We shed tears watching emotional movies. We’re sorrowful when we see a dog stranded on the streets. But do we have a heart heavily burdened with empathy for the lost?
April 23, 2021
I was sitting in the Los Angeles airport waiting to fly to Nashville, and I offered a tract to a large man who was sitting two seats away from me. He coldly said, “Keep it.” I put it back in my pocket and then offered him another tract. Most take this one if they refuse the first. It looks like a business card, but it says, “Department of Annoyance…Director.” It makes the first offer make sense. I deepen my voice and say, “This is where I’m from…” and hand it to them. The air of authority makes them take it, and almost everyone laughs when they see the “annoyance” part. Not this man. He just said, “Keep it.” A moment later he got up and left, and a younger man took his seat.
I have learned that if someone throws you off, you have to find another horse and get right back into the saddle. So, I ignored my sense of rejection and the fear of it happening a second time, and I slid a million dollar bill across the seat, saying, “Here’s a million dollars for you. It’s great when you get the change.” This man burst out laughing. That made me feel good, so I asked, “Where are you from?” His name was Adrian. He was from Texas and was going back home for his father’s surprise fiftieth birthday party. He had been in Los Angeles for five months pursuing an acting career, working as a waiter in a Hollywood hotel.
“The difference between believing that Jesus died for you and trusting in Him was like the difference between believing in a parachute and putting it on.”
I told him that I co-hosted a TV program with the actor Kirk Cameron. When he said that he had actually seen the program, I asked if he’d had a Christian background.
I asked, “Have you been ‘born again’? Do you know what that means?”
He answered, “That’s when you believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and you ask Him into your heart. I believe all that.”
I explained that the difference between believing that Jesus died for you and trusting in Him was like the difference between believing in a parachute and putting it on. I said, “You know what helped me? It was this little test. Would you consider yourself to be a good person?”
He said that he did, so I took him through the Ten Commandments. He had lied, but when I asked him what that made him, he said a predictable answer: “Human.” We live in an age of unaccountability. It’s the “it’s not my fault” age. Adrian was only “human.” He had weaknesses like every other human being and was therefore not really accountable. But the truth is, every man will give an account of himself to God. This is why each Christian needs to be like Nathan the prophet and say, “You are the man!” One way to do that is to have the person acknowledge what they are.
I said to Adrian, “What would you call me if I told blatant lies?”
He said, “A liar.”
We both smiled when I said that it sure is easier to see other people’s sins. He had also stolen, blasphemed, and looked with lust. Yet, he still thought that he would go to Heaven, so I explained the justice of God to him, then the cross.
He soberly said, “That made me think.”
I then explained that I had addressed his conscience rather than his intellect. I said, “It does make us think, because the conscience agrees with each of the Commandments. If I told you that I had a cure to lymph node cancer and gave it to you, you would probably say, ‘What are you doing? What do I want this for?’ But if I instead took the time to convince you that you had the disease, when I offer you the cure, you are going to appreciate it.”
We then prayed together. I gave him my email address, a Hell’s Best Kept Secret CD, a copy of The Way of the Master private screening, a copy of The Evidence Bible, and a book I had written called 101 Things Husbands Do to Annoy Their Wives to give to his dad for his birthday. He was so grateful that I had spoken to him, and I was so thankful that I didn’t listen to my fears.
On the flight to Nashville, I sat next to a 78-year-old man named Earl and his wife, Helen. I felt a twinge of fear because I respect older men and feel a little uncomfortable telling them what they should and shouldn’t be doing. I said that I was an author and handed Helen a complimentary copy of 101 Things Husbands Do to Annoy Their Wives. Earl and I then chatted about his background. I then told him that I was going to speak at a Christian conference and asked if he had a Christian background. He said that he was an “unbeliever” and laughed.
I asked if he ever thought about his mortality—the fact that he was going to die.
I said, “You know what helped me? It was the Ten Commandments,” and shared with him about lust being adultery, etc. I said that if God saw my thought life and He was going to judge me by that standard, I would end up in Hell, not Heaven.
His reaction was to smile and say, “You know how I deal with all of that? I don’t believe it.”
A few minutes earlier the flight attendant had asked what I wanted to drink, so I said that I would like hot chocolate with cream and nuts scattered across the top. She smiled and said, “Actually, we do have hot chocolate,” and she even brought me an extra container of hot water.
I wasn’t too excited about the extra water because I suffer from “spill-drinkinson’s disease.”
As I moved the trash on my tray table away from me, the water container fell toward us and spilled hot water on both Earl and myself. So I said, “Well, now we are both in hot water. Never mind, though. Let’s not believe it happened.”
“Have you ever noticed that when you turn on a light, darkness leaves? The two are incompatible. It’s the same with fear and love. Love casts out fear. When we turn on the light of God’s love, fear can’t stay.”
Meanwhile, I could hear Helen laughing as she read the book. He asked me if my wife or I wrote it. When I said that I was the author, he mumbled something about me being a traitor.
From then on he was extra friendly and kept asking me questions about the things of God. I took him more thoroughly through the Ten Commandments and the cross, and I thanked him for being so gracious and listening. He said, “You’re welcome. Not many people have talked to me about this.” He was grateful that I had spoken to him, and I was so thankful that I didn’t listen to my fears.
Love Casts Out Fear
When Kirk and I produced a program on how to witness to homosexuals, we came up short on interviews, so we decided to visit the homosexual district of West Hollywood. The day we were due to go there, I was a little nervous. As I was driving there with the camera crew, someone asked if I was nervous. I said, “I share my courage with others and keep my fear to myself.” That was a great truth I learned from Robert Louis Stephenson. Just after that, Kirk called and said, “I’m nervous.” I said, “So am I.”
When we arrived, it wasn’t what I expected. The gay district had a festive atmosphere, with men walking hand in hand and greeting one another with long hugs and with women passionately kissing each other. The area was upper class, safe, clean, and tidy. It was a “sanitized Sodom.”
“Paralyzing and tormenting fear isn’t from God, but it can work for your evangelistic good.”
I saw two men sitting together, so I walked up to them and said, “Hi. We’re doing a TV program on America’s spirituality, and we want to get the perspective from the gay community. Are you two gay?” Their names were Kevin and Ryan. Kevin was homosexual, and Ryan was bisexual. Ryan didn’t want to be on TV, so I called the crew over, and Kirk interviewed Kevin.
I went over to Ryan, sat next to him, and asked if he had a Christian background. His mother was Christian, and his father was Catholic. He said that he had been pleading with God in prayer to take away his homosexual tendencies. I said, “You know what helped me? It was the Ten Commandments,” and I took him through the Law and into the cross. I told him that he needed a new nature, prayed with him, and then left him with some literature to help him. He was so grateful, and I was so thankful that I didn’t listen to my fears.
Have you ever noticed that when you turn on a light, darkness leaves? The two are incompatible. It’s the same with fear and love. Love casts out fear. When we turn on the light of God’s love, fear can’t stay. It has to leave. The key is to let love cause you to think of the terrifying fate of the person to whom you want to witness.
Paralyzing and tormenting fear isn’t from God, but it can work for your evangelistic good. It can make you trust in God. Fear shows us that we are weak, and it causes me to call on God for His help. So, don’t let your fears discourage you. Instead, let them drive you to Him who gives courage, and in so doing, your greatest weakness then becomes your greatest strength.