I had my time periods of being extremely anti-name-&-claim and anti-word of faith movement.
I’ll never be popular, or well-liked. I’ll never have a totally easily life without challenges or difficulties. The reason for this is simply because I believe that truth matters. I am convinced that truth matters. I believe that people should hear and be told and know the truth. Because of that, most people will not like me. I will be labeled as judgmental, as a troublemaker, as a party-pooper, as a rain on one’s parade.
But I will not be silent.
Because I am a mouthpiece for God, I expect to be at odds with the world. Because I have no intentions of turning on God, I expect a world bent on silencing me. But in spite of it all, I will cry aloud.
This is because TRUTH MATTERS. It really, really matters.
If truth did not matter, I would not care if my loved ones dated the wrong person. If truth did not matter, I would eat and drink whatever I wanted without any regard for my health. If truth did not matter, I would not waste my time and money enrolling in a Master’s level seminary program to learn how to better tell people the truth that they someday will die and will face the wrath of an omnipotent God with the power to condemn them to eternal punishment.
Unfortunately though I cannot pretend in that way because TRUTH MATTERS.
It matters that you understand that you only get one body in a lifetime. It matters that you do not marry and produce children with the wrong person who will wreck the lives of your offspring. It matters that you obey a God who can destroy both body and soul in eternal fire. I know these weightier things matter because much smaller truths matter.
Does it matter if you and your boss agree on your pay rate? Does the truth matter about whether or not they are paying you $3 an hour or $30 an hour? Does the truth matter whether or not the sign which says “Bridge Out Ahead” is true or not? Does the truth matter of whether or not the person you are about to engage in unprotected sex with has the HIV, Hepatitis, or Herpes virus? Do these things matter? Of course, only because TRUTH MATTERS.
The thing about truth is that IT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. A lie will never happen to you. I can tell you that the Tooth Fairy will fly in through your ceiling and give your daughter a quarter for her tooth. But if will never happen. I can tell you that Santa Claus will descend down your chimney to leave presents in time for Christmas morning. But it will never happen. I can tell you that the Easter Bunny will hop through your backyard to leave dyed, hard-boiled eggs and a pastel, shrink wrap-covered Easter basket full of candy and toys and fake grass. But it will never happen. So because it will never happen, I don’t waste my time talking about it. But what matters is what will happen. The truth will happen to you. The reason for this is that TRUTH COMES FROM THE TOP DOWN. In other words, truth comes from God down to mankind. That is the reason it will happen because God can make it happen.
Contrary to popular belief, truth does not come from the inside out. Neither does it come horizontally from person to person. In other words, a fellow human being cannot create eternal truth and then make it true for you unless it is first true from God. In other words, if God says that you will live to be 100 years old, a person can push you off a bridge at age 30 and you’ll simply come up wet. If God says you will be married at the time of your death, you can rest assured that before you die, you will have been at someone’s altar for a wedding. No human can create a truth that God does not agree with.
Truth is eternal; that is why humans cannot make it. Only God can. God knows the end from the beginning. He knew the death dates of every human that would ever be born before the earth was created. Nothing has caught God by surprise. God wasn’t surprised that you got pregnant at age 16. He wasn’t surprised that you lived a homosexual lifestyle for 10 years before you got married in a heterosexual union. He wasn’t surprised that you got addicted to heroin at age 20 because He knew all the truth and facts before they occurred.
In this post-modern society, we are taught that truth is subjective. We are taught that what may be true for you may not be true for me and vice versa. For example, they will teach you that maybe Christianity is the way you will get into heaven, but it will not be the way Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims will get into heaven. They will teach you that maybe you have to be heterosexual to please God in a relationship, but not them. They CLAIM to believe that truth is not objective. It is not from the top down, but they CLAIM to believe that truth comes from within or from whatever is popular in culture at the time. What was true for the 1700’s may not be truth now. What was true from the 1950’s may not be true now. What was true even yesterday and what will be true tomorrow, will not necessarily be truth today for them. But that is a lie. Truth is truth from the beginning because truth does not change because truth knew from the beginning what would be. Why would truth change its mind? Truth would only change its mind if it didn’t know all the facts. But it does!
Truth is not created day by day. Truth is REVEALED over time. God lets His truths be discovered. Don’t think for a minute that if you get married to your soulmate that you MADE that person your soulmate. What happened was that God KNEW it was your soulmate all along and He LET you find him. He LET you discover that truth. You didn’t make it true; it was true. Barack Obama didn’t just happen to become the first black president. God knew from the beginning that it would be so. He didn’t just luck out and win the vote. God knew. It doesn’t mean God chose him, but it means that God knew the truth about who WE would choose.
As you can see, it’s best to discover truth as soon as possible. It saves a lot of wasted time, money, energy, tears, blood, etc. There is one benefit to denying truth however. It seems to temporarily postpone what one does not want to feel at the moment. For example, if the doctor tells me that I have Stage IV pancreatic cancer with 6 weeks left to live, I will be very hurt by that truth. So I may want to deny it in order to postpone those overwhelming feelings of paralyzing, crippling fear. But regardless of what I lie to myself about at the time, it will not change the truth that will happen to me. The lie that I will live to a ripe old age of 92 will only provide temporary comfort. But even while you tell yourself that lie, you can already rest assured that every few seconds, the truth will be screaming loudly, YOU WILL DIE IN A FEW WEEKS! YOU WILL DIE IN A FEW WEEKS! YOU WILL DIE IN A FEW WEEKS! Now you may not die in exactly six weeks. You may die in four or you may die in 6 months, but you will die. You may not die from complications of the disease in 6 weeks because you could die in a car accident immediately after leaving that doctor’s office or you may die of a self-inflicted fatal gunshot wound in 5 weeks. But do not lie to yourself and say that you will live to be 92 if you still have this disease (not unless God Himself tells you that you will because remember only God knows all the truth). What is fact to the doctors doesn’t necessarily have to be truth to God. The doctor can say your prognosis is 3 months, but if God says, “You’ll live 30 more years,” then God’s truth will ALWAYS trump the doctor’s prognosis. Doctors only talk about what their limited experience and studies have shown them, but they cannot talk about what God has ordained. The doctor can say you’ll die in 6 months, but God can say, “You’ll die tonight.” It will happen as God has said.
Truth can hurt, but lies can destroy. For example, let’s say you really want to marry a particular person. Some people would rather believe the lie that they will live happily ever after, but God knows if that person is going be an abusive, raging alcoholic who will leave you for another man or woman after a few months of marriage. Sure, the lie is more dreamy, but remember that a lie cannot happen to you. But the truth will always happen to you.
I have committed myself to sharing the truth with people. Because of my humanity, my delivery may not always be tactful. But may it never be said that I did not share the truth with people when I knew it. If God gives me discernment to see into your situation, if God gives me a close relationship with you, and if God tells me the bad that will come of it if you do not make some changes, then trust me to tell you the truth.
The dilemma that comes up then is that people question your love from them. Why is it that people equate lying with love? They feel that if you choose not to lie to them about what makes them happy, then you do not love you. For example, I believe that godly marriage should be between one man and one woman. But if a loved one of mine chooses a homosexual relationship, they will more than likely want me to give them my blessings (despite the fact that God does not), and they want this done all in the name of being loving and nonjudgmental. But how loving is it for me to see you headed towards certain destruction and heartache and to turn a blind eye and to offer you a smile as you head there? Love will say STOP! DON’T! RECONSIDER! Love does not always say, DO IT! GO AHEAD! I SUPPORT YOU 100%!
And that is why I will not be popular in this world. I will be seen as the enemy. I will be seen as judgmental. I will be seen as harsh. But at least the eyes of God, I will be seen as His mouthpiece. I will only tell the truth.
As a child, I remember watching” Alive” with my family. This movie is based on a 70’s plane crash survivor story known as “Miracle in the Andes”. Being so young, the only things that stuck out to me were the mountains, the cold temperatures, the plane crash, and the cannibalism the survivors had to do to survive for weeks without food. But there was so much more to the story.
I just finished watching the movie some days ago as a 27 year old, spirit-filled adult. And the movie was so much richer than I’m sure even the director intended. God blessed me to open my eyes to the wonderful insights and rich revelations one could glean from that movie.
The movie starts out with a man sucking on a cigarette saying that he was given a glimpse to another aspect of God. For the longest, he was introduced to the God that lets wonderful things happen to us and our loved ones. The God who protects us from harm and danger. The God who shields us from frightening experiences and events. But he said that for those 71 days they were stranded on that glacier in the Andes, he saw God in a new way. He saw the God that we must all become acquainted with in one way or the other. The God who is more concerned with our character than our comfort.
Let me give you the backdrop. This plane was coming from South Africa headed to a game in Chile with a rugby team and some other passengers. There were forty-three persons on board. The co-pilot warned the chief pilot not to fly in the storm. They were above the storm clouds at first and were just 20 minutes from landing, but the pilot did not listen. Warning comes before destruction. He went below the clouds, and the rest is history.
This rugby team was portrayed as fun-loving, playful young men who were naïve and girl-hungry like most young men today. They were running around tossing things to each other while smiling. They were totally unsuspecting of the horrors they would face in just minutes and for days. Next thing they knew, the right wing of the plane ran into a mountain and was broken off. This resulted also in the tail of the plan coming off taking passengers along with it. A few other passengers on the first half of the plane were sucked off and plunged to their death while seat-belted to their seats by the force and gravity as they were thousands of feet above ground. The passengers who were still on board just waited for the inevitable crash. Fortunately, the first half of the plane did not nose-dive, but rather it slid down a snowy slope that eventually landed on a sturdy glacier. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of their horrors.
The injuries sustained from the crash killed some people immediately and left others in agony longing for death to alleviate their pains. Others died from hypothermia, frost-bite, gangrene, starvation, and despair. And just when they thought it could get no worse, they had to unwillingly resolve to eating the frozen flesh of their friends’ carcasses to survive. But when it rains it pours. An avalanche was unleashed and headed their way. And because the opening of their plane was facing the avalanches direction, they lost more people who suffocated in the snow. One man lost his mind and a few came close to it because of the utter despair of the situation. To make matters worse, they saw two planes fly overhead without seeing them. To make matters worse, they had to cope with the news that the search parties had been called off. Everyone had given up hope for them. All hope seemed to be lost.
Remember the God the man in the beginning of the movie said he met in the Andes? That’s the same God you and I will be forced to meet some day if we haven’t already. This God will be the God who seems to let negative circumstances snowball on you when you LEAST need it. First, the snowstorm. Then the plane crash. Then the loss of friends and family. Then the freezing temperatures. Then the first plane misses you. Then more loss of friends. Then the starvation. Then the more loss of friends. Then the second plane misses you. Then the hopelessness and despair. Then you hear the search party is called off. Then you have to eat the friends you just lost. Then the avalanche hits. Can it get any worse? Why God?
But just know that God is sovereign. You don’t think God knew they were 20 minutes from landing? You don’t think God didn’t know they didn’t have enough food on the plane? You don’t think God didn’t know they were not adequately clothed to endure the freezing temperatures? You don’t think God didn’t know that the avalanche was coming? God was sovereign over every event. He could have prevented any one of the factors of the Andes plane crash had He seen fit. But He allowed it. He allowed 29 people to do horrible deaths. And He allowed 16 people to live. Why just those 16?
Sounds like survival of the fittest to me.
Those 16 people lived to tell the story. They lived to tell people about the God they met in the Andes. They lived to tell people that it was possible to live 71 torturous days in freezing temperatures without food or hope. And who knows how much longer they could have lived out there.
I believe that the God of the Andes lets us endure similar situations for the same reasons. He puts us through difficult circumstances because we are proof of survival of the fittest. We prove to others that it is possible to go through a sucky ordeal for a long time and yet still be a survivor. You might not have had been through something as traumatic, but you’ve been through your own private hell. You’ve gone to hell and back. Why didn’t God just leave you there? Because He needed your testimony. Rather, He knew of some people who needed it.
But He also wanted you to learn something about yourself. Doubtless, NONE of these 16 men thought they could survive a plane crash, let alone freezing, let alone starving, let alone an avalanche, let alone for 71 days! God knows what you can bear. He knows just how much you can bear. Who knows? These men might could have survived for 100 days in the plane wreckage. But 71 days sufficed. As for these 16 men, I bet there is NOTHING these men think they can’t do, endure, survive, or handle. They must feel invincible with God! I’m sure they are fearless men who have gone on to accomplish much. God will let you go through hell and back just to prove to you against your own doubts that you are stronger in God than you ever gave yourself credit for.
God knows you can handle more than you think you can’t handle. So just when you think God ought to stop with the trials, God knows how much further He can go. You wanted to stop at first grade, but God knows that what He put in you can take you all the way to a doctoral degree. He’s more concerned with your character than your comfort. He’s more concerned with you knowing that other side of God than you being content with knowing the Santa Claus version of God who fits into your cookie-cutter mold. You either have gone through, are currently going through, or will go through. But you are strong. You will survive. You can endure more than you think can for LONGER than you think you can. If God puts you to it, He must have known you could do it.
After suffering for about 20 years with a “crippling” anxiety disorder, I can finally see the breaking of day. And I thank God not because I had to go through it, but because it’s over. You see, some people get mad at God for allowing bad things to happen in their lives. They get bitter, resentful, negative, pessimistic, and other related things because their life did not go as they would have planned. But God’s spirit of wisdom has allowed me to understand that some of those most unpleasant, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and embarrassing situations are the ones that process us into who God not only WANTS, but NEEDS us to be in order to do mighty exploits.
If you’re like me, you’ve wondered why some of our favorite bible persons had to go through such inconveniences and struggles. We wonder why Noah had to be embarrassed and ridiculed all those years while he preached while building the ark when God knew the people would never believe him until it was too late. We wonder why Moses had to be stuck with those hardhearted and hardheaded millions of Israelites in the wilderness. We wonder why Joseph had to be born into a family of hating brothers, sold into Egyptian slavery, lied on, and imprisoned. We wonder why Abraham and Sarah had to wait for decades to have a child together only for God to ask Abraham to sacrifice the boy’s life. We wonder why David had to go through years of being hated and hunted by the king he loved and respected. We wonder why so many people had to go through to get to where they were going. We wonder why the space between A and B contained so many struggles and trials. We thought that if you were serving God and bringing about His will and purposes that everything just ought to flow right from A to Z. After all, it doesn’t make sense that someone who has given their life to Christ has to endure weeks of chemotherapy while preaching the gospel. It doesn’t add up that a missionary has a child addicted to crack cocaine. It just doesn’t seem fair that the first lady can’t have children. It doesn’t seem reasonable that while a man is burdened with trying to supply food for a soup kitchen that he struggles with moderate depression and severe anxiety. It just seems that God ought to make life easy for those He “employs” into the ministry.
But for some reason, life just doesn’t work out that way, does it? It seems to me that God doesn’t use a man unless He proves the man. It kind of reminds me of the emotionally disturbed children I used to work with. Some of them had issues with attaching to others because they had been hurt so many times by people in the past. So when you try to love them, they put you through many tests to see if you are worth them opening up to. If you give up too soon (or give up at all for that matter), that serves to them as proof that you weren’t trustworthy in the first place. So they remain shut off to you and see who else will try to get close to them. And they test EVERYONE. They feel as if they can’t afford to be hurt anymore. They feel that they cannot afford to put trust into another untrustworthy person.
And these emotionally disturbed children are somewhat right about something. If you can’t love them through their tests, you likely don’t have what it takes to be trustworthy for the duration of the relationship. Some of the kids I worked with would curse me out, fight me, bite me, stab me, etc., but I would still pray with them, take care of them, and love on them. I realize that trust is a thing that must be earned – especially from persons who have been let down so many times past.
And who has been let down more times than God? Who has given the world a chance only to see most of the world reject His love? While we all know that God is whole and not emotionally disturbed, we know that He has been betrayed and let down by so many people since the very beginning of time. He was let down by Adam, Eve, Cain, David, Samson, Saul, Peter, Judas Iscariot – the list goes on and on. So many Israelites, priests, and kings of Judah and Israel have let God down. So it makes sense that He puts people through hard tests just to see who will persevere in order to show that they really love Him. It’s fairly easy to praise and worship God when all is well. But what about when you’ve just lost a loved one, lost your job/car/home/marriage, have your body racked with pain, experience mental instability, etc.? God does not test our love, reliability, trustworthiness, etc. based on how we feel about Him when life is peachy. But rather, He feels and KNOWS He can trust us when we come into church after finding out our husband is leaving and yet we praise Him. He knows He can trust us when all our money is gone a week before payday and yet we worship Him. The way God sees it is, “Man! If this man is praising me at His lowest point in life, I know He’ll still see fit to praise me when I bless and elevate him!”
So how do you treat God when you’re “going through”? Do you complain like the Israelites in the wilderness? Or do you praise God like Job when he lost everything? God can’t use you until He proves you. God’s time is very limited. He really can’t afford to waste any more time on lost cause Christians. In other words, God can’t waste another dime on a man or woman who marry Him for the “money” and then leave as soon as times get hard. God will only know if you truly love Him when you express your love when combated with test after test after test. The same person who is willing to go through all those tests just to get to God, is the same person who deserves to experience all of the blessings of God!
I’ll be honest, if I had life to do over, I probably would have opted out of the anxiety disorder. But I realize that God used it to prove me so now I’m just waiting on Him to use me.
It was T.D. Jakes who said the controversial statement, “I think that Jesus is the product.” When I first heard this, I was horribly offended. I said, “How DARE he reduce the Savior of the World to a mere marketable product?” But after receiving insight from God about “soul winning” the other day, I can now see that at least in SOME sense, Jakes made some sense.
I learned in middle school that in opening and operating a business, people are either offering a product or a service. College, for example, offers a service of educating people for the price of tuition. Starbucks, for example, sells a product – coffee – for cash. So if Jakes is right about his statement, then Christianity/ministry would be the service provided; and Jesus would be the “product” (for lack of a better term).
In marketing classes, I learned and remembered a thing or two. One thing I learned is about target audiences and advertisements. I learned that your ads and commercials must be tailor-made to appeal to your target audience. For example, if you are selling Gerber baby food, you are likely and mostly targeting caring mothers who have infants. And your commercials will be specifically made to appeal to these mothers. And you will have a marketing team that will spend much time and money making commercials that will grab the attention of and secure the business of these parents by strongly persuading them to buy Gerber food for their baby for as long as the baby will need it. And if you advertise just right, the mother will only buy Gerber food, and she will buy it not just for the baby she has now but for all babies she births in the future. Now that’s what you call “sealing the deal”.
So how can we relate that to Christianity? Well, just think of the churches you see that are publicized on radio and television. They are usually one of many church programs you see on the channel or station. And the pastor or one of his or her spokespersons will say and do specific things to appeal to you. They may say something to the effect of:
- “Not too many churches preach and teach the unadulterated word of God anymore. They compromise to fit in with the rest of the world. Give me that old time religion; it’s good enough for me….”
- “Too many churches are legalistic and judgmental. They give you a list of Do’s and Don’ts to put you in right standing with God. But here, we love and accept everybody – just like Jesus does. Everyone is welcome….”
- “Are you tired of church as usual? Well, this isn’t your grandma’s church! This is the church home of many of this city’s youth who are looking for a fresh perspective and relationship with Jesus. It’s time out for dry, dead services. There are no little u’s (you’s) and Big I’s here….”
And before and after they air their services, they will usually petition you to visit or join their church and/or to send financial donations.
Does that not sound JUST like marketing? You can tell that they each have a target audience in mind that they are petitioning. They are trying to appeal to a specific type of Christian or unbeliever by telling them what they want to hear so that they will come visit, join, and or financially support that church. You can probably guess from my abovementioned examples the type of people the three churches are appealing to. The first church is appealing to a stricter, older crowd. The second church MAY be appealing to backsliders or “lukewarm Saints”. The third church is likely appealing to a young, hip generation. Every church appeals to a target audience.
But when it comes to Christianity on a larger scale – and more specifically – soul winning, what are the best marketing strategies? Here is what I’ve learned about drawing in unbelievers to lead them to salvation. Here’s what I learned of what does and does not work in “Evangelism Marketing”.
1. You can’t present a product or service in only ONE package and then expect it to appeal to everyone or expect for everyone to respond favorably to it.
Jude 1:22-23 – And have mercy on (1) those who doubt; save (2) others by snatching them out of the fire; to (3) others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
From the looks of Jude 1:22-23, there appears to be different types of unbelievers or backsliders. One type are doubters. They just need assurance of the gospel’s validity, security of what Christians are saying, and strengthening of their faith. With these types, we shouldn’t bash them over their head with a bible. We shouldn’t utilize scare tactics to get them to get saved. We shouldn’t scream at them and call them damned heathens. They simply need a lot of questions answered. They have some questions that they need answered and settled. They might have just left another religion or a cult. They may really want to know why they should become Christians as opposed to Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims. So if you apply the wrong “treatment” to their condition, you can have lost them forever.
The second type needs to be snatched quickly off of the wrong path because they are on their way to eternal fire either certainly or soon. The third possible type needs to be showered with mercy, but fearful mercy. And with this type we shouldn’t be lackadaisical about their lost condition, but we are to ABHOR, HATE, DETEST that they have been contaminated by lustful, sinful flesh.
While the gospel should not be altered to cater to everyone’s fancy, wisdom knows that everybody doesn’t like – and therefore won’t always respond to – every presentation. Not everyone responds to hellfire and brimstone messages. Does that mean that preachers should never tell the truth about the harsh and horrorshow realities of hell? Absolutely not. But I do believe that brimstone sermons – at least when overdone – will cause churches and preachers to lose (sometimes permanently) the attention of SOME people.
Some people don’t respond to scare tactics. You have to KNOW your “consumers”. Study them. See what pushes their buttons so to speak. If you come at them in a way that they will respond to, then obviously they will respond. Don’t think for a minute that every unbeliever is an unbeliever because they have not encountered one of your particularly fiery and scary hellfire sermons. Many people who WILL be saved have heard plenty of those types of sermons week after week, year in and year out, and yet they have never responded because that ad did not appeal to them.
Some people are intellectuals. Appeal to their intellect. Explain to them how Jesus is obviously the only way to go. Some people are fearful. Appeal to their fear of death and their anxiety about being uncertain of where they will reside of eternity. Some people have been poor for a long time. Appeal to them by saying that God will provide for all of their needs in one way or another. Some people are lonely, let them know that Jesus will never leave nor forsake them. Some people like to be radical, appeal to their interest in being a “Jesus Freak”. Some people feel they have no purpose in life; appeal to their desire to have a God who gives them a purposeful future. It’s all the GOSPEL – which is another word for “the good news”. It’s all true. But use one aspect over another if that’s what it takes to draw them in.
2. At the risk of sounding facetious, you may have to leave some things in the fine print until later.
Matthew 4:19 – And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Let’s be real talk. Becoming a Christian has its costs. And many converts are just not willing to pay it all up front. For example, if you tell someone that before they get saved they must cut out every sin – even their favorites, they may not come any time soon, if at all. But if you tell them to come as they are, they will come as they are. And after they make the commitment, maybe then would be a better time to tell them that God doesn’t love the fact that they listen to violent rap music or the fact that the women dress with her cleavage overly on display. The bible does say to count the cost before you become a disciple of Christ, so they do need to know that it will be “expensive”. But you don’t have to give them a break down list of everything they must cut out within the next week in order to secure their salvation!
For some people, if you can get them to come down the altar as a public act of their surrender to God and their belief in Jesus as their Savior, that is the most important step. It’ll be easier to convince a Christian to surrender gambling to Christ than it would be to ask an unbeliever to quit gambling. As I was told, you have to CATCH the fish before you can skin it. If they can see the hook, line, and sinker all up front, they may never bite the bait! Jesus told the disciples that He would make them fisher of men. Some men catch fish with nets; others catch fish with bait and hook. You have to bait them in first. And once they bite the bait, you have the hook already in them. Then you skin them.
3. Know your target audience and minister accordingly.
It is quite difficult to sell a man something that he doesn’t feel/think/know he needs just like it’ll be impossible to convince me to take some medicine that I don’t think I need. It’ll be challenging to get someone to commit to a time-consuming, inconvenient, gruesome workout plan when they see no need for it. And so it will be near impossible to convince a man to receive salvation when he doesn’t feel that he is lost or damned.
Proverbs 11:30 – …he who winneth souls is wise.
The bible says that whoever wins souls is wise. This is so true! If you can win a soul to the Father, you are wise because it requires wisdom to know how to persuade someone to do something, to buy what you’re offering when it comes to salvation. First, you have to know that person fairly well or at least be able to discern things about that person. And then when they trust you, they’ll trust when you offer them something that you see that they need. If my doctor knows me and if I know my doctor’s history, I’ll trust when he says I need a certain medicine or procedure done. And so when it comes to ministry, you have to know who you’re after first of all. Study the audience. Discern their needs. Pray to God about what it is that is keeping them from believing and receiving the gospel message. Pray to God to tell you what that person needs to hear to draw them in. Pray for wisdom to win their soul. This might be controversial, but I’m going to list the name of some well-known ministers, who I believe their target audience is, and how they wisely present the gospel accordingly:
- Joel Osteen – Discouraged believers/unbelievers – Encouraging, motivational bible verses and stories/prosperity gospel
- Joyce Meyer – Defeated believers – Wisdom and personal testimonies of how God helped her to get the victory and related bible story examples
- Creflo Dollar – Financially struggling believers – Bible passages from the Old and New Testament about how God will financially bless His children/prosperity gospel
- Kenneth Copeland – Sick believers – Bible verses on healing/prosperity gospel
- Paul Washer – Lukewarm Christians/unbelievers – Passionate, hellfire sermons
- Charles Stanley – Conservative Christians – Fundamental, conservative, old school messages
- John MacArthur – Educated Christians – Hermeneutical, expository, exegetical, scholarly teaching
- TD Jakes – Discouraged, traditional churched believers – Charismatic churchy with a new twist/prosperity gospel
Now whether or not we agree with all that these ministers preach and teach, we can all agree that they have seen much “success” in the “ministry business”. They have wisely presented certain aspects of Christian living in a certain way to certain people. I’m sure they all haven’t voiced their ENTIRE opinion publicly. And depending on how much they disclose, it determines how far they can go and how many people they can reach.
For example, many people do not know of Paul Washer and John MacArthur because they are very opinionated and unwavering in their strict beliefs. But those preachers who are not as fundamental get bigger platforms. They will reach more people. Now we all may not agree with how they do what they do, but I see a purpose in it. I can see that the unbeliever, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist that Paul Washer will NEVER reach, has a chance of hearing Washer SOME DAY perhaps after that unbeliever stumbles across Joel Osteen while flipping through the channels. You may not like someone’s style or approach of getting the word out about God and Jesus, but at least He is being preached. And I do believe that some men can open the door/sow the seed, and then another man can seal the deal by drawing them in/reaping the soul. Maybe one man can pass out the “coupon”, but another man can sell the product.
Philippians 1:15-17 – Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Rejoice when Jesus is being preached and proclaimed and accepted as people’s Lord and Savior regardless of who closed the deal! That is one less soul that will spend an unspeakable, unbearable eternity in the lake of fire.
Many people have amazing inventions and services that many people would do well to patronize. BUT the problem is that they have the arduous task of convincing others to purchase their product or services. Our product/brand/service is THE BEST without a doubt. The hard part is PROMOTION. If everyone knew how great is our God, how sweet our Savior, how beautiful our afterlife, and how precious our faith, they’d all get saved. But they don’t know how great our product is. And they don’t know how badly they need it. Persuade them of their need. Glorify Jesus so that Christianity looks attractive. Pray for wisdom when evangelizing for souls. The product is so good, it can sell itself once they see what it can do for their life. So be the one who wisely introduces it to them! Seal the deal!
A few weeks ago, a guy friend noticed that I had a chess set, and asked me if I wanted to play. He was in it for a simple game, but of course, for me, God used it as a depiction of what goes on in the spirit realm when we come up against Satan. The similarities were astounding. Here’s some of what I learned so far. Remember that I just recently began looking into chess. I have most of the foundational knowledge, but I am fully aware that I have only scratched the surface when it comes to strategies, techniques, plays.
1.) Chess is a game of strategy and tactics. When I first began playing chess, I erroneously believed it was like checkers. There is SOME strategy involved in checkers, but not nearly as much as compared to chess. Checkers to Chess is like Uno to Poker – like Candy Land to Monopoly. There is so much thinking involved. Every move must be made after much planning, deliberation, strategy, and tactic because you must remember that you always have an opponent who has plans for your downfall. As the bible says, do not be ignorant of your enemy’s devices. In chess, making a move without forethought can cause your soon or future demise. You must have a strategy or tactic to stay in the game for long and especially if you want to end up as the victor and not the victim.
Just ONE wrong move can free up the board for the enemy to come in and take out your special or protective pieces. Just one wrong move can make your king more susceptible to attack. It is important to begin the game knowing what your pawns and special pieces can do. It is important to know your opponents limitations and to use them to your advantage. You should know that unless a pawn is attacking another piece making one diagonal move, he can only move forward. So knowing that a pawn cannot move to its immediate right or left means your rook is able to stand beside a pawn and later capture it. In addition to knowing your enemies’ weaknesses, you need to be aware of your strengths. To know that a Queen can go in any direction as many places as she has room to go, is a huge advantage because if none of her own “team” is blocking her path, she can take on whoever she wants going forwards and backwards.
This is not a game to play just for fun. You play this game to win. There isn’t much laughing in this game. But you will see two people with knitted eyebrows and serious facial expressions planning their next move. Both people have to focus on winning. It is the same in spiritual warfare throughout our lives. While you will see me laughing and smiling often, my spirit man is no laughing matter. Hell is no laughing matter. Demonic forces are nothing to play about. Just one wrong move, just one hit of that drug, just one night of unprotected sex with that one-night stand, just one shoplifting of a blouse can set me up for a lifetime downhill. In chess, your opponent is watching intently and waiting and hoping for you to make what I call O.D.M. (one dumb move). He knows that without a dumb move, he can’t do much. And he doesn’t need a series of dumb moves. Just one may be all that is needed. You’ve heard of the person who’s FIRST time drinking resulted in a drunk-driving incident that kills a mother of three. You’ve heard of the woman who married the wrong person who killed her just a few months later. You’ve heard of the pastor who just touched ONE child which resulted in the lost of his respect in the community, family, marriage, ministry, career, etc. It doesn’t take much for Satan to gain the advantage over you. It only takes one wrong turn where no U-turns are allowed.
2.) Chess is a game which involves much sacrifice. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a mall to get something to eat in the food court. I was pleasantly surprised to find a chess club had decided to meet and play there in the food court. So I went up and asked them questions and they let me sit down and play as they taught me. I was stunned to see that my opponent seemed to be setting his pawns up to be taken by me. But he won because he was willing to sacrifice less important pieces in order to protect his most important piece – His King. He would send in a pawn to a place where I would immediately, without thought, capture it. And while I was focusing on getting as much as I could (capturing as many of his pieces as I could), he was just moving certain pieces of mine out of position so that he could get my king.
3.) Chess is a game where the war is best won in the center (the four squares in the very middle of the chess board). One of the top tips to winning chess is to fight for, and win, the center. Trying to control this area early brings the focus of the game where you are and gives you a chance to fight on your chosen ground. Reminds me of spiritual warfare. Satan may be appear to be setting up shop and traps around other areas of your life, but he is ultimately after your heart, mind, soul, and spirit. My dad told me last year that when Satan is attacking your finances, job, health, relationships, etc., he’s really just after your joy. He doesn’t care how he gets your heart’s joy, but he’s after that main thing. Don’t get distracted by trying to focus on other pieces in other areas of your life when Satan’s focal point is on what is inside of you. And the mind is where all spiritual wars are really fought. If he can get to your mind, he’s got you. If he can make you lose your mind or your heart or your soul, he automatically destroys every area of your life. A schizophrenic, a demonaic, a mentally retarded person will lack success in other areas of their life because their mind or soul is oppressed or not fully functioning properly. Most of their defeat began within and radiated outwards.
4.) Chess is a game where every move you make will be followed by a defensive or offensive move from your opponent. Be aware that every thing you do for God will evoke a negative response from the enemy. When you fast, expect a temptation (because you are weakest when you begin a fast and because Satan knows that fasting brings about great victory and blessings for the believer so he tries to sabotage fasts with great temptations). When you pray, expect a temporary setback (because Satan wants to fool you into thinking that prayer does not work). When you consecrate and choose to live holy, expect an attack (because Satan is mad that he just lost one sinner). In chess, you must take turns. In some other games like billiard/pool, you can take more than one turn before your opponent takes his next turn. But in chess, you must know that when you “attack” the enemy (even if it’s just defensively and not offensively), he will attack back. So plan ahead for that. Know that if you go on a 40 day fast, the enemy will be VERY angry and will retaliate. Pray without ceasing when you live for God because the enemy is planning his next attack on YOU since he knows that you are clearly his opponent. He doesn’t fight people who live for him because they’re on his team! So if you are on God’s side, you better expect an attack from Satan.
5.) Chess is also game about territory as the chess club taught me. This ties in with fighting in the center of the board as well. The people in the chess club were teaching me a game set up known as Giuoco’s Piano or mirror and that game taught me that my main focus was on the center four squares. They taught me that you have to remain mindful of protecting certain squares on the chessboard because it is the squares – and who is on or protecting those squares – that determines how close someone can get to your king. For example, you may make a wrong move because you weren’t deliberating. And while that wrong move may not have resulted in the immediate capture of that piece you just moved, it might result in you getting a piece out of the enemy’s way so that he can slide on in and get nearer the king. For example, bishops can only move diagonally. So if your king is in its diagonal path, it is wise to have a pawn or another piece in position that can get their bishop as it gets near your king. It is not wise to use that same protective pawn to capture another harmless pawn when that move will only free the board for your king to be in check. Every move that LOOKS like a good move could just be a plan for you to surrender your precious territory.
Satan will sometimes present opportunities that look like a good move only for you to find out later that that move only opened the door to demonic attack. An example is this. Let’s say a woman divorces her husband because he recently lost his job and also is no longer pleasing her in the bedroom. So Satan makes her think divorce is a good move. So then weeks later, she sees a handsome man who sweeps her off her feet and who is good in bed. So she moves him into her home. Let’s say that man then convinces the wife/mother to work a late shift from 4pm-11pm. So he is left alone to watch the children. Then he begins to molest her young daughter for the next ten years. You see, divorce SEEMED to be a good move on the front end. It got rid of an annoying and disappointing factor in her life. But it opened the door for a child molester to come and wreak havoc in her family which will scar her daughter for years to come if not her entire life. Maybe the husband was lacking in a couple of areas, but he would have kept his daughter safe for her entire childhood. Ask yourself what is wiser and more strategic. Moving and using a pawn that was protecting your King just to capture a worthless pawn right now just to lose your King one move later? Or keeping that pawn right there to protect the king? Watch what areas and territories in your life and spirit that you are letting Satan have access to.
In chess and in spiritual warfare, we must gain wisdom on what to move, where to, when, and why. The Holy Spirit will direct you. God will direct your paths if you consult with Him regarding major moves in your life. He’ll make sure to let you know which pathways you have left open for your foes that will make you vulnerable to their attack. There is so much more I have learned and am learning from chess as it relates to spiritual warfare and living a victorious Christian life, so stay tuned for any future posts about what chess can teach us about spiritual warfare!
Have you ever stopped to think of the power of ONE? After having one of my enlightening convos with God where He seems to download insights into me about random subjects, I began to have an appreciation of the power, significance, and benefits of the number 1.
Because zero has no value, 1 is the first number of value. There is always something special about being the first. The bible talks of how being the first born is a coveted position for a child to be in. Number 1 is also the simplest number. When you think of monogamy, which basically means a one woman marriage, you can already know that compared to a polygamous marriage, it will be much simpler. Also think of a couple with an only child vs. a couple with sextuplets. Life is much simpler with singles.
One also signifies wholeness. One is a whole number. It has no division, no dissension. But think of a fraction. 1/2, 3/4, and 5/6 are fractured numbers; they are no longer whole. You know that 1/2 is missing a half, 3/4 is missing a quarter, and 5/6 is missing a sixth of its worth. But one is missing nothing.
Throughout the New Testament of the Holy Bible, we see that God desires ONENESS in the church.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you AGREE, and that there be NO DIVISIONS among you, but that you BE UNITED in the SAME mind and the SAME judgment.
Philippians 1:27 – Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in ONE spirit, with ONE mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel
Ephesians 4:4 – There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call
Philippians 2:2 – …complete my joy by being of the SAME mind, having the SAME love, being in FULL ACCORD and of ONE mind.
Matthew 19:3-6 – The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
We can see from the above bible verses that God desires for Christians NOT to divide ourselves. And what is division but separating a whole thing? Think of divorce for example. The bible asays that what God puts/cleaves together (a husband and a wife in marriage), let no man put asunder. It says the TWO shall combine into being ONE flesh after marriage. It says that they are no more TWO SEPARATES, but are now ONE WHOLE UNIT. The word asunder means “torn apart” or “divided”. When a couple divorces, both parties will tell you that they feel fractured, they feel as if their lives have been torn apart. There were ONE, but are now not two wholes (until God restores them), but they are two HALVES of a previous whole.
God made the church WHOLE. He only made ONE, WHOLE church. He did not establish two whole separate churches. And He also did not create two church halves either. Just the one. But it is said that the CHRISTIAN religion has anywhere from 33,000 to 38,000 denominations!
A denomination means a group of people who have the same religious/biblical/spiritual beliefs. So that means that from the time the church was first established about 2,000 years ago to this date, the one church disagreed thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands of times. Now of course, some of these disagreements were very minor. All of the Christian denominations ought to be believing in Jesus Christ as our only Lord and Savior and hopefully they all believe in the truths of the Holy Bible. But it is still disconcerting that we can all be reading the same ONE bible (even with its different versions and translations), and still come up with up with over 30,000+ interpretations of certain doctrine. One really is a simple number! Much simpler than 38,000!
Matthew 16:18 – And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Let me tell you what I think Satan hates about the number 1. As we know, Jesus created one church. He did not say in Matthew 16:18 that “upon this rock I will build my churchES; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against THEM.” He said CHURCH and IT. The lack of plurality denotes ONENESS. And as Jesus said, the gates of hell cannot prevail against His one church. But is does seem as if Satan is coming against the church quite heavily. He is making a fool of many church denominations it seems. He is causing us to lose our credibility it seems. Why is it so easy for him to do this?
Well, another important thing about ONE, is that it is very POWERFUL. There is power in an army of one. As we know, ones add up. Some people may disparage receiving 1 cent and 1 dollar because they are the smallest units of American currency. But when you combine a lot of pennies, you can have a dollar. And when you combine a lot of dollars, you can have a billion! But ONLY when they are UNIFIED. So when every Saint/believer/Christian comes together, we have so much more than we have separate or divided. Over 2 million of the world’s population identify with the Christian religion. But we are so divided. And not only are we divided, but we are also WEAKER. If a couple is married and both combined have a billion dollars, they are both billionaires. But if they divorce one another and split all the money down the middle, they become millionaires. A millionaire doesn’t have as much spending power as a billionaire does!
So when a large group of people with a lot of power begin to divide many times over, it results in a lot of weaker people. It seems as if the church has lost its effectiveness when it began dividing. If you split a one in half, it has HALF its former power. If you split a church in half, it will have half of its members which means it may have HALF of its gifts. One half of the church is robbing the other half of the church of its gifts, and vice versa. When the Baptists are competing with the Church of God in Christ, and the Reformers are debating with the Church of Christ, and when the Apostolics are arguing with the Methodists, we are robbing each other of the other’s “power”. We know that God has let THE church know what His will is for us to do on the earth. But no one denomination has ALL the answers. So if we unify in some manner, we can have access to all the answers God wants us to have for this time.
I am not pushing an ecumenical agenda where we pretend that every denomination is 100% right just so that we can combine with a clear conscience. But what I am trying to do is bring awareness of a very simple concept and dynamic of God’s which is the power of ONE. ONE has more power, effectiveness, resources, gifts, unity, etc. than 33,000. So many believers are so making enemies and competitors of other believers that they aren’t focusing their attention and efforts on those who need Christ. When separated we can’t do the work that we can do if we are one.
John 13:35 – By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Now I am not naive to the fact that many churches create denominations because they are CONVINCED that another denomination has many false doctrines. And who wants to be under a denominational name that is known for poor bible interpretation and unbiblical practices? And so many denomination leaders branched off to identify their organization as THE organization with the TRUTH with 100% of God’s “backing”. But is that not arrogant? If you are the ONE TRUE church, you don’t need any name other than “church” because you are the one true church. If Christians would truly seek God’s will and only interpretation of the different bible questions we may have, He’ll only give ONE answer. So obviously, we’re not seeking Him as we should. Instead we assume our interpretation is the one, right one and that everyone else is deceived and lost until they adopt our beliefs.
We need to stop majoring in the minors. Let’s love one another and accept one another. The verse above tells us that the WHOLE WORLD can know that Jesus is real and that He has real disciples if we love one another. But when they turn on the tube and see that Christians act hatefully to one another, they laugh at and deride Christians everywhere. They can’t believe in Jesus because they have no witnesses (no disciples) to observe acting Christ-like. Two billion of the world’s population identify with Christianity, but there is little unity amongst us. No wonder the world is confused.
No one denomination has it ALL together. Every one is doing something unbiblical. But let’s be unified in love and our belief in the God of the Bible – YHWH has being the only one holy, true living God and Creator of all and in Jesus (Yahushua) in being the one mediator and Savior and Deliverer and Messiah of all those who believe and apply the gospel message! Let’s not major in the minors. Let’s be unified and gain back the power and effectiveness that the church had in the beginning.