Thursday, August 31, 2006

Many Samaritans Believe

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

Many Samaritans Believe. Because of her testimony, her words, many people found out about our Savior and believed. Because of His words, many more became believers. Dear brothers, we need to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. We need to first love everyone - not just other believers, but everyone. We are called to love our neighbors, even if they are not "in our club". But, dear believers, how better can you show your love for men than to tell them about the Savior? You don't need to judge them - they are condemned already. (John 3:16) You need to approach them as one who has been spared yourself, bringing the only truth that can save him from his sins. The only gospel that can spare him from the wrath of God. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, God's wrath remains on him. (John 3:36) Because of their stubborness and unrepentant heart, they are storing up wrath for themselves. (Romans 2:5)

How can you say you love someone if you refuse to tell him the truth? Read that again. How can you say you love someone if you refuse to tell him the truth? If your idea of love is to feed and clothe him, and it stops there... you are glorifying yourself, not your king. Dear brother, I know you love Him. I know you want to show His love to others. But, please, please, please, tell people the truth. Without Christ, without repenting of sin and placing complete trust in Jesus Christ, men are lost.

Any one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile - Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

  • How can they call on Him if they have not believed in Him?
  • How can they believe in Him if they have not heard?
  • How can they hear without someone telling them?
How beautiful the feet of those who bring the Good News! (Romans 10) Smell your feet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why Should We Witness?

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why should I witness?" Several reasons should come to mind. First, because Jesus commands you to: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," (Matt. 28:19). Also, Ezek. 3:11 says, "and go to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them and tell them, whether they listen or not..."
Second, you must witness because you love the unsaved (if you don't, you should). The most loving thing you can do is present the gospel in hopes of bringing others to salvation. Galatians 5:22 lists love as one of the fruit of the Spirit. It is love's nature to give. Take for example John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." Love gives, and if you have only a small portion of His love, you will want to give to others.
Third, witness because it is a wise thing to do. Prov. 11:30 says, "...he who is wise wins souls." Now, I know I am not a very wise person. But, since God says I'll be wise to win souls, or try to, then great, let me at it. I want to be wise in God's sight.
Fourth, witness to keep people out of hell. Hell is a terrifying place of utter anguish and eternal separation from God. Those who are not saved go there. Witnessing is an attempt to keep them out of hell.
Fifth, witness because it pleases God and brings glory to His name.
And finally, witness so they may find the love and fellowship of God (1 John 1:3), the greatest of all treasures. I can think of no greater gift than salvation. It frees the sinner from sin, it delivers the lost from damnation, and it reveals the true and living God to those who don't know Him.
The angels of heaven rejoice greatly when anyone passes from judgment into salvation (Luke 15:10). Shouldn't we as Christians rejoice too? Shouldn't we weep over the lost? Shouldn't we ask the Lord of the field to send laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2)? Certainly! The salvation of others is the goal of your efforts. The love of God is your motive. Is there anything greater? So, give.

-Matt Slick

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Am Cleared of Your Blood

“If he turn not, He will whet His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.”
Psalm 7:12

I have often trembled at the thought that, here I am standing before you and constantly engaged in the world of the ministry and what if, when I die, I should be found unfaithful to your souls? How doleful will be our meeting in the world of spirits! It would be a dreadful thing if you were able to say to me in the world to come, “Sir, you flattered us. You did not tell us of the solemnities of eternity. You did not rightly dwell upon the awful wrath of God. You spoke to us feebly and faintly. You were somewhat afraid of us—you knew we could not bear to hear of eternal torment and therefore you kept it back and never mentioned it!”

Why, methinks you would look me in the face and curse me throughout eternity, if that should be my conduct. But by God’s help it never shall be. Come fair or foul, when I die I shall, God helping me, be able to say, “I am clear of the blood of all men.” So far as I know God’s Truth I will endeavor to speak it. And though on my head disgrace and scandal is poured to a ten-fold greater extent than ever, I’ll hail it and welcome it—if I may but be faithful to this unstable generation, faithful to God and faithful to my own conscience. Let me, then, endeavor—and by God’s help I will do it as solemnly and as tenderly as I can—to address such of you as have not yet repented, most affectionately reminding you of your future doom, if you should die impenitent. “If you turn not, God will whet His sword.”

-Charles Spurgeon

Monday, August 28, 2006

God’s Love: The Biblical Presentation

The modern message of the gospel is "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." However, our idea of "wonderful" and the world’s may be a little different. Take a sinner through the pages of the Book of Acts and show him the terrifying scene of boulders breaking the bones of Stephen. Then smile and whisper, "Wonderful..." Listen together to the sound of a cat-o’-nine-tails as it rips the flesh off the back of the apostle Paul. Follow together the word "suffering" through the Epistles, and see if you can get the world to whisper, "Wonderful!"

After such a ride down Honesty Road, they may think the pleasures of sin are a little more attractive than the call to "suffer affliction with the people of God." John MacArthur said, "We need to adjust our presentation of the gospel. We cannot dismiss the fact that God hates sin and punishes sinners with eternal torment. How can we begin a gospel presentation by telling people on their way to hell that God has a wonderful plan for their lives?"

Who in the world is going to listen if we are so blatantly honest about the Christian life? Perhaps not as many as are attracted by the talk of a wonderful plan. However, the answer to our dilemma is to make the issue one of righteousness, rather than happiness. This is what Jesus did. He used the Ten Commandments to show sinners the righteous standard of God (Luke 10:25,26; 18:18– 0). Once the world sees the perfect standard by which they will be judged, they will begin to fear God, and through the fear of the Lord, men depart from sin (Proverbs 16:6). They will begin to hunger and thirst after the righteousness that is in Jesus Christ alone.

If you study the New Testament you will see that God’s love is almost always given in direct correlation to the cross: herein is love, for God so loved, God commended His love, etc. (See John 3:16; Romans 5:5,6,8; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:4,5; 5:2,25; 1 John 3:16; 4:10; and Revelation 1:5, among others.) The cross is the focal point of God’s love for the world. How can we point to the cross without making reference to sin? How can we refer to sin without the Law (Romans 7:7)?

The biblical way to express God’s love to a sinner is to show him how great his sin is (using the Law—see Romans 7:13; Galatians 3:24), and then give him the incredible grace of God in Christ. This was the key to reaching so many on the Day of Pentecost. They were "devout" Jews who knew the Law and its holy demands, and therefore readily accepted the mercy of God in Christ to escape its fearful wrath. When you use the Law to show the world their true state, get ready for sinners to thank you. For the first time in their lives, they will see the Christian message as an expression of love and concern for their eternal welfare, rather than of merely proselytizing for a better lifestyle while on this earth.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Will They Really Go To Hell?

by Chris Case, Local Leader GNNOahu

“Will people who may have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ go to hell just because they never got the chance to hear?"

This is really not a difficult question when we look at the clear teachings of Scripture. Let’s start with a foundation for our understanding of God. God is not obligated to save anyone. He owes mankind nothing. With that understanding we can look at two clear scriptures for our answer. First, let’s try to understand the biblical definition of sin. Sin is “transgression of God’s Law.” (1 John 3:4) Sin is not failing to hear the gospel. All people of all parts of the world are on their way to Hell for breaking God’s law, not for missing out on hearing the name of Jesus. Now let’s dig a bit deeper. Romans 1:20 says “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” This means that any man can look around and see creation, which will testify to a creator. Now, Romans 2:15 says “Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” This verse is clear that God has given us all a conscience that bears witness and accuses us when we transgress God’s law written on our hearts. If failing to hear the gospel grants permission into heaven, then we should stop witnessing so more people will be saved. This makes no sense with the words of Jesus in Mark 16:15. So no one will be in Hell for failing to hear the gospel, instead they will be in Hell for breaking God’s law. This question usually comes up a lot with unbelievers. An unbeliever will use “those who have never heard” as an excuse to reject the Bible and God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. Tell an unbeliever who argues this that if he is concerned about those who haven’t heard the gospel to repent, put his trust in Jesus, become a missionary and preach the gospel. Usually, they will divert to other questions to make an excuse for themselves to continue in sin.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ten Easy Ways to Destroy a Denomination

  1. Have a low view of Scripture and, consequently, the deity of Jesus.
  2. Deny that we were made male and female by God, equal but with distinct roles in the home and church.
  3. Ordain liberal women in the name of tolerance and diversity.
  4. Have those liberal women help to ordain gay men in the name of greater tolerance and diversity.
  5. Accept the worship of other religions and their gods in the name of still greater tolerance and diversity.
  6. Become so tolerant that you, in effect, become intolerant of people who love Jesus and read their Bible without scoffing and snickering.
  7. End up with only a handful of people who are all the same kind of intolerant liberals in the name of tolerance and diversity.
  8. Watch the Holy Spirit depart from your churches and take people who love Jesus with Him.
  9. Fail to repent but become more committed than ever to your sinful agenda.
  10. See Jesus pull rank, judge you, and send some of your pastors to hell to be tormented by Him forever because He will no longer tolerate your diversity.
Summary of an article by Mark Driscoll

Friday, August 25, 2006

Beautiful Downtown Burbank

The good folks at Pacific Justice have drafted a letter for the Northridge Mall and when we hear back from them we can decide if we go back there. For now, we are trying some different venues for our Friday night fishing. Tonight, we went to the Burbank Town Center, and as it is mostly public sidewalks, we don't have to worry about anybody asking us to move along.

I've been here before, and actually had a great time witnessing. Tonight was no different. There are plenty of people sitting around and everybody was very willing to talk with us. Most everyone we talked with tonight turned out to have a Catholic background. I can tell when they combine the first two commandments and split number ten in two. Many people got close to naming all ten, but I still have my twenty in my back pocket for now. Tonight's recording is Lisa talking to a lady named Faith. With a name like that, this was definitely a divine appointment. The part that really struck me was when Lisa asked if she was concerned about her eternal fate, Faith replied that she thinks about this stuff every night.

Everything was going great, till we met Derek. He was a nice enough kid, but talked a mile a minute and really spent a lot of time justifying himself and even justified our sins. He said that he wouldn't be mad at someone who murdered his mother, as everyone is definitely good. I reasoned with him to listen to his conscience, as it was God's attempt to reach him with the knowledge of his sinful state. He still insisted that he was justified and loved us for sharing our views with him. We left him with something to read, and will definitely pray that we at least planted a seed. I'm left saddened that the "gospel of love, love, love" gives people a false understanding of their need for the Savior.

As I was leaving, Jeff showed up and said that he actually witnessed to the security guard back at the church where we meet up. The guy had never heard the gospel, and actually said that now that he knows what is up, he will definitely attend the church on Sunday. All in all, I pray that we planted the gospel seed in some hearts tonight, and that the Holy Spirit will guard that seed so it can do it's work on people's hearts. I think we found ourselves a new field ripe for the harvest.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Best Offense is a Good Offense

I think I finally figured out what happened with the friendship with a very good friend of mine. In my best effort to not offend him, I really offended him. I was so worried about telling him that he would go to hell, that I described hell as a separation from God. In essence, I really offended him by presenting a completely unreasonable God who would send an otherwise good person to hell simply because he didn't claim the name of Jesus. Ironically, this actually offended him more.

He had been my friend for many years, and, like most of my high school friends, is a Jewish atheist. His judaism was more cultural than religious. I guess, looking back on my youth, I could have been considered a Christian atheist by that understanding. I identified myself as a Christian, but that certainly had nothing to do with actually living by God's word. During my early twenties, I toured around with the Grateful Dead, worked at the Rennaisance Faire, stayed out all night in Hollywood, and did generally anything else my pleasure seeking whims told me to do. This friend was with me for much of this, and probably knew me better than most people. I remember my father telling me about his sense of morality before becoming a Christian. He considered himself a good person because he had never actually killed anyone. I had a line as well, that as long as I was not crossing it, I was still a good person. I'm sure my line was way on this side of murder, but I don't remember what it was, as I changed it all the time to suit my behavior.

When I decided to become a Christian during this period of my life, I was much more of an intellectual Christian. I read the Bible and many books on apologetics and I could put up a strong argument for the existance of God. I considered myself pretty smart and, looking back, probably became a believer simply to add to my own accomplishments. I had some more ammo for me to be a mental bully. Looking at my behavior, I certainly had not repented, or really exhibited anything resembling the fruit of the spirit.

After this, I got married and started a family. I moved to the Valley, basically of suburb of Los Angeles. It was a long process, but daily reading the bible, I was eventually brought to a place of repentance and true faith in the Savior. I was still very much interested in sharing my faith with others, especially friends from my former life.

Recently I saw this friend at a birthday party for a mutual friend. Going back to a Hollywood party, I felt really out of place. I had turned into a family man, and here I was in the middle of a bunch of thirty-somethings still pretending they were twenty one. I was relieved to find someone I knew really well and sat down with him. I was actually excited to catch up with him and share what has been going on in my life.

Inevitably, the conversation turned toward God. His friend told me that he tried to believe in God, but could find no proof. Great, this was my arena now. I went into a diatribe about the many proofs for God and the Bible's accuracy: manuscript evidence, prophecy, archaology. He didn't accept any of it. And, then said that anyone who actually believes in God must be an idiot.

My friend said he could not believe a loving God would send someone to hell. I told him that if he spent his whole life avoiding God, then God would not force him into heaven for eternity. He would spend his eternity separated from God. He said, "That is hell, right?" Well, yes. I tried desperately to soften the reality of hell. I tried to make it sound like this loving, merciful God of mine wouldn't really be bad for sending a non-believer to hell. He said that he couldn't be more offended. If his mother, the nicest person in the world, would be sent to hell, and Dru Morgan, the person that he knew, would get to go to heaven, then there was absolutely no justice and he wanted no part of that God.

The idea that a God would take otherwise pretty good people and arbitrarily banish them to eternal punishment based on some silly criteria such as reciting a prayer to Jesus was completely abhorrent to him. And, as I've learned, should be completely abhorrent to you.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?"

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something."

32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

33 Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?"

34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."

There is a constant theme in the gospels of people understanding things in the physical realm and then Jesus elevating their understanding to the spiritual/eternal. The woman was talking about water at a well. Jesus talked about living water, salvation. His disciples talked about harvesting food in the field. Jesus talked about harvesting souls. When Jesus speaks of sending people out to the harvest, he is sending them to go spread the gospel to a lost and dying world.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

John, Chapter 4, is a prime example of Law to the Proud, Grace to the Humble. Jesus starts a conversation here with a stranger. He opens with the natural, and uses it to swing to the spiritual. He holds up the Law as a mirror to show the woman her spiritual state, and only after she is humbled does He reveal Himself to her.
1 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

11 "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"

13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."

16 He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."

17 "I have no husband," she replied.

Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

19 "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

25 The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

26 Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

Coming straight out and saying, "I am the Messiah" would not have the same impact as allowing her to realize this herself. The woman already had a vague belief in the Messiah, but didn't understand exactly whohe would be or why he would come. By connecting with the woman's conscience, where she already understood that adultery was wrong, Jesus was able to reach the woman's heart. She then became very receptive to the truth brought by the Messiah.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

John the Baptist's Testimony About Jesus

22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.) 25 An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. 26 They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."

27 To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28 but am sent ahead of him.' 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less. You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ

31 "The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

The part that sticks out in this passage to me is verse 36. The only way to avoid God's wrath is to believe in Christ. God is angry at sin in the Old and the New Testaments. He doesn't ask us to do more good than evil. He doesn't ask us to confess to a priest. He doesn't ask us to justify ourselves compared to others. He gives us the one redeemer, Christ, to fully attone for our sins. By repenting and putting our faith in the Savior, we will have eternal life.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

Let's continue with the third chapter of John from the perspective of someone reading it for the first time. After witnessing with people, I will encourage them to read their bible, especially starting with the book of John. This chapter especially supports the need for salvation through Christ alone.

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."

3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
This is a great passage to quote. Try something this week. Everytime you meet someone who says they are a Christian. Ask them if they are "born again". Many people have a real aversion to saying they are born again. Ask them what they do with John 3:2 where Jesus makes it clear that you will not see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.

4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

9 "How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

10 "You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
Another example of Jesus referring to a story in the Old Testament that pointed towards him. If you go back to Numbers 21:8-9, Moses put a snake on a pole and anyone who kept their eyes on it would live. Jesus would be put up on a pole and anyone who puts their faith in Him alone will be saved as well. Jesus speaks in parables and symbols, but usually right afterward He explains what he is talking about. And, as you read the whole story, you can look back and understand exactly what He was referring to.

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
3:16 is probably the most famous verse in the Bible, even for people who have never read the Bible. But, you will rarely hear people continue to 3:18. I hear all the time that I am condemning people by pointing out their sin to them using the Law. 3:18 clearly states that they are condemned already.

19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
This section nicely sums it up. This is the verdict. Christ has come to save the world, but people would rather live in their sin than come to belief in the savior. It has nothing to do with evolution, or the Crusades, or their suffering, or any other excuse they come up with to obscure the Truth. People need to be shown their personal sin, need to be made to see how much their sin offends a perfect, Holy, God. And they need to understand that they justifiably deserve to be punished for that sin. Only then will the grace of a merciful, loving God make sense, and then all the other objections will melt away. Living by the truth, they will see plainly what God has done for them.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Law to the Proud

Tonight, we went to the Winnetka Theater again. It was a lot slower than before, so we had fewer people to talk with. There were a bunch of us... Evangelica, David, Jeff, a new addition Haig, Chris, myself, Tony and two of his daughters. Amanda is pictured here with the pink and blue illusion tract.

I didn't get an audio of us witnessing tonight, so I am doing something different. Tony has been preaching at his home church for two weeks as a guest. The first sermon is titled "Law to the Proud" The podcast episode for this week will be this sermon. One person said that they had never heard the gospel preached so completely and clearly as this in a church. Next week, if any of the members of the church come back, I will put up the second part in this series.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jesus Clears the Temple

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

Two things to note here. Jesus did get angry. God has that right. And, Jesus was angry at the "televangelists" of His day. People often get turned off to the gospel because they associate Christianity with people on TV turning it into a money making enterprise. Jesus makes it clear that He has nothing to do with that.

17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

18 Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?"

19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

20 The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Another example of Jesus fulfilling prophecy. He often confused people by his words, but they were made very clear after what He foretold actually happened. I hear a lot from people the the Bible is hard to interpret, but Jesus usually explains any parables or confusing parts right after so we know what He was talking about. Again, Jesus stands apart from any other world religion figure as the One who laid down His life and took it up again.

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.

Jesus doesn't need us to provide testimony for Him. He is more than capable of being a witness for himself. I make it clear to people that they should not take my word for the truth of the Gospel. They should believe the Author of the faith and His Word. I am just as fallible as any one else, but God is always faithful and will never let you down.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Response from Law office

I received a response from both law offices. The one in Florida thinks that even though we are in the right, the Mall can choose to discriminate on any basis they choose. They advise that we just move on, or talk with Pacific Justice, who are in California for more specific advice.

I just spoke with Matt McReynolds from Pacific Justice and gave him all the details. He seem to think that sending a letter from their office telling the mall that if they don't want a civil case filed against them then they should stop asking us to stop talking about God. We talked, and agreed that I am doing everything I can in good faith to not disrupt their business, nor solicit people, on their property. The next step is to draft this letter. I'll post here as any updates happen.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Freedom of Speech Does Apply to “Private Property”

(The following letter is from Scotty at Living Waters)

While there is no question of our Constitutional right to freedom of speech and handing out tracts in traditional public forums such as parks, public squares and the street; I recently had an incident happen to me which made me aware of access to locations I had previously thought to be off limits.

While leaving Home Depot, as I was loading my car, I noticed some people sitting at a table by a hot dog stand. I grabbed some tracts and went over and handed them out. The parking lot security guard was also there and immediately challenged me. He said I could not pass out any literature on the premises because it was “private property”. I said I was not soliciting, and it was my constitutional right to do so. As I headed back to my car, he blocked my car in with his cart and proceeded to threaten me with arrest if I tried to do it again. We warmly conversed on the subject, but I started to get upset at the threats of arrest and felt as though I was being pressed to promise never to do it again - or else! I cooled the conversation by agreeing with his responsibility to his employers and was able to leave under the threat of, "If I ever see you doing this again...”

On my way home it bothered me quite a bit. It bothered me enough to stop at the local police station and ask a few questions. I didn't want to break the law and I was unclear on this point. I ended up speaking with a Supervisor who happened to be involved in a similar incident at Wal-Mart's a few weeks prior; so he was familiar with the right to “freedom of speech” as it applies to “private property”. Here is what I came away with:

  • California Penal Code 422.6 prohibits law enforcement or anyone else from interfering with any right or privilege afforded by the Constitution, State Laws or Statutes. I believe every state has a similar law.
  • That this includes “private property” that has “public access” as long as there is no impeding of those entering or exiting. (This ruling is on a State by State basis.) In the California case, Pruneyard Shopping Center vs. Robins, a determination was made that owners of private property who allowed public access could not overrule the civil rights of that public!
  • That even amplification can be used as long as it is kept under a certain decibel level (defined by local or municipal codes).
  • That any ordinances passed (such as requiring a permit) are only to regulate the exercise of civil rights, not to deny them.

This issue of freedom of speech on private property was surprising to me; and would seem to include a lot of areas most of us have considered to be off limits. What about malls, especially outdoor malls, theater plazas, entertainment centers and town centers; as well as their parking lots? All are privately owned, but with public access. The managements of these facilities set up security to, among other things, chase off anything with religious overtones. My question is; is it legal?

By the way, when talking to the officer about this issue, it was in the context of open-air preaching, not just handing out tracts.

The guy at Wal-Mart was allowed to continue handing out tracts and talking to people. Wal-Mart had the police out several times and was unable to stop him. The Police are obligated to respond to any and all complaints, but here is what I was told. If those complaining (Wal-Mart or Home Depot) were to press the point, they could ask for a citizen’s arrest. The police are obligated to honor the request, but would advise against it since the penalty for violating my civil rights is a $5000 fine and/or up to one year in jail, as well as a mandatory one year of community service.

In most cases the police would inform you of their decision, and if against you, you would be asked to leave. My recommendation is to leave at that point; but not until the police ask you to do so, not just the management.

It is a good idea to talk to the local police before exercising your rights. It is a wise first step for several reasons. Discussing your intentions before hand will go a long way toward diffusing a confrontation. It will also give the local police a chance to become familiar with, and inform their officers of, the legal rights of those they serve. An emotional response is much more likely to be avoided when the officers, and you, are aware of your intentions beforehand, and are well informed and prepared. If you decide to test your rights and the police are called out, if you don’t think the conversation with the officer is going the way you think it should, I was told you could ask for the Supervisor or the Watch Commander to be consulted.

It is scary to think about pressing this point; but we have a message of hope and life for a lost and dying world. You can share the gospel with more people in ten minutes in a good open-air then you could on a one-to-one basis all week. The traditional gathering places of today have changed from those of the past; and are largely privately owned. The ownerships shut out the gospel; but it may be that we have access to more than we think. How will we know unless we try? Very few of the lost are coming to church in comparison to the number of lost gathering in the new public forums of today.

Pray for boldness and compassion for the lost, ignore the fear, and step out in faith. God is able; but are we willing? As Ray Comfort has said; there is no higher calling than to follow in the footsteps of the way of the Master.

The wicked flee when no man pursues; but the righteous are bold as a lion.

–Proverbs 28:1

…a servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle to all men, able to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.

–2 Tim. 2:24-25

Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His Harvest.

–Mat. 9:38

God bless,



Since this incident, I have done open-air several times at this very same privately owned shopping center, in a common area between a movie theater and a coffee house. On the last occasion I was approached several times by security and then the theater manager, informing me that if I didn’t leave, they would call the police. An officer was called out and after some conversation, I was asked to leave or I would be arrested. I asked that the Watch Commander be consulted and he said, “I am the Watch Commander!” Not much to do after that but leave. I had already been there for three hours, so I didn’t mind too much.

I have talked to the police since then and was informed that what happened was not right and I was within my legal rights. The officer who responded that night will be spoken to, and a memorandum sent throughout the department. I will try again.


I prayed a lot about it and felt led to again try and exercise my civil rights as before; but with one difference; limiting my time to a one-hour time frame. I went back to the same theater to do open-air and was immediately approached by security who informed me that management was calling the police. I thanked him for letting me know and then began to speak. The police showed up about a half-hour latter. They listened briefly and then asked to speak to me off to the side. The theater manager was a short distance away; but out of ear-shot. I found it interesting that the very first thing the police asked me was, how long did I plan on doing this? I said another half-hour. They said they would allow me to continue and that I did have a right to do it. They explained that I may have to get a permit in the future; but for now, I didn’t need one. I will continue to go there on Friday nights until things change.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Slow progress at the mall

The mall has given me an application for free speech, where I am welcome to give a $50 deposit for litter and set up a table. They have an application asking what organization I am with, how much money I make, what size my signs are, how loud my amplification system is etc. This has nothing to do with what I do.

I have been advised not to fill this out and even go down that road. Until we get this solved, I don't want to go back and get arrested for trespassing. I have left messages with two organizations, Pacific Justice and the Christian Law Association. I am still waiting to hear from either of them. I don't have any idea how they will be able to help, or how much they are going to charge, but I would like some legal precedent on my side.

From all I can tell, it is legal to have a one on one conversation with someone about any subject on private property open to the public in America. But, I want to find the best way to communicate this to mall management so are all on the same page.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


One of my aims is to reach people within the church who desperately want to see their loved ones saved, but don't feel equipped to share their faith effectively. Once a year, there is a gathering of 50,000 people with exactly those qualifications. Greg Laurie puts on his annual Harvest Crusade. It is basically a huge seeker friendly rock concert/alter call that ends up seeing a lot of people walk down the aisle to "accept Jesus". I see two big problems with this. Don't get me wrong, I completely support their intentions, but I think it can use a little help.

First, sometimes hearing a modern gospel message, people are not really clear what their "decision" actually is. Many people walk down to earnestly give this whole Jesus thing a try. I, myself, walked down an aisle many years ago, and would have been hard pressed to explain fully to someone else what I had actually done. That doesn't mean that people should be preached to, and asked to come forward, but it really helps if there is someone who can, one on one, explain and answer any questions that the person might have. Harvest had many people volunteering to do just this. I think it is important to make sure these people, who have the burning desire to see people saved, have a clear way of presenting the biblical gospel.

Second, I think many of the people here use an annual event like this to "do their evangelism". If you don't know exactly what to say to someone, then it can be a nice substitute to invite them to a big Christian rock concert, and let the preacher do the heavy lifting. The problem with this is that all the other people they come into contact with during the year don't get a chance to hear the gospel. Also, as a previous attender of the Harvest myself, I have invited many a non-believer to this event. I offered to drive and buy dinner. They weren't fooled. No matter how good the music, or how "cool" we Christians dressed, basically it was a ruse to trick them into going to a church service. Most people are too smart to fall for that type of deception. I talked up the music, and they didn't care, as they already had plenty of bands that they were already into. And, the more honest I was about the church part, the less they wanted to go.

With all the effort expended to try to get them to come to an event designed to evangelize, I found it was much easier, and more honest, to just present the gospel myself. I think this is supported by the fact that as I looked around at the stadium filled with about 50,000 people, I saw everyone raising their hands and praising the Lord and singing. Great. But, where were all the non-believers. I stood outside and passed out over 200 CDs and DVDs of Hell's Best Kept Secret to the people in line. I asked every single person, "Are you a Christian" and every single one said, "I sure am." Um, where were the people that they were supposed to bring to hear the message? My thought is that by getting these people, who already have the heart to save the lost, equipped with a solid, non offensive way of presenting the gospel, more people will be reached all year long.

There were people there protesting Greg Laurie. Actually they seemed to be protesting every Christian name I had ever heard. But, I was not there for that purpose. We are all brothers, and we are all doing our part. I just pray that during the rest of the year, each of us get out and share our faith to the people closest to us, and don't put the job of evangelism off for others to do for us. We can pray for the Lord to send out workers into the harvest, but unless we get out and go ourselves, our prayers are in vain.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Evangelizing Children

For many believers, fulfilling Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations begins at home—with their children. In fact, few experiences bring greater joy to Christian parents than seeing their children come to faith in Christ.

The process of evangelizing one’s children, however, can be a daunting task. For many parents, the questions are as practical as they are disconcerting: How should I present the gospel to my children? What’s the best approach to take? How do I know if I’m doing it right? Pitfalls, both real and imagined, intimidate virtually every parent who contemplates this responsibility. On one hand, there’s the danger of leading children to think they are saved when they are not. On the other, there’s the risk of discouraging children who express a genuine desire to follow Christ.

How, then, should we evangelize our children? The answer to this question is not an easy one, but it begins with recognizing and avoiding some of the common pitfalls in child evangelism.

  • Oversimplifying the Gospel of Christ
  • Coercing a Profession of Faith
  • Assuming the Reality of Regeneration
  • Assuring the Child of Salvation
  • Rushing the Ordinance of Baptism

Trusting the Absolute Sovereignty of God The greatest need of children is to be born again. Regeneration, however, is not something that parents can do for them. Parents may pressure their children into a false profession, but genuine faith and repentance can only be granted by God who regenerates the heart. Put simply, the new birth is the work of the Holy Spirit and Him alone (John 3:8).

The salvation of children, then, cannot be produced by the faithfulness or diligence of parents, but only by the sovereign work of God Himself. Such a realization should bring comfort to parents. In addition, it should motivate them to bathe their evangelistic efforts in prayer to the One who does His work where they cannot—in the child’s heart.

Read the full text of this article put out by John MacArthur and Grace Community Church

Friday, August 11, 2006

Winnetka Theater

Tonight we started out by meeting at Shepherd of the Hills Church. I think until further notice, this will make a great starting/meeting point. From there we can decide where to go. Tonight a few of the core team were missing, but we had a nice turnout. A few new people, and some folks that are starting to become regulars and are quickly getting bold enough to get right in there and talk with people.

We started out by walking across the street to Starbucks in Porter Ranch and it was really empty. With the seven of us out tonight, it would have been too overwhelming to approach a table of two people.

So, we headed down to the Winnetka Theater, which is pretty close to the Northridge Mall. The crowd here was much better. There were plenty of people in line and plenty of people sitting around, basically hanging out. That makes it much easier to approach people. I knew I needed to leave a little early tonight as my daughter was at her last night of Vacation Bible School, so I jumped right in.

I found a group of boys, who quickly turned from three to about twelve as I approached. They bordered on a little too rowdy to sit still long enough to listen to me. But, I focused on the three that listened the most and really got their attention. I still spoke loudly and clearly enough that the whole group could hear me and occasionally I got answers from people standing behind me. The last time I spoke to a group of boys like this, they were too proud to show any concern, but this time, the boys had their mouths stopped as I spoke and were very receptive to the gospel.

I'll tell you, I was really scared for some reason tonight. I always get the jitters and find some reason why I shouldn't approach a group, or why I should just keep walking around without talking to people. But, I forced myself to push through that fear, and as always I found myself very comfortable once I took that first step and started talking with the group.

When I finished, I got a text message from my wife telling me that my seven year old daughter had "made a decision" at the church and I should come right away. I jumped in the car and raced back up to the church wondering what on earth my seven year old could have decided. She has heard me preach the gospel, and I think she has a pretty good grasp of the whole Law and Gospel thing, but I was still very curious. As I got there, I asked her what happened. She said, the children's pastor asked everyone to raise their hands if they had never accepted Jesus into their hearts. She raised her hand. Then he asked of those with hands raised if they would like to come in the back and speak to a counselor about letting Jesus live in their heart. She went in the back. I asked her what the counselor said to her. She said that they asked her if she would like to ask Jesus to live in her heart. She said yes. I then asked her what that means. She said, "I forget. Can we get some ice cream now." Phew, there is the seven year old that I know.

Friends, I am not against teaching kids about Jesus, I mean, I sent her to the Vacation Bible School. I talk to people every day about God's plan for salvation. But, do you see the juxtaposition here of two different gospels? How ironic that I am out talking to people about their sins, and their need for forgiveness and God's redemptive plan for them to avoid His justice and wrath. And, at my own church, they are asking my own daughter if she wants to be part of the Jesus club. I might not be able to change the whole system, but we really need to be so well versed in the biblical gospel that we can teach our own family, we can get so filled with His Word that when a false gospel comes along we won't be snared. I don't think you need to talk with a seven year old about hell and scare them. I have always spoken honestly with my daughter, but I really try to only give her what is age appropriate. Instead of watering down the gospel and saying that you just have to sing a song and let Jesus live inside your heart, I would rather just not approach it until she can grasp her need for a Savior.

I think if you are looking for a great place to start with your kids, you should check out Way of the Master For Kids, as it teaches children how to memorize the Ten Commandments, in just five minutes, and helps them understand why they need Jesus. Another one you can read online is here, "Hey Kids" Take five minutes to go through that site and see a great example of what is appropriate and completely biblical, to teach your children.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Jesus Changes Water to Wine

I've heard several times that if someone knows nothing about Jesus or Christianity, a good place to start is reading the fourth gospel, John. A while back I started going through the Book of John, section by section to experience it from that point of view. What would one come away with if they read John with no presuppositions? Personally, I tell people to not take my word for what God says, but to take His word. Let's continue with chapter two.

1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

4 "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."

This is a cryptic reference that in hindsight will make sense to someone who knows the whole story, but it wasn't meant to be picked up here by his audience, and probably not by the reader as well.

5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

11 This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

With Jesus' first miracle, He starts the theme of old becoming new. Jesus' glory is revealed in that the old is replaced by the new, the stony heart with a heart of flesh, water with wine, old wineskins with new, Old Testament with New Testament, Law with Grace. What we think we can do on our own, God can make infinitely better.

On the same note, the master in the story here remarks that everyone else does it in a way that seems to make sense, but Jesus does just the complete opposite of what we would imagine. All other religions make the way to heaven by our own good works earning our way, but Jesus turns that idea on it's side and gives forgiveness as a free gift. This stands in stark opposition to those that say that all religions are the same. Jesus never allowed for that. Jesus revealed Himself in His glory standing in stark opposition to all other man made religions.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.
"Come and see," said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false."

It always strikes a good chord with me when I see that the New Testament references and supports the Old Testament. Jesus was clearly a Jewish figure who was looked forward to by anyone familiar with the Law. Jesus also lived a sinless life. The Bible says nobody but God did that. Here is another reference to His divinity.

48 "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."

49 Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

50 Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." 51 He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Sounds like we can expect some great things from the Son of God, the King of Israel. So far, this is not like any tract I have seen or handed out. But, let's keep going and see what God is able to do with our hearts using His Word.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Don't Talk About God

Today, I spoke with the Mall Security, who were still maintaining that I can not talk to people about God at the Northridge Mall. They pointed to the rules printed at the entry way. I was not violating any of the rules there. The closest one that applied and the one they said I was violating was "disruptive behavior". Even trying to see their side of it, I am not disrupting the flow of traffic, not blocking any store entries, not discouraging people from entering stores etc. I really talk to kids who are sitting on benches, and only to those who are interested in talking with me.

We ended it with the security giving me an application for 'free speech' that when filled out will be passed up to mall management for them to approve or disapprove my actions. I took the app and said I'd be back. Looking through it, it really doesn't apply to me at all. All the questions were about which organization I represent, how much compensation I receive, what types of handouts I pass out, what types of signage I use, what type of amplification system etc. Answers are basically, none, nothing, nothing, not applicable.

I'm not an organization, I don't get paid, I don't set up anything. I TALK to people. I have a few people helping out with sending me information, including this news article:

Pacific Justice Institute Successfully Defends Youth Minister Arrested For Mall Evangelism
June 24, 2006 |

Posted on 06/25/2006 4:28:48 PM PDT

Charges were dropped against a Sacramento-area youth pastor who was arrested while sharing his Christian faith one-on-one with shoppers at a mall.

Matthew Snatchko, who regularly takes a small group of youth from his church to the Galleria Mall in Roseville, Calif., said he was interrupted by a security guard May 8 while in the middle of a conversation.

Pointing out no one has ever complained of his activities at the mall, Snatchko told WND the guard demanded he leave because he was "walking around and talking to people."

The pastor, 23, said he "kind of laughed," insisting he wasn't doing anything wrong, because "everyone else was walking around and talking as well."

A second security guard then joined the encounter and informed Snatchko he was being placed under citizen's arrest for "trespassing." The pastor says he agreed to leave peacefully, but, instead, the guards grabbed him, roughly shoved him against a storefront window and handcuffed him tightly enough to draw blood. Snatchko later was taken to the police station where he was booked on charges of battery and trespassing.

With the youth pastor facing a court date, the senior pastor at his church contacted the Sacramento-based public-interest legal group Pacific Justice Institute.

Affiliate attorneys for the group, Gregory Koonce and Timothy Smith, said the district attorney's office likely realized the arrest was illegal and decided to drop the case "in the interests of justice."

More reading is here at the Supreme Court Case: Pruneyard v Robins. I am going to pursue this and see where we get. If you have anything that can help, please let me know.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jesus' First Disciples

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"
They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"

39 "Come," he replied, "and you will see."
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).

This is clear proof that Jesus instituted the Catholic Church and installed Peter as the first Pope. (just kidding)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

NASCAR Invocation

For some unknown reason, I have been getting into NASCAR lately. Maybe it is because my father has moved to North Carolina, the home of NASCAR. Maybe it is because I now have a son, and I can see something other than Barbie in my future. Maybe it is the timing of the movies Cars, and Talladega Nights. Maybe it is a combo of all of it, but I watched my first NASCAR race today. I thought it would be just three hours of drivers making left turns. But, when I turned it on I was met with a shocking surprise. Howard Brammer, of Trader's Point Christian Church opened the event with a heartfelt prayer. I have never heard the name Jesus Christ spoken on a major network sporting event. I thought I would share it with you here, as it really touched me.

Almighty God. As we assemble here in one of the most famous venues in the history of sports, to witness and enjoy one of the most exciting events of the year, we pause now to acknowledge you as Lord of Heaven and Earth, Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of mankind. As we await the roar of engines coming from turn four which will create an enormous and collective adrenaline rush througout this arena, and as the drama unfolds with man and machine, battling endurance and speed, we pray for the safety of every driver, team member and spectator. Thank you for this incredibly great nation we call home, a nation built upon principles of Your truth. We are mindful today of our armed forces around the world, defending our rights. We pray for them, and we pray, dear God, that you would bless America in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Maybe, it is just a bunch of drivers turning left for 160 laps, but any event that has 175,000 people standing reverently, bowing their heads, praying to the Savior has got my attention.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jesus the Lamb of God

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel."

32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."

After talking with someone about their sin, and how Jesus is the one that paid the price so they could be set free, describing Him as the 'Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" should make some sense. It is also noteworthy that he was first revealed to Israel. Jesus, was, is, and always will be Jewish. He came not so Jews would have to change their religion. He came so that Jews would have their sins forgiven. They were intimately familiar with the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb that was necessary to cover their sin, the blood of the lamb that made the Angel of Death 'Pass Over' their families, and this is a direct parallel with Christ Himself as the unblemished lamb that would once and for all pay for their sins.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Smackdown by Mall Security

Tonight when I got to the mall, the kids were in full force. The one conversation I got recorded was of David Banales with a group of guys. They repented and put their faith in Jesus Christ right there. All totalled, he witnessed seven people throughout the night who wanted to get right with God on the spot.

As I tried to get a good picture of David, mall security asked me to put away the camera. They told me there is a rule against taking pictures at the mall. I told them I was taking pictures of our friends telling people about God. He asked me if I believe in the Trinity. Wow, he was a Jehovah's Witness and wanted to actually witness to me. I felt he was open enough to hear why I believe that the Bible makes it clear that Jesus is Jehovah. I have experience with their beliefs and gave a concise explanation of the Trinity from the Bible. I said that more important than that was one question, "Would you consider yourself to be a good person?" He had had enough and said that he needed to get back to work.

So, I continued on and started to listen in on a conversation that Matt and Spencer were having with some kids. One girl, Mary, had some issues with the idea of forgiveness. She didn't really hear where Spencer had started, so I took her through the good person test. She was young, and compared to a lot of people I talk with, she actually was very good. But, still not perfect, as God demands. She was having a difficult time seeing herself in the light of God's Law. I felt bad trying to show her, but her friend Lindsey piped in and said that nobody is good compared to God's perfect standard. It turns out that we had spoken to Lindsey before and she still had one of the "Good Person" tracts in her purse. I left her with some more stuff to read and reminded her of the two things we need to do to receive God's forgiveness: Repentance and Faith.

Next thing I know, I was pulled aside by Mall Security. Evidently there is a rule I was breaking. We were not able to clarify what rule exactly it was, though. They said I was not to solicit people. I wasn't. They said I was not to approach people and talk. I pointed to hundreds of people talking with other people. Well, they said, that wasn't exactly it. They said, I wasn't supposed to speak to people who didn't want to talk with me. I said, I only talked with people that wanted to talk with me. Well, they meant that I couldn't talk about God. What??? Well, they said that if I talked to people and the conversation got to God, that was OK, but I couldn't just talk to people about God directly. What??? Is this actually written down? I asked to see the rules somewhere. They said it's a fine line and they are just enforcing the rules. I asked again to hear which rule exactly I was breaking. Well, they told me basically that we need to just stop for the night and on Monday we can talk with the company that owns the mall and clear this up. While they were trying to figure out the rule the two girls came back and asked where they could get some more information. I pointed them to Living Waters and to this website. Security said I couldn't talk with them. Even they got mad at this assertion. This was really absurd. So, we shook hands, complied with their wishes and we plan to speak with the management company on Monday.

Till then, please pray for us (BTW, there were almost 15 people out tonight, many I have never met before), and pray for all those that heard the Gospel preached tonight. Lord, these kids have such open ears and soft hearts, I thank you for being faithful in seeing your Word produce fruit.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

John the Baptist Denies Being the Christ

19 Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ."

21 They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"
He said, "I am not."
"Are you the Prophet?"
He answered, "No."

22 Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.' "

24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"

26 "I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

This section of John 1 clearly shows that the religious people of the day were expecting the Messiah, the Christ. It also shows that Christ was held up higher than just someone who speaks of Christ, or even baptizes people. Without Christ Himself, the mere Christian ideas and morality are meaningless. I've heard non-believers tell me that they are a "better Christian" than I am. It is not what one does with their own works, but what is done with Christ that makes one a Christian or not. Also, take note that a real place, the river Jordan, is mentioned. All of this takes place in a real place in a real time in history. This book is not intended as metaphor. Christ is a real historical figure and does not allow us to merely allegorize His life.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Morning Open Air at the DMV

This morning we got up early and headed over to the DMV in Simi Valley. Usually they open at 8 a.m., but on Wednesday, they open at 9. This means there are a lot of people standing outside waiting for the doors to open with nothing better to do than listen to some good ol' fashioned street preaching.

Joey started out by talking about the test that many people were there to take, and transitioned into the test that we all will take on judgment day. How many of us have lied, stolen, blasphemed and committed adultery in our hearts? Even looking at only four of the Ten Commandments, we are all clearly guilty, and a just, perfect judge of the Universe will have to punish us.

Then Ryan got up and expounded on grace in light of God's holy Law. Afterwards, there was just enough time to pass out a Gospel tract to each person in line before the doors opened. Only one person didn't want to take one, but his friend did. A couple of people told Joey that what he did took a lot of guts. So, my question to you today is, "Hey, McFly, what are you, yellow?"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Word Became Flesh

Many times, after witnessing with someone, I will encourage them to read their bible. Or, if they don't have one at home, I will leave them with a Gospel of John. I've heard the book of John described as a giant gospel tract written by God. If I can't spend enough time with someone, having God's word speak with them long after I am gone is a great way for the Holy Spirit to soften someone's heart. It has been a while since I have read this book myself for this purpose, and I figured I would go through it here systematically. We can take a look at what God would say, and, from that, infer what God would have us say as we witness to people.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

This is an oft-quoted passage that points to the Deity of Christ. One of the big distinctions between Christianity and any other religion is that the central figure is God Himself. When witnessing to people, I often hear, "Jesus was not God". Let's take note each time the bible makes it clear that Jesus is God in the flesh. The bible makes it clear that even though Jesus created men, we did not immediately understand him, even when he came in person.

6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

Many people speak about Jesus, but the bible says that He stands out. We tell people about the light, but the light Himself is Jesus.

10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Jesus came to a specific people at a specific time, but came for everyone. The people who saw Him didn't recognize Him, but people today, two thousand years after His birth, are still putting their faith in Him and becoming children of God. Christianity is not a religion of race or culture, but an offer made to all people of all times, that to those who believe in His name, He gives the right to become born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' " 16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

The Law was given through Moses, Grace through Jesus Christ. The Law shows us our need for a Savior, and the grace provided by Jesus makes sense in light of this Law. Even though, we have never seen God, the Law, written on our hearts, and the life of Jesus Christ have made Him known to us. The bible makes it clear that we are without excuse if we do not believe in God.

"A wrong understanding of the harmony between Law and grace would produce 'error on the left and right hand.'" -John Newton