Finding Waldo

One of the things that I enjoy doing is watching people. As my wife winds her way Rev Paul Hoffmasterthrough the grocery aisles, I secure a seat near the check out and begin my observation routine. Actually, what I do is play a little game. The object of my fantasy experiment is to guess if someone is a Christian or not. I know this might seem to border on judgment, but it is just a game with no ill intent. I realize there is no way to confirm my “guess,” outside of asking them directly, but it is fun to speculate and I do have a 50/50 chance to be right. One might ask what is my criteria for arriving at my unscientific conclusion? It is very simple, all I do is observe them. There is their facial expression, body language, and verbalage. Do they look like they have just swallowed a lemon slice or a candy bar? Do they ambulate confidence or uncertainty? Do their words show negativity or positiveness? Now, to put all these things in the right perspective, in such a short time, is to guarantee that the results will be flawed. Critics of my game will say that I don’t know the unobserved facts in each individual. That is true, but I know what the Scripture says about the Christian life style and the light that every Christian should display. I believe that the face is the window of man’s inner being. The face displays the workings of the soul and spirit.
 
During Christmas, children will be jumping with joy and excitement as they open their presents and gifts. Should not adults show their excitement of God’s greatest gift to mankind, and not just during this traditional time, but throughout the year? Words are the audio of the soul and spirit. What comes out of our mouth identifies and locates what and who is motivating us. Are we promoting self or the One who gave His life that we may know God?
 
As I play my game, I am finding it more difficult to identify Christians. Oh, I image there are “secret service” Believers, but seeing light-shinning and salt-shaking Believers is becoming a difficult task. There have been a number of times that I thought about giving up my game for it is not fun looking for spiritual Waldo anymore. I would have a better chance of finding a Believer by flipping a coin.
 
The world believes with their eyes. What they see determines what they will accept or reject. Materialism all dressed up in propaganda has a tremendous influence on people. People are drawn to things that they believe will bring them happiness and contentment. The advertisement conglomerates know how to draw people to their product. The parable of the Unjust Steward carries a classical phrase which states, “…for the children of this world, are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8) The greatest advertisement that the Church can present is the Believer himself! We should be a walking, talking, living example of the One whom we represent. When we go out in public, we are a “billboard” for the Kingdom of God. So many Christians believe we are in the last days. That means we are facing the imminent return of Jesus. If that is so, instead of sitting on the rapture runway with our bags packed, should we not be concerned about the lost? Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Christians are entertaining the flocks with dressed up activities, while people are facing eternity without hope.
 
Let our face identify our assurance. Let us walk with resolve. Let us speak of the hope of our calling. What the world sees will have a greater affect than our cars in our church parking lots.
 
Recording artist Don Francisco wrote a chorus years ago that simply says, “I got to tell somebody what Jesus did for me.” It is time for all of us to face up, stand up and speak up. I look forward to the day when I will stop playing my game, for spiritual Waldo will be in plain sight!
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How Many?

If you were to ask the average Christian (whatever that means) how many people they have led to Jesus Christ, the number would be alarmingly small.  The majority ofRev Paul HoffmasterChristians know they have a spiritual obligation to share the Gospel, but how to do it is an entirely different question.

I remember early in my ministry I promoted “soul winning” programs that would help the bashful saint present the GOOD NEWS.  I tried everything from James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion to producing our church’s own tracts (pamphlets).  Bumper stickers plastered the cars with spiritual gems with the hope that the simple message would draw the unsaved to the nearest salvation station.  In one city where I pastored, I had the youth of our church meet every Thursday to hit the streets to present our salvation tracts.  For over two months, they distributed the pamphlets to over 1,000 homes with the hope that the recipients would respond to the written invitations.  Instead of jubilation at the responses, discouragement laced their minds.  There were a number who made the decision, and for that we were thankful, but the toll it took on our youth weighed heavily on the leadership of our church.  It was not only in our body of Believers, but many other evangelistic churches also experienced the same disappointments.

Within the next few years, the “soul winning movement” moved from the streets into the houses of worship.  Altar invitations became the way of bringing the lost to Jesus.  People were released from “one on one” evangelism.  Their calling was to bring people to the church.  It was there that the pastor would take over the “soul winning” duties.  What happened was the salvation message took center stage, and soon the saved begin to starve for meat that would help them grow and become effective Christians.  People failed to realize that pastors don’t reproduce sheep, the sheep do!

  • Today, it seems the evangelical church is slowly coming out of its citadels of worship to once again bring the Gospel message to the lost.  I am thankful for those who understand their Biblical calling and are willing to share the wonderful message of God’s love.  We must be careful though, not to adopt man made techniques to present the Gospel.  The Church tried that before and it did not work.

Much of the discouragement that faces Believers today is based on not knowing what is expected of them.  Instead of attending seminars and course instruction on “soul winning,” Christians need to simply share their story.  Every day there will be opportunities to present the Truth that has been instilled in us.  When we see people going through similar life-altering experiences, we must be ready to present our story.  Simply share how the Lord helped you through your crisis or situation.  People will not challenge your presentation, because you are the living proof of that victory.  Share how you came to know Jesus Christ.  Maybe that individual will not respond to your sharing, but you planted the seed.  That planting will pave the way for another Believer to water that seed with his story and, through the Holy Spirit, that person may experience the miracle of rebirth. (I Corinthians 3:6-9)

How many people have you led to Jesus Christ?  Maybe we don’t have a definitive number, but if the Lord would reveal to us how many came into the Kingdom by way of our seed planting or watering, we would be amazed!  Maybe your joy was the sunshine that helped the seed to grow.

Share your story!  Be a Planter!  Be a Waterer!  Let your SON shine!  It is a team effort!  God gives the increase.

 

The church vs. the Church Part 2

Paul Hoffmaster

Paul Hoffmaster

God’s intent, based solely on Biblical context, was to restore His chosen people to a place of prominence in the world.  But due to their rebellion, the way to kingdom reality was blocked by the hardening of their hearts.  The Jews wanted a status position where they become the conquerors instead of the conquered.  As one studies the Scripture, one can readily see the intent of Kingdom building in God’s plan, but due to the sinfulness of His people, God had to first deal with their rebellious heart.  Zachariah’s prophesy was a basic continuation of Old Testament prophesies that Israel would be delivered from their physical enemies.  When that was accomplished, the Jews would be able to serve Him without fear.  They would be before God in “…holiness and righteousness,” all the days of their life. (Luke 1:67-75)  That was God’s plan, but due to the sinfulness of His people, their physical deliverance would not be achieved until their hearts were changed.  To bring about that change, Jesus would come as a Savior, not a physical deliverer.  For the Jewish people to understand what the ministry of the Messiah would be, a forerunner would come to change the people’s concept of why the Messiah was coming.  Instead of looking for a physical deliverance, they needed to see the importance of a changed heart.  John the Baptizer would present Jesus as the “lamb of God” who would take away their sins. (John 1:29)  John was stressing the importance of changing their preconceived notions by way of repentance.

The Apostle Paul, understanding the foundation of the Christian faith, made a proclamation that the only thing that really mattered was, “… Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:2).  Whenever the Church loses sight of the Cross, its foundation will be in jeopardy.  Whenever the Church manipulates Scripture to promote an excitement transfusion, it has lost its power.  Whenever the Church proclaims financial prosperity while ignoring fiscal responsibility, it has misdirected the use of God’s money.  Whenever the Church stresses physical healing over spiritual healing, it has lost its vision.  Whenever the Church seeks signs and wonders instead of displaying Holiness, it has become a broken vessel.

The majority of agnostics and non-believers are witnessing the displays of the “people’s church”, rather than God’s Church.  The alarming thing is the actions of the people’s church are getting all the attention, while God’s Church experiences collateral damage. One of the problems that face the Church today is how it responds to the “rebellious church.”  If it fails to address false doctrines by not promoting Biblical truths, it will negatively answer Jesus question, “…nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)  The true Church will be defined by how it responds to its identity crisis.

The conduct of the people’s church invites ridicule.   It hurts to see God’s Church the recipient of ridicule because of unbiblical actions by those who claim to be Believers. The media, from the news conglomerates to the entertainment industry, are exposing the people’s church for what it is, but the tragedy is they think that it is God’s Church that they are exposing.  Believers are anticipating an external challenge to the Church, when we need to look within the Christian circle.  Satan realizes that the best way to derail the true Church is to build new tracks on which the people’s church will travel farther and farther away from God’s intent.

The church vs. The Church – Part 1

Paul Hoffmaster

Paul Hoffmaster

There have always been itching ears and searching eyes that scan the spiritual horizon waiting for some sign that God will manifest Himself in a new and exciting way.  Every few years there is a resurgence of distorted Biblical truths that seem to bring a ray of hope to the floundering church.  I am reminded of the Biblical Jews that were waiting for the Messiah who would set them free from the bondage of oppression.  This would be done by setting up an earthly kingdom that was ruled by God Himself.  When the Jewish people saw their physical dilemmas, they reverted to the hope that someone would come who would lead them back to a place of prominence in their world.  To help the process along, the Pharisees begin promoting their own interpretation of the Law and Prophets.  Regulations and extra Biblical teachings were promoted to evidence that God was still in charge.  The problem was the Jewish people exchanged hope for a continuing mountain-valley experience.  Every new or expanded “truth” was met with excitement.  But soon it turned into disappointment and a searching for yet another movement that would excite them into hopeful expectations.

When the Messiah did come, they did not recognize Him.  They thought Jesus was a prophet or great teacher that would reintroduce the Jewish Kingdom.  As quickly as they were exposed to the Truth, the Truth was adjusted and altered to promote a physical manifestation rather than a spiritual deliverance.  The people craved miracles that would help them grasp the reality of God.  Jesus knew that the heart of man was desperately wicked and the only hope for God’s chosen people was circumcision of the heart. (Romans 2:29)  Jesus realized that His greatest mission would be the “religious” community.  The Jews responded to Jesus as a supplier of their physical needs, rather than the “lamb of God” which would restore them to a right standing with God.  Jesus’ ministry in the Synagogues was short lived, for His message conflicted with their traditions.  For three years, Jesus reached out with the Love of God to a people who were indifferent to the real Truth.  Wherever He went, the religious authorities followed with contradictory teachings that confused the people.  Finally, the “religionists” crucified Him!  It wasn’t until after Jesus’ ascension that the real truth of God’s love was revealed.  In that “upper room” the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples, the unfiltered truth flooded their spirits, and the Church was born!

There is such a similarity today to the earthly ministry of Jesus.  Our religious institutions have developed communities of diversity.  The ability to recognize Biblical Truth has become a difficult task.  Doctrines of devils have disguised their way into the Church.  Laughing spirits have become a mockery unto the Lord.  Spiritual “drunkenness” has elevated the flesh into mocking displays of tainted truth.  The Church is eager to acknowledge sin in our country, but remains silent when it comes to sin in the Church.  When are we going to realize that as the Church goes, so goes our country!  When the Church fails to represent God, our country will represent Satan!  Believers must stop cultivating “Christian cults” and start planting and harvesting from the true seed of God’s Word.

There is a talk of a great revival coming, but it cannot become a reality while the counterfeit church is in session. God wants to visit His Church, but not until we turn the Church back to Him.