd of a group of people? Following are what I think are prerequisites of choosing shepherds of churches. They should:
  1. Be loyal to God and His plan on earth. What is His plan? Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “I came to seek and save the lost.”
  2. Embrace knowledge and skill to effectively lead the flock toward God’s goals as outlined in the Bible.
  3. Protect the flock from danger.
  4. Love the flock deeply with great passion and energy and go after sheep that are scattered. 
  5. As the shepherd gets to know the traits of each sheep and lamb to keep them safe and in the fold, the Christian shepherd should also get to intimately know his sheep, to really know “what makes them tick”. In that way the sheep are naturally drawn toward him because they sense his great care for them. 
     One of my main reasons for sharing this post is because I know how important it is when we evangelize people in desperate need of Jesus, that we can direct them to safe havens with leaders that are very “loyal” to God, and they lead with great “knowledge and skill”.

See you next time,
Arlen

Friday, January 14, 2022

THE SOULWINNER’S MENTAL ATTITUDES AND PLAN! by Pastor Aubrey Maye


 

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.

Hello Friends:
      Last week we discussed Pastor Aubrey Maye’s encouragement that all Holy Spirit filled believers can be soulwinners. He touched on the fact that telling our personal experience in committing to Jesus has a powerful effect on soulwinning, then he gave some personal requirements to become a soulwinner, like sharing our personal experience, the importance of living a consecrated and Holy Spirit filled life, having a dynamic and powerful prayer life, steadily studying and having a deep knowledge of God’s Word, and lastly . . . acquiring a deep compassion for lost souls.
      This week we’ll cap off Chapter 4 by talking about what Pastor Aubrey Maye said are the mental attitudes a soulwinner must possess to share Jesus with people. Then we’ll end the session with discussing the benefits of engaging in some personal training and developing a planned approach to soulwinning.

THE SOULWINNER’S MENTAL ATTITUDES
      Pastor Aubrey Maye emphasized there are certain positive mental attitudes which the Christian who would be a soulwinner must possess.
  1. Be convinced that we should be soulwinners.
    • Before we will ever be consistent and effective witnessing Christians, we must be firmly convinced that we should be soulwinners, and that the Holy Spirit living inside us empowers us be one. Then we can do so with great confidence.
  2. Be convinced of the great need for personal evangelism. 
    • We must become keenly aware of the possibility that there are people who will never be reached with the gospel unless you and I reach them.
    • We must see the real value of a soul. Jesus said in Mark 8:36, “For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life” (or soul).
    • We must see it’s worth the effort for us to win just one soul through personal evangelism.
    • We must be convinced the Church will never be able to fulfill its responsibility to evangelize lost people of this generation unless there is a revival of personal evangelism.
    • We must become interested in encouraging and training others to join us in this challenging work.
  3. Be dependent on the Holy Spirit. 
    • We should always keep in mind in doing personal evangelism that we aren’t presenting "a religion "; we’re presenting a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ. To do this effectively, we must learn to depend heavily upon the Spirit of God. Our ability to reason and to present the facts of salvation will be useless until we depend on and learn to work with the Holy Spirit in our witnessing.
    • We must remember that only the Holy Spirit can bring true conviction of sin and genuine salvation in the heart of a sinner.
    • We must become sensitive to the Spirit’s presence and expect Him to be there when we are dealing with lost souls.
    • We must trust the Holy Spirit to guide and help us lead sinners through the plan of salvation.
THE SOULWINNER'S PERSONAL TRAINING
      Pastor Aubrey Maye wrote that in New Testament times witnessing and personal evangelism seemed to be the normal thing for Spirit-filled Christians to do. This was the example set before them and it was what they had been taught.
      Since most twentieth century, and I will say now twenty-first century Christians have not had this example or teaching, they will need help to get started. There is a need for training.
      Pastor Maye wrote that we need a plan for personal evangelism. He emphasized the benefits of having a plan:
  1. A plan will give us confidence.
    • One of the major problems for the average Christian in talking to others about Christ is fear. This fear can be greatly alleviated by having the confidence of knowing what to say and which Scriptures to use.
    • Remember that most Christians experience some fear when they begin witnessing to the unsaved. You mustn’t allow this initial fear to overcome your determination to become a soulwinner. You can overcome much of this fear by learning well a soulwinning plan.
  2. A plan will enable us to present the gospel systematically.
    • By learning a plan, we’ll be able to explain the way of salvation clearly and simply to the unsaved person. This is very important because most unsaved people don’t know what the Bible teaches about being saved. They may have certain ideas about conversion; but when it comes to what the Bible teaches, most of them don't have a clear understanding.
    • Our goal is to present the simple, Bible plan of salvation in such a way as to bring about the following desired results in the sinner:
      • (1) Genuine conviction of sin.
      • (2) Genuine repentance.
      • (3) Genuine faith in Christ as his or her Savior.
  3. A plan will eliminate blundering and haphazardness. 
    • By having a plan, we will be less likely to antagonize the unsaved person. If the prospect who doesn’t get saved, is left in a good attitude, there’s a good chance that you can deal with him or her again sometime.
    • Careless, haphazard attempts at personal evangelism can close the door to future opportunities. 
  4. A plan will help avoid the following problems: 
    • Learning a plan will immediately eliminate the excuse of not knowing what to say.
    • It will help us to avoid the prospect's unrelated questions and other attempts to get away from the subject of his or her salvation.
      We need to remember that we aren’t the pastor. We’re soulwinners, so it isn’t necessary to answer many of the questions which the unsaved ask. We’re there to present Christ and should stick to the subject.

SOME PRECAUTIONS
      Pastor Maye gave the following precautions when evangelizing. 
  1. Never argue when attempting to win someone to Christ.
    • When the conversation deteriorates to the point of argument, we have lost the opportunity to win the person to Christ.
    • It’s better to change the subject completely than to destroy our future chances of winning the person by hardening him or her against us through an argument.
    • We need to remember that there are many unsaved people who enjoy talking and arguing about religion, so we should try to avoid this.
  2. Don't condemn the person with whom we are dealing.
    • We must trust the Spirit and the Word of God to bring condemnation to the sinner for his or her wrong doings. We aren’t the judge. We’re there to help, not to embitter them by making harsh personal judgments.
    • The Word of God is adequate for this task. The writer of Hebrews 4:12 wrote: "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
  3. Don't criticize what the individual believes.
    • If we disagree with some belief they express, it would be better to simply avoid the issue for the time being. The first need is salvation. Beliefs of the unsaved person can best be dealt with after conversion.
    • If they have serious difficulties, it would probably be wise to direct them to our pastor, even after conversion.
  4. Don't criticize the church mentioned by the person and what the church believes, even though sometimes we’ll be asked our opinion of them.
      Pastor Maye wrote before concluding Chapter 4, it should again be pointed out that although a plan is important, our own spiritual condition is more important.
      Pastor Maye encouraged remembering again the verse from Daniel 12:3: “Those who have insight will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
       And lastly, Pastor Maye reiterated, “You can be a soulwinner!”

See you next time,
Arlen