Saturday, May 30, 2015

Through One Man - May 23, 2015

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 
But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
(Romans 5, *)

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills

Today was a busy day at the clinic.  The building that houses it also has other medical and general businesses (ex: tax preparation), but most are closed on Saturdays.  However, shortly after we arrived, people for a new IV class on another floor started to arrive.  That was later followed by a CPR class.

This is how the parking lot normally looks...on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

For a Saturday, this is packed!

The abortion doctor, as well as several key nurses, also arrived very early.  That's never a good thing to see, and means they expected a busy day of murder.

Don is very careful about determining who is there for an abortion, but it can be tough when there are so many young people coming in at once.  Also, just because someone isn't there for an abortion, that doesn't mean that they are happy to see us.  So even when Don is careful to ask, "Are you here for an abortion today?", even if not, there's still a screaming reply.

While Don tried to be discerning, one of the Catholic ladies in particular wasn't and kept pressing those who clearly weren't there for an abortion to take material and to try to get them to stop and talk with her about abortion.

Her interference included stopping cars coming in and blocking the entrance, which is something that we never want to do, lest we be seen as impeding normal business and give the clinic or the owners an excuse to have the police come!  This really helped to highlight the unusually large Catholic turnout this Memorial weekend, which normally stays on the other end of the building, but had "spilled over" to the parking lot side.

To Christians' shame, it’s a sad reality that most people in front of abortion clinics are Catholics.  The clinic in Mission Hills is no exception.  It’s been said that if you gave a Christian $1,000 every time he shared the gospel, that he would suddenly no longer be afraid to share it - and if you offer someone eternal life through works, work she will.

We have a heart for these Catholic women but they, like the people killing their babies, are on the same path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  This may sound harsh - several of these women are very kind and very dedicated - but the Bible is abundantly clear that neither our works nor sweet personalities get us into heaven.  And it is equally clear about our remaining separate from those who trust in such things because it dilutes the gospel and deceives them into thinking they are saved.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
"Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.”
(2 Corinthians 6:14-17)

It is true that there is a common desire to see an unborn baby's life saved, but saving an infant's life is not our primary goal.  What good is it if we convince a mother not to kill her baby only to offer damning hope in Mary?  Our goal (should be) proclaiming Christ and His gospel.

In the picture above you see signs referencing “40 Days for Life”.  While that bi-annual Catholic-event has passed, for some reason today many were carrying them.  The following link not only talks about what that event is, but also discusses in more detail why, as born again Christians, we should not be partnering with this (or any) idolatrous religion even when it involves the saving of an unborn child's life: 40 Days for Life, Catholics, and Christians

Pray for a boldness to share the gospel with the Catholics and a willingness to be firm about keeping them at arm’s length as they try to unite with us.  As this ministry is not one over which we have control, also pray for Don for wisdom in these matters.  He was saved out of Roman Catholicism, and has a desire to see these woman saved as well, so pray that he is able to evangelize without being perceived as being in unity with them.

A couple weeks ago (in this post) we spoke about a "flippant girl" who told Don he has a weird hobby and an unnerving encounter later where her boyfriend tried to get Don into his car.

Juan, the security guard, let Don know the following week that 20 or 30 minutes after we had gone, the man came back, picked up his girlfriend, and left.  Now we have absolutely no idea what the reason was, but it’s a curious turn of events to say the least.  An abortion at this place takes 3+ hours (between checking in, waiting around, surgery, etc).  This would mean that the girl was at the clinic for no more than 1 ½ hours.  Half the time it takes for an abortion to be performed.

Again, we have no idea the reason she left, but it was a reminder that even the hardest of heart are in the full, sovereign control of the Almighty God.  Pray for both of them that they would repent and be saved!

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

Once again, we had the pleasure of coming out to Burbank as feeble, poor men doing their best to proclaim the gospel!

The evening was a relatively slow one as we were missing several brothers and sisters who were out of town or taking care of family business.

This man has been by a few times before.  He calls himself a Muslim yet speaks more like a materialist as he rejects the idea of an afterlife and has placed his hope in science solving death.  We posted this link a couple weeks ago in the “media” section, but it seemed fitting to include again, here:  Tech Titans’ Latest Project: Defy Death

The truth of who we are as sinners and where we stand before a holy God was presented, yet he refused to listen.  Whether or not he was willing to say it, he is suppressing the truth of the wrath of the God he knows exists (Romans 1:18) by believing in a fantasy to keep from facing the reality of judgement.  Sadly, that fantasy is just that.

We die when God determines it:
"Since man’s days are determined, The number of his months is with You; And his limits You have set so that he cannot pass.” (Job 14:4, emphasis added)
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalms 139:16, emphasis added)

We die as a physical judgement for mankind's rebellion:
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:15-17, emphasis added) 
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12-14, emphasis added)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, emphasis added)

We die to be judged for our sins:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27, emphasis added)
"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4, emphasis added)
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15 - emphasis added)

This man’s faith says that if science can figure out a way to keep putting our parts back together, that we can avoid death and therefore judgement.  But the God who upholds all by the power of His word (Hebrews 1:1-3) upholds and continues to allow even those parts to exist!  And when he has determined it, unless Jesus returns before then, each and everyone of us will die.

A note about this Muslim man who doesn’t hold to Muslim beliefs (though he does dogmatically maintain the common argument that Jesus was merely a good man): it is a reminder for us to approach each individual as a lost individual and to not assume that they are a perfect embodiment of their representative religion.

Followers of false religions are as likely as anyone to have a confused and conflicted understanding of their religion.  Living in a Western, soon-to-be-completely-secular-society, can confuse things all the more so that the Muslim we see on TV in the Arab world is not the Muslim walking by us.  In fact, it could end up that who we meet, like this man, is a Jesus-denying-allah-defending-secularist-athiest-Muslim.

Part of this mash-up comes from people not understanding what their own religion teaches and simply accepting what other people say without checking it out or questioning it.  BTW: this is a good reminder that we, as Christians, should be studying the Bible daily!  We referenced the Islamic Dilemma on another post (here), which comes with an implied question - if the Qur’an says the gospel is the word of God, then why don‘t Muslim’s believe it?  Dr. James White presents some thoughtful reasons for this: Why Muslims Reject the Gospel

Michael, the man in the car, yelled out “We are worthy, you are not worthy!” as he waited to turn at the corner across the street.  Because he was driving by, it’s unclear how much he actually heard of the message, or whether he was just spring-boarding off what little he had heard - or thought he had heard.  However, what was said was that nobody is worthy to stand before a holy God.

Besides pretending that death won’t happen or that there is nothing after death, another way of trying to suppress the knowledge of the wrath of God is by saying that we can make ourselves worthy before Him (or that God's love forces Him to go against His nature and overlook our unworthiness).

However, the Bible is again clear that God demands a righteousness that we can't achieve as even our best deeds are filth to Him.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6, emphasis added)
The man on the box replied to Michael that when he declared himself worthy, he was showing just how impoverished and lost he was (James 4:6) and told him to repent.

As we think about this man's hardness of heart, let us who have been granted salvation be reminded of our own unworthiness outside of Jesus.  It is His righteousness that was credited to us, and that reason alone is why we can stand before Him in the day of judgement.
That is why [Abraham's] faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:22-25)
Let us meditate upon our Redeemer, upon His worthiness, and if ever the thought flashes in our minds that we have become worthy because of who we are, may we also remember who God is and say with Job:
“Indeed, I am completely unworthy – how could I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth to silence myself." (Job 40:4, NET)

Besides these encounters, and a couple quick questions, the evening passed rather uneventfully.  We are grateful for the opportunity to be out, and know that if we rightly proclaimed God's word, that people were affected whether or not they responded.

Please pray for our team as we work to refine our presentations to be ever more focused on the gospel, and that our love for the lost grows.  Also, pray for Mark in his leadership and stamina as he continues filling in for Steve for at least 2 to 4 more weeks.

And as Steve always says: Maranatha!

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!

Articles and Media

Justin Edwards: 40 Days for Life, Catholics, and Christians
"While my experience in pro-life Gospel ministry has been extremely fulfilling, it has not come without a stark realization of the further slide of evangelicalism into ecumenical compromise."

Voice of America: China Aims to Break Foreign Influence on Religion
“The crackdown and persecution against Christianity, in particular, has really accelerated to a level that is perhaps the worst in two decades," Fu said. "The kind of crackdown on government sanctioned churches is the worst since the Cultural Revolution.”

Europe News for Law and Justice: Systematic Violation of the Right to Conscientious Objection to Abortion in Sweden
"According to the Swedish political and medical authorities, those who respect the life of the child must choose an occupation unrelated to pregnancy. The Swedish Parliament and Government have officially taken a stand against the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1763 (2010), which reaffirms the right to conscientious objection in lawful medical care. Sweden suffers from a shortage of midwifes, but the authorities persist in rejecting skilled staff for ideological reasons."

Dr. James White: Why Muslims Reject the Gospel

Washington Post: Tech Titan's Latest Project: Defy Death
(re-posted from a couple weeks ago)
“The great unfinished task of the modern world is to turn death from a fact of life into a problem to be solved — a problem towards whose solution I hope to contribute in whatever way I can.”
PETER THIEL (co-founder of PayPal, et al)

* All verses are from the NASB unless otherwise stated

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Do You Know Jesus? May 16th, 2015

And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.' In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out."
(Luke 13:23-28 *)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'"
(Matthew 7:21-23)

Saturday Outreach

Standing on top of the parking lot in Glendale, looking out toward the North, one might be forgiven thinking this was an afternoon in Colorado instead of drought-ridden California.  Our heavenly Father has given us three full weeks of cool, cloudy days - even providing some much needed rain the end of last week!

When we think of the drought here in California in light of God's sovereignty, it’s easy to say “yeah, I get that - we deserve that”.  But days like these show that even as we grow in rebellion and wickedness as a state and a nation, God still graciously gives us periods of rest.

What a reminder this is for loving our enemies, as sons of a Father who shows mercy and grace to His enemies.

"You have heard that it was said, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:43-48)

This cool evening, our wise Lord organized a small team for our outreach in Glendale.

Bibles and Tracts

We may have been a small team, but that didn't hinder the distribution of of Bibles and tracts!  In fact, we completely ran out of the paperback English Bibles.

As mentioned in the post from the last time we were in Glendale, we only hand out Bibles when people ask for them, so it’s always exciting to run out!

Millions” of tracts went out as well...

Tony Miano’s most recent weekly e-newsletter included a link to Pastor Jeff Pollard preaching at the Milton Herald Society on the Biblical basis for using tracts.  Listening to it is time well spent, and an encouragement for those who pass them out: Paper Missionaries

“Young man - do you know Jesus?”

Tonight the call from the 3 preachers was strong, and focused on the necessity of knowing the right Jesus.

As people waited to cross the street, Vinny would call out to specific individuals waiting to cross the street “do you know Jesus?”

Occasionally some replied with a sincere “Yes!”, and he would lovingly exhort them to be sure they were in the faith.  Others replied with a mocking “Yes!”, and those he chastised and called to repentance.

When no one would answer, he pulled no punches expounding upon what it meant - and did not mean - to know Jesus.  “You say you know Jesus, but you call him a prophet - you don’t know Him at all and are not going to heaven.”

This man was not happy with the volume and message and told him to be quiet and go home.  “I won’t be quiet because I love you and want you to know the truth”...“I won’t go home because my Lord has commended me to go out and shout His name from the roof top!”

Another man raised his arms and “praised satan".  As with most people who do this act, the guy thought it was a funny thing to do in response to the guy on the box.  He was more persistent than most, however, as his “adulations” continued as he crossed the street.

We get "hail satan" people like this man every couple of weeks, with each man on the box at the time handling them differently.  As shocking as this response is, we must remember that there is no eternal difference from the man who mockingly hails satan and the atheist who denies the existence of God and the "good" person who's planning on riding into heaven on the back of their works.  They are all unable to discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2;14) and are under the wrath of God (John 3:36).

It's tempting in light of the elevation of our Enemy's name to want to lash out in defense, but we are not called to defend our Lord's honor (certainly not in a way other religions, such as Islam, must defend their prophet's honor by attacking the mocker) but are to preach salvation in Christ through repentance.

The man on the box choose to rebuke this man with Scripture that glorifies our Savior while preaching the truth about where the man actually stands: “Keep those hands up, young man, because the Bible says that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”. (Philippians 2:11)

One-on-One (Gospel) Conversations

Several one-on-ones took place where the gospel was given.  Some people rejected it out of hand without even listening, but others stopped, listened, and even discussed it.  It's a joy watching men on our team as they intentionally seek out and try to start conversations with people hanging around the perimeter.

Dmitri, this pleasant, young man, sat down with Rasmik to talk awhile about what the gospel is.

When asked if he understood what he had been told, he replied, “You got through to me, man”.

However, when pressed about his willingness to think about what had been said and (ultimately) repent and follow Jesus, he said that he was very busy right now.

In the end, Razmik left him with a Bible, a Noah DVD, and a warning about delaying: "we are not promised tomorrow..."

Pray for this young man that he wasn't just temporarily and emotionally stirred when he heard the gospel, but that he bears fruit in repentance and a turning to follow Christ.

Not everyone was so willing to speak, and sadly neither of these ladies welcomed a discussion with Vinny for more than a moment.

Similarly, while Vinny was persistent in opening the Bible and reading to this young man as he ate his ice cream cone, he was visibly uncomfortable, waiting for an opportunity to leave.

Armen (in the picture) said that before starting a philosophy class in college, he believed in heaven and hell, but now has doubts.

He did seem to have a grasp that he is sinful as several times in the conversation he asked why God would forgive sinners such as us.

The Bible tells us that God saves whom He wills so that He, Himself will be glorified (Ephesians 1:4-6), but truly it is a glorious and wondrous thing that almost goes beyond our ability to explain.

From our standpoint (as creature) His salvation is shown in love that originates from Him (1 John 4:10), and mercy while we were sinners and His enemy (Ephesians 2:4, 5; Romans 5:10), and grace that justifies (Titus 3:7).

As the song declares, "Amazing love! how can it be"
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
For a better treatment of this topic, see Mark Dever's Why Does God Save Sinners?

Razmik pointed out John's reminder to believers in 1 John 1:9 of the assurance of salvation we have in our ongoing desire to confess our sins, and the promise of the Father to forgive those sincerely confessed sins.

Armen declined a Bible because he said that he had several at home, already.  Pray that he would read one of them, and that he doesn't sinfully use “I’m an unsavable sinner” as an excuse to stay away from God, but that as he sees his sinful state he is driven towards God who gives salvation freely (Romans 3:23).

Other, "Random" Encounters

In addition to one-on-ones, no evening would be complete without "grab-bag" conversations that frustrate, confuse, or even encourage the team.  Anything and everything can be the topic!

The man with the cigarette came up and began testing Mark to see if the Bibles we were handing out (ESVs) were accurate translations (he preferred KJV).  His intention/attitude was one of uncovering or confronting some form of heresy.

However, when he grilled Mark on Genesis 1 and whether or not he believed a literal 6 day creation, and when Mark said “of course”, pointing to Exodus 20:11 as further support, the man gave his approval for us to continue preaching, and walked off.

It was an odd encounter, that even as we spoke about it a couple days later, we were unsure how to categorize it.  Because of his demeanor and actions, we hesitate to call him a brother though he seemed ready to call us one.  We humbly acknowledge that our judgment on situations like this can be wrong or biased, and we ask for prayers for discernment in situations like these.

This girl asked if we were Scientologists.

Unfortunately she didn't stay around to hear who we are, or about our risen Lord!

This is a sober reminder that yes, we are out...but so are the false prophets.

We don't know this man's name, but is a believer who has been by a few times when we've been at this location.  Razmik commented that you can ask him about nearly any verse in the Bible, and he knows it!

This couple are believers who occasionally come to this location to evangelize (no preaching, just handing out tracts).

It might be interesting (or intimidating...) to know just how many pictures there are of members of the team floating around out there!

Two young, Christian girls, excited by our presence, approached Vinny wanting to be trained in evangelism.

Vinny spoke with them for 30 minutes or so to learn more about their faith and check their theology (which could be summarized as new, immature believers, but solidly believers none-the-less).

They discussed tentative plans to work out a time to go evangelizing with him and his wife in the future, but in any event it was a thrill for Vinny (with the rest of the team sharing in his joy!) seeing others being encouraged and strengthened in their desire to evangelize.

A small team we may have been, but more than enough for our great God.  He is full of compassion towards His enemies, offering salvation from His just wrath through the propitious, wondrous work of Jesus.  We stand in awe.

To those whom He has saved, there is no longer condemnation or a fear of His wrath.  Instead, He has given us a perfect example in Christ for how to humbly love our enemies as He has done so that we are driven to proclaim His name that others might also hear and be saved - and that He would be glorified in the preaching of His word.

By God's grace, may we continue to grow in love for our neighbors in Glendale and Burbank, sharing the hope we have in Christ as we strive to meditate upon and know our Savior better: God the Son, Jesus Christ!

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!


Mark Dever at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary: Why Does God Save Sinners?

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:15-17)

Jeff Pollard at the Milton Herald Society: Paper Missionaries (Biblical usage of tracts)

"Yet Hulse realizes that if we take Scripture at face value, there is no escaping the conclusion that God’s love extends even to sinners whom He ultimately will condemn."

John Piper: Biblical Texts to Show God’s Zeal for His Own Glory
"Probably no text in the Bible reveals the passion of God for his own glory more clearly and bluntly as Isaiah 48:9-11 where God says,
For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another."
(Isaiah 48:9-11, ESV, emphasis Piper's) 

* All verses are from the NASB unless otherwise stated

Friday, May 15, 2015

Where is the Promise of His Coming? - May 9th, 2015

I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. "It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 
(Genesis 9:13-16, NASB)

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 
(2 Peter 3:3-10, NASB)

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills

Praise the Lord, Don was back this week and his voice is nearly back to 100%.

This week there were 13 or so couples during the 2 hours we are there and oh, the hardness of heart of each one of them!  To kill so coldly, and so intentionally, is a hard thing to witness.

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
(Romans 2:5-11, NASB)

"It's just a fetus" or "it's not life until it can survive on its own" are common excuses for this self-exalting sin.  So common it's unfortunately not even shocking to hear anymore.  Today, though, when a young man protested that "it's just soup", it was a reminder of just how hard and willingly ignorant people are.  The support for abortion is rooted in evolutionary thinking, but not even the most staunch evolutionist scientist would back such an obviously false statement.

As the morning neared an end, this girl arrived for a CPR class.  While she had nothing to do with the abortions, our being out in front bothered her so much that she shouted as she was pulling in and then, after parking, angrily came over with an unusual opening question: "How does an unripe fruit fall off a tree?"

Though Don tried to get her to a point of how that related to...well, to anything, she kept demanding an answer.  Finally he said, “I don’t know”.

“Ahhhhh...," she replied, "you don’t know.  Maybe you should think about that for awhile.”

A good guess as to what she was getting at (though she never got there) was that unless one knows exactly how something happens, then one cannot speak with authority to make definitive statements on the subject.  If we extend that to babies (a far leap from where she was, but again probably where she was going in her thought process), then her argument might be that because we aren't experts on biology, then we “don’t know” what we are talking about with regards to abortion.

The problem is that her point is both nonsensical and irrelevant.  Nonsensical, because the average "laymen" is entirely capable of discussing topics from mechanics to politics to science w/o being PhDs in them.  Irrelevant, because we don’t point to our knowledge on reproductive biology as the basis for the claim that it is a baby and it is being murdered.  Rather, we are appealing to the authority of our Creator.  It’s not open to debate - even with a scientist who does hold a PhD - when it contradicts what the all knowing Creator has said is true.

Babies - even really small ones - are created in the image of God.  They were known by God before they were conceived (Jeremiah 1:5), are formed in the womb by God (Psalm 139:13-16), and have been created in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).  God has not only demanded blood for blood, for murder of others made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6), but He even gave Israel an indication of how He feels about the harming of an unborn child (Exodus 21:22-25) and that the same "life for life" payment applied.  From this, and many other passages, we know that God hates murder and that He has a particular disdain for the one who intentionally harms or abuses the defenseless.

The girl spoke foolishly because she rejected the authority of God outright (Proverbs 1:7), but it gave us the chance to reiterate why it is we call abortion murder.  Not because someone skilled in biology studied and that current science says that the unborn child is human, but because our Creator has said so.

On a related note of the ever-changing understanding of science, an article came out this week at the NY Times about the unexpected survival of premature babies born at 22 weeks: Premature Babies May Survive at 22 Weeks if Treated, Study Finds

As the Times said:
A small number of very premature babies are surviving earlier outside the womb than doctors once thought possible, a new study has documented, raising questions about how aggressively they should be treated and posing implications for the debate about abortion.

Another encounter, which spanned about an hour from beginning to end, also started unusually when the girl coming for an abortion drove up in her car with a wide grin and ecstatic, “joyful” wave.

Again, we were struck by just how arrogant and hard people can be who've made the decision to murder.

As they walked into the clinic, Don tried speaking to her but she just kept replying in a silly manner that might have even been humorous in any other context.  Her ending comment as she headed inside summarized the flippant nonsense of the encounter well: “You have a weird hobby!”.

Later, her “kind of boyfriend” came out and sat in his car (shown in the image, above) and Don both pleaded with him to save his child, and to offer help.  For quite awhile he said nothing back, but after Don persisted, he walked out and said ”you have 1 minute to prove that you can help me”.

Holding his iPhone up with a timer, he counted down 60 seconds as Don explained that whether the issue was drugs or lack of money or inability to care for the child, right across the street is a clinic that would help with all of that, and if they couldn't keep the baby, that he or she could even be adopted that day.

After one minute was up, the man said, "you didn't help me" and returned to his car.  Don continued talking to him across the parking lot that he would help him, if he (the man) would do the most basic of things by responding to the offers given.  Don even said he’d go with him to a facility to get help.

This went on for some time, with Don calling out and the man yelling back that Don hadn't helped him.  Privately, Don expressed how torn he was because he just couldn't tell if the guy really needed help, or was just acting out.

After a while of this, the man got into his car, drove out, and told Don to get in the car so he could go with him to a "facility" to get help.  However, when Don asked where they would be going, the man refused to say.  Instead he kept insisting that Don get into the car for "help" (while we couldn't be sure, it sounded ominously like it was the man who was intending to "help" Don).  They spoke for another couple of minutes and Don wisely decided to not get into the car in light of the refusal to provide information as to where they would be going.

In the end the man threw out the pamphlets Don had given him for the clinic across the street and sped off.

It was a very odd, tiring morning, with lots of people seemingly "giddy" as they went inside.  Please pray for Don who does this regularly twice a week, for his strength and that he finds joy in standing for the innocent and doesn't grow weary from the hate directed his way.  Also, pray for laborers.  It's a hard place, with often very angry people and very few people able or willing to go out.

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

Back at the corner of Magnolia and San Fernando, we took up our places to await the waves of people who pass through the intersection.

Within the first few minutes the issue of Islam grabbed the angry attention of a passerby.  The statement that caused her to do a 180 and defend Islam was that the only sure way into Paradise (according to the teaching of Islam) is by killing someone through Jihad (battle against those who would oppose Islam and what it stands for).  Technically this “right” can be extended to martyrs and those who fight with the willful intention of killing, even if the opportunity to kill never arises (joining ISIS might be considered an example of willingness to kill).

The “surahs” that support this are many, yet most in America remain either deceived on this point (still subscribing to the idea that Islam is peaceful, and it’s just some “extremists” that have taken it too far) or are actively lying (lying is supported and encouraged by the Quran to deceive and gain an upper hand on your enemy).

One can see that if the only sure way into Paradise is Jihad, why there is such a lure to join groups like ISIS.  However, regardless of the promises in the Quran, they are merely man's promises and in direct contradiction to the ones from God.

See CARM’s site for more about this religion of peace.

Whether the lady in the image was deceived or not does not change what the Quran says regarding Jihad.  And what the Quran says about entering into Paradise, does not change what Christ said: “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.  No man comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6, NASB)

Another sad conversation happened between Mark and the man in the image.  He wanted us to preach more against homosexuals.  Not against homosexuality, but against those “fairies”, as he called them.  He saw their sin as particularly and peculiarly bad.  One might even say he took a position like the Pharisee who said, “...God, I thank You that I am not like other people…” (Luke 18:11, NASB).

But when Mark took him to the Bible to show that other sexual sins, such as adultery and fornication (sex outside of marriage), are also heinous sins against God, worthy of His wrath, the man would have nothing of it.  When reminded that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), he stormed off.

One defining attribute of all Christians is that we all at one time were, by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).  We aren't out to call people to repentance to be holy like us, but so that they might repent before a holy God and be saved like us.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NASB)
This doesn't mean that we soft-pedal sin - it is an affront to a holy God - but that we remember that when we call it out for what it is, that there is no one beyond the saving grace of God.  Equally true, neither are there any who are closer to salvation by not engaging in a particular sin.  Indeed, if we had a true understanding our own state even now as believers and our sin against the knowledge given to us of who God is, we would weep (James 4:9, 10) in shame.

Praise the Lord, for His mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22, 23)

These two men (middle, right) sat engrossed with the “Are you a Good Person” tract.

One of the joys in recent weeks is seeing men on the box with their Bibles open.

There’s been a noticeable uptick in reading passages directly from the Word on the box, which is encouraging to hear, and unchains the lion of God (Spurgeon), which is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the hearers heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Our words pale in comparison!

Off the box, our Sister and Brother expound upon the Word as this self-proclaimed believer struggled to understand why God hasn't yet met her demands and fulfilled her wishes.  They ended the time praying with her, that she would come to have her will placed in submission to the will of the Lord.

This young lady, a new believer, came to Jack struggling with the worry over her parents who are dying, and her homosexual brother’s hardness of heart.  Jack prayed for her to be strengthened in her faith and for boldness in her witness.

Speaking with Armando (Catholic), Sharon probed for his understanding of the gospel, which turned out was no understanding at all.  Near the end of their time together, she challenged him with John 3:5 (“...unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”).  He seemed genuinely concerned and promised to read the passage when got home.

Luis, another nominal Catholic, shared several stories about how he had almost died, but kept changing the subject when pressed with what would have happened if he had died.

One gift the Holy Spirit has given to Sharon is the courage and diligence to pursue a point like this and, in the end, he listened and even took a Bible.  We praise the Lord that He has spared this man from death so many times and allowed him to hear the gospel this evening!

Others took Bibles, as well...

We praise the Lord that we were once again able to go out and that, in His mercy, He gave more people the opportunity to hear the gospel.

It can be sad when we think of all those who hear and continue on in rebellion, but imagine, if you can, the glory we will heap upon our God when we stand before the Lamb who was Slain and it first begins to dawn on us just how merciful and gracious and long-suffering He was during this time.  We will never find ourselves questioning Him for stopping short of calling some, but marvel in wonder and awe at His calling of any.

To Him be all the glory and honor forever and ever.  Amen.


NY Times: 22 Month Old, Premature Babies
A small number of very premature babies are surviving earlier outside the womb than doctors once thought possible, a new study has documented, raising questions about how aggressively they should be treated and posing implications for the debate about abortion. Islam - Religion of Peace?
In Islam, there is no guarantee of salvation except in one instance, dying in Jihad. Jihad is the struggle--the battle against those who would oppose Islam and what Islam stands for. This is very important because in the Muslim religion, there is no guarantee of salvation.

Washington Post: Tech Titan's Latest Project: Defy Death
“The great unfinished task of the modern world is to turn death from a fact of life into a problem to be solved — a problem towards whose solution I hope to contribute in whatever way I can.”
PETER THIEL (co-founder of PayPal, et al)

CMI Review: Martin Rudwick's Deep Earth History (Appendix Regarding Creationists)
"For all the noise that creationism generates, it is no more than a bizarre sideshow that has set itself in implacable opposition to one of the most solid and reliable of human scientific achievements. Sadly, creationists are utterly out of their depth" (quote from book, p. 315).

A photo reminder (from 5/8/2015) of God's judgement by flood and His promise to never again judge all of mankind in that way again (Genesis 9:13).  ABC News quotes Benjamin Jurkovich (the photographer/storm chaser):
"I have a bible verse I use for storm chasing, Nahum 1:3, which says that God is the god of the whirlwind, and the clouds are the dust of his feet," he said. "When I'm looking at these massive, ridiculous storms and tornados that scare the crap out of me, it's just like, wow, this is the dust of God's feet. It puts me in a state of awestruckness and makes me feel small, which is a good place to be."