Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 13:: Sharing Tools: Sharing the Gospel with Muslims

"Do you know what I notice about you Christians?  You always want to tell others about your religion, but you know nothing about what other people believe!"  He made this statement to me on a flight from Japan to Los Angeles.  After visiting family in Bangledesh, he was making his way back to Texas where he was currently living.  The 12 hour flight afforded us time to talk about many things, including the gospel of Christ and Islam.  The truth of his words stung at first, but then fueled a desire in me to learn as much as I could about other religions.

In the next couple of weeks, Calvary Chapel La Habra will be hosting a truth series during their Sunday and Wednesday night services.  If you are in the area, services begin at 9am and 11am on Sunday mornings and 7pm on Wednesday nights.  If you are not in the area, you can watch live here during service times.  If you are unavailable during those times, services will be archived here.

 This is another way that we could equip ourselves to share the gospel with others!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 12:: Sharing Tools: Building Upon His Foundation

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11
Early on in my attempts to share the gospel with others, I found myself making some pretty incredible mistakes.  Looking back at those times makes me want to do two things.  One, apologize for being such a sad misrepresentation of God's love to those I was trying to share with. Two, shrivel up in embarrassment for how silly I must've sounded.  When I beat myself up, however, the Lord reminds me that there is no condemnation in Christ, and that it has all been necessary for me to grow in my ability to follow His lead when I am sharing.  He also reminds me that it really all about Him and that He has already laid a foundation in each individual that I am to build upon.

In Acts 17:18-34, we are given an example of the Apostle Paul when he was sharing at the Areopagus with the men of Athens.  The first thing that Paul did was observe the people.  “...for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.  Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you...Acts 17:23.  As he passed through their town, he made it a point to see what the people worshiped.  

Paul was very careful in how he addressed the crowd.  He didn't criticize their beliefs but acknowledged their religious activities as a sincere attempt to reach God.  Many times I have participated in endless debates that did not lead to anything except a loss of respect from my hearer.  Our goal is not to prove that we are right, but to prove that God loves them enough to have sent Jesus Christ, God incarnate, for their salvation. 

Finally, Paul built upon some religious relic to lead them into sharing about the one, true, living God.  Each and every person on this earth has had some experience with the living God.  Thus, asking the person you are sharing with questions about their experience with Him, and building upon those experiences becomes a tool in leading them to Christ. A life or death situation, a loved one or friend who may have already planted seeds, or simply something in nature that spoke to the individual's spirit. 

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse...
Romans 1:20

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 11:: A Life That Ended Too Soon

They were not together more than a few weeks, nevertheless, it felt like they had know each other for years.  My brother's unit combined with another unit and the crew chiefs were flying on the same Black Hawk.  On this particular day, however, they were on two different birds.  The wind in the Middle East commonly whipped up without notice, and the helicopters weighing so little, were taken into the subjection of the gust.  My brother's helicopter made it out without to scratch, but the other was not so fortunate.  Along with varying degrees of injuries, the full helicopter suffered a couple of casualties.  Cote was one of them.  
In his early 20's, Cote had recently had a baby that he had not yet met.  They were just a couple of weeks away from returning from their deployment.  This was a very great loss for my brother and the men that had the privilege of serving alongside him.  

My brother had the opportunity to share about his time with this young man at our church.  He mentioned the rapport that the two men built in such a short period of time.  He also mentioned that he was not certain of what he shared with Cote, whether or not he was able talk to him about eternal things.  He could never have imagined how brief the time would be with his friend.

This year marked 5 years since his passing.  We thank him for his service to our country and pray his family.  May his life inspire us to share that blessed message with those around us. 

...whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
 James 4:14 

Find all 31 Days here

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 10:: Only A Vapor

Stuck In Traffic At Night Car stuck in traffic on a3 at

There was a ton of traffic that night.  My brother had picked me up from my house and we were running against the clock to make it to the hospital before the doctor came in to talk to my father.  The cars inched forward in slow motion as the minutes on the clocked ticked quickly by.  When we had finally made it to the hospital, we ran through the halls in search of his room.  Dr. Chen was already finishing up his conversation with my parents.  It was not necessary for him to repeat his prognosis, I could see it all over my sister's face.  It was terminal.  He predicted 3-4 weeks without treatment. 

Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Psalm 39:5

I have heard it said that death is the only certainty in life, and the reality is that not one of us knows when that time will come.  I don't bring up this topic to be a downer or to instill an irrational fear into the reader, but to bring up the fact that we do not know how long we will have the privilege of abiding with those in our lives. What are those important things that we need to say to one another?  Do they hold an eternal weight of glory 2Cor4:17?  Do they hold the keys to the door of eternity?  

"You have the words of eternal life," Peter said in John 6:68.  Let us entreat our Lord in how we are to reach out to those around us. 

My Dad lived 2 years and 2 months from the time of his diagnosis.  We were blessed to have many conversations with him about what would happen when we passed into the realm of eternity.  We are confident that he gave his life to Christ, and look forward to seeing him again.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 9:: He Was Clearly Offended

He was clearly offended when I told him that my daughter was praying for his salvation.  How you could reject the prayer of a sweet, three year old little girl is beyond me, but that was Jorge, our mailman, and professing atheist.  We started sharing with him in the winter of 2011 and continued until we moved away in the summer of the next year.

Friendly and inquisitive, it was always very easy to talk to Jorge.  My family grew to have an affinity for him and he to us, so it was not difficult to share with him even though we definitely had differing opinions about whether or not God existed.  We got as far in our conversations as to the root of why he did not believe in God, but never had enough time to truly hear the complete account.  He alluded to a war that he had fought in and the suffering that he witnessed.  How could God allow such horrible atrocities?

There was a time when he did resentfully ask me why I talk to him about Jesus even though he told me he was an atheist.  I simply told him what I shared on Day 8.  I fear not taking the opportunity to give someone I see so regularly, the chance to hear the gospel of Christ and secure their eternal salvation.

We still see Jorge from time to time when we are in the old neighborhood and we continue to pray for him.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 8:: What Happens in the Afterlife?

There is one story in the New Testament that has always haunted me.  It is the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31.   The part of the passage that makes me uneasy is the part that talks about the great gulf that separates Hades from Abraham's bosom.  I suppose it's the fact that the rich man was able to "lift his eyes up and see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom".  When I get to heaven, will I be seen by those in Hell, people who were in my community? 

As I ponder this question, I am reminded of all the people that I see on a daily basis but do not necessarily have a relationship with.  The mailman, the gardener, neighbors, school staff, name a few.  Is there a possibility that we could have a meeting in eternity where they could possibly ask us, "I saw you everyday (every week), I came to your house (I saw you in the office), why did you not warn me about what would happen in the afterlife?"

The mere thought of that question is chilling, yet some have had this question asked of them this side of eternity.  Needless to say, you may be surprised at who is just waiting for you to bring up the topic.

How then shall they call of Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe if Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tiding of good things!"
Romans 10:14-15

Read all 31 Days here

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 7:: Healing to a Hurting World

"What are you doing to cope with this?" I asked him.   "Are you drinking?"  "I don't drink and I don't do drugs.  I work 12 hour days every day," he replied.  I can only imagine that working himself to the bone was his attempt to avoid those harsh memories of what had happened.
Photo Credit

First impressions alone would not have given me any indication that this young man was going through any kind of suffering.  I would suspect that most people you happen upon would not express their true emotions either.  Along with their hats and shoes, they put their best face forward as they walk out the door, but on the inside they are battered and maimed.  I would also suggest that many people keep their sufferings to themselves without having another person they could share them with.  Many who have a desire to be released from the bondage of their afflictions but having no way of escape except to drown them in their vices.

Jesus is the answer that these individuals are in need of and we are the ones who hold this answer within us. 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1-3

Isn't it intriguing that the Lord puts another reference in there about them becoming "trees" of righteousness and the "planting" of the Lord?  May He be glorified!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 6:: Life's Little Interruptions

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this next post and felt that I needed to share the story before talking about the actual step.  This particular story was posted in December of 2010.  There was already a tug in my heart to begin sharing the gospel with others, but having two small children at the time seemed more than I could handle.  Something very powerful happened in my heart after sharing with this young man that really showed me that it is so necessary to share with others.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 5:: The Grocery Store Checker

I wasn't sure I was going to make it!  It was about a quarter till midnight and my Dad was craving some snacks.  He was in the hospital again and losing his appetite, so any opportunity for him to eat was taken with great importance.  "Heading home from the hospital?" the grocery checker asked me.  "No, I'm grabbing these snacks and heading back there.  My Dad has leukemia," I replied to his question.  "I'm so sorry.  I just lost my Grandmother to leukemia a few months ago," he said.  "I'm sorry to hear about your Grandmother, but please don't be sorry for me.  I believe in a good God, and this is all part of His plan," I said assuredly. 

This is how the conversation began.  He told me about his Grandmother.  I told him about how Christ was working in our lives through the illness.  He asked me about my church.  I shared with him how I was raised Catholic and was invited to a church where we were encouraged to read the Bible.  He mentioned that some friends had been sharing with him about what it means to be born again.  Then the transaction ended and I grabbed my groceries.  I was the last customer and the doors had been locked, so he walked me to the doors.  As I exited the store, I felt compelled to ask him if he wanted to ask Christ into his life.  And right there, at the door of a Food For Less grocery store, he asked Jesus Christ to be his personal Lord and Savior.  It was a 12 minute interaction.

Food 4 Less Vallejo Storefront
Photo Credit

Looking back, I can see that this was completely the work of God.  The seeds were planted as others had been sharing with him already.  It was clearly evident that the Lord led my conversation and  I still feel so blessed and privileged that I got to be the one to lead him in that prayer.  I was mutually reassured of the purpose that God had for our family to go through such a difficult time.

For in this the saying is true: "One sows and another reaps."  I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.
John 4:37-38 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Day 4:: Time

One of the biggest struggles that I battle with everyday of my life is time management.  I like to blame it on my Mexican heritage, but there never seems to be enough time for me to get things done or to make it anywhere on time.  The thought of carving out time to share the gospel with another person seems like a complete impossibility.  That is, until I come to the realization that God has complete sovereignty over time and operates outside the limits of a dimension that we are confined to.  The measurement of time, money, physical and emotional strength, are all quite different in our economy than they are in God's economy.

  But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:8-9

When the disciples were concerned about whether or not Jesus had eaten in John 4:31-38, He remarked to them that there was more to life's sustenance than just meeting the needs of physical thirst and hunger.  He had just received a drink of water from the Samaritan woman at the well, but He took the time to speak with her about salvation while He met His own physical need.  He exhorts His disciples to follow along in this pattern of sharing the gospel as they go along in their daily routines.  In the same way, we can take those little moments to share with those we encounter.  We simply need to look up and see that they are there, take the time to speak, and believe that He will multiply the time. 

Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields for they are already white for harvest!
John 4:35

 Photo Credit

Many possibilities broaden when you realize that sharing the gospel is possible in very ordinary circumstances and with very limited time.  Some of the most divine of appointments were not a result of a date set with another individual, but in a grocery store aisle, a call from a telemarketer, in line at the DMV, pushing my kids on a swing...diminutive, miniscule moments in time seemingly extending into sufficiency as the conversation of eternity ensues.