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What drives you?

This was the title of the morning sermon.

This morning pastor stepped back to a seat among the audience as he handed the microphone over to a lady who has the gift of evangelism. Every time she speaks the message always has strong overtones of evangelism mixed in. I am sure we will probably have more of these as pastor alluded to how great it is to have an evangelistic pastor on staff.

I will tell you straight out, I, am not an evangelist. Oh, you could go on a big rant about how we all are to be evangelists, but then you don't deal with the damage in my head and what I have seen that turned me so hard against doing something like that.

My gifting is as a teacher. Do I get the opportunity to do this teaching thing as I wished, a big NO is in order here, but I do push the door as often as I can, as I look for opportunities to do just that.

I want to tell you about how one of those moments arose recently.

The wife and I got up leisurely, drove without incident down the freeway, and made it to the beach; spending a pleasant and relaxing day at one of our favorites. We had stopped in a pastry bakery and got two of the largest, chocolate fudge, cheese cake brownies I have ever seen. We took those to a nearby McDonald's and got a couple of diet sodas to wash what we could consume of these brownies down.

While we could only put a small dent in the brownies - they were so overwhelmingly sweet, I did notice a man reading what looked like a Bible.

I know how I can react when challenged or disturbed, so I was hesitant to bother the man. Quickly the atmosphere was changing inside the hamburger stand as the roving band of white, wealthy, skateboard punks moved into the center of the restaurant. I glanced back to see if the man with the Bible was still there; he was. The tug to go and talk to him grew greater (blame that on the Holy Spirit.) With the skateboarders gone and the need to wash my hands, I took the opening and stopped to talk with the man with the Bible.

I definitely had the drive to talk with the man, but going up to him and stating the obvious is painfully obvious. I find myself asking myself why would I be talking to him? Perhaps my motivation was to merely encourage the gentleman because I can assure you, someone reading a Bible in public is no longer a common place sight, and my own experiences have many times been less than pleasant.

Nonetheless, taking advantage of a window of opportunity, I took it. Immediately I focused on the fact that he was reading from the book of Leviticus; a book of the law. I could have made several assumptions about the man, but I was so excited to potentially find another believer that I overlooked that aspect. I also noted that he was reading from a commentary on Leviticus, furthering the idea that an intense study was going on.

I mentioned the depth of the book and that it was a good thing that he was using a commentary. Like so many others, he shot back with, I let the Holy Spirit lead and teach me! It did not occur to me to get sarcastic with him; that was not my purpose or desire, but think about the process of using a commentary to gain insight and then by adding, that you rely exclusively on the Holy Spirit, your logic is slightly twisted and a bit of an enigma; wouldn't you say.

His next utterance went like this, then let me ask you a question? If you died tonight do you have an assurance of where you would spend eternity?

I am not going to lie to you, his question made me angry; I was angry at the fact that he would even feel the need to ask me a question like that. Why should I have let that bother me? Because I would have never asked you a question like that unless you started talking about flat earth theories and aliens. Someone with a bent or twisted theology will expose themselves quickly; an example showed up at our men's group recently where a new man began espousing that we are saved by hope. He ranted that though he could not think of the scripture, he could guarantee that it existed. We proved him incorrect with the very scripture that he could only remember parts of. This is one of those moments I appreciate my notebook computer and the Bible database I have on it, as it enabled me to find what he was speaking about and show him clearly, from the Moffatt translation, that he was incorrect. I don't relish putting people in their place, but I cannot stand false teachers.

I never answer challenges with quick responses anymore; I always give them a moment of thought. Strangely, this throws the person asking the question for a bit of a tailspin, as they usually have something prepared with which they are hoping to shred you. I also find this gives me the opportunity to listen to the Holy Spirit; often the answers He gives stun even me.

So, standing almost in the middle of a McDonald's hamburger stand, surrounded by foolish skateboarders, I began to answer his challenge to tell him why I believe there is a hope and that the hope is real to me.
Before I tell you what I said, I feel a need to say, I am not an evangelist, I am a teacher of God's word. That is all.

I stuck my finger on his Bible as I said, I believe that the Word of God is alive and true; I know this because I have spent eleven years of my life pursuing the character and nature of the God I love, and I have that found that character and nature embedded in His word. I have His assurance that He loves me because He was willing to put himself on a cross, die, and rise again, just for me. And, all I had to do was to accept and acknowledge that He is the Messiah God that I have longed for and needed. Because I did this I have the guarantee of hope and eternity in Heaven with the Father, God Himself. I will rule and reign with Him in peace forever.

I said those things and then I said (don't ask me to explain why,) one of the books that taught me about the nature and character of God was The Shack, by William Paul Young. We spoke of that for a moment and I moved on. In those moments, as I loudly proclaimed my allegiance to the one true God, I was an accidental evangelist, and maybe I was a teacher.

As we left I turned back to him with one last parting comment. I said you have never met anyone like me before. I told him there is no time to explain, and I am not sure what it means, but God called me to be a prophet. Today, you met the prophet. As you lie in bed tonight God will explain it to you and you will understand why he put me in your face this day.

Perhaps my words will have the same affect on you. I hope so, for we were not called to be ordinary and we serve a jealous and relentless God. 

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