It was kind of a surreal experience.... We had just arrived at our mission in Quito and here I was less than 48 hours later standing at the graveside of a man I didn't know and hadn't even met.
I watched as the gravedigger dug the grave by hand. He would occasionally stop and put his chin on top of the shovel and seem interested in what was going on as he rested. There was hardly anybody there. Just the man's wife, a couple of other people, the pastor, myself and the Ecuadorian gravedigger. Being one of the few English speaking churches in town, the widow called the pastor with whom I served on staff and asked that he do the funeral. I was there as support.
The story of this man's life ended sadly. He was a very successful American businessman who had visited Ecuador frequently and ended up buying some lucrative property in Quito so that he could retire. He had quite a nest egg. His goal in life was to retire with his wife at this property in Quito and live a life of ease and luxury.
What was interesting was that this man and his wife arrived in Quito about the same time my wife and I had arrived. We may have even been on the same airplane. What he hadn't considered, as he grew older, was that his health wasn't as good as it had been in the past. Quito has an elevation of over 9,000 feet (btw - Denver has an elevation of just over 5,000 feet) above sea level. People who visit Quito often come down with Soroche (altitude sickness). The symptoms are very similar to carbon monoxide poisoning. The stress of the Soroche that he was experiencing taxed his body and his heart stopped working.
So, here we have a man who saved his whole life, gathered quite a bit of money and bought some nice property in Quito so that he could retire, and within 48 hours of achieving his goal, he died. From what his wife described, it also appeared that he died without knowing Jesus as his Savior.
Jesus talked about this. He said, "Now what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?"
Jesus, who taught a parable about a man who amassed fortune and trusted in himself, said, "You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?"
Having a goal is not bad in and of itself. However, if your goal excludes God and is just to please yourself, know that you may never reach it. If you do, it won't last forever.
Then there is reward or payment.
Yet, if you have a goal and it includes God and pleasing Him, you WILL reach it.
"Don't store up treasure on earth..."
Make heaven your goal.
BE A MAN
Actor Sean Astin has had a long-standing career in Hollywood
. From starring as Mikey in “The Goonies” to his role as Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, he has entertained and inspired audiences for decades. In a new interview
with Beliefnet’s John W. Kennedy, Astin recently discussed his career, his faith and a Christian movie he recently filmed called “Mom’s Night Out.”
It may come as a surprise to some that Astin, who has said in the past that he doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, is religious. But a close look at his career and his public comments corroborate this very fact. In his discussion with Kennedy, Astin described his faith journey in detail and didn’t hesitate to call himself a faithful Christian.
He detailed his fascinating faith journey — one that encapsulated experiences with Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, agnosticism and Protestantism (they all touched him in some way). Today, Astin is a Lutheran, having been officially baptized along with his wife at a church in Indiana. But growing up, his stepfather, actor John Astin, was a Buddhist and his birth father was Jewish.
Beyond that, his mother, actress Patty Duke, is a Catholic — at least nominally. When Kennedy asked about this dynamic, the entertainer was candid
Well, it depends on when you ask her and who you ask. I think today she would probably consider herself a Catholic. She’s had a really kind of tortured relationship [with the Church]. I [remember] when my sister died. There’s this group of nuns that lived in a convent nearby. She insisted that they be there. So, you know, when you talk about self identifying versus how people practice versus the culture versus all these kinds of things I think my mom is a feels very comfortable with her Catholicism.”
In a previous interview with Sherry Huang (also published on Beliefnet), Astin was asked about his favorite prayer. He cited a Democratic National Committee member named Ron Dugger, who had once set up a meeting between the actor and then-Sen. John Kerry at a time during which Astin was politically active.
“There’s a guy named Rob Dugger who was a very senior member of the Democratic National Committee. [A]fter I’d met with John Kerry, [Rob had] arranged a meeting and this [was] at the height of my trying to grapple with what I was able to accomplish–and not–on a political level,”Astin told Huang
. “We just had this conversation, and I asked him that question. [H]e said every morning he wakes up and he says a prayer, ‘Allow me to be an instrument of Your will.’”
Astin said the prayer really resonated with him and that he has uttered it “a few thousand times” since first hearing it.
It seems the actor has put his money where his mouth is, too. While he generally doesn’t shout his faith from mountaintops, Astin actively participates in projects, both in the faith and Hollywood realms, that tout positive, Christian values.
Consider the fact that he provided the voice of Matthew in the “Truth and Life Dramatized Audio New Testament” a few years back. Catholic Online described the project
as “a dramatic and powerful audio recording of the Bible that brings the Word to life using the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (RSV-CE) text.”
“For people who care about the Bible as revealed truth, this is a gateway to make it accessible to them and I’m proud to be associated with that,” he told the outlet of the project.
Astin also shared a personal story in the 2011 interview
, showcasing the importance that the Bible — and this particular project — have in his own life:
“The other day I was with my daughter and she has a middle school chapel service. When she got out, I was asking her questions about the passages they were looking at. At first she couldn’t remember so I downloaded a Bible program onto my iPhone and we were scrolling through it, just riding in the car!
“If you pass muster and people make it to a second CD, you know it’s really important to them. When anyone is listening, you are purveying revealed truth to people and it carries a real responsibility. You have to decide whether you want to do that whether you want participate in that.
“I don’t actually walk around wearing my faith on my sleeve or anything but I went to Catholic school for three years. You get to certain passages about the Last Supper or the Crucifixion and I’ve heard them a lot in church and they were spoken by a priest.
“And now the words that were being uttered by a priest to a congregation are coming through my eyes and sound! These massive ideas are being poured out and it gives you goose bumps sometimes. You’re portraying revealed truth!”
All this considered, his new movie, too, is faith-based in nature. “Mom’s Night Out
” is described as “an endearing, true-to-life family comedy.” It centers upon a few mothers who want to go out for an evening of fun. With their husbands left to care for the kids, chaos and comedy unfold.
The film, set to be released in 2014, is produced by Andrew and Jon Erwin, the filmmaking brothers who also brought forth the successful pro-life movie “October Baby
.” For more about Astin, be sure to visit his official website
For the original post, go to: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/07/hollywood-actor-opens-up-about-his-christian-faith/
Numbers of gifted persons and organizations have studied the phenomenon of the church “back door,” the metaphorical way we describe people leaving the church. And there will always be the anticipated themes of relocation or personal crises. We should recognize those issues, though we can respond to the latter more than the former.
But all the research studies of which I am aware, including my own, return to one major theme to explain the exodus of church members: a sense of some need not being filled. In other words, these members have ideas of what a local congregation should provide for them, and they leave because those provisions have not been met.
Certainly we recognize there are many legitimate claims by church members of unfulfilled expectations. It can undoubtedly be the fault of the local congregation and its leaders.
But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.
Look at some of the direct quotes from exit interviews of people who left local congregations:
Please hear me clearly. Church members should expect some level of ministry and concern. But, for a myriad of reasons beyond the scope of this one blogpost, we have turned church membership into country club membership. You pay your dues and you are entitled to certain benefits.
- “The worship leader refused to listen to me about the songs and music I wanted.”
- “The pastor did not feed me.”
- “No one from my church visited me.”
- “I was not about to support the building program they wanted.”
- “I was out two weeks and no one called me.”
- “They moved the times of the worship services and it messed up my schedule.”
- “I told my pastor to go visit my cousin and he never did.”
The biblical basis of church membership is clear in Scripture. The Apostle Paul even uses the “member” metaphor to describe what every believer should be like in a local congregation. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul describes church members not by what they should receive in a local church, but by the ministry they should give.
The solution to closing the back door, at least a major part of the solution, is therefore to move members from an entitlement mentality to a servant mentality. Of course, it is easy for me to write about it, but it is a greater challenge to effect it.
May I then offer a few steps of a more practical nature to help close the back door by changing the membership mentality? Here are five:
What are you doing in your church to close the back door? What are you doing to move members from an entitlement mentality to a servant mentality?Thom S Rainer wrote this post. You can find his original post at: http://thomrainer.com/2013/01/21/the-main-reason-people-leave-a-church/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
- Inform church members. Though I do not have precise numbers, I would conjecture that more than one-half of church members do not have a biblical understanding about church membership. Providing that information in a new members’ class can move an entire congregation toward a servant mentality.
- Raise the bar of expectations. We have dumbed down church membership in many congregations to where it has little meaning. Clarify expectations of members. Again, doing so in the context of a new members’ class is a great way to begin.
- Mentor members. Take two or three members and begin to mentor them to become biblical church members. After a season, ask them to mentor two or three as well. Let the process grow exponentially.
- Train members. Almost 100 percent of pastors agree that their role is to train and equip members. But almost three-fourths of these pastors have no plans on how they will train them (see Ephesians 4:11-13). I will address this issue more fully on my blog next Wednesday.
- Encourage people to be in small groups. Those in Sunday school classes and small groups are more likely to be informed and functioning church members. In others words, there is a much greater likelihood of a member with a servant mentality to be in a small group than not.
Look at the life of Jesus. Notice what he did. When Jesus touched the blind, they could see; all the beauty of the world opened before them. When he touched the deaf, they were able to hear; for the first time in their lives they heard laughter and music and their children's voices. He touched the lame, and they jumped to their feet and began to dance. And he called the dead back to life and gave them to their families.
Do you see? Wherever humanity was broken, Jesus restored it. He is giving us an illustration here, and there, and there again. The coming of the kingdom of God restores the world he made.
God has been whispering this secret to us through creation itself, every year, at springtime, ever since we left the Garden. Sure, winter has its certain set of joys. The wonder of snowfall at midnight, the rush of a sled down a hill, the magic of the holidays. But if winter ever came for good and never left, we would be desolate. Every tree leafless, every flower gone, the grasses on the hillsides dry and brittle. The world forever cold, silent, bleak.
After months and months of winter, I long for the return of summer. Sunshine, warmth, color, and the long days of adventure together. The garden blossoms in all its beauty. The meadows soft and green. Vacation. Holiday. Isn't this what we most deeply long for? To leave the winter of the world behind, what Shakespeare called "the winter of our discontent," and find ourselves suddenly in the open meadows of summer?
If we listen, we will discover something of tremendous joy and wonder. The restoration of the world played out before us each spring and summer isprecisely what God is promising us about our lives. Every miracle Jesus ever did was pointing to this Restoration, the day he makes all things new.This post is an excerpt from the book, Epic by John Eldredge
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Christ did not die for an idea. He died for a person, and that person is you. But there again, we have been led astray. Ask any number of people why Christ came, and you'll receive any number of answers, but rarely the real one. "He came to bring world peace." "He came to teach us the way of love." "He came to die so that we might go to heaven." "He came to bring economic justice." On and on it goes, much of it based in a partial truth. But wouldn't it be better to let him speak for himself ?
Jesus steps into the scene. He reaches back to a four-hundred-year-old prophecy to tell us why he's come. He quotes from Isaiah 61:1, which goes like this:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
The meaning of this quotation has been clouded by years of religious language and ceremonial draping. What is he saying? It has something to do with good news, with healing hearts, with setting someone free.
Christ could have chosen any one of a thousand other passages to explain his life purpose. But he did not. He chose this one; this is the heart of his mission. Everything else he says and does finds its place under this banner: "I am here to give you back your heart and set you free." That is why the glory of God is man fully alive: it's what he said he came to do. But of course. The opposite can't be true. "The glory of God is man barely making it, a person hardly alive." How can it bring God glory for his very image, his own children, to remain so badly marred, broken, captive?This post is an excerpt from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Yesterday, we noted three important factors to consider in regard to those who have a history of molesting children:
1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
I have been professionally counseling men for 30+ years. Many of them for their sexual behavior and many of them appeared to be sincerely Christian men. Yet there have been some that have convinced me that they were totally innocent, that the charges were trumped up and that they were unjustly charged. However, upon further investigation, I found out that they were lying thru their teeth. My experience has taught me a few things about safeguards. Let me share them with you:
First of all, most churches do this but I have run across some that don't: Every person who works in the church nursery, teaches children's Sunday School/Vacation Bible School, and/or is a Church Camp counselor, needs to sign an agreement to have his* background checked by the local authorities and the FBI. In fact, anyone who has repeated contact with children in any capacity in regard to a church function needs to have a background check. If you have someone who is working with children and didn't divulge his background, then that person needs to be confronted and the pastor needs to understand why the person felt a need to hide such information. This could very well be a legal as well as moral and spiritual issue.
Yet, a person who is truly desirous to fellowship in a church where there are children present, will talk to the pastor about his past before attending church. It would be advisable for the pastor to let the person know that the board will be informed of his past and that safeguards will be in place. Here are some recommended safeguards:
1. The person will sit up front, to the side, in the congregation. That way the only people he can see are the people on the stage. Also, it keeps him in full visibility of the congregation and pastor.
2. Several men will be appointed to keep an eye on the person. If he gets up to leave for any reason, he will be accompanied by at least one other man.
3. He will never enter the bathroom alone. In fact, it is advisable that the church appoint individuals to make rounds in the church bathrooms and other private/secluded areas of the church before, during and after the service from the time the church is unlocked until it is locked again.
4. He does not need to attend services when children will be up front on the stage for extended periods of time. If he is there, he needs to excuse himself until the children are not up front, or he should just go home.
5. He needs to be active in the Men's Ministry of the church and be accountable to that group of men.
6. He needs to meet with the pastor regularly for counsel, feedback and accountability.
7. He should never be allowed to work with children, in any capacity.8. He should not be Facebook friends, or any other social media including texting with any minors in the church.So, it is possible to allow a person with a criminal history of sexually abusing children to worship and fellowship in the church but he must be transparent and be willing to follow the recommended safeguards. If he cannot, then the church can go to where he is and fellowship with him at his home or a neutral location. Or the obvious..... If you really want to minister to these individuals, consider a service that is for adults only... No minors allowed... Spaced far enough from the other service so that there is time to come and go without interacting with minors.We don't need to write off these men, they need to grow spiritually as well. And you know, it will decrease child molestation in the long run too... *The word "his" will be used throughout. The majority of those who sexually offend are males but that does not mean that the church should give an automatic pass to women. Women need to have background checks as well.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The first generation Christians were brought out of evil. The power of Jesus radically changed these individuals. Look at the list of sins from which the first generation Christians were delivered: 1) sexual immorality, 2) idolatry, 3) adultery, 4) homosexuality, 5) greed, 6) drunkenness and 7) swindling. I Cor 6:9-10
Did you catch that? The church treasurer who cooks the books is among the list of individuals who do things that the church vehemently speaks out against. Yet…
“…that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Cor 6:11
Did you also catch “that is what some of you were”? These individuals were brought out of their lifestyle and were justified. Justified is a term that means “just as if I’d not sinned.”
So what did the early church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
On this blog you will find a post written by a man who did just that and now can’t find a church that will accept him. I know another Christian man who 20+ years past his crime, paid for his crime, and has set up boundaries to not be around children, who is searching for a church that will accept him into their fellowship.
What is the church’s response to these individuals? We will accept the greedy person (“God I want you to bless me with a Cadillac”) and in fact will have opulent church potlucks where people that don’t need the rich foods pile it on. We forgive the church board member who cheats on his wife.
But what do we as a church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
This is not an easy answer… There are three complicating but very important points to make before answering that question:
1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
Knowing these three facts, as a church what should be our response to someone who is a sexual offender? Especially to those who have repented, become a sincere Christian; have turned away from their sinfulness and desire to have fellowship with other Christians? Tomorrow we will make some recommendations.
BE A MAN.
MONTGOMERY – A police department in Alabama has been working in recent months to train area pastors to work beside them in the police force, both as a way to reach out to the hurting and to fight back against crime in the city.
This past summer, the Montgomery Police Department launched Operation Good Shepherd in response to the city’s high homicide rate, as Montgomery fears being on the path to becoming one of the most violent cities per capita in America. According to WSFA, the outreach program was modeled after the Police and Clergy Working Together (PACT) program in Dayton, Ohio.
“[F]aith leaders attend weekly classes in which police teach them ways they can discourage crime and show them exactly what’s happening in their communities,” the outlet explained.
Pastors will accompany police at crime scenes, as well counsel and pray with those present, and will attend monthly meetings to discuss areas of concern in regard to criminal activity in the city. Police training includes gang awareness and how to spot illegal drug activity.
Nearly 40 area clergy have completed the training, which were all recognized during a recent ceremony at Montgomery City Hall. Police chief Kevin Murphy issued diplomas to the pastors as their names were called.
“They’re going to make a difference, and they’re going to help everyone in their time of need see that change can be made,” Corporal David Hicks told those gathered.
Corporal Theodore Williams, the project coordinator, concurred.“I am so glad to have this moment finally come,” he stated to reporters with theMontgomery Adviser at the event. “I am so glad that they are able to go out and help people in their time of need. … This is good for the city of Montgomery.”
According to The Atlantic, popular radio preacher Billy Holder also addressed the audience, explaining that the youth in Montgomery need examples of how to live with standards and morals. He shared a story about how he had watched a documentary where an older elephant was able to tame the young, unruly elephants through his example and care.
“Once the older elephant was introduced to the pack, the younger elephants had somebody to look up to,” Irvin told the crowd. “They had someone to guide them. And that’s what our youth needs: someone to guide them. Without that, how will they know about moral structure?”
Hicks recently appeared on Holder’s program to explain Operation Good Shepherd and its goals.
“What we want to do is combine the religious community and the Montgomery Police Department and we want to unite those as one,” he stated.
However, Montgomery police chaplain E. Baxter Morris stated that the opportunity can also be viewed as a means to evangelize the lost in the community.
“There is an evangelistic advantage,” he stated. “That is, that once I float to your comfort zone, and we become one in our crisis, I determine what your spiritual needs may or may not be, and I may be able to share with you a word from Christ.”
“The faith community is the community that’s really the heart of any community,” Roosevelt Crawford of Bethlehem Temple Church told reporters. “And the churches need to be connected with the community.”This post was written by H Clark. For the original post go to:
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4 (NKJV)
The sorrow and promise that is given here are not a general sorrow. This doesn’t refer to the sorrow that comes when things go wrong in our life. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t comfort us during these times because he certainly does. There are plenty of places in Scripture that speak to this. This just isn’t one of them.
As we look at these attitudes it’s important to recognize how they are interconnected. Those that come to the place where they understand the seriousness of their sin and their spiritual poverty, mourn for their sin. They mourn first for their own sin and then for the sins of others. The word that is translated as mourn is the strongest word possible for mourning. It is like the deep mourning and wailing that occurs when a loved one dies. It is a deep, desperate and helpless sorrow and in this case it comes not because of a tragedy but because we recognize how serious our sin is.
It is rare to see this kind of mourning for sins in our day and age. Have you ever wondered why? I think the main problem is that we don’t have a Biblical view of sin. The word sin in our culture at large is generally used to refer to things that are seen as indulgences. These are things we know we shouldn’t have, but it’s just so good we will anyway. We may regret it tomorrow, but right now we are going to enjoy it and joke about how sinfully delicious it is. Of course what this really means is that it is no big deal.
Sadly, many times this is the same general attitude that we have toward sin. This is certainly not the Biblical view of sin. Look at some of what the Bible says about sin.
Sin is a work of the devil. “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning…” (1 John 3:8 NKJV)
Those who sin are children of the devil. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do…” John 8:44 (NKJV)
Sin is an abominable thing God hates. “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord…” (Proverbs 15:9 NKJV)
Sin is disgraceful. “Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34 NLT)
All sin is done against God. “Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight– That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.” Psalm 51:4 (NKJV)
Sin defiles us. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” Matthew 15:19-20 (NKJV)
Sin brings the wrath of God. “For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 5:5-6 NKJV)
Sin brings death. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:14-15 (NKJV)
Sin enslaves me. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” Romans 6:16 (NKJV)
Sin is the reason Jesus was crucified. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV)
When we recognize the severity of our sin we will mourn for our sin. The promise for that genuinely mourns for their sin is that they will be comforted. They will be comforted. This comfort comes because mourning leads to repentance, repentance leads to confession and confession leads to forgiveness.
“I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:5 (NKJV)
This is why God wants us to mourn for our sins. It’s not so that we can live lives of shame, guilt and feeling beat down. It’s so that we will turn to Him and seek His grace and mercy. God wants to forgive us for our sins. He wants to forgive us so much that He sent Jesus to die that awful death we talked about for our sins. Before we can be forgiven we must repent. We must turn from our sins and turn to God. We won’t repent until we truly mourn for our sins. This leaves us separated from God and far from the life He wants us to have.
Do you see your sin as serious as described above?
Do you mourn for your sins?
Is there sin in your life that you need to confess to God and receive His forgiveness?
This post was written by Rev Ross. For the original post, go to: http://stacyjross.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/mourn-for-sin/
BE A MAN.
MORGANTON, North Carolina – A Christian evangelist witnessing at a public festival in North Carolina this past weekend was forced to put away a wooden cross that he was holding as police asserted that it could be considered a “dangerous weapon.”
Brothers Jesse and Matthew Boyd, along with friend Kent Blalock, attended the 32nd annual Historic Morganton Festival on Saturday to open-air preach, distribute Gospel literature and hold Scripture-based signs as a witness to attendees. Matthew carried a small 3-pound wooden cross that bears the question “Are You Ready?” and folds away when not in use.
The men state that even before they attended the event, they became aware that there could be problems in light of the festival rules, which barred free speech activity on the streets. In turn, Jesse contacted City Attorney Louis Vinay to express concern, sending him a compilation of relevant case law that protected free speech activity at public events.
Most notably, the evangelists–and anyone else who wished to engage in free speech–would have been required to stand in a “free speech zone,” which was located two blocks outside of the event and away from the crowds.
“We saw these rules being promulgated online, and they were clearly egregious and unconstitutional violations of free speech, so we did everything in our power to alert the authorities about our position on the matter,” Jesse told Christian News Network. “I believe that if we had just gone in there without raising concerns ahead of time, they would have tried to stop us, and perhaps arrest us.”
However, when the men arrived at the festival, they soon learned that organizers and police had a problem with more than just the evangelists’ presence inside the event. Approximately 30 minutes after setting up at a busy public intersection, the Boyds and Blalock were approached by the festival organizer, Sharon Jablonski, who said that it was against the rules for the Christians to hold signs and distribute tracts within the festival.
“It was just very politely stated to her that we were not going to stop, and that the rules did not supersede our rights as American citizens under the Constitution,” Matthew explained. “We’re on a public street; you can’t just make [your own] rules.”
Jablonski then convened with police, and after a while, she approached the evangelists with a man that identified as Chief Mark Tolbert.
“The chief then focused in on the cross, saying that it was a violation of the [city's] sign ordinance, and we just kind of went back and forth, … [explaining that] the language of the ordinance did not apply here,” Matthew recalled, as Jesse noted that the law pertained to poles and other objects used to hoist signs that could be sharp or injurious.
However, what Tolbert contended next shocked and baffled the men.
“He kept referring to [the cross] as a dangerous weapon,” Matthew said, “or a possible dangerous weapon.”
“I responded to the chief and said, ‘To be honest with you chief, you’re right,’” Jesse recalled. “The cross, spiritually speaking, is a deadly weapon in terms of of the sin nature and the devils who want to overthrow Christ and his reign. So, yes, it is a deadly weapon.”
But he also told Tolbert that his assertion was absurd in a practical sense.
“I said to the chief, ‘Sir, you know we’re out here peacefully. Our entire approach is peaceful, and just because something could be used as a deadly weapon doesn’t mean it is,’” Jesse explained. “I said, ‘That walkie-talkie attached to your shirt could be a deadly weapon if you swung it and hit somebody in the head with it.’”
The evangelists stated that they were also perplexed as to why they were being targeted when numerous attendees–including children–were walking around with wooden Samurai swords that were being sold by a vendor.
“We train with these at my Aikido club, and they are deadly weapons,” Jesse noted. “There were people with light sabers and plastic swords and all kinds of things that could have been a deadly weapon, and yet the police chose to zero in on this ‘Are You Ready’ cross.”
As the evangelists continued to disagree with the application of the statute, the officers convened for approximately a half an hour to discuss the matter. During this time, Jablonski again approached the Boyds and Blalock to advise that the evangelists could either put their tracts and signs away and only speak to people, go to the free speech zone to conduct their activities, or leave the event altogether.
“And Kent made the statement to her that we’re not putting our signs up and we’re going to continue to hand out tracts, and we’re not going to follow your suggestions,” Matthew stated. “And that’s when the major came up with the chief and said that the cross had to go. He said, ‘This is your last chance.’”
At this point, the men then agreed to put the cross away and continue with their other evangelistic activities, but commented how they believed it was foolish for police to exert their efforts on a wooden cross being held by Christian missionaries.
“[There were] people who were clearly drunk, and the officers are focusing an hour or more of their time convening, trying to figure out what they’re going to do with some street preachers,” Matthew said. “To me, it’s just absurd.”
“This was just a classic case of [police] trying to appease some festival organizers who chose to zero in on the preachers and ignore all the other violations of their rules,” Jesse stated.
In the end, the evangelists said that God used their time at the festival, as a group of girls soon approached after witnessing the situation and joined the men in handing out Gospel tracts. Another attendee who had planned on attending a country music concert at the festival also fell under conviction, and likewise joined the evangelists in distributing tracts to the masses.
“That’s what it’s about,” Matthew said.
This post was written by H. Clark. The original post for this story can be found at: http://christiannews.net/2013/09/11/nc-police-claim-christian-carrying-cross-violates-dangerous-weapons-law/
BE A MAN.