Saturday, July 18, 2015

Put No Confidence in the Flesh - 7/11/2015

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.
(Philippians 3:2-4:1 *)

Saturday Outreach

This weekend’s outreach started with a bit of a surprise.  Steve sent a message a few hours before we were to meet that he was unable to attend due to an emergency!  As he has the equipment, tracts, and Bibles (and getting them from him was going to be a little complicated), there was some question as to what we would be doing or even if we would be going out.  However, Dean, when he learned of the situation, gave generously from his personal stock of tracts and Bibles so that we would be well supplied.  He also brought an amp and a box.

As if that wasn’t enough to give God thanks for, the Lord also gave us several laborers to preach and hand out all those Bibles and tracts.  We had so many people, in fact, that there just wasn’t room and we needed to spread out to the surrounding corners just so we weren’t doubling up and handing multiple tracts to the same person.

We were also without a camera, but fortunately were able to make use of a phone’s camera to capture the pictures found in this week’s blog.

Two new people joined us this week.  One of them, Shawn, has stopped by once before a couple months ago.  The other, Ricky, attends another church but has recently become disenchanted with them because they don't have Bible studies or a desire to do evangelism.  He has been going out on his own to evangelize and recently started visiting Calvary on Sunday mornings and a couple of the men’s small groups during the week.

Both of these new men were seen talking to multiple people throughout the evening!

And it was a busy evening, at that.  Even before the first man spoke from the box, conversations, like this one with Dean, were already happening.

And would keep going all throughout the evening.

While there were quite a few conversations, there was an overarching “thread” that started when we arrived, and wove it’s way through the bulk of the evening.

That thread was Micheal.

Michael is an interesting fellow, and a reminder to always stay on guard with those who claim the name of Christ.

Early on, with his Star of David necklace, cross of Christ tambourine, and dancing feet, he seemed to be merely an overly charismatic, messianic Jew.  He spoke of the wonders of Christ, read from his Bible, and part-prayed/part-sang the Holy Spirit’s protection over us.

His presence did delay our preaching a bit, but there was nothing really theologically wrong with his song, and it seemed a joyful one to our Savior.  At points it admittedly was a little more spiritual warfare-ish than this author would have liked, but a good portion of his ad-hoc song was singing straight from his Bible.

We were all more-or-less comfortable with this unusual, impromptu worship session (as comfortable as conservative Christians can be in the presence of a dancing, messianic Jew!)

And when he finished singing he left and we were able to begin preaching the Gospel.

However, about thirty minutes later he returned and began hanging out with our group.  The first problem we noticed was his stepping on the gospel by singing such that the men on the box needed to wait to speak.  Next, he began participating and engaging in one-on-ones, even leading them in song-prayers.  Finally, it became awkward as he was moving and dancing in the midst of us in the very small space of the corner.  It began to feel a bit like an old-fashioned revival meeting about to start.

At this point we probably should have asked him to leave because he was becoming the attraction, rather than it being about Christ and His Gospel.  However, we still didn’t know what to make of him...until his prayers turned toward healing.  It was also revealed that he had handed Mark a business card, where he offered his services as a faith healer.

The member of our team who had originally begun cultivating a relationship with him had to back up and tell him, “I’m not comfortable with this” as the conversation moved further into the realm of healing.  He directed Michael to speak with Mark who could do a better job of explaining why the type of guaranteed physical healing that he was promoting falls outside of Scripture.  However, at the option to discuss it Biblically, Michael walked off.

Faith healers like this are certainly not every day encounters for us on the streets of Burbank.  However, how many times have we had people who appear biblical, start to partner with us before suddenly taking a non-biblical turn?  (see further in this blog for Steve and Richard’s similar encounter the week before on the Fourth of July)

As we’ve mentioned before, it's important to test those who claim to be of Christ, making sure they hold to the core doctrine - yet, to our discredit, this is something we often shy away from doing when they sound pretty good.  We can tell a Mormon from a mile away, but when someone like this comes up, we honestly have trouble knowing how to respond until things start getting out of hand.

Before we move on, one last thing about Michael.  It should grieve us that he has become enraptured with physical healing as a promise one is owed when enough faith is expressed (or, in his version, when the devil has been properly chased away and is no longer able to prevent it).  It should concern us because any type of enough faith = guaranteed result shows at best a misunderstanding of who God is as Sovereign who owes nothing to us, yet who gives generously (Romans 10:12).

There was nothing about Christ that he said or sang that sounded wrong.  He also seemed to hold to a right understanding of repentance and salvation.  What then of his standing?  We can’t say for certain.  We know that there can be error in a true believer’s understanding of the Bible - we are all testaments to that - but we must also be wary of those who dogmatically hold to doctrines that run contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture - particularly when those doctrines are elevated above the Gospel or used for financial gain (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

Please pray for Michael that it would please our great God to correct his error and draw him to Himself.  Pray also for our growth in the area of discernment.

As a side-note, we noticed that when Michael read from his Bible, it didn't sound quite right.  There was some concern in the group that it was a prayer book and not a Bible but, after a little research, it turns out that he was reading from the Common English Bible (CEB).  While the publisher calls it a translation, it appears to be a paraphrase compiled and backed by some rather liberal scholars.

It is certainly not our place (nor ability) to do a review of translations on this blog, but we thought we’d take a moment to point out some potential issues with it to encourage you to test it if you are interested in, or encounter someone with, this particular Bible.

You can look up any verse on their site to compare with your preferred translation.  After just a few minutes of review on a couple verses, we found differences such as propitiation missing (1 John 4:10, et al), support for women and possibly even same-sex couples in the wording for who can be a pastor (Titus 1:6), an odd missing reference in Isaiah about Jesus’ mother being a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), etc.  In fact, it seemed that each verse looked up brought with it a raised eyebrow.

Because it is a paraphrase, that means it is an interpretation of what the Bible means rather than what the Bible says.  And because it is an interpretation with the backing of several groups like the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. known for capitulating to the world on issues such as Homosexuality, we caution strongly against its use.

One nice, unexpected thing about using Dean’s tracts for those of us who hand them out, was the different variety.  Forest particularly enjoyed handing out the Titanic tracts across the street, in front of the mall.

Vinny noticed that this man was watching us for quite awhile, and engaged him in conversation.

When he arrived, and we saw all the people who had come to help, Dean was heard saying, “I hope I brought enough tracts”.

The evening could not have been planned better.  We did use just about all that he had brought, but did not run out.  Many people came, including several to speak on the box, making up for a missing Steve and Jack.  We were also missing some of our regular tract-hander-outers, but new people came to fill the void.  It was a well planned evening...except that it came out like none of us had planned!

We praise the Lord who directs the steps of men (Proverbs 16:9) according to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), and once again for His graciousness in supplying more than enough so that we could proclaim His name in our small corner of the nations.

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!

Fourth of July

This year, the Fourth of July fell on a Saturday so there was no official outreach scheduled in Burbank.  Steve and Richard took advantage of this to go down to Hollywood in the afternoon to pass out tracts and do some preaching.

While waiting for the subway at the NoHo station, they spent time observing the Black Hebrew Israelites, who were out in particularly large numbers this day.

As we mentioned a few months ago in a previous blog entry (regarding Seven, about 1/3rd of the way down), this group is a racist religion that claims salvation is exclusively for black Hebrew descendants.

Misusing verses from the Bible, Jesus is said to be black and that that somehow means that salvation is exclusively for those who are also black.

Note that regardless of Jesus’s physical appearance (and he was likely average looking for people in the region where He was born), that His appearance and race are not what defines salvation.  Nowhere does the Bible say that!  Quite the contrary - Paul, in Romans, reminds us that salvation is to the Jew first (chronologically, the Law came through them) and then the Gentiles (Romans 1:16-17).  He also reminds us that God is not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles (non-Jews) as well. (Romans 3:28-30)

Salvation is by repentance and faith in Jesus alone - not by obeying the Law or being born into a particular lineage (Acts 20:21).  Reliance on these things is not trusting in the sufficiency of Christ in salvation, and is damning.

Remember that it was Paul, himself, who said that he counted his being a "Hebrew of Hebrews" as rubbish so that he might gain Christ, having a righteousness in Him and not the law (Philippians 3:4-9).

Note that most of the BHIs that we have encountered reject the majority of what Paul says out of hand, and have no willingness to listen to these kinds of arguments.  Like with most religions that use parts of the Bible to support their false ideas, they do not want to hear the other parts of the Bible that contradict what it is they want it to say.

Steve and Richard's destination wasn't the Metro station this day, so they listened until the Subway arrived, then headed down to Hollywood to hand out tracts and to try to compete with the other performers there for some air-time.

While they were there, a man with a very similar looking setup as the one they had (Aker amp, mic, Bible) walked up, preaching as well.  Steve described his message as a little crude (using some unneeded twisting of famous peoples' names as he pointed out their sin), but generally sounded OK as he read from the Bible.  Ok enough that they allowed him to come in close and preach in front of the tract box.  They didn't officially invite him but, like our encounter with Michael, a lack of denial and of testing became tacit approval.

It seemed OK, if not a little awkward, that he was so close until he began proclaiming the trinity as a lie, invented by the Roman Catholic Church!

They didn't think twice before packing up and moving to a new location to put distance between themselves and the false gospel.

Earlier, before moving, the guys were pleasantly surprised when this man stepped out of his Micky Mouse character long enough to claim his faith in Christ, encouraging them to keep sharing the Gospel!

Only in Hollywood!

Wednesday Outreach
North Hollywood

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. Don't forget to RSVP if you plan to join us on Wednesday mornings.

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills

“God will forgive me!” and “Don’t judge me!” were this man’s battle cries as Don, multiple times, had opportunity to speak with him.  He would have nothing to do with being guilty of anything, as the baby they were killing was "just liquid", anyway.

These arguments that an unborn baby is just goo or water or whatever are complete nonsense.  Like Biology 101 kind of nonsense.  You know that even when they say it, that they have to know it's just...silly.  This reminds us to what lengths carnal man will go in their flesh to deny their Creator (and their responsibility to Him).

Let us not underestimate how far one will go - and what foolish things one will say - out of hatred of the God of the Bible.  Praise the Lord because we were once like this man, yet we were washed, sanctified, and justified in Him (1 Corinthians 6:11).  Maybe we didn't say something foolish like unborn babies are water, but we too were rebelling against our Creator, and worthy of only His wrath.  Pray for this young man that this death will follow him forever until it drives him to a repentance that leads to salvation.

Earlier in the day a Mexican man pulled in and dropped a girl off.  Joe (in the hat) speaks Spanish, and was able to get him to talk (from his car) before he drove away.  The man claimed to just be a friend of the girl, but Joe asked him to please pull the girl out, anyway.  He said he would give her a call, and drove off.

We didn't hold out much hope that he would call but maybe 45 minutes later the girl came out of the clinic looking worried.  It turned out he DID call her and she decided to keep her child (praise the Lord!)  However, now she had a problem.  Her husband (not the man) was the one who told her to get an abortion, and she was frightened about the position she was now in of having to tell him that she didn't.

Lupita, one of the Catholic ladies, took her to the pregnancy clinic across the street to get help.  We may never know how the situation with her husband worked out because of confidentially issues, but we can take joy in the saving of the baby, and prayerfully ask the Lord for Him to move in the husband’s heart on this issue.

Finally, we reiterate what we do each time a baby’s life is spared:  If a baby is saved only to die in their sins later, than it would have been better for them if they had never been born.  We say that as solemnly as possible.  So to that end, while giving joyful thanks to God for saving the life of this baby - and for letting us witness this miracle - we also ask Him for the gift of eternal life which only comes through Jesus Christ.  And we ask not just for the child, but for his or her parents as well.

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.

Articles and Media

“Yesterday’s release of a video showing the senior medical director of Planned Parenthood casually discussing the sale of organs from aborted babies is a moral challenge thrown right in the face of all Americans.”

“A paraphrase can be used alongside a Bible translation to give insight into what the Bible means. A paraphrase of the Bible, though, should not be viewed as the Bible, but rather as an author’s idea of what the Bible says and what it means by what it says.”

Bible Translation Comparison
The following are a couple links showing CEB (and many other Bibles) how they compare relative to other translations.  It was a little difficult to find charts that weren't on a site promoting a particular translation (ex: KJV) and that didn't have questionable theology, so we've provided these links as helpful but without necessarily endorsing the underlying site:

* All verses from the ESV unless otherwise noted

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