Monday, July 6, 2015

In Exile, In Hope, In Christ - June 27th, 2015

11:1-3 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
11:13-16 These all (Heb 11:4-12) died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
11:39-12:3 And all these (Heb 11:17-38), though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (Heb 11:4-12 and Heb 11:17-38), let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
(Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-16, 39-12:3 *)

Saturday Outreach

How great is our Lord, who allowed the gospel to be heard in Glendale once again!  What mercy and kindness when nothing but wrath is deserved after we, as a nation, enshrined the rebellious raising of our fists against Him.

Nor did His mercy stop with us merely having a presence in Glendale, but supplied new workers so that our number was as full as ever.

Luz, Richard’s wife, was spurred on by the recent Supreme Court news and the realization of just how dark it has become.  She desired to make a stand by joining her husband this evening.

Earnest attends prayer meetings at CBC where he heard about our team.  His father was a street preacher in downtown Los Angeles for many years, and Earnest grew up handing out tracts.

He hasn't been out doing street evangelism for several years but, like riding a bike, it didn't take him long to get going again. 

Steve also found out that Earnest does the camera work for his church and was quick to recruit him to film our team...

...and he demonstrated far more courage than this author and his long-distance photographs has ever had!

Speaking of cameras, we were also joined by Eddie who does a majority of the camera work for Living Waters, and is the Director of the recent Audacity movie.  We met Eddie a few months back when he came out with us on a couple Thursday outreaches to film Dean’s testimony.

Today he came just to preach, and it quickly became clear that he has done it many times before!  He employed the very clear and refined version of the gospel that is often found in use by other members of the Living Waters team.

Often preaching and street one-on-ones produces little immediate fruit, so the exception to that is always thrilling.  The pictured couple appears to have been convicted as the gospel was spoken, and Richard was blessed to led them to Christ through a prayer of repentance.

We praise the Lord who is mighty to save!

If you are one who is concerned about a prayer to salvation, know that so are we and we don't take that task lightly.  Walking someone through any kind of prayer can always be a little dicey because we don't want to influence them or cause them to think the prayer, itself, is what saves.  On the other hand we certainly don't want to place a roadblock in front of someone who says, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30).

It would help us at each of these opportunities, if our mind would turn to Jesus speaking of the four kinds of soil (Matthew 13:1-8 and 13:18-23).  That parable reminds us that regardless of how the person started, if they are truly saved they will continue on in salvation.  For the evangelist, this parable also warns us, indirectly, of our need to disciple the one who has claimed a repentance of faith so as to guide the new believer.

What's interesting about the parable is Jesus spoke of four types of hearers, but only one of them didn't understand what was said (the seeds, or good news, that landed on the path and were snatched away by the devil).  The other 3 did understand, and all three of them responded positively!  We could even say that from the outside, all three of them would have looked the same when they prayed to receive Christ.  But of those three types of hearers, only one (those who were the "good soil") withstood the test of persecution and were able to long resist the world and who abided in Christ and who obeyed and made disciples.  They were the only ones who persevered to the end. (Matt 10:22)

Again, notice what Jesus said about the two types of hearers who looked like they were good soil hearers at first...Jesus said that the seeds that fell on the rocky soil joyfully received the news and even endured...for a little while.  But then when trial or persecution came as a direct result of that news, they immediately fell away (see Matthew 10:33 for a frightening statement by Jesus for this type of hearer).  The other seeds that were sown among thorns also appeared to have been well received by the hearer, but the cares and riches of the world (the thorns) choked the life right out of them (see 1 John 2:15-17).

The importance in this, for the evangelist, is not merely leading one to Christ, patting them on the back and saying "See ya in Heaven!", but in walking besides them to nurture their growth, to make sure they really understood, to make sure they are reading their Bible daily and attending a Bible believing church - to perhaps even be their first Christian friends!  The Lord has called pastors to be the primary leader in their growth, but we are also called to disciple and, in some very real way, to make sure they arrive at the pastor's door unharmed.

Rejoice with us at this apparent fruit of repentance in this couple, and pray that the outward sign of confession that this couple demonstrated was a true reflection of their inward state and that they bear much fruit of salvation, and continue on in growth!

Sebastian (taller guy) and Cory spoke with Razmik for 30-45 minutes on quite a few topics ranging from Catholicism to God using evolution, to objections about claims that the Bible is inerrant, to unspecified contradictions in the Bible, to Christians merely preaching and not doing any good (work).  Each one of their points could be expanded in its own blog with suggestions and thoughts on ways to answer each.

However, overall, the common theme seems to not be an inability to hear or to understand the words being said, but a lack of submission of their wills to the God of the Bible.  There’s a limit as to how far any argument will go, and no argument will end in one’s salvation.  The Holy Spirit, when he chooses, will bring repentance through His word, so while there are valid answers to everything brought up, our answers should be all about pulling them back to what God says and to see their sinfulness and Jesus' sacrifice.

Todd Friel (using a clip with Voddie Bauchman) illustrates this point well: Voddie Baucham: Apologetics NEVER saved anyone. Ever.

Razmik (and even Earnest jumped in a bit) did a good job of using the Bible to address the errors and red herrings.

Razmik did make an interesting observation about being watched by the guys to see that his actions matched what he was saying. When a homeless lady asked for money, they waited to see what he would do.  After he gave her some money, they followed suit.  It's a good reminder that we are being more than just heard.

These kids were handed Good Person tracts earlier, and Jack did a follow up to see if they had read them.  They hadn’t, so he decided to walk them through it, starting with, “Where would you go if you died tonight?”  The results were initially mixed (some Heaven, some not sure though hoping for Heaven, one sarcastically said Hell), but after “confessing” their guilt (to the good person questions), they all then said they would go to Heaven because their good deeds would outweigh their bad.

How ironic their self-righteous assurance came after knowing they were guilty!

When asked if that logic would work down the street at the Glendale Courthouse, they all said no!

So they realized they 1) had done bad things (lie, stole, etc), 2) that a just God must punish them, and 3) that their perceived good works isn’t enough to save them from that just punishment.  Once Jack had set the framework of man's problem, the news of Jesus’ death as a sacrifice that turns away the judging wrath of God was met with excitement!

Oh, what a glorious Gospel we have been given!

Pray for these kids.  There did seem to be an understanding and even a change in demeanor as the conversation went on.  One girl in particular expressed sadness at the realization that she was a sinner and joy at the news of the complete forgiveness available in Christ.  But understanding - or even sorrow - are not enough to be saved if one is unwilling to repent and trust in Christ as their savior.  One kid said that he planned to wait until he was older.  Repentance, like all good things (James 1:17), is a gift that comes from God, and to presume it'll be given on demand is a fundamental misunderstanding of who God is and who man is.  That’s a heart that hasn’t yet seen it’s sinfulness before a holy God.

Pray for them all in their various stages of understanding because at the moment they began to understand who they were, Jesus seemed like such an incredible hope.  Pray that those seeds aren’t snatched away and that they grow and take strong, eternal root.

This lady started by thanking us for being there, but it was quickly apparent that her motivation wasn’t so that people would hear about freedom found in Christ but the “freedom” found in the removal of bad thoughts.  Her belief was that good people like herself could spread energy into corrupted mankind to give that freedom.  She declared at one point that all men are corrupt, yet would later say that she, herself, isn’t.

The blasphemy uttered so casually by this lady is mind boggling.  Her self-effacing humility and desire for good in the world was nothing short of raging pride.  Putting aside the fact that she was literally just making stuff up about how things work, she elevated herself to the position of god and savior!

Goodness, in her view, originates from her and emanates outward into mankind (by her energy and good thoughts).  That goodness saves them from their corruption by freeing them from their bonds of bad thoughts.  While probably ignorant to what she was actually saying, she came just shy of calling herself mankind's savior.

It’s hard to know what to do with something like this. Sometimes the nonsense and self-deception is just too much to find a foothold to start.  About the only thing that can be done is to give an accurate picture of the true God or of Christ using Scripture.  Jack planted the seed that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life and that no one would come to the Father any other way. (John 14:6)

Speaking of the true Savior, in Philippians 2 we are reminded of His humility.  He didn’t just come to save us, but He came to give glory to the Father by being obedient to Him, even to the point of death.  His humility is more than just (and this "just" is huge) spending 33 years on earth and dying on a cross at the hands of His creation.  The eternal Son of God, through whom all creation was created, took on human flesh to become like us.  He was then subjected to the same temptations we have (without sinning), living the perfect life we couldn't live because of our corruption so that, at His death, He could be a propitious sacrifice - a sacrifice that bore the wrath of God in our place.  To this day, Jesus, this humble redeemer, who is Lord and King over all creation, continues on forever in the likeness of man (Heb 7:24), ever living to make intercession for those who draw near to God (Heb 7:25).  There is no end to the depth of His condescension from God to God-man, and is but one facet of His glory that we will ponder in awe for all eternity.  Even after an eternity, we will continue to be driven to ever greater heights in our praise and adoration to God as we barely begin to understand just how lowly the infinite God made Himself to be.

The closing point Jack said to this false savior was a reminder that God hates the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5).  She replied, “I am very humble” and then left.


...after Bibles...

...after more Bibles...

...after even more Bibles...

...after even lots more Bibles...

...went out!
We nearly ran out of both English and Spanish ones!

The other side of the street is a particular favorite for Dean with it’s more intimate, stoplight preaching.  This week the security guard from Forever 21 came out and (politely) asked him to remain past the front of the building.  This is similar to the request we got from the Burbank mall a couple weeks ago to stay off a specific part of the side-walk that was shared with the mall.  Normally Dean is on the clearly public sidewalk side of the store, along the street, but there was a violin player there, so he had moved a little deeper into the Americana area.  He humbly submitted to the guard’s request, and though a little cramped, he and Eddie preached from the Bible without further issue.

"Preach louder!" was this lady's opening cry as she approached the box.  She was supportive of us being there, but was a bit wild-eyed about the recent supreme court decision.  Jack thanked her, but refrained from adding fuel to the fire.

We repeat this often but it’s worth repeating once again as we are all particularly thick-headed when it comes to this: when the world seems to not hear us, we naturally want to say it louder (as this lady was insisting on), or with better arguments.  Taking a bull horn to someone’s ear will no more help them to hear the message of truth than answering their every argument will open their eyes.  Praise to our God that He has not left it on our shoulders to save - only to proclaim faithfully (and accurately) His word!

In fact, the preaching of God’s word with no gimmick or show or clever arguments is enough to catch the attention of the one whom He desires to hear.

Glendale has fast become a favorite in our group for Bibles and tracts.  However, the performers have slowly increased since we started coming here some 6 or 7 months ago.  Please pray that if the Lord wills, that this area will continue to be relatively calm where many Bibles and tracts are taken and the preaching of God's word is heard.

With this being the first weekend after the recent Supreme Court ruling, we weren’t sure what the initial reaction to our presence would be.  Overall, with the exception of the one lady already mentioned in this blog, it wasn’t even brought up.

However, we have no illusions of the issue blowing over, and by all accounts from Christians wiser than us, it’ll only get worse as the courts now try to reconcile the irreconcilable contradiction with what man demands is his right and what God has clearly and plainly said is an abomination.

The author of Hebrews reminds us that throughout the Scriptures, godly men and woman lived by faith, as exiles, longing for a better country.  We must remember that our freedom may go - and perhaps soon - but that doesn't change who we are and where we are going...if indeed we live as exiles in this land (Hebrews 11:13), hating the things of the world (1 John 2:15), and persevering until the end (Matthew 10:22).

The format of our outreaches may change over the coming months and year and we may not forever be allowed to stand on street corners and proclaim Christ as we have in the past.  We may even go from street to underground in ways we only read about in other parts of the world.

But our mission does not change.

We are told to proclaim the gospel, and that order (Mark 16:15) has not been rescinded, and will not be be until we have died or rescued.

I implore all readers to boldly speak the truth, with grace and humility, making the most of every opportunity (Eph 5:16, Col 4:5).  In your personal, study time, focus on what is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).  Study your Bible first, and the latest apologetics last - remember who it is who saves!  Let the word of Christ dwell richly in you (Col 3:16).

Be ready to tell of our hope, which is the grace that will be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13, Titus 2:13), and which was made alive in us through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3), who was buried and who was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4) and who is coming back to judge (Psalm 96:13, et al) and to save (Isaiah 35:4, et al).

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:1-3)

Above all, pray with John: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20)

We will be back in Glendale in just a couple weeks for the Glendale Cruise Night (their annual car show).  See our recent post for more details...

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

Come Join Us - 6-8 am
Please stand with us for morning evangelism on Wednesdays at 6:00 AM at the North Hollywood Metro Station on Lankershim Blvd.

It's a great opportunity to share the truth with the thousands of commuters who pass through this area.

Please watch for text announcements on Tuesday evenings. Please always RSVP if you plan to join us on Wednesday mornings.

Articles & Media

Todd Friel, Voddie Bachman: Voddie Baucham: Apologetics NEVER saved anyone. Ever.

Tim Challies: You Don't Really Know Who Your Friends Are Until...
"For as long as you and I have lived, at least if you have lived in this Western, first-world culture, friendship with Jesus has been beneficial. At worst this friendship has been neutral so the benefits have balanced the drawbacks. And while I am no prognosticator of doom, it seems increasingly clear that a relationship with Jesus will soon be more and a more of a liability before this watching, judging world."

Lehman Strauss: Why God Became Man
"The Apostle Paul wrote, ''And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh . . . ' (I Timothy 3:16). Confessedly, by common consent the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is outside the range of human natural comprehension and apprehension. It can be made known only by Divine revelation in the Holy Scriptures, and to those only who are illumined by the Holy Spirit. It is a truth of the greatest magnitude that God in the Person of His Son should identify Himself completely with the human race. And yet He did, for reasons He set forth clearly in His Word."

"There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17)."

John Piper: The Pleasure of God in Bruising the Son (transcription of sermon from 03/08/1987)
I really don't believe it is possible to grasp the central drama of the Bible until we begin to feel this tension. Up until the coming of Jesus Christ, the Bible is like a piece of music whose dissonance begs for some final resolution into harmony. Redemptive history is like a symphony with two great themes: the theme of God's passion to preserve and display his glory; and the theme of God's inscrutable love for sinners who have scorned his glory.

* All verses from the ESV unless otherwise noted

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