My Apologies

May 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I apologize to all of you who read this blog consistently. I have been really busy lately and have been posting only sporadically. I hope to get back on schedule real soon and have more things for us to discuss. Thanks for your time, patience, and understanding!

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Design of the Week – Crossover Blog – Flyball Start Dog

May 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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Alright, I’ll admit it. I know absolutely nothing about flyball. But I know someone that does, and they have the designs to prove it! Flyball is a sport for dogs where a team of four dogs race another team to finish their task in the shortest amount of time. What is their task? Each dog on the team must jump four hurdles, catch a tennis ball launched to them from a ball box, and then go back through the hurdles. The race is run relay style where the next dog cannot start until the first dog crosses the start/finish line. It’s really cool to watch.

Regardless of whether you know anything about flyball or not(like the fact that’s it’s been around for decades!), you’ll love the designs at Weasel Puppy’s shop, including the Flyball Start Dog design.

This blog post is a part of a crossover blog. Other participants in this crossover blog are:

 

https://ateasetees.wordpress.com/

http://www.blogbydonna.com/

http://cafeshoppe.com/TeeHee

http://www.nanwrightart.com

http://randomshirts.blogspot.com/

http://skeetzteez.blogspot.com/

http://www.shopkeeperdesigns.com

http://autismshowucare.blogspot.com

http://www.gocamelphotos.blogspot.com/

http://beflip.blogspot.com/

http://tshirtholiday.blogspot.com/

What does it cost to preach the gospel?

May 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Christianity | 12 Comments
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This is something that I’ve gotten to thinking about lately and I’ve come up with an answer.
There are many, many churches in America today. Many of these churches are small churches with small congregations. They have small budgets and few people. Others are so-called “megachurches” with budgets in the millions and thousands of attendees each weekend. Many people would probably say that the cost to preach the gospel would differ between the small church and the “megachurch”. They would say that the larger budget would allow the “megachurch” to do more and make more opportunities to preach the gospel. They would point to the huge attendance and number of potential workers as the most opportune for preaching the gospel.
It’s this line of thinking that I’ve been wrestling with for the past couple days because it doesn’t ring true to me. The more I think about it, the more I feel that it’s this line of thinking that has caused the church to drift far from where it is supposed to be (and needs to be). The idea that every church needs a bigger budget so they can preach the gospel to more people seems like it’s a no-brainer, but is this really true? After looking at it for a couple days I’m beginning to think that it’s diametrically opposed to what the scriptures say is the duty of believers. Watching church after church adopt this line of thinking (and being a part of a couple) has brought some interesting things to light.
Most church boards of pastors (or whatever the governing body of your church is called) continue to look for more money. I’ve heard many people say that “it costs money to preach the gospel”. While I don’t doubt that it does cost some money, I have to wonder if it really costs as much as the pastors are looking for. The reasons given for getting a lot of money are always the same. They want to “reach the lost” and “spread the gospel”. They often include side projects like bigger church buildings (for all of the people that will be streaming to the church), plays, concerts, rallies, VBS, and other “outreach programs”. There are a few things about this that raise flags in my mind. One, much of what churches today spend money on amounts to nothing more than entertainment thinly veiled as “outreach”. There seems to be a pervading thought that if churches can lure people into their sphere of influence with the promise of being entertained and then give them a quick five minute speech on Jesus and how He’ll make their life better if they “accept Him into their heart”, they are doing “outreach”. After this, they continue on with the entertainment and are ecstatic because they’ve “evangelized” those in the audience.
Case in point: A local church puts on an Easter egg hunt every year. They advertize with banners and newspaper ads. For months before the event, the congregation collects plastic eggs to fill with candy. For each of the past three years, they’ve gotten over 10,000 eggs, which they use as a point of attraction (even though it kind of kills the “hunt” part…). They get food and drinks, prizes (including a couple Sony PSPs and a couple Nintendo Wiis) and usually have a band or two to play music. Right before the “hunt”, they present a short skit/drama/sign art/puppet show about Jesus to present the gospel. Then, the kids go hunting for eggs in hopes of finding one of the golden eggs and getting a prize.
This is a common occurrence across America, but is it necessary? Is it effective? I know that people can have an emotional reaction to the gospel and get “saved” but are they soundly saved? Do they understand what’s happened? Could this money be spent more effectively? Is this what Jesus had in mind when He told His disciples to “Go!”? Is it worth the time, effort, and money for churches to look like the world in hopes of luring “unsuspecting” heathens to the “truth”? I put truth in quotes because I can’t help but wonder if churches that spend their time entertaining really understand the gospel. Should we be doing all we can to build a façade of “fun, entertaining, outrageous times” that will be shattered if those coming ever actually get saved?
Let’s take my example above. Just using the cost of the four game systems, I get about $620. With this money, is it possible to do something better suited to what we’ve been COMMANDED to do? For instance, I know that I can get gospel tracts in packs of 100 (from here) for about $6.00 a piece. If I buy 3 packs, that’s a total of $18. If I add shipping, we’re at about $23. Then, if I gather some like-minded people (people who know the gospel, want to obey God and see people get saved from His wrath), let’s say 6, we could each get 50 tracts. Then we could to a crowded place and walk around handing out tracts and witnessing to people. We could share the gospel with them on the spot and know that they heard it. If we spend $20 in gas and $50 for lunch, we are at $93 for the entire day for 6 people witnessing to multitudes. This is a little over 10% of what I started with.

All of this led me to think about something else. A couple of years
ago, in Nashville, there was a “major event” called The Call. Christians
from all over America gathered in Titan’s Stadium to “make their voices
heard” for the unborn who are murdered through abortion. Many of those
who attended had been fasting and praying for weeks before the event.
Estimates ranged from 50-70,000 people being there for 12 hours on
Saturday. It was also televised on cable TV. There were Christian
celebrities (an oxymoron?) singing and playing music, fiery speeches,
and times of “prayer”. The event cost around $1 million to put on (not
to mention all of the pre-Call rallies and other things that took
place). Was it effective? Was Nashville changed? Did abortion stop or
even slow down because of The Call? Did it have any impact at all? I
don’t know what impact it had, but I know that thousands of babies PER
DAY
are still being killed in the name of choice.

So, let’s play “what if” again. What if those 50,000 people got together
in Nashville and decided to go witness to people about the truth of the
gospel and tell them about the judgment to come? What if each person got
a pack of gospel tracts and teamed up with others to canvas the city? If
the estimates were correct, the cost for the tracts would have been
between $300 – $420,000. If those people then canvassed Nashville for
even six hours witnessing and preaching the true gospel to people, what
would have happened? Would it have had more impact than The Call? I know
it would. Why? Because it is the gospel that is the power of God for
salvation. Salvation would bring about a change of heart and that would
reduce abortion tremendously more. Not only that, it would impact those
lives and communities in other ways as well. All of this would have been
done at less than half the cost. People would have seen the love of
Christ because Christians were coming to THEM to tell them the good
news. The hearts of countless sinners would have been pierced by the
gospel and they would have at least been given the opportunity to
receive the gift of salvation. I can’t say that this didn’t happen at
The Call, but I don’t remember anything being said about salvation at
all…

The second flag that was raised was one the fact that if a church
decides to drift to the “fun and entertaining” method of living, they
will need funds. They will need new and better ways to bring money into
the church to keep things “fresh and relevant”. In other words, the
church will spend enormous amounts of time and effort chasing money.
They will “reach out” to people because they need people to come into
the church to finance their efforts(this has actually been said recently – at least they’re honest…). They teach this mentality to their
congregations instead of sharing the true gospel. The non-Christians who
can suffer through it will most likely have some kind of emotional
experience and get “saved”, all while being inoculated against the
truth. They will become a stat or number or notch on the church’s belt
instead of a disciple.

Having said all this, it must be made clear that there is a cost for
preaching the gospel. If you preach the truth found in Scripture, the
Lord Himself told us what to expect:

This means that you will lose friends and family. You will be mocked,
laughed at, and insulted. Many “CHRISTIANS” will attack you for being
intolerant and judgmental. If you pastor a church and preach the truth,
it most likely won’t be a megachurch. That doesn’t mean that it’s not
possible, just not likely. To be honest, I wonder if you can preach the
truth and have a huge church? There may be one or two in the entire
nation where this is happening. If you’re preaching hell, sin, and
judgment straight from the Word of God, should you expect a big church?
Should you expect that people (including “Christians”) will like it?
Knowing what it says and going on my brief experience witnessing to
people, I can tell you they won’t like it.

The cost of preaching the true gospel is loss of “friends”, “family”,
image, and popularity. But, you’ll have the peace of knowing that you
are telling people the truth and helping to warn them of what’s to come.
You will know that you are obedient to God, irregardless of everything
else. This is worth any price – even death. Are you willing to pay
it?…

What are the kids saying?

May 4, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I spent some time this weekend in the rain with a few youth in my town. We talked about Christianity and spiritual things and some of the questions and comments were interesting. The conversation started a little awkward, but what should I have expected when a 33 year old man walks up to five teens? One of the boys was cynical and asked a few questions that were an indication that he had thought about these things for awhile.He claimed that he wasn’t a Christian, even though he went to church. He admitted to being an agnostic, someone who isn’t sure whether or not God exists.

I started by telling them the truth of the gospel. I have found that whether or not someone claims to be a Christian, it is important to witness to them anyway. I couldn’t let the chance go to make sure they heard it at least once.

After I shared the gospel, I began talking to the agnostic young man. He had some common questions that many seem to ask. He told me about how he would ask “Christian” after “Christian” these same questions and no one could answer them. He said that he felt that many Christians were fake and were just doing it for image reasons. I told him that I agree with him. Sadly, even though we are told (in 1 Peter 3:15) that we are to be ready at all times to give an answer for what we believe, many don’t. Below are the questions that he asked me. I would ask that you read the questions carefully and decide how you would answer them. If you don’t have an answer, then you need to find one. I’ve heard these questions over and over from people and without an answer, we just look foolish.

The first question he asked was: “Who made God?” This is a common question and the confusion around it comes from a misunderstanding that has evolutionary roots. To ask this question means that you are assuming that there has to be a maker for everything. Before you call to have me committed, please listen to me. There is nothing that says that God has to be made, unless you hold to evolutionary views. These views tell you that everything comes from something else and that it all comes about through natural causes. The Bible makes it clear that God has existed eternally. He was already there in the beginning. He is the cause of everything else.

The second question that he asked me is also very common although it’s usually asked the same way the young man asked it. He asked me, “How can God be so loving and great when I look at a little baby with brain cancer or see horrible things happen. How could a good God allow this?” As I said, this is a common question. Many people ask this question in derision to God. This question has its source in a misunderstanding of a few things. First, it is a misunderstanding of who God is and what His character is like. God is holy, perfect, and righteous. This means that everything He does is right, whether or not we like it or understand it. The second thing that this question ignores is the effect of sin on man and the rest of the world. When Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the fruit that they weren’t supposed to, they broke God’s law (His command not to eat) and sinned. This sin brought death into the world. The origin of death, cancer, and all of the other ills is not God, but man. It was Adam and Eve who brought these things into our world. God allows this as a judgment on sin because it is His decision to do this. Before anyone thinks that this is unfair to innocent people, let me share something with you. There aren’t any innocent people in the world. The Bible says that we are conceived in sin and iniquity and that no one is righteous. We should be praising God for His grace in not wiping us off the planet…

The young man then told me that he went to a church in a nearby town for almost a year. He said that he idolized the pastor of that church. He looked up to him and saw him as an example. Then, not long before they left, the boy found out that the pastor had been sleeping with one of the girls in the youth group… I could see the outrage and disappointment in his eyes and I’m sure that he could see the same emotions in mine. This aggrevates me. First, it makes it so much easier for someone to mock the Lord and His bride.  Second, it makes it so much harder for someone who sees these things to both understand and submit to Christ. They see “Christians” who constantly fail and decide that the God they serve isn’t really powerful enough to do much of anything.

There was one thing that caught me off guard. At the end of the encounter, I ended up giving the young man a gospel tract. It was a million dollar bill tract from Living Waters. He looked at me and asked me why I was doing this and who I was doing this for. I told him the truth. I wasn’t doing it for any church. I told him my concern was that he and his friends would not go to hell. This shocked him. He asked me again if I had come out on my own. I said yes again. I pray that he and his friends heard the message of the gospel and that it still echoes with them today.
This is where a majority of our kids are at today, Christians. These are the types of things that they are thinking about. If you and I don’t have the answers, they will turn their back on the church and we will lose them. Will you let them down? Will you continue to make the church and the character of the Lord a parody of the truth? Or, will you take the time to learn the truth and then share it with everyone you can? It is what our kids need, what our nation needs, and what the world needs…


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