Peter Brown writes in his book, The Body and Society, that the early Christians
were deeply concerned that the frail, mortal body should become a
reliable container for the Spirit of God, even in the face of torture
and death. A fresco in the Church of St. Cecilia showing them giving
their possessions away — and there are similar frescoes in other
Roman churches honoring martyrs — seems to indicate that this was
a way to prepare for possible martyrdom. It makes sense. If you can’t
let go of your things, how will you let go of your life?
(Compassion Vol 61, 2000)

Friends and family were shocked when we gave away all (or anyway almost all) of our material possessions to move into this little apartment-hotel to preach the gospel.  For us, it was an easy step.  When we finally decided that we were going to follow Christ whole-heartedly it became much easier to give up all that we had.  In fact, we celebrated the giving away, it brought a sense of freedom that I had not felt before.  Is God calling you to give up all that you have and follow him?  Do you wonder why you lack peace?  Perhaps God is saying to you:

“One thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the
poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”Mark 10:17-25

Personal, physical persecution may come sooner than you think if you are following Christ.  If you can’t let go of your things, how will you let go of your life?

Praise God.

He works in amazing and mysterious ways.

Our car, which should have been worth less than one thousand dollars due to its emissions failures and body damage, received an offer of $1400 from CarMax.

We thought that we would have to look far and wide to find a Van in our price range, instead we had 5 different running vans to choose from, all in our general price range.  In the end we were able to purchase a very nice van that would meet our needs for now and into the future for little more than we received for our Neon.

Thank you for your prayers.

I’ve been feeling for some time now that we needed to find/purchase/trade for a minivan with enough seats to allow us to do things like cart neighbor kids to VBS, transport camping equipment, invite others without transportation to come to church with us.  However, I was complacent about this feeling; I ignored it.  I wasn’t sure that what I was feeling was from God buy cytotec online.

So we went last week to get our annual inspection on our car.  It failed the emissions test with multiple errors.  One of the errors was a Memory Checksum error, which all the mechanics I called told me would require a replacement of the ECM (onboard computer) and would cost $1000-$2500.  This was just the spur that I needed to get off of my duff, listen to the Lord, and start looking for a new vehicle that will allow us to better serve our neighbors and reach people for Christ.  I believe that the Lord is going to have a hand in providing this vehicle, and I am praying that His will be done in it, that He will be glorified. 

I have put our Neon up for sale on craigslist (with honesty about its problems).  I am praying that we will receive a fair and equitable offer in cash or trade.

The Bible commands us to be different from the world around us:

Scriptural Principle:
John 17:14 “And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by
the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and
acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It also tells us that we ARE different than the culture that surrounds us by principles of shared heritage with Jesus and our citizenship in heaven.

Scriptural Principle:
John 17:14 “I have given them thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Philippians 3:20a “For our citizenship is in heaven”

Furthermore, we are reminded that our difference (specifically our Love) is a sign of our Christianity to the unbeliever:

Scriptural Principle:
John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Recently I was blessed to see proof of God’s hand in my life as I try to live like Jesus and fulfill the great commission in the area of the world that God has called me to. 

My wife and I have made friends with a couple of families that live in our building.  Recently we had the opportunity to anonymously help one of them (a single mother) when she was short on her rent.  We were blessed to be able to help her anyway, but I was especially blessed when I found out about a conversation that she had with her neighbor regarding her “miraculous” help.

He neighbor suggested that my family must have been the ones that paid her rent. 

“Really?” she asked, “Do you think so?”

“Of course.  I has to be them.” her neighbor responded, “who else would care that much?”

WOW!!!!  “Who else would care that much?”  What an amazing testament to the power of God’s love shining through us.  It’s important to emphasize that it isn’t that our helping with the rent showed love (though it did), but rather that God’s love had shone through us to such a degree in other day to day actions and words that our neighbors just assumed that a more extravagant gesture of charity, (remember that the word for love in I Corinthians 13 is translated as charity in the King James Version) even though it was anonymous, must have come from us. That is God’s light shining through us into the world, returning to bless us even as it blesses others through us.

One of the ways that I reach out to my neighbors is by providing free copies of God’s word.  I have a stack of Bibles in our front window (visible from the parking lot), with a sign in front of them that says “Free Bibles, just ask.”  In the last week I’ve given away two free copies of the Word of God. 

Scriptural Principle:
Isaiah 55:10-11For as the rain cometh
down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth
the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the
sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not
return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and
it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

I get my copies of the Bible from the dollar store.  They have King James version Bibles for $1 each.  Small price to pay for such a powerful weapon in the battle for the hearts and minds of people God loves. 

However, some people might be better able to read and understand if I was able to offer a more modern translation.  If you know of a cheap source of modern language Bibles such as New King James, NIV, or NAS or if you would like to donate copies please get in touch with me at extendedstayevangelist@webtooldeveloper.com.

Nothing strikes more fear into the heart of many Christians than the thought of discussing the things of God with family members who are unsaved.  Nowhere, it seems, do we let our pride and fear of rejection stand in the way of God’s plan as greatly as with those who matter the most to us, whose absence from heaven would sadden us most.

This post is to congratulate my wife for her recent discussion of the truth of sin, death, judgement, and redemption with her brother-in-law.

Praise God!

Why not talk to one of your relatives about the truth today?

It seems in American culture today that simple friendliness and neighborliness have just about disappeared.

I noticed in myself a tendency to walk through life minimizing my contact with other human beings.  Now this can partly be put down to my innate shyness, but I think that there is more to it than that.  Even people who are quite extroverted and gregarious don’t seem to offer friendly greetings to unknown passersby anymore.

I’ve been making an effort lately not to wrap myself in my own world and problems, but instead to open my heart and mind to even casual meetings.  Who knows when a casual meeting may turn into a divine appointment.  Now I’ve been building all of this up as if it were some deep philosophical/internal shift, but all I’m really talking about doing is saying “Hi,” “Good morning,” “How’s it going?” “Evenin'” etc. to people I come into contact to, even if I don’t know them (yet).

What’s really astonishing is the range of responses to this type of greeting.  Most people smile, do nothing, or increase their pace, but I’ve had a few shoot me dirty looks, a few respond in kind, and a few who have seen that as an opportunity to start a conversation.  In that final case, I try to make time to talk for a little while even if I’m in a hurry… I don’t always share the gospel as a part of every encounter, but I have at least a few times in the last few weeks.

Recently, I was dropping some clothes off for wash-n-fold service at a local laundromat.  On my way in I passed two young ladies who had several (10 or more) trash bags of laundry stacked around their trunk.  After I had set my laundry down by the front counter, I came back just as they had gotten the last bag out of their trunk and onto the sidewalk.  I asked if I could carry some of the bags in for them.  They were astonished.  They agreed, and I loaded up the rest of the bags in both hands and carried them in.  It took me no time at all really, but it made a serious impression on them.  It kind of saddened me that such a simple, normal, mannerly action would be so astonishing, but it did leave me strongly impressed with the witness opportunity that even the smallest act of kindness can open up for us.

Opportunity Encouragement:
When the second lady said “Oh you didn’t have to do that.” I responded, “Well, I felt like God was telling me that I did.” This led very easily and naturally into sharing the truth of the Gospel with them. Laundromats are great places to witness; people are stuck there waiting on their clothes with no place to go and nothing else to do. Even if you typically do your own washing, consider taking your clothes to the laundromat once every other month and then spend some time talking to the people who are there.

I haven’t blogged in quite some time.  Part of the reason for that is that my internet connection at this place is (to put it mildly) quirky, which makes using web applications like xanga less than perfectly easy.  But another part of it was that I began to question my own motives in blogging about my experiences.  I don’t want to give even the appearance of evil (Though 1 Thessalonians 5:22 does not actually refer to avoiding appearances†), and I was concerned that I might appear to be self-seeking or proud which is not my intention and might actually do the opposite of what I intended.

I have come to the conclusion though that it is more important to exhort and build up than to be concerned about someone thinking I’m self-aggrandizing. 

Scriptural Principle:
1
Thessalonians 5:11
“Wherefore exhort one another, and build
each other up, even as also ye do.”

The reason I write posts like Why Extended Stay Evangelist and Unhalloween is to exhort my brothers in Christ, as I examine my own life and see where God is leading and directing me to exhort others to examine their own hearts and see if perhaps God is leading them in the same direction and we can share the journey.  The reason why I write posts like Winnie and First Contact is to encourage and to receive encouragement. 

So, I will continue to share with you my efforts, my successes and failures, and my insight from God’s word.

† See http://www.crivoice.org/appearance.html for an explanation

Meet Winnie.

Winnie knocked on my door the other night, and when I opened the door she
breathlessly asked “I’m sorry to bother you sir, but is there any chance I
could come in here while the police are talking to my boyfriend.”

Wow! I was nonplussed to say the least.  My first inclination was to say yes and let her in.  My second was to worry about involving my
family with a person whose boyfriend was being questioned by the police.  I didn’t give worry any opportunity to
besiege me.  I let her in immediately and
offered her a chair.

Scriptural Principle:

Hebrews 13:2 “Forget not to show love* unto strangers: for
thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

* The NIV says “to entertain”

She sat down and told me what was going on: She had come home from walking over to the nearby Wendy’s for some dinner to find the police in her apartment and her boyfriend with his hand in the air.  

“I slipped out before they could see me.  Why are the police talking to my boyfriend?”

“Are you OK?” I asked.  

“I’ll be OK; I just—Why are the police in my room?” she was mervously opening and shutting her cell phone.

“Would you like me to go up and find out what’s going on for you?” I asked, but she rather emphatically declined, saying that she just wanted to call her brother to pick her up.  After she had made the call, I asked if I could pray for her.  She was amenable, so I began to pray.  

I prayed for everything I could think of.  For peace and comfort for Winnie, for wisdom for the cops and for her boyfriend and his friend, for speed and safety for her brother.   And then I continued as follows:
“Lord, we know you love us, that you love Winnie, and that your desire for us is for our good.  Thank you that with all of creation at your fingertips you love us so much that you want to have a personal relationship with each one of us, that you care about the details of our lives, that you know Winnie’s situation right now.  Lord we know we don’t deserve your love and relationship, that you are a perfect and just God and we have all done things that break your law and deserve to be punished.  Lord thank you that even though the punishment for breaking your law is death, that you desired a relationship with us so much that you sent your son Jesus Christ who was perfect and had never broken your law so that he could willingly take our punishment so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price for all the bad things that we have done.  Thank you that if we believe that you are who you say you are in your word and if we choose to make you Lord of our lives and if we accept the gift that Jesus made when he died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins that you offer us eternal life with you.  Thank you so much for your mercy, even when we don’t deserve it.”
It may come out a bit contrived here on the page, but when I was praying it was heartfelt, from the spirit, and though I was aware of the fact that it was a witness, I wasn’t praying <i>to</i> witness.  I was praying from my heart to my God.  Nevertheless I realize that it was a witness and I believe that Winnie recognized that I was not pushing at her, but simply praying, interceding for her.  

When I finished praying, my wife came in and asked if she could get Winnie something to drink.  She had already been in our apartment for almost an hour.  My wife made her some tea, and she made a few more phone calls before her brother arrived to take her away.  I gave her my card at some point during all of that, but I found it on the floor of our apartment after she left, so I will probably know how the Spirit used my prayer in her life, and that’s OK, because it’s not about me, it’s about Him.  

I will also just mention that I was so blessed by my wife after Winnie was gone, I really was worried about how my wife would feel about my having just invited her in like that, considering her situation and our family with three young children.  My wife turned to me after she left and said “I feel like maybe I wasn’t hospitable enough to her.  I didn’t even offer her something to drink until she had been here for a whole hour” (like she had had the opportunity!)  I assured her that she had been more than hospitable enough, and my spirit soared to know that I had a wife whose spirit was in harmony with my spirit and the Spirit of God.  What a blessed encounter!

My wife and I always have a hard time when All Saint’s Eve rolls around. We have a real problem with even the ‘alternative’ celebrations provided by most churches. Until now I’d never really been able to put my finger on what the problem was. After last year’s ‘trunk-o-treat’ event at our church, I got a bit of clarity.

Let me start by saying what the problem is not.

The problem is not the idea of an alternative to a pagan/secular rite. When I was growing up, there was a couple in my church who refused to allow their children to participate in Easter celebrations ‘because the eggs were borrowed from pagan symbolism’. And eventually they even decided that because Christmas was celebrated on December 25th because of its proximity to the winter solstice, that they could no longer celebrate Christmas. Now in one sense, they were right. They were right about their facts. Eggs were adopted from pagan symbolism (More Info). Christmas was placed on the 25th of December to offer an alternative to solstice celebrations (More Info). However, my family didn’t have a problem with these celebrations, nor do I. Why then is Halloween different? It too originates in pagan rites and has been Christianized ( More Info). So why do I feel a twinge of guilt when I condone (by my attendance) even so much as a church-sponsored ‘trunk-o-treat’ event?

It’s not the implementation details, per se. Our trunk-o-treat event had the ‘Pumpkin Gospel’ and two puppet shows with evangelism moments while I was there. It was truly a blessing to be there and see kids from the surrounding community listening to the gospel message, hearing the great Christian music and seeing our church as more than that building that’s mostly empty six days of the week. I appreciated especially those who volunteered for the mostly thankless tasks of candy distributor and game supervisor, as well as the wonderful efforts of the youth band and the puppet team. Attending this event this year and feeling that twinge of concern yet being blessed nonetheless, and trying to sort it all out has led me to some conclusions. But before we get to them, I probably need to let everyone else in on the epiphany of sorts that I had regarding what was causing my twinge.

Let me begin with the minor issues. Let’s talk about the title: ‘trunk-o-treat’. What does it signify? What aspect of Christian history or life is emblematized in the name of our event? In the past its greatest cachet was that it offered a ‘safe’ and ‘Christian’ alternative for neighborhood kids. But to what is it an alternative? For the neighborhood kids, it is not an alternative to anything. When I was growing up and church events were held on the night of the 31st, that might have held, but not anymore. Sure they attend the ‘trunk-o-treat’ on Sunday, but they’ll be out trick-or-treating on Monday as well. It’s not an alternative; it’s just double the candy. Well then, it must be an alternative for the church kids, the Christians. Again, though, I must ask: alternative to what? Would we as Christians send our children out to celebrate the one if we didn’t have the other? If so, we could hardly call ourselves Christians. Could we only follow him if the way was easy and we still got the candy? What about our celebration differentiates us from the secular world? The only answer I can come up with is that in its basic inception, nothing does. Sure we tack on a bible story booth and puppet times (And those ministries may very well be life changing for some of the attendees. I’m not trying to suggest that no good comes out of the wonderful efforts that so many put in), but there is nothing intrinsic to our celebration that differentiates it. If a fellow office-worker asked me ‘So just what are you celebrating at your ‘trunk-o-treat’?” I wouldn’t have a good answer, and if I did come up with an answer I’d have no way to justify it. So much for ‘trunk-o-treat’. It may placate the candy hungry hearts of our children, but it isn’t in any real sense an alternative.

So if the ‘trunk-o-treat doesn’t hold up as an alternative. How does it fare on its own merit? If you followed the links earlier, you’re aware of the origins of Halloween or Samhain celebrations in pagan mythology and history. You’re also aware of how the Catholic church attempted to position All Saints Day so as to preempt the pagan celebration. Unlike with Christmas and Easter however, they were basically unsuccessful in changing the nature of the celebration or the attitudes of the participants. Further, protestant denominations when they broke with the Catholic Church quickly abandoned the celebration (probably because most no longer believed in the existence of Saints over and above the joint sainthood of all believers with Christ). And thus, the alternatives put on today in the protestant churches do not even have the veil of legitimacy that All Saint’s Day gives to the Catholic church festivities. Once again I am drawn back to my primary question: What are we celebrating?

Finally I think I understand the distaste that I’ve always felt for ‘Fall Festivals’ ‘Great Alternatives’ ‘trunk-o-treats’ and the like. It boils down to this. If we celebrate in the way the world celebrates and at the time the world celebrates, and we aren’t clear about what we are celebrating, then we tacitly acknowledge that the world has won—that Satan has won—that we have nothing better to offer. In short we abandon our religion (that is to say our beliefs and methods of worship) to join the world in the worship of things which don’t deserve it–apostasy.


Is there another way, a way more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas and Easter? I think that there is.

The idea came when I was reading my church bulletin after last year’s event and I saw the announcement for the annual Missions Sunday pot-luck. Included was the suggestion, ‘Dress internationally if you can.’ I thought to myself. They’re a week too late; this is dress up week. And then I thought, seeing how it’s missions’ week, why limit it to international regalia? Why not dress up as famous missionaries and/or converts as well.

You walk in wearing a trenchcoat, the brim of a fedora hiding your eyes. Flashing open your coat, you reveal 14 pockets filled with your contraband merchandise—Bibles! You’re Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler. (Exercise for the reader: Figure out how to include an ‘iron curtain’ in the costume)

Don a priest’s collar. Add some bling-bling in the form of a gold cross, talk about getting the vulture (or monkey) off of people’s backs and carry a ‘switchblade’. You’re David Wilkerson (of The Cross and the Switchblade).

Insert head through large square of cardboard with sheet draped around the edges to look like a table. Use silver spray paint to produce a ‘platter’ around the opening. Add lots of fake blood. Eat locusts and honey. You’re John the Baptist (arguably the first missionary?).

Wear prison stripes, dirty wig, and support your skeleton thin sister in the same. You’re Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord.

Gather to celebrate the great commission, those who have given their lives in its fulfillment, the current work, the lives being changed. There is something worthy of celebration! But do it a week earlier so that it coincides, as it were by chance, with a certain pagan/secular holiday.

Here are a few more details of how one might implement such a program though they are not intended to be definitive suggestions, merely examples.

Give the children treats, but not just for the sake of having treats. Instead, establish booths for various missionary efforts/organizations/families. Have a different kind of treat (possibly with international origins) at each.

Have several (costumed or not) ‘missionaries’ and/or ‘converts’ (real or made-up) who tell the children their stories and share the gospel message both the evening of the ‘main’ event and at several events (Sunday School, Bible Battalion, Etc.) leading up to it (generate a buzz). Each missionary might endow all the children listening with a small baggie/handful of treats (establishing a pattern similar to that of Father Christmas).

Advertise in the community by publishing a leaflet/flyer with several ‘scary’ Halloween stories—namely stories about martyred missionaries/believers.

Establish traditions rather than just emulating (borrow what works of course). Encourage the establishment of special home and church decorations that symbolize the nature of the celebration; use these rather than pumpkins, apples, scarecrows, or black cats (or where possible invest the old symbols with new meaning). Make those symbols such that they might easily be adopted all unknowing by the secular community (like the Christmas tree, the Easter Egg, etc.)–or don’t and avoid the commercialization…?

Ensure that the primary celebration leaves no room for double dipping (Why not have a pot luck on a Monday? Why confine church to Sundays?). Celebrate on the evening of the 31st of October, no matter what weekday it falls on.

Share the vision with other churches. Encourage them to implement similar celebrations; invite them to participate in cross-congregational activities.

Plan November or December short-term missions trips and have sign-ups on the 31st.

This is the mere beginning of a proposal for a true Holy Day (holiday) which really means something to replace the current emptiness (at least for me) that is the modern church Halloween celebration.

Some of these suggestions may be inappropriate. Some may be impractical or mutually exclusive. I am posting here at least partially in the hopes of encouraging the generation of other ideas. How can we be proactive about Halloween? How can we take the fight to the devil instead of retreating behind our bunkers? I look forward to hearing what others think.

For someone who has committed himself to evangelism–to fulfilling the great commission, I feel an awful lot like Moses, “I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10b)†  Fortunately, the Lord has a way of getting past our inhibitions and enabling us to minister when we commit ourselves to Him.  This week I met Rob and Joy (not their real names).  Rob and Joy are homeless, young, and confused.  They approached me in the parking lot of the hotel, asking for money to buy food.  Rob said he had a job that was starting the next day, and that they just needed some food because they were very hungry.

Confession Time:
I have had a very hard heart toward panhandlers; when I see someone on the street with a sign, I tend to look the other way.  I am, in these situations, very much the Pharisee or priest from the story of the good Samaritan.  Please pray for me that the Lord will continue to soften my heart, and teach me to have greater compassion.

For some strange reason, the Lord moved my heart in this instance, and I told them to hold on and I would walk with them over to the Wendy’s to buy them some food.  I quickly ran up to our room and told my wife what was going on and that I would be back in a few minutes.  When I got back outside, Rob and Joy had already gone to the other side of the parking lot.  I walked over and said “You didn’t think I was going to come back out did you?”

“Well,” Rob said, “A lot of people…” his voice trailed off.

“I’m not going to sneak out on you.” I said.  “I want you to know that even though we only just met, I care about you.  Let’s go get you something to eat.”  We went in to the Wendy’s and as we were standing in line, I got out one of my prayer cards.  These are home printed double-wide business cards that have my info on one side, and blank lines on the other.  That way I can fill in the info on one card and keep it to remember how to pray over someone, while giving them the other card so that they can get in touch with me when God moves in their lives.  I asked Rob if it was OK if I wrote down their names and some info so that I could pray over them.

“Sure” he said.

“That would be so great” said Joy, and proceeded to inform me that she was suffering from kidney stones which were extremely painful.  I asked her if I could pray about them right then, and she said yes, so I prayed a very short prayer.

“Dear Lord, I ask you right now to heal Joy’s kidney stones let them disolve away instead of passing.  Please spare her that pain that she’s going through.”

Joy said “You know, I believe, if that helps any.”

Opportunity missed:
This type of ambivilent unsure statement about belief offers a perfect opportunity to talk about what belief does and doesn’t do and the difference between belief (“even the demons”) and faith.  This time I let the comment slide, but next time I’ll be prepared to take the opportunity to turn things towards eternal truths.

I don’t know why other than the Lord must have been just taking control of my tongue, but I then asked them if they had a place to stay.  They indicated that they didn’t, and somehow I found myself purchasing them a single night at the hotel. 

I was really rather stunned at what I had done, so much so that I didn’t even mention it to my wife when I got back to our room.  I was speechless over my own actions, but the worst part was that although I had had the opportunity and had turned things towards spiritual things, I had not clearly laid out the truth of the law, justice, punishment, and salvation to Joy and Rob–some evangelist I was.  I vowed before the Lord that Joy and Rob would not leave that hotel room without hearing the truth from me.

The next morning, I got up early, went to Wal-Mart and purchased some cheap $.50/ea. toiletry items and 2 $2 towels, and went over and knocked on the door of their room.  They answered the door. 

“I brought you over some toiletry items in case you wanted to take showers because since it’s an extended stay hotel they don’t provide those kinds of things.  Do you mind if I talk to you for a minute?” 

“No problem.”

“Sure.”

“Thanks,” I continued, “I just wanted ya’ll to know that I really care about you–so much so that I just couldn’t let y’all leave before I talked to you about something that’s really important to me and to you.  Do you know what happens after we die?”  Neither Rob nor Joy had an answer; in fact, both shook their heads.  “I do.  The Bible says that it is given for a man once to die and after that the judgement.  That means that after we die we’re going to be judged by God.  Now, God is perfect, completely and totally perfect.  He’s never done anything wrong, never told a little white lie, nothing.  You and I look at rapists and murders and might think wow they are so bad I wouldn’t want to associate with them.  God is so perfect that even if we think we’ve lived a good life, by his perfect standard, we’re as guilty as a rapist or murderer. 

“Because God is also just He doesn’t just let us off the hook.  We deserve to die, and He has to pass the just sentence, which is that we must pay for the wrong things we’ve done by going to hell, a place where the Bible says there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  It’s not a pretty picture.  You Joy, Rob, and I–we’re all doomed to burn in Hell for all eternity.

“You know what the worst part is?” (No answers from Joy and Rob) “God actually loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.  Wants to know us and to hang out with us, but He can’t because justice demands that we be separated from Him.  So God, because He loves us so much, came up with a plan that would satisfy the demands of justice, yet still allow him to have a relationship with us.  He sent His own perfect Son, who was in fact also God himself, down to the earth to take the punishment for our evil.  I’m talking about Jesus Christ.  He died because of our bad deeds.  God laid on Him the punishment for everything we’ve done wrong, and because He was perfect, because He’d never done anything wrong Himself, he was able to pay the price, to pay the fine for the laws we broke. 

“So God offered us this great gift.  He says ‘If you’ll confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your hearts that God has raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.”   That means that if we believe and say Jesus is Lord, if we turn away from sinning and strive to sin no more, to make Jesus the Lord of our life, and if we believe that the word of God, the Bible, is true and that Jesus is alive, then we don’t have to take the punishment we so richly deserve for our lives as liars and thieves.  Instead when we are judged after we die, God will say Jesus already paid the price for this one, let him come into heaven with me and celebrate.”

Joy and Rob had remained pretty quiet throughout the whole story.  I hadn’t engaged them with questions the way I’ve been taught.  I finished up. “Thank you guys for listening to me.  I really didn’t want you to leave without knowing that I cared enough about you to tell you about the truth.  I’m going to be praying for you that God will reveal Himself to you, that you will continue to meet people who will tell you the truth and that you’ll turn toward God and repent.  Of course I’ll be continuing to pray for Joy’s kidney stones as well.  Please keep the other half of the card I filled out for you yesterday, and if you have any questions about anything I’ve said, if you’d like a Bible to read for yourself what God has to say, or if you need help, give me a call. I’ll accept even collect calls.

That was the last I saw of Joy and Rob, I pray they made it up to Frisco safely and his work is now getting them back on their feet, but most of all I pray that God will use my witness, stumbling and halting though it was (and believe me I left out a lot of stumbles and halts to fit this into a reasonable length blog post), to bring them to Himself.

What is an extended stay evangelist you ask (or perhaps you don’t and you stumbled onto this site for some other reason)?  This site will hopefully answer this question and allow you to share in my experiences.

So I have up and moved my entire family of 5 to a one bedroom apartment in an extended stay hotel in a less than savory area of town. It’s a big change.  We’re going from a 3 bedroom 2 bath house with multiple living areas and a large backyard to two rooms–one bedroom with just enough room for our queen size mattress and a crib matress for the 2 year old, and a combo living-dining-kitchen, plus a small bathroom of course.  I’m typing this while sitting on the crib matress with my feet on the queen from our bedroom (at least we have free internet access, yea!).  We’re still unpacking what little we have left after giving away most of our possessions, but I can already tell that it is going to work.  We fit, even in relative comfort.  We’re where we should be, for now.

I know what you’re thinking: “You must be crazy.”  I’d have thought the same thing if someone had told me even two years ago that this is where I would be today.  So let me tell you what’s “wrong” with me–what causes an upper-middle-class suburban family man to give away his possessions and move his family into an urban hotel in a poor area.

I know a secret that much of the world does not know or chooses to ignore.  The Bible (you know the book you hate it when people thump?) is true.  It’s not merely a good “guide for living” or a “collection of stories” or a “moral option.”  It is actually hard, black-and-white true.  The kind of true that’s worth betting on.  A sure thing.

I know I’ve lost a good half of you who have at this point written me off as “one of those fanatics” and moved on.  Of those that are left, I figure most of you still would deny the truth of the above statement.  Even if you identify yourself as a Christian you probably have some doubts in the back of your mind.  You’ve heard someone or another bring up some apparent inconsistencies and you didn’t have an answer and now you’re not really sure what to believe.  A few of you do believe the above and yet still can’t imagine how that simple statement could lead inexhoraby to the actions I outlined in my first paragraph.  Stick with me. Over the next weeks and months, I’ll share my adventures living as an extended stay evangelist.  I’ll also be answering some of those nagging questions, sharing with you the truth of the Bible and encouraging you to seek (and find) the truth for yourself.

My name is Robert Flach and I am worried about the contant flow of people into everlasting punishment and shame due to my inaction and the inaction of other Christians
like me who have let their fear overcome their compassion.  I have
decided to make a change in my own life to do what I believe God is
calling me (and all Christians) to do.  Notice the parentheses in the last sentence.  That’s right.  God is calling you as a Christian to be doing what I am doing.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read your own Bible, pray, and listen for God to speak to your heart.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be quoting scripture on this site (from public domain texts and with proper attribution), but I would encourage you to get a hold of the word of God (the Christian Bible) for yourself, read the full context of anything anyone quotes to you, and listen to what God has to say.

I had at the same time become concerned with the state of Christians in America today–specifically, the fact that the majority cannot be easily differentiated from their neighbors (except by their location on Sunday morning, and possibly, a few other nights per week).  I believe that God calls us to be in the world but not “of” it.  To me that means that it should be possible to easily tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian through a very short period of observation of their daily life. 

Well that wasn’t (and still isn’t) me.  This isn’t some holier-than-thou diatribe about why I’ve got it right and you’ve got it wrong.  In fact I know I’ve got it wrong.  That’s why I’ve begun this journey, and I’m sure God will correct and guide me along the way.  But I do want to encourage you if you haven’t started, if your neighbors don’t know you’re a Christian, if your bumper sticker is your only witnessing tool, to join me on a journey into the heart of God’s will, into the great comission, into the only task that is really worth doing with a Christian’s time on this earth–preventing the wholesale loss of the only life worth having by the hordes of people who are dying each day without realizing the truth of God’s word.

And how do we go about it? Well I’ve started by getting rid of a lot of things that were hindering me from doing God’s work and fulfilling his plan for my life, and then moving to an area where he could more easily use me on a daily basis.

And there you have it:  Now you know how an upper-middle-class suburban family man can give away his possessions and move his family into an urban hotel in a poor area.  If you want to follow my journey, see me fall on my face, see God move in people’s hearts, see what happens next.  Hang on.  There are more posts to come.

Let me close this missive with a few truths.

1. Daniel 12:2 says: “And many of them that
sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life,
and some to shame and everlasting contempt.Ӡ
2. Matthew 10:28 says: “And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to
kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and
body in hell.”

Are you absolutely sure you know what happens after we die? 

I am–I am absolutely sure I know what happens after we die.  Futher I am confidently assured by an unimpeachable authority that my knowledge is accurate.

If you’re not, consider checking out the following questionnaire: Are You Good?

† All quotes will be from the American Standard Version of the Bible.  This version is in the public domain.  I choose to use a Public Domain Biblical text because the idea of copyrighting the Bible (and placing restrictions on its use) seems both hypocritical and counterintuitive.