Much has happened since the last post where I had the fish dream.
I have taken the difficult decision to leave my local church. There was not a single reason for this, but many reasons. Having been serving there for nearly 2 years, I look back at my time there and do not see much fruit. The worship is great, but I do not feel like I am serving God. There is not much in the way of taking the gospel message to the lost, and it feels quite insular. The tipping point was the constant stream of messages being pushed on the congregation from false prophets such as Kenneth Copeland. There were other red flags as well. They have started preaching from The Passion Translation, which is not a translation at all. It is written by a person (who also has made many prophecies which have failed to come to pass). This person has claimed to have received “special knowledge” from God, which immediately when you hear something like that, the warning bells start to sound.
Mike Winger is a pastor who has an excellent series on YouTube, and he owns the BibleThinker.org website. I came across his material just this last month, and he has started a project that shines a light on The Passion Translation and anyone who uses or is thinking of using The Passion Translation, I would strongly encourage you to look up some of the videos he has on it as they are excellent.
I have started a small ministry called Behold Christ and created a book that I have been posting through doors in and around where I live. For a while now I have been looking to do street preaching but have not had the courage to go out and preach and have not been able to get any help on starting out on this. This seemed like a good stop gap, but I have been increasingly convicted of the need to actually preach the gospel using my voice on the street.
Today, something happened. First, know that before Christmas, I was walking along the promenade at Hazelbank in Newtownabbey. I have started to practice street preaching as I walk, but I do this quietly into myself. As I walked along the promenade, I thought I should just raise my voice and actually do it. The fear of being ridiculed, or possibly the fear of suddenly not knowing what to say, stopped me.
I looked on the sandy beach at a woman walking her dog, just a few meters from some steps. I then noticed a freak wave in the water, and I thought that it was going to reach right up to the promenade wall. Instead of calling to the woman to get to the steps, I just watched the wave hit the shoreline, and the woman suddenly realised that she was going to get soaked. The water came rushing at her and went up to her knees. It was just a single wave, and I have never seen such a thing before, and I remember thinking that I saw this wave coming, and I could’ve called and warned the woman, but I didn’t. I remained silent and she (and her dog) got very wet.
I then mulled what I saw and how this corresponds to my lack of courage in speaking out in order to share the gospel. How much a greater danger is coming to those who die in their sin than this woman who got wet from a wave! I have an opportunity to warn people and share Jesus with them… but I do not.
Christmas came and went. We have a new addition to the family. A puppy called Ollie. I did not want a dog, but we got him for my daughter. I took Ollie down to Hazelbank today.
It was just myself and the dog and I parked up and started walking down the promenade. It was frozen and very slippery, but as I got to the other end of the promenade, the ice was gone, and I could walk with ease. I was rehearsing preaching again. Once again, I thought about raising my voice and just preaching the gospel to those on the promenade (hardly anyone was there). As I started walking back to the car, I reached the point of the promenade where the ground was slippery because of the ice. There is an s-bend which, coincidentally, is where I saw the woman who I did not warn about the freak wave I saw coming from far off in the distance.
I could hear noise behind me and saw 4 people on bikes cycling towards me. I was on the path about 30 minutes ago and remember it was slippery but reckoned as the sun was out that it might be okay now. I was thinking about warning them about possible ice on the path ahead as they approached the s-bend. Like the woman before, I did not. I stood back with the dog to let them pass and as they went around the s-bend 2 of the 4 of them skidded and came off their bikes. None of them were wearing helmets, but thankfully none of the 2 that fell hit their heads, but 1 of them in particular had a very nasty fall.
Once again, I found myself in the same situation and in the very same spot as I was before. I was looking in front of me at the carnage that could have been avoided if I had of just opened my mouth and warned these people of the dangers of the path that they were going down.
This is not a coincidence. I have failed again!
When I will open my mouth and warn people of the judgement to come? What unfolded before my eyes does not compare to what will happen to those who die without Christ! Not only that, it seems that God is making it clear to me that I have a responsibility to speak out and to warn people.
So, what is stopping me? Irrational fear of being ridiculed? Or possibly worrying that I might fail at conveying the message accurately and succintly enough? Perhaps just a fear of getting stage fright, freezing up and not knowing what to say, or just mumbling and stuttering my words?
These are not valid excuses and I know it. God is gracious and patient, but the Bible says He takes no pleasure in cowards and those who shrink back. I am always shrinking back. Jesus died for me and I can’t say a few words in public!
No more excuses. It is time.
I must go and preach the gospel.