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Archive for the ‘Michael Coughlin’ Category

SlimJim Note: This is a guest post from our dear friend   I’m currently away at the moment.

In 1999 and the early 2000s a technology called the DVR became commonplace in American households. The ability to record live TV and play it back without a VCR or disc placed some freedom in the hands of the users. The most obvious benefit was the ability to speedily fast forward through commercials during your favorite show. There was one particular commercial which stands out in my mind.

I don’t recall who made the commercial, but there was a man watching a football game. His team was losing, but they were lining up for a last second, game winning field goal. Just as the ball was snapped and the kicker was ready to kick, the man in the commercial paused the TV with his DVR remote. He runs out of his house and down the street to a church building where he lights a candle and prays earnestly in a pew. Then he rushes back to his house and un-pauses the television and you can see the kicker make the kick! The man’s prayers are apparently answered and his team wins this important game.

The absurdity of the commercial is obvious. I cannot imagine anyone watching considered it a teaching about prayer, of course. But anyone watching realizes that the kicker made the kick before the man was even out of his house on his way to church. All his prayers and lighting of candles is entertaining, but it is impossible to believe even in the fictional world of the commercial that the kick was made as the result of his prayers. Whether that kick was made or missed was not going to change once it occurred. This is a reality of how time works.

Yet how often have you seen well-meaning Christians share similar sentiments. It goes like this. A celebrity dies who was well-known for his wicked behavior. Never once did the person even hint at being a believer in the One True God through Jesus Christ. As you scroll through social media you see people posting things like RIP (that’s another post), stories memorializing the person and the inevitable: “Praying that celebrity X repented and received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior before he died.”

Do you see that this prayer is as useless as the man in the commercial praying for the field goal? An event that has already completed is one time you shouldn’t pray. You will find no example in the Bible of a prayer that a completed event would be anything but what it already is.

What do you expect? That a man died yesterday and somehow your prayer today is going to change whether or not he received Christ as Lord and Savior? Christian, Jesus died so that your prayers may be heard by the Father – please keep them from being vapid. Praying about something that has already occurred simply makes no sense. There are countless examples of this that I’ve seen and heard. And if you are honest with yourself you will notice when you do it, if you do.

“Lord I pray that so and so had a good time at our church last week.”

“Lord I pray that it isn’t really cancer, that the test results were wrong.”

Here’s the formula: “Lord I pray that <insert your desire here> happened in the past.”

Similarly, we often pray about things that have already occurred, but we don’t know the outcome. Consider this prayer when leaving the scene of a biopsy: “Lord, please don’t let it be cancer!”  It’s either “already cancer: or it “isn’t already cancer.” This is another example, however technical of praying for a past event, or praying that an existent circumstance is different from what it is.

Think about it. If the doctor tells you it is cancer, how will praying that he is wrong make it wrong? The point is there is no action God could actually take in response to your prayer. If the doctor is wrong, then he’s already wrong in spite of your prayer; if he is right, and it is cancer, then praying he’s wrong won’t change that. Instead pray for healing, and more importantly, grace to endure the trial you or your loved one is facing.

Here’s the take home – do not pray in such a way that you pray for past events. When you ask God for supplication, ask Him to do things that He can do. Even our great God does not change the past. If you object and say, “Our God can do anything He pleases,” I will respond by saying, “Amen. But He gives no example in Scripture of praying in this manner, isn’t that where we ought to get our model of prayer?”

I know, hoping that people were saved is noble. Wanting people to enjoy your church gathering or for them to not have cancer is a good desire. What I’m saying is that your prayer ought to be directed rationally at our perfectly rational God. If what you mean to say is you “hope celebrity X was saved,” then say that! Just don’t speak or act like prayer isn’t something really special and important by diminishing the purpose of it by praying in ways God simply will not honor.

Ultimately, Christian, when you pray for God to do anything with a past event, you put your faith to the test. For we are to pray believing and if you are believing for something which has already occurred to be anything but what it is, you will be disappointed, maybe even disappointed by God someday. That is a place where no Christian ought to be.

For a good article on how TO pray, consider this excellent piece: Confident Christians Pray with Confidence
by Josh Buice

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I need some more time of studying before I begin my Series: Is Justification by Faith Taught in the Old Testament?  I bite off more than I can chew this week in terms of ministry and blogging.

Since its Sunday here’s a sermon from a dear brother name Michael Coughlin that he preached on a few days ago.

 

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His sermon is titled The Invitation.

Here’s the sermon description:

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Its the Christmas season and I’ve been yearning to make jingles of truths that are biblical.

This year I’ve been attempting to write posts that puts theology into bite size memorable ditties.  Little rhymes to drive the point home.

Here’s one to encourage faithful evangelism:

 

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(Note: This is a guest post written by Michael Coughlin who tweets here and blogs here.  I am currently away and thank Michael for this guest post.  If you have thoughts and questions, feel free to comment and when he has time he will respond.)

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It is really wonderful that so many people are taking on a good biblical mindset and embracing the spirit and discipline of presuppositional apologetics. This blog is a prime example of Christians who desire to honor the Lord by always believing what He has revealed and then acting accordingly.

I want to address a trend which I have noticed. Allow me to introduce a phenomenon I hope will be nipped in the bud in Christianity. A Christian evangelist or apologist “C” embarks on a conversation with an atheist “A.” It may go something like this:

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Note: I am overseas at the moment and will not have any internet.  This is a guest post by Michael A. Coughlin.  His blog can be found HERE.

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Previously, we’ve discussed the open air preacher’s need to be prepared, have correct presuppositions, love people and for earnest prayer. Today we’ll wrap up the series with the very practical concept of projection.

You need a way to project your voice. If no one hears you then you might as well attempt to engage in one on one conversations or hand out tracts (neither of which are bad ways to evangelize). Whether you use amplification or not, know how to get your voice heard over a large radius so more people will hear God’s Word! Some preachers do not like to use amplification. This is OK too. Regardless, the following tips can help.

Be aware of your surroundings. Bus stops are fine, when there are no busses. Residential areas can be tricky as people have some right to sleep without your voice amplified in their ears. This is why so many open air preacher go to college campuses or sports events where there are large gatherings of people in an area where “shouting” is essentially accepted.

Something else to consider is what you sound like when you get louder. Most people sound angry. Learn how to project your voice without sounding like you are just yelling. On the same topic, many people strain to raise their voice and contort their face. Again, the same problem occurs where you may have a look on your face which looks angry! Practice preaching and smiling; or at least practice avoiding the angry look. It will make you more approachable and it will help you distinguish between when you may in fact be preaching in the flesh or not. Because the day you find it harder to keep a kind and friendly face may be the day you realize you are there that day with the wrong heart.

Dear brother, I do hope this list helps you to remember some basic open air preaching practical pointers.

  1. Presuppositions
  2. Preparation
  3. People
  4. Prayer
  5. Projection

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Note: I am overseas at the moment and will not have any internet.  This is a guest post by Michael A. Coughlin.  His blog can be found HERE.

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In the previous post, we explored the practical side of being prepared to open air preach by looking at the types of habits a faithful open air preacher ought to have. Today, let’s look at people.

Loving people is essential to being a God-honoring preacher. You can very easily search YouTube for open air preachers and find a number of examples of preachers who do not love people. Preaching comes with an element of “you’re in the center.” Unfortunately, for some people, that is the end goal.

A true man of God will neither loathe the attention received from preaching nor covet it, necessarily. Each man may have a different comfort level in that regard. The question to ask yourself is: why are you there?  If your answer is only “to glorify God,” then you may be lacking love for sinners which is vital to your Christian life. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost! Is that not your goal as well, dear brother? Why not? I suspect you are not asking God in prayer to break your heart for sinners who are in the same state you once were! God forbid we lack the desire to see people forgiven of their sins! Be not as Jonah!

My dear saint, reaching people must be part of your goal, but not only that. You must love your neighbor as yourself. Are you prepared to love sinners who do not repent and treat them with kindness, mercy and grace? I’m not talking about the violent hecklers, and I’m not saying you do not have a retort for mockers and scoffers of our Great and Marvelous Savior, Jesus Christ, but you need to have a heart which is right with God that really cares about people’s well-being.

The Gospel frees you to love people in a way in which they are not capable of loving you back. Show people your love through your preaching and identify with your hearers as a sinner in need of Christ yourself!

Preacher, you must love your brethren as well. Are you living a nomadic existence without attachment to a local church? Or are you a member, but no one at that church really knows you? If you do not love the brethren enough to fellowship, break bread, pray, listen to the preaching of God’s Word and sing with them – why do you think you love lost people? And why would you want to make more brethren if you do not love the ones you have?

In the next post, we will investigate some key points concerning prayer.

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Note: I am overseas at the moment and will not have any internet.  This is a guest post by Michael A. Coughlin.  His blog can be found HERE.

prepare

Previously, we looked at our need to presuppose the inerrancy, sufficiency and infallibility of the Bible when we open air preach in order to faithfully proclaim God’s good news. In this post, let’s look at some key areas of preparation.

For each preacher specific preparation may look different. Some folks are more comfortable with a prepared ‘sermon’ to preach in the open air, some preachers may even read the text from a tract, and others cheerfully preach with no notes or sermon. These types of preparations are optional and stylistic, meaning that there is no one size fits all approach.

But EVERY man who aspires to open air preach ought to have certain godly disciplines. The man who is daily in the Word and prayer is the only man qualified to stand (anywhere) on the street and herald for Christ. It doesn’t matter if you have a pre-written manuscript; if you are missing these basic habits of the Christian life, you are not qualified to preach.

What I am saying is this: Unless you are first being a good Christian, you are not prepared to be an open air preacher.

If you are not in the Word and prayer, you are in danger of violating God’s will. We are hypocrites if we stand on the street exhorting people to repent of sin because of the impendingjudgment, yet we ourselves do not love the Lord enough to search His Scriptures daily!Our lives ought to be examples for someone converted under our ministry to imitate.

There is physical preparation too. Have your stuff ready: your amp, your throat lozenges, your soapbox, water bottles, honey and lemon tea, whatever you need. Do voice exercises and bodily exercise to increase your stamina and help you to breathe easily. If you are tired and out of breath after a few minutes of preaching, how will you reach as many as you could by preaching 1 hour? Be wise! Know the local laws concerning amplification and what is public property.

Be prepared, in season and out, to herald the full counsel of God, respond to good questions that teach people, and to handle people in a respectable way.

In the next post we will look at practical pointers for our relationships to people in our open air preaching.

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Note: I am overseas at the moment and will not have any internet.  This is a guest post by Michael A. Coughlin.  His blog can be found HERE.

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Introduction

For those who are biblically qualified to open air preach with accountability to a local church, I offer the following open air preaching practical pointers!

  1. Presuppositions
  2. Preparation
  3. People
  4. Prayer
  5. Projection

This series is planned to span 5 posts.  A few items as far as introductions go. These posts were written with certain presuppositions about the reader in mind.

  1. You are a born-again Christian
  2. You are a male who has a local church and you are a member with faithful attendance
  3. Your local church is aware of your open air preaching and your leadership supports you continuing

For the sake of alliteration I have created 5 Ps of Open Air Preaching.  This list is not comprehensive. In fact, the list and posts have been kept intentionally short to allow for discussion in the comments and to discourage people from “not reading because it was soooooo long.” If you are reading this blog, you likely know that as a presupposition we believe the Word of God to be inerrant, infallible and sufficient: an attribute without which you’ll have no ground to stand upon when preaching.

As far as personal qualifications go, these posts are a mix of my Bible knowledge, reading and personal experience as an open air preacher for 5 years at a number of different venues.

Finally, these posts aren’t meant to be a formula for “making converts,” nor will failure to adhere to my guidelines automatically result in “no one getting saved.” God will save whomsoever He wills in His good timing. The question is – will you act in such a way as to make your preaching usable and your life above reproach?

Enter your questions in the comment boxes if you have any! And finally, please don’t turn this into a women preaching debate as that is for another day. In the next post, we will look at some key factors to being a prepared open air preacher.

 

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1.) Describe your present ministry. (NOTE: I know you answered this already, added if you want to expand upon it)

I am an active member at Berean Baptist Church in Pickerington, OH. We are a small church so we all wear a lot of hats. I frequently teach Sunday school for all ages and give devotions or preach at special events. My church and church leaders are very supportive of my evangelism where I street preach and hand out tracts.

I assist Andrew Rappaport with the Spreading the Fire events for Striving for Eternity. I have spoken for him and I am the emcee for all 2014 events. I am also a part of Tony Miano’s Pulpit and Streets SermonAudio page where my teachings are posted.

That is the extent of “my ministry” as it often termed. But I would also consider the few hours a week I spend personally discipling Christian men 1 on 1 and my time spent with wife and 4 children to be ministry as well. I have a full time job which pays the bills, so I’m not as active as some of the “other guys.” (All of whom I love and respect!)

My blog is michaelcoughlin.net. I appreciate you checking it out.

2.) How did you come to embrace Presuppositional apologetics?

I learned the term ‘presuppositional apologetics’ from reading Answers In Genesis publication “Answers.” But to be honest, it seems when I was converted I simply embraced what most people think of as a new movement called ‘presup.’ The way I see, good, bible-believing Christians have been doing effective ‘presup’ since the beginning of time. The fact that we need a special name for it is more a testimony to how far from defending our faith biblically and rationally we have come as a Christian culture. I do suppose it is good that there is a sort of “reformation” going on where more people are learning what it means and I’m not opposed to labeling things if it helps people catch on.

3.) Some people think Calvinism is incompatible with Evangelism, what is your take on this?

As an unashamed 5 point Calvinist who evangelizes more than most Christians I know I obviously find this laughable to an extent. But I recognize the argument. The belief that God can and will save only his elect in and of itself ought to be a deterrent to evangelism. But when we look at the whole counsel of God and see that God has ordained salvation by grace through faith through the hearing of His Word, through the foolishness of preaching, then we get the whole picture. We see that Calvinism is not a deterrent to evangelism, but it is evangelism’s only hope for any success in seeing converts made.

God “can” persist my life if I do not eat at all. Yet we know that God has designed things such that we must eat to fuel our bodies or we would die. We would never ‘test’ God in this way. I believe that it is biblical to say that in the same sense God has designed things such that He will save whom He wills through people hearing or reading the gospel and believing – which makes evangelism required in the Calvinist worldview.

4.) How do you incorporate Presuppositional apologetics with evangelism?

I try to be careful to keep 1 Corinthians 2:14 at the forefront of my mind. I don’t shy away from what some people would call evidential arguments if only for the sake of entertaining the listener slightly. I’d also talk about NFL football with someone for a few minutes during an evangelism encounter. But ultimately, my belief is that ‘even if someone were to return from the dead, they still would not believe if they will not heed God’s Word.’ So my goal is to faithfully preach what the Bible actually says about man, God, Christ and the gospel command and leave the conversion up to God. I don’t try to convert men to presuppositionalists when I’m giving them the gospel any more than I try to convert them to Christ. I simply lay out the Truth of scripture. I’ve seen too many people practicing presup who seem more intent on winning the argument than the soul. May God forbid that ever be me.

I try to help people who are willing and honest to see the logical fallacies of their own arguments and how those inconsistencies are rooted in their presuppositions. I am not opposed to asking a nonbeliever to consider that my worldview makes sense, ‘assuming the Bible is my foundation.’ I’ve had a few people vehemently opposed to my preaching about hell or against homosexuality who have agreed with me that ‘assuming I really believe the Bible,’ my preaching was the most loving act I could do toward them.

5.) Tell us more about Spread the Fire.

Spreading the Fire is an umbrella title for 3 conferences held each year to equip saints to evangelize. Striving for Eternity is the organization which puts on the events, and I’m happy to assist. Three things make these FREE conferences unique, and, I think, better.

The first is that it is not only an evangelism conference. We provide teaching to equip saints to grow as Christian men or women, not only as evangelists. In fact, this year’s conference theme for 2 of the events is “Family.” The second thing which I believe causes us to stand out is that we have a conference, and then we actually take people out to the street to actually evangelize and we stand by them side by side to help. Finally, and most importantly, we try to partner with local churches and we instruct our attendees of the requirement that they become accountable to a local church as a follower of Christ. Visit OhioFire.org for more info about all 3 conferences.

6.) What would be your encouragement to a young man who desire to be involved in open air outreach?  Any resources?

Yes. Start with your local church and pastor. Read the following articles: http://michaelcoughlin.net/blog/index.php/2013/02/caution-young-street-preacher/and http://www.crossencounters.us/2014/04/approaching-your-pastor-about-evangelism.html. Assuming your local church is supportive, contact us at http://pulpitandstreets.com/pas/index.php/get-in-touch/ and we will figure out how we can be of service to you.

Ultimately, evangelism and open air outreach are not new things. All a man needs is authentic conversion, love for Christ, a desire for holiness and an earnest wish to see the lost get found to start telling people of the greatest display of love ever in the cross of Christ and glorious hope in his resurrection.

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