God is Good!

God is so good to me! He lets me be a foreign missionary here in my “native land” of the Bay Area. Yesterday I was at a community center with one of my children and I ended up having a conversation with Shirin, an older woman who is originally from Iran. This was the first real conversation I’ve had with someone who practices the Zoroastrian religion. I was amazed to hear her describe her philosophy of life: it was exactly as I learned from my brief study of this religion. She was telling me how it is all about having “good thoughts, good words and good deeds”. In other words, “It’s all good”!

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Resisting the temptation to contextualize or just do the “friendship evangelism” thing, I decided I must go for it and risk offending this grandmother, and respectfully tell her some Truth. So I shared about how we are not good, and do not have good thoughts, and do not do good, but just the opposite. I told her truth from scripture about our sin and breaking God’s Law, and the pride, idolatry, unbelief, self-righteousness, and general wickedness that is really going on in human hearts. She recoiled at hearing this -distress apparent on her face- as though I would bring “bad karma” and spiritual chaos to her happy spiritual equilibrium of goodness. I felt bad about making an elderly lady uncomfortable and consciously asked myself, “Do I really believe what the Word of God says about God’s judgment of sin and Jesus being the only way of salvation? Yes!” Although such evangelism is deemed improper, (even by many Evangelical church leaders) I knew I must love God, Truth and people’s eternal souls more than culture, feelings, and social correctness.

She kept repeating the “I think good, I do good, I am good” mantra and I kept gently responding with Truth from scripture. She was even telling me I was good. I have not spoken to her of the Gospel; she is confident she is a good person, acceptable to her (false Zoroastrian) god. She agreed to meet and talk more tomorrow. I have some Farsi gospel materials left over from last year’s Nouroz. I long to tell her of Jesus Christ, the only God and Savior, and how she can be saved from her sins by trusting Him and the goodness of His Grace towards those who are not good.

“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18


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.

“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 gracentruth.wordpress.com 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.

Happy Norouz!

See! The winter is past;
The rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
The season of singing has come.
Song.2:11-12

Wow we had such a wonderful time Sunday down at the Persian new year festival in Los Gatos. We went down and joined several south bay Persian churches and two parachurch ministries that reach Muslims, for a full day of creative outreach.

How I wish I brought my camera. The festival was just beautiful and it was a gorgeous day. I’ve never seen so many people at a cultural festival before, and they were all so beautiful, friendly and warm. There must have been 15-20,000 people there, all sitting down in family groups on the grass. The people attending the festival included Christians, but most were either “cultural” Christians (mostly Orthodox), Muslims, New Agers or Zoroastrians.

The church hosting this outreach had a large booth with coloring books, face painting, crafts, puppet show and games for the children. They also had one table laden with hundreds of He Lived Among Us books, gospel booklets, gospel tracts, Life of the Messiah (Jesus film) DVD’s, and flyers that had a gospel message on it. The flyer used the traditional Norouz new year story to bridge to sharing a biblical gospel message with scripture. All the materials were in Farsi and English. The DVD’s had eight Middle Eastern languages to choose from.

There were several brothers and sisters who spent the day ministering with the children’s activities, some talked all day sharing the gospel 1 on 1, some manned the literature table, and some of us walked around and passed out the “happy Norouz” gospel materials to each family group. My voice is pretty much gone due to a cold, so I helped pass out literature and CD’s all day, greeting and chatting briefly as I went around the huge park.

Toward the end of the day we went and stood near the three exits and gave out even more gospel materials to everyone as they left for the parking lots. Kids were running up to us and asking for the packs. Then they ran back and gave them to their parents. It was such a blessing to hear so many polite “thank you”s and cheerful appreciation from people who were happy to receive the materials. Pray that many more Bay Area Persian and Afghan people come to know and trust our Lord Jesus.

Keep Sowing the Seeds

We are having such a great time reading wonderful books about people in the Eastern Hemisphere. Right now we are doing a history/geography/culture unit study on the people of the Middle East. Currently we are reading Tales of Persia, by William Miller, an American man who served in Persia in the 1920’s through the 1960’s.

These are wonderful stories of sowing the seed of God’s Word among people who had not yet heard the gospel. So far my favorite story is the one about a man who went to the market at lunchtime to buy bread and cheese, and when he got home, he discovered the cheese was wrapped in a paper that had an interesting story written on it. It happened to be a page ripped from a Bible! He went back to the merchant every day to buy cheese so he could get more pages from “that book”. He sought out and found someone (an American missionary) who not only gave him a whole copy of the Ingil in his own language, but then taught him all about Jesus and the gospel in a bible study in his home. This Persian man became a believer who spent the rest of his life reaching his own family and countrymen with the gospel.

On Sunday we were talking about what an encouragement these missionary stories are to us. For every story we hear, there are also countless others we have not heard! It is good to share stories of God’s work in saving people, so we do not get weary in our labor. God uses us to encourage each other, and one of the ways is in sharing stories of the power of the gospel to bring new life in Christ. Sometimes we think we see no fruit for our seed sowing labor, but that does not mean that God is not bearing fruit from His precious seed. He is! We may just not see the fruit of our labor until glory.

Who is it that gave the cheese seller the Bible he used to wrap cheese in? We don’t know. Someone gave it to him, (sowing the Seeds) and the cheese seller was quietly sharing it(sowing the Seeds) with everyone in his community. God sent a man to that merchant to get the seed of the Word of God. He read it and believed. So keep sowing those seeds, trusting that God will cause it to bear good fruit, like He promised.