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Water Cooler Evangelism
Dr. Paul Dean Contributor

Christians want to see the relevance of the gospel to their everyday lives and they want to demonstrate that relevance to their friends and co-workers. Primarily, they want to share their faith and do so smoothly and effectively. Many Christians are paralyzed with fear, or a failure to see the connection between the gospel and every day affairs, or an inability to segue smoothly into a conversation about Christ. Let us offer some practical help.

First, choose an issue that is current and interesting. Consider this news item from the weekend: "The Episcopal Diocese of California on Saturday avoided widening a rift over gays in the global Anglican Communion by electing a heterosexual man as its next bishop...the Rt. Rev. Mark Andrus [became] successor to Bishop William Swing, who is retiring after 27 years. Two openly gay men and one lesbian were among the seven candidates on the ballot. No gay or lesbian cleric has been elected bishop since the consecration of Gene Robinson in 2003 as bishop of New Hampshire which threw the U.S. church and the worldwide family of 77 million Anglicans into turmoil. 'Your vote today remains a vote for inclusion and communion -- of gay and lesbian people..' Andrus said. 'My commitment to Jesus Christ's own mission of inclusion is resolute.'"

Persons in this culture are certainly open to talking about a number of issues this story raises. There is the issue of whether or not homosexuals can be considered Christians, whether or not homosexuals should be ordained to the ministry, the stance of the Episcopal church in light of their historical witness and in light of Christianity as a whole, the issue of Gene Robinson specifically, the move at this point to elect Mark Andrus over gay and lesbian candidates, the issue of Andrus speaking of his own commitment to inclusion in the aftermath of his election, and his comments regarding Christ and His so-called commitment to inclusion.

Second, raise the issue of one's source of authority. The discussion over homosexual ministers or whatever subject you choose may lead in several directions. Ultimately, as answers are given, the question of authority must be raised. In other words, ask the persons with whom you are speaking to what authority do they appeal in formulating their opinions? Most persons are their own authority and their feelings and opinions come from a hodge-podge of ideas and notions they have picked up over the years. Those ideas and notions often contradict one another.

Persons can be challenged on at least two fronts here. Initially, you might point out the fact that it is illogical or that it makes no sense to hold opinions that contradict one another. Then, you might point out that unless one has a source of authority and recognizes what that authority is, one is by definition going to be inconsistent on many points. Inconsistency is intellectual foolishness. Most persons don't want to be fools.

Third, now that the issue of authority is on the table, raise the issue of ultimate questions. All people, whether they actually do so or not, if they are going to make sense out of life or have meaning in life, must ask and answer at least four questions concerning ultimate reality. You can raise these questions and help them think about ultimate things. 1) Where do I come from? 2) Why am I here? 3) How do I live while I'm here? 4) What happens when I die?

Fourth, engage in worldview dialogue. On an evolutionary worldview, the view to which most persons in our culture subscribe, in answer to the above four questions, we come from a random chance accident that set into motion a purposeless evolutionary process. We actually have no reason for existence other than ourselves because there is nothing beyond the material world and the material world is here by accident. On that worldview, it really makes no difference how we live because nothing matters. When we die, that's it, we simply cease to exist.

Those who hold to an evolutionary worldview who then actually try to inject meaning into their existence are being philosophically inconsistent. In other words, when one says, "I exist to better society," you respond by saying "that's inconsistent on your worldview. Bettering society makes no difference and means nothing. You should only live for yourself. It's survival of the fittest on your worldview." One might want to leave a legacy. Again, that makes no sense on an evolutionary worldview. Legacy only makes sense on a Christian worldview.

Evolutionists actually appeal to a Christian worldview in their minds without realizing it in order to make sense out of what they do and why they do what they do. The truth is that a Christian worldview is the only worldview that makes sense out of our reality. Show a person who holds to an evolutionary worldview that he is being inconsistent on his worldview and actually appealing to a Christian worldview to inject meaning into his life and he will either get angry or begin to ask questions and be open to logically consistent answers. That reaction, of course, is up to God. But, you have at lest initiated the conversation.

On the Christian worldview, life has meaning. In answer to those four questions, we are here because a wise and loving God created us. Our purpose is to glorify Him in all things. Therefore, we live in accordance with His will and ways that we might fulfill our purpose. Of course, His will and ways are revealed to us in the Scriptures. Best of all, when we die, we live with Him forever in perfect peace and joy. There is purpose to life and meaning to our existence. The things we do here carry forward into eternity. We are more than mere matter in motion. There is an immaterial world beyond our physical senses.

How does this dialogue work practically for you in light of the fact that you are not a philosopher? Think not in terms of details but in terms of worldview and bring persons back to these four questions no matter what. The bottom line is that on an evolutionary worldview, there is no meaning in life because we don't know where we come from, why we are here, how we are to live, or what happens when we die. In fact, on that worldview, when we die, it's over. Again, that's meaningless. If they try to say their lives have meaning in any sense, they are not appealing to their own worldview but to a Christian worldview.

Fifth, examine and defend the issue under discussion in light of the Christian worldview by appealing to your authority: the Scriptures. In other words, now that you have engaged in a little worldview thinking and dialogue, you are really back to the issue of authority. At this point, come back to your original discussion concerning your issue: the Episcopal Church and homosexual ministers in our case. No mere opinion will do. Ask ten people their opinion and you will get ten opinions. We need an authority that comes from outside of ourselves. Of course, that authority is what supports and sets forth the Christian worldview you have just outlined: the Bible. Does the Bible speak to the issue of homosexual ministers? Absolutely! The Bible speaks to the different issues on the table in different places and in different ways, all with the same conclusion: homosexual ministers are not permitted by God.

Sixth, make a smooth transition to the gospel. Now that you are dealing with the issue at hand, the obvious related issue is sin and the need for salvation. You can segue from Romans 1 and its treatment of homosexuality to its treatment of sin and the answer to that problem: salvation in Jesus Christ.

All we have given here is a practical way to engage others in meaningful conversation for the purpose of sharing the gospel. Not only do we have good conversation, but we help people to think, and think biblically. We help them to see that the only worldview that makes sense out of reality is the Christian worldview. At that point, we may demonstrate the Christian worldview in relation to the topic of discussion. That demonstration provides a nice segue into sharing the gospel. In so doing, we are living with purpose. We are glorifying God and doing our part to fulfill the Great Commission. We are advancing the cause of Christ. In advancing the cause of Christ, we may break that into two ultimate causes: the glory of God and the good of others. We have the good of others in mind when we give them Christ. And, when we do that, Christ is glorified.

The above leads us to point out that this little practical method of engaging someone in purposeful conversation can be summarized by the acronym C-A-U-S-E-S. This is important for two reasons. First, as noted, we have two great causes in mind: the glory of God and the good of others. Second, this acronym will guide us in our conversation so that we readily and easily accomplish our goal. The acronym stands for: Current Event; Authority Source; Ultimate Questions; Share Christian Worldview; Examine Current Event from Authority; Segue into the Gospel. May you intentionally guide people in conversation that you might guide them to Christ.

Sign up free for "Christian News and Views," a weekly e-mail newsletter highlighting relevant news stories affecting Christians. An editorial by Dr. Dean is included as well as a link to his comments on selected stories. The e-newsletter goes out each Friday and is sponsored by "Calling for Truth," a daily, live, call-in radio program co-hosted by Dr. Dean and Kevin Boling. Simply e-mail us at to receive your first issue this Friday.

To listen live to "Calling for Truth" each day from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm eastern time, go to and click on the "Listen Online" button. You may listen to archived shows as well. They are uploaded each day after the broadcast.
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Defending the Strangers in Our Midst
The Demonizing of Immigrants

June 9, 2006

Did you know that "95 percent of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens?" Or that "75 percent of people on the Most Wanted List in Los Angeles are illegal aliens"? What's more, "Over [two-thirds] of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on [Medicaid] whose births were paid for by taxpayers."

This is outrageous. Especially since none of it is true! Instead, it's just one example of how, in some ways, we have gone beyond worrying about illegal immigration to demonizing the immigrants themselves.

This example came from a widely circulated e-mail that was posted on at least 130 conservative websites. It listed ten "facts about immigration" and gave as its source the Los Angeles Times.

Not only was the Los Angeles Times not the source of these "facts," when the paper examined the alleged "facts," none of them withstood scrutiny. Some of them distorted the data: For instance, approximately 62 percent of all births in Los Angeles County are to Hispanic women. But this number includes American citizens, legal aliens, Hispanics from countries other than Mexico, and has nothing to do with Medicaid.

The so-called "facts" about illegal alien criminality are even worse: They are deliberate misrepresentations or complete fabrications.

Unfortunately, this is only the tip of an often very ugly iceberg. The illegal immigration problem is often called an "invasion" that threatens the existence of the United States. Illegal aliens are depicted as part of an effort to "reconquer" the American Southwest. And it's not only illegal immigrants: American citizens of Mexican ancestry are also regarded as part of this plot.

Now, there are a few fringe Latino groups that talk about "reconquista"—that is all they are, however: fringe. To judge all Latinos, including illegal aliens, by the words of these groups is as fair as judging all Christians by the actions of clinic bombers or Fred Phelps.

A concern for fairness isn't the most important reason that Christians ought to oppose this demonization of "the strangers in our midst." As theologian T. M. Moore recently wrote on BreakPoint Online, "God defends strangers. He has compassion for those who have left all and risked all to find new lives in a strange country."

Moore reminds us that God expects His people's "attitude toward the strangers and sojourners in their midst" to reflect His own concern.

Now, this does not mean that Christians ought not to be concerned about the massive lawbreaking, by both illegal immigrants and those who employ them. We must! The rule of law is a Christian contribution, coming out of the Reformation, and it requires respect for law, just as the Bible does. Nor does it mean that there's one particular immigration proposal that Christians ought to be supporting.

What it does mean is that Christians must work to see that the immigration debate generates light instead of heat. We must insist that the illegal-immigration issue be addressed without treating millions of Americans, many of whom have died protecting our country, as a kind of fifth column.

That is the very least we can do if we are obedient to God's command to welcome strangers. And that's a fact I got from the highest possible Source.

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* * * Four Important Things To KNOW: #1) For ALL (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) have sinned & fall short of the glory of God. #2) For the wages of above (see #1) are DEATH (Hell, eternal separation from God, & damnation) but the Gift (free & at no charge to you) of God (Creator, Jehovah, & Trinity) is Eternal Life (Heaven) through (in union with) Jesus Christ (God, Lord, 2nd Person of The Trinity, Messiah, Prince of Peace & Savior of the World). #3) For God so greatly loved & dearly prized the world (Americans, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhist, Asians, Presbyterians, Europeans, Baptist, Brazilians, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc.) that He even gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (anyone, anywhere, anytime - while still living) believes (trust in, relies on, clings to, depends completely on) Him shall have eternal (everlasting) life (heaven). #4) Jesus said: "I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, & THE LIFE. No one (male/female - American, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Asian, Presbyterian, European, Baptist, Brazilian, Mormons, Methodist, French, etc. ) comes (arrives) to the Father (with GOD in Heaven) EXCEPT BY (through) ME (no other name). *** This wonderful loving GOD gives you the choice - - - (Rev. 3:20) {Please note that church membership, baptism, doing good things, etc. are not requirements for becoming a Christian - however they are great afterwards!!!} *** Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction (Hell, damnation, eternal punishment), and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life (Heaven, eternal happiness, forever with God), and only a few find it.

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But these are written so that you may
believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the
Son of God, and that by believing in
Him you will have life. Jn 20:31

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call on Him while He is near. Let the
wicked forsake his way and the evil
man his thoughts. Let him turn to the
Lord, and He will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for He will freely
pardon. "For My thoughts are not
your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways," declares the Lord. "As the
heavens are higher than the earth, so
are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down
from heaven, and do not return to it
without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed
for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is My word that goes out from My
mouth: It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire and
achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy and be led forth
in peace; the mountains and hills will
burst into song before you, and all the
trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the
pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle
will grow. This will be for the Lord's
renown, for an everlasting sign, which
will not be destroyed." Is 55

O Lord, you have searched me and you
know me. You know when I sit and when
I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying
down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know
it completely, O Lord. You hem me in -
behind and before; you have laid your
hand upon me. Such knowledge is too
wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where
can I flee from your presence? If I go up
to the heavens, you are there; if I make
my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide
me and the light become night around
me," even the darkness will not be dark
to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. For you
created my inmost being; you knit me
together in my mother's womb. I praise
you because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; your works are wonderful, I know
that full well. My frame was not hidden
from you when I was made in the secret
place. When I was woven together in the
depths of the earth, your eyes saw my
unformed body. All the days ordained
for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts,
O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would
outnumber the grains of sand. When
I awake, I am still with you. Search me,
O God, and know my heart; test me
and know my anxious thoughts. See
if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Ps 139

But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up,
that I may show My power in you, and that My
Name may be declared in all the earth. Ex 9:16

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
- - Isaac Watts

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