Friday, April 24, 2015

Workmen - April 18, 2015

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."
(2 Timothy 2:14-19)

The Morning Shift
NoHo Train Station

Paul expounds upon the Bible as a mirror that reveals our sinfulness, encouraging listeners to pick up a free copy to read for themselves.

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
(Psalm 19:7a)

The back of this man's jacket is a reminder that for all of our rejection of a Creator on the grounds of "science", we actually live in a rather pagan and superstitious land.

Come stand with us at 6-8 am most Wednesdays!
Watch for the Tuesday evening text announcement and please RSVP if you are coming, so we know what size of a team to expect.

Contact Steve for more details...

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills

"God will Forgive Me"
This man, who had brought his wife 30 minutes earlier, claimed to be a Christian, yet refused to try to stop his wife from killing his child.  Rather, he asserted that “God will forgive me”.

At the heart of this presumptive statement is a lack of understanding of Biblical repentance.  It presumes upon God because it supposes that it is man who decides when he will repent, and that God is under obligation to forgive.

This doctrine of man’s sovereignty flies directly in face of the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, which says that everything good (James 1:17) - even the ability to repent - comes from Him.

The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
(2 Timothy 2:24-26, NASB, emphasis added)

We also see in that same passage that the one to whom a repentant heart has not been granted, he does not have a free will who can choose to repent, but is “held captive [by the devil] to do his will.”

MANY people assert that they are Christian, and yet feel perfectly comfortable with all sorts of heinous sins.  But the Bible shows us that the sign of a truly born again person is a quickness to repent once sin in their heart has been exposed for what it is.  Yes, it will be imperfect repentance, even at times a delayed repentance, but a complete lack of a desire to repent - worse, knowing one is sinning but still saying “I’ll do it later” - is when warning bells should go off.

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
(2 Corinthians 7:10, NASB)

When one knows that what they are doing is sinful and intentionally delays repentance, they are playing with the consuming fire of a wrathful God who has not promised tomorrow - or even if tomorrow comes that He will grant a heart of repentance.

Pray for this man as by his own words, he proves himself to be in dire straits, indeed.

The African American and Eugenics
Visitors to this abortion clinic are generally a mix of races and ethnicities (humanly speaking - we are, of course, all descendants of the same Adam and Eve!), but this Saturday was nearly entirely African-American couples.

The couple in the picture screamed about how we “white” people didn't value “black” life as the justification for killing their child.  The irony of this perverse reasoning seemed lost only on themselves.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, embraced the idea of eliminating so-called inferior people (eugenics).  One such group she specifically targeted were “people of color” like those who came today.

In her words...

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities.  The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.
(Sanger, “Woman, Morality, and Birth Control”, emphasis added)

The effort she began continues to be successful to this very day in convincing African American woman to kill their own children.  In 2011, the CDC reported that 459 abortions were legally performed for every 1,000 live births for those identified as "black".  That’s just a little better than a 2:1 ratio (1 baby killed for every 2 born alive) and far worse than any other group in the report.  See the CDC website for 2011's Statistics

Eugenics doesn't focus just on race, however.  The idea is rooted in the evolutionary idea that those people declared inferior (“by who’s definition?”, it might be added) are wasting resources, and thus "weeds" to humanity.

Sanger, again...

Birth Control is not merely an individual problem; it is not merely a national question, it concerns the whole wide world, the ultimate destiny of the human race. In his last book, Mr. [H.G.] Wells speaks of the meaningless, aimless lives which cram this world of ours, hordes of people who are born, who live, yet who have done absolutely nothing to advance the race one iota. Their lives are hopeless repetitions. All that they have said has been said before; all that they have done has been done better before. Such human weeds clog up the path, drain up the energies and the resources of this little earth. We must clear the way for a better world; we must cultivate our garden.
(Sanger, “Birth Control: Facts and Responsibilities”, emphasis added)

Margaret Sanger has long-since gone on to meet the One who created all men in His image, however this drum beats on.  Just this last week, Peter Singer, a modern-day eugenics preacher, was reported promoting the termination of disabled infants as a “reasonable” way to reduce healthcare costs: Princeton Professor - Kill Severely Disabled Infants

It should make one sick as we consider the wicked injustice against the defenseless - but it should also cause us to fear for the patients, nurses, and doctors involved when we consider the wrath that is being stored up for them.  Our God is a holy and perfect judge, and what seems unjust only seems like that because He has mercifully given them time to repent.

Our knowledge of Him who can cast the soul into Hell should drive us to beg Him for mercy by granting them hearts of repentance that leads to salvation.

Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8-10 am
10200 Sepulveda Blvd
Mission Hills, CA 91345

No Experience Needed and no need to say anything if you are not ready - come hold a sign, pray, and bring encouragement to those who are standing for the innocent.

Saturday Outreach

This week we had the opportunity to proclaim the gospel in Glendale, between the Galleria and the Americana.

Every week brings new challenges and situations, and in this week’s blog we've taken a closer look at how we approach evangelism from both a technical and evangelistic point of view, using our time at Glendale as an example.

We are in need of constant payer, and hope that the reader will see not only our strengths, but also our weaknesses as we struggle to proclaim the gospel as accurately as possible, while adapting to various and perplexing situations.

The Set-Up
Across the street was a regular - and rather loud - violinist, so the decision was made that it would be ineffective to place a box near her (the other corner is small).  Instead, we decided to try two boxes on the same side of the street.

A two-box set-up has become more and more common for our team as we've been finding ourselves preaching more on street corners.  While a clear benefit from having two men on boxes at the same time is extending the coverage and amount of time people hear the gospel, if done incorrectly it can quickly become competing noise, speaking over one another.

This time, being both on the same side of the street, we may have just been too close together.  Between the two boxes was a bit like being in the middle of cannon fire (particularly when the men gifted with booming voices were up!)

This man, on a break from work across the street, was not a fan of the noise coming from our side.  Steve humbly listened to him, then took the opportunity to share the gospel, at least as much as he would sit still for. He then went over to where Vinny was preaching and expressed his disdain for the public proclamation of the message of salvation, before heading across the street to the relative safety of the violin player.

It’s a blessing that locations like the mall in Glendale have not yet banned the use of amps, but we need to be ever on guard that it’s the the gospel, and not those amps, that are the offense!

The Message

Another area we’re working on is transitioning from the mindset of speaking to a slow moving, semi-static crowd (example: down near the AMC theater in Burbank, or in North Hollywood) to one of stop-light preaching.

It's called "stop-light preaching" because the audience is there only because the light is red.  When the light changes, they leave and are replaced by a completely brand new audience.

It’s not that we need to loop the same thing over and over for each new set of people, but our “sound bytes” need to be particularly focused, a complete thought, and about the gospel!

The few moments while passing by may be all the gospel they ever hear, and we must work to make sure it's a profitable and God-honoring few moments.

Keep the men in prayer as each works to retool his presentations to adjust to what’s become the “new normal”.

At Glendale, a “captive” audience is about 60-90 seconds.  In Burbank (at the corner of Magnolia and San Fernando) it’s maybe half that.

The Heckler Mic
We do still put up a “heckler’s mic” when room allows to encourage conversations with the man on the box. People don't always take advantage of this opportunity, but when they do, it allows for longer, more in-depth discussions.

Of course...taking the mic away doesn't always take away the hecklers!

In this picture we see our brother Vinny trying to discuss with a Catholic-priest-in-training how "love your neighbor as yourself" is NOT the gospel, while simultaneously trying to explain to a rather agitated woman about why not all religions lead to Heaven.

Longer, and more personal discussions are the primary role of one-on-one witnessing.

It can require a combination of boldness to get people to stop and listen, patience and discernment as they speak and expound upon what they believe and/or why they think we are wrong, and a knowledge of Scripture to interject truth to counter errors.

We've been blessed with a couple members who have been particularly gifted in this area.

Bibles and Tracts
There’s nothing that makes the heart skip quite like when someone walks out of a seemingly disinterested crowd and asks for a Bible!

We have English, Spanish, and Armenian New Testaments.  Because they cost more than tracts, we generally hand them out as they are requested - but we are never stingy with them and love seeing people take them home.  Would that even more people read the Bible for themselves!

In addition to the men on the box, the heckler mic, and the one-on-one discussions, tracts are another regular component to our outreach and Glendale is a particular favorite spot for handing them out because of the never-ending stream of people.

A tract works like a persistent message that follows the hearer longer than the man on the box.  It distills the gospel message into the most basic of components (man as a sinner by nature, God as holy and just, and Christ as Savior) and/or provokes a thought in the reader to seriously consider who they are before God.

Ideally we would love to sit and talk with each individual who passes, or to have them stay and listen to the message.  However, we know that the vast majority won’t, so the tract provides an inexpensive way to get something in their hands that will unashamedly proclaim Christ as the Way to salvation.

As with the verbal proclamation, a tract is completely ineffective without the Holy Spirit, and is merely another tool we use to help dying men and women see their hopeless state outside of Christ.

Urgency of the Message
This week, as we gathered together before-hand, the idea of injecting urgency based on current events into the message was brought up for consideration. Specifically, as we see "end times" type events happening in the news, should we make use of that to help people see the urgency of the message?

Before answering that, we should clarify that we are talking specifically about what is said from the box through normal preaching (not one-on-ones or other conversations), and taking into account the highly limited time most people will hear the general gospel proclamation.  Should the man on the box speak about a) current events and b) potential fulfillment of prophesy?

If the motivation is to make the message more compelling or "work better," then the answer to both 'a' and 'b' is no, it is not appropriate because it would then be trying to augment the gospel.  Even if well-meaning, it's still using an emotional "hook" rather than relying on the Holy Spirit's work of people coming to an end of themselves, and seeing their need for Jesus.

That aside, using current events ('a') has a more straight forward answer. There is a clear way that they can be Biblically interwoven into the message when used as a springboard to show man's sinfulness and God's perfect and righteous judgement in response.

The God of the Bible doesn't shy away from taking responsibility for things like droughts when judging people. The world is fallen because of man's rebellion again his Creator, so it can be very appropriate to use current events, as long as they are not the sole focus and as long as there's not another motivation for their use (ex: promoting "conservative politics"). But current events can be used to bring a knowledge of sin and/or God's right over His creation.

We must be a little careful here because we don't want to say (speaking like a prophet) something such as: "California is in a drought because of sin" (abortions, etc).  However, we can clearly show from Scripture that God has caused droughts in response to sin, and that regardless of how or when His judgement manifests, He always does judge.

This leads us to the answer on possible fulfillment of prophesy ('b'), which is something that is more than a little bit in the gray area.  To clarify, we're not talking about prophesy such as Jesus' birth where the fulfillment has been resoundingly recorded by the Holy Spirit in the Bible, but rather current events that might be - and in some cases quite probably are - fulfillment of end times prophesy.

There are two (at a minimum) issues with proclaiming these from the box.  First, once again we are not prophets.  We can say "it seems like" or "I believe it is" but we cannot (and must not) say "it is".  That puts us into a position of conjecture rather than one of proclamation, muddying the gospel with speculation.  That, alone, should be reason why it's not something to be stated from the box.

Second, as believers, we have been told to watch the signs so that we may not be deceived (Matthew 24:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, et al).  We have been told that because we, through the Holy Spirit, are able to discern the times.  We have not been given those signs for the purpose of "winning souls".  When speaking to those blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), our message needs be focused not on the details revealed in the Word leading up to Christ's return, but on Him as sinful mankind's only hope in light of His promise to return to judge in righteousness.

There is, admittedly, some "wiggle room" in this because the return of Christ is part of the message!  However, because our proclamation must focus on man as sinner before a holy and just God, who cannot stand on his own merit but must put on the righteousness of Jesus, it is important that we don't proclaim something that is going to distract the hearer from that core and eternal message.

Romans 1:16 reminds us that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and we need to stick as closely to that as possible.

But it's easy to understand why this idea was brought up.  We do feel the urgency when we watch the news.  Christ is coming back - and is coming back in wrath to judge those who remain in their sins (Is 13:9).  We see willingly rebellious people flood the streets every week, and we long to "shake them" in such a way that they see and flee the wrath to come.

But the urgency that should be in the message should be the urgency in us to bring them the truth of God's Word.  Because of the eyes we've been given to see, current events should remind and compel us to forsake the ancillary topics and drill into the only thing that will save them - God willing.  It should bring us out every week because we know that if we aren't there, there's not someone else who will be.

Let us be "as a dying man to dying men", but let our message be the sufficiency of Christ, and Him alone.

Come Join Us - 6-9 pm
See the calendar on the upper, right-side of this page for our location each week...
Tracts and Bibles supplied!


Eugenics Related

Margaret Sanger

Princeton Professor - Kill Severely Disabled Infants

Chinese Scientists Modify Human Embryo

CDC Statistics for Legal Abortions in 2011
(2011 seemed to be the latest statistics as of the writing of this entry)

Albert Mohler - the Briefing

There were two particular good episodes this week...

04/23/2015 - Christians out of Moral Step with Society
Of particular interest, listen to part 4, where Albert Mohler speaks about an article in the Guardian in regards to homosexuality.  Their stance is now that morality has been settled upon by law and public opinion, Christians are allowed to keep their "mistaken beliefs", so long as they don't act on them.
So, once we have determined that discrimination against homosexuals violates the principle of equality – and that is the settled position in both law and public opinion now – the fact that some people are compelled by their consciences to disagree does not exempt them from behaving as if it were true. There cannot be a special exemption for mistaken beliefs held on religious grounds when these harm others. 
(Guardian Article)   
The Briefing 04/23/2015

04/24/2015 - Human Embryos and The Graphic Allure of Current Events
Part 2 (Modifying Human Embryos) ties in with the discussion on eugenics with a Christian perspective on the human embryo modification announcement this week

Part 3 (Allure of Sin in a Fallen World) ties in with the discussion on using current events and how they exemplify our sinful nature.

The Briefing 04/24/2015

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