Monday, March 12, 2007

Thanks For The Memories

I started this blog with the best of intentions, and it had a good run. Unfortunately despite several months of trying I could never get anybody to notice. Add to that the birth of our baby and me taking on extra work so my wife can stay at home, and there isn't much time or reason left to keep this blog going. I may add an occassional post or thought just for the fun of it, but this blog is pretty much winding down.

Thanks to everyone who visited and left comments. I'll keep the blog up for a while for any new visitors. Feel free to browse the archives for helpful articles and encouragement related to evangelism.

Blogs or not blogs, lets never stop working to spread the gospel!

Friday, March 02, 2007

More Problems With "The Lost Tomb of Jesus"

Here is an informative article that does a much more thorough and convincing job of refuting "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" than I did in my last post.

And even more articles are listed here. Just scroll down to the "Christian Blog Responses" section and start clicking on links.

If you don't have time to do a lot of reading, radio host Albert Mohler has done an entire show on the topic, which you can listen to here.

Problems with "The Lost Tomb of Jesus"

If you haven't heard already, on March 4th the Discovery Channel will air a documentary by Titanic director James Cameron called "The Lost Tomb of Jesus". The documentary claims that archeologists have discovered the actual grave of Jesus and his family, including his wife Mary Magdalene and their son Judah. If true, this find would shake the very foundations of Christianity.

In 1980, ten small caskets were unearthed in a suburb of Jerusalem. Six of the caskets contain inscriptions with the Biblical names "Jesus", "Maria" (or Mary), "Mariamne" (or Mary Magdalene), "Matthew", "James", "Yose" (Joseph), and "Judah, son of Jesus". If this really is the family tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, and if those really are his bones, then we have scientific proof that the resurrection never happened and Christianity has been officially debunked. Even the apostle Paul admitted, "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith...If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." (1 Corinthians 15:14-19)

But don't go closing the church doors just yet. The "lost tomb" theory is far from clear-cut. In fact, it's full of holes. A quick Google search will reveal that there are plenty of scholars who doubt the findings or even dismiss them outright. For one thing, the tomb was discovered back in 1980. Archeologists have known about it for over 25 years. If the find is really so earth-shattering, why didn't anyone say anything sooner?

Below are several flaws in the theory that this is really Jesus' tomb (taken from Christian News Wire):

Ben Witherington, New Testament professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, and other scholars offer 10 reasons why they think the “Jesus tomb” claims are false:

1. There is no DNA evidence that this is the historical Jesus of Nazareth.

2. The statistical analysis is untrustworthy. (EDIT: It is true that one tomb containing so many Biblical names is statistically improbable. But if that is the only fact considered, it is misleading. Suppose we discovered a grave site containing the names "Cleopatra", "Hitler", "Michelangelo", and "Elvis". While this would be a remarkable coincidence, that alone would not prove that such famous people are actually buried there. Especially when there is so much other evidence to the contrary. It is the same with Jesus.)

3. The name “Jesus” was a popular name in the first century, appearing in 98 other tombs and on 21 other ossuaries.

4. There is no historical evidence that Jesus was ever married or had a child.

5. The earliest followers of Jesus never called him “Jesus, son of Joseph.”

6. It is highly unlikely that Joseph, who died earlier in Galilee, was buried in Jerusalem, since the historical record connects him only to Nazareth or Bethlehem.

7. The Talipot tomb and ossuaries are such that they would have belonged to a rich family, which does not match the historical record for Jesus.

8. Fourth-century church historian Eusebius makes quite clear that the body of James, the brother of Jesus, was buried alone near the temple mount and that his tomb was visited in the early centuries, making very unlikely that the Talipot tomb was Jesus’ “family tomb.”

9. The two Mary ossuaries do not mention anyone from Migdal, but simply has the name Mary, one of the most common of all ancient Jewish female names.

10. By all ancient accounts, the tomb of Jesus was empty, making it highly unlikely that his body was moved to another tomb to decay for one year before putting his bones in an ossuary.

Here's another problem with the "We found Jesus' grave" theory: From the very beginning the enemies of Christianity have wanted to crush it. The reason guards were posted at the tomb of Jesus was to keep the disciples from stealing the body and claiming a ressurection (Matthew 27:62-64). If Jesus did not really rise bodily from the grave his enemies could have simply gone to the tomb, thrown the body in a cart, wheeled it down the streets of Jerusalem, and Christianity would have been dead in the womb. But even Jesus' enemies had to admit that the body could not be found. And the disciples died horrible martyr's deaths because of their belief in a risen Jesus. Would they really have given their lives for something they knew was a lie?

Every year around Easter we see stories in the media designed to undermine Christianity. But eventually they all crumble because they are built on sand. If you decide to watch the Discovery channel special, keeping the above facts in mind will help you separate the truth from the hype.

(EDIT: According to a blog at TIME magazine, immediately after "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" on March 4 the Discovery channel will air an hour-long panel discussion hosted by Ted Koppel. "The panel will explore the filmmakers' profound assertions and challenge their assumptions and suggested conclusions." I hope there will be someone on the panel that points out the many flaws in the documentary and set the record straight. But I'm not holding my breath.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Video: What's at Stake

"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel..."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Evangelistic Christmas Quiz

Are you looking for a creative way to share the Gospel this Christmas? Try this:

Living Waters has a free, fun Christmas Quiz you can download from their website. Questions are on the front and answers on the back. The last question leads to a Gospel presentation on the back.

Last year I bought 100 candy canes and wrapped the Christmas Quiz around each one with a rubber band. Then I put them in a box, put on a Santa hat, and on a Friday night I walked up and down downtown Minneapolis handing them out. I just smiled big and told people it was a free Christmas quiz. They were a big hit. Almost everybody took one, many with smiles on their faces. In about an hour's time I put the gospel in the hands of 100 people. It was a fun, easy way to spread the true meaning of Christmas: "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners..." (1 Timothy 1:15)

Give it a try!

Ikaw ba ay mabuting tao?

That's "Are You a Good Person?" in Tagalog, a language of the Philippines. Let me explain:

About a year ago I illustrated a cartoon gospel tract called "Are You a Good Person?" for a ministry called Living Waters. I gave it to them for free, under the condition that it remain copyright-free so that I can offer it to any ministry that wants to print them. I don't make a dime off it, and don't want to. The tract has been very well-received. So far almost a million copies(!) have been printed in English, and translations have recently been completed in French, Spanish, and Tagalog (a language in the Philippines). That's more than I would have ever dreamed. But it's nothing compared to all the hard work being done by full-time missionaries around the world who have comitted their lives to the gospel. I'm just a yutz at a drawing board. They're the ones on the front lines. I received word that the first Tagalog tracts were distributed at a Christmas party in a slum in the Philippines by Jeff and Mary Ann Anderson, missionaries with Action International. Jeff and Mary Ann are doing tremendous work, be sure to visit their blog. They were kind enough to send me photos of the tracts being distributed at the party. Mary Ann writes:

I'm really excited to tell you that we had our first Christmas party for children in a squatter area today. This was the first time we distributed the "Ikaw ba ay mabuting tao?" tracts. I wanted to send you a few pictures that I took. The first picture shows you about how many kids were there (more than in the photo) and the surroundings. The next two pictures are Jeff talking with kids as he was handing them out. The other pictures show how the kids immediately began reading the tracts. Everyone wanted one. We must have given out about 150 or more at this one party.

We are now praying that God will use the pictures throughout our distribution and Christmas parties this season. Our missionaries are asking for more copies they can hand out.

Is this cool or what?

And please, remember to pray for Christian missionaries throughout the world. They've given up everything to advance the gospel, and it's hard work. They need our encouragement and support.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I was listening to an old podcast of Way of the Master Radio from April 10, 2006. Host Todd Friel was talking about what it really means to become a Christian. Many modern gospel presentations tell us to "accept Jesus" or "ask Him into your heart". Todd says the problem with that kind of thinking is that it doesn't go far enough; God wants total surrender of our lives.

Todd read an e-mail from a listener that I think makes the point well:

"At the end of World War II the Germans were in no position to make any demands. In fact, the Allied forces allowed them to surrender when they did not have to, and the Allied forces were very gracious to the Germans with the terms of surrender, although the Germans didn't deserve that. In the same way, we need to see that we will be totally destroyed if we continue to resist and fight against God and that we need to accept His terms of surrender. We are clearly wrong and not in a position to make demands of the Conquerer and the just Judge of the world. We can choose to keep fighting, but if we do we will be completely destroyed. Our only reasonable choice is to surrender to God's terms, which are repentance and faith."

How about you? Have you surrendered your life to God? Are you willing to make Him Lord of your daily decisions? If not, might I humbly suggest that you need to examine yourself to see if you are truly saved. Don't just "hope" that you will go to heaven when you die. "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5) and "Make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Evangelism Training This Weekend

Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Anoka, MN will be hosting an evangelism training seminar this weekend in association with Texas-based CrossPollination Ministries. The seminar is titled "Conversations with God--Conversations About God". It starts with a worship and evangelism training seminar on Friday, October 20 at 7pm. Then, on Saturday and Sunday you can sign up for two-hour blocks of live on-the-street evangelism training, where you will go out witnessing one-on-one with a trainer who will give you personal feedback and tips to improve. Sounds like a great idea! Or, If you don't want to sign up, you are welcome to tag along and observe the one-on-one training. Click here and here for more info.

I haven't had a chance to review the CrossPollination Ministries training, but it seems like a good thing. The founder is a member of the Great News Network which is a highly respected evangelism organization. According to the Crosspolination Ministries website, you can listen to an audio of their teaching here. I couldn't get the link to work on my computer, but maybe it was just a temporary glitch.

For more info or to sign up for the seminar, contact Kristin Bradley at (763) 421-7156 ext.106 or e-mail her at

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Evangelism in the Book of Acts

Lately I've been wrestling with the question of "What does it mean to be successful at evangelism?" Or, putting it another way, "What does it mean when I fail?" It takes a lot of courage to speak up about Christ, so it can be discouraging if our efforts don't seem to make much difference, or worse, they get a negative response. If someone responds rudely or harshly, does that mean I've done something wrong?

I think yes and no. As Chuck Swindoll once said, "I don't care if the Gospel offends. But I care very much if I offend." If I've been unwise, unloving, brash, or insensitive, then they have every right to reject me and I need to be humble enough to learn from the experience. If, on the other hand, they are rejecting not me but Jesus or the Gospel, then I should take comfort in the fact that it's supposed to happen that way.

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first....If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:18-20).

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" (Matthew 5:11).

"I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:23-24).

The other night I couldn't sleep, so I did something I've been wanting to do for a while. I skimmed through the Book of Acts and studied the response each time the gospel was preached. I was encouraged by how often some of the hearers responded negatively to gospel "preachers". Often the gospel was well-received and many were saved, but notice there is also a pattern of rejection....

Acts 3 - The preachers are seized and imprisoned.

Acts 5 - The perachers are arrested.

Acts 6 - Some openly argued, used lies to stir up the crowd, and made false accusations in order to have the preacher arrested.

Acts 9 - There is a conspiracy to kill the preacher, so he is forced to leave town in the middle of the night. He goes to another town, and again people conspire to kill him and he is forced to flee.

Acts 12 - One preacher is arrested and killed. Another is arrested but miraculously escapes before he can be executed.

Acts 13 - On one occasssion the preacher is opposed by a sorceror. On another occassion some speak abusively against the preacher, then stir up the city leaders who have the preacher expelled from the region.

Acts 14 - Some in the crowd "poisoned the minds" of the hearers and eventually the whole city is divided. Upon hearing of a plot to stone them, the preachers are forced to flee the town.

Acts 14 - The preacher is stoned and left for dead.

Acts 16 - The preachers are brought before the authorities and the crowd turns on them. They are stripped, beaten, flogged, and imprisoned.

Acts 17 - A mob forms and causes a riot, the city leaders are in turmoil, and the preachers are sent away. They go to another city where again the crowd is stirred up, and again the preachers are sent away. In the third town the preaching is well received but some sneer at the Gospel.

Acts 18 - Some oppose the preacher and become abusive. The preacher is attacked and hauled into court.

Acts 19 - The preacher meets regularly with a group of hearers. Some become obstinate and publicly malign Christianity, eventually the preacher leaves them and preaches to the city at large. ESome local businessmen are so upset at the preacher's message that they start a riot and soon the whole city is in uproar. The preacher and his companions are seized. When the riot finally ends, the preacher decides to leave town.

Acts 20 - Some plot against the preacher (their plans are foiled).

Acts 21-22 - The crowd is stirred up and the preacher is seized. They drag him away and try to kill him. While the crowd is beating him, the authorities intervene. The preacher is arrested and put in chains. The crowd shouts for his death.

Acts 23 - There is a plot to kill the preacher. The preacher is imprisoned for over 2 years. Then there is another plot to kill the preacher.

The book of Acts ends with a preacher imprisoned under house arrest.

Of course we shouldn't go out of our way to cause trouble or seek out persecution. But neither should we stay silent out of a fear of rejection. Rejection does not necessarily equal failure. If it did, then the apostles were massive failures! No, the real failure in evangelism is failing to open our mouths. The Gospel is wonderful news, and if we love God and love others like we should we will feel compelled to obey Jesus and share His wondeful news, no matter what the consequences.

Lord, please give us the courage and wisdom to speak when we are afraid, so that you may be glorified and that others might be saved. And may we trust you no matter what the outcome. Amen.

Doomed Evangelism?

Here's an excellent article on the Pyromaniacs website about what is really the most important issue in evangelism. Hint: It's not winning souls. That is indeed important, but not THE most important thing. Worth a read!