Friday, May 8, 2015

Hearing Judgement - May 2nd, 2015

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:18-25 NASB)

Saturday Outreach

The evening was a beautiful one in downtown Burbank and, for the second week in a row, we were able to be in the AMC Theater area.

Last week it was because it had rained, and few performers had ventured out.  On this clear and fresh evening, however, even fewer performers came out!  The likely cause was the televised boxing match, though we know that even in this, God is sovereign.

We are very grateful to Him to have been given this time to proclaim where people are more likely to mill around or pull up a bench and listen.

As we gathered together before prayer, our discussion turned to a sermon Pastor Ed, one of our pastors, had given the previous week on faith - specifically on how prior to salvation all men are able to hear judgement, but not all are able to hear forgiveness and mercy in the message of the cross.

It was a good reminder for us to not become frustrated when it seems that no matter how much we point to the glorious Savior who forgives, some will only ever hear "Judgement!"

It is God who draws (John 6:44) if He wills (Romans 9:14-18) so that one can repent and believe in Jesus for salvation.

Be encouraged, brothers and sisters, knowing that if you are proclaiming the gospel and the hearer yells at you or cowers from you or avoids you entirely, that they revile you necessarily because you remind them of Christ and His coming judgement, and they will do anything to not be reminded of it.  Pray that God has mercy on those that do, while continuing to tell about our glorious Savior and His propitiatory sacrifice so the one who does believe will find comfort and forgiveness in Him!

Listen to Pastor Ed's message from April 26, 2015: Faith

This week there were several “drive bys” (people who yell at the preacher as they barrel on by).  Like someone sticking their fingers in their ears, shouting “lalalala” as loudly as they can (which we've also had!), they yell to keep themselves from hearing the message.

It happens so fast that there’s not much the man on the box can do except to maybe counter with a verse or encourage them to stop and talk.  They almost never do stop, as the last thing they want to do is to hear even more.

When this man in the image was passing by, the man on the box was giving different examples of stealing (stealing answers on a test, stealing time from a boss, etc).

Suddenly the man yelled out, “You are stealing our time!”

He likely thought the nonsensical statement was amusing as he continued walking by, but had unwittingly displayed the condition of his heart, and that the message of sin bothered his conscience.

There are clever ways one might respond to something like this, but "out-clevering" a clever man to win the impromptu sparring match is not our goal.  Rather, we try to correct them in gentleness (2 Timothy 2:25), pointing to Christ.

Other drive-bys this evening included “Holy, holy universe!” in response to a reference to our holy God and “I love YOU!” when talking about the love of God.

Neither of those additional individuals stopped to talk or listen either, though the man on the box reached out to them.

A team member handing out tracts gave one to this man, who asked what the tract was about.  When he replied “On the back it talks about Jesus being the way to heaven”, the man came up close, nose-to-nose and mockingly said, “You don’t REALLY believe in Jesus, do you?”  “Yes"  "Why???" "Because...He's changed me” The man stomped off angrily with an “I pity you!” thrown over his shoulder.

It would seem an odd sort of a reaction for someone who has just said he doesn't believe in Jesus to get angry when someone else says they do.  If they merely held to a different opinion, than who cares?  It makes sense, however, in light of trying to suppress the truth and that the Name before whom every knee will bow (Philippians 2:10) is, even now, the sound of “judgement!”.

It’s true that there are many physical evidences for the existence of Jesus (His life, death, resurrection, etc), but it is by the work of the Holy Spirit that we are saved (1 John 3:24, 4:13, et al) and not by evidence.  So while explaining these evidences can be helpful when someone asks "why?", in the end what can a live man who knows the truth (1 John 2:21) because it is in him (2 Peter 1:12) and because it has been given to him by the will of the Father (Romans 9:18) say to the dead man who mockingly asks, “how do you know?” other than “because I know that my redeemer lives”? (Job 19:25)

Sometimes people stop to listen (like the family in the image), but other times people stop to smirk (like the man also in the image).  The noticeable difference between the two is a perpetual sarcastic expression.  This man may have been there simply to emphasis his disdain (or, as he put it to a member when they asked if he was waiting to ask a question, “I’m just sooooo faaaaaascinated!”), but he did get the opportunity to hear the gospel for 10 minutes or so.  When the message was done, he quietly walked away.

We did have one young man come up to the microphone.

“Tony, for now”, he said when asked his name, posed a good question, but in an accusatory tone.

The question: “Why is Hell so scary for you Christians?”  Steve was able to speak with him for about 30 seconds before the man walked off, though not before proudly asserting, "I don’t want to go to heaven".

Another form of “suppression” comes in how some people reject tracts.  For example, we see many like this young lady who pretend to not see the person handing them the tract.

We should be clear that the rejection of a tract is not the same as rejecting the message of Christ!  We know that some don’t even realize what you are handing them (just some guy waving a piece of paper in their face) and some really don't notice you are there.  However, there are times when people trip over themselves to get out of the way of the outstretched hand, as if even the paper, itself, will burn them!

For all of that sad reality of these who rejected the message in one manner or another, it was a glorious and encouraging evening overall!

For starters, there is nothing like a brother or sister in Christ coming up to thank you for being there, and members reported 3 or 4 separate people/couples (like the father and son in the picture) who we didn't know that stopped, listened, then thanked us for being there.  The glory is all to God - we certainly don’t deserve it!  But greetings like these are like breaths of warm air on a bitter cold day, and just one way in which God shows us grace while we are out.

Then there was “Argin” (the young man facing away from the camera).  Jack said he was humble, and seemed genuinely interested.  He was still clinging to his sins by the end of their talk, but Jack did pray with him, asking for mercy for him so that he would be broken and given a heart of repentance.  As with most encounters, we may never know where this time leads, but continue to pray for him as he comes to mind.  His friend seemed much less interested but, because of his friend’s desire to talk to us, he was given the opportunity to hear the gospel as well.

Here Jack speaks to Frank.  He’s been coming around every 4 weeks or so for the past few months.  It’s a little hard to get a bead on exactly where he stands, but is a pleasant gentleman to talk to and at each opportunity we try to speak truth to him.  He’s an “agreerer” in that he agrees with everything said...but it’s hard to tell if he believes or just agrees!  Perhaps the ‘Talkative’ character in Pilgrim’s Progress would be a good analogy to how it feels when speaking with him.  The words seem right...yet perhaps not internalized or experienced.

Finally, throughout the entire evening, several one-on-ones were taking place nearly non-stop.

Overall, it was a wonderful evening.  Yes, there were those who reviled us, but it was light affliction for sure (2 Cor 4:17).  God was merciful in all of our encounters, and has continued to protect us from any serious problems.  He also brings fellow believers for a respite, and even the occasional joy of seeing a flicker of light in the eye of a listener.

We wish we had names for each person we've described in this blog, but as you look through the pictures, be certain to pray for these individuals.

Even those who seem the hardest are but a breath away from salvation, if our Lord so wills.  We go out for His glory and to raise His name in our weak way here in Burbank regardless of the reception, knowing that He is magnified in our weakness.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Cor 12:9, 10 NASB)

It's a joy to serve Him.

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!

The Morning Shift
NoHo Train Station
There was no outreach on Wednesday, which remains on short-term hiatus through at least the end of May.  Watch here for notice of when it will resume.

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills

CANCELED last week due to illness.

Please pray for Don, who has been ill lately.  He was unable to go to the clinic this last week (on either Wednesday or Saturday) and the outreach needed to be canceled.

Update: Don did send a text saying he plans to go out this next week, though he still feels poorly.

In lieu of any news the week from this outreach, below are a couple articles that show the problem with humans rejecting the absolute authority of their Creator when trying to decide when life begins.

“Whatever makes me happy.”
Two articles are presented here to compare and contrast competing secular world-views, where the motivator is self-desire.

In the first article, the current leader of Planned Parenthood says that, for her, life begins at delivery.  That's understandable in light of profiting on the death of babies before that time.

In the next article, the man says his frozen embryos have a right to live.  At first it's surprising that someone with a secular world-view is so adamant of life beginning so early, until we realize that the driver is a personal demand to have children outside of marriage and is news only because he must battle his "famous" ex-fiance who has declared the embryos to be her property.

The Culture of Death Bares its Teeth: Planned Parenthood Leader Says Life Begins at Delivery (article by Albert Mohler)

Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live
(Albert Mohler’s commentary on the later: The Briefing 05/01/2015)

“When does life begin?”
This particular question has been rolling around in the news recently, in particular because of the event in Colorado a couple months ago where a woman’s baby was cut from her (subsequently dying from exposure).  People are (rightly) outraged about this, but also in a tight spot.  If the baby is considered murdered, then what does that say for abortion?  But if the baby is not considered murdered, then where's the justice for this horrendous crime?

Ultimately the murderer was not able to be tried as such because Colorado law doesn't have a category for “feticide”.

That begs the question - what about here in California?  California does, in fact, consider what the woman in Colorado did as murder (again - see the inconsistency when men make decisions belonging to God).

So how does California justify abortion and still call the event in Colorado murder?  It's all in how the rights of the mother override the baby's, and how the baby, itself, is defined.

For example, in Section 187 (see link, below), it is called murder to kill the fetus IF the mother didn't agree to it.  If, however, she conspires against her own child, then it’s “ok”.
In order to justify that illogical logic, the next section (Section “188”) gives us a hint as to their reasoning. This section is defining the definition of what intentional and implied malice of forethought looks like, and includes a telling phrase in the first part:
Such malice may be express or implied. It is express when there is manifested a deliberate intention unlawfully to take away the life of a fellow creature.
California appears to justify the killing of an unborn baby (when the mother consents) by referring to it as a fellow creature, rather than a human or baby!

The use of the “fellow” language is also a bit disturbing, as it appears to raise animal to the level of man (or visa-versa - denying the uniqueness of our being created in "the image of God”, Gen 1:27).

Find links to the full text of California’s law, as well as a summary on every state’s law on this issue at: Fetal Homicide Laws

Other News
Catholic Reads Through the Bible

There’s a story you may have missed, and one that would not even be worth mentioning except that it offers a glimpse inside what we often tell other unsaved people to do - to read the Bible for themselves.

Laura Bernardi, “director of coverage in CNN’s Washington DC bureau”, and a self-declared lifelong Catholic, has taken it upon herself to read the entire Bible cover to cover in a year.  Once a week she “blogs” her thoughts on what she’s read.  In her own words, she hasn't read much of the Bible before:
I took a scriptures class in 9th grade of my Catholic high school, but we moved through that year with only selected passages to journal about. Later, when I graduated, my grandparents gave me a beautiful Bible that has traveled with me from Vermont to Montreal to Atlanta and finally to Washington. But in 24 years, I never so much as cracked the cover, other than to write the date I received the gift.
It was clear from week one that she’s learning about a different God than she thought she knew.

Some quotes that reveal her surprise at who “her” God is:
(week 3)
This is not the God that I have known for nearly 42 years. It's not the version of the God I pray to daily. 
I truly don't believe in a God that wipes out a town in general because of sexuality. Why are they wicked? I don't believe that my God that would go after one group -- any group. The God that I pray to doesn't punish the "wicked" like this. I can't comprehend this version of God. I can't believe in that kind of God. 
There were much easier things to write about this week in the pages that I read. But, I want to be truthful with you, my readers. The Lot story struck me -- hard.

(week 5)
For the first time in this journey of reading the Bible, God scared me.  If you don't follow God's wishes, you are in big, big trouble.
The Bible stories I was taught in school now feel so sanitized.
This angry, jealous, favoritism-choosing isn't my version of God. But it's God nonetheless, an idea I'm still struggling with, to be honest.
Given that this is CNN, not much should be expected in terms of theological profoundness or accuracy.  In fact, even the bit quoted above shows she falls far short of understanding what she is reading.  Unfortunately she has also already turned to commentaries and other outside opinions to process what she’s reading.  Finally, most sadly of all, her “fear” of God as recorded does not yet reach the level of holy-fear and seems to have instilled the idea of needing to try even harder to “follow God’s wishes”.  So far she sees only the judgment.

After the flood and Lot and death to the first born sons of Egypt, she is struggling to keep her head above the water and justify the God she claims to know, and to twist and turn phrases, trying to rectify and align it with “modern” thinking.

One who reads our blog, however, should not be tempted into mocking her ignorance.  That’s not the point of bringing this story to light, but rather to ask that you pray for her.  We long every week for people to take - and to read - the Bible out of a firm belief that God's Word, alone, is sufficient to bring people to saving faith.  Our hearts should jump in hope that God will use this series to work salvation in her.

Pray for her to see, and not just read, as she continues through the Bible

Because CNN doesn't seem to provide an easy way to navigate through this series, the following are the links to all available posts:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5



Pastor Ed at CBC: Faith


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