Archive for October, 2009
09/30/2009, Journal Entry
This morning as I drove down to my perch at the local coffee shop, I was struggling internally:
Lord, is tonight’s Bible study even practical for our people? This is a Lutheran-Catholic Wisconsin community, is there even a single Muslim who lives here? I’m sure the people will find the topic of Evangelizing Muslims interesting and educational, but will they ever use it?
About 10 minutes later, I was filling my mug with Ethiopian Java and turned around, finding myself face to face with __________, my new Muslim friend from Iran who is an international businessman, a resident of our fine community. I asked in a very straightforward fashion, “Are you a Muslim?” He responded in the affirmative and we spent the next hour in conversation regarding his faith and mine. I was able to briefly share the gospel with him, and pray that God will give me another opportunity to lovingly confront him regarding his need for Christ.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. (ESV)
In the midst of this pluralistic, post-modern world, what is needed is Spirit-empowered-boldness and loving confrontation, not apologies, endless conversations, and fear.
2 Timothy 1:7-8:
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God…
Gregory Koukl, of Stand to Reason, has written an excellent book entitled Tactics: a Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions. It is written in a captivating and compelling fashion, so much so that I read it in just a few hours (real-life stories were great!). The result in my life has been an increased confidence in conversation with unbelievers, even those who are a bit hostile to Christianity. If you are serious about reaching your friends, family, classmates, and co-workers, you’ll want to purchase this little book and digest it for yourself.
He divides the book into parts: (1) The game plan and (2) Finding the flaws. Today, we will look at the Game Plan, then a later blog post will go through some of the flaws.
The Game Plan
Koukl maintains that having the truth is not enough to successfully maneuver your way through difficult conversations. I personally often find myself struggling to find a good balance between what Koukl calls “D-day” and “diplomacy.” So here is the major tactic identified in this section:
- Columbo: Playing off the detective from old-school television, Koukl suggests that we begin by asking questions, instead of making assertions. He gives three main ways to employ the Columbo tactic:
- Gather Information: A simple question like, “What do you mean by that?” will do here. This gives you an opportunity to find out from where the individual is coming. Koukl says, “People don’t know what they mean much of the time. Often they’re merely repeating slogans.”
- Reverse the Burden of Proof: “The burden of proof is the responsibility someone has to defend or give evidence for his view.” Koukl presents another simple question, “Now, how did you come to that conclusion?”
- Lead the Conversation: this is the most aggressive form of Columbo. Ask questions like, “Have you considered…” or “Can you clear this up for me…” where their assertions are clearly contradictory or inaccurate.
I have found one major benefit from using Columbo over the past couple weeks. I am simply not quick on the draw, so asking questions in this manner gives me time to think and formulate. It buys me the time that I need.
My new-found friend Liam identifies himself as a National Socialist. In other words, he’s a Nazi, perhaps a more moderated version in his thinking than what you would see portrayed in a Hitler’s Germany movie. He doesn’t believe that the weak should be exterminated per se, but he would be fine with allowing the poor and weak to die off, so that their sort are not perpetuated in society. “Hate” would be a strong word for how he feels about the Jewish people, but he certainly has a strong inward bent against them and can only interact with them skeptically. Postmodernism does strange things to people; here’s what it does to today’s Nazi’s. After telling me that the pope should be publicly beheaded and that the weak should be left to die, he said, “But that’s just my way, I wouldn’t force it upon others!”
Ironically, his French mother gave him a Hebrew name, Daniel, meaning “judgment of God” (how sovereign is God?). He now goes by Liam, short for William, a seemingly stronger Norman name, reflecting his worship of Odin, a pagan god. Read the rest of this entry »
If you don’t know what a Unitarian Universalist is, join the club. I’m not even sure they know what they are, which, ironically, is probably the only criterion for becoming one. That aside. The following is my encounter with an embittered UU.
I sat in one of my three regular coffee houses the other day, glanced to the table next to me, and immediately identified my “way in” (the lady was scribbling on a pad while pouring over a newspaper). I said, “Are you a writer?” “Not exactly. Are you?” she responded. I explained that I was indeed writing and that for my line of work, I tend to write about 20 pages per week.
I can’t remember her name, and even if I could, I wouldn’t share it here. So we’ll call her Sally, an ironically dignified and modern name for such a hippy, anti-establishment, liberated woman. She wore severely faded and somewhat tattered clothing — a jean top and one of those puffy ski-style vests. Sally responded with obvious disgust when she found out that I wrote so much in order to keep up with my weekly sermons. Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to Beyond Apology
The purpose of this blog is simple: to encourage believers in Jesus Christ to stand upon the truth that Jesus is King over kings and Lord over lords and to equip them to defend this claim rather than to apologize for it.
The format will be simple.
- Reports from the front-lines (true stories of evangelism and apologetics in the marketplace).
- Video and audio from the front-lines.
- Book reviews, quotes, and recommendations.
Friends and blog-readers, I am now posting some personal testimony in the related spheres of evangelism and simple apologetics over at Beyond Apology.
I hope that in future days, I will be able to post some audio/ video of evangelism and practical apologetics, both done without apology in today’s marketplaces.