Lessons From the French Street

“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols…  for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you…” (Acts 17: 16, 23 NKJV)

Last week we were in the Paris suburb of Massy to help a friend, Christophe, with a street outreach. He wants to start a church. We had a big bus called “Ze Bus” from French evangelist Franck Alexandre’s ministry as well as a motivated team.

One day as I spoke with people I said to myself, ‘’The street in France is like an oriental bazar.”

During the course of a morning I spoke with a young Sengegalise Muslim, a very polite fellow. After that I offered a tract to a couple and I noted their hesitation. So I said, “We’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The woman responded, “That’s good because we are.” Errr …. Continue reading

Chasing Rabbits

One of the most respected members of my life circle when I was a kid was old Pooh-pooh, daddy’s hunting dog. He almost had family member status. He lived at our house though I’m not sure you could say that anyone owned him.

He seemed to mysteriously appear, though, when there was something to eat or when it was time to go hunting. He was a passionate squirrel hunter.

One Christmas my little brother, Charley, received a puppy that he named Butch. We had high hopes for Butch as a hunting dog but he never reache Pooh-pooh’s status. He got distracted too easily and would often follow rabbit trails instead of whatever we were hunting.

“Chasing rabbits” is a hunter’s way of saying that instead of staying on the trail, the dog gets easily sidetracked if he smells something else. He streaks off on a rabbit trail that had crossed the path of the deer or whatever he had been following.

Preachers have been know to follow “rabbit trails” when they leave their subject to follow some minor point and then they finally wander back onto the main trail some time later. Rabbits are responsible for lots of long sermons.

I’m so glad that I’m not afflicted by this weakness (and don’t believe my wife when she says the contrary).

Danger Of Chasing Rabbits
I wonder if Christians haven’t got distracted by a lot of rabbits lately. We’ve been awfully busy in the “culture” wars but have we forgotten the main war?

Sometimes we’ve seen victories by the enemy and we tremble and get discouraged (or get mad!). But the question, “what are we  going to do?

The Church must flashback to its reason for being and return to its power source.  “So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zech. 4:6 (NIV)

Announce Christ, Our Reason for Being
Our reason for being is to announce Jesus-Christ to men and women who are starving for eternal life. The by-product of sharing the Word of God is that we win battles–one at a time. We save unborn babies by touching lives for Jesus. Those who bear those babies will keep them or give them to be adopted into a Christian family instead of aborting them if the Lord Jesus reigns in their heart.

We set the mark for marriage by showing what marriage should be–a marriage where Jesus-Christ reigns as King. Many will hunger for the same thing.

The Church has a prophetic voice in the world and shouldn’t be silent. We should never call sin anything but sin. But, the Church also has an evangelistic voice—our message is Good News. Jesus really does save from sin’s slavery. Jesus really does bring us into full relationship with His Father. Jesus really does work peace in troubled lives. He really gives eternal life.

Prophetic and Evangelistic
If we trumpet our prophetic message without even more loudly proclaiming our Good News message, we’ve failed. We’ve announced that man is a sinner but often without telling the Good News that there is deliverance from sin in Jesus. It’s like preaching the Old Testament without preaching the New Testament.

Paul lets us know, without a doubt that trying to keep the Law of God without knowing God Himself in Jesus Christ only leads to frustration. That’s what the six and seventh chapters of Romans are all about. And the message of “Do right!” always leads to the accompanying question, “But how?”

Romans 7:24 pictures the man who tries to do right in his own strength crying out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”

The answer? Jesus-Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus is our message. The Spirit of God is our strength.

God’s Message To Us This Year
The message that God sends his Church this year is simple, “Get back to basics. Tell the Good News, without compromising the message by taking out the prophetic part. Political power won’t change the world. God’s power in Jesus Christ, applied to a life that’s wandering haplessly, looking for hope, will make an eternal difference.”

I talked to a young man who came to me after a service in a church in eastern France last year. One of the first things he said to me was, “I’m homosexual.” He had some important questions. Some key people in his life had failed him.

Do I excuse his sin? No, but my heart was touched. This young man isn’t the enemy. God isn’t the enemy of the sinner. He’s the enemy of sin and the devil which have imprisoned people.

God wants us to announce liberty to the captives! He’s opened prison doors. Let’s tell it.

We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and apply God’s love to all kinds of situations around us. God loves young women tempted to abort their child. God loves people imprisoned by the sins of adultery, pornography, lies, stealing, homosexuality, pride, religiosity, and a vicious tongue–all kinds of jails.

His power bursts the doors open.

It’s important to vote for politicians who stand for something but it’s a million times more important to get back to our knees and beg God for that heavenly power which will help us make an eternal difference in this hurting world and get people ready for the world to come.

If we’re not careful, we’ll get so involved chasing rabbits that we’ll lose the most important war of all—the war for men’s eternal souls.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” Hos. 10:12, NIV


You don’t love the Head if you don’t love the Body.

Low-fat cheese … high-fat smell

Cheese and I go back a long way; I’ve loved it as long as I can remember. So, I’m in heaven here in France because some claim that there are a thousand different types of cheese in the land of Voltaire.

When you’re invited to eat there’s even a separate course of different kinds of cheese to choose from and if you’ve got a crispy baguette to eat with it … whew! The thought shakes me.

I’ve even learned to love the stinky cheeses … Munster, Bleu, etc Once you get past the smell you’ve got them licked.

Recently, though, I’ve noticed that my school-girl figure is going south, so I’ve  tried to purchase lower-fat cheese. There’s only one problem: most of them taste like rubber or plastic. You get more taste from chewing on an eraser.

But there is an exception–the low-fat stinky cheese tastes more like the original than the other low-fat cheeses. Maybe the taste is in the smell.

Now, I see you wrinkling your nose as I peer through my computer screen, but just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, taste is in the tongue of the taster, and I suppose that smell is in the nose of the smeller. Or whatever. Pass me my baguette and leave me in peace.

Same problem

The same confusion exists when people think of Christians—for some being around  someone who really loves the Lord is like being downwind from a lady wearing a exquisite perfume. Those who love the Lord, love his people. They smell good.

For others, being around Christians is like being downwind from a skunk.

We’re the odor of Christ in this world. Those who have a heart for God say, “Wow! What a beautiful smell.” Those who don’t want to serve Christ say, « Pewww! That stinks ! »

“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.” (2 Cor. 2:14, 15 The Message)

We’ve got an odor. Like my French cheese, whether people perceive it as good or bad, our job is to stay full of the Lord so that the smell wafts all around. Everyone has a responsibility to decide what to do with what he perceives.

If you want to explain Jesus, look at the Cross. His love and the power of His resurrection  boldly displayed there define who He is. If you want to understand me, look at the Cross. It was my sin, healed by His love, my weakness, healed by His power and resurrection that define who I have become.