7 Reasons America Has Not Been Reached for Christ By Greg Stier , Christian Post Guest Columnist

There are over 300,000 Protestant churches in America. Virtually  every city in the United States has an abundance of Bible-believing faith  communities. Millions upon millions of Christians attend these churches and,  yet, this country is not reached for Christ yet. Why? Here are seven  reasons:

1. We have outsourced the work of evangelism.

We have delegated, relegated and abdicated our outreach efforts to those who  have the “gift” of evangelism. We wait for the next festival or outreach to come  to town before we even think about this God-given duty. After all evangelism is  the domain of the greats like Graham, Palau and Laurie, not common people like  Larry, Curly and Joe Schmo. Right? Wrong!

Instead of “leaving it to the professionals” we need to take THE Cause of  Christ personally. Let’s stop waiting for the big wigs of evangelism to roll  into town and start going ourselves to make disciples of our own next door  neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.

2. We have lost our sense of urgency.

Take hell out of the equation and evangelism seems like a nice, but not  necessary, activity. Put hell back in and suddenly everything changes. Suddenly  souls are at stake and time is a wastin’. We start to reach out like there is no  tomorrow…because there may not be for those who don’t know Jesus.

And simmer down my dear Reformed friends. It was the great reformer himself  (aka “The Apostle Paul“) who asked “how will they hear without a preacher?”  right in the middle of his longest explanation of the doctrine of election  (Romans 9-11.) It is possible to believe in election and to be motivated to  “snatch others from the fire and save them” (Jude 23.) It happens when we stop  trying to connect dots that were never meant to be connected. It happens when we  stop trying to reconcile God’s sovereignty and our responsibility. It happens  when we choose to live in the tension and share the gospel like lost souls  depend on it.

3. We are ashamed of the gospel.

I believe that many Christians are secretly ashamed of this catalytic “narrow  minded” message. To tell someone that Jesus is the only way to heaven and that  faith is the only means to Jesus is to say in effect that all other paths lead  to hell. We live in an inclusive culture that values every path so when we proclaim  Jesus to be the only path it can lead to mockery, marginalization and mayhem.  And nobody likes being mocked…so most keep their mouths shut when it comes to  evangelism.

But Jesus himself reminds his disciples in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you  when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against  you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,  for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Instead of being ashamed we need to boldly proclaim the gospel with  gentleness and respect. Let us embrace every sarcastic response to our  evangelistic efforts as a hug from Jesus Himself.

4. Many Christians can’t explain the gospel.

Put a microphone up to the face of most church-going Christians and you’ll  discover that most can’t clearly explain the gospel message in a simple way.  It’s hard to share a message that you can’t explain clearly yourself. Napoleon  had three instructions for his war time messengers, “1. Be clear! 2. Be clear!  3. Be clear!” We need to heed his advice by mastering the message of the gospel  (1 Corinthians 15:3,4) and then clearly articulating it to those we encounter  (Colossians 4:4.)

For a simple way to share the good news go to  http://www.dare2share.org/gospeljourney. Like chords on a guitar, master the basics of  the message and then play the beautiful music  of the gospel with your own style and personality.

5. Church leaders are not leading the way.

Most church leaders I have encountered are not actively leading the way for  evangelism in their faith communities. They may pull off an outreach every now  and again. They may bring in some professionals to exercise their gift of  evangelism in their church services once or twice a year. But most are not  actively leading in evangelism on a personal or public level. Ask your pastor, youth leader or even outreach  pastor to tell you the people they are currently engaged in an evangelistic  conversation with and you may be surprised…and disappointed.

As the old statement goes, “When there is a mist in the pulpit there’s a fog  in the pew.” This is true of both bad exegesis and non-existent evangelism. If  the spiritual teachers in the church aren’t sharing their faith personally then  why would we be shocked if their students are failing at Evangelism 101. As  Jesus said in Matthew 10:24, “No student is above his teacher.”

6. We have forgotten how to pray.

For years I relegated intercessory prayer to little old ladies and crazy  people. Why? Because the intercessors I knew were over eighty years old or  seemed like they needed Ritalin. But God slapped my hand and shut my mouth when  he brought me to my knees four years ago.

The Great Recession taught me how to pray. At first it was for financial  provision for our ministry which had been hit hard by a loss of major donors  after the Stock Market crashed. But then, as God provided financially, He turned  my prayers toward the Mecca of ministry. I started interceding, not just on  behalf of Dare2Share(the ministry I lead), but on behalf of my unreached  neighbors and friends.

When church services spend more time in announcements than intercessory  prayer then you know something is broken. If we want to reach every person in  this nation with the good news of Jesus we need God to act on our behalf. We  need Him to soften harden hearts and open closed doors. We need to pray like we  mean it.

7. Churches don’t mobilize their young people to share the  gospel.

The vast majority of those who come to Christ do so by the age of 18. So why  aren’t more churches inspiring, equipping and unleashing their young people to  engage evangelistically with their peers?

If I were selling a certain product and I knew that a certain demographic was  most likely to buy my product then I would put the majority of my marketing  dollars to get in front of that particular demographic. This is only common  sense.

While we, as Christians, aren’t selling anything (we’re actually giving it  away!) we know that the demographic most likely to believe our message is young  people. But, instead of focusing on training and unleashing Christian teenagers  (who are searching for a cause) to reach non-Christian teenagers (who are more  open to the gospel), we spend the vast majority of our money on buildings,  budgets and Bible studies to minister to adults. This doesn’t make common or  kingdom sense.

At Dare 2 Share we equip teenagers to share the good news. We do it through  large-scale training events, cutting-edge resources and powerful evangelistic  tools. If you’ve never checked us out, check us out. Join us in our quest to  reach every teenager for Christ through a teenager they know. Pray for us.  Support us. Join us.

It’s time we drop our lame excuses and reach this nation for Jesus Christ.  Who’s with me?


Two Faces of the Lottery By Rev. Mark H. Creech , Christian Post Guest Columnist

It was once an activity that was outlawed for decades. Today,  however, it’s officially sanctioned, easily accessible, popular, and has gained  a strong foothold in American culture. Just this past week, a half billion dollar  Powerball jackpot has been the stuff of everyday conversation, with people  talking about what they would do with the money if they won.

The Associated Press reports that the holders of two tickets, which were sold  at a convenience store in a suburb of Phoenix and a gas station in a small  northwestern Missouri town, have won the enormous prize.

Amazing! It all seems to be such a bright, happy, and appealing picture. It’s  like a big beautiful rainbow with a huge lucky pot of gold at the end. But  gambling in any form has two faces and it’s the more sinister side that is  rarely seen.

Lotteries falsely sell people the hope of riches, when the odds against  winning are phenomenally large. In fact, the chances that one will be struck by  lightning are 1 in 700,000. The probabilities someone will die from being mauled  by a mountain lion are 1 in 32,000,000. The odds for winning a mega-million  dollar lottery jackpot, however, are worse – 1 in 135,145,920. [1]

To think that government partners with the gambling enterprise to fleece its  citizens in such a manner is nothing less than unconscionable. It’s especially  reprehensible when one considers that most of the people who purchase lottery  tickets are those who can least afford it.

North Carolina has had a state-operated lottery since 2005 and according to a  recent North Carolina Policy Watch investigation, the lottery has been doing the  best when it comes to per capita sales, where poverty rates are the highest in  the state. In poor counties like Lenoir, enough scratch off and lottery tickets  were sold to account for $423.92 worth for every adult in the county during the  2009-10 fiscal year. Statewide, the report noted that the per capita sales  number was $200.11 for every adult in the state. The analysis revealed that  elevated per capita sales were concentrated in eastern North Carolina and  climbed in counties with high populations living in conditions of poverty,  defined as a family of four making less than $22,000 a year. “Out of the 24 most  impoverished North Carolina counties, all but two have per capita sales that  exceed the $200.11 statewide figure,” the report said. Is it not true that a  culture will be judged by how it treats its weakest members? [2]

Lotteries have morally degraded this nation. Several years ago columnist  Russell Baker gave an apt description of their baneful influence:

“Once you could send your innocent babes, hope of  the future, off to the candy store to buy some chewing wax, a Baby Ruth, the new  Batman comic book and a kazoo, and be sure in the knowledge that good Mrs.  Chesley behind the counter would bust their little knuckles if they tried to buy  a copy of The Racing Forum.

Not anymore. Now good Mrs. Chelsey has turned her  shop into a gambling hell where she greets the traffic with a leer that says,  “Hello sucker,” and has to keep kicking the kids out of her way so the lottery  players can get their bets down.” [3]

God help us.

Still, since the ascent and acceptance of state-operated lotteries, the  simultaneous decline in societal understanding of right and wrong and its  imminent dangers are greater than most realize. Every American should be deeply  concerned about the negative impact lottery gambling diminishes the dignity of  the state, even undermining precious democracy. Taylor Branch, a Pulitzer Prize  winning historian on the Civil Rights movement and biographer of Martin Luther  King, rightly argued:

“State sponsored predatory gambling is  essentially a corruption of democracy because it violates the most basic  premises that make democracy unique: that you can be self-governing, you can be  honest and open about your disagreements as well as your agreements, and that  you trust other people that you are in this together. That’s what a compact of  citizens is. And the first step away from it is to play each other for suckers.  We’re going to trick them into thinking they are going to be rich but they are  really going to be paying my taxes.” [4]

How terrible this nation has sunk.

A responsible government, nor a moral people, plays its most vulnerable  citizens for fools, or renders large segments of its population as exploitable  or expendable. Only a nation with a character deficit would highlight a rigged  bet over the very foundations of honesty, self-discipline, sacrifice, saving,  hard-work, and brotherly love which support it.

Maybe America should see the Powerball for what it really is – a  Powerfall.

Perhaps this nation should recognize that there is much more to the face of a  state lottery than happy winners who claim their fortunes. There is a nefarious  side, where evil hides in the light.


The Power Of Patience

“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . longsuffering.” Galatians 5:22

We’ve all heard the prayer: “Lord, make me more patient—and do it now!”

Why is it that patience evaporates when we are late for a critical engagement and are caught in a traffic jam? Or we rush to the “10 items or less” line at the store, only to find someone in front of us with 16 items!

Being forced to wait ratchets up the stress and shortens our fuse. When that happens, we not only fail to be patient but we undercut the Spirit’s work in our lives.

Patience is not just a virtue, it’s a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)—which means that demonstrations of impatience reveal the sour fruit of our fallen hearts rather than the sweetness of Jesus in our lives. Since God is a patient God, when we abandon patience we miss the opportunity to show our world the glory of God through our lives.

Bursts of impatience only demonstrate that we are more concerned with our own agendas than the needs and struggles of others. So let’s all take a deep breath and turn our focus away from ourselves by patiently loving others instead of ourselves in the midst of stress.

Patience gives us the privilege of sharing the refreshing fruit of God with others.

Our wrath uncurbed will not fulfill God’s perfect plan for us; We must be patient and refuse To fret, to fume, to fuss. —Sper

Be patient. Show your world what God is really like.


The Law of Opposition

To him who overcomes . . . —Revelation 2:7

Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm. It is a fact that there is a continuing struggle in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual areas of life.

Health is the balance between the physical parts of my body and all the things and forces surrounding me. To maintain good health I must have sufficient internal strength to fight off the things that are external. Everything outside my physical life is designed to cause my death. The very elements that sustain me while I am alive work to decay and disintegrate my body once it is dead. If I have enough inner strength to fight, I help to produce the balance needed for health. The same is true of the mental life. If I want to maintain a strong and active mental life, I have to fight. This struggle produces the mental balance called thought.

Morally it is the same. Anything that does not strengthen me morally is the enemy of virtue within me. Whether I overcome, thereby producing virtue, depends on the level of moral excellence in my life. But we must fight to be moral. Morality does not happen by accident; moral virtue is acquired.

And spiritually it is also the same. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation . . .” (John 16:33). This means that anything which is not spiritual leads to my downfall. Jesus went on to say, “. . . but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” I must learn to fight against and overcome the things that come against me, and in that way produce the balance of holiness. Then it becomes a delight to meet opposition.

Holiness is the balance between my nature and the law of God as expressed in Jesus Christ.


All is Well

So he said to him, ‘Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.’ Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.”—Genesis 37:14

The Torah portion for this week, Vayeshev, is from Genesis 37:1—40:23 and Amos 2:6–3:8.

By the time the relationship between Joseph and his brothers had all but deteriorated completely, Jacob was desperate to preserve his family. He sent Joseph on a peace mission to his brothers, just to check on them and make sure all was well. “Go and see if all is well with your brothers . . .”

The Sages teach that there was a piece of advice in Jacob’s directive as well. They present an alternative reading of the verse: “Go and see what is well with your brothers . . .” In other words, enough with seeing what is wrong with them – go find out what is right with them! Find their good points and focus on them, instead of pointing out all of the places where they need improvement.

In the 16th century, Michelangelo created one of the most spectacular pieces of art that the world has ever seen. Michelangelo’s David is a 17-foot, intricately carved statue of the famous king of Israel. But what’s really interesting about that monumental piece of art is the fact it was made from a slab of marble all other artists of the time had rejected. Many abnormalities in the piece of stone persuaded many talented sculptors that beauty could not be created from such an imperfect piece of marble.

But Michelangelo inspected it and saw the true potential within that stone. Michelangelo once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo wasn’t just great at creating art – he was also a master of finding it. He knew how to see the good and the beauty in everything.

And that’s just what Jacob wanted his precious child Joseph to learn. He wanted him to find the beauty in his brothers. To see good in them. To discover God in them. Even if they had some imperfections. Unfortunately, this parental lesson came a little too late for Joseph. The damage was already done, and the brothers had already sealed his fate. But it’s not too late for us. We can take Jacob’s advice and salvage many relationships on shaky ground.

What do we see when we look at other people? Do we see their imperfections? Do we see them like Michelangelo’s colleagues saw that flawed, pitiful marble slab? Or can we look at people through the eyes of a master artist and see what is beautiful about them. While others may see an imperfect and rough human being, we can choose to be the ones who discover the beauty hidden within. And once we see the beauty and goodness hidden in the people around us, they just might see it, too.


The real story of polygamy

The real story of polygamy
Take Action!  Click here to send a message to the sponsors of “Sister Wives.”

Forward this information to your family and friends and ask them to join you in speaking out against the legitimization of polygamy.

Each week the TLC show “Sister Wives” paints a pretty picture of polygamy – a modern day “Brady Bunch.”  Each episode strives to normalize this sickening lifestyle and succeeds in doing so in the case of many undiscerning viewers.  Somehow the fact that polygamy is illegal is swept under the proverbial rug.  Instead, TLC gives a one-sided positive depiction of this warped lifestyle, while opposition to polygamy is portrayed as persecution.

Well, as Paul Harvey would say, here’s the rest of the story.  Recently, we received this email from a woman who was raised in a polygamist family.  In this and ongoing communications with her, she sheds light on the truth of polygamy.

She writes:

To those with open minds,

Note that the objective is to decriminalize polygamy, not to legalize it. Polygamists don’t want polygamy to be legal. If it were legal, men would have to accept the legal responsibility for their excessive families. Sure, any woman can file a paternity suit, BUT SHE CAN’T COLLECT if he already has a family that exceeds his capacity to provide or if his assets are held in a business, a ranch or a corporation in a name other than his own.

Polygamy is not a “lifestyle.” it is an indoctrination where in men believe breeding with multiple mates makes them a God, but a disloyal woman should be “destroyed.” It is mind control where in those who don’t condone it, are in danger of losing their children, their salvation, and acceptance of their families and in some cases their lives.  Those of us who were raised with the teachings in Vol. 4 of the Journal of Discourses, know this is an inconvenient truth. Most polygamist families teach from these books today, complete with gender and racial bias as part of God’s plan.

Polygamy is not held together by faith. The glue that binds polygamy is FEAR. This fear is the primary reason women endorse polygamy. The other two reasons are a lack of education or capacity to be responsible or provide for one self and or one’s children.

We polygamist children were taught from birth to sacrifice our body, mind and our rights.

The emotional and intellectual needs of women were considered weaknesses to overcome. Women had to accept polygamy with grace and pretend they liked it or be accused of being unholy and having an evil spirit. Yet none of these men could or would have tolerated what they demanded of women. If the men had to share their mate, they would realize that polygamy is in itself abuse. In polygamy suffering is not required by God but rather by greed. Polygamy is a form of slavery condoned through religion. Decriminalizing it would take human rights into the dark ages.

… Where ever there are discrepancies in human rights, the abuse is always in direct proportion to the distance between the entitled and those not entitled. The extreme dual standard of polygamy creates a spawning ground for abuse.  … abuse should NEVER be decriminalized nor should it be presented in any civilized society as acceptable, normal or a “lifestyle”.


Born in polygamy


This is exactly what TLC’s “Sister Wives” is doing – de-stigmatizing polygamy.  Those in rebellion against God’s innate law – in this case a happy-go-lucky polygamist family and a group of Hollywood elites – don’t want to submit to a moral law.  Instead, they strive to convince others to accept their sin as just a “lifestyle choice.”

And these lies are empowered by the advertisers who support the show.

Repeat advertisers include:  Hershey, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Nook, Comcast, 3M Scotch tape, Geico, Microsoft, and Advil (Wyeth Corp.).

New advertisers include:  Campbell’s soup (V8), Kitchen Aid; Bissell; Hamilton Beach; Nikon; MasterCard; and local advertiser Meijer supermarkets.

Take Action!  Click here to send a message to the corporations de-stigmatizing polygamy with their sponsorship of “Sister Wives.”

Please forward this information to your friends and family and ask them to take action, too!


How Jacob Deceived His Father

Now Isaac prayed to Jehovah for his wife, because she had no children; and Jehovah heard his prayer, and Rebekah became the mother of twin boys. They named one Esau and the other Jacob.

As they grew up, Esau became a skilful hunter, a man who lived out in the fields; but Jacob was a quiet man who stayed about the tents. Isaac loved Esau, for he was fond of game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Once when Jacob was preparing a stew, Esau came in from the fields, and he was very hungry; so he said to Jacob, “Let me swallow some of that red stew, for I am very hungry.” But Jacob said, “Sell me first of all your right as the eldest.” Esau replied, “See, I am nearly dead now! So of what use is this birthright to me?” Jacob said, “First solemnly promise to give it to me.” So Esau solemnly promised and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and stewed lentils, and when he had had something to eat and drink, he got up and went away. In this way Esau gave away his birthright.

When Isaac was so old and so nearly blind that he could not see, he called Esau his oldest son and said to him, “My son.” Esau answered, “Here am I.” Then Isaac said, “See, I am old and do not know how soon I may die. Now, therefore, take your quiver and your bow and go out into the fields and hunt game for me and prepare for me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat and that I may bless you before I die.”

Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went into the fields to hunt game, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I just now heard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me game and prepare for me savory food that I may eat it and bless you before I die.’ Now, my son, do as I tell you: Go to the flock and bring me from there two good kids, and I will make of them savory food for your father, such as he loves. Then take it to him, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “You know that my brother Esau is a hairy man, while I am smooth. Perhaps my father will feel of me; then I shall appear to him as a deceiver, and I shall bring blame upon me and not a blessing.” But his mother said to him, “Upon me be the blame, my son; only obey me and go, bring the kids to me.” So he went and brought them to his mother, and his mother made savory food such as his father loved.

Rebekah also took the fine clothes of her older son Esau, which she had with her in the tent, and put them on her younger son Jacob. Then she put the skins of the kids upon his hands and upon the smooth part of his neck, and she placed the savory food and the bread which she had prepared in his hand, and he went to his father and said, “My father.” Isaac answered, “Here am I; who are you, my son?” Jacob said, “I am Esau your oldest son. I have done as you commanded me. Sit up and eat of my game, that you may bless me.” Isaac said to his son, “How very quickly you have found it, my son.” He answered, “Yes, because Jehovah your God gave me success.”

Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come here, my son, that I may feel of you to find out whether you are really my son Esau or not.” So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, and he felt of him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Are you really my son Esau?” Jacob answered, “I am.” And Isaac did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s. So he blessed him. Then Isaac said, “Bring the food to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate. Jacob also brought him wine, and he drank.

Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near now and kiss me, my son.” As he came near and kissed him, he smelled the smell of his garment, and blessed him.

As soon as Isaac had given Jacob his blessing, and Jacob was about to leave his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also had made savory food and was bringing it to his father. So he said to him, “Father, rise and eat of your son’s game, that you may bless me.” But Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your oldest, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled and said, “Who then is he that has hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate plentifully before you came, and blessed him? Also blessed shall he be!”

When Esau heard the words of his father, he uttered a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father.”

But Isaac said, “Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing.” Esau said, “Is it not because he was named Jacob, which means Supplanter, that he has supplanted me these two times: he took my birthright, and now he has taken my blessing!” Then he said, “Have you kept a blessing for me?” Isaac answered Esau, “See, I have made him your master and I have given to him all his relatives as servants and grain and wine as his food. What then can I do for you, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Is that the only blessing you have, my father?” and Esau began to weep aloud. Then Isaac his father answered him:

“You shall live far from earth’s fertile places,
And away from the dew of heaven.
By your sword you shall live,
And your brother you shall serve.”


When We See Him Face to Face

“I do not count the sufferings of our present life worthy of mention when compared with the glory that is to be revealed and bestowed upon us” (Rom. 8:18, 20th Century Trans.).

A remarkable incident occurred recently at a wedding in England. A young man of large wealth and high social position, who had been blinded by an accident when he was ten years old, and who won University honors in spite of his blindness, had won a beautiful bride, though he had never looked upon her face. A little while before his marriage, he submitted to a course of treatment by experts, and the climax came on the day of his wedding.

The day came, and the presents, and guests. There were present cabinet ministers and generals arid bishops and learned men and women. The bridegroom, dressed for the wedding, his eyes still shrouded in linen, drove to the church with his father, and the famous oculist met them in the vestry.

The bride, entered the church on the arm of her white-haired father. So moved was she that she could hardly speak. Was her lover at last to see her face that others admired, but which he knew only through his delicate finger tips?

As she neared the altar, while the soft strains of the wedding march floated through the church, her eyes fell on a strange group.

The father stood there with his son. Before the latter was the great oculist in the act of cutting away the last bandage. The bridegroom took a step forward, with the spasmodic uncertainty of one who cannot believe that he is awake. A beam of rose-colored light from a pane in the chancel window fell across his face, but he did not seem to see it.

Did he see anything? Yes! Recovering in an instant his steadiness of mien, and with a dignity and joy never before seen in his face, he went forward to meet his bride. They looked into each other’s eyes, and one would have thought that his eyes would never wander from her face.

“At last!” she said. “At last!” he echoed solemnly, bowing his head. That was a: scene of great dramatic power, and no doubt of great joy, and is but a mere suggestion of what will actually take place in Heaven when the Christian who has been walking through this world of trial and sorrow, shall see Him face to face.       –Selected

“Just a-wearying for you,

Jesus, Lord, beloved and true;

Wishing for you, wondering when

You’ll be coming back again,

Under all I say and do,

Just a-wearying for you.

“Some glad day, all watching past,

You will come for me at last;

Then I’ll see you, hear your voice,

Be with you, with you rejoice;

How the sweet hope thrills me through,

Sets me wearying for you.”