Public Reading of the Bible

Project Ezra is an outreach ministry dedicated to the public reading of the Bible. Believers simply present the Word of God by reading it aloud in a public place where there are people gathered or walking by. This is a wonderful ministry because it gives glory to God through the public exaltation of Christ and the proclamation of God’s Word. This Bible reading often provides the reader with an opportunity to then preach the Gospel to groups (crowds) in the public venue, or to share the Gospel one on one with people who stop to listen and then ask questions.

On Saturday God gave me the opportunity to read Isaiah 53 to ten teens and homeless older people hanging out downtown, which led to opportunity to share the attributes of God, the Law and the Gospel of Grace, and also answer questions regarding the Gospel, the Deity of Christ and the Atonement. One teen asked me, “What is sin?” Others asked about doing “religion”, such as “being a good Catholic”, in order to be justified. Later five more teens joined the group and asked what we were talking about. “We’re talking about how we can have our sins forgiven.” They listened and asked questions for almost an hour. I was overjoyed to see their humble attitude as realization of sin appeared on their faces, and as they heard of the hope of the Grace of God in Christ.

Here is a video of a sister reading a Psalm in public, which was followed by Gospel preaching by another believer. This is an evangelism ministry that can be done alone or with other brothers and sisters. Pray first for His power and courage before you go and ask the Lord to lead you to the people He wants to hear the Word of God. May God be glorified as His Word accomplishes what He desires.

A Favorite Fishing Hole: County Fair

I was sitting down to rest at the county fair, watching thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world walk past me. I wanted to talk to them all. I wished I knew how to speak their languages. Behind each person’s beautiful eyes, lies an eternal soul with a destiny. What is this feeling? It is painful. It hurts. It is hard to describe. I prayed for His redeeming mercy. I prayed for those He would add to His Kingdom, and asked the Lord for opportunity to be a carrier of the Good News to His lost sheep.

First I went to visit my Senegalese friend who mans the “One Love-Bob Marley-Drugs as religion” booth. He immediately remembered our conversation from last year and brought up the things we spoke of. He introduced me to his friend, also from Senegal, then he asked me to tell them something important. I told him there is only one God, the God of Israel, the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ; the only One who can forgive sins. We talked about this for a while, until customers arrived. I gave him a Gospel website link. Maybe I’ll see him again next year.

At the “Legion of Mary” table, I talked to a young Catholic woman who tried very hard to convince me of the importance of “Roman Church tradition and Papal infallibility”; that Mary is the mediator between us and Jesus, and hears and answers our prayers. Mary was being exalted (as a “goddess”) at this table. I started with Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus and then spoke Truth from Hebrews regarding Jesus being the only mediator (and Savior) between God and men. Then I shared my testimony of how after being told to work for my salvation by being a good Catholic, Jesus revealed Himself to me that salvation is through Jesus alone, by faith alone. I said I was telling her these things because I care about her and I could see she was becoming affected by what she was hearing. She said she would read the Bible for herself.

“I believe in Jesus, but I don’t know who he is. Who is he?” ~Joel

A man was standing there wearing a t-shirt that said, “My peace is growing”. He was also wearing a huge cross necklace. So I walked up to him and asked him what his peace was. He said, “I believe in Jesus but I don’t know who He is.” I told him I knew Who He is. He asked me to tell him! So I got to share the entire Gospel, starting with God’s attributes, and man’s sin, and judgment. Then I told him Who Jesus is, and what He did for us, that we might be forgiven by faith in Him. This man, named Joel, stood still soberly listening to every word about the One who came to bring peace between sinful men and the Holy God.

Sitting on a park bench I began a conversation with a man in Spanish. After sharing the Gospel with him for a while, I found out he is a J.W. He tried laying on the J.W. doctrine, but God helped me remember how to tell him that Jesus is God, (John1:1) as well as what He did, in Spanish.

A large group of teen boys were standing around, asking passersby a question. I went up to them and asked them what they were doing. They were seeing if anyone leaving had a carnival wristband they would be willing to give away to them. I hardly ever do “MDBs”, but I pulled out my two Obama millions from my bag and gave them to the boys. I can’t believe how excited they were. They kept asking me if they were real money! After asking them the “million dollar question”, one boy, Erik, answered, “I hope I go to heaven”. Of course, his hopes were based on his perceived goodness and the fact that he “does religion” according to tradition. This opened up the blessed opportunity to speak with this group of boys while they heard of the Attributes of God, the Truth of sin and judgment and the Hope of reconciliation through faith in Jesus Christ. Most of the boys took off but Erik remained with me- he wanted to hear more about forgiveness through the person and work of the Holy, Righteous, Merciful Lord Jesus.

The Gospel the Power of God

Here is “Grace”, by J’Son featuring J.R. In this redemption story, young J’Son is convicted of sin, and God draws him to Himself by His grace. J’Son picks up a Bible and begins to read God’s Word and is saved by faith. God then leads him into fellowship with other believers.

I like this video because it highlights the mighty power and work of God in saving His people by His grace through reading or hearing of the Gospel. The key event in this story is “J’Son picks up a Bible”. This, as well as the faith he then demonstrates, is an act of God by His Grace, through the Holy Spirit.

God’s plan is that you are the messenger to bring the Gospel of grace to His lost sheep, through spoken and written word. So keep praying and working because this is how He powerfully saves His people: through THE GOSPEL.

For I am not ashamed of THE GOSPEL, for it is the POWER OF GOD for salvation to everyone who believes… Rom.1:16

Lovely Progression

Lovely Progression

by: Nathan Pitchford
Reformation Theology blog

Jesus, how sweet your virgin birth,
Deep, lovely mystery:
Out from the unsewn womb sprang forth
God of eternity!
I kneel before your bed so rough,
My Savior in a feeding trough,
Divine before the world began,
And now in time become a man.

Jesus, how sweet your life on earth,
Your public ministry,
Your miracles of saving worth
O’er sin and misery;
I hear in reverential awe
Your thund’rous utt’rance of the Law,
And offer in my own defense
Your life of pure obedience.

Jesus, how sweet your saving death,
The atoning sacrifice!
My plea rose up on your last breath
Like incense to the skies;
I weep before that blessed tree
Where priceless blood was spilled for me,
Where all the wrath of God was poured
On the Beloved of the Lord.

Jesus, how sweet your rising up
Victorious from the dead
To fill my upheld mercy cup,
To crush the Tempter’s head!
I come by grace before your throne
And there in trembling joy bow down,
Before my King who now must reign
Till he make all things new again.

The Proud and the Humble, pt. deux

At the dog park this week there was another stark example of the proud and the humble. It was another one of those interactions which makes me seriously consider carrying around a small digital recorder so I can better remember the details of these conversations.

So I was talking with this man for quite a while on the subject of idolatry. He brought up the subject himself and was criticizing that segment of American society which worships sports as “god”. Agreeing with him, (that sports is an American idol) I used that as my opportunity to speak to him on the subject of spiritual things and decided to bring up all the other things people worship, and all the rest of the Law. But after identifying as a Humanist, he responded to God’s Word by declaring his good deeds and self-righteousness. He then went on a rage about how he should not have to thank God (if there was one) for anything; for “what has He done for me lately?” He accused God of being responsible for evil in the world, and accused Him of not doing right (or making this messed up world right). He praised the superiority and independence of Humanity, then lifted his fist high in the air, and shook his fist at God in defiance, loudly yelling his curses against God.

Towards the end, another man began listening and joined the conversation. He also witnessed to the Humanist. This man was a brother in Christ, and not only did he proclaim the truth that God is Creator, Judge and Savior, but he also, with great love and gentleness of spirit, declared his gratitude to God for salvation, and for His goodness, even through severe and painful life trials. This man publicly blessed the Lord with thanksgiving.

The thing I found so wonderfully amazing was that this brother that proclaimed his gratitude to God, did not begin hearing the conversation until after the first man completed his diatribe of hateful ingratitude against God. Thus they both demonstrated who they were before God: one demonstrating the text of Romans 1:18-25, and the other demonstrating every scripture about believers giving thanks to God for all His blessings, especially salvation of sinful men, by His grace.

Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations. Ps.100:4-5.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (surpassing grace!) 2Cor.9:15.

The Proud and The Humble

Several of us went to do some fishing in San Francisco at the Chinese new year parade a few weeks ago. There were five men who took turns preaching all evening, and the three of us women gave out gospel materials. We all had opportunities to talk to people one on one as they stopped by on their way to the parade. There were only two conversations I had that night; the proud and the humble.

A man about my age came up to me and started asking me apologetic type questions and I did my best to try to answer him. He was skeptical and started arguing with an amused attitude. I realized he was only doing this for his entertainment. Laughing and mocking, he began making fun of God. “Why do you believe in that Jewish God?” I told him because the Jewish God, IS God. He told me that we should be loyal to our ethnic heritage and believe in the gods of our fathers. He said he was from China but raised in Indonesia, and worshiped many gods. He asked me if I was of German heritage and I told him yes (among other things). He told me I should not worship a “foreign” God but I should worship the gods of my heritage. So I asked him, “You think I should be worshiping Thor then?” He enthusiastically said yes! I quickly told him about how Boniface came from another country to tell the Germans that Thor was not god, but Jesus Christ is God. I07-02-09_lorettawitness13 talked about the first two commandments and he went on a diatribe of laughing, mocking God and calling the Lord Jesus some choice names. God directed me right then to be done with him. He boasted in his idolatry and his own righteousness. He loved mocking Christ!

Later in the evening, a young man came up to talk to me. What an encouragement to talk with this young man! God had prepared his heart, and arranged this “divine appointment.” I don’t remember how the conversation started, but he wanted to hear the gospel. He asked me to tell him. His attitude was sincere. Starting at the beginning, I brought him through the character of God, the Law, our sin against God, and the Gospel. He stood there quietly listening, intently staring into my eyes. He was not just listening, he was hearing. He was convicted of sin. He saw his need for a savior. He admitted his sin. He wanted forgiveness. He wanted mercy and grace. This news of grace and forgiveness in Christ was life and hope to him! Don’t be discouraged by the mockers, saints; keep on working. God is still calling sinners and bringing the humble to repentance!

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke5:32.

Go For It: Personal Witnessing

So you have come to understand that “witnessing” is not just for the street preachers, pastors, missionaries and those with the “gift of evangelism”, but for every believer. And now you are ready to get started! How do you take that first step?

Witnessing, also known as “personal evangelism” is both something that you really can’t help doing, as well as something that can be learned, like a skill. You can spend the rest of your life learning “how”, even as you go through your life witnessing.

My earliest memory of witnessing was immediately after God revealed Himself to me, saved me and gave me faith to believe. I went into the kitchen and told my mom that something happened to me and I now knew (believed) that “it’s all about Jesus”. I also remember cutting nature pictures out of my National Geographic magazines and pasting them in scrapbook pages. I wrote Bible verses in calligraphy, on each picture page, and gave it as a gift to someone. Later in college, other believers taught me “how to share my faith”, and I learned a lot by watching them in action.

Witnessing is anything you do with words, to communicate truth about the Lord our God, and what He did to save men through Jesus. That leaves a lot of room for creativity.

There’s a million things we can say on this topic; indeed there are loads of books written on “how to do evangelism”. Here I’ll just offer a few ideas that hopefully will help you to get started on your new adventure!

The most important thing is to know what the gospel is. Here’s a link with articles that talk about the gospel. The gospel is not about our church, or having our best life now, becoming wealthy, finding our purpose, feeling better about ourselves, promoting morality, taking the nation back for God, or working for world peace and harmony. It’s very important that we know the gospel well, so we can faithfully share it.

Pray, confess your sins, pray for opportunities, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

By faith, initiate a conversation with someone. Perhaps God will have the other person initiate the conversation.

Be respectful, friendly, joyful, honest and loving. Relate to the person you are talking to. Be light, be salty. Be caring.

Ask questions. Get them to reflect. What do they think about something? What are their answers to certain problems? After asking, listen to their answers. This is a good way to start conversations.

Take the conversation from the natural realm to the spiritual. People bring up topics. You can use that natural topic that they are interested in, to turn the subject from that, to thinking about spiritual things that they need to consider. Jesus did this all the time. For example, more than once I’ve been asked how we can live in light of the terrifying prospect of world war. I used that truly scary scenario to gently bring up something far scarier than that: Judgment day before a perfect, righteous, just and holy God. These people never considered this “date with just fate” and we were able to then talk about the reality our sin, the justice of God, and the remedy that God graciously provided for our eternal “safety”: Jesus Christ.

Use your testimony and talk about yourself; what God has shown you; what you have learned from God.

Use words that can be understood by your hearers, without changing the message. This is good contextualization. Bad contextualization is when you change the message, and end up with a “different gospel” or a “different Jesus”, just to be relevant. You can be relevant without compromising Biblical truth.

You can be relational and clear at the same time. Again, this is about choosing to compromise or not. We must not be ashamed of the gospel. God will give us courage to tell it clearly.

Gently and lovingly address the person’s conscience so they can become aware of, or consider, their standing (guilt) before God. The Moral Law- the 10 Commandments, help do this. Tell of the attributes of God. Tell of man’s sinful condition. Share the law with the proud, and the grace of Christ crucified for sins, with the humble. When God makes someone born from above, they will have repentance from sin, and faith in the Lord Jesus. Remember, you are sowing seeds of the gospel, so you may not see what will become of that seed. You just have to trust God.

Jesus talked about different kinds of soil. A person’s heart may be very hard. Sometimes the Law will plow up the soil, and make it ready for the seed of the gospel. You have to test how “open” people seem. Another person’s heart may stay hard, defensive and proud even after hearing the Law; they may tell you off, tell you to shut up and get lost. This person is “not open”, so you know that you are most likely done there, at least for now. You can move on. Look for the open, humble, soft soil person; God is preparing their heart to hear the gospel.

Remember that you do not achieve the salvation of a person; salvation is only of the Lord. But He is pleased to save people through the foolishness of the message preached. Your job is to tell the message, and God will save those who believe, by His grace.

…but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…. Acts 1:8.

Go For It: Open Air Preaching

You have been desiring and longing to open air preach for years- but have yet to “break the sound barrier”. Here’s some ideas for your encouragement.

Find a friend or two you can work with; someone who can pray for you and encourage you.

Spend time in prayer beforehand. It is not you, it is the Holy Spirit in you, Who is the witness.

Consider how Jesus witnessed: He helped proud, self-righteous people see their need for a savior, by helping them see that they had sinned before a holy and just God. To humble people who were already convicted of their sin, He revealed Himself as the source of grace, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation to God. In other words, He gave the Law of God, which reveals our sinfulness, to the proud, and He gave Grace (the message of the cross and God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus) to the humble. You can use this “Law and Grace” idea as your basic outline, as you prepare your gospel message.

Write down your message as an outline, or even write it all out completely. You can read it word for word from the paper. Can’t think of a message to write? You can read a tract aloud, or read a passage from the Bible.

Humble yourself, because it does not matter how old you are, what you sound like, or how well you can speak. Trust God; He wants to use you to bring His message to those who need to hear.

Here is a wonderful story from The Lawman Chronicles, of one person’s first time open air. Tony Miano writes:

The important thing is not how polished the preacher looks or sounds. The power of the message is in the message itself; and the most important thing the preacher brings to the message is faith and obedience–not humor, an extensive vocabulary, or eloquence.

“So You Believe in Sin, Right?”

Saturday I did some gardening, potted flowers, sold hot dogs and icees at the Little League “snack shack”, washed my car and did some shopping errands. After the sun went down I went for a little walk in the neighborhood to see if I could meet more neighbors (we have a big neighborhood) and sow some gospel seeds.

As I was walking down my street approaching my home on the way back, I met one of my “few doors down” neighbors. I’ll call him “Peter”. He is one who has been laughing, scoffing and mocking at me (for my faith) for 10 years.

So we are chatting on the sidewalk, and all of a sudden he says, “So you believe in sin, right?” I told him yes I do, and he starts telling me how concerned he is because he has sinned and he knows it, and he knows that judgment is what comes after we die. He was telling me he’s scared because he has done some “pretty bad things” and is not sure if there is any hope for him now.

For the first time ever, he was open to really hearing and wanting to understand the gospel. He had questions about sin, judgment, condemnation, confession, repentance, faith, grace, and how we can be right with God. He asked if a person can be forgiven even if they have broken all the commandments, how it is possible that Jesus makes us forgiven before God, works vs. faith, etc. He asked me if I have broken the commandments and I told him, yes all of them, and I explained the “heart” issues behind the moral Law. I gave him the example of how hating someone in selfish anger is like murder, in your heart. He wanted to know about willful lifestyle sin that you love, (in Christ we must now “Go and sin no more”) vs. sin that you don’t want to commit but do and hate (in Christ we are assured of forgiveness in 1 John 1:9). He wanted to know how Jesus makes us right when we stand before God.

I shared my Roman Catholic testimony with him; how I did every religious tradition to try to earn God’s favor. This really resonated with him because he was an “altar boy” back in his youth (in the 50’s?) and also tried to get to God through Catholic Church tradition. I told him how God sent me the bible and how He revealed Himself to me in the words of the gospel. I gave Peter a gospel CD, told him to listen to it, and invited him to where he could read the bible, and articles about how God made a way for us to have all our sins forgiven forever through Jesus.