Friday, October 31, 2008

NO SHAVE NOVEMBER

Join me and others as we take the month of November to remember how God has richly graced us with facial hair. Sorry if His rich blessing of facial hair was not given to you, I am sure you have some other great and amazing gift or ability. You can still participate even if you cannot grow hair or even if it grows in patches all over your face.

The Rules Are Simply
1) Start fresh shaven or slight 5 o'clock shadow. But nothing crazy to start with.
2) Don't shave for the month of November.
3) Participants should post pictures as often as possible for the month of November.
4) Neck shaving is aloud if it is necessary, necessary means work or your wife require it. If it is just annoying then suck it up.

Let me know if you are going to join me in this epic adventure to show off the masculinity that God has blessed us with!!!

If you are still wondering why you should take part in such a barbaric thing as not shaving just remember the words of the poet Bradley Hathaway, "BEARDS ARE TOUGH!!!"

Just look at Matthew from the Band Blessed Is He. He hasn't shaved since 04 and he looks pretty tough.


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

"This Pistol Is My Ministry!"

The title of the track handed to me by a young lady in a dress at the farmers market in Madison, Wisconsin read, "Are You Good Enough To Go To Heaven?" I looked at it and shoved it in my pocket. Then I walked passed the singing choir and continued shopping with my lovely, pregnant wife Brittney. Three days later I put the same pair of jeans on that I was wearing at the farmers market (yes I wear my jeans more then once before washing them) and found the track still inside my pocket. Bored and some what curious I began to read. I quickly realized this track repeatedly used words like "judgment", "judgment day", "Hell", and "Eternal Punishment". Gods love for us was not mentioned. This scared me. I wanted to know the reason why the author would leave Christ's love out of this evangelistic tool (if you dare to call tracks an evangelistic tool).

So I contacted the author Ray Comfort about my issue with the track. I explained that I was curious and wanted to hear his response on why Christ's love would be left out?

Shortly after I was contacted by Mark Spence. Mark Spence is a evangelist who is also the Dean of Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort's School of Biblical Evangelism. I was excited that there was going to be some dialogue. Unfortunately it seemed as if the dialogue only lasted till I made a logical argument about why love should be included in this track. Let me know what you think. Here is the conversation.

Me to Ray Comfort:
I was in Madison, Wisconsin and I was walking down the street and someone handed me a track that said "Are You Good Enough to Go to Heaven?" I am a youth pastor and I can honestly say that your track was quite disturbing. I am not trying to criticize, I am trying to understand. I don't get why there is very little in this track about God's love, but it is filled with hell, judgment, and death. I am not one who shies away from talking about hell, but I don't think our evangelism should double as fire insurance. I think the first thing that should be conveyed to an unbeliever is the hope in Christ's love. Why isn't this explained in the track? I really want an answer. My email is jdouglas@lvnghp.org or make a post on my blog @ justindouglasblog.blogspot.com

Thanks for your time,
Justin Douglas


Response from Mark Spence:
Justin,
How good of you to take the time to write and ask for an explanation, and not just get upset.
There is a very good biblical answer to your question. Here are some commendations on the teaching that I would love you to hear (about the subject you raised):

"The Way of the Master will rank in the top most important books ever written on evangelism. It ranks with and in my opinion is better than Spurgeon's, Soul Winner which I must say has been one of my all time favorites." Ron Begin (FL)

"I am at a loss for words. Overwhelming, distressing, and enlightening. I feel as if I have just taken a drink of water from a fire hydrant!"--Jason Stewart (CA)

"I have over one thousand books on evangelism, soul-winning, and revival in my personal library, and none of them are worthy to be compared to this book." --Pastor R. W. Jones (TX)

"Hell's Best Kept Secret has completely destroyed my theology. What was first anger toward you, caused me to search the scripture, and has now turned to a sincere thank you." Pastor Jerod McPherson

"I have served as a pastor, Teen Challenge Director, Crusade Director for David Wilkerson, and missionary, but never during those years did I encounter an evangelist with a more life-changing message." -- Pastor Bob Rogers, Dallas, TX

"After a thousand revivals and area crusades I have used a lot of soul-winning materials. 'Hell's Best Kept Secret' is the greatest single tool I have ever found." Evangelist Larry Taylor

Go to www.LivingWaters.com/learn and listen to "Hell's Best Kept Secret" on line (free of charge).
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Blessings,
Ray

My Response Back:

Thanks for the response, but I am not sure if it really got to my question.


These quotes look like reviews on a book. And I am sorry, but reading the track that was handed to me was painful enough, I am not sure I am going to take the time to read a book. The question I had was why this track had little to nothing to say about Christ's love, but instead talked continuously about hell and judgment. I am not saying that it is wrong, I am simply asking why the author felt the need to leave Christ's love out of it? The quotes don't really help me on that question.

Thanks,


Justin Douglas
Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

Marks Response Back:

Christ's love was demonstrated on the cross. The book gets into the proper way to witness.
Since you don't have time to read a book, do you have time to listen to a CD or watch a DVD?
God Bless you friend.

My Response Back:

It is not really about the Book or the CD or the DVD. It is about the track "Are You Good Enough To Go To Heaven?" This is the track I received in Madison. I felt it was a misrepresentation of the gospel. Not because it was false, but because it was missing a key part of the gospel, that is Christ's love for us. There were many people receiving these tracks, many of them have no idea who Ray Comfort is, about his book, his DVD or CD, so therefore I don't think they are relevant to me. I am just trying to get some answers on why this track is so judgmental and lacks that even of John 3:16, "God so LOVED the world." I am more interested on hearing a belief system that supports this track or an apology for depicting God as a judge alone. I do believe judgment day will come, but I also believe that God loves this world so much that he is looking for every chance to be reconciled to His people. There will be many that are judged and go to hell. My personal belief is that being scared of hell is not a reason to accept the gospel. The Love of God and the sacrifice of His only son is the reason we should accept the gospel. My overall problem with this track is that it does not talk about that, but instead the track is making an attempt to scare people into believing the gospel. I would like to hear a comment on why you think this is a good tactic or why you no longer support that view, the latter is what I am hoping for.

Thanks,


Justin Douglas
Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

Marks Response Back:

Justin,
I realized I didn't answer your question.
The answer to the tract's methodology is because it is biblical. No where in Scripture do you see somone witnessing saying, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."
The CD, DVD, and books we offer go into great detail explaining it.
I'm curious who some of your favorite authors and speakers are?

My Response Back:

I don't believe my favorite authors have anything to do with this discussion.

I am simply attempting to wrap my head around your statement. "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." Are you implying that this is not true???

In 1 John chapter 4 we understand that God is Love. But I think it goes further when it is written, "Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in him." I think many people are searching for love in all the wrong places; Sex, drugs, money, fame, and many many other things. The love of Christ is authentic. His love is the greatest. His love lead him to die on a cross for our sins, "greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

After all Jesus explained to the expert in the law that what he must do to inherit eternal life was to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:25)


I would argue that Love is a central piece of Evangelism. In Luke 10:25-37 Christ is ministering to the teachers of the law. And he is explaining to them Love. And the importance of Loving God and Loving each other.


So to your statement, "No where in Scripture do you see someone witnessing saying, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.'" I would argue that Christ himself ministered to the disciples with a plan for their lives that was centered around love. I am not sure how you meant the use of the word "wonderful," but I am guessing it is there to point a finger at those who preach the love of Christ and act like life is going to be peachy once the person they are ministering to accepts Christ. I would disagree with this idea. I think there is a sugar coated version out their that preaches life will be without trial once you accept Jesus. That view is false. Many followers of Christ were murdered for their beliefs and persecution is something we will most likely face as followers of Christ. My argument for the word "wonderful" is that we can find joy in our trials because of our purpose. Even the Acts church rejoiced when they were flogged for what they believed. (Acts 5:40-42) So in short, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."


I will close with Paul's prayer to the church is Ephesus.
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Justin Douglas

Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

Marks Response Back to me:

<<I don't believe my favorite authors have anything to do with this discussion. >>
It's hard to get past the rudeness of this to see what else you had to say.
My point is the message you read is endorsed by people like John Piper, John MacArthur, CJ Maheny, James White, Phil Johnson, Josh McDowell, Lee Stobel, Ravi Zacharias, and many others. I was hoping you would take it down a notch in your criticism and be open to listening to a message endorsed by these men. The message you refuse to read and listen to covers all your objections and I was willing to pay for it myself. I get hundreds of emails daily and I simply don't have time to dialogue with all of them.
Thank you for understanding.
I sincerely wish you and your ministry well.
God Bless.

My Response Back:

It was not meant to be rude.

I just wanted it to be clear that my thoughts were not coming from a book or a sermon, but from my experience after receiving this track and from the Bible. Therefore I thought the authors I appreciate had little to do with the conversation. It was not meant to be rude and I apologize if that is how it was received.

If you want to send me something I will take the time to watch it and/or listen to it. I have a long line of books that I am trying to read before the new year and I am not sure a book would be something I could do.


I would still like to know what you think about the rest of my email. I feel as if I gave a strong case for love in evangelism. I understand if you are too busy to dialogue any further.


Thanks for your time,

Justin Douglas

Youth Pastor
Living Hope Community Church
Fox Lake, Wisconsin

If you actually took the time to read down this far I want to let you know that this theology is what sometimes makes me uncomfortable to call myself a Christian. A theology that actually argues against the love of Christ. And argues against using love in evangelism.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Finished Ephesians

Wow, pretty packed book for only 6 chapters. What stood out to me the most was how Paul kept using the word "mystery" to explain the gospel. He even asked for prayer toward the end of chapter 6, and he asked for prayer that he would, "fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." I know that many people are scared when people start using words like "mystery" and "the gospel" in the same sentence. Paul uses the word mystery 7 times in Ephesians alone. I think it is safe to say that the gospel is a mystery and as we strive to grow closer to Christ He unveils more of the mystery. At least that is how I understand the mystery now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Finished Galatians

Wow. Awesome Book. What stood out to me the most was Galatians 2:10, where Paul reveals that he is eager to care for the poor, then he encourages the churches of Galatia to do the same. This letter is to churches and it is packed with commands, but Paul takes to time to tell Galatia to remember the poor. I wonder if the American church remembers the poor as much as Paul and the churches in Galatia did.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Finished Genesis

I am currently trying to read through the entire Bible. I just finished Genesis and it was great. Josephs story really stood out to me. His ability to forgive the brothers that wanted him dead and how God gave him a spirit of patience while he was in prison. It was a pretty awesome book overall. I knew all the stories, but it was good to read them in a consecutive manner.

Woman at the well

I had the great privilege to speak to the congregation on Sunday the 12th of October. It has taken me sometime to get the audio and because I am ignorant when it comes to getting audio on my blog I had to p ut it in a movie. But here is the lesson. It is about 25 minutes long and it is about the Woman at the well. If you are tracking with your Bibles, the passage is John 4. Let me know what you think. This is my first time teaching an entire congregation, it was awesome!!!

video

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get Your Safety Gear Ready...The World is Changing In July

You heard right everyone the world is changing in July. At least we are pretty sure that is when it will change. Imagine a little Justin running this world. Yup, Brittney is pregnant. Pretty awesome. I am still kind of shocked and I think Brittney is too. I wish we recorded all the calls we made to family because there reactions were priceless. We are so excited!!! We are praying for God to give us a healthy child; boy or girl.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Know your speaker...

Teaching Jesus and His teachings sounded like an awesome break out session. But now I am kind of wanting to leave. Not only is the speaker incredibly boring in only 5 minutes time, but he took a huge swing at Rob Bell right before starting. He didn't use his name, but he said he was fed up with the teachers who keep using rabbinical texts as if they are new and profound. He then went on a rant about how the rabbis who are quoted most often came hundreds of years after Jesus. It is just frustrating to see a guy take a blow at another guy (or guys) who are opening people to new things...I think I am gonna wait 5 more minutes and see if there is anything to get out of this session, if not, I am leaving and reading the book I brought.

Willow Creek Group Life Conference

I am in a breakout session right now and I am watching videos, kinda like nooma videos that relate to small groups. Some are cool and some are just cheesy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Willow Creek

I am at Willow Creek this weekend for their Group Life conference. Not sure what to think being back on a mega church campus. It is a cool conference so far, good worship and a good speaker, John Burke speaking right now.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Updates

Well I am sitting in a hospital room waiting for the nurses to come take Brittney's Grandpa. He was suppose to have his open heart surgery yesterday, but they delayed it till today. He is in good spirits and we are all praying for the best. Brittney's Grandma is much better and she is being released from the hospital today. So today is a big day and we are hoping for a great surgery and healthy recovery.