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Speak CHRIST, not COVID

Speak CHRIST, not COVID

 
News agencies are saturated with COVID-19 updates, warnings, and information. This is true, not only news agencies but people in general. Everyone is talking about the chaos, catastrophes, and conspiracy theories surrounding COVID.
 
Sadly, I have noticed that this complete COVID focus is also taking over the mind, attention, and words of Christians as well. So many Christians have joined the COVID conversation and have become just like the world around them: speaking or posting about all things COVID. Christian after Christian has become nothing more than a common, every day, wannabe COVID expert who is more than willing to regurgitate the latest COVID updates.
 
I don’t want to sound too harsh, and I will admit that I have been guilty of being overly distracted by COVID as well. Understandably, we are living in an unusual time, I mean, it has not been common for any of us to deal with a pandemic. It is natural and easy for even the Christian mind to be unhealthily consumed with COVID information. However, as Christians, we must realize that we have news that is far more important that we are to be focused upon and sharing with others: the gospel. We must not forget about the greatest news ever given to humankind for the most significant and most universal problem that all humankind faces. As Paul writes,
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”1
 
This passage is an excellent reminder of the “news” that we have been entrusted with and the need to share it. Jesus Christ the Son of God is the world’s only Savior. As God and man, He alone is the only One that could live and die to pay the infinite price of sin that no person could every pay. Everyone who calls on Jesus for salvation will be saved. Saved from the judgment of God, saved from their sins, saved from the wrath of God, and saved from an eternity in Hell. This is good news! And this is the good news that we should be speaking about regularly, and yes even during, if not more so, during a pandemic.
 
People have been given a stark reminder that they are mortal. People are sick. People are dying. The count of people infected or who have died from the virus is ever before us. Many people who live as though they will never die, are now daily reminded of their mortality. As a Christian, this is your time to shine bright by the way you think and the way that you speak. Look for ways to turn conversations from COVID to CHRIST.
 
Though the entire world seems to be focused on COVID, let us not become unhealthily consumed mentally, or verbally with the virus. We must remind ourselves that Christ is the ultimate cure that every single human being needs. People need hope. People need good news. People need you to tell them about CHRIST!
 
1. Romans 10:13-15

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Prepared to Die?

Prepared to Die?

by Dr. Trey Talley
 
The entire world seems to be talking about the Coronavirus these days and striving to take precautions not to get it. While it is a dangerous virus that brings a death rate of 2-3%, we must remind ourselves that death comes for every single one of us. The death rate of humanity is 100%. 
 
The point is that on occasion, such things as a virus will wake everyone up to the fact that they are susceptible to death. Such an awareness of mortality is shocking to many people who live their lives, striving to avoid the reality of death. However, the virus outbreak has led people to think about death on an hourly or even minute by minute basis these days. 
 
For many, they have chosen to cope with the sudden shock of their mortality by purchasing toilet paper. Quite odd. No one saw this one coming, but many specialists have agreed that with all of the uncertainty, people want a sense of power and control right now and that for whatever reason, some are looking to console themselves with plentiful supplies of toilet paper.  
 
One thing is clear; toilet paper will not protect you from Corona. Toilet paper will not protect you from death. And toilet paper will not protect you from the One that you will meet when you die.
When thoughts of mortality enter your mind, do you think to yourself, “Do I have enough toilet paper?” Or do you think the most critical question, “Am I prepared to die?” For whether it is from a virus, or something else, the fact remains that all humans die, including you.
 
So, what happens when you die? Should you be scared? Are you prepared?
 
The Bible says, that physical death is not the end of you but that you will be immediately judged by God. As the author of Hebrews writes, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”1 In other words, just as inevitable as death is for each one of us, so is the judgment before God that follows death. 
 
That means that every person will be judged by God Himself, and God’s standards are perfect. Has your life been a perfect example of living and obeying God in all of your thoughts, motives, and actions? If you are truthful, the answer is, “No.” So what will this mean for you when you die with your sin? It means that you will not go into non-existence because your body has died, but that you will be judged by God, be found guilty by God, and be punished eternally by God. God is a perfectly righteous Judge who cannot allow any sin, including yours, not to be punished. To do so would make God an unjust judge. 
 
The Bible is clear that upon judgment, each person will be eternally designated to Heaven or Hell. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”2 Many people work hard to prepare for this life. Of the challenges that come their way, including the Coronavirus, are they prepared for what lies after this life? Are they ready to face their Creator?
 
Many people only fear earthly death and the pain that might be inflicted upon them here. Some even live in great fear that they may die, but Jesus says, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” The ultimate preparation must not be for this life, but for eternal life. What about you? Are you prepared to meet God?
 
There is great comfort and peace available for those who trust in Jesus Christ. You see, the very God who created you is also the one who has sent the Savior, Jesus Christ who is both God and man, to live a perfect life in the place of all of those who trust in Him, and to die on the cross and receive the punishment for the sins of all who believe in Him. This means that those who have been saved by God should have no fear of Him or fear of death. Why? Their sins have been removed, cleansed, and forgiven by the Judge Himself. The peace that every Christian should live with is knowing that the God that they will face is the very God who has removed their sin and given them eternal life. This means that they are prepared for death and for what lies after death.
 
When the brother of Martha died, Jesus comforted her by reminding her that death is not the end and that there is comfort even in death for those who know Jesus Christ. He said, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”3 
 
What about you? Do you believe, as Martha did, that Jesus is the Lord, the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world? Do you believe in the One who died and rose from the dead? Do you believe in the One who is the resurrection and the life? Do you believe in the One who can guarantee that you will go directly from this life to everlasting life?
 
Long story short, in these troubling times, when mortality seems to be on our minds more than ever, make sure that you have made the ultimate preparation…to meet God. For those who have, may you find peace during the chaos, knowing that even in death, you do not need to fear, because of where and to Whom you are going. 
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”4 
 
1.  Hebrews 9:27
2. Matthew 25:46
3. John 11:23-27
4. John 14:1-6

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Evangelism, Pecan Creek Church, Denton, Texas

Evangelism, Taking Jesus to the Streets (of Denton)! Part 4: Objections to Evangelism

Evangelism, Pecan Creek Church, Denton, Texas

Evangelism
Taking Jesus to the Streets (of Denton)! — Part 4
Objections to Evangelism

 

Objections are nothing new.

Not a Saturday evening of evangelism has ever gone by that I have not received opposition for sharing the gospel in a public setting. And if you share the gospel very often, you too will have people object and oppose what you are doing. However, this should not surprise us for the Apostles, Christ himself, and many Christians throughout church history have experienced opposition to gospel proclamation.
 
Does opposition to evangelism mean that it should not be done? Of course, not. We must obey God rather than man!
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard (Acts 4: 18-20).

 

Who is objecting?

The World
Those whose sinful hearts love the sinful system of this world hate God and hate those who represent Him. Jesus warned His disciples, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:17). And John the Apostle said “do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). So, it is clear that the world will oppose anyone who preaches Christ. The reason many Christians are unaware of the hatred is often that the world sees no difference in the Christian and themselves. But, begin to speak openly about the gospel, and get ready to experience hatred.

Religious folks
We also know that the most religious people of the time such as the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees opposed Jesus Christ and His Apostles. They put Jesus to death and tried to do the same to those who followed Him. Even though these the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees were extremely tedious in the practice religion, they were greatly opposed to God. Just because someone is religious does not mean that they are right with God. The Sanhedrin, the council of 71 of the top religious men of the day are the very ones who put Christ to death and persecuted the Apostles. This was done in the name of God, yet it was a god of their own making, not the One True God. And of course, such hatred of God and God’s gospel did not stop with the hatred received by the Apostles.

Professing Christians
Christians opposed to evangelism? That’s right… many Christians disagree with street preaching. I, myself, once rejected it. Then I eventually searched the Scriptures and by the grace of God, the Lord changed my heart. So, I completely understand. I also understand that not all open-air/street preaching is the same. I admit that there are certainly bad examples of street preaching just as there are bad examples of pulpit preaching as well. However, I am saying that virtually every single week, I see biblical preachers who proclaim the gospel in a kind, gentle, and respectful manner in the public forum receive hate from those who profess to be Christians.
 

What are the objections of some professing Christians?

Well, here are some of the ones that I hear the most:

Q: Is street preaching even effective?
We cannot base “success” on pragmatism (numbers of converts or any other measurable results). Noah “a preacher of righteousness” found favor in God’s sight. And only seven people out of the entire world were spared from God’s wrath through his tireless efforts. The Old Testament Prophets were rejected and despised despite their faithful dedication to proclaiming the word of God. Neither Jesus’s earthly ministry nor Paul’s ministry to the Jews produced stellar numbers in their lifetimes. So, in light of these examples, results based on numbers should not be our focus. Instead, let us be obedient and faithful to Christ knowing that we can trust His promises.

Q: Have your efforts produced any fruit?
Many times, we have seen people respond positively to the open preaching of the word of God. However, even if we do not see any fruit, it does not matter. Although we may not see an outward response, God still may be doing a regenerative work in their hearts. The Word (the gospel) is the seed and we are to be sowers and waterers of that seed. We trust that through our efforts God will bring the increase in His time (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8, 1 Corinthians 3:6).

Q: Are there not better ways to engage the lost?
What matters is that the gospel is preached and people hear the word of Christ. There are numerous examples of this being accomplished through Open-Air preaching, open reading of the Scriptures and street evangelism throughout the Bible (2 Peter 2:5, 1 Kings 8:54-56, Ezra 10:9-14, Nehemiah 8:1-8, Jeremiah 7:1-3, Jonah 3:1-5, Isaiah 5:29; Amos 5:10, Matthew 3:1-2; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3, Matthew 5-7, Luke 9:5-7, Acts 3:11-26, Acts 8:6-8, Acts 13:44-52, Acts 18:27-28, Acts 17:22-34).

Q: Won’t people be offended?
Yes, and no. The same message which offends some is the same message that saves others. Why would the message of God’s love, mercy, and grace offend anyone? Why would anyone reject His free gifts of forgiveness and eternal life? It’s clear. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18a that, “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing…” Unless God’s Spirit moves in the hearts of unbelievers they will be offended by the gospel, reject the Word of God and consider the message and the messenger to be foolish (1 Corinthians 2:14). They are offended not because the message of the gospel is wrong, but because it is right. So, if it is right why are they offended? Because, “this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).

Conclusion
If no one ever taught you, let me be the first to warn you that opposition to the proclamation of the gospel is sure to come. And such hostility is to be expected from those who openly reject Christianity and religious zealots alike. However, such hatred did not stop the mouth of Jesus Christ or the Apostles from the public proclamation of the gospel, and neither should the hatred we encounter stop us. The gospel must be believed in for salvation, but how can people believe it unless they hear it, and how can they hear it unless Christians like you and me are willing to tell them.
 
~Jeff Patton

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Gospel Street Preaching Denton Church Pecan Creek

Evangelism Taking Jesus to the Streets (of Denton)! Part 3, Street Preaching Examples

Gospel Street Preaching Denton Church Pecan Creek

Evangelism
Taking Jesus to the Streets (of Denton)! Part 3
Street Preaching Examples

Virtually every Saturday evening you can find me and others on the Denton Square openly proclaiming the gospel. Without fail, every week we have people come up to us who are shocked that we are in the public square speaking about Jesus. Sadly, this astonishment is not just from those professing to be atheists and agnostics, but even Christians. As we engage in conversation with any and all naysayers, it seems that they all have the same argument, “You should be doing this in a church, not out here for the general public to hear.”

Hmm. Are they right? Are we right? Should evangelism be reserved only for buildings with the word “Church” on them? Well, even though “open-air” or “street preaching” has become rare, it is nothing new. In fact, it has been around for thousands of years.

We see many examples of it in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures. It has been prevalent throughout church history, and it is through the open-air proclamation of the gospel that great awakenings and revivals have occurred.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, here are some excellent examples of street preaching in both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures.

Examples from the Old Testament

  • Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” referring to his call for people to repent before the flood of Genesis (2 Peter 2:5).
  • Solomon “with a loud voice” addressed the entire nation of Israel (1 Kings 8:54-56).
  • In the “open square” Ezra called the people of Israel to repentance (Ezra 10:9-14).
  • While standing before the people of Israel, Ezra openly read and explained the law of God (Nehemiah 8:1-8).
  • Jeremiah stood at the gate of the Lord’s House and “proclaimed” the words of God (Jeremiah 7:1-3).
  • Jonah openly preached repentance to the Ninevites (Jonah 3:1-5).
  • The Old Testament prophets heralded the word of God at the city gates (Isaiah 5:29; Amos 5:10).

Examples from the New Testament

  • John the Baptist was the first street preacher to herald the good news in the open-air (Matt. 3:1-2; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3).
  • Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount in the open-air (Matt. 5-7).
  • Jesus’s disciples went about preaching on the streets in many villages (Luke 9:5-7).
  • Peter preached to all the Jews who were gathered in Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40).
  • After healing the lame beggar, Peter preached in the open-air at Solomon’s Portico (Acts 3:11-26).
  • Philip openly preached the gospel to large crowds in the city of Samaria (Acts 8:6-8).
  • Peter and John preached the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans on their way back to Jerusalem (Acts 8:25)
  • Paul openly preached the gospel to the entire city of Antioch (Acts 13:44-52).
  • Paul stood atop Mars Hill and preached to the men of Athens in the open-air (Acts 17:22-34).
  • Apollos publicly proclaimed Christ Jesus and boldly refuted the Jews in Achaia (Acts 18:27-28).

Examples in Church history

Many revivals and spiritual awakenings throughout church history were spurred on by street preaching. Some more well-known open-air preachers, since the Reformation, were John Bunyan, John Knox (founder of the Presbyterian Church), John Wesley, George Whitefield, and Charles Spurgeon. Other famous ministers such as A. W. Tozer and Billy Sunday were also brought to Christ by the means of street preaching.
 
Spurgeon not only engaged in street preaching but aggressively defended it, as you can see from his following statements:

“It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of doors, or in unusual places.”

“No sort of defense is needed for preaching out of doors, but it would need very potent arguments to prove that a man had done his duty who has never preached beyond the walls of his meeting-house. A defense is required for services within buildings than for worship outside of them.”

In summary, although preaching in the open air has become quite rare, it is thoroughly biblical and Christian. It is a means by which God calls lost sinners to Himself and a vehicle that has produced spiritual awakenings and revivals throughout history at many times and in many places. What about you, have you ever thought about street preaching on your city streets? Why, or why not? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at findoutmore@thechurchatpecancreek.com.
 
~Jeff Patton

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