Friday, June 5, 2015

The Message of Truth - May 30th, 2015

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
(Ephesians 1:3-14*)

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills

For the second week in a row, the abortion doctor arrived early, indicating the possibility of a large number of abortions today.  He never talks to us as he moves quickly between parking lot and building.

Shortly after the doctor went inside, nurses started to arrive.  Don knows them all - most by name - and has a message tailored for each based on his relationship with them.

Noting that several had expensive cars, he quoted Matthew 16:26 then asked, "Are you really willing to lose your soul over this job?"  Most ignored him as expected but one, in her foolish heart (Luke 12:20) turned and said “yes!”

Please pray for each of the nurses.  The hardness of heart (Eph 4:18, 19) that it takes to be able to see the horrors of what is being done after day after day is staggering.  Though we know that God gives hardness as judgement for works done, pray that He would be merciful, according to His will, and that they would no longer be able to suppress the knowledge of coming wrath, being driven to repentance and not utterly destroyed.

You will recompense them, O LORD,
According to the work of their hands.
You will give them hardness of heart,
Your curse will be on them.
You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
From under the heavens of the LORD!
(Lamentations 3:64-66)

Just when it seemed to be just another day of death at the clinic...

A couple years ago, Johnathan and his girlfriend arrived at this clinic for a scheduled abortion.  For an unknown reason they changed their minds (no one was preaching that day), and, instead, went across the street to the pregnancy clinic.

Meet Jacob.

We thank the Lord for his grace in saving this boy's physical life and restraining his parents from sinning to the point of his murder.  Pray that Jacob will be given the opportunity to hear about Jesus as he grows up, and that they all (father, mother, and son) will be given eternal life in Christ through the repentance of their sins.

From when we first saw Steve entering the clinic door with his friend's bag, he was very polite, and promised to come out and talk.  He did (from inside the car) and told Don that it would be pointless for him to try to convince his friend to stop the abortion - that she had already made up her mind.

Don impressed upon him that the abortion hadn’t yet happened, and that it was not too late to try again.  In the end, Steve said that he would call her from a nearby McDonald's and try one last time.  Whether or not he did, however, we’ll never know.  We do know that he never returned and that she never came back out while we were there.

The name of his friend (he insisted he was not the father) was along the lines of Ilanna.  As you think about her, pray that God will work salvation in her, using the (unfortunately likely) abortion to break her to the point of repentance.  Pray also for Steve for his part, and for a repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10) in him, as well.

After we had packed up and started leaving, this grandmother (lady far away in the picture, wearing a white blouse) and her grandchild came out of the clinic.  They had just dropped off her daughter (or granddaughter) to have an abortion.  The grandchild (behind the car) was maybe 5 or 6 as she listened to her grandma yelling that she was glad to be an accessory to murder.  The girl who was dropped off was, by our estimate, 15 or 16.  Very young and very sad.

We praise the Lord for the opportunity to stand for the children about to be murdered, and are humbled by just how ineffective we would be without Him.  Truly all we can say are words on deaf ears outside of the Holy Spirit's work.  It's frightening to see Him withhold the ability to hear, and it's awe-inspiring when He works without us saying a word.

We fully trust that He will get glory from all that He has done today.

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

As our hearts are being stirred to check the content of our messages, making sure that they are truly about the gospel and not mere human wisdom countering worldly wisdom, there are also external changes underway in Burbank.  As a result of these two factors, we have begun looking closely at just how we are proclaiming the gospel, how we can do it better, and how to prepare for a changing environment.

No Amps
The first change we made this evening was to not use amps.

The reason for this is to start training the men to speak without them in light of legislation in the works in Burbank to remove amps (at least for a time) from all performers**.  We may still use amps in Burbank until a law is officially in place, but we feel it prudent to be seen as “blameless” in this area as Downtown Burbank business owners are in the process of filing noise complaints with the city.

Also, the area where we often preach on the corner of San Fernando and Magnolia really isn’t well suited for amps, which has been an ongoing issue for awhile.  People waiting at the light are more or less stuck between a brick wall and an amp.  Talk about the gospel reverberating in one’s head!

More on the potential amplifier ordinance change: Street performers drum up noise complaints

A Higher Priority of the Gospel
The second, and vastly more important change, was an intentional push to focus more on the gospel in presentations.  Apologetical arguments have their place, but they can quickly become the message if not kept in check as appealing using man's wisdom can be far easier than proclaiming the gospel, which is foolishness to the perishing (1 Cor 1:18)!

This was done by limiting each presentation to 5 - 8 minutes (made easier without an amp!) and being intentional about trying to touch on 4 main "parts" of the gospel (man’s sin, God’s holiness, Christ’s sacrifice, need for repentance of sin and trust in Christ).  A couple of the men would read a passage from the Bible, then expand upon it in the preaching of the gospel.

This second change allowed us to also rotate through men more often to keep the message fresh, also limiting “creep” away from the gospel.

Stop-Light Preaching
The third change was getting each man to think about just how long (or short!) a street light actually stays red.

Longer messages may make sense to someone sitting down and listening, or in conversations, but to people who are just passing by, those same messages are just disjointed snippets void of context or meaning.  That is not to diminish God's sovereign work - He is fully capable of using a scrap of a random conversation to save - but God's sovereign work in using proclamation to save people isn't an excuse to proclaim sloppily!  We always want to work to provide the most accurate and understandable gospel that we possibly can for His glory.

Whittling down what is said to focus on preaching to those individuals at the light at that moment, rather than just a general proclamation to the "sea of humanity" passing by, also helps to focus the message and get the gospel out.

The men’s initial efforts were used in incredible ways.  There was no noticeable drop off in Bibles being handed out or tracts taken (at least as good as any other evening), as well as each man had someone approach the box to ask questions.  Two of those even led to longer, off the box conversations!

There were, however, some issues, such as men being thrown a bit “off balance” trying to adjust their usual message to the new format on the fly - but really the re-evaluation of the message was the point.  This is certainly a format that will take some work to get right and comfortable.

Our intention as a team is that the Lord is glorified through the preaching of His word and, specifically, making Christ’s name known in the short time that we have left.  Pray that the men will be hungry for the Bible, diligent about working through passages in their personal study times, and intent on retooling their messages to conform to what the Bible teaches, growing in their ability to proclaim the gospel accurately!

Catching a breath between preaching the gospel is a good time to discuss initial reactions and thoughts on preaching without amps!

Erin decided that this evening she would try handing out Bibles instead of tracts...little did she know that this would be one of the busiest spots of the evening as God would bring many people over, leaving us struggling at times to keep up with the demand and the Bible box filled!

What is interesting to note is that the lack of amps didn't make us any less noticeable.  People were as aware as ever of us being there, which was a confirmation that proclamation doesn't require amplification!

Gabriel, who used to be a Catholic until “very recently”, was enamored by the message of the gospel.  He said that he had been recently saved, and was trying to put the pieces together and confused as he wondered why he never heard these things taught in Catholic school.

Jack explained the gospel to ears eager to hear!  As Jack put it, someone else did the work, he just had the opportunity to pass on the truth about Christ.  It's exciting to see new believers hungry for the truth and it reminds us what it was like when first we did believe.

One point of prayer for Gabriel’s growth is that he is currently attending the more liberal Angles Temple (a Foursquare church ***, founded by Aimee Semple McPherson) in Echo Park.  We certainly would differ - quite emphatically - on several doctrinal points with that church, but have also known other true brothers and sisters who have attended them at one point or another in their Christian life.

Pray that this young man is drawn to the Scriptures, and that through the reading of God's word and the Holy Spirit's leading, that he is better able to discern truth from error and eventually led to a more Biblically-grounded church.

Bryan and Julie, 15, claimed to be friends but were not acting like only friends.  Julie regularly attends a church in Los Angeles but has a confused understanding of the Bible.

As Razmik spoke with them, she said, “Doesn’t God forgive everyone?”  Rasmik used Hitler to help show that even men have a desire for justice for crimes such as his, and if mere man desires wicked men to be punished, how much more so a perfect and holy God, to whom we're all wicked and deserving of his righteous justice outside of Jesus?

Bryan knew basically nothing, but listened carefully and seemed genuinely concerned about the fact that if he was to die right then, he’d be in Hell.  He promised to think about the things Rasmik said, thanking him at the end for speaking with them.

God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day.  If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. (Psalm 7:11, 12)

This lady took a Bible and talked about how she missed going to her old church, which had moved.  She lives in North Hollywood and preferred a Spanish speaking church, so the men recommended Grace Community Church, which has services for Spanish speakers.

This man thanked us for being there.  Our God ordains thanks for servants who are simply struggling to do the least of what He has commanded (Luke 17:10) - how unlike any other is He!

Jack and Barbara’s niece was once again in town, and they brought her to hand out tracts.

Jon, one of the performers, stopped by this evening to ask about Hell and whether or not it is a real place.  Mark spoke briefly about Jesus’ many references to it, and how we see in Revelation 20:15 that those whose “name was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”

Jon’s question, however, was a lead-in to talk about a video he had seen or a story he had read about a girl who has supposedly visited Hell and returned to tell about it.

Without exception (and really without hesitation), we can say that these stories about modern-day people visiting either Heaven or Hell and then returning to tell about it are false on the grounds that they all violate how the Bible describes those locations.  We don’t need to go deep into that here, though a link about these types of stories might be helpful: Heaven Tourism

In this specific case, an example of errors found in Jon’s story was that the girl supposedly saw demons torturing humans - but the Bible no where teaches anything close to that.  The idea that Hell is the domain of satan and his demons and that he is in charge of torturing or punishing prisoners is a man-made story.  Instead, we are told that Hell is intended for the punishment of satan and his demons, and that they are cast into it at the end (it’s not their home nor their kingdom - it’s their Hell, too).  Like with men who refuse to repent and are cast into the lake of fire, never to come out - satan and his demons are to be cast into that same fiery lake to never return.

Jon was gracious and not looking for an argument, but listened carefully to what Mark had to say before thanking him and leaving.

Paul, in Colossians, gave believers a warning about Christ alone being sufficient.  We are to not be swayed by even very religious sounding things (Col 2:23).

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
(Colossians 2:18, 19, “the head” refers to Christ, c.f. Col 2:10 et al)

The Bible provides everything that we need for life and good works.  As the only inerrant and infallible authority which we have, it is by definition the only reliable and perfectly true source.  Anything that contradicts it must be thrown out as false.  So what of things we have not been told?  Well, how can we know when something is true if we cannot confirm it to be true (by an authoritative source, such as the Bible)?  We are very easily fooled.  We must guard against speculations and things inflated by our fleshly minds lest we be captured by our own imaginations (Is. 65:2).

This family loves the Lord and the kids were excited to get Bibles!

Sevek is Armenian, and Razmik spent time speaking with him in Armenian on various religious topics.  The man said that he has read the Bible 10 times as well as the Qur'an and some of Budah’s writings.  He understood that man has a sinful nature, but had an air of self-righteousness about him.

He asked Razmik questions about the Bible, which were opportunities used to present the plan of salvation to sinners, but Sevek kept asking other questions until his wife came out of the store and they left.

If Sevek has truly read the Bible as much as he claims, it is a frightful thing that he has read, but not been given a repentant heart.  Pray for mercy that his heart would be softened, that he would not just understand man’s general state, but his own wickedness and standing in filth before a holy God.  That he would not be led further astray, but would humble himself and repent and trust in Christ alone.

This prayer we echo for each and everyone of these people we spoke to and who passed by and/or took tracts and Bibles.  We live in a country that has been given much light and it is quite likely that there were none who passed by tonight who has not had the opportunity to know God's will (Bibles are plentiful, the government doesn't yet censor the Internet, people like us are there to make sure they heard, etc, etc, etc).  Great will be their "lashes" starting on the day of wrath for rejecting such full and complete revelation of truth that God has not willed to give to others in other locations and times in history.  (Luke 12:47, 48)

This should remind us to fearfully thank Him for choosing to glorify Himself through our salvation and not damnation.

Praise 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!

Wednesday Outreach
North Hollywood

What a surprise we got this week when our brother Paul sent us pictures from Wednesday's outreach where he and Vinny preached in North Hollywood!

Our participation in the Wednesday morning outreaches is still on hiatus for two or three more weeks while we await the return of Steve, but what a joy it was to hear that there are people who are still bringing the gospel to the Wednesday morning commuters!

Articles and Media

Burbank Leader: Street performers drum up noise complaints
Scott said city staff is working on an ordinance that would, as a first step, ban amplified sound.
He’s also directed them to consult with Santa Monica city staff to learn about the ways it regulates the Third Street Promenade, which includes requiring performers to get a permit. Regulation is tricky, he said, because “we have to be very careful how we restrict speech in public places.” 

Tim Challies: Heaven Tourism
But I do want to address a question that often arises around this book and others in the genre: How do I respond to them? How do I respond to those who say they have been to heaven? When a Christian, or a person who claims to be a Christian, tells me that he has been to heaven, am I obliged to believe him or at least to give him the benefit of the doubt?

John MacArthur: Why didn't God choose everyone to be saved?
Salvation is by the elect, predestined, purpose of God. Damnation is by the unbelief of men. Now you say, "How do you resolve that?" I don't resolve that! I can't resolve that. But, I know God is perfect and He resolves it perfectly and that's the best we can do with it.

Atlas Obscura: Why Thousands of New Animal Species Are Still Discovered Each Year
"There are many scenarios that can lead to a new species being discovered. The archetypical researchers clad in multi-pocketed khaki clothing heading into the jungle certainly do locate new creatures, but they’re not the only ones."

Don Whitney: The fields ARE white for harvest, even when you see few conversions
But most of us know too well the grim reality that you can labor faithfully for a long time and see few, if any conversions. Hosea prophesied God’s Word for seventy years. Isaiah preached faithfully for fifty. But both of them had reason to pray the prayer of Isaiah, “Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1, ESV).

* All verses are from the NASB unless otherwise stated

** We know that we are not performers - may the gospel of Christ never be “performed”! - but in the eyes of the city, we fall in that category when it comes to amp usage.

*** Foursquare Churches and Woman Ordination
While not the only doctrinal issue we would have with a Foursquare church, woman pastors and elders is one that stands in direct contradiction of Scripture, undermining the special and distinct role God has given for men and women.

The Bible teaches that men and woman are equal in standing before God, but complementary in their roles, whereas an egalitarianism church, such as Foursquare, teaches that men and woman are equal and should have the same roles.  It's a disordering of the natural order our Creator has set forth.

Please visit for more detailed information on the subject of Woman in Ministry

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