Evangelism in these Troubled Times

I was listening recently to a Prophecy in the News program with Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. In the episode, Cahn was stating how though there has been a “falling away” in the church, many Jewish millennials are turning to Christ in belief that He is their Messiah. This is heartening, and reflected in the November 1, 2017 Times of Israel article entitled “Jews for Jesus poll: 1/5 of Jewish millennials believe Christ was God.” There is an opening to the gospel amongst young Jewish people around the world which has previously not been seen for two thousand years. Indeed, as chronicled by Joel Rosenberg and Nabeel Qureshi, Muslims are meeting Jesus in visions and through Christians sharing their faith, and turning to faith in Christ at astounding rates, too. In much the same way that the Chinese church has had to go “underground” and secretive, so are Muslims having to be covert about their faith in regimes such as Iran. These Muslims are realizing that ISIS is not the way, and that Jesus’ message is the only way to true salvation.

I would ask you: search your hearts and pray for disciples from all people groups to come to saving faith in Christ. If you live in Canada, you have to look no further than your front porch to see the diversity of the world. As a native from Toronto, I know first-hand that the nations have come to Canada. We are a very diverse country—and this is our strength.

Last week I posted this on Facebook:

Imagine that you were drowning, and someone offered to throw you a PFD. Would you not accept that offer and cling to the PFD, since your life depended on it? Well that PFD is representative of our Lord Jesus, and the salvation that is found in Him alone… which he extends to each one of us.

Could that be true in Canada? Could we employ innovative models like the Gideons’ GRID model to tell others about Jesus in our circle of influence? Sure, no technique is the whole answer, but if we all felt a pressing need to save the lost, wouldn’t this motivate us to care more about the eternal destinies of those around us?

The Danger of Replacement Theology

This year marks 500 years since the Protestant Reformation. Thank the Lord for Martin Luther and the Reformers! We are indeed thankful for their tenacity in getting “back to the basics” of Biblical Christianity.

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Yet, there is one glaring area that many Reformers got wrong. What, you may ask? The rebirth of the Jewish state. How miraculous! As I elucidate in my book coming out next year, it is simply wrong to think that the Church has replaced God’s role for the nation of Israel. Nevertheless, there have always been the faithful few who truly believed God’s prophetic promises, found in the Old Testament, to gather again the Jewish people to “the land,” as happened in 1948.

God, in His sovereignty, has specifically chosen Israel as a people group for Himself, and evangelical Christians should be the closest ally to the Jewish people, both in the diaspora, as well as the nation-state. This means sharing the Gospel with them, as well as all peoples; “fishing” for men and women to become fully-devoted followers of Yeshua, our Jewish Messiah.

In conclusion, a strong Jewish state allows for a more stable, less volatile Middle East, with less violence being exported to the rest of the world. Let us pray to this end … for many in that region to come to Christ and for the “peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6).

Belated Remembrance Day Post

I haven’t really had the opportunity to sit and reflect about Remembrance Day this past year since I was busy recuperating from being sick and enjoying a wonderful camp… but I wanted to craft this post, even though it is a little belated.

I am so very thankful for those who have chosen to put themselves in harm’s way for the freedom that I enjoy today. Both of my grandfathers dutifully served in World War II, one in the Royal Canadian Signals Corps, and the other in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Many of my peers do not have relatives who have served in the armed forces. Yet, there are so many Canadians alive today who have served in Afghanistan, and Americans who have served in Iraq. In addition, Canada had significant involvement in the Vietnam War and a disproportionate influence in the First World War, especially at Vimy Ridge, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

Our Christian faith and walk operate on a similar principle. We were bought at a high price by Jesus; we are commanded thus to honour God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20). In the book of Romans, Paul talks about rendering our body to God as being our “reasonable service” (12:1, KJV).

How Should Evangelicals Respond to Halloween?

As Evangelical Christians, we are forced to confront the pull and push of our culture.

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Halloween is a holiday much celebrated by the culture at large. A lot of candy is sold on this date, after all! Like Christmastime, retailers rejoice in the sales that are made in preparation for this day. Many people expend much energy decorating & getting ready for this day (or evening). How are Christians supposed to respond, then?

Well, first of all, let me acknowledge that I think this holiday has grown in importance in secular society. From informally speaking with a colleague, October 31st has become so much more significant in the culture at large in the last 25 years, even. Nevertheless, I have fond memories of school parties and times when I have trick-or-treated. I remember as a young boy going out as a fireman, alongside my father, who was also a fireman. I also remember another year when I was a little older when I went out as a “headless horseman” and tripped down the front stairs of my front porch!

As Christians, I think we can reach out to our community in big ways. I am not against dressing up. The costumes are okay in my estimation, as long as they are not too evil. (Even if they are, though, our Lord Jesus has already overcome Satan and every demonic force by rising from the grave two millennia ago.) The point is to not give too much attention to evil. My church growing up in Toronto used to have an “All Saints Party” on Halloween, a fantastic alternative that was quite popular.

The name All Hallows Eve, which Halloween derives its name from is a Christian expression. We hallow the name of our Saviour. Let’s not forget how Jesus has conquered and extend candies to neighbourhood children in His name! Let’s share His love with others and the grace that has been so lavishly poured out to us…

The Importance of the Local Church

The local expression of the body of church is vital to its overall thriving and health.

Unlike during the period of the Holy Roman Empire, when the church had become institutionalized, the church needs to stay connected at a grassroots level to the communities in which it finds itself, so that it can stand out, like a beacon of hope in a dark world. There has been much talk in recent years about the multiplication of disciples. In order for the church to achieve this, believers need to surrender Lordship of their lives over to Jesus, and actively seek to do His will by meaningfully engaging their neighbours, colleagues and coworkers.

I went to an evening worship session at the beginning of the fall. The leader who was heading up the evening was sharing how the church has a diminishing societal influence in one sense today, but that though people may not be “listening” to Christians, followers of Christ are being watched as never before. Put differently, though we may not be aware, the people around us are paying closer attention to how our actions line up with our words.

In sum, engaging the society around us for the sake of the Gospel is never an easy task. In point of fact, it is impossible without coming in agreement with and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in so doing. I look forward to the Gideons Evangelism Conference in a couple weekends and hearing the perspectives that will be shared concerning sharing our faith with others. Let us pray for a harvest of Christians greater than in the book of Acts! Lord, cause us for your name’s sake to join you in the great endeavour of effectively fishing for men and women…

Why I like Scouts

As a Cub Scouter, there is so much to like about the Scouting program…

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This program provides youth, from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, with the opportunity to develop vital skills that will hold them in good stead later on in life. From outdoor education to physical fitness and working as a team, Scouts has something for everyone.

Scouts Canada has introduced an interesting new program in recent years; one which puts even more emphasis on being youth-led. This is important. From a young age, it is good to teach our youth to develop initiative. This will help the children, as they grow older, to be concerned citizens who actively participate in their democracy. Along with other changes, the new program has replaced the traditional Cub books with the “Jungle Map”…

In addition, Scouting provides camping opportunities so that youth can explore the natural world. Scouts has an emphasis on survival skills, and lately the focus has been on Leave No Trace. I am fairly supportive of these principles as it ensures that a clean environment will be available for future generations to enjoy.

Finally, the Scouting community is massive. Area and council-level activities are common, and the Brotherhood camping experience encourages idea-swapping between Scouts on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. What’s more, World Jamborees gather youth from all four corners of the globe to peacefully embrace Scouting values.

In conclusion, Scouting is great because it gives youth positive, lasting memories of their youth. It pushes them out of their comfort zones in a safe, welcoming atmosphere that applauds skills development (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Character, Emotional and Spiritual).

Why I like The Gideons

Subsequent to my grandfather passing away almost three and a half years ago, I have decided to join The Gideons International in Canada. My grandpa was a proud Gideon. That was not the reason I joined, but caused me to look personally at the organization and I discovered a solid, Biblical group of people devoted to the spread of God’s Word throughout the world… not just Canada.

Since joining The Gideons, I have heard of at least one other story of someone who was influenced to join because of their grandfather, and I have developed informal mentor-mentee relationships. As The Gideons moves away from traditional areas where it once had a dominant presence (hotels, hospitals, schools), it now has to ensure that its membership is well-versed in how to share their faith with the people around them.

For this reason, during the fall conferences this year, the focus will be on evangelism training. I plan to attend the Eastern Conference in Oshawa, and trust this will be a true blessing to fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the Lord and to learn about ways to share our common faith.

Like any organization, raising funds can be a challenge. But I have to congratulate The Gideons – they do a fantastic job; partly, through membership fees, partly through various fundraisers like dessert fundraisers, or simply relying on the donations of Christians who fundamentally believe in the ministry.

Through their “Share Word Global” initiative, The Gideons are sending Bibles to very strategic locations, like the Ukraine, South America and China. The Lord has opened up some incredible doors overseas… What’s more, The Gideons continues to forge wonderful partnerships with organizations that are committed to meeting the needs of folks in developing countries, promoting literacy and education.

What’s more, a new generation of young leaders are rising up to share the Gospel via The Gideons through the SendMe initiative to Millennials right here in Canada… There is lots of excitement afoot as God’s Word and Truth is going out to all Canadians, including our Indigenous population and Northern communities.

Praise God for what He’s doing, and keep praying for workers in in the harvest (Matt. 9:38; Lk. 10:2)!

Book Review: Time Has Come

As I plan on releasing a treatise next October 2018 about preparing for the times in which we live, I came across an interesting book by the famed Jim Bakker, entitled The Time Has Come. For those of you who have seen the Praise the Lord (PTL) network, you would know who he is, along with his former wife, Tammy Faye. Us Millennials are a little too young too have seen this show and understood it, but likely we have heard about the scandal that was really the beginning of several scandals that rocked the Christian world over the next few decades…

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In his 2013 book, Mr. Bakker takes a critical, fresh look at the book of Revelation. I find his approach to by fascinating. As someone who has been in jail for several years, he understands suffering and his views are that Christians are likely going to actually going to live through the Great Tribulation. Evidenced in his new talk show, he has been very much a pioneer in the “survivalist” mentality in which he urges people to prepare for what lies ahead.

No one obviously knows with any certainty what the future holds, but Bakker’s view contrasts with many North American scholars who firmly hold that followers of Christ will be raptured (based on the Greek root-word) before Jesus returns again, and will not experience the brunt of the suffering that others supposedly would. Christians who espouse this view point to the verse that states, “He has not appointed us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thess. 5:9).

Anyways, for a thoughtful believer, I recommend picking up this book and examining Bakker’s arguments in light of what the Holy Scripture teaches.

Baby Dedication & Investiture

This last couple of days I experienced an interesting juxtapositioning of events. On Sunday, our church had a baby dedication and yesterday evening as Akela for the Cub Scouts, we had the “investiture” of the new Cubs, a significant ceremony for the youth joining the Scouting program and getting their necessary badges, crests and neckerchiefs.

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I felt the Lord put those two events one after another to teach me that you don’t actually need to be a parent to be like one, or to simply be a positive role model in a child’s life. You don’t even need to go through the hassle of adopting kids!

In today’s society of broken families, fatherless homes and busy schedules, many families are lacking good examples of leadership. As a Scouter, I have sought to lead well. These precious little ones—children of all ages—are the leaders of tomorrow. They deserve to be poured into in an uplifting way by both their parents, and the other adults around them.

I conclude this post with the words of Jesus, “If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). You can also find nearly the identical words as described in two other Gospels: Mark and Luke. I think the message Jesus is trying to get across is that helping raise children—parents or community members—is a big deal and should be treated as such.

The Sandwich Principle

One of the most important lessons they can teach you in school is this: the sandwich principle.

In my mind, there are three spheres that this principle touches on:

Advice-giving

Yes, we’ve all been there (and will have to be there). Like it or not, we all have to give criticism or advice sometimes, even regularly, either as parents or supervisors or leaders. This works best by sandwiching the counsel: start with a positive, include the corrective action, then end with the positive so that the receiver of the information does not feel that they are being attacked personally.

2. Business

In the business world, besides learning that “you’re only as good as your latest project,” you quickly learn the significance of the sandwich principle. You tell your customers how you will meet your need, you actually meet their need and then you remind them how you met their need. This process happens starting with the product development and testing phase to the marketing of the product right through to soliciting customer feedback. The hard part is to find the “point of pain” or need that the customer has that you endeavour to solve as businessperson, musician or artist. You do this, of course, by examining the S.W.O.T. environment – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.

The same concept goes for writing. In an essay or non-fiction format, there’s an introduction, middle (the content) and a conclusion. Even in account with fiction literature, the reader is primed through introduction of the characters, development of the storyline and a conclusion that wraps up the loose ends together.

3. Spiritual

I am going to venture that the same can be applied to sharing the Gospel with folks. First, you tell them the good news of the Gospel, then sandwich in the fact that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (even continually, every day) and then you end off by restating the mind-blowing reality that Christ invites us into a close relationship and communion with Him!