Saturday, August 30, 2008

Witnessing at Huntington Beach


Today we went to Huntington Beach. I did a lot of one-on-one conversations. I talked with a lot of people. A "Lady Mentor" Anita, Michelle, and I walked along the beach and talked to people. We handed out million dollar tracts to many people. Here we are talking to a couple of guys sitting on the side. The one I talked with was Andy. I showed him the "red and blue" curved illusion tract. It always makes people who haven't seen it laugh or jump back. Michelle is on the left, I'm in the middle, and Anita is on my right.

In this encounter, I was able to address the common misunderstandings that people have about the definition of "good" and what repentance really means. Michelle began by showing them the curved illusion. When we told them there was a Gospel message on the other side, we transitioned from the natural to the supernatural. I asked him if he'd thought about what would happen when he died. He hadn't really given it much thought. I asked Andy where he thought he would go when he died. He thought that if he was just really good then he would go to heaven. I took him through the good person test and he saw that if he were to be judged by God's standard that he would be guilty. I explained that his standard of good isn't God's standard of good and that his standard doesn't matter- only God's. He understood that if God used that standard (and He most certainly will) to judge him that he would go to hell. He said it concerned him.

I explained the good news. Never leave out the good news that Jesus paid the penalty for a crime he committed that one could never pay. Then I explained he needed to repent and asked if he knew what that meant. He said something funny. He said, "Just be sorry about it and then do a 360." I told him, "Andy, I think I found out where the problem is. You see, a 360 is going to get you right back where you started from and that's just being sorry. But, if you do a 180 then you've totally turned the opposite direction and THAT is repentance.” Both he and his friend laughed. The entire Gospel was presented. But, they really got it. Again, they thanked us and we thanked them for their time and moved on.

Anita, a Lady Mentor, handed a tract to a Hispanic family. Luckily she speaks Spanish. We talked to a group of Hispanic boys under the pier. There are many people under the pier. Michelle showed them the “red and blue” and I shared the message. She wanted to just get up the courage to show people tracts and I wanted to practice talking with people so we tag teamed it. Michelle was only 20 and is the daughter of Tony Miano, the Director of the Academy. Her story is inspiring. I’ll tell it another day. She has overcome extreme physical challenges from birth and is being obedient to the faith. Back to the guys under the pier- again, the guys listened and weren’t combative at all. There was one who got REALLY quiet and was asking lot of questions. We answered his questions and then thanked them for their time and they thanked us and we moved on.

No one got angry at us and in fact all were thinking about something they had never given much thought to before today: eternity- not just death. Eternity is just the beginning. But you must accept Jesus before you die.

A Five and Three Ones

On the afternoon of Saturday, of August 31, 2008 around 3:20p I got on the box and broke the sound barrier as I open air preached for the first time. I was at Huntington Beach in California. I drew a crowd by asking trivia and giving people a dollar if they got the right answer. Money always draws a crowd.

This is the first guy that answered the trivia question correctly. It turns out he was a Christian who does not share his faith because he is too scared to. I pray that he will be convicted of the need for obedience and to be faithful in sharing his faith.


I had a second trivia winner. Now the crowd was starting to gather. So, it was time to ask if anyone wanted to prove they were a good person by taking a test. If they passed, I would give them a $5 bill.

I soon had a taker. His name is Will. He's the guy in the gray shirt on the right with his arms folded.

I asked him if he thought he was a good person. He said he thought he was. I then asked if he'd ever told a lie. He said he had and then I asked him what that made him. He said, "A liar." Then I asked if he'd ever stolen anything. He said he had and admitted that made him a thief. I then asked if he had ever misused God's name even saying, "Oh my G_d!" (explaining what blasphemy is) and he had. I then explained that the 7th commandment was "Do not commit adultery. But in Matthew, Jesus said tha tif we look at another person to lust after them then we have committed adultery in our hearts. He admitted he had. I told him by his own admission he was a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart and he had to face God on judgment day. If he used that standard (which I explained God woul duse since it was a few of the 10 commandments) would God judge you innocent or guilty. He said, "Guilty." I said, “Would you go to heaven or hell?” He said, "Hell."


I asked him if that concerned him. He said it did. By now his entire demeanor had changed and he was getting very serious looking.


I then gave him the good news and told him that Jesus died on the cross to take the death penalty that his sin deserved. I further said that if that didn't make sense to think about it like this: Pretend you drove 85 mph in a 10 mph zone where a children's blind school was located. The cops pulled you over because of how fast you were going and the judge said, "You clearly were breaking the law, signs were posted and the law clocked you going 85 m.p.h. I find you guilty! You need to pay a million dollar fine immediately or go to prison for the rest of your life." I asked if he could pay that kind of penalty immediately. He said he couldn't. I said, “Neither could I.”

But THEN, at the last minute, someone you don't know came in and paid the fine on your behalf. Instead of the judge pounding the gavel of justice to sentence you, he then turned and stamped your file "case dismissed due to lack of evidence." I asked, "Will, HOW would tha tmake you feel towards the person who just paid your fine?" He said he would be grateful. I told him that is exactly what Jesus Christ did when he died on the cross for your sins. “Does that make better sense now?,” I asked. He said it did. Remember, I'm not talking softly, I am belting it out ala Whitefield (I was hoarse when I got off the box) and reiterating once or twice more “Law/Grace” because new crowds and more people were coming and you needed to keep preaching law and graceto all who may hear. I then told him that he needed to repent from his sins and explained that repenting meant that you totally turned away from doing the same wrong things over and over again.

I explained that this was called worldly sorrow is when you say, "Ooops! My bad! You caught me. I'm sorry." And then, you do it again and again and say the same thing. Godly sorrow is when you are so disgusted by what you do and so grateful for what the Lord did for you that you do a 180 degree turn and stop habitually living the way you did. I asked if that made sense and he said it did.

Then I told him again he'd violated God's law but God provided a way through Jesus Christ and that if he would put his faith in Jesus, repent of his sins, he will not go to hell. I also told him that if he read his Bible and DID what it says, that would be obedience. I told him that God didn't care about denominations or his works but obedience.

I then told him that even though he didn't pass the Good Person test, I was giving him $5 anyway and told him this is what God does for us and THAT is called "grace." I thanked him very much and hopped off the box and the crowd very slowly started to disperse.

A team leader said that the man was obviously moved and that he sometimes goes and talks to people who are visibly moved and prays with them. He isn’t seeking a conversion but answering any questions and inviting the Holy Spirit to continue to stir the soul.

The corner that I was on was facing a mall. There was a restaurant on the 2nd and 3rd level and there were several stores having a huge sidewalk sale. There were people leaning over the railing while I was preaching and there was probably an immediate crowd in front of me of about 40 people and about 200 within earshot if you count the 4 stores that were open-door and the restaurant and the people in all of those as well as the people on the other side of the street behind me who could hear because my voice was bouncing off the building. There were people who stopped shopping and listened even though they did not join the crowd. Remember, I’m on a box and I can see these things that I wouldn’t normally see because I’m so short.

No one was angry. No one stoned me. No one egged me. No one screamed at me to shut up. I wasn't beaten. I wasn’t hauled off to jail. I wasn’t spat upon. They just listened. Many of them listened to the entire message and the Word of God was planted in a properly tilled heart soil! I will never look at a $5 bill and three $1 bills the same way ever again.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Four teen guys in Glendale

One of the highlights of my evening came when my partner, Jaylene and I walked up to try to witness to one more person before we got on the bus. I saw these 4 teenage boys and showed them the optical illusion tract (a.k.a "red and blue"). They had been kind of rowdy- just typical teenage bravado and one was smart alecky at first, cutting up and such, but then once I started talking, there was one kid who really was listening.


Eventually, he told his friends to shut up and he just listened intently. He even got a phone call and wouldn’t take the call- just hung up or sent it to voice mail. The Holy Spirit was moving on him. Then the others started listening and even the 4th rowdy one calmed down. I laid out the whole Gospel, The Law, Judgment, Hell, Grace, Belief and Repentance. I took the time to explain them all in depth. When it was time to go, they thanked us and slowly walked away talking about what we had just spent 20 minutes talking to them about. The seed was planted! The curved illusion tract is VERY effective. http://www.customtractsource.com/ You can click here for the curved illusion tract. http://www.livingwaters.com/ is also a fabulous place for tracts.

Stoplight Preaching


I had my first "Stoplight preaching" experience. This is a technique where you have your team hand out million dollar bills (it's a tract) to people and then when they gather you begin preaching. You try to be done before the stoplight turns. The entire Gospel in 45-90 seconds. It is tough, but it is great practice. You never know when you will only have that amount of time to get the Gospel out. Once I'd stop light preached, it was much easier to get to the point when going through the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant.

This picture captured a moment...I was so shocked when I saw it on my camera. Someone had taken a picture of me right when my eyes locked onto a gentleman who stopped and turned around and listened on the street corner. The light turned green and he had turned around and was listening. The crowd started and so did his wife/girlfriend but he just stood there. He didn't move. They snapped the camera at the moment that I started to break down and plead for people not to dismiss the message. He was still standing there listening and his wife/girlfriend walked back across to pull him along. That is a very personal moment. I'll never forget it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Shack… run, Forrest, run!!


I just recently heard some friends I regularly chat with online reading a new book called “The Shack.” Uh, I just checked it out and am shocked and deeply troubled. What's up with this African-American woman representing God, some Asian chick representing the Holy Spirit and some Middle Eastern dude in his 30's representing Jesus?

I did some internet research to support what I discerned. This is NOT a good book for Christians to be reading at all! It really falls along the New Age line of thinking and also appears to embrace Universal Reconciliation which is a big point in the Emergent Church movement. Here are some problematic excerpts:

This father-god-woman thing informs Mack, "I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring people from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it." WHAT?!!!!! You've got to be kidding!!!

This is heretical and blasphemous! Heretical in that it does not teach what the scripture explicitly states and blasphemous because it speaks against MY God's character. Read what it REALLY is saying here- If God empties out hell then He is good and if He doesn't then He is bad!! Don't call my God, who gave ME what I did not deserve (GRACE instead of hell)-BAD!!!!!! If I were to murder someone and then stand before the judge and say, "Judge I was having a really bad day that day. But, I give to the United Way, I pay my taxes and I'm a really good person and I'm really sorry. I know you're a good judge and you'll let me go." The judge, IF he is truly GOOD will say, "You're right, I AM a good judge. And, because I'm so good justice demands that you be punished-not freed!" The family members of the dead victim would cry out the same thing too. If the judge was good then he will NOT let that person go. If he DID let the person go then everyone would protest and say, "That judge is not a good judge at all." This concept that ALL are reconciled to Jesus (even those who don't accept him and that hell is emptied out) is not only heretical but it is one of the main concepts being taught in the Emergent Church movement. I have done my own research on the emerging/emergent church movement for several months. Besides the fact that no one can seem to agree on a definition of this "movement" it is deceptive and is seeping into churches all across America because the church is so anemic! Bryan McLaren is one of the largest proponents of "Hell being emptied out." Folks, it ain't so. Here are some names to become familiar with: Doug Padgett, Don Scott, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet- beware of these false teachers!

Another point to consider is that it is so easy for us to break the 1st commandment reading and adopting the philosophy of this book and excusing the imagery it presents by saying, “It’s just another way to think of God.” Remember, "You shall have no other God's before me."? The 2nd commandment says, “You shall not bow down to any graven images (idols).” It is so easy for us to "make" a God that we want because our version is much more palatable than the REAL, SOVEREIGN GOD! It's easier to believe that there is a God that empties out hell because that is one of the main "wars" raging within us as Christians. We want to make a God in OUR image- one that we like. This is wrong. This god-woman (Papa) harkens back to the Babylonians and their goddesses and goddess worship.

Then, the scene with the Indian princess who sacrifices herself, Mack never says that God the Father had nothing to do with this pagan legend or that God and the "great Spirit" aren't the same. It is just thrown out there and left for you to decide. However, if you are Biblically illiterate as the majority of Christians are today, it is easy to believe that this isn’t really a bad statement but to instead believe it to be plausible.

If you're looking for a tear jerker, Young writes a good book. But what he is writing is heretical. I can't believe that Eugene Peterson, the guy who wrote "The Message" Bible is quoted on the front cover as saying, "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' did for his. It's that good!" These two works aren't even in the same league and can't possibly be compared! I'm shocked!! Tread very carefully when reading this book.

My friend originally said that she was reading this book because her counselor recommended it. Is this counselor a Christian? She should be very careful recommending a book like this to people who are in true need of healing from very real pain. I just had to speak the truth and warn that this is not what it is being made out to be. Christians can say, "Well, I KNOW the truth and it's just a good read." Well, I counter with why would you even want to expose yourself to this false teaching which can be brought up by Satan in a time of weakness to deceive you? Unless you are doing a scholarly research paper on this book, I'd stay away.

Chipper
I just recently heard some friends I regularly chat with online reading a new book called “The Shack.” Uh, I just checked it out and am shocked and deeply troubled.

What's up with this African-American woman representing God, some Asian chick representing the Holy Spirit and some Middle Eastern dude in his 30's representing Jesus?

I did some internet research to support what I discerned. This is NOT a good book for Christians to be reading at all! It really falls along the New Age line of thinking and also appears to embrace Universal Reconciliation which is a big point in the Emergent Church movement. I searched and indeed found a PDF stating the exact concerns I had with the book. This was written by Dr. James B. DeYoung, a professor at Western Seminary. http://theshackreview.com/content/TheShackReview2Page.pdf

I thought maybe I was being too harsh, but after reading Albert Mohler's quote (President of Southern Baptist Seminary) calling it "undiluted heresy," I didn't believe I was harsh enough. He maintains there is no way it can seriously address the issues of Christian faith.

Here are some problematic excerpts: This father-god-woman thing informs Mack, "I don't need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring people from the inside. It's not my purpose to punish it; it's my joy to cure it."

WHAT?!!!!! You've got to be kidding!!! This is heretical and blasphemous! Heretical in that it does not teach what the scriptures explicitly state and blasphemous because it speaks against MY God's character. Read what it REALLY is saying here- If God empties out hell then He is good and if He doesn't then He is bad!! Don't call my God, who gave ME what I did not deserve (GRACE instead of hell)-BAD!!!!!!

If I were to murder someone and then stand before the judge and say, "Judge I was having a really bad day that day. But, I give to the United Way, I pay my taxes and I'm a really good person and I'm really sorry and I won't do it again. I know you're a good judge and you'll let me go." The judge, IF he is truly GOOD will say, "You're right, I AM a good judge. And, because I'm so good, justice demands that you be punished-not freed!" The family members of the dead victim would cry out the same thing too. If the judge was good then he will NOT let that person go. If he DID let the person go then everyone would protest and say, "That judge is not a good judge at all." This concept that ALL are reconciled to Jesus (even those who don't accept him and that hell is emptied out) is not only heretical but it is one of the main concepts being taught in the Emergent Church movement. I have done my own research on the emerging/emergent church movement for several months. Besides the fact that no one can seem to agree on a definition of this "movement" it is deceptive and is seeping into churches all across America because the church is so anemic! Bryan McLaren is one of the largest proponents of "Hell being emptied out." Folks, it ain't so. Here are some names to become familiar with: Doug Padgett, Don Scott, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet- beware of these false teachers!

Another point to consider is that it is so easy for us to break the 1st commandment reading and adopting the philosophy of this book and excusing the imagery it presents by saying, “It’s just another way to think of God.” Remember, "You shall have no other God's before me."? The 2nd commandment says, “You shall not bow down to any graven images (idols).” It is so easy for us to "make" a God that we want because our version is much more palatable than the REAL, SOVEREIGN GOD! It's easier to believe that there is a God that empties out hell because that is one of the main "wars" raging within us as Christians. We want to make a God in OUR image- one that we like. This is wrong. This god-woman (Papa) harkens back to the Babylonians and their goddesses and goddess worship.

Then, the scene where the Indian princess sacrifices herself, Mack never says that God the Father had nothing to do with this pagan legend or that God and the "great Spirit" aren't the same. It is just thrown out there and left for you to decide. However, if you are Biblically illiterate as the majority of Christians are today, it is easy to believe that this isn’t really a bad statement, but to instead believe it to be plausible.

Here is a link Olive Tree Ministries' website (Jan Markell) which has several resources http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/print.php?&ArticleID=3680.

If you're looking for a tear jerker, Young writes a good book. But what he is writing is heretical. I can't believe that Eugene Peterson, the guy who wrote "The Message" Bible (which I love as a paraphrase Bible), endorsed "The Shack" by saying on it's front cover, "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress' did for his. It's that good!"

These two works aren't even in the same league and can't possibly be compared! I'm shocked!!

I met Tim Challies at a conference in Dec. 2007 and have come to respect him and his reviews. They are usually spot on. Here is a link to his review of the book which is far more in depth than mine is http://www.challies.com/archives/book-reviews/the-shack-by-william-p-young.php
Tread very carefully if you choose to read this book. My friend originally said that she was reading this book because her counselor recommended it. Is this counselor a Christian? She should be very careful recommending a book like this to people who are in true need of healing from very real pain. I just had to speak the truth and warn that this is not what it is being made out to be. Christians can say, "Well, I KNOW the truth and it's just a good read." Well, I counter with why would you even want to expose yourself to this false teaching which can be brought up by Satan in a time of weakness to deceive you? Unless you are doing a scholarly research paper on this book, I'd stay away.