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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Coughlin’

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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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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