Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January Night: ...then Nothing BUT This Matters Tonight

Happy New Year!

Our ministry of Sidewalk Outreach kicked off the 2017 year with another outreach in the streets of downtown OKC. We were able to join up with our group from a sister church and serve the needy, less fortunate, and homeless with blankets, warm cup of soup, drinks, clothes, underwear, and toiletries that any would need.

Last night we had a group of about ten from our church join us in serving. I'm thankful for them. I'm thankful because of two reasons:

1. This is coming off of a New Years Eve weekend. This is big because many people are so caught up in the hussel and bussel of the holidays so things like this don't make the cut when it comes to priorities. So when a large group comes, it's pretty great.
2. Most of the folks that do come are youth. Yeah, that's right. Teenagers. These students were ending out their Christmas break by going with us into the streets to serve others. I give high props to them for that. It takes dedication to give up your time, which is not much anyway, and to give it to the church, and others.

My guys in FBC Youth are great with great hearts for people. They love to serve others and they have a passion to meet the needs of others.

Thanks to Katie and Marty for leading us. Thanks to our students that attended.

Your service to your community doesn't go unnoticed.

Til the Nets are Full,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sidewalk Outreach Overview: An Outreach to "Good" People

Summer Greetings to you!

Here I am in August and the summer has, once again, flown by and I can't get it back. Between work, ministry, church, kiddo activities, family planning, and not to mention having time to eat and sleep, it's safe to say that it's certainly been a busy one.

Recently, I was tasked to put together a video documentary of what the basis of the Sidewalk Outreach Ministry is for and to show what we do, as a church, to serve others. I was glad to accept that challenge because I feel that its a necessary thing to do to show others what it's all about.

My church has a team of people, and it fluctuates, but its normally about 12-15 people that join together on the first Monday of each month, which is our designated night, to join up with a sister church in order to serve the homeless, and less fortunate of OKC. This is located at a spot near downtown OKC. There are many other churches that join up with this sister church on the following Mondays but this specific first one is ours. The sister church has been actively serving in this capacity for over 14 years and for that, I am very grateful. This is such an incredible ministry because its the only one that has been consistent after all this time to serve these fine people.

It takes a full day to prep for an event like this. This particular day as what's shown in the video below is Memorial Day 2016. The day starts early and consists of making enough food to feed about 300 people. Obviously, it's a very daunting task but it's one that comes together gladly by come fine Christian ladies (and men) and they do so without a blink. I'm so thankful for them and their hearts of compassion and dedication. It doesn't go un-noticed and God will certainly not overlook it.

They plan the meal, plan the people, plan the supplies, the resources, and the time that goes into this kind of outreach of this magnitude.

Some of the duties include, and certainly are not limited to, prepping the meal, the cutting, the cooking, the placing in bags, the prepping of all bags, the soda, the ice, and the organizing of the Gospel tracts that go into each bag. Have you ever made 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in one sitting? It's definitely time consuming to say the least.

Apart from food, there has to be people that organizes and preps other items such as clothes, coats, gloves, blankets, t-shirts, underwear, socks and sweaters. You say "Sweaters in July?" Absolutely. Some parents, when you're sleeping in an open field, or a back alley, with your 3 year old child, do not have a blanket or a pillow and a sweater in the middle of the night is their only option to keep warm on those summer nights. Not to mention the winter nights when you have no shoes, socks, or even a blanket or bed.

Oh, the things we take for granted.

We also do our best to provide such things as toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpastes, dental floss, deodorants, over the counter allergy medicines and headache medicines, things that they don't have the money to walk into their own grocery store and purchase on their own.

We haven't forgot the animals either. Many nights when we are downtown, there are dogs and cats that belong to the people we're ministering too that also need fed as well. So we come prepared with a large bag of cat food, dog food, even some small animal clothes that someone may have provided the ministry.

We do all this because everyone has needs. Everyone has the needs for everyday items such as food, clothing, and shelter. Although we can't provide shelter for all people everywhere, we can provide food and clothes for all who come to our specific locations we're based at if they so desire.

However, there is an even greater need that is beyond all these other things. That need that one has is the greatest need that we all have as humans.

We need Jesus Christ.

We organize these outreaches purely for the necessity of sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. One thing I've always said, and I don't take credit for as it's a quote from Mark Cahill, is that if they're breathing, they need Jesus. Guess what, these people are living, breathing, individuals that need Jesus just like me. Tons of lost people show up to these locations. We want to give them truth. We want to give them the gospel. Since these folks may never darken the door of a church, it is the time and it is imperative that we hit them hard with truth spoken in love.

When it comes to truth, I think of the verse found in Acts.

Acts 26:18:
“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Pauls mission in this chapter of Acts was to preach the Gospel to the gentiles in that area. Our mission for this outreach is to preach the Gospel to these people as Jesus commanded all Christians to do.

Jesus speaking in Mark 16:15 states,
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

This is our mission. This is our drive. As normal, biblical, Christians (that we all should be striving to be), this is our one duty. Some people try to say "No, you have to get to know someone first. You must build relationships with them for a very long time before we can share our faith with them. That's how you earn the right to share with them."

Sorry, I don't see it. 

Where in this verse, or anywhere else in the Bible, does it tell us that we must earn the right to share our faith? Once you are a Christian, you have the right. We are compelled to share the gospel with the lost. We know hell is real, and it is our responsibility to try and stop all people from going there.

When Jesus tells us to follow Him and He will make us fishers of men, He means it. You don't have the option to not do so.

When Jesus says He came to seek and save those who are lost, then it is also our responsibility to do the same.

When Jesus witnessed to the woman at the well, did He get her water first before He earned the right to share the gospel with her?

When Jesus was talking with the rich young ruler, did he help him with his stock portfolio before He shared eternal truth with him?

And what nice things was Stephen going to do for the people that were stoning him, because he was telling them about seeing Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father? Should he have asked them if he could wash off their rocks first, before they threw them at him?

When the Jews were having Paul arrested in Acts 21 and Paul got a chance to preach to the crowd, should he have handed out Skittles, given away free concert tickets, or washed their cars before he shared the truth of Jesus Christ with them?

Absolutely not. Hogwash and balderdash is all I can think of. One more time we are being duped by what people say instead of listening to what God tells us. As one guy said, if you were at the World Trade Center on September 10th, and you knew all those people would die the next day, what would you say to them? It doesn’t seem like to me that you would have had a lot of time to get them to like you, or to do a bunch of nice things for them. If you really want lost people to love you, then give up Christianity and go and find another faith to believe in.

Followers of Christ take the commands of Christ seriously. They take the Great Commission seriously. And that takes dying to yourself, your wants, your needs, your desires, and sharing the Gospel with others.

Whether it be in the form of one to one conversations, the distribution of Gospel tracts, open air preaching, or even proclaiming these truths from a pulpit of your own church, it should be a message proclaimed to all people.

If they're breathing, they need Jesus.

I was able to create this video, and show it in its entirety, to my own church body recently. Alot of people simply did not know what all went on in this particular ministry that our church is actively involved in. My goal in this video was to give an overview, from start to finish, as to what it's really all about.

I hope God blesses you through it and because of it. Every time I see it, I see the urgency is greater and greater for Christians to just be Christians and serve others more and more in this day and age as it's getting pretty dark outside. Oh, gloriously dark.

Stand up Christian. Get up, get out, and share your faith. We don't have a lot of time left.

Until the nets are full,

And by the way, how can you keep the most important thing in your life away from someone that you know? That would be the definition of selfish. Please be selfless in the coming days as you reach the lost, and not selfish.

Monday, April 11, 2016

April Night: Steak on a Plate While You Wait

The right theology is crucial when it comes to sharing the Gospel.

Last week I, along with several others from our church, were able to go to downtown Oklahoma City and serve the homeless and those less fortunate. I know, because of the ones that I serve with who are much more seasoned than I am, we always show up prepared. We provide to them food, clothing, toiletries, water, punch, coffee, hot chocolate, blankets, and many other things that one might need as part of daily living.

The ones that we team up with from another local church are an outstanding group of people. They are Gods blessed few that go week in, and week out at all costs. They don't miss a week to serve. And they are always prepared.

Preparation is key.

But was I prepared?

Upon arriving, I got my soapbox out, got it all set up, and prayed up asking God to give me the words to say and that I may speak boldly, straight, strong, and true.

Once I got done with my open-air, I was able to walk around and distribute Gospel Tracts to all those standing around and in lines to get items. As I was walking up to each individual, one man stopped me and told me "The Christian way is about doing what the Bible says so that when you are resurrected you will go up to Heaven and be there forever."

"Oh, really?" I responded.

"Yeah. It's as simple as that" he said.

"Okay good. Let's see if you've done that. How many lies do you think you've told in your entire life?" I asked.

"I know I've lied" he replied "but we've all done that".

"You're right. So therefore you've not done what the Bible says so therefore you have a problem. That's exactly what I just preached about. You can't match up to Gods standard and thus, can't even back up your own belief about "doin what the Bible says"."

As moments went on, I was able to walk him through two or three more of the Ten Commandments and he realized at that point that he couldn't even do what the statement he said, he could do.

I think his statement is terribly wrong. Here's why I think that and this is what I explained to him.

The Christian way is not about doing anything so that something might happen. The Christian way is about doing something because something HAS happened--- because Christ has died and risen and promised resurrection in God's grace. The Christian life is a life lived in grateful response, and not in an attempt to earn or prove anything, because there is nothing for us to earn or prove. Remember, we are nothing in Gods sight because of our sin debt that we owe. So it's not about "Doing" at all. The Christian walk is not about works and what we do.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

So it's about nothing we can do. It's about what has been done for us and in spite of us.

I think this point cannot be overstated, because the call of the Christian life is one of the selflessness of Jesus, and one cannot live selflessly as Christ did if one is trying to earn something for themselves. The only way one can truly empty themselves and live for God and others is in grateful response to what God has already given.

 This is Joy. Joy has been serving for this ministry for over ten years and is faithful to the call of serving others. She's a wonderful lady and we thank God for her constant attitude of "Joy" and dedication to serving others.

We have workers that sit in the van all night that give out clothes, blankets,  and toiletries that we have to offer.

Out of the back of that van is where we set up the line to serve food items and drinks. The items sometimes differ depending on the weather/temperature. It makes the difference between fruit punch or hot chocolate.

The area in which we serve is in a large parking lot behind an old Nazarene church. For so long we served on the front side of the church but have recently been moved to the back. A new pastor has since taken over this church and felt it necessary to move us because of the particular crowds that we draw.

80% of the groups we serve are on very low income and most are homeless.

The whole purpose, I believe, for the Christian life is to evangelize the lost and serve the needy. Nothing more. Nothing less. If as a Christian, you're not doing these things, then might I encourage you to take to heart the words of Jesus when He said:

"If anyone be first he must be last of all and a servant to all." ~Mark 9:35b

Who is the greatest? Well, if you're born again then it is certainly not you. And its only pride that keeps you from evangelizing the lost...and serving the needy.

Check yourself. Serve others.

Serve God with all you have and in every aspect in life, and you will not be disappointed. 

Live life in the background,


Friday, April 8, 2016

"Then Comes Marriage"

       I always count it a privilege to be able to serve in any capacity that I can within my local church. We're called to do so and when we get called upon, we should be grateful.

So each Sunday morning, I do my best to be most prepared for when my time comes to teach my junior high school guys. I think it's important due to the overbearing statistic of kids being done with religion at the age of eighteen and not looking back. So I firmly believe that now is the time to teach and to teach well when it comes to them being 13, 14, and 15. 

Recently, like the last three Sunday's, my audience has changed from not just my jr high guys but my high school guys too. 

For the last three Sundays, we've been making our way through the series of The Adventures of Roman and Jorge. Its put by Last Words Ministry.

It's a cheesy little comedy bit spread out of four episodes that takes you through modern day struggles that we see in the church and in typical evangelical Christianity.

"Lifelong friends become bungling partners in an adventure toward deeper Christianity that you won't soon forget. After the gangly, socially-awkward Roman decides to actually put into practice some teaching he heard on evangelism, comedy ensues as his street-wise, church-going, co-worker, Jorge, tried to get him to settle down and stop taking the Bible so literally."

The whole series is great because it focuses on the things that we think and do not say. Such things like evangelism, and what Biblical evangelism is, modern day Christian lingo and phrases like "Ask Jesus into your heart" and "Pray the Sinners prayer" among other sayings. It's been a great little series. We have yet to complete it as we will finish the 4th episode this coming Sunday.

Yesterday, we watched episode 3 entitled "Then Comes Marriage". This one hits home to me because it's something that I've gone through in recent years. It's about finding a balance in ministry. It's about making sure your house is in order and not falling apart as you go out and serve others, and evangelize the lost. A healthy home is a God honoring home. I brought up the verse from 1 Timothy 5:8 that reads:
   "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

I brought this up because it's something I was a victim of in recent years. Those days are since over but the point that I really wanted to drive home to my guys in my class was if your life is in turmoil, if its falling apart, if you have relationships in jeopardy, then you should NOT be out evangelizing the lost. Why? Because if any of the above are happening, then you are WORSE than the one you're out evangelizing! Think about that for a moment.....because if you reject reality, and just sweep things under rugs, eventually, the rug will trip you up. And that's what happened to me. Back in the days of 2009-2011 I was going through multiple problems on the home front with my then wife and kids. I wanted go deep into details but as my then wife would agree, I pushed aside so many things and took charge of just evangelism. My only focus back then was being a "Superman of Salvation". A "Look what I'm doing for Jesus" looking for the praise and accolades of man. Meanwhile, my then wife was at home with our kids suffering from the damage that I had caused and trying to put out fires that I had started in every room of my house.

Oh how horribly wrong I was.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March Night: I Would Let You Die

A group that I serve from our local church had the opportunity to go and serve the people of OKC again last week. It's always a privilege to serve others. Especially when you know you're meeting the real life needs of others. Even the most basic of needs of food, water, clothing make a difference in the lives of others.

The reality is that the people that we serve, those that we help, they can go anywhere and get food. There are fine people that work at Rescue Missions, Jesus Houses, government agencies and food kitchens that can make themselves available to help others. But there is a difference in government agencies and the local church. There is something that we can give that the government agency can not.

The Gospel.

The life saving, bread giving, thirst quenching message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The message that God saves sinners. And anytime you're dealing with a human being, you're dealing with a sinner.

So when Christians have the opportunity to go and serve others, and in this case, serve those that are extremely less fortunate and most of them actually homeless and car-less, you better be jumping at the chance to take action. The bad news is when you DON'T jump at the chance help serve others.

Jesus said "Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."

Did you see that? If you don't do it for those around you and those who are in need, then it's just as if you're not doing it for Jesus Himself.

So whats the solution? Just be a Christian. Because serving others IS what Christianity is all about. The greatest need in the world today is for Christians to live like Christians. Nothing more, nothing less. And here's what's exciting. It's not guess work. It's not about trying hard. It's not about being religious. God gives us a very clear picture of what He wants for our lives in Romans 12. Once we understand that chapter and how it correlates to our own lives, then we'll understand the big picture, that of serving others.

We can give people what they need. We can house them. Feed them. Cloth them. But its the Gospel that is important. That's the one thing that we can give them that government agencies can't.

That's why Christians should jump at the chance to serve others.

My prayer is that others will get involved with their own local church ministry teams of service.

You wanna see a changed world? It starts with us, Christian.

Get up. Get out. Share your faith.

Time is, oh, such a precious commodity. A very precious commodity.

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."  ~James 4:14

James 4:14 is reality and not a game. Do not forget that.

It's the ONLY reason why we're here.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Febuary Night: No Strings Attached

I'm thankful to be a part of a church that has the desire to serve other people. I've always believed that real Christianity is characterized by our service to other people. 

 I think about Isaiah 58 where it reads:
    "Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?' (Isaiah 58:7 ESV)


 That whole section, specifically vs. 6-14, talks about several different things that are types of service we are to do for others. 

  • Loose chains of injustice
  • Share food with the hungry
  • Provide the poor wanderer with shelter
  • Clothe the naked
  • Not turn away from your own flesh and blood

 However, our service to others shouldn't be just doing religious things so that we can look good in the eyes of God. It's about denying ourselves and in a way, washing the feet, the dirty, nasty feet of the one who hasn't in days, weeks, or even months. I know one things for sure; it takes a lot of humility to do such a thing. Let's go back to Isaiah for a moment.

   Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? (Isaiah 58:5 ESV)


Service to others is a wonderful way to spend a Monday night. Sure it cuts into my time, which even that statement itself is a statement of arrogance because everything I have, including what might be precious time to me, belongs to God anyway. 

Isaiah 58 has really impressed on me that true Christianity is evidenced, not by good words but by good deeds. James echoed this when he wrote: 

 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. 

    (James 1:27)

True service goes beyond mere physical needs and also cares for the person’s eternal soul. That's the only reason why we're here as Christians. This is a very important point. One day when Peter and John were going to the temple for their habitual afternoon prayer time, they met a man who had been crippled from birth. He had loving friends who carried him to the temple courts so that he could beg for money. God-fearing Jews would have happily helped this man financially, since God’s law taught that they should care for the poor.

However, on this day, neither Peter nor John had any money to help this poor man. Did they just sigh and keep walking? No, they stopped and healed him, in the name of Jesus. They then used this opportunity to share their Messiah with all who would listen.
James tells us,
"If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:15-17)
If we merely share the gospel with people, never taking time to help them with their physical needs, we are wrong. If we merely help them with their physical needs, however, never taking time to help them with their eternal sin condition, we are also wrong. I think this principle will help us as we choose to partner with various relief organizations. We need to ask, “Will I be helping both this person’s physical and spiritual needs?”

It's a blessed time to be able to stand on a box and share the Gospel via the open air to all who hears on these nights. Our goal is to feed their belly, plant the seed of the Gospel and let God bring the increase. 

My apologies as this video went blurry on me however the message of this Gospel is still the same.

January Night: Perspective of Perfection

Another time had come upon us for go into the streets of our great city and proclaim the Gospel to all who would hear. On this night, I was privileged to have several conversations with people. I was also able to stand atop my box and proclaim Gods truths. This is the video of that portion.

Stomachs were fed. Gospel was given. Our prayer is that it doesn't fall on deaf ears and fruit comes from it.