Have you ever heard of the "DT's"? The letters stand for "Delirium Tremens," and they come as a result of alcohol withdrawal. The DT's cause severe shaking, profuse sweating, paranoia, and produce frightening hallucinations. You will get the DT's when you go to your local fishing hole. (Christian DT's are "Discouraging Thoughts, and a "fishing hole" is a place where you go to deliberately share your faith.) The DT's will begin from the moment you think about going fishing. You will get the sweats, the shakes, paranoia, and you will have hallucinations of frightening pictures of terrible things to come.
The Bible says that our fight is against dark and sinister demonic forces (see Ephesians 6:12). The area of the enemy's attack is our mind. In a sense we are like unconverted ex-alcoholics. They never see themselves as being free from the disease. Once an alcoholic, always and alcoholic. It is healthy to think like that because it makes them recognize their weakness. They have to understand that they will have a daily battle with the temptation to drink alcohol until the moment they die. That's how you and I have to battle the temptation to be paranoid about seeking the lost. Daily.
However, there is a big difference for the Christian. Fear is one of the greatest possessions we have, depending on what we do with it. It can either paralyze or prostrate us. If it paralyzes us and stops us from sharing our faith, it becomes our worst weakness. If it prostrates us before the Lord, crying "Oh God I am so scared. Please help me to stand up for You," then it becomes our strength. It makes us trust in God. Our worst weakness then becomes our greatest strength. So always welcome fear to your doorstep, then slam the door of faith in its face. It doesn't need to come into your house. Just having it close at hand will make you pray.
How to Beat the DT's
One great key to personal witnessing is to be resolute. You have to realize that you have an incredibly important agenda, and determine that nothing is going to deter you. You have the mindset that you are going to have your mind set on seeking the lost. When the DT's come, you will know why they are coming, and you know how to deal with them. Your weapon is the shield of faith, and its function is to quench all the fearful and fiery darts of the enemy. Faith always overcomes fear. The "fear" that comes to your mind is that if you bring up the things of God, the stranger you have approached will think that you are a religious weirdo. But you know that if he dies in his sins, he will go to Hell, forever. Concern for his eternal salvation will help you ignore the DT's. Simply think of this reality--his worst case scenario is the Lake of Fire, yours is that a stranger will think that you are weird. So you must make your approach. You are able to do this because you are mentally prepared. That resolute preparation will help you fight off your fears. Your feet have been "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15, italics added). Your feet know where they are going, because of your preparation. If you are hoping for inspiration without preparation, you may just end up with perspiration.
So, prepare for where you are going to take the conversation. You will greet the person with a warn and courteous, "Did you get one of these?" The "these" to which you are referring are gospel tracts. They are bait for your hook. If you don't have a good quality bait, you won't even get a nibble. When you get a bite on your bait, you then have to take control. Quickly pull in the hook with a confident resolve. You know where you want to go, so steer the conversation in that direction. You can do this, with practice. So come with me, and let's do some fishing.
It's a warm Saturday afternoon, around 4:00 p.m. Long Beach Town Center is swirling with activity. There's nothing as exciting for fishermen as seeing the ocean's surface swirling, revealing that shawls of fish are just beneath the surface. Birds above the scene are another indication that fish are present. "Birds" in scripture are often "types" of the demonic realm. The enemy is ever present when fish are about to be caught.
I walk ahead of our group and see a couple sitting on a bench. I don't hesitate for a moment because that will feed my fears. I have prepared. I know where I am going to go with the conversation, and that gives me comfort.
"Hello. Did you get one of these?"
They don't answer, but each take a million dollar bill tract. That in itself is an encouragement. I add, "It's great when you get the change."
They don't smile, so I ask, "Where are you from?"
The woman replies, "Indonesia."
I'm consoled that their lack of evident response to such quality humor isn't personal. It's cultural.
"That's a gospel tract? Have you had a Christian background?"
They both say that they haven't, so I then ask, "Do you ever think about what's going to happen to you after you die? Will you go to Heaven? Do you think that you are good people?"
They both do, so I take them through a few of the Commandments. I ask if they have lied, stolen, blasphemed and looked with lust. They had. They admit that they were guilty, heading for Hell.
Because there was little verbal interaction, I took them through the gospel and their need of repentance and faith in Jesus. The woman looked at me and said,
"We are Buddhists."
I smiled and said, "That doesn't matter. Buddhism makes no provision to wash away your sins. Only Jesus can do that."
I thanked them for listening and moved on. I had the consolation that even though there was little interaction, they had heard the gospel clearly, and that they were both still holding the tracts.
I walked towards three teenagers who where sitting by a fountain. Once again, I took out three million dollar bill tracts, and gave a friendly, "Did you guys get one of these?" All three refused. That was unusual. So I used my old faithful "Check the other side." Curiosity almost always got a change of mind from someone who initially refused to take the tract. But that didn't work. They totally ignored my words. It's frustrating when fish don't bite, especially when you are using proven bait. Change of bait. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my faithful "Department of Annoyance" tract. This looks like a business card, and when someone coldly refuses to take a bill, I follow it up with an official-sounding, "This is where I'm from."
Only one responded and took it. But this kid didn't even crack a smile as he looked at the card. That was unusual. I said, "I'm the director of the Department of Annoyance."
Still no reaction. I reached for my wallet and did some sleight of hand. That made them smile, so I pointed at the card and said, "That's a gospel tract. Have you guys had Christian backgrounds? Do you ever think about what's going to happen to you after you die?"
I was hoping for some response, and I finally got it. One of them looked at me and earnestly said, "We . . . don speek English."
The four of us laughed, and I left. It had taken me about three minutes to figure out that the lake I in which I had been trying to fish was frozen solid, and that was the reason for the cold response. I wasn't discouraged that my icebreakers didn't work, because even seeming failures add to our experience. Besides, failures are relative.
Latter Day Saints
I spotted a couple sitting down with a young child. It was then that I suddenly got an attack of the DT's. In came the sweats, the shakes and the hallucinations. They were vivid and came with surround sound:
"This woman may be open to the gospel, but her husband certainly won't be. He is buff, which means that he works out. His body is his god. He is puffed up with pride and therefore hates religion, and he particularly hates stupid religious fanatics who try push their own narrow-minded brand of religion down people's throats. Besides, the little kid with them is a sure sign that it will be a nightmare to try and start any means of communication. It would definitely interrupt, wanting things, and perhaps even screaming loudly and making the whole attempt completely futile. I should just turn around and go home."
I refused to change my course, because my feet where shod with preparation. I approached the couple, handing them a million dollar bill each and giving my usual spiel. She was friendly. He looked at me suspiciously. I said, "It's a gospel tract. Do you have a Christian background?" He said, "We are Mormons." Back came the DT's:
"These were Latter Day Saints. See. They were schooled in their religion. Rich, educated folks. They are ready with a thousand powerful arguments about Mormonism."
I took no notice, and asked, "Do you consider yourself to be good people? Do you think that you will go to Heaven?" They both did, so we went through the Commandments into grace.
"Are you two married?"
"Are you living together?"
So I politely but firmly said, "That's fornication. And the Bible says that no fornicator will go to Heaven. If you died right now you would both end up in Hell."
I paused and then said, "Thank you so much for listening to me. This is so important."
The woman looked at me and earnestly said, "I know it." I told them that they needed to repent, trust in Jesus like they would trust a parachute to save them, and then read the Bible and obey it. They both seemed to be appreciative that I had taken the time to talk to them. I shook their hands and left.
Next I saw three black youths sitting at a table at an outdoor restaurant. More DT's:
"You can't just walk up and start talking to people who are sting at a table. What are you going to do next-sit down with them! That's the epitome of impertinence."
Have you ever noticed what waitresses do when people are talking at a table on which they are waiting? They don't wait for a gap in the conversation. They butt in and say, "Are you ready to order?" Do their patrons get upset? Of course not. She's there for their benefit. She has an agenda. She's bold because she knows that she has what they want -- food.
Here's a good tip. We have what the world wants. They just don't know it yet. We know it, so we can be bold. With God's help, we can make them hunger for righteousness. We have an agenda. They may think you are a little strange at first, but experience will teach you that you can do it.
I politely butted in on the three youths' conversation, "Did you guys get one of these? It's a million dollars. Cool huh?" They smiled as they each took one.
"Would you like to see a trick?" They nodded, so I turned two one dollar bills into five. That impressed them. I pointed at the tracts and said, "Those are gospel tracts. Have you guys had Christian backgrounds?"
"Do you consider your selves to be good people?"
We went through the Commandments. They listened intently, understood that they were guilty, and that if they died that day they would go to Hell. I shared the gospel and then added, "You know guys, I have a lovely wife, and nice house. I would rather be there right now. But I'm not. This is because I care about you and where you will spend eternity. So please think about these things seriously." Their facial expressions showed me that they understood what I was saying. I shook their hands and left.
The experience reminded me of when my associate ( Mark Spence) and myself were nearly kicked out of a restaurant in Chicago. Pizzas we ordered seemed to take an eternity to be brought to our table, so Mark and I excused ourselves and walked around the dozen or so tables, handed out Michael Jordan collectible tracts and did "The Light Show" for each table. The patrons loved it. They were even asking us to sit down and join them at their tables.
As we turned around to go back to our own table, we were stopped by the manager and a big bouncer. The manager sternly asked, "What do you think you are doing?"
I managed a smile and said, "We gave out some free Michael Jordan collectibles and were showing people our light show."
He wasn't impressed. He said, "I want you to leave right now!"
"Our whole party?"
He looked a little taken back -- "Your whole party?"
"Yes. There's ten of us. We're here with the local pastor and his elders. I'm their guest speaker."
Suddenly we were more than welcome to stay. He didn't want to upset the local pastor. That may have upset the local church. And that may have upset his local income.
My final Long Beach fishing session happened when I saw another three teenagers heading my way. Hopefully they spoke English. I resolutely stepped in front of them and said, "Did you guys get your million?" They grabbed one each.
"Wanna see a trick?" They did. They were very impressed.
"Those are gospel tracts. Do you Christian backgrounds?" They were Catholics. I ignored the DT's about Mary, the pope, confession, purgatory, transubstantiation, etc., and instead asked if they considered themselves to be good people. They did, and after going through the Law one asked, "But what about asking for forgiveness?" I told them that that wouldn't help them. They needed to repent and trust in Jesus alone for their salvation. They were very sober.
"You are young guys, and you are surrounded by sexual temptations. Get your heart right with God because you don't know when you are going to die."
I told them that 150,000 people die every 24 hours, and that there was nothing more important than their eternal salvation. Afterwards they were upbeat and seemed to appreciate my concern for them.
Our team (made up of two members of my staff -- Dale and Anna Jackson -- and three of their friends) then met in a well-known coffee shop, and we compared fishing stories. We spoke about trying to fish on ice. The ones that got away. Nibbles and bites. And of course, the DT's.
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA