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.

People in my Neighborhood

Michelle lives on the sidewalk between her shopping cart and the shrubs. In that spot, she sleeps sitting up, with her knees drawn up to her chest, blankets over her head. She is afraid to live in the shelter; something very bad happened there once. She wants to live alone, on her own. She is afraid of people. That is, until she decides you are safe. She likes Chinese fried rice, Coke and People magazine. She has been living like this for many years. She is the same age as me.

A certain man spends all day, every day, hanging out in the front of the liquor store. He does not buy booze, he just spends every day “living” there. He talks to himself all day, and wears the same exact thing every day: army boots and pants, flight jacket, baseball cap and dark glasses. He goes home at night. Every day, there he is again, in the same place, talking to invisible people.

Sometimes a drug deal goes down on my street right near my house. The car turns the corner, slows to a stop, a bicycle rides up, the trade is made, and they go off in different directions. I haven’t had the chance to meet these neighbors yet; they drive off too fast.

Bill lives in a 40 year old Volkswagen van, parked on a street. It is set up like a tiny little studio apartment. His foot is in a fabric cast and he walks with a limp; it is taking a long time to heal. He’s dressed in rags. He is just trying to make it through each day.

Ralph is disabled and you will find him traveling all over our neighborhood in his fully loaded, high power motorized wheelchair, which doubles as his home on wheels. It’s easy to spot him at a distance with the sock flag on a tall stick announcing, “RALPH”, and his well stocked red wagon in tow. He goes around giving out hard candy and a cheerful word to all he meets.

There’s a woman one street over. The man she used to be married to beat her pretty bad: she is disfigured. Now she’s a recovering addict. She looks like she is 20 years older than she really is. Her voice is ragged sounding; she sounds tough, but she is very friendly.

Dozens of men from Mexico and Central America line both sides of one street, hoping to get hired for the day. They stand around in groups talking all day, unless someone picks them up. They are hoping for work because most of them have wives and children to support.

At the Mexican market and around the main grocery store, I always see Joseph, who spends his days riding around on his bicycle, planting tracts that promote the worship of the Roman Catholic Mary.

At the Arabic market I met a young mother with her two beautiful preschoolers. She recently moved from the Middle East since her husband got a job here. Right now she is observing Ramadan.

“And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.’ ” Luke 14:23.

Christ’s Power is Made Perfect in Weakness

Weakness! Insults, distress, pain, hardships, persecution, difficulties! Sometimes a messenger of Satan, but always allowed by God, weakness keeps us from exalting ourselves. Satan the destroyer would have us either despair at what we can’t do, or be prideful in what we can do. But God is working His plan in us to eliminate pride and produce faith & humility. Christ will be exalted, as we in our weakness, find our strength only in Him. This message so ministered to me. Let it encourage you today.

And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor. 12:7-10.

Audio: Christ’s Power is Made Perfect in Weakness, by John Piper

Keys to Biblical Evangelism

Here is an interesting article by Mike Ratliff:

Don’t answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5 WEB)

Evangelism that is biblical is not numbers or results based as if it is a process we can control through methodology. The seeker-sensitive form of evangelism, on the other hand, is totally numbers or results based, and, therefore, uses methodologies to boost perceived effectiveness by increased numbers of “decisions for Christ.” The seeker-sensitive form of evangelism assumes that God is helpless to save anyone outside of their efforts. It ignores passages such as John 3:5-8 and Ephesians 2:1-10.

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God!That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 WEB)

In this passage, Jesus tells us that people are Born Again by the Spirit and His work in this is like the wind which no one can control or perceive.

Read the rest of the article here.

Lord Have Mercy on Me

Playing Mercy with Jesus
By: Tyler Kenney

When I was a kid I would sometimes play a game called “Mercy.” A friend and I would interlock hands and try to put each other into painful, inescapable positions. When one of us couldn’t handle any more we would cry “Mercy!” and the game would be over.

Stupid game, huh? But reading in Luke 18 recently I noticed a similar theme in Jesus’ parables and practice.

First, he tells the story of a widow who was seeking justice. Even though the judge was unrighteous, he heard the widow’s case because of her persistence. Jesus applies the parable, saying, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?”

Next, he talks about the Pharisee and the tax collector who both prayed in the temple. Unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector went home justified, because he recognized his unworthiness and cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

The chapter ends with Jesus’ encounter with a blind beggar who would not quit calling out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Others were telling him to be quiet, but Jesus stopped and asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” At the man’s request, Jesus restored his sight.

In each of these instances the Lord answered prayer—prayer of a certain type: a cry for mercy, desperate and persistent. And this is how he still deals with his people.

The Lord is pleased to help us in our distress, but he doesn’t always answer us right away. Sometimes it feels like we’re playing Mercy with him and he’s going to twist us until all that’s left is for us to beg for help.

Read the rest of the article here.