Written at 19 and edited at 41, this is the story of my conversion. I was converted at 15 years old at a youth camp. I had been raised in church, but due to false teaching and my own spiritual dullness, I had never experienced true repentance - didn't know I needed to. At 15 God revealed to me in my spirit through the preaching of the Word that He would not accept less than complete repentance and submission. I clearly remember the prayer that I prayed at the altar, "God, really forgive me this time". I had asked forgiveness before, but never fully committed my will to obey God. God became real in my life, and in the next year, my brother and I started a Bible club in our public high school of over 3000 students. I carried my Bible to every class and served God the best I knew how. I present this in hopes of helping some young person. I'm glad I did what I could with what I knew. I'm thankful I didn't wait around until after college to serve the Lord, which seemed to be the trend. I have always thought it a frustration to be required to act upon what you know only to find later that you didn't know very much. But, be it so, God is looking for living faith, desire, and zeal for good works; not perfection in knowledge and method. I only wish every young person had the zeal and desire to please God that I had. God has blessed me with spiritual blessings, which could not have been obtained if I had not strove to obey with all my heart. I am convinced I would not be where I am today in understanding truth, if I had not been faithful in the little I knew when I had the opportunity. If only our trouble in the church were because of too much zeal in the youth, what a glory that would be. The foreword is written by my youth pastor.
I remember distinctly that Sunday morning several years ago...gazing around our bustling high school classroom...wondering where in the world would we find our next leadership group. The "old guard" had graduated. It seemed a bunch of relative "unknowns" had swelled our ranks to our present group. A lot of teens, but no one stepping out to fill the teen leadership gap. So it remained that entire school year. Little did I know what the Lord was doing in the hearts of some of those young lives. Little did I know our prayers and work would see a summer camp give birth to a couple of the most dynamic young preachers I know today.
I remember as Matthew, and then Mark related their sense of God's call on their lives. My excitement was tempered with reminders of past short-lived decisions of commitment at camp. Mark and Matthew faced Luke 14:25-33 squarely in the face and unreservedly said, Yes Lord, I will.
Why have these young men been different? The exciting contents of this book reveal the why. Any young person--any adult--serious about their commitment to Christ and to reach the lost will be benefited by the contents of this book. Yes, it is pointed, but it is powerful. You may not agree with every jot and tittle. Good men are entitled to differences of opinion. But I know Mark, he lives what he preaches. I respect him because he is real. You say, zeal without knowledge. I say thank God for any young person with a zeal for God at all in our godless society.
Pay close attention to the Scripture expounded, the personal applications, the real spiritual warfare, and the fruit of their labors. Wow! Can you read with an open heart and not be moved? I thrilled again to read the testimonies I had heard and seen personally; and rejoiced in the great things I didn't even know had taken place. As God's Spirit works through this book, you as I, will find yourself rejoicing, repenting, and recommitting to the greatest thing in the world -- loving our Lord Jesus Christ, and leading people to Him as earnestly and effectively as we can.
There is so much I want to say, but will refrain. In fact, I was so fired up from reading this book, I am now rewriting this foreword. I found myself preaching right along with Mark, and not writing a foreword. Praise the Lord! That's what it's all about. I'll close with this...
I remember a story of a famed mountain climber of yesteryear. Reporters were covering his dramatic ascent to the top of a particularly treacherous and challenging mountain. They watched as far as the human eye could distinguish the climbers form. One reporter returned to his typewriter and wrote, "last seen climbing upward!" I am happy to report of these two younger "mountain climbers" of the faith -- "last seen climbing upward".
Their Youth Pastor, Brother, and Friend
Bro. Rick Cochran
From a teenager to a world full of teenagers; I have simply set forth in writing what I wish I had known five years ago. We teens get off easy, because our youth pastors never did a work for God in high school, and because the schools have changed so much, they really don't know what to tell us. I happen to be one of you, and I have put my preaching to the test of living.
O, young person, I beg you from my side of the fence, taste and see that the Lord is good. Jesus is coming back! I cannot remain silent! I know I preach the truth! How long halt ye between two opinions? If God be God, then serve Him.
If the Christian young people of this nation would catch the fire of God, and let it burn in their hearts, we would see a revival like this world has never witnessed before! It is possible. It is! Will you do your part? You may not realize the chain-reaction that you are involved in; but, just remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You will all think that you're the only soldier in action, and feel all alone on your battlefront; yet, in Christ, we will be an efficient, strategically positioned, fighting force. Have you any faith in God? Then let's do it.
My sincere thanks to Matthew Bullen and Alvin Walker for their help in writing and proof reading the manuscripts. Many were the encouraging words from friends who took interest in this work; to whom I am grateful. I deeply appreciate Bro. Rick Cochran writing the foreword, and helping make the whole story possible. Most of all I wish to thank Jesus Christ who gave the idea, the ability, and the strength to complete this task.
Mark Bullen I Cor. 9:16
Heart To Heart
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Jer. 1:6,7
Young Elijah, there is a dreadful problem in our nation today, and I believe that you're the man for the job. As you read this book, I do not want you to be encouraged; I want you to be changed. I do not have wishes that you will admire the contents; but, rather, that you will apply them. Instead of being amazed at the accomplishments, I pray that you will say, "Hey, I can do that!" and even do more. I wish to share with you what God can do with much zeal and little knowledge. Then, I want you to add the knowledge I give with your zeal, and accomplish more for the kingdom of our Lord than we did.
Jeremiah had the same misconception that many young people have today: "I am too young and uneducated to do any lasting work for the Lord." Many Jr. and Sr. high school students are surrendered to the Lord's work, but are waiting around until after Bible college before they begin their service. The problem is this: NOBODY CAN REACH JR. AND SR. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WITH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST WITH LASTING RESULTS AS WELL AS JR. AND SR. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS!!!
Have you surrendered your life to Christ at a youth camp, a church, or somewhere else; but there is really no place for you to have a meaningful and rewarding ministry? If so, I want you to seek God in prayer and Bible study while you read this book; and I guarantee that God will deal with your heart.
The Bible says that "Elijah was a man...", but he wasn't just an ordinary man. Elijah was a man who seperated himself from the worldly ways, and wholly dedicated his life to God. In an age where God's people were more concerned with pleasure and comfort than God's reputation, Elijah was jealous for the name of the Lord. His heart ached to see the false religions of the day deceive people and pull them away from the true and living God. He hurt to see people saying that Jehovah was out of style. He was zealous to defend the Word of God, and to show the world that Israel's God was the only true God, the creator of the universe. This hunger and thirst of his soul caused him to be different from the other "Christians" of the day. While there were 7000 men in Israel who did not serve the false gods, Elijah was the only one with the courage to preach the truth!
I believe that in the Jr. and Sr. high, and college age spectrum there are some young Elijahs with a burning in their hearts, but are afraid to express it. They know that Satan is destroying their generation with rock music, drugs, alcohol, immorality, and false concepts about Jesus Christ. They know that people are continually dropping into hell for eternal torment. They know the Bible says, "When I say unto wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." They know all this, and they can see in the news that Jesus Christ is coming soon; but they have been deceived by the devil that they are not needed, or can make no real impact on the problem. God Forbid!
I beseech you, young Elijahs, to repent of your excuses and be true to the call of God. There is not a Bible college or seminary in the world that can make you a preacher/soul-winner, if you are not one when you enter. If God has called you to preach, then you are a preacher...now! Of Course you need to grow, mature, and learn; but that is no excuse for not heeding God's call. You're the only Bible some of your friends will every read! Away with Sunday Christianity! Somebody sound the alarm! Hell is real! It has not cooled off! The young people in your school will spend eternity in the lake of fire unless somebody stands up and gives a cry of warning! We need some Elijahs to stand up to the devil, defy his threats, call his bluff, and deliver our young people out of his hands.
My prayer to God is that the following stories and exhortations will grip some young persons' heart — that they will be jealous for the name of Christ, deny themselves, take up their cross, and fight!
In The Beginning
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” Jer. 2:2?
As a boy growing up in church, I was given the impression that, unless you had some miraculous salvation experience from a life of untold sin, you could never really be great for God. I felt in the back of my heart, since I had no catastrophic conversion, I could never affect a lost world. Wicked lifestyles almost seemed a source of pride when testimonies were given. I couldn’t go from prison to the pulpit. I was rowdy, but my parents and the people at church knew me as a good kid. Nobody told me a Christian teenager was supposed to be that much different than I was; and if they did, I never took it to heart. I was a typical, lukewarm, spiritually lazy, careless, Christian teenager. I knew all there was to know about church (I thought), and wasn’t all that excited about it––no one else seemed to be either. I said my prayers before going to bed, and my heart had been stirred over the years; but I was blind to my spiritual barrenness, Just like the Laodicean Church of Revelation; I thought I had need of nothing, when really I had nothing at all, God was demanding repentance, but my ears were closed to His Spirit.
I don’t believe that preaching alone would have ever jolted me out of my selfish little world. It was more than preaching that changed me, it was a mother’s prayers; the Holy Ghost anointed preaching of a red–hot evangelist; and the mercy of an Almighty God. In the spring of ‘82 Evangelist Jerry Johnston came and preached at the Temple Baptist Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico. There God began to deal with the heart of this lukewarm Christian; yet, as I look back, I was living in a fog of spiritual blindness. I tried to witness to some of my friends, and rebuked my brother for his cussing; but my own life was far from right with God. That summer, though Satan fought hard, God worked it out for Matthew and I to go to a Christian youth camp. Again, Jerry Johnston was the speaker. Every night we listened and were stirred, but were never changed. We were too busy trying to catch the girl’s attention and protect our well-established egos.
I believe it was Wednesday afternoon, while I was lying unnoticed on the top bunk in the dorm, that Matthew walked in with our youth pastor, Rick Cochran. Standing directly beneath me, one on each side of the bunk, Matthew was asking Bro. Rick how one knows if God is calling him to preach. They discussed it for a while and then left; never realizing I was on the top bunk listening. I don’t remember caring or thinking much about what was said; I just brushed it off as what normally happens at youth camp.
That night Bro. Jerry preached. The topic of the sermon I do not remember, but that night the Spirit of God broke my heart. Letting go of my pride, I walked down the aisle with the other kids. I wept bitterly for God to really forgive me this time, and make a definite change in my life. I didn’t want the “youth camp special”, which only lasts about 1.6 weeks — if you know what I mean. God was real, and I knew He was; but He was not real in my life. As I cried and prayed that God would not allow me to leave the same as I came; the Spirit of God filled me with a determination to live the rest of my life for winning souls to Christ.
What I didn’t realize was that my brother had gone down the other aisle, and had prayed a very similar prayer. God had called him to preach, and he had simply surrendered, instead of fighting it off. I got up and went over to where he was praying with some others. With tears running down my face, I simply said, “I gave it all”. There was nothing more to say. God had not told me to do anything else. That is all He wanted from me, and that is all He wants from every Christian — to give it all. This is the place where all the great heroes of the faith started.
The Spirit of God had allowed us to see our high school’s need for Jesus Christ, and our responsibility to meet that need. Now we had to do something about it. Jerry Johnston had a Bible club in his school, so we figured that was a good place to start. There was never any great revelation from God; in fact, I really don’t remember when or how we decided to start the Bible club. We knew what needed to be done, and just simply set out to do our best.
Manzano Bible Study
“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing:
but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” Prov. 13:4
Whenever you set out to do something great for God, it is always good to find someone to share your vision with — someone you can be accountable to. If my brother and I had not kept after each other, we might have never gone through with our plans. The rest of that summer was designed by the devil to discourage us before we ever got started, but God’s grace was sufficient to sustain us. I really don’t remember much detail between camp and the time that school started. We just worked with our father in his construction business.
School began, as usual, on a Monday. By Thursday of the first week, we had rearranged our classes for our new Bible study. I dropped my sixth period computer class, so we could have Bible study during B-lunch and sixth period. I was no longer working to be a chemical engineer, so I didn’t need that class anymore. Sixth period was a free time for a large majority of the students, so we thought we could catch many who had A-lunch during this time.
Neither my brother, nor I, knew beans about starting a Bible study. When, at lunch, we whipped out our Bibles and announced to our group of friends that we were going to the library to start a Bible study; you can imagine the reaction. But, since we were sort of the leaders of the group, some decided to witness this phenomena really take place. Well, here we were, a bunch of “cowboys” crowded around a table in the library; probably looking like some sort of mini-rodeo. Matthew, being the oldest, began to read John chapter one…and two…and three…. Somewhere during chapter three, I turned to a young man at my end of the table and asked him if he was going to heaven when he died. He didn’t know. I began to explain what Matthew was reading, and then asked him if he would like to know how to go to heaven. He shrugged and nodded. We left the group and went to a conference room. After sharing with him that we’re all sinners (Romans 3:23); that all sinners go to hell (Romans 6:23a); that Jesus died to save him from hell (Romans 6:23b); and that he must repent and call upon the Lord to forgive him and save him (Romans 10:9-13); he bowed his head and asked the Lord to forgive him and come into his heart and save him!
We went home that day on cloud 9½. We told everybody what happened, and called Bro. Rick that night with the good news. My mother told us to start a notebook to keep record of every person who received Christ. That day we started the journal, which is sitting beside me as I type. The first page looked like this:
The Holy Spirit Bible Study
Started August 26, 1982
Ted Chavez accepted the Lord 8-26-82
Charter Members: Matthew Bullen, Mark Bullen, Mike Meyers, Mark Malles, Glen Jorden, John Owens, Ted Chavez, Cheri Pendley, Debbie Greenwood.
Friday 8-27-82 saved
David Watkins (won him to Christ during Spanish class)
Monday 8-30-82 saved
Wednesday 9-1-82 saved
Friday 9-32-82 saved
Tuesday 9-7-82 saved
Thus began the Manzano Bible study. We kept a close record of every person who professed Christ until we reached 256 during the second year. We stopped because we were afraid of living on past victory, instead of going on for more. Only God knows who was sincere, and everybody needs the message, so we saw no need to keep it. It wasn’t wrong to keep a record, but it was a weight to us.
EDITOR NOTE: Growing up in the Baptist church, I was taught their soul-winning methods. As with all protestants, they focus on the starting line of the race, while almost completely ignoring the finish line. This is due to their false doctrine of “eternal security”. The most important part of saving a soul is getting them to run the race with a living faith all the way to the finish line. As a youth, I focused on getting them to make a commitment to Christ, but I wish I had emphasized that they must continue and endure in the faith until death. I did tell them they needed to repent and follow the Lord, but I would now make it clearer, if I had it to do over. I just pray God used the seeds I planted in my sincere ignorance. I pointed them to Jesus. If they followed and listened to Him, as they were supposed to, they will be saved.
The first Sunday after starting the Bible study, we announced to our youth department what was happening. This is when Cheri Pendley and Debbie Greenwood, who went to our church, started to work with us. They were a great help and encouragement.
My brother and I began to read, listen, study, and teach every bit of reading material, tapes, and sermons we could get our hands on. We read books like Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, The Life of David Brainerd, Finney on Revival, The Power of Pentecost, and many others. We threw away all of our country music, and recorded off Christian music we got from our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents. We had a new future…a new life!
This little Bible club made quite an impact on that big high school. We had a fairly small group of regulars, but they became very dedicated. Not all of them went to our church, but we were a team. As long as a member was not ashamed to go soul winning on campus, they had continual personal revival; but the ones who would not go soul winning eventually fell by the way side.
Young Elijah, you may not ever be a great speaker, and you may never be eloquent or highly educated; but you can be a soul-winner! If you lose your emphasis on soul winning and get out of touch with the lost in witnessing, you’re headed down the drain spiritually. Read Matthew 21:28-31, and decide way down deep in your heart which person you are going to be:
· But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
If you are born again, you will not lie to God; but you will obey Him. Faith and obedience are two sides to the same coin. When God’s will is set forth clearly before a true Christian, there will be obedience. God has commanded us to be witnesses.
He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. Eccl. 11:4-6
It is really difficult to allow my mind to ponder the precious memories without tears. God is so good, our meager praises can never do justice to His glory. Needless to say, Matthew and I began to do some heavy duty, personal Bible study. High school students know much more about religion than you may think; and they want some solid answers for their many questions. They wanted to know how Noah got the dinosaurs in the ark! We dealt with Jehovah’s Witnesses (falsely so called), Mormons, Muslims, transcendental meditators, and a large variety of other religious infidels. We had to learn fast or lose the young people who were depending on us for answers. They would go witnessing, and come back with questions they could not answer — we had to have something solid. Between memorizing Scriptures, reading commentaries, and much prayer, we did pretty well; and God used our little Bible study to turn our campus upside down with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At first, our Bible study lessons were a string of verses on a subject from the Bible. Then, Bro. Rick took some of the young men in the youth group with him to a youth rally in Roswell, New Mexico. On the way down to the church there, he taught us how to make a three point outline for a sermon. After you make the outline, and gather some verses to back up your points, you find some appropriate way to illustrate the truth, and preach your heart out. He didn’t say it exactly that way, but that is what we started to do–It revolutionized us!
Jesus said we should fast and pray for supernatural results, so we did. We set goals to fast until we could lead someone to Christ, and God blessed. When you say, “Lord, I’m going to fast until I can win two people to Christ”, you tend to get quite busy. I think it would do some of our preachers good to miss a few meals to get people saved. Sadly enough, most preachers have forgotten what the “ministry” is all about. There is nothing more urgent than preaching the gospel in the power of the Spirit to a lost hell-bound world.
I can still remember the first time by brother and I stayed up all night and prayed. We read that Jesus prayed all night, and heard that many of God’s great men spent whole nights in prayer; so we had to have it too. Precious memories! We were afraid my mom and dad would hear us, and get upset. Once we thought we heard them coming down the stairs, and quickly turned out the light. We had a hard time staying awake, and an even harder time at school the next day; but God blessed every effort to be great for Him. It is all a part of growing and maturing in the Spirit of Christ. We may have had much zeal and little knowledge, but we accomplished more than all of our critics with all their dead knowledge and no zeal.
The next time Jerry Johnston came to our church for a revival crusade, things were a little different. Bro. Jerry couldn’t get into the public schools with his Life assembly, so we tried to bring the school to the church. The Friday night of the crusade was supposed to be teen-night. We were going to have free pizza after the service, and to promote it we had tickets to pass out. Each ticket had the time, date, address, and told about the free pizza. Our Bible study group passed out approximately 2000 tickets at our school; and about 9% of that showed up at the church. Those who went forward from our school did not last very long as far as I know, but many precious seeds were planted. We were able to reap some of the harvest later on that year.
We would meet for Bible study everyday during lunch and sixth period. Monday was prayer day; Tuesday we witnessed on campus; Wednesday Matthew or I preached; Thursday we witnessed on campus; and Friday Matthew or I preached. The schedule varied as the Lord led in different areas, but that was the normal format. I believe that if a person really wants to do something big for Christ, he will go to every extreme that is a potential for success — within Biblical bounds, of course. It is amazing to see how much energy people can muster to do what they want to do. If your heart is in tune with God, you’ll find all kinds of energy for His work.
Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 tells us not to give up before we even start. We never know what might work, or might fail, unless we give it a fair chance. If it works, and is according to God’s principles, then keep it; if it produces the wrong results, kick it out. When setting out to accomplish something big for God, you rarely complete all that you planned; but you would be amazed how much more you accomplish in trying, than if you had never set out to accomplish what you didn’t accomplish.
The Lord will give you insight for the sake of your position, and the sheep to which you minister. Why wouldn’t God energize His shepherds for the sake of the sheep? He does! If you follow Him, He will make you a fisher of men for the men’s sake. I have most of my old sermon outlines from that first year — God gave me some good stuff! I would preach them again! Sure, you have an awesome job to do. Yes, it is a supernatural work, and cannot be done with natural strength. You do your part and God will take care of the rest. Win souls to Christ, get them baptized, and teach them to win others; that is the job you must focus on!
You know why most men won’t stand up and be spiritual leaders? You are afraid of making mistakes! I bet I have made more mistakes than most Christians in soul winning, but I have won more souls than most Christians. I know I have made more mistakes in prayer and preaching than the average Christian teenager — and had more successes! There are those who will not give you room to make a mistake — those people are usually living a lie. If someone is running from guilt, they will judge your every little mistake. I have started more things that have failed; but the Bible says to give it all a try and something will work sooner or later. Don’t accept failure, and don’t run from it — overcome it!
In the Christian life is constant battle.
In Christ is constant victory
In victory is constant Joy.
When God’s people read God’s Word, pray God’s way, live God’s way, and preach God’s way; you have what is termed a revival! As a Bible study we became obsessed with getting people saved. I Xeroxed the chapter, “How To Win A Soul To Christ” out of Hyles Visitation Manual; made small books out of the copies with tape and staples; and passed them out among our study group. God gave us many creative ways to witness to a school that did not allow such a thing.
Editor’s note: We erroneously thought getting people to pray that “sinner’s prayer” saved them for eternity — as long as they were sincere, of course. Protestants have foolishly focused on the starting line of the race of faith, and ignored the necessity of making it to the finish line. This is how we were taught. I just pray God has used our efforts to plant seeds in some lives that will lead them to the real truth of salvation like I was led. If one is sincerely seeking God through the Bible they will overcome heresy and find the truth.
That first year in my English class, the teacher told us we all had to get up and give an advertisement before the class. I took advantage of the opportunity, and gave a great sales talk about the greatest gift offer in all eternity — eternal life. Matthew and I had speech class at the same time the second year of Bible study. We were always being told how narrow minded we were by our liberal teacher. The majority of our speeches were supposed to be problem-solution speeches. Well, that was right down our alley. The problem was sin, and the solution was Jesus Christ.
Many times during the week I would write a note to someone in one of my classes. I would pray that God would give me the right person and the right words; then I would write them a personal tract. Later, after class, if they didn’t write me back during class, I would approach them and ask how they felt about what they read. Let me pause here a moment and say to all the students: “I made good grades while doing all of this.” I do not believe it is a good testimony to make bad grades, unless you have to compromise your Christianity in order to get good grades. The worst grades I ever received were in that speech class — she would have liked to have flunked me, I think.
On two occasions I sneaked into the school halls at night and stuffed every locker, 2415 of them, with a gospel tract. Our school was set up with the lockers outside, but you had to climb over the roof to get into the hall. It seems I remember a story in the Bible where some young men climbed up on a roof to get their friend saved. One time I remember climbing up on a concrete bench and preaching at the top of my lungs to a crowded hall. It did not make a big impact, as I could not speak over the noise of the students; but it did give the rest of the Bible study a chance to witness when they were asked if they knew that nut who was preaching. They also became more bold thinking that if I could do that, at least they could witness one on one. Leader, you have to be over active to get your followers to be average.
I believe that the most effective tool the Lord gave us was a simple T-shirt. We were constantly looking for new ways to preach the gospel to our school. When the idea of this T-shirt came up, we never dreamed it would be so powerful. We bought plain white T-shirts with red collars and sleeves. On the front we put large red letters, which asked “DO YOU KNOW”. That is all it said; but when someone would ask, “Do you know what?”; we would reply, “Do you know when you die if you are going to heaven?”, or, “Do you know Jesus as your personal Saviour?”, etc. It was an idea sent from heaven! I have to admit that after a while it was pretty hard to wear those T-shirts. Once most of the people knew what they were about, they would ridicule and mock. You must have those problems, however, to do something for God.
Matthew and I loved to sing together, and still do. We learned to mimic the professional gospel singers that we listened to, and sung those songs. There were many times that our Bible study group would walk through the student center with us singing gospel songs. They played rock music on our school bus, so Matthew and I would spend many bus rides home singing in the back of the bus to drown our the beat. Believe it or not, all of this so called “fanatical singing” brought much boldness to our group and some souls to Christ. So many Christians are afraid to let their Christianity show for fear of offending the world; but did not Jesus offend the world? Brother, in order for someone to truly be saved, they have to repent…turn…change! If you show them nothing different from what they already have, how do you expect them to understand what repentance is? How do you expect them to feel conviction?
Many young people came just to see what happened to us. The year before we were in the office for fighting, stirring up trouble, and just anything to be “good ole boys”. They changed our bus stop to keep down the fighting the year before; now we were in the office for a different reason — witnessing.
When we would enter into a crowded hall and begin witnessing to two or three people, others would hear and crowd around to listen. Before you knew it, you would have a small congregation, and you would be preaching fairly loud. The problem began when they would start to argue with you and each other, which caused quite a noise. Eventually the narcs (campus security) would come and break it up. All fingers were pointed at us, so we were taken to the office. Of course, we felt like Peter and John, so it only fired us up more. When we would come back from the office, usually our group would be in the Bible study room praying for us. Hallelujah! It makes me want to go back and do it again!
I remember one of the many times I was taken to the office for witnessing or passing out tracts. I tried to share my heart with the assistant principle, the narcs, and a couple of other faculty members. As I began sharing what had happened in my life, the dilemma of my generation, and the truth of the gospel; I began to speak with a broken voice and tears came to my eyes. The two narcs sat there and laughed me to scorn. Yes, it was embarrassing, but mostly for them — that is why they had to laugh and cover it up. They were convicted with the truth from this kid.
Once, when I was called to the office, I had to sit and wait outside of a man’s office until he was through talking with his present problem child. As I sat there and talked to another young man who was waiting, I handed him the last tract I had with me. When I was called into the office of the man, he said it was for handing our tracts, and asked if I had one on me. “Well, sir, I do hand our tracts, but I don’t have one with me at the moment.” What could he say?
I could never write all of the special memories that have come to me from simply obeying God’s command to “preach the gospel to every creature”. I have shared these with you to help you understand that serving God is not easy, but the victory is worth every scar received in the battle.
One day, December 6, 1983, was particularly special to me, so I came home and wrote down some of the exciting events: “Got up this morning and realized the Lord had healed me of stomach flu. The night before at Monday Night Bible Study I was miserable. On the school bus I wanted to witness to Roland, but chickened out. That day at school we had a school assembly, so the Bible study group went witnessing. Most of the students went to McDonald’s during the assemblies, so we went to talk to them. On the way down Angel Chavez and I stopped in the Safeway grocery parking lot to witness to some people. Some boys at a light pole left before we could get to them, and some other boys said they were already saved. As we were leaving to walk back up to the school, a group of ten or twelve girls shouted, “Are you going to preach to us too?” I said, “Can I?” “Do you mind if I talk to you?” They shrugged and blushed. I gave them the plan of salvation and whatever else the Lord gave me to say at that time. After all was said, I asked if anyone would like to be saved — no response. I knew they might be embarrassed in front of their friends, or still embarrassed at me speaking to them. I invited them to the Bible study, and said goodbye. Half way up the parking lot the girls shouted the name of the young Spanish man with me, “Angel!” I told him, bye, and began to walk on, when they shouted, “both of you!” We walked back to where they were still standing in a group. They all looked at each other, and then one girl said, “You tell him.” Another girl spoke up and told me, “We want to be saved”. I told them that they must be sincere before God; and all ten of them bowed and prayed for God to forgive them and Jesus to save them! Praise the Lord!
While speaking further with them, a low-rider pulled up with a couple of rowdy cholos in it. One of the girls knew them and roughly told them to get lost, for we were having a Bible study. I asked them if they wanted to join us, and they seemed to brighten up a few shades. They whipped the car over into a parking spot, and one of them came walking up with a little New Testament. I was able to witness to him, but he said he was saved.
Editor Note: How sad the word, “saved” has become so cheap and easy to claim. This is how I was taught. Thank God I found the truth — read my present teachings on this issue
Later, while waiting to catch the bus home, I saw Roland leaning against a fence. I had chickened out that morning and didn’t talk to him, so now I was determined not to give up. God had convicted me, and I had promised to obey this time. I went up to the fence to talk to him, just as this other boy walked by holding his bloody hand. He had just ripped half of his finger off trying to jump the fence. Roland, overwhelmed with this thrilling event, ran off to see the other half of the finger, which was still stuck in the fence. (My soul, I hate distractions!)
When the bus pulled up, I was the last one to get on, so I just prayed that God would not allow anyone to sit on the left front seat. Roland always sat in the right front seat; but the left front seat was always occupied with the same girl. This day, to my utter amazement, the girl looked at her seat and sat in the one behind it. I’m standing outside even more amazed as I see another girl look at the left front seat and sit in the right second seat. Now, a third girl walks up, looks at the empty seat, stands there for a second, and sits (two in a seat) with the girl in the left second seat. The Lord had saved my seat! The whole bus was full, and yet this seat was empty for me — the last person on the bus! And, yes, I did witness to Roland after all of that.”
Brother, quit running from God! You are missing out on the greatest adventure of your life! “…but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” Exploits are bold deeds; and Daniel says that you can only do these bold deeds without flaking out when you are walking close to God. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. Someone make the battle cry! Someone lead so others will follow! John Wesley said, “God sets me on fire, and people come to watch me burn”. Young soldiers, when are you going to get fed up with powerlessness and cowardice; and take up your cross?! If the church is not advancing in the battle, what is the problem? You’re the soldier!
Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.
That Third Year
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it:
except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Psalms 127:1
In all of the different ups and downs of the Bible study, I can see one common factor: Revival came in direct proportion to our emphasis on soul-winning. There were times when we got side-tracked with other “good” things, and before long we were headed for dry formalism.
That third year Matthew went off to Bible college and I was left to keep things rolling. We had started a Monday night Bible club that second year called, “Youth On Fire”. Through that we reached some souls for Christ, and many of the young people in our youth department began to get fired up. We had a two hour program: One hour was for recreation in the gym with refreshments, and the other hour was for singing and preaching. But now as this third year came along, the Monday night Bible study was stopped. Things were not quite as exciting as before; but, after all, we are not in this for excitement. Souls still need the Lord, so there is plenty to do.
I was determined to give this last year all I had, since I would be graduating that coming spring. It was hard, for I only went to school half days and worked the other half. The Bible study was small getting started, because many of the faithful members graduated, moved away, or something. One of the boldest soul-winners would not let go of bitterness in his heart toward his father; and, therefore, became a casualty in the battle. Others of our group were split up in the other lunch. Some had been led astray by “deeper life” philosophies, which were actually shallower life philosophies. Nothing is deeper than soul-winning in the power of the Holy Spirit! Some had adopted the “popular Christianity”, where their only concern is to show the world that “Christians can have fun too!” Christian fun is loving Jesus, and that has never seemed rational to this world of selfish men. Others became satisfied with not bearing any fruit. They would rather deny Jesus Christ by their life, than deny the world. All these tricks of the devil nearly destroyed our little army.
I found myself out witnessing alone once again, but again God blessed. This is where God taught me some lessons on the power of prayer; and showed me the deep truth of Psalms 127:1. Since no one wanted to show up faithfully to the Bible study, except Cheri Pendley, I decided to just go out soul-winning when I got the chance. Cheri was one of the first-year members, and so she would pray for me as I would go out and witness. She was a real encouragement with her faithful prayer and enthusiasm to hear the results.
I began to focus on the rough crowd, but nothing was happening. I was known by everyone, and they seemed determined not to listen to this Bible freak. I would be witnessing to someone, and other kids would go tell the narcs that I was causing trouble. I had not even spoken to them, but they just wanted to do anything that would cause me trouble. If I was smaller, they would have probably tried to beat me up. The narcs would come and take me to the office, where I would explain to no avail; and they would tell me to stop to no avail.
God broke my heart, and I pleaded with Him to “Change the atmosphere” so they would listen. I’ve heard of praying people under conviction, and I believe that is what happened. Shortly after pleading with God to change the atmosphere, He opened the doors. Through a chain of events this “bad” crowd began meeting me every Thursday at the baseball bleachers. It seemed that new people would be there every Thursday, though the group did not grow all that much. I would answer questions, preach, and pray with them.
One day while preaching I noticed everyone acting strange toward this one young man. When he stood up I realized why; he was foaming at the mouth. He jumped off the bleachers and ran off. We followed him, but he would not allow me to get near him. I questioned his friends about it, but they didn’t want to talk too much at the moment. I pondered the event in my mind all the rest of the day, and did much praying about it that night. I thought about casting out my first demon, and wondered what would happen.
The next day, just before lunch, I skipped one of my classes and prayed in my car. I struggled in prayer for an hour, not realizing that the battle was being fought right there. Later I would learn that the whole battle had been won during that most strange time of prayer in the car. I had planned on looking the guy up at lunch (his name was Jim). I found out from his friends that morning that they had taken him to the doctor the night before, but found nothing wrong with him. As I got out of my car and started toward the school, Jim and a crowd of boys passed by on their way to Burger King. Jim saw me and gave me a strange look, and rolled his eyes up in his head. I wasn’t sure whether he was goofing off or not, but I knew he wasn’t the day before; and he needed Jesus in any case. I followed him down to Burger King, and caught him as he was coming out with one of his friends.
As I approached the two of them, I was praying that God would bind Satan, and claimed the blood of Christ for power. When I walked up and began speaking to them about salvation, and warning them about hell, they both listened closely. Jim became very mellow, and seemed almost deflated emotionally. I believe Satan had been bound. Shortly after I began sharing the gospel with them, we sat down on a curb, and they asked Jesus into their hearts. As we walked back to school, I learned that they had read the tracts they found in their locker! I tried to encourage them to continue in the grace of God, and answered some questions they had. It was answer to prayer, and I was excited; though I slipped climbing over the fence to bet back to school and punctured my hand on the chain-link. I guess that was just Satan’s way of being a sore loser. My hand was bloody, but I did not have bloody hands, as Ezekiel 3:18 speaks of.
As said earlier, the tract they had found in their locker had been placed there about 2 AM. About January of that year, I had tried to work out a plan to get a tract in every locker. I typed on a piece of paper from 1 to 2415 (the number of lockers). I copied off the paper and gave one to every member of the Bible study. We were going to stick tracts in lockers while no one was looking to turn us in, and then mark that number off our list. We would do this until we covered every locker. I became very impatient very fast with this method, and God gave me another idea. I ordered 3000 tracts from a distributor, and folded them. I put them all in my back pack, and drove one night to the school. At 12:00 midnight I sneaked up to the school, climbed up over the roof and dropped down in with my pack full of tracts. It was cold, so I had to stop and run up and down the hall every 30 minutes or so to build up my body temperature. There were four halls with lockers. After finishing one, I would throw my pack up on the roof, climb up, sneak over to the other hall, drop my pack, and climb down. It took me till 4:00 AM, but I was very thankful I didn’t get caught.
The next day, school was quite interesting, with gospel tracts all over the hall floors. The faculty tried to find out who did it, but nobody had any solid evidence. Christianity is really a blast, if you just focus on getting people saved, and loving Jesus. It worked so well that I did the same thing the next spring, and am planning to do it again this spring. I wish all schools had open ceilings in their halls, we could really start an epidemic! (Note: I don’t recommend this to young people — I was 19 when this was written).
During those three years I had made it a point to witness to my teachers in some way or another. On class papers under my name, the date, and the assignment number, I would always write, “Praise the Lord”, or, “Jesus loves you”, or “Jesus is coming again”, etc. Many times on final exams there would be an empty section of paper at the end of the exam. If I finished with some spare time, I would write a short message to the teacher about salvation and ask for a reply. Some times I would get a reply, and sometimes I wouldn’t get anything; but they got the message.
I talked to my history teacher over and over. I set up times where I met him for his lunch hour, and we talked all lunch. I had high hopes that he would get saved, but he ran from the conviction of the truth. He knew where I stood, and tried to test me in front of people. Every time the class would get into a discussion, he would stop everything and ask for the “preacher’s” opinion. The whole class sighed and rolled their eyes as I told them what the Bible said. You quickly become labeled when you stand for Christ, and the truths of God’s Word. There were times when people I hardly knew would come and ask me questions on issues of life such as girl and family problems. I remember one young man asked me what to do about a broken heart. I told him how Jesus died of a broken heart for him, and how He could heal any broken heart.
There are many ways to get the gospel message to lost people. You don’t have any excuse that will satisfy God for not doing the great work that He has given you to do. Every Christian is called to be a soul-winner. If you are a professing Christian, yet you do not confess Christ before the world as your Saviour, the Bible has news for you:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
I am not against academic education, but I am against those who trust in it for success in God’s work. Young person,
God’s work is essentially God’s work. He works through available bodies. He wants an available, diligent, Spirit filled, Bible saturated, humble, obedient, person who is willing to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him! David tells us that he was wiser than his teachers because he meditated in God’s Word. Love is the key to being used of God. God’s love filling your heart will do more for bringing souls to Christ than any amount of academic training.
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light:
and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
Get alone with God and let Him teach you out of His Word. Let him tell you what to say, and how to live. Holiness, love, and simple obedience…
Young Elijah Beware!
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. I Peter 5:8,9
Many people today, including professing Christians, live a fantasy. They refuse to face the negative side of life. They blind themselves to the future judgment of God, and their present sinfulness. Yet, if we are to faithfully proclaim the Word of God and defeat the forces of evil; we must step out of the fantasy into reality. There is a devil; he is deceiving mankind; and he is seeking to devour you! I have devoted the following chapters to share some practical warnings and exhortations so you might hurtle some of the obstacles we stumbled over.
I once heard Jerry Falwell say that you measure a man’s greatness, not by what he accomplishes, but by what it takes to discourage him. I believe that Satan, as the master deceiver, will use deception to discourage you. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross, even though He despised the shame; because He kept His sights on the joy set before Him. He didn’t lose sight of the goal. It also tells us that we can endure by keeping our eyes on Jesus, who is our goal: “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”
Problems? O Yes! Any time God’s people, through God’s power, attack Satan’s kingdom, he will fight back. Many people don’t understand, though, that “There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man:..” I Peter 5:9 clearly states that the same afflictions are accomplished in our brothers in Christ. We have no right to think that we are alone in our pain. Paul hit it right on the head, though, when he announced, “…I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
In the beginning of the Bible club at Manzano, the librarian allowed us to use one of the conference rooms for our meetings. The next year, however, after we came back from Christmas vacation, they changed the school policy and booted us out. Mrs. H was a nice Christian teacher, and she allowed us to use her room during lunch. Shortly after we started using her room, though, she was informed that she could not allow us to continue doing so. Once again we were out of a meeting place; and in the winter you don’t do much Bible studying outside.
Next, we found out that Mr. P was a Christian teacher. When we presented him the plan, he was quick to accept us as lunch-time occupants of his warm room. I don’t believe we mentioned, however, that Mrs. H was informed she could not allow such a thing — no need for petty details. Well, after quite a while of warm Bible study, we were once again told to leave. It is kind of hard to keep your meeting place a secret when you are inviting the whole school to come. The only place left was in the noisy cafeteria — or out in the cold. On warm days we met out on the concrete benches in front of the cafeteria, and on the cold days we made due with the noise. This didn’t work very good, as preaching, praying, and listening are very hard to do with much distraction, and everyone watching.
At the start of the Bible study I made some song books out of Xeroxed church hymnal pages. Now in the cafeteria, though, with all the noise, we did not use them much. After being mocked and gazed upon while trying to have our Bible study, and sing or preach; many of the kids would shy away from the group. Many times I would get worn down by the pressure, and I would want to crawl in a hole; but I knew that was the time to get alone with God and pray for a fresh anointing of the His Spirit!
Young person, Satan will try everything he can dream up to discourage you. It will not be exactly the same things he used on me, or uses on others; because you have different weak spots. The best thing you can do is learn your weaknesses, and then continually yield them to the Lord for strengthening. Fortify yourself with Scriptures — Renew your mind.
One thing that was very discouraging to me was when other Christians would accuse us of “beating people over the head with the Bible”, or “going around telling everyone they are going to hell”. They would try to exhort us on how to win people with our lives, when they could not remember the last person they had won with their life! The fact is: After you lovingly share salvation with someone, if they reject God’s love, you must warn them of God’s wrath! The Bible tells us in I Cor. 1:21 that, “…it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Friend, if you are not willing to be a fool for Christ, throw away your Bible and quit playing games! The only motive that most people have when criticizing another Christian’s soul-winning efforts is trying to justify their own laziness and cover their guilt. There has never been a great revival apart from preaching on eternal punishment, so don’t be intimidated by selfish hypocrites.
If you are going to win your school for Christ, you must be aggressive. If you’re not above average as a leader, your followers will be below average. What leaders excuse in moderation, followers excuse in excess. You must fight off that discouragement! Sure, it is lonely at the top. Moses was lonely on Mount Sinai, but that is where he saw the glory of God! Do you expect to be encouraged by your Christian brethren? I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed if that is the case. When you step out of the boat and begin to walk on the water with Jesus, as Peter did; you may not hear much cheering from the boat. Actually, the ones left in the boat are making bets on how long it will be before you sink! If you walk on the water for 20 years, some will still say, “O, he’ll sink one of these days.” How Sad! If you are making someone else look slothful by your diligence, they will welcome anything that will slow you down, and justify them.
Jesus had no one to encourage Him; He had to encourage Himself in the Father. King David, when all his people were threatening to stone him, encouraged himself in the Lord his God (I Sam. 30:6). How could they do this? Where did they get the power? Jesus’ half brother, Jude, reveals the secret in Jude 20: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God”. You must have more inflow from God in private than you have outflow to the world in public. Learn to encourage yourself by praying in the Holy Ghost. Your goal is to please God, not man. So, get alone with God and find out if He is pleased! The first time I heard myself preach on tape was devastating. I was alone, and I took the tape out of the player and threw it on the floor. I couldn’t stand my voice, or the way I spoke. I said I would never preach again. However, I repented, and told God if He really thought He could use me, I was willing to be a fool for Christ. When I first started sharing my testimony after youth camp, I would always get teary eyed and my voice would crack — this embarrassed me and made me angry. Later, I felt I had hardened myself, and couldn’t shed tears for souls; so I repented of that, and asked God to soften my heart again. Don’t allow discouragement with yourself to stop you — you are not your own.
Young Elijah, when you try to get your youth group fired up, expect opposition. Your youth pastor may even throw cold water on you to cool you off (or maybe just keep you straight). Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” I believe He was saying, “There is more than one way to skin a cat, boys, so don’t get discouraged.” Don’t butt heads with opposition — outsmart it! Overcome evil with good. Keep doing right, and let God vindicate your work.
A Little Folly
Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. Ecclesiastes 10:1
Young Elijah, this may be the most crucial, yet hard to swallow, section of this book. Beware of the opposite sex! Satan is no amateur when it comes to devouring young people. He knows that the best way to ruin a Christian boy is with a girl, and the best way to ruin a Christian girl is with a boy. The Bible gives many warnings to: “Flee youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Flee! Run! Escape! I thank God that my testimony has not been ruined by Satan in this area; but I’m sure he is still trying. Notice how the verse puts much emphasis on who you follow — wrong friends will cause you to lower your standards. “You are, or soon will be, what your friends are”. Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you what you are.
Nothing has distracted, slowed me down, and confused me more than dating girls, while trying to serve the Lord. They were good Christian girls, but I was not mature enough in the Lord to keep the relationship from drawing me away from God’s perfect will. I believe that a young person needs to focus on obtaining a solid relationship with Christ, and let God worry about their future mate. I could tell you not to kiss before your wedding, or not to hold hands; but I am going to give you principles from God’s Word that you can’t argue with. Looking and touching are the two major danger areas when it comes to promoting lust. The Bible says:
“It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” I Cor. 7:1
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matt. 5:28
“I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?...Is not destruction to the wicked?...Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?” Job 31:1,3,4
If lusting is sin, as the Bible says it is; then that which promotes lust is also sin. Any willful promotion of lust is sin! The primary aim of the verses given is to tell you not to lust, and how not to. When the Bible says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman”, it does not mean that you should not shake hands in church, hug your mom, help a lady over ice, or help a lady up the stairs. It says that any touching that promotes lusting is sin! When the Bible says you should not look upon a maid, it says that any looking that promotes lusting is sin! Even if the action doesn’t cause wrong desires in your mind or heart, it may easily cause desires in the mind of the person you are with that cannot righteously be fulfilled until after marriage. Selfish lust and desire after marriage is also wrong — love is giving. Pure desire and love is never for self. Job said that he would not think or look upon a maid for lustful purposes, because he knew God would destroy those who committed such wickedness. You ladies, if you dress in such a manner that tempts your brothers in Christ to look upon you in a lustful manner, you are guilty of defrauding your brothers. Look at all the wreckage in the Bible from immodesty and immorality.
People accuse me of being a legalist or self-righteous; but, brother, there is a difference in being self-righteous, and being Christ-righteous! A person who is self-righteous sets his own standard or righteousness; but a person who is Christ-righteous just simply follows Christ’s standard. In I Peter 1:16 God commands, “…be ye holy, for I am holy.” Let me lay a heavy on you here. Do you know that God is “holier than thou”? He doesn’t have a sorry attitude about it, but facts are facts! If I’m trying harder than you to follow Jesus; and, therefore, my life convicts you; don’t pull me down, you catch up!
After struggling over what was right and what was wrong; after losing my joy because of doubt and guilt; I learned that God has no “gray areas”. Either it is “Christ-like”, or it is not. Either Jesus is pleased, or He is not. Billy Sunday said, “I have no desire to be any more broad or liberal than Jesus, not a whit, and nobody has any right either, and claim to be a preacher…I owe God everything; I owe the devil nothing except the best fight I can put up…I’m in favor of everything the devil is against, and I’m against everything the devil is in favor of…no matter what it is. If you know which side the devil is on, put me down on the other side any time.” Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect.”
When you stand up for God and begin serving Him, dates will suddenly be readily available. Do not be a fool and say, “O, God is blessing me with these opportunities.” Realize Satan’s strategy and keep your mind nailed down to God’s Word. When the right one comes, God will get your attention, and you’ll not have to doubt and wonder. Do not sacrifice “best” on the altar of “good”.
“Holding faith, and a good conscience;
which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:” I Tim. 1:19
Young Soldier, with all thy protecting, protect your conscience! Paul said that he worked every day to maintain a conscience void of offence before God and man. Sacrificing your conscience is the sure route to shipwreck. You must, however, daily bath your conscience in God’s Word, or it will not remain reliable. You can torture the conscience into believing anything is right if you want to do it bad enough.
I have seen it happen so many times I could cry. A young man/lady gets on fire for God; starts living right; winning souls; gets some stability in their life; and whamo! Some cute blonde or handsome brute changes their zeal into mush. They start to compromise, and the time they spend in prayer or Bible reading goes way down. Listen! When God sees that a mate will increase your effectiveness for Him, then He will supply the right one. Please don’t be deceived; Satan will put forth his best before God puts forth His. Plead with God, “Lord, please don’t allow me to settle for second best. God, I want you to have my best, and I will not settle for any thing less than your #1 best.”
I would recommend Bill Gothard’s material on “friends” and “engagement”. They have been a real stabilizer in my own life. Let me encourage you to set down specific character qualities and standards that you want in a mate. You will most likely want someone who fears God; who wins souls; who hungers for the fullness of the Holy Spirit; who is not sensual, but spiritual; who responds well to authority; who is a hard worker for the cause of Christ; who sorrows over sin; who has a good testimony; and so on.
The Bible teaches that words are cheap, looks are deceiving, but “Ye shall know them by their fruits”. What fruit is their life producing? Either they are gathering souls for Christ, or they are scattering them. Be very careful when you find yourself making excuses for your date’s character!
Here are a couple of suggestions:
1. If your date seeks to raise your standards to a higher level, it is a possibility; but if they try to lower them at all, get away.
2. Bill Gothard sets forth in his “Life Notebook” a prayer for God’s best. Let me share it with you.
“Lord, right now I give you my rights of dating and marriage. When you see that marriage can make me more effective in serving you, then it will be your responsibility to bring the one of your choosing into my life.
Until that time, I will thank you for me being single. Amen.”
Ecclesiastes 10:1 teaches that a person who has a reputation for wisdom and honor can cause that same reputation to stink with just a “little folly”. Christian, the lost world has very high standards for you, but so does God. That is why we need to bring our thought-life under obedience to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 tells us to conquer and lead every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. If you have victory in your thought-life, you will be fairly safe. If your thought-life gets out of line, it is a signal to change something in your life.
Young men, it is imperative that you know how to detect a sensual woman and stay away from her. I believe that this can also apply to girls watching out for sensual men. Proverbs 7:10-27 gives us some clues for detecting a sensual woman. Vs. 10 tells us that they will be dressed to stir your lusts, and that they will be suggestive and clever: Vs. 11- saucy and pert; she has an independent spirit; Vs. 12 — boy/girl crazy; Vs. 13-21 unpredictable responses, persuasive, impudent attitudes, sensually perfumed, flattering tongue, and solicitous eyes. Now look at verses 22-27, and you will see how sad it is when wolves enter in among the sheep. If you are a leader or a follower in a Bible study or church; watch out for wolves, which come to you in sheep’s clothing. “Grievous wolves” are sure to come into the flock. When you suspect a wolf, confront the person with the evidence. If you are right, and they repent, forgive them and forget. If they do not repent, confront them with a witness. If they still refuse to repent, expose them, and have no fellowship with them until they repent. Take the matter to the pastor or leader when it comes to this point, so the whole group may be warned of this person.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy;” I Cor. 3:16,17a
Last, I want to share probably the most important information in this chapter: The people God ordained to help you find the right mate are your parents — not friends. When you ask for your parent’s honest opinion, and they are doubtful of the relationship, the best thing to do is get out. Even if it is only a temporary break, you need to get away and allow your mind to clear. Love is blind; friends tell you what you want to hear; pastors may not know you well enough; but godly parents will be in tune. You should always have your dates spend time with your parents. If parents are not available, then talk to your pastor.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
Editor Note: At 41 years old, having been married 20 years, I don’t believe dating is the right way to go about finding a godly mate. We teach “hands-off courtship” where the couple is with family or a godly chaperone and not off in a car alone without supervision.
The Old Paths
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
This is probably a good place to discuss some thoughts on Christian liberty — something that confused me for a long time. In the Bible there are two principles that help us determine what is O.K., and what is not.
1) In Acts 15:28, 29 the Holy Spirit tells the churches to abstain from fornication, and from meats offered to idols. As a secondary application, if we take fornication to mean all moral impurity, and “meats offered to idols” to represent any activity, style, or attitude that associates us with the wrong crowd; we have a good format to follow. We can ask ourselves, “What is “X” prepared for?” Is it prepared for God’s glory? Or, is it prepared for an idol? Paul, in I Corinthians 8 explains how things can be lawful, yet be meat offered to idols. Let me illustrate this principle: There is nothing wrong with a black felt hat with a pointed top and a flat rim; but, since it associates you with a witch, you shouldn’t wear it. I Corinthians 10:15-33 explains that; if you cannot do it to the glory of God, or it will hinder someone from growing spiritually, or hinder a lost soul from being saved, it is wrong to do. In Revelation 2:14,20 God judges two churches for not following this principle. There were involved in moral impurity, and took part in things that associated them with the “world system”.
2) Romans 13:10 tells us that if you live day by day by God’s love, you will fulfill the law: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Love is wanting for others what God wants for them; not what you think they should have. When your life is governed by this love, the law will be fulfilled in your life. Focus on loving Jesus with all your heart, and you will not have to worry about what worldly activity you can get by with — You’ll not want any of it! You will want to be as holy and as much associated with godliness as you can be. You will refrain from everything that does not make others more holy, and you will walk much life Jesus Himself would.
When a person totally sells out to Christ, they will not only lay aside every sin; but, as Hebrews 12:1 commands, they will also lay aside every weight. There are things that are not sinful, but they are weights to your witness and service to Christ. Selfishness is sin; therefore, if you know something would help you to be more effective for Christ, but you don’t do it for a selfish reason, you must repent. Something may be a weight to your walk; but as soon as you recognize it as weight, if you don’t give it up, it will become sin to you. True love will destroy all hindrances to its ability to fully express itself!
God gave us Jeremiah 6:16 so we could determine what is right, and what is weight. If your heart belongs to Christ, you will “stand in the ways and see” about your music, dress, recreation, entertainment, and every other aspect of your life. I believe if ladies would stop and really consider their dress, they would not wear pants and some of the skimpy outfits they wear. After considering the matter of whether girls should wear pants or not, I have determined that I will not date a girl that wears pants (or immodest clothing of any style). First, in Deuteronomy 22:5, God says it is an abomination for a woman to put on that which pertains to a man, and for a man to put on that which pertains to a woman. A girl that wears only dresses will not be in danger of offending the Holy Spirit in this manner. Second, girls who do not wear pants, but only modest dresses, skirts/blouses, or modest culottes, tend to walk, sit, and act more lady-like and godly than those who wear pants. They also receive more respect from men!
I believe if people would stop and really consider their music, entertainment, how they spend their money (which belongs to God), and how they spend their time (which belongs to God), who they hang around with, etc. etc.; they would change their whole lifestyle. If they didn’t then, they would surely do so in order to obey the second command of Jeremiah 6:16: “…and ask for the old paths, where is the good way…” This will really nail you down! Go ask your great grandparents; go look at church history, and find the “old paths” that the saints have trod. You will start obeying Eph. 5:18,19 where we are told what kind of music to listen to: Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. You will stop watching the corrupt television, and start reading your Bible. You will stop wasting your time and money playing, and start praying. You will start winning souls, while others are setting worldly and materialistic goals. You will throw away your country music, rock music, religious rock (there is nothing Christian about it!), and your irreverent comedy, and start using music to praise God - not please yourself. You will sell your un-needed luxuries, and use your money to win people to Jesus. In short, you will, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Col. 3:2)
Test your activity the same way you test doctrine. First, you test the spirit: “Is this the attitude of Jesus in the Bible?” What is the motive and spirit of those who do this? Then you test the statement: “Is this the message of Scripture? Is the message this gives to others based on the Word of God and Christ’s example? Then test the fruit: “What does this activity produce in the lives of those who participate, as opposed to what better is produced in the lives who do not participate?” Look at those who do it; at God’s Word; at those who don’t do it; and see who is walking closer to the steps of Jesus Christ.
We should consider the spirit, statement, and fruit of all our choices; then, when we find God’s old fashioned way, we should walk therein. “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” If God says the old paths are best, I’m going to lay aside my self-will, and walk in the old paths. Let me say that every time I’ve chosen the old paths, even though everybody said they were outdated, I have found rest unto my soul. Hallelujah for the old paths, where is the good way!
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” John 13:17
That which the average Christian should do, those who are in God’s service must do.
For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! I Cor. 9:16
Satan is just smart enough to help you have temporary success in the Lord’s work so you will become proud; then he will use your pride to destroy all that you have accomplished, along with your service to God. Once, while Dr. Rocky Freeman was preaching, he said that our two worst enemies in serving the Lord are the fear of man, and the love of praise. As I listened I had to admit that those two things were hindering my service to God, and had to repent. What about you? Young, fired up preacher, beware of pride — Pride is the sin that turned angels into demons! 1 Timothy tells us that a novice preacher is in grace danger of “being lifted up with pride”, and consequently, falling “into the condemnation of the devil”.
Brother, admit that you are a novice, and plead with God to save you from your selfish lust for self-glory. Paul escaped this because he realized that he was to be crucified with Christ daily, and live accordingly. If you see someone who willfully seeks to bring glory to themselves, rather than walking in the fear of the Lord, he probably doesn’t know God. I wonder if the reason so much shame was associated with the cross is because the majority of sin paid for was rooted in pride.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3
“For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” I Cor. 4:7
If you are anything at all in man’s eyes, you are that only by the grace of God and the hard work of the Holy Spirit — don’t fool yourself.
And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. I Cor. 8:2
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Gal. 6:3
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5
You are nothing apart from Christ working in you. If you try to be something, you’ll only end in anger and frustration. You must deny yourself and die to your selfish pride. God hates pride and arrogance. Be careful not to allow reproach for the name of Christ to wear you down. Jesus said that if someone rejects the message of salvation, shake off the dust of your feet and move on to the next person. He did not tell us to give them the cold shoulder; but, rather, to shake off the bad experience. You’re God’s man; you are an ambassador for the King of kings; you are a servant of the Most High! Hallelujah! Glory to God! Glory in that, but not in yourself — see the difference? Don’t carry rejection from one person to the next, but don’t bull your way through either. I believe the safest guard against both of these is love. If you really love lost souls with God’s love, you’ll not have these problems. If you carry all the rejection around with you as you witness, pretty soon you will be apologizing for your faith, or punching somebody’s lights out. Surrender your self-will, pride, dignity, rights, and your reputation to God. Lay aside every weight, and the sin, which so easily besets you, and run! Run with patience! Run with patience the race that is set before you! Don’t worry about ever becoming a “big shot” in man’s eyes, just be a “little shot” that keep on shooting.
Young person, when you are out there winning the world, you must remember that God is pleased; but also understand that God is just as interested in winning all of you. Pray for the mind of Christ to be in you.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Phil 2:5-8
It took me a long time to learn what I have shared with you in this short time. I pray that you will soak it in a live by it daily. Jesus washed his disciple’s feet. When is the last time you washed somebody’s feet? I’m learning that I am not too good to do anything Jesus did, or tells me to do. Beware of pride!
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. 2 Tim. 2:3-5
You will soon learn that there are wrong ways to do right things. Even though you may be doing right things, if you are not doing them according to God’s Word, you will receive no crown. You should never try to answer all of your critics; but you should listen to every criticism, analyze it, and benefit from it if possible. The criticism may be given in the wrong way, and 9/10 of it may be incorrect; but you should benefit from the 1/10 of truth, if indeed it is there. One very dangerous snare that Satan has for every young man or lady who gets fired up for God is how they respond to their authorities. You will become headstrong in serving the Lord, and will be in danger of missing the mark lawfully; but when your mother, father, brother, sister, youth pastor, or another close friend steps in to correct you; you will want to rebel. Maybe they are not doing as much for the Lord, or trying as hard as you; and you want to use this as an excuse not to listen. However, if you want God’s best, you will listen carefully and humbly. Then you will take it to the Lord in prayer.
You need to have some solid principles of action. If you do not know, through the Bible, how it is to be done; you will never do anything for fear of doing it wrong. Learn to follow Jesus through God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so you are not continually confused by your critics.
I mentioned earlier that my brother and I were taken to the office quite a few times for witnessing. The apostle Paul was taken to the “office” a few times himself, but he was not striving unlawfully. When you witness in your school, there are some things you must remember. As long as you are not interrupting official proceedings, such as classroom activity; and as long as you do not infringe on a person’s right to reject the Gospel and go to hell; you cannot be stopped from witnessing on campus. The administration of our school tried to bluff us into thinking we could not witness on campus, but common sense told us different. If I walk up to a person during lunch, or a free time, or even during class talk time; and say to that person, “May I speak to you about the Bible and about God?”; and they give me permission to talk to them; nobody can say a thing about it. If I say, “May I share with you what Jesus Christ has done in my life?” or, “Would you please read this tract?” or, “I would like to invite you to our Bible study during lunch,” and they accept, you are not at fault — as the laws are now. God says you are at fault if you do not share the gospel and warn the wicked of his fate. So, who are you going to obey? If the government passes a law that you cannot witness to folks around you, what are you going to do? I am going to witness! Matthew chapter ten tells us there will be times when we have to disobey the earthly government to obey the heavenly government.
I remember the first time I was taken to the office for witnessing to a young man. The woman narc (narcotic officer) told me I was not allowed to share my beliefs on campus. When I replied that I would rather obey God than man, oooh, she got mad! She said, “We’ll show you who is god around here!” Well, maybe I should have phrased it differently. That was the first year; after three years they wore down to just harassing us. I was never suspended for witnessing on campus, because they knew they had no solid grounds on which to suspend me.
Hey! You have to listen to evolution, rock music, profanity, and stories about the dirty parties!! You have to smell and breathe their dirty filthy, cancer causing smoke on campus! You have to listen to kids talk about the ungodly movies they watch! You listen to students and teachers alike take the name of the Lord in vain! Why should you have to apologize for sharing the good news of eternal life with a hell-bound world? You shouldn’t! You must not be ashamed and bluffed into thinking that you are the villain!! If a mule kicks you, just consider the source — they are lost.
Persecution, laws, or rules cannot and will not stop the person who is sold out for Christ. The problem is that most sissy Christians use any excuse they can to not witness. They actually like the laws or rules of the schools — they use them to hide behind. However, when some young man stands up and preaches the Word without fear, those hypocrites come and try to stop him. They are shamed by him. They look bad because this other person is doing what they should be doing, so they try to make him look wrong! How can they call themselves Christians?
If you witness with the humility and love that Jesus witnessed with, you are blameless. The Bible teaches that God “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble”. The more humble you are, the more grace you can receive from God. The more grace you receive from God, the farther you will go in His service! Pray for those who kick you; pray for humility; and use humbling experiences to get more grace from God.
Young Elijah, Be Ready
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” Zech. 4:6
Is there a hell? Does it really have tormenting flames? Is the fire literal? When a person dies having never genuinely turned from his sin, and believed on Jesus as Savior and Lord; does he really drop eternally into this lake of fire? Does he really spend weep and wail and gnash his teeth? Was Jesus serious when He preached that it would be better to cut off you hand, or foot, or even pluck out your eye, rather than allow that hand, foot, or eye to send you to hell? Is it true that the only hope this lost world has is for some Christian to sell-out to God, pray, and preach the gospel to them? Will God really require their blood at our hands if we do not warn the wicked of God’s wrath? If so, we need to prepare for the great task ahead of us! We are more important in the life of a lost person than any other person on the face of this earth! We cannot; yea, we must not hide from our duty!
Once, during lunch at Manzano High School, I was walking through the student center with a young lady from our Bible study. It was witnessing day, so we were out looking for a victim. As I passed by the steps of D-hall my eyes caught a familiar face — Rodney! During my freshman year at Manzano there where two main rival groups: the “cowboys” and the “cholos”. My brother and I were somewhat leaders of the cowboys; while Rodney, as a senior, was the primary leader of the cholos. Needless to say, we were enemies! As I walked by this day, however, the Holy Spirit told me to share the change in my life with this ex-enemy. When I saw him, my stomach knotted up, and I told Debbie that I should go and witness to him; but I just walked on by. Before I got far, though, God turned me around, and headed me back to Rodney.
He was standing, as usual, on the stairs with about twenty cholos and Cholas (Mexican boys and girls). I made my way through the crowd, and up to where he was standing. He was still about twice my size, but I trusted the Lord to take care of the situation. There was tension at first; but when I smiled and stuck out my hand, he responded by shaking hands. I spent the next five or ten minutes sharing with him that I had changed. I no longer wanted to fight, but rather wanted to share with him how he could go to heaven.
The whole time I was talking, his friends were making snide remarks about the “preacher”, and telling Rodney not to put up with this. I think they were all embarrassed that their big hero was listening to this Jesus freak. When I finished speaking and asked him if he would like to call upon the Lord to save him, to my utter shock he said, Yes. Yes? You are not supposed to say, Yes. Well, the fact is he did say, yes. I was even more amazed when he bowed his head and prayed with me in front of all his now silent friends! I never did see him after that; but, wherever he is, I doubt he will ever forget that day on the steps of D-hall.
Rodney might have become a great Christian had I known how to disciple him; but I was just learning all these things. In these next few chapters I hope to share with you some practical knowledge that will save you such regrets. After having learned better the things I am going to share with you, I had the privilege to lead another young man, much like Rodney, to Christ. I just recently drove him up to Bible College. I’m not saying that this young man, Anthony, is any more a Christian than Rodney; God only knows whether either will make it. I am saying that I did not complete my responsibility with Rodney. For the Bible has commissioned us to, “…teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:…”
I met Anthony in my neighborhood, where I am writing this book. I had been praying in my room for the Lord to fill me with His Spirit so I could bear fruit. Young people profess Christ quite regularly in the junior high department where I preach, but I want to always have the joy of personal work with the lost. As I was praying, God told me to quit complaining and just go find a lost person. I got in my little VW Rabbit, and began to drive down some of my neighborhood streets. A group of ten or twelve young boys caught my eye as they walked behind an apartment complex. I drove around and caught them on the other side. I spent about fifteen minutes speaking with them, gave them all tracts with my phone number on it, and started driving around some more.
As I came up to a stop sign and stopped, I noticed a young man (22 years old) standing in front of a telephone booth. The Holy Spirit told me to go and talk to that man, so I pulled over and turned off the ignition. When I walked up and told him why I had come, he was shocked. He had just tried to call a pastor in Grants, but no one would answer. His parole officer instructed him to call the domestic violence center if he ever felt violent; but, when he did, they put him on hold. The week before he took an over-dose of tranquilizers, and would have died; but some people found him and rushed him to the hospital. One week had gone by, and now he was planning to take his life at midnight, unless he found something to change his mind, or change his life.
After taking him by his apartment, I brought him to mine, where we continued to talk. Satan fought hard to keep the strong control he had on Anthony’s mind, but the Holy Spirit took the victory; and at 11:15 PM December 13, 1986, he bowed his head and asked God to save him, just as Rodney had done. We stayed up till early that next morning talking about the Lord, baptism, salvation, and just thanking the Lord for His grace.
The next morning was Sunday morning, so Anthony went forward in the service and was baptized. The next month was very interesting as Anthony began to put off the old man, and to put on the new man. We went witnessing together to some of his friends and family — some of which accepted the gospel. At first, when we would witness to his friends, and they wouldn’t listen, he would become angry. Once I was talking to a friend or cousin of his (I forget which) who smirked and laughed at me. Anthony grabbed him and shoved him up against the side of the car, and told him this was not funny. He gave his testimony to the junior high class, and then to the whole church. Anthony grew to be a good friend and challenge in my life. After about six weeks he decided to spend the following spring in Baptist Bible College. At this time he has been in college for two weeks, and is majoring in youth work. I had an amazing trip up to Springfield, MO and back in an unbelievable snow storm — which is another story altogether.
For all you young people in Christian school, who think that everyone around you is saved, I would like to share some sobering news. Anthony was placed in a Baptist Christian School for over a year, and he became very popular in sports; but he was lost as could be! He would have died and gone to hell, because some person didn’t take personal interest in his life and discern that he did not bear the fruit of a Christian. We just think that everyone is “saved” because they think they are. You need to study your Bible and find out what a converted person is supposed to be like; then you can discern who is following Christ and who doesn’t even know Him.
Before we get into the practical preparations, and necessary knowledge of the following chapters, let me share with you some statistics that the National Convention for High School Discipleship in Denver put together:
1) 85% of the people who do not accept Christ by age 18 never will
2) 90% of the people who do not accept Christ by age 20 never will
3) The chance that an individual will accept Christ lessens as that person approaches 60. At that age, only 1 out of every 100,000 people accept Christ. That is .01%.
Young Elijah’s !!!............................................................We Need You!!
Finding God’s Will
Tomorrow: The first day of the rest of my life. I’ve never passed this way before, and shall never pass this way again; yet I must pass through. I only have one chance, though I know not what is coming. If it brings death or pain, there is no way to stop it. It is coming good or bad, and I must go on prepared or not. Whether I succeed or fail, tomorrow is upon me!
Suggestion: Follow Jesus; He has been this way many times; and take a friend to keep your eyes on the master.
I believe the “will of God” for a person’s life is not as mysterious as some may think. God wants us to know His will, but it is precious, and must be sought for. The problem lies in our unwillingness to listen and accept whatever God may ask. The key to finding God’s will for your life is to really want it, no matter what it is. Most people talk about seeking God’s will; yet, down deep inside they have a limit on how far they will go with God. There are, however, legitimate times when we do not know God’s will for our lives. The Bible teaches some definite principles that should help us find God’s will, if we are really looking.
The most common text given to those who ask guidance in this area is Romans 12:1,2:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
There are three basic principles in this verse that need emphasis. First, the text says to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. I guess the real acid test is this: Are you willing to come before God Almighty in prayer, with all heaven to witness, and say, “Dear God”, I’ve read Romans 12:1,2, and I have decided to do what it says. Lord, I lay my life, my dreams, my future, my expectations, and my body on your altar. Please make me holy and acceptable in Christ, and offer me up as a sacrifice wholly for the glory of your name. God, please help me keep my commitment, and never loose me from it. In Jesus’ name I ask this, Amen.”
After taking step one, step two should come very naturally. Verse two plainly says, “…and be not conformed to this world”. As you seek God’s will, you’ll learn not to follow the crowd. The majority is usually wrong, and you must never do something just because, “everybody does it”. The world will try to press you into its mold, just as they tried with Jesus; but He did not allow it; and you must not allow it. There are many things I do in my Christian walk that are unique. Some may criticize, but those who follow God are unique in being zealous for good works, and need not be ashamed of it. If you are Biblical, then don’t worry about pleasing everybody — you can’t anyway!
If you please God, does it matter who you displease?
If you don’t please God, does it matter who you please?
During the second year of Bible study, at the beginning of the year, my English teacher wanted all the students to stand up and give a short speech about themselves. Everyone stood and told about their hobbies, their background, and just anything to kill class time. I prayed about this great opportunity, and God gave me a plan. I illustrated my life story by a Remington Razor commercial — unique. I asked how many had seen the commercial where the man says, “I like it so much I bought the company.” They all raised their hands. I explained that my life was very similar to that commercial: When I found Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, giving Him control of my life; I so liked what He did, that I’ve given my life to tell others how to experience the same thing. After my short sermon, a young lady wrote me a note asking if she could come to our Bible study! Glory to God! There were a total of four people who started coming to our Bible study from that short testimony. When that young lady gave me her senior picture a year or so later, this is what she wrote on the back: “Mark, thanks for showing me the way to life eternal. You’ve shown me the way to Christ, and now I’ve got the light in me. My life wouldn’t be as beautiful if you hadn’t shown me the way. Praise the Lord. Love yah lots, Jeni”. O, dear God, our teenagers need to get on fire and find the joy of serving such a wonderful Lord!
Third, the verses teach that we must renew our minds in order to be transformed into a person who can prove God’s will for his life. How do we renew our minds? When I surrendered to God at that camp, just before my sophomore year in high school, my mind was in need of much renewing. I still did not comprehend God’s ways or His will. After I came home, I set out to memorize the book of Matthew. During the next year, along with reading Christian books, and studying my Bible; I memorized the first thirteen chapters of Matthew plus various other verses. My mind was truly renewed. I began seeing things as God saw them, hurting when He hurt, enjoying what He would enjoy; and hating what He hates. You see, when you are born again, you become spiritually alive; but your mind is still programmed in many of the old ways. You have to re-program your mind by God’s Word through teaching, preaching, Bible reading, and good Christian books like a big sponge.
When you have taken these three steps, you will be able to learn the next things that I am going to share. I would recommend some outside study and personal investigation on the following pointers. My main purpose in this book is to get your appetite aroused, not give you “All You Ever Wanted To Know About Being A Christian”. Learning will do more for the person who has to search out the truth, than the one who has it all laid out before him. Learn how to learn from God’s Word, rather than just stocking mental facts.
1) Use God given authorities to find God’s will. If you can learn how to properly respond to your authorities (parents, pastors, church, school, government, etc.) then you are way ahead of most people. I believe that God works through our parents (Christian or not) to show us His will in our lives in many areas. God gave you the parents you have for a reason, and commands you to honor and obey them. You have certain flaws in your character that God has specially equipped your parents to handle.
You ask, “What about Matthew 10:34-39?” We all know parents are not perfect. Jesus had imperfect parents, yet he obeyed them. I believe we are to obey our parent’s wishes, as well as commands; unless they directly contradict God’s higher commands. This still leaves you on dangerous ground, though. If your parents tell you not to go to church on Sunday night, are you going to rebel? First, you need to find out why they will not allow you to go to church. Have you been falling behind in school? Have you neglected family duties? Have you come in late on preceding Sunday nights, or not cleaned your room? You need to live like Christ at home before you try to win the world. COMMUNICATE with your parents and authorities! If they seem cool towards you, don’t get offended; but ask them if they are upset? Don’t be afraid to respectfully confront and appeal to your authorities if you disagree and don’t understand. If they are mature, they will appreciate you more, and trust you not to go behind their backs when you disagree.
Here is a test to see if you are really serious about responding properly to your authority. When a situation comes up where your belief of what God’s will is clashes with that of your authority, would you be willing to say, “Dad, Mom, I want God’s will for my life, and I believe that God works through you to show me His will many times. I am willing to submit to you in this area, if you can assure me that you have sought God’s desire in the matter and believe this is God’s will.” I would use this in decisions concerning dates, colleges, church choices, and many other important choices you have to make that are not directly spelled out in the Bible. Obviously if your parents tell you break the law, steal, sin, etc. you cannot obey them, but must humbly say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that”.
Never go behind your parent’s back to be faithful to Jesus. If the case arises where you must disobey your parents to be faithful to the Lord; first, get counsel from a Spirit filled pastor, then explain to your parents why you must disobey them, and be willing to humbly suffer for the cause of Christ as a consequence. Make sure your motives and your past track record of obedience is what it ought to be, or this will be seen as just another act of rebellion and pride — it will not be a testimony for Christ.
God will work through your parents to add character to you, knock off rough edges, break stubbornness, teach you how to be a servant, and teach you how to be practical and use wisdom in your Christianity. God will also use them to rebuke hypocrisy, arrogance, or selfishness in your service to God; and to make many other critical adjustments that will determine whether you are mighty for God, or just a mouth that never accomplishes anything for Christ’s kingdom.
2) Don’t forget who your example is. It is Jesus; not some preacher, evangelist, or friend.
3) Don’t be afraid of God’s will. Remember what your relationship is:
· He is the potter, we are the clay.
· He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep.
· He is the Father, we are the children.
· He is the Vine, we are the branches.
We are helpless and totally dependent on Him. One of my favorite verses will allow us to see God’s heart as He directs our ways: Isaiah 42:6, “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee….” Hallelujah! Yes, it may be scary! Yes, it may seem impossible! Many times I have felt what Paul must have felt when he said, “And who is sufficient for these things?” I’ve cried, “O God I’m not sufficient for such a task!” Then I’ve prayed, “Lord, if you will hold my hand, I’ll go on.” Glory Hallelujah! I’d not be afraid of walking through hell itself with my heavenly Father holding my hand!
God gave Elijah some pretty scary tasks. While he was on Mount Carmel mocking the prophets of Baal; there were 100 prophets of Jehovah hiding in Obadiah’s cave. What were they doing there? They were hiding from the crowd that Elijah was preaching to! God says to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Jesus said the reason that the world hated Him was because He testified unto them that their deeds were evil. He also said if you follow Him, you will be hated also. Look at your heroes from the past:
· Isaiah was put into a hollow log and sawed in half;
· Jeremiah was put into a dungeon of slime
· John the Baptist was beheaded
· Jesus was crucified
· Stephen was stoned
· Matthew was slain with the sword
· Mark was dragged through the streets until dead
· Luke was hanged
· Peter was crucified upside down
· Simeon was crucified
· James was beheaded
· Philip was crucified and stoned
· Bartholomew was flayed alive
· Thomas was pierced with lances
· James, the less, was thrown from the temple and beaten to death
· Jude was shot to death with arrows
· Matthias was stoned
· Andrew was tied to a cross, where he preached until dead
· Paul was beheaded
· Timothy died as a result of a beating
· John was boiled in a caldron of oil, but survived to die a natural death.
The story goes on and on. Today, in many places, people are dying for the cause of Christ. Young Elijah, “you have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin”; don’t be afraid of a little persecution.
4) Once you know God’s will, do it! Don’t go back and try to persuade God to change His mind…or He might. Balaam did this and it cost him his life. Jeremiah 42:1-43:4 gives another instance of someone knowing God’s will, and then doing something else. Read Psalms 106:14-15: God granted their request to their own hurt! Beware of ignoring God’s will or trying to reshape it into a convenient task. One of the worst times in my life was after I tempted God in my heart. I felt convicted to witness to a dishwasher at the restaurant where I worked. In my heart I said, “Not now, I’m too tired; I’ll do it later.” God seemed to say, “Now”. I said, “God, you never seem to do anything when other people sin, why should I be different?” I was soon to learn a whole new side of what it means to fear God. That very morning (4 AM) as I pulled out of the parking lot onto the street it began raining very hard. The street mysteriously filled with water as a drove through a low area — something must have temporarily plugged up. The water rose quickly enough to stall my car, then it quickly drained. There I sat in the street alone at 4 AM. I felt an evil presence and began to pray. I saw a truck flash it’s headlights at me, then drove up beside me. I rolled down my window. The man asked me some ungodly questions, and I rebuked him in the name of the Lord. Just then it really began to pour, so we both rolled up our windows, and he drove away. I eventually had to walk back to the college. Before I could get someone to drive me back to help me get my car started, they had towed it away. Over the next couple weeks I had to work, go to classes, and in the little time left get help in finding and retrieving my car. During this time in the winter I was walking to work and back in sleet and snow through the bad part of town. I finally, after a number of attempts, got my car out of the yard where I was being charged rent to leave it. We had to pull it out, and then had to leave it on the side of a country road — we still couldn’t get it to run. After changing all the fluids, we finally got it running. Needless to say, I repented, and witnessed to the man. I also learned a valuable lesson during the time of God’s chastening. I later wrote the whole experience down so I would never forget and do it again.
5) Learn to make spiritual decisions by applying five steps.
1.Lose your own will, and become totally neutral with no self desire on the subject you are considering. Look at the benefits of not getting your request, as well as the benefits of it being granted. Put yourself in a neutral position, so God will not have to override a mindset to lead you.
2. Read the Bible excessively while seeking the will of God on the subject.
3. Spend much time alone with God praying for His will to be revealed.
4. Don’t make the decision until you have a definite answer or until you have to. If the deadline comes and you have to make a choice; yet, God has not revealed His will, though you have taken steps 1-3; just yield your mind to God, through the Spirit, and decide.
5. Once you have made the decision by faith in God’s guidance, go forward in faith.
6. Use financial circumstances to help discern God’s will (See chapter on stewardship)
7. When the way is dark, don’t try to light your own fire. Isaiah 50:10.11 has much to say about lighting our own fire, rather than trusting God to guide us through the dark times. It is not wrong to say, “I don’t know what God is doing in my life right now, but I am just trusting Him to guide me in His will.” Abraham tried to light his own fire and help God out with Hagar, and it ended in heartache. I like Psalms 16:7 where it compares God’s counsel to reins, which instruct us in the “night seasons”. When I can’t see where I am going, I feel with all intensity for the tug of my reins. Be patient, and give thanks for all things, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
8. DO GOD’S KNOWN WILL, and God will reveal His unknown will when the need arises. There are certain things that we know to be God’s will for our lives. If we are not doing those obvious things, why should God reveal the secret things?
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21
Here is God’s promise that He will personally reveal Himself to those who are faithful to keep His known commandments. The Bible says, “Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” This is talking about salvation, but there is a principle that directly relates to daily living. We need patience, but not with ourselves. We don’t need to wait around before doing our part. If our part is prayer, we need to pray now. If our part is study, we need to study now. If our part is soul winning, we need to do it now. The patience has to do with trusting God to do His part when he so chooses. We should do what we can do, and wait on God to do what we cannot do in His own time. There is never any excuse for a servant of God to be idle or slothful — we are to be diligent.
I would like to close this with a short bit of wisdom the Lord gave me after reading “Pilgrim’s Progress” during my junior year in high school.
THE SECRET TO PILGRIM’S PROGRESS
God’s will is unique for each life;
Yet, Christ’s life is the same example for all.
Therefore, strive to live like Christ is whatever
Circumstance God places you,
And you will fulfill God’s will for you.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46
Watchman Nee, in his Christian classic The Normal Christian Life, tells of a Chinese brother who was traveling by train and found himself with three non-Christians. They, in order to play cards, needed a fourth person. When they asked him to join them, he replied, “I am sorry to disappoint you, but I cannot join your game, for I have not brought my hands with me.” His hands did not belong to him any more. He was now the temple of the Holy Spirit. All the ownership of his life and possessions had been transferred to Christ. Ladies and gentlemen, we are not our own! We are stewards of God’s merchandise. I do not have the right to use what I have (body, money, time, energy, mind, etc.) as I wish.
God allows His children to go through cycles of plenty and poverty to teach them to be good stewards, and to rely on Him. Can a person’s spirituality be determined by how he handles his money? Does a soul-winning, fire-ball preacher need to know how to properly use money? Definitely yes. I believe that we not only need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to win souls, but we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit to succeed in any task we have for the Lord. In Exodus 31:3 God filled a man with the Holy Spirit so he could do manual labor on the tabernacle. Yes, we must be filled with God’s Spirit for every chore of life; even managing our finances.
Before I share a few tips that have helped this 19 yr. old preacher, I want to share a word of warning from the lips of the Savior. In Matthew 6:19, Jesus gives us a command, not a suggestion: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…” What items are we not to lay up? We are not to lay up for ourselves material goods which are affected by moths, rust, or thieves. Why would Jesus give such a command?
In verse 24, Jesus tells us that if we allow material things to occupy our time, money, and life; then we will not have time for God. Then God will chasten us, because we are robbing Him of what is rightfully His. Then we will become bitter at materialism for stealing our time from God, or at God for demanding our time and money! In vss. 25-34 Jesus tells us how to play it safe. “Therefore”, because of the danger, “take no thought for your life…but seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” You say, “Well, I have to have food and clothes. I have to live!” You need to live so you can seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and for no other reason. You have no permanent residence here, so don’t get settled in too much.
This does not mean we should quit working, because 2 Thess. 3:10 gives the command that, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” The book of proverbs gives many warnings against slothfulness, and says that the diligent will be blessed. Paul worked to support himself while he preached, but it is easy to see which master he served.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; I Timothy 6:17
In Bill Gothard’s Men’s Manual, Vol. II, he explains God’s four purposes for money.
1) God supplies money for basic needs, such as food and clothing. Notice that money is not supplied for things such as entertainment, pleasure, etc. If we spend the money God has provided on selfish lusts, we will not have enough to fulfill God’s purposes.
2) God gives us money or withholds it in order to confirm direction. God has allowed freak accidents to come into my path and eat up my finances in order to direct me in a new area
a. If at all possible, and it is, stay out of debt. If you need something to further God’s work, pray for it, and then patiently wait. God may have other plans. When my brother and I began bringing many of our converts to church, we needed a van. We prayed, but God did not want us to have a van. Instead, our youth pastor worked with us driving the church van every Sunday Morning. We did not have to pay for the gas, insurance, or the maintenance of the vehicle; and the fellowship with our youth pastor was great.
3) God allows us to obtain money in order to give to other Christians who are in need. This is very wise of God, for it brings His children into close fellowship and unity. What if we spend our money on worldly amusements? Then we will not have it to give to those whom God has enabled us to help.
4) God uses finances to illustrate His power in our lives. God desires to show His children how much he loves them, and also to help them depend on Him, by supplying their needs. What a great witness to the world when God supplies His children’s needs. I wonder how many times we have missed out on this blessing, because we just went out and purchased what we needed with money we should have given to God’s work?
Young Elijah, Satan wants to use money to snare you, but you can beat his system! You can Biblically manage your money, and use it as a weapon against the devil. When you remember God’s purposes for money; remember that it really belongs to God; and always get counsel from your parents or pastor before making important financial decisions; you will be able to miss many of the devil’s pitfalls.
“Neither a borrower, nor a lender be,
for loan oft loses itself and friend; and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”
We must live as ambassadors for the King of heaven, for…..that is exactly who we are!
I believe this is a proper place to share with you a principle from God’s Word that has been very precious to me: “He that is faithful in little, is faithful also in much. In Matthew 25:14-28 God gives us a lesson on how He views faithfulness. Why did the master give his servants such small insignificant jobs? Why did he not give them some great task? Look at Luke 16:10-12, and you’ll see what the master had in his mind. He was looking for a few faithful servants to do some big and important jobs for him. He knew that if he could find servants who were faithful in little, he could also trust them to be faithful with much!
God chose David to be king over his people — why? God knew that if David was a faithful shepherd to sheep, he would be a faithful shepherd to Israel. If he fought for the sheep, he would fight for the people. If he fed the sheep faithfully, he would feed the people faithfully. If he love the sheep, he would love the people. If he walked with God as a shepherd, he would walk with God as a king. God is going to test you in the very same way, young person. If you are faithful in little, you’ll be faithful in much. Hallelujah! This is one of the most exciting truths in the Bible. Why? Because Jesus is coming back soon, and I want to rule and reign with Jesus in His kingdom; but I am too young to preach city wide campaigns or pastor a large church. I’m not a great servant, therefore, I don’t naturally have much of a chance for a good position in God’s kingdom. Yet, with this principle, I have just as good a chance as the pastor of the largest church! God knows if I am faithful as a son, I’d be faithful as a father. If I’m faithful as a preacher in high school, I’d be faithful in a large church. And, if I am faithful in the small jobs I can do now, I’d be faithful in the large ones I could do later! But, also if I am not faithful in the things I can do now, God knows I would not be faithful in the future.
If you are faithful as a child, you’ll be faithful as a parent. If you are faithful as a student, you’ll be faithful as a teacher. If you are faithful as a servant, you’ll be faithful as a king. If you are faithful managing God’s money, you’ll be faithful managing His kingdom. “He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much”. KEY: Don’t focus on your inability to do great things in the future, but rather strive to be faithful in the small things you can do now! If you want to be great for God, be great today — not tomorrow.
When God chooses rulers for heaven, He will look for one thing: how well did they work with what they had? If you are 100% faithful to preach in your school, you’ll receive a greater reward in heaven than a man who is only 75% faithful as a popular evangelist! Praise the Lord! Faithfulness is doing what you can do the way you believe Jesus Himself would do it, if He had your job.
“…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Rev. 2:10
How precious is that crown of life going to be? Well, how precious is life?
Fishers Of Men
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Mt 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
What do you do when you are fishing? You try everything you can to catch that fish! Jesus said He would make us fishers of men, if we would follow Him. Since God is fishing for men, the best way to learn how to catch men, is to follow Him around , watch how He does it, and listen to His instructions. Look at the Gospels and see how He did it while on earth; look in the rest of the Bible and see how He does it through His men; then go thou and do likewise!
Once you have a general knowledge of what it takes to catch a fish, you must go out and practice in order to become a good fisherman. If you really want to catch fish, you won’t be caught sitting around talking about it; you’ll be out on the lake doing it. You see, soul-winning, preaching, and praying are all about the same in one aspect: You learn to preach well by preaching with all your heart; you learn to pray well by praying with all your heart; and you learn to win souls well by witnessing with all your heart! Take all the suggestions you find, try the ones that are Biblical, and adopt the methods which bear the proper fruit. The greatest tool you have is your personal testimony of salvation — tell them how you found Jesus.
When approaching a lost person, you should try to find them alone and not heavily engaged in business. When you deal with people in private, their pride is less likely to be a hindrance. They need to be in a fairly good temper, and must be perfectly sober. If they are slightly intoxicated, they will not be sincere; and when they sober up, they will forget or change their mind.
It is good to have a specific time to go witness; but you should daily look for opportunities — we call them “divine appointments”. Some of my favorite experiences in winning souls have been opportunities that seemingly came out of nowhere. If God knows He can trust you with a lost soul, then He will bring one into your path.
Once, while working in a youth group during college, I went with the class to Kansas City to see the Royals play ball in Royal’s Stadium. During the game, God spoke to my heart about the time I was wasting freezing to death in the top of this stadium. When I went down to get something hot to drink, my friend and I decided to pass some tracts out to the people. If you want to catch men; you will always be prepared with a New Testament, some tracts, and a pen to get their names and phone numbers for follow up.
While passing out tracts, I noticed a small crowd of teenagers standing around freezing just like I was. I went over and began to share Christ with them — and God’s Spirit took over. As I was sharing the Gospel with this group of about 15, others would come up and listen. Either they had never seen a freezing preacher before, or they had never heard a clear Gospel message; because they were amazingly interested. In that initial crowd, three young people bowed their heads and asked Jesus to save them. Then, as I stood around talking to others, more of that teen group would come up and ask questions. In all, I was able to lead six people to pray and ask Christ to save them that evening. An additional three people made professions of faith through the witness of my brother and friend. Praise the Lord! I’m sure we enjoyed that Royal’s game much more than the church group sitting in the stadium!
Your work place is an ideal location for effective witnessing, because you can live the life before them as you witness to them. While working at Sandia National Laboratories in construction with my father, I had many opportunities to witness to the security escorts. Because we were working in classified or top secret areas, we always had a security escort with us.
Once, while framing a wall inside of a large building, I was able to lead my escort to kneel and pray for Christ to save him. We usually never had the same guard for two days in a row, but this time we did. Since I did not have my security clearance, this man was to follow me all day. During lunch break the first day I had given the man a tract, but did not have the time to witness to him. The second day, however, while I was framing up this wall, I began to discuss the tract with him. After conversing on the salvation message of the tract, we kneeled down beside a saw-horse where he prayed and asked Christ to save his soul. Praise the Lord! The security inspector may someday be inspecting the most secure city ever built — New Jerusalem!
2) Personal preparation:
When going out door to door, it is good to go two by two. Jesus sent the disciples out in this fashion for a reason. You can encourage each other; help one another shake off rejection; have someone to praise God with; and most important, one can keep out distractions and pray as the other person speaks. Only one person should speak, and this should be decided before approaching the person. It is also very educational to go soul-winning with different people.
You need to realize that you are a messenger of the Most High God, and your mission is a matter of eternal life or eternal death. Be solemn about the important truths that you are presenting to this careless sinner, so he will be able to understand the importance of the matter. As God’s messenger, you should be neat and clean. If you can be smelled half way up the block, the only thing people will want to be saved from is you! You should dress like a Christian, use breath fresheners between visits, and use some deodorant if necessary. Ask the Holy Spirit and the person with you to tell you if you are doing something that may hinder your witness.
Once while trying to teach my young people to witness, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a young lady. After the girl left, one who was with me said they had pretended they were lost. He said he didn’t think he would have understood it very well the way I presented it. I think I learned more that day than any of them did, but that is good. I needed that, and so do you.
You are God’s ambassador, so be courteous, kind, and respectful; just as you believe Jesus would be. If you complement the person’s home, car, work, or children, they will be more apt to listen sincerely to your message.
3) The Message:
It is usually best to be short and to the point, but also be a good listener. If the person is a believer, keep the conversation short so you can have more time for the lost people. Try not to complicate salvation. Bring out the basic points to bear on their mind, and press them home. The Gospel is uncompromising, but it is not complicated.
Let me pause here and say that one of the greatest dangers for young soul-winners is to water down the Gospel so people will accept it. When you water down the message, you give lost sinners false assurance that they are safe. Salvation is not a person’s decision to follow Christ, as much as it is God’s acceptance of their repentance. Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” You must understand that you are not trying to sell a cheap product to some sucker. You are preaching that if this lost, hell-bound, sinner will repent and follow Jesus Christ, he can escape hell and live eternally in Christ’s Kingdom. If a person is not willing to turn from his sin, and wholly surrender his will to the Father, he can never enter the kingdom of God. The key is a willing mind:
2Co 8:12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
I have found that if you are “real” is dealing with people, they can sense it. The only force that can break the fear barrier is love for Christ and the lost. When I started high school I was an introvert, but I had to overcome it. When I approach a person, whether at work, shopping, visitation, or on the streets; I must be real, and I must love the person with God’s love.
I introduce myself in a relaxed and friendly manner. Then I engage in a conversation with them about themselves. I ask questions about them and show interest in their life: what school do you attend? What classes are you taking? What engine does your car have? What do you plan to do after you graduate? etc. If an obvious “in” for the Gospel doesn’t present itself in the conversation, I say, “Could I ask you a question?” They say, “Sure”. “I ask many people this question, and it is kind of hard to answer, but just do the best you can. You believe the Bible don’t you?” “Some of it” is a common response; but don’t start arguing about whether the Bible is true, just tell them it is, and go on. “O.K. well, the Bible is God’s Word to us, and in the Bible it says, ‘It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment’. My question is, ‘If you were to die tonight and face the judgment, do you know what God would do with you?” “Uh, no, not really.” “Well, did you know that the reason God wrote the Bible was so we could know for sure how to escape hell, and go to heaven? There are four things that you need to know in order to be saved from your sins. Would you allow me to show them to you in the Bible?” “Sure” “Now I want you to know that what I am showing you is not just my philosophy or opinion, but I am going to show you just what the Bible says; O.K.?”
“The first thing we must know in order to go to heaven is found in Romans chapter three, verse ten; ‘As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one:’ Then, over here is verse twenty three it tells us, ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;’ God says we have all broken His law and come short of His standard.
The second thing you need to know is the penalty for breaking God’s Law. Romans 6:23 tells us the ‘wages of sin is death’. Death means separation: physical death is the soul’s separation from the body, and spiritual death is separation from God. The penalty for breaking God’s law is death and punishment in hell — separated from God for ever. Because we have sinned, the Bible says we are headed for eternal separation from God in hell.
Alright, the first thing we need to know is that we are sinners; and the second thing God wants you to realize is that all sinners must pay for their sin in hell when they die; but the third thing the Bible teaches is that God provided a way for us to be saved from our punishment. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross as a sacrifice to pay for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath though him.’
O.K. first, we see we have all sinned and broken God’s law. Second, the penalty on sin is hell; but third we see that God through Jesus Christ has made a way for us to be forgiven, and saved from the penalty of the law. Sir, if I show you in the Bible how you can receive God’s forgiveness, would you be willing to do what the Bible says?” “Yes”
“Alright, that takes us to the fourth thing. Before God can forgive any man, that man must repent of breaking God’s law, ask God to forgive him in Jesus’ name, and strive to live a life obeying God’s Word.” In Acts 26:18-20 we see that God wanted Paul to preach the gospel: “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Then Paul tells what he did. “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”
In Acts 17 Paul tells the people, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
God has commanded all men to repent and obey Jesus Christ. Since Jesus gave his life to save us and paid the debt on our sin, He is the one we have to please. He will be the judge. If we hope to be saved, we must believe in Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Heb. 5:9 says Jesus is the Savior of all them that obey Him.
Are you willing to stop breaking God’s laws, ask God to forgive you, and start living for Jesus Christ? Would you be willing to pray right here and ask God to forgive you, and ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord?”
Pray with them. Encourage them to confess every time God convicts them of something wrong. Explain to them what God wants them to do:
2) Church membership
3) Holy life
4) Read the Bible and Pray…
5) Witness to others
You can also take a good, clear gospel tract and read it to people. This anyone could do. Pick them up for church, set with them, introduce them to the people, have them over for dinner to meet your family, and stay in touch. Jesus said plant seeds in every kind of soil, try to make them all grow, but realize that some will fall by the wayside. If possible, you can take them with you when you go witnessing. Let them see the other side of the fence. If you are on fire for God, they will catch the flame too! They will get excited about seeing others saved, and will not be feeling sorry for them-selves. Your new converts will only be converted to your current standard of spirituality, or that of your church. That is why it is so important for you to be like Jesus, and go to a church that is on fire for God in soul-winning.
Young soul-winner, how did you get saved? What exactly happened to you? Were you scared? Was it based on feeling, or did you just believe God’s Word and act upon it? What was said that really got through to you? According to the Bible, what specifically happened inside of you the moment you trusted Christ? Did you receive the witness of God’s Spirit that you were forgiven? Once you can answer these questions, you can win the world; because they can all get saved the same way you did. There are many passages that make good soul-winning formats. Consider walking someone through the following verses:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:38-42
The Holy Spirit In Soul-Winning
God’s Spirit is vital in soul-winning: He is the one convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. He is the one striving with the hearts to receive the Word you give. He is the one who convicts you to go; helps you go; and helps you speak. He can open up opportunities and lead us to people with open hearts. He is the one who illuminates willing hearts and minds to receive Jesus, and He is the one who regenerates the soul.
When the disciples prayed and were filled with the Holy Spirit, the one result mentioned was, “They spake the Word of God with boldness”. The Holy Spirit is the only person who can give you the confidence and boldness to face the sneering, jeering demons of hell. Along with that confidence, the Holy Spirit gives us creativity in our witness.
In Luke 11:5-13, where Jesus is teaching His disciples to pray for the Holy Spirit with perseverance; He illustrates it by a man asking for three loaves of bread to set before a stranger. I believe this is very significant. There are three things that the Holy Spirit brings into your life when He fills you: Love, Wisdom, and Power. These three items are critical ingredients in the life of a soul-winner. 2 Timothy 1:7 puts it this way: “For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and love, and of a sound mind.” Notice what you have, when you don’t have love, wisdom, and power — fear. You must plead and knock for these three “loaves” or you will have nothing to “feed” those who come to you in their journey. Young Elijah, you need those three loaves to set before sinners, and you must pray for them like the man did in Luke 11. Pray for the Spirit to fill you, control you, and to work through you. If you do not know your master, you cannot be a faithful servant; so get to know the God you serve. You may know God’s Word, but you need to know the God of the Word.
There is one way to keep your heart from becoming cold and bitter toward rebellious sinners while you are witnessing. When you walk up to a lost person, picture that person as being you — you are lost…have no hope…headed for eternal hell…don’t know Jesus…don’t have peace, joy, or love…your mind in blinded by the devil, and you will die in your sins unless this Christian (you) wins you to Jesus. If you talk to a lady, picture her as your mother or sister! She is lost! If she doesn’t find Jesus, she’ll burn in hell. When you witness to an elderly man, picture him as your father. Think your way into their life. Love them. Meditate on their condition. Put yourself in their position on judgment day! Plead with them as you would want someone to plead with you, if you were the lost one stumbling toward hell. If you were in heaven, and your mother was on earth, but she was lost; how would you want a Christian to deal with her? What if you saw one just walk up and hand her a tract, and walk off? What if you saw another just walk up and carelessly invite her to church? You’d be furious! You would want a soul-winner to come and plead with her to turn from her sin, and turn to Jesus! You would want them to shed some tears, and pray for her. You would want them to be gentle, but very clear. Every time you witness to someone, after you are through, put yourself in heaven looking down on yourself in this manner. See how much more you could have cared.
Ro 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
EDITOR NOTE: Growing up in the Baptist church, I was taught their soul-winning methods. As with all protestants, they focus on the starting line of the race, while almost completely ignoring the finish line. This is due to their false doctrine of “eternal security”. The most important part of saving a soul is getting them to run the race with a living faith all the way to the finish line. As a youth, I focused on getting them to make a commitment to Christ, but I wish I had emphasized that they must continue and endure in the faith until death. I did tell them they needed to repent and follow the Lord, but I would now make it clearer, if I had it to do over. I just pray God used the seeds I planted in my sincere ignorance. I pointed them to Jesus. If they followed and listened to Him, as they were supposed to, they will be saved.
“Elijah was a man…and he prayed…”
Young person, this is the most important chapter of this book. I tremble and seek to shy away from writing on such an important subject, yet you need to hear it. In your walk with God, you must be, before you can do. If you are converted, you have all it takes to be available in Christ; so this is not an excuse not to do.
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather one would walk with me, than merely show the way
The eye’s a better pupil, and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.
The best of all the preachers are the men that live their creeds;
For to see good put in action, is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it, if you’ll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
The lectures you deliver may be very wise and true;
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
I may not understand the high advice that you may give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
Do you know my fellow Christian all the time and every place,
Men are looking for the image of the Master in your face?
And the image you’re reflecting is distorted or is fair,
Just according to the measure of the time you spend in prayer.
The poets are right. Prayer is the key to the Christian life. Before you can preach powerfully, you need to pray powerfully. Samuel Chadwick remarks that “Prayer is the acid test of devotion.” Another has said that “Apostasy begins in the closet”, and indeed it does. R.A. Torrey gives us what he believes are the three causes of failure among preachers: 1) A message other than the message that the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Word is taught; 2) The Spirit’s message, the Bible, is studied without the Spirit’s illumination; and 3) The Bible is taught to others with “enticing words of man’s wisdom”, and not “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” How are these pitfalls to be avoided except through prayer?
You must pray powerfully before you can preach powerfully! You cannot bless others until you’ve been blessed of God. You will not win others until God has won you. America is too young to die, but preaching alone will not save her — we must pray!
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Notice the requirements for true prayer: Salvation, humility, hunger for God, and repentance. I have found in my own life, that prayer either makes me, or the lack of it breaks me. I am nothing, and my nothingness blossoms before the whole world when I have neglected to spend the proper time in prayer.
The key phrase concerning prayer is “patient continuance”. When I surrendered my life to Christ, I wanted to be a powerful man of prayer. I read books on prayer. I read prayers in the Bible, and spent much time to learn to pray. I am still doing those very same things, and still I am just beginning to learn what true prayer can really do. I am definitely not an authority on prayer, but I trust that the Holy Spirit will give you something in this chapter that will cause you to make prayer the business of your life. If prayer is the business of your life, your life has been well spent.
Is prayer a necessity? O, reader, if you only knew the longing in my soul to justly answer that question. I could simply say, yes; but that would never give the proper impact. Yes, Yess! It is necessary! In the life of a Christian, prayer is just as necessary as God was in the creation of the universe. Look at the life of Jesus — God in the flesh — and see how necessary it was in His life:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Jesus knew that He could not make it without prayer, why do we seem to think different? Would Peter have overcome had Jesus not prayed for him when Satan desired to have him and sift him as wheat? In Luke 5:15 we see Jesus becoming more famous, and the people just flocking to where He is. It says that great multitudes came to Him, but notice in verse 16 what He does: “And He withdrew Himself into the wilderness, and prayed.” How beautiful! How precious! What an example for us when we seem crowded and pressed by the world! A brother once told me after I emerged from my prayer closet, “I like it when you pray, it brings you back to your old self again.” When the pressures of life steal my flame, the power of prayer gives me fresh oil. Jesus needed it, I need it, and you need it!
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26,27
Do you really want to be a man or lady who will be known by heaven, earth, and hell as a person who is powerful in prayer? The Holy Spirit is the only qualified teacher available; and He even wrote the textbook, the Bible. Right now He is living inside you, if you’re converted, just waiting to give the first lesson. Almost every time I pray, I first ask the Holy Spirit to please teach me and pray through me. I do not know what to pray for as I ought; but, when I claim Romans 8:26,27, I can rest assured that the Holy Spirit is taking care of my infirmities.
In prayer, I believe that quality is more important than quantity; yet I also believe that you will never have quality, unless you have quantity. Jesus preached against vain repetition, and depending on “much speaking” to make you successful in reaching God; yet Jesus spent many nights in prayer. The problem was with people getting on their knees and blurting out some religious clichés, but never really thinking about what they were saying.
“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God”. John Bunyan’s definition of prayer.
God has created us all with unique personalities; therefore, each of us will have a different relationship with the Father. We will also pray and approach God in unique ways. I even pray different as the battle changes — let me illustrate. Sometimes when I go to prayer, I try to picture myself in the throne room of heaven like a knight coming before his king. I am God’s knight: I wear His armor, I fight His battles, and He is my King. Could you imagine a knight coming before the king, and jabbering out some herd of syllables, but never thinking about what he was saying - Just repeating memorized phrases? If you really believe that God is listening to you, it will cause you to carefully choose your words and thoughts.
Yes, there are times when approach the Lord as a faithful knight would approach his king. At other times, though, when I get a fresh view of my own sinfulness, I worship and praise Him as my merciful Savior. Additionally, when I feel all alone in the confusion of battle, I seek Him out as my friend — the Mighty Counselor who understands, yet pushes me onward. All of these are precious times; but the most personal in my own life is when this warrior realizes he is only a child — overwhelmed by life’s challenges. When I feel I’m crushed and broken and can’t go forward; I call out to my Abba, Father as a child to it’s Papa, and feel for His loving arms and soft assurances.
Ps 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
What does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name? Does it mean that you just tag “In Jesus name” on the end of your prayer? No. In fact, I believe that it actually determines what you pray, not just how you pray. When an artist signs his name at the end of a painting, it is because he painted it. When that picture is photographed, the artist’s signature is still there, but the artist didn’t paint the photograph. Our prayers should be like photographs of Jesus’ prayers; therefore we can legally sign His name to them. We should not want to pray for anything that Jesus would not pray for himself, if He were in our circumstances. If we pray, being led by the Holy Spirit, and we pray as Jesus would pray; then we can rightfully sign His name to our prayer as we send it to heaven. His name is our authority and assurance. His name is what gets our prayers through the gates of heaven. God promised to answer every prayer that reached heaven in this manner. Another aspect of praying in Jesus’ name, other than the content, is the motive. Are you operating on the same motives that Jesus’ did? If you are committed to God’s reputation and truth, then you have found the key to effective prayer.
The two gifts God gave us for successful prayer are the Holy Spirit and the Bible. When you and the Holy Spirit take God’s Word before the throne of heaven, and confront God with His own promises, He is overjoyed. That is why He put so many great promises in the Bible. God loves for His children to come boldly to the throne of grace and claim the promises of Scripture.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
When Jacob wrestled with God, he was praised and blessed for his boldness. When God was on earth, He preached much on prayer with such encouragement as: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened.” Would God say it just to tease us, like a hotdog in front of our nose? I don’t believe so. Proverbs 15:8 tells us that the prayer of the upright is God’s delight. How marvelous! Glory to God! What a privilege! I’m not the biggest nuisance heaven ever saw! God actually delights in this needy child wanting so much love and attention! “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” (Psalms 40:17)
God so wants for His children to pray, that He considers it sin when we don’t, and it is! When you are not faithful in prayer, you are not faithful in anything. I have found that those who pray little think they pray much; while those who pray much think they pray little, or at least know they do not pray enough. Live in the Scriptures for your prayer food. Quote verses in prayer. Quote phrases from other prayers in the Bible; and use the Psalms for personal expression. Romans 8:29 tells me that I am to be conformed to the image of God’s Son; so I pray, “Dear God, conform me to the image of your Son.” Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”; so I pray, “Dear Lord, let that mind be in me which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:15 tells me, “…and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal this unto you”; so I pray, “God, if in any thing I be otherwise minded, please reveal this unto me.” Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”; so I pray, “Lord, please work in me both to will and to do of thy good pleasure.” I quote Daniel in his prayer, “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” When my heart can be expressed in the words of Daniel’s prayer, I use it. I substitute “church” for “city”, but God doesn’t mind. After I pray for something that might bring glory to me, I like to use the Psalmist’s words in Psalms 115:1; “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” When I pray right out of God’s Word, I know I am praying in God’s will; and, therefore, am assured of an answer.
When you spend much time in prayer, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you; you will find Scripture come into your mind as you pray. The Holy Spirit will remind you of something you have read, so you can have power in prayer. The best place to gain new insights in God’s Word is on your knees. I recommend that you always have a pen and paper ready as you pray. Have a prayer journal where you can record blessings, insight, encouragements, answers, requests, vows, and ideas that you gain while communing with Christ. If you think that you will remember your new insight later, you will forget it and regret it. God has taken the time to teach you something, the least you can do is take notes.
“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray…” Luke 11:1
After listening to the master pray, the disciples realized they did not know how to pray. When they asked Jesus to teach them to pray, I find it interesting that they did not receive a long dissertation on the subject. He merely gave them some basics, and told them not to give up. How did the disciples become experts in prayer? They took the basics and then spent much time praying. The outline that Jesus gave is excellent for us to use in our daily prayers. We should start our prayer with worship and praise. We should prepare our minds by realizing who we are talking to; how holy He is; that His will is all important; and that we are subjects of His kingdom. When we have spent much time fellowshipping with, and worshipping the Lord; we can move on to our needs, our sins, and our struggles. If we first focus on God’s omnipotence, our impotence will not be so frightening.
When Jesus taught them to pray for bread to give to others, He stressed that they persevere. If you really want something, you will keep coming back and knocking at heaven’s door; but if it is just a passing whim of yours, you will not press the issue long. I believe sometimes God just wants to see how important this request is to us. Do we really hunger for it, or can we live without it? When you just drop off your request at the doorstep of heaven, and never come back to see what happened to it, God may not bother with it either. Lest you be ignorant as to the hindrances to your prayers, let me share what the Bible says will hinder your prayers:
1. Wavering: The double minded man cannot expect God to answer his prayers — James 1:6,7
2. Asking amiss to gratify your own lusts — James 4:3
3. Regarding iniquity in your heart: Anything in your life that grieves the Holy Spirit is iniquity — Ps. 66:18
4. Practicing Sin: You are not a Christian if you are practicing sin — Is. 59:1-3; Jn. 9:31; James 4:17; I Jn. 3:6
5. Hypocrisy — Job 27:8,9; Matt. 6:5
6. Pride and arrogance — Job 35:12,13; James 4:6
7. Refusing to hear the Word of God — Prov. 28:9; Zech. 7:11-13
8. Refusing to forgive — Matt. 5:23,24; 6:12-15; Mark 11:25,26
9. Forsaking God — Jer. 14:10-12
10. Having idols in your heart — Jer. 11:9-14; Ez. 8:15-18
11. Robbing God — Mal. 3:8-10
12. Offering unworthy services to God — Mal. 1:6-10
13. Discord in the home — I Peter 3:7
14. Refusing to hear the cry of the poor — Prov. 21:13
If you are innocent in all of these areas, and you are following the principles in this chapter; you will soon find out the glory of prayer. Young Elijah, every man of God started from the beginning where you possibly are right now. They sought the Lord while He could be found, and they found Him. When I was at that youth camp, or shortly after coming home, I came across Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” I used that as an anchor, and started seeking God with all my heart. He promised that if I would seek Him with all my heart, I would find Him, and I did. I am still finding more and more of Him every day, but I can say with joy and peace in my heart that I found Him. Hallelujah! Glory to God! What are you waiting for? Let’s arrange our lives around the mighty business of prayer — prayer for ourselves, others, and for every promise of God — that the Father may be glorified in the Son! Hallowed be His name. Amen.
“…men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” --Jesus Christ
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” I Cor. 9:24-27
While driving back from Springfield Missouri in my VW Rabbit after taking Anthony to college, I ran into a very bad winter storm. It stretched from Springfield MO, all the way through to Albuquerque NM. I drove through it all night long. I am still amazed I did not break down or wreck between Joplin, MO and Santa Rosa, NM. I had never seen such terrible road conditions before. They closed the highways in MO right after I got through. All the way though Oklahoma I followed the top lights on the back of a semi trailer, because I couldn’t see the road due to blowing snow. When the Semi passed people I stayed in his tracks, or I would be plowing snow with my car. I just hoped He was going where I was going. I had to crash through snow drifts on the interstate; and sometimes had to turn off my headlights so I could see something besides snow. I tried three times before I could get close enough to the gas pump to fuel in Amarillo TX; and then after filling with gas, I thought I wouldn’t get going again in the deep snow/slush hole I had stopped in when I got close enough to the gas pump. In Tucumcari, NM, the snow was packed on the highway about 6” deep and then it had “pot holes” in it, so I couldn’t go very fast. It was so cold my accelerator cable began freezing in the sleeve. I let off the gas, and the pedal stayed the same. Then I pushed on the gas and let off to get it to idle; but it only stuck on full throttle. I had to quickly turn off the key, and reach down and pull up on the pedal. It was a fight all the way. I should have stopped, but I could barely get to the fuel station, and I didn’t see any hotels — it seemed safer to stay on the road. It was far to cold to sleep in the car. I was determined to get through, and “so drove” that I did not break down or crash. I had my nerves set on “super keen”, and my fingers were leaving prints in the steering wheel. My whole body was praying for God’s help.
When I arrived in Santa Rosa, NM, I sighed, and took a deep breath. The sun was beginning to rise over the cold clear horizon; and I had only 100 miles between me and my pillow. Now the storm was past, and the roads were not half as bad as what I had just come through. I relaxed in my seat, set my nerves back down on “normal sensitive”, and began to cruise down the open highway. I went 10 miles and ended up in the ditch half covered with snow! What happened? I’ll tell you what happened: I was no longer “so driving”. I became confident with my past success, and thought there was no need for such caution. I tried to get by on minimum effort! The same thing Satan will try to get you to do when you’ve got a little success behind you, and you’re tired.
So run! So walk! So pray! So preach! So witness! So Fight! That you win! What is it that you are trying to obtain? Do You have a goal? Just as Jesus preached and lived His whole life in the light of Calvary; we need to live our whole life in the light of our Lord’s coming. We need to have a plan. If a runner doesn’t quite know where the track is, or where the finish line is; how is he going to “so run”?
I also want you to notice in this verse that it says those who strive for the incorruptible crown are temperate in all things. Christian, if your mind is set on “obtaining”, and you “so run”; you will not have a problem with discipline! You will not whine about church standards. You will realize that all the discipline is only helping you run faster and farther. You will welcome anything that gives you efficiency, and will help streamline your walk with God. You will want to abstain from all appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22). You will be thrilled to give up something that may weight down your testimony or cause a weaker brother to stumble. So run! So fight! That you obtain! If you are not obtaining, fight harder! If you are not winning, run faster!
One key to fighting is to have good aim. You may have a powerful punch; but if it doesn’t light on the fellow’s nose, you won’t faze him much. Paul said he didn’t just beat the air when he swung. You must know what you are fighting for; you must know who it is you are fighting; you must know what weapons are in your arsenal; you must know how to use those weapons; you must know who you are fighting for; you must know the prerequisites for victory; and you must know your power source; or you will never obtain the crown!
You must have fire, fear, and fervent love. If you fight with God’s fire burning in your heart; the fear of God directing each move; and the fervent love of God keeping you aimed at the target; you will not be easily sidetracked. The fear of God keeps the fire from becoming wild fire; the fire in your soul will keep the fear of God from becoming the fear of man; and the fervent love of God will not allow you to use your strength in battle for anything other than the glory of God and salvation of souls. Onward Christian soldiers!
Render It Consistent
“For I am the Lord, I change not;” Malachi 3:6
I can tell you the secret to God’s cooperation in prayer, witnessing, guidance, comfort, Spirit fullness, and every other area of your Christian life in three words: RENDER IT CONSISTENT. God has never changed, and never will. If God must be inconsistent to answer your prayer, it will not get answered. If God must change in order to bless you, you will not be blessed. If God has to lower His standards to fill you with His Spirit, you will not be filled. If God must add a new concept to His ways to use you in His service, then friend, you will not be used of God. You may be used, but not of God. Don’t blame or question God for not doing something in your life until you have rendered it consistent for Him to do so. “While men are looking for better methods, God is looking for better men” — Bill Gothard.
There is no new way to serve God. What does Galatians 1:8,9 say? “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” If someone comes up with a “new kind of Christianity”; whether in music, dress, worship, interpretation of the Bible, or any other area of the faith, it is not of God. If God must ignore a portion of the Bible to be pleased with your life, He will not be pleased!
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Heb. 13:8
“…the Father…with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
“The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” Psalms 33:11
Render it consistent for God to move, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to bless, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to answer, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to forgive, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to fill, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to guide, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to comfort, and He will!
Render it consistent for God to help, and He will!
Render it consistent for God bring revival in your life, and He will!
Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen
“It is not how much skill you possess, but how you possess what skill you have.”
Look at Luke 6:21, “Blessed are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled.” Now look at verse 25, “Woe unto you that are full! For ye shall hunger.” Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Many are called, but few are chosen — Why? It is just like at camp when the dinner bell rings: the bell rings for everyone, but only those who are hungry respond! Many are called to revival, but few have revival! Many are called to holiness, but few live holy lives! Many are called to serve God, but there are few who serve God! Many are called to salvation, but there are few that be saved! Why?
God only gives to those who are hungry. Luke 6:21, “Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Isaiah 44:3 , “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,” Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters”. John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Psalms 107:8,9, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”
How was the woman from Samaria saved? When she met Jesus at the well, she said, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not,” She got it! Did the great men of God thirst?
· Moses: “…show me thy way, that I may know thee…”
· David: “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is: to see thy power and thy glory…” “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.” “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God?”
· Paul: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death:”
Isaiah 8:21 tells us, “…and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves…” Do we fret that we have no fear of God in our society? Do we fret at the lethargy in our churches? Are we hungry? Proverbs 27:7 says, “The full souls loatheth an honey comb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” The reason that we are not fretting in hunger is because we are too full of other things! We are full of the world’s entertainment! We are full of the world’s materialism! We are full of humanistic religion! We are full of our own ways (Proverbs 14:14), and there is no room in our over stuffed hearts and minds for the things of God!
Read Matthew 22:1-4, and tell me why those lost people would not get saved. They were not hungry! They were filled with their “merchandise”. Now, look who was chosen out of all who were called — it was those who were hungry! What happened to those who were not hungry for the Lord’s salvation?
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.
Look at Luke 14:16-24. What did their excuses consist of? There were already full! Watch what God says in verse 24, “For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” When a person is called, they had better respond! In Revelation 3:14-19 we find some Christians with the exact same problem. They were not hungry for the Creator, because they were already full of the creation. They were not hungry for the giver, because they were worshipping the gift. They were full of riches, goods, and material items; but were starving to death spiritually. God said that they made Him sick, and had better repent. Repent for not being hungry? Yes, repent for not being hungry — that should tell us something. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
Young Elijah, when you feel your hunger start to subside, repent, and pray for a fresh hunger. The day that you are no longer hungry for more of God, you have just lost God’s power in your life! The day a preacher isn’t hungry for more of God’s power and working in his own life, his church will stagnate! The day a parent loses their hunger for God, their children will stray from Him also.
Look at Jesus on the cross. Was He satisfied with what He had accomplished? No! He still had to save on last soul on the cross next to Him. He still had to take care of His earthly mother. He still prayed for the soldiers who were crucifying Him. And, in John 19:28, just before He dies in verse 30, He says, “I thirst”. What did He thirst for? Well, he wasn’t satisfied with what they gave Him. I believe He was thirsty for the Father.
If God poured out revival, salvation, or power on someone who was not hungry, they would not appreciate it, or take proper care of it. When Israel lost their appetite for the Word of God, the Lord sent a famine in the land. Amos 8:11,12 tells us it was “…not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” God knows how to make us hungry. Are you hungry? Why? Why not? Will God have to make you hungry? I hope not. If you read Luke 16:19-31, you’ll see a man who was full all his life. He never thirsted for God. God had to make him thirsty, but it was too late! A genuine Christian will automatically thirst for God in greater and lesser degrees. Therefore, if you have no thirst for God, you must repent, and let God give you a new heart. If your excuses override God’s call, you will experience eternal thirst that will never be quenched.
How To Be A Successful Fanatic
“For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.
For the love of Christ constraineth us;” 2 Cor. 5:13,14a
Originally, the name Christian was given to us by the unsaved world (Acts 11:26). Since the name categorized us as “little Christs”, or as being “adherent to Christ”, we gladly adopted it. The name Fanatic hasn’t been proudly worn, yet it is not such a bad name either. Webster defines a fanatic as, “A person having a stubborn, unshakable, violent, and unreasoning belief in or enthusiasm for, some opinion, cause, or doctrine.” As I understand it, that is exactly the way this spiritually blind, lost world has labeled all God’s faithful saints. I’m sure they thought Jesus was violent and unreasoning when he made a small scourge and drove the money changers out of the temple. In Mark 3:21,22 His friends said he had lost His mind; while the Jews accused Him of having a devil! Jesus was accused of having a devil in Him many times:
“The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil” John 7:20
“Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” John 8:48
“There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?” John 10:19-21
“Jesus! You’re crazy! We don’t want to hear it! You are a fanatic!” They tried to stone Him and throw Him over a cliff head first to stop His preaching; but He continued until He was finished. Hey! Young preacher, let me share with you a sobering thought. In Matthew 10:25, Jesus told us that, if we lived like Him, we would be called the same names He was called. That means, if the world is not treating us like it treated Jesus, we are not living like Jesus lived.
Did Paul follow in Jesus’ footprints? In Acts 26:24-29 we find him preaching his heart out telling King Agrippa and Governor Festus how he met Jesus and was born again! Right in the middle of the sermon, Governor Festus interrupts with a loud voice, saying, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” Paul! You are crazy! You are a fanatic! Paul didn’t mind; he had been called those names before.
The disciples in Acts 17:6 were accused of turning the world upside down with their message. In Luke 19:37-40 the Pharisees got embarrassed and asked Jesus to make His disciples be quiet. Stephen would not quit preaching in Acts 7. He told that council of religious hypocrites that they were stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, and that they always resisted the Holy Spirit just like their fathers did. Go get ‘em Stephen! They were so angry that they stopped their ears, trampled him, drug him out of the city, and stone him to death!
What was it that these men had that we do not have? How do we get from where we are to where they were? How were they so filled with this stubborn enthusiasm that they never gave up? Jeremiah was so filled with holy fire that he could not stop preaching, even though he sometimes wanted to (Jer. 20:9).
I Corinthians 1;18 tells us that the “preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;” The world says, “Shut up!” The world laughs and mocks…until most of us are ashamed to preach with holy flame. How do we get that holy endurance that was in Jeremiah’s heart? What will it take before we can answer the world’s complaints with the unashamed confidence that the Holy Spirit does in Jeremiah 47:6,7, “O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge…?” How can we be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given us a charge? Yet, too often, we are.
How did David, as a young man, have the courage to go out to the battle and volunteer to fight Goliath? How did he have the boldness to answer his critics with a simple, “Is there not a cause?” David, boy! God home! What do you think you are doin’ out here? “Is there not a cause?” What was his secret?
There is a secret to becoming a successful, unshakable, fanatic just like Jesus. Look with me to Luke 10:38-42:
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Now, look with me to Luke 8:35-39:
Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devils was healed. Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear: and he went up into the ship, and returned back again. Now the man out of whom the devils were departed besought him that he might be with him: but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return to thine own house, and shew how great things God hath done unto thee. And he went his way, and published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him.
Every day of your life there are many things that scream for your attention; but Jesus tells us that only one thing is “needful”. Mary had to ignore the cries that Martha answered, so she could choose that “good part”. Why is that “one thing” so needful? Listen close, this is the key to the whole chapter: The ONLY thing you have to give to others is what YOU get while “sitting at Jesus’ feet”. The only real message you and I have to give is, “how great things the Lord hath done for us.”
Where did David get the power to conquer Goliath? He got it on a lonely hillside gazing up into space and fellowshipping with its Creator! Probably one of those evenings is where he penned the nineteenth Psalm, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork…” Where did Paul get the power and courage to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? He got it at the feet of Jesus! God’s plan for winning a lost world full of proud, rebellious, sinners has never been though worldly wisdom. The world can only know God through faith in Jesus Christ, not academics. God’s plan is laid out for us in I Corinthians 1:18-31: God takes a nobody, transforms his life, and sends him out into the world preaching “how great things the Lord hath done for him”. What did the woman at the well preach that brought revival to the city of Sychar? She proclaimed, after sitting at Jesus’ feet, “Come see a man, which told me all things that ever I did”. What was the message, out of all his great sermons, that Paul chose to preach before King Agrippa, Governor Festus, and that great council of people? He preached, “My Conversion Story”. He told them how Jesus saved his soul…changed his life… and what a friend he had in Jesus! He told them what he received while sitting at Jesus’ feet! He told them, “how great things the Lord had done unto him! Glory Hallelujah!
Where do you get that holy flame in your soul that just makes you preach? In Acts 4:13, after Peter stood and boldly proclaimed Christ to the Sanhedrin, it says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Yes, sir! That is right! Now, let’s watch them as they go back for a fresh dose:
And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Praise God! We can find boldness just as they did! Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:12 how he could endure all the persecutions, yet not be ashamed of the Gospel:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
In Ezekiel 36:22-36, God promises rebirth to the people of Israel. He tells them that for His holy name’s sake, He is going to give them a new heart, a new spirit, and make them a holy, fired up, God fearing people. But in vs. 37 He says, “Thus saith the Lord God: I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them”. They could only get all these great promises by “sitting at Jesus’ feet”.
Young Elijah, God will only spoon feed us at the beginning; then He expects us to come on our own and sit at His feet. If you don’t, you will soon burn out! Why do you think Paul, in Acts 20:13, after preaching all night, wanted to walk alone to As’-os? He needed to get alone with Jesus! You do not have anything to give to this world except what YOU get while “sitting at the feet of Jesus” You will become over taxed, frustrated, and dependent upon fleshly methods if you do not spend time at the throne of Grace! This old world doesn’t need your learning! They don’t need your great personality, and don’t want your looks. You get a hold on God! Sit at the feet of Jesus until He fills your cup so full it splashes on everybody you meet! This world needs the living water you get daily at the feet of Jesus! This, my friend, is the only way one becomes a successful fanatic.
A fanatic you say, that’s what I am?
I’m nuts, I’m weird, I’m a Jesus fan?
Well, friend, you don’t look very wise;
O, I know, you saw it in my eyes.
Yes sir, you’re right; I have flipped my gourd.
A state of insanity — I’m crazy for my Lord.
I preach, I sing, and shout Hallelu!
I cry out in prayer, until I pray though.
Jesus, my Savior, alone will I follow.
Is He hated today? Then I tomorrow.
What’s that world? “Shut up!” do you shout?
O, if I would, the stones would cry out!
You don’t understand, though it seems so clear;
Because of His love, I have no fear.
The Word of the Lord, as a sword, will pierce;
And will endure through onslaughts fierce.
Your hearts are wicked, O human race;
Yet, you too, someday, will see His face.
Then, as you before God’s Son do fall,
You’ll see….I wasn’t crazy after all.
In Jesus’ Love,
I Cor. 9:16