Monday, October 26, 2015

Deliberately Overlooking - 10/17/2015

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
(2 Peter 3:1-7 *)

Saturday Outreach

This week, Burbank greeted us with a bit of a surprise: Beer Fest

The main street of Downtown Burbank was shut down for booths and a couple cordoned off public drinking areas, so we set up near the front of the mall.  The public drinking ended around 7, but the effects lingered on throughout the evening.

This unanticipated event gave us two things: lots of people to hand tracts to and drunk logic to contend with.  Actually, three things if you count the mall security coming out every 20 minutes to check on us and the general activity.

To illustrate the general oddness of the evening, the gentleman in the picture (white shirt) stopped by early on to let us know that he was avoiding us.  That was the entire conversation.  He walked up to say he was trying to avoid us and then walked off.  His speech was a little slurred so we didn’t argue the point, but that encounter summarizes the evening well.

This couple was particularly intoxicated, almost tripping over each other as they tried to instruct the man on the box as to why he was being like a Pharisee.

Misquoting Matthew 6:5, they equated a man on the box preaching the Gospel with the Pharisees who stood on corners to be seen by men as they prayed.  If we look at that passage, Jesus was actually using the Pharisees as an example of the hypocrisy of praying to be seen by other men as he taught the disciples how to pray.  He wasn't discussing street preaching at all!

Admittedly, we probably could have handled this encounter better by not trying to contend with them from the box, which only seemed to wind them up.  They could barely walk straight, let alone reason and, unfortunately, ended up being little more than a side-show to passersby, some of whom filmed them.

We don’t get blatant drunkenness like this very often in Burbank, and it’s clear we’re not as prepared for it.  It happens sometimes at the North Hollywood outreach, but not so much at Burbank and it certainly makes it more difficult to reason!

As someone who spent much time drinking before the Lord mercifully called him out of darkness, this author was reminded not only of the foolish “intelligence” found in the bottle, but the ever present hopelessness of life apart from Christ that is temporarily held at bay by it.  All praise and glory be to God’s undeserved (and not even sought for) grace and mercy.  Paul’s words echoed throughout the evening...

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:11)


The motivation wasn't clear, but this author counted no fewer than 5 times that different mall security personnel came out and watched us.

We’ve mentioned it before, but we have been told by the security guards in the past that the green brick area in front of the mall is private property.  Whether or not it is, we’re not sure, but we generally try to stay off that section.  The security did seem to notice that we remained on one side or the other and though conferred with one another a couple times, nothing came of it, and we were allowed to stay the entire evening.


And to the praise of the Lord, the evening included a couple conversations!  Razmik (and later Mark) spoke with this couple.

The girl originally said that she was an Atheist but, when pressed, was unsure whether or not she believed that God exists, so admitted that she might be Agnostic.  Her parents are Episcopalian, and she displayed a decent knowledge of the Bible which likely originated from that background - though at this point in her life she was looking at it through the eyes of symbolism, believing that all religions were man-made.

The non-believer might adamantly disagree, but the Holy Spirit (through Paul in Romans) tells us that everyone - even the Atheist - knows that God exists and that people willfully suppress that truth.  Peter, as translated in the ESV (verse at the top of the blog), says they "deliberately overlook" that knowledge.  It's more than just a passive, never heard the Truth problem.  It's a deliberate suppression and one that goes further than just a lack of belief in any god, but is a suppression of the knowledge "made evident within them" (Rom 1:19) of the God who's wrath has been "revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness" (Rom 1:18).  Peter talks about God's wrath being revealed in the flood that caused the world "that then existed" to perish (2 Peter 3:6).  It's the suppression of the knowledge of the true God who has the right and power as Creator to judge His creation.

The knowledge the non-believer never wants to acknowledge is that there is a Creator because that means they are a creation...and if they are a creation, then the way they live is subject to their Creator and He is right and just to judge their actions - including right to condem to an eternity in Hell.  The proof of the wrath already revealed is seen throughout God's creation and points forward to the final judgement.  As Peter says, this time not by water but being kept to be destroyed by fire in the day of judgement (2 Peter 3:7).

The way that suppression looks and shapes lives varies from person to person, and why there's not a one-size-fits-all approach to evangelism.  But knowing that they know regardless of claims to the contrary is helpful when witnessing because it means that we don’t need to convince people that He exists.

Even so, Razmik and Mark decided to put forward some evidence for God in the form of arguing from design as a way to encourage them to think critically.  It can be mind-boggling that people see the immense complexity in God’s creation that humans are unable to duplicate and think “accident”...until we recognize man’s willful suppression of the knowledge of God is at work.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools… (Romans 1:21-22)

As a side-note, it's interesting to point out that the rejection of obvious design is actually evidence of the suppression spoken about in Romans!

Razmik suggested some resources tailored to the couple, such as I don’t have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Frank Turek.  Please note: we do not agree everything that Frank Turek has to say, specifically with regards to his holding to an old-earth position and rejection of a world-wide flood.  We would say that he is not a good resource for theology or useful for Bible study.  However, his general arguments on logical fallacies and addressing post-modern thinking can be helpful.

Also given was the Why Christianity? booklet from Living Waters.

Afterwords, Razmik also spoke with these ladies from Georgia (the country).  One lady spoke a little Armenian and Razmik was able to explain the million dollar tract he had handed to her.  She promised to read it later.

Father reading the Good Person tract with his sons

Darker Days

While we don’t have pictures of all that went on, there was a general mood of disdain for our presence.

There was an uptick in intentional rejection of tracts (rejection from knowledge) with multiple people going out of their way to ask what it (the tract) was about so that they could reject it.

Also, likely because of the alcohol, we had more taunting than normal and an increase of blatant flaunting of sexual immorality.  One girl in particular, shouted about a particular part of her body, "exposing" herself (skirting the public decency laws) directly in our faces as a way to illicit a sexual response from the crowd and to embarrass the Christians.

In this same vein, and as an ongoing report of how public acts of immorality have risen, before the SCOTUS ruling, while seeing a same-sex “couple” in Burbank was not uncommon, it was more of a once every 2 weeks thing.  But now it seems the streets are full of same-sex couples.

In fact, this evening in particular it seemed as if every 10th or so "couple" was a same-sex one.  Of course many of the other couples were also in sinful relationships even if man-woman but - and this is the part this author finds heartbreaking - same-sex "couples" are the ones least likely to take a tract or to listen to the man on the box or to even want to talk.  There’s a multi-layered, deeply darkened, thick, intense suppression at play.  Truly God can be seen giving them over to a debased mind (Rom 1:28).  In light of that, what other word than "heartbreaking" is there?

One last example of the growing darkness was a young lady this evening who was maybe 16 or 17 years old shouting, “There is no heaven!” at the man on the box.  She argued that she possessed a thorough knowledge of the Bible from going to a Catholic school when she was younger and knew better, then sat there with her friend giggling at each reference to our holy God or man's sinfulness.  What does it say when our society hates the knowledge of God so much that even our “children” cry out arrogantly against him?

Ah, but even still, not all is black!  God continues to graciously let us stand on the street corners, handing out Bibles and proclaiming Jesus’ name!  The security guards might watch us, but they allow us.  People might hate us, but they don’t kill us. They aren't even throwing much more than words at us.

And people are still taking the Bibles and opening them and listening and are still talking with us.

And our sovereign God is still on the throne!

Praise him that He has chosen to work a part of His plan in Burbank through us, and pray that we grow in our humility as slaves of Christ so that He alone may be glorified and praised for the work He has given to us.

May we always say, to Him be the glory and honor and praise forever!

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!

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills

At the abortion clinic, we were in for a treat - Tony Miano brought a large group of young men and women from The Master’s College.

See Tony’s blog for links to some videos from that day.

Oh, if only this many people came out on a regular basis!

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.

Wednesday Outreach
North Hollywood

There was no North Hollywood outreach to report on this week, but Steve should be back next Wednesday!

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.

Articles and Media

First Person To Run A Marathon Without Talking About It
Look closely...there might be a lesson in here about how we are to do Christian service ;)

Paul Carter: The Bithynian Option
The Apostle Peter wrote to Christians living in the Roman Province of Bithynia-Pontus at a time not dissimilar to the one we are entering now as North American Evangelicals.  The culture was just becoming aware of how different and potentially disruptive believers in Jesus could be.  Christians were not yet facing persecution, but they were facing stigmatization, marginalization and loss of privilege.

THE WEEK: Could paganism make a comeback? It's not as crazy as it sounds.
We live in a post-Christian era, we're told. But being defined by what you're after doesn't tell us what you're about. Spiritual longings go deep in the human heart — the New Atheists remain much less popular than the self-consciously spiritual Oprah Winfrey — and it remains to be seen to what spiritual calling the current era will respond.
Maybe... paganism?

* All verses from the ESV, unless otherwise noted

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