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Dumb Idols Don’t Speak

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A boy once asked his mother for a bicycle. She replied, “Maybe if you pray, God will bring you one.” So he knelt and prayed, “God, if You give me a bike, I won’t sin for a year.” The boy then walked outside and saw his mother’s statue of the Virgin Mary . Suddenly, he felt guilty because he couldn't avoid sinning for that long. Instead, he grabbed the statue, hid it in his toy box, and declared, “God, if You ever want to see Your mother again, give me a bike!” Some God-fearing people own replicas of Mary, Jesus, or other characters in the Bible. It’s one thing to honor the Lord or departed saints. It’s another to bow down to statues that have no power. The Bible calls that idolatry. 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 5:5, and Galatians 5:20 say that no idolaters will inherit the kingdom of God. It amazes me how some people can worship idols or figurines t h at are just plain ugly. Not far from my former home church and a friend’s place in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, there’s a buildin

Giving Heaven @ Humblefest

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Even before committing my life to the Lord, I knew homosexuality was wrong. The thought of same-sex couples having intimate relations repulsed me. Nevertheless, I grew up around at least two guys who I discovered years later were homosexuals. One was a neighbor who lived two houses away from   my childhood home   in Moorhead, Minnesota. David was a bit eccentric. He had tall plants growing in his front yard that looked like a jungle. A year after I moved to Minneapolis, David died of AIDS. My parents told me he had admitted to them of being gay. Another was a junior high classmate whose locker was next to mine. Thomas seemed popular with the girls and even became class president. So it surprised me when I eventually learned of him becoming a homosexual. In 2011, Thomas died unexpectedly of a heart attack at 46. Although he wasn’t friendly toward me at school, I still hate to think of this guy being in hell. Three years before his death, Thomas got “married” to his long-time partner. Pr

The Promise of Persecution

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Leonard Ravenhill said, “You can’t develop character by reading books. You develop it from conflict.” God doesn’t bring calamity into our lives. However, He sometimes allows challenging situations to manifest so we develop a greater trust in Him and become more Christ-like. 2 Timothy 3:12 promises, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” If you are living for the Lord, then you should expect people to occasionally call you names like “religious fanatic”, “Bible thumper”, and “Jesus freak.” (My brother-in-law thanks people who call him the latter). Unfortunately, some believers who are not grounded in the word of God will draw back when persecuted. Jesus said in Mark 4:17, “And they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.” How should a Christian respond to persecution? Our natural human tendency is to answer likewise when people

The Lord Promotes

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Thirty years ago this month, I got serious about soul-winning. Starting in June 1994, I went out street witnessing with Living Word Christian Center almost every Monday night. I was assigned to a team of usually three people. Within a few months, I felt ready to be a team leader. However, a few more weeks passed before Pastor Nick Kinn ’s assistant asked me to start leading evangelism teams. A year later, I went to work for Billy Graham ’s film ministry World Wide Pictures. I was often the top salesperson of the week. My team leader even suggested our co-workers study my telemarketing techniques. At one point, another team leader position opened that would result in higher pay. I was disappointed the promotion went to someone else. Perhaps the reason was my supervisor knew I would leave in a few months to go back on the mission field (he previously made me agree to stay on the job for one year after I temporarily left to live in Toronto for a season). In the world, individuals wil

Remembering Chris Lavikoff

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On Father’s Day, many people spend time with their dads. Mine passed away almost seven years ago. Although I’ve had other father figures in my life, I want to honor someone who was like a mother to me. This past Wednesday, I learned she had gone home to be with the Lord. For a few weeks in 2001, I lived with a family in Manassas, Virginia. Issues came up that made it necessary for me to find alternative housing. Through a mutual friend, I moved in with another family in the nearby city of Woodbridge. The matriarch was Merrie Christina Lavikoff.  “Chris” (as she preferred to be addressed) was born in Long Island, New York but grew up in California. A stint in the U.S. Army brought her to Northern Virginia, where she met Jeffrey Lavikoff. Although Chris was Christian and Jeff was Jewish, they married and had three children: David, DebraLyn, and Emily.  While I first lived with the Lavikoffs, Chris worked at and attended Christ Chapel, an Assembly of God fellowship. I occasionally

The End-Time Harvest

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In his book “The Coming Revival”, Rodney Howard-Browne wrote, “If you're on fire for God and you’re full of the Holy Spirit, you can take the power of God wherever you go. But too many Christians are allowing the influence of the world to stop them or pull them down.” I’ve seen believers focus on negative things as a result of watching the news for hours or looking for the latest heresies spreading within the church. Recently a Facebook friend posted this on her page: “A worldwide revival is not prophesied in scripture. This is a NAR/WOF false teaching. The Bible teaches there will be apostasy—a great falling away. Believe the Bible!” NAR refers to the New Apostolic Reformation, a term used by the late Peter Wagner to describe a movement some have called “dominion theology.” That is a belief Christians will gradually take over all aspects of society. Although Jesus said in Luke 19:13 (KJV), “ Occupy till I come ” , the Bible also mentions the antichrist ruling the world during

My Time in Toastmasters

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One hundred years ago, an organization was formed to help individuals improve their public speaking skills. Toastmasters has grown from a single club in California to approximately 16,000 worldwide. The meetings feature prepared speeches and impromptu talks (called Table Topics) to get people to think on their feet. Members are assigned various tasks to help others expand their vocabulary and get rid of vocal fillers like “um,” “ah,” “er,” and “you know.” I joined Toastmasters shortly after giving my life to the Lord in 1991. I no longer wanted to be a nightclub disc jockey but still desired to speak in front of crowds. At the time, I was a distributor for a multilevel marketing company . People responded very favorably whenever I gave a testimonial at their meetings. Initially, I attended a Toastmasters club in the St. Paul suburb of Little Canada, Minnesota. Months later, I transferred to a different club called Sunrisers . Many of my early speeches were about topics relevant to m