Saturday, May 24, 2008

Georgia with Samaritan's Purse

I've been through Georgia, but I've never been to Georgia, so this was an adventure waiting to happen.

We cut down a lot of brush and trees and we got to witness to a lot of people, a few of whom stand out to me.

There was the guy across the street from the house we worked at on Monday after we drove the 6+ hours to get there (yes, we got right to work!): he said when I came up to him that this was the hand of God, that God had been merciful in sparing many lives. As we talked, he also said that he knew why I had come to talk to him, but he wasn't ready to give up his sinful life for the Lord (I had taken him through some of the Ten Commandments to show him his fate on Judgment Day). Huh? Does a love for sin have that strong a hold? I guess it does.

Because two guys that I talked to the next day said the same thing: they loved looking at women with lust and committing fornication, and they were not willing to give that up to follow Christ. Wow.

Now the teens in front of this house weren't as non-chalant about Judgment. One of the three girl (there was one boy with them) went inside and told her mom what I was talking about and how scared she was (I had just told them that Jesus said that calling someone mean names is worthy of Hell, Matt. 5:21-22). The boy's eyes were wide with shock, too, but his girlfriend tried to play it cool. She stepped up close to him so that she was between us while I was trying to talk to him, trying to get his attention away from me by drawing his lust. Witnessing truly is a spiritual battle. As he started to get into the car with her, I told him that Jesus said that if you just look with lust you are guilty of adultery (the mom of the other girls was standing there as I said this), and his girlfriend suddenly had to go back and tell one of the other girls something. I think she realized that if her bf repented as I was urging him to do, she would be left out, which is true...unless she repents, too, which wasn't on her mind.

The mom tried to tell me that I was doing wrong by bringing up Judgment Day, because they were getting scared. I tried to tell her that Jesus said that we should fear God above all others (Luke 12:4-5) and that Scripture teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), but she would have none of it, cutting me off instead. So I asked if she was a Christian and, when she affirmed, what difference there is between her and those of whom Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:21-23. If she were a genuine Christian, her response should have had something to do with departing from sin to serve God, but instead she focused on the serving God part, which these people had done, too--but it didn't save them on Judgment Day because they clung to their sins in the middle of it. Rather than get into an argument with her, I did not pursue it. I just pray that Roweena, her husband Calvin, their children and their friends, and his cousins Curry and Tony (the two whoremongers working in the back) get saved really soon. Especially that girlfriend.

On a positive note, when I asked Connie the same question I asked Roweena, she did give the right answers, stating that those who continue to live life their own way are not saved. She and her husband Joe had minimal damage and it was all covered by insurance, and she also had been helping her elderly neighbors. She did tell me about her ex-husband who is not saved, and his name is Mike, so please pray for him. Her son (with him) Michael is saved and serving the Lord but has recently entered a public college after being in a Christian institution all his life. He needs prayer for both strength and encouragement as he faces new temptations and deals with the ridicule the world pours out on those who walk godly in Christ.

The church that hosted us was very kind. While I certainly question some of its practices and doctrine, I cannot deny the love that the people themselves displayed for us. I pray that God will bless Bloomfield United Methodist Church with better doctrine, better leadership, and more people. I know that we don't like to talk about doctrinal differences, but being un-Biblical in our teaching only hinders blessing from God. So my prayer is that those hindrances be removed so that God may more abundantly pour out His blessing on that wonderful group of people.

I know I am skipping a lot of days, but to try to record five days worth of blessings and adventures in one email would take five days--and this would never get done. So I will now skip to the last day.

Bernard wasn't assured of his salvation when he arrived, and I didn't let him get one from us, either. I first took him through the Commandments to make sure that he understood the Gospel, then Joe R. and Joe N. (yeah, we had two Joe's and two Josh's [me and Big Josh]) jumped in and we chatted for about 20 minutes, answering whatever questions he had. At one point, Joe N. was trying to get him to pray the "Sinner's Prayer" in order to receive assurance of salvation, but I stopped him, saying that no prayer ever gives one assurance. I later explained that only God can give assurance of salvation, and that comes through His Word alone. Joe R. had already mentioned 1 John, and I at this time insisted to Bernard that he read that for assurance, because I could assure him all day, but only God's opinion counts on this matter.

I'm sure many of the people talked about in Matthew 7:21-23 prayed many such prayers and were assured by others that they were saved, but I will not let that happen on my watch. As I told the camera crew when we were witnessing to them on Wednesday, I want anyone who knows me and goes to Hell to go to Hell with their eyes wide open--I want them to know that they are choosing Hell. I don't want to be the one to give a false assurance--even though the person I am talking to at the moment may actually be saved. I don't know if Bernard was saved at that point or not, but I don't want to be the one whose word he trusts for his salvation--because I am not God.

Now, I am not picking on Joe N. I love the guy, and he loves me, too, but I know that many people teach this stuff about the Sinner's Prayer being the way of punching one's ticket to Heaven, and this is not so. Jesus said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Repentance isn't merely acknowledging sin--it is hating one's own sin (in contrast to the hypocrite who only hates the sins of others) and turning one's heart away from pursuing a lifestyle of sin to pursuing the God who made us and died for us. And the "Sinner's Prayer" doesn't do that for anyone. In fact, there is no set prayer of repentance. Psalm 51 is a good example, but God isn't interested in our words: He is interested in our hearts.

Enough preaching.

I got a big piece of humble pie delivered straight to my spiritual teeth when I began grumbling that we should not have left the church if we were going to eat at a sit-down restaurant (we chose Cracker Barrel) on our way home, because the time would be the same if not more. Well, after the Lord used us to witness to a set of Catholic twins (Catheryn and Madlyn, who don't look alike at all), I had to pick up my fork and dig in.

And then pass the message along when someone else complained about the other van's people taking too long when we were filling up, because the delay gave me time to, at the prompting of Larry, give a lady Mark Cahill's book One Heartbeat Away, which is for unbelievers. Now, as we left the parking lot, we saw that she had a "Jesus fish" on her car--but that doesn't mean anything to me. I dearly hope that that was a true indicator of her heart, and, if so, we may have just equipped her to witness to one of her loved ones. And that would be awesome, too.

So thanks to God for the delays of life. And may I appreciate them more.

God bless you, and thank you for your prayers.

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