Sorry, I've been super busy, and surprisingly tired out by the bigger bicycle (I finally stopped trying to go full speed Thursday). I think the wheels are a good 4" in diameter larger than my other one, and the tires are much wider, meaning more friction. I don't think the disc brakes are an issue, though they are great stoppers!
Anyway, Tuesday, I was trying to catch the 52 so I could visit a potential client, so I went over to the Park Place Mall. At the designated bus shelter (there are four shelters down there, each with its own set of buses and directions), I paused to look at the schedule (which they so kindly have posted on the back). As I approached, I saw a young lady on the phone. I was wary about stopping to talk to her, because she was so young (I was guessing 16), and I didn't know how I was going to witness to her, because I wasn't wearing any "Jesus" T-shirts and I didn't have any tracts (they came in on Friday). Well, you know the Lord...
Suddenly, she exploded into the phone, filling the surrounding air with insults, filth words, and even a death threat! Wow, I thought. "Angry?" I said.
"A little," she understated.
"Let me guess: [some girl] is sleeping with your boyfriend?" (I've heard so many phone explosions over that issue, so I just guessed...way wrong.)
"No, it's my mom."
"You talk like that to your mother?"
"Yes! She deserves it!"
"She was a crack addict for three years. [Obviously, she isn't now, but forgiveness wasn't part of this girl's vocabulary]...And she never listens to me! She always takes other people's sides against me!"
The situation in question (which I found out as we continued the conversation) was that the girl had been accused by her school of using her phone during class. She said she wasn't, but her mom believed the school authorities and told her that she could not go to see her 19-year-old boyfriend, who is in jail.
"What is he in jail for?"
"Possession of marijuana."
Why was your mother ever going to let you see him in the first place???? No, I didn't say that. But, when she complained (now this was a very loud conversation in front of about five or six other sets of burning ears) that her mother hangs up the phone when she tries to talk to her, I told her that I would, too, if some 15-year-old brat started calling me names and cursing at me.
Wanna know the funny part? I said, "So I guess you think you're a pretty good person."
"I am." She paused because I started looking at her sideways. "I know what just happened doesn't make it seem like it, but--"
I couldn't take it: "You just cursed out your mom and threatened her life! Are you serious?" The rest of the conversation, sadly, was spent trying to get her to understand that she was greatly offending God by her behaviors: her disrespect towards her mom, her general attitude towards authority, and her drug abuse (obviously, she does "weed," too; and, yes, I did confirm this with her). I didn't get her name, but I left her with, "You need to apologize to your mom, and repent; God is seriously angry with you right now."
Unfortunately, I saw her blazing away with her mom, who had called her back during our conversation, hung up when the girl got unreasonably loud and mean and would not let her get in a word, and called back, and called back, after I boarded the bus. I did manage to tell her something Rod Knapp had told me before: God puts authority in our lives, and when we dodge one, we come under another. And I told her, "Mom is a lot nicer than government." Pray that she heeds before she gets destroyed.
Wednesday night I had the pleasure of serving two homosexual men as they came to check out our store (on 4th Street North, and 88th Ave, right across the street from Starbuck's). I had the pleasure. They were none too pleased.
It started innocently enough: I had thought initially that the person exiting the driver's seat of the pickup truck that had just pulled in was a woman. Then I saw that I was waaaaaaaay wrong. So then I started praying. Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel Ft Lauderdale was preaching his Wednesday night service (I wish I could get free WiFi there, so I could stream Calvary Chapel St Pete's Wednesday night services, but CCFL will have to do), and I was wearing a "Not Just Jews For Jesus" green T-shirt with giant letters on it, so there is no way on earth they could have missed the fact that they had just walked into Christian territory. But, apparently, the type of Christians they know all teach false doctrine, so they didn't feel uneasy at all (plus Pastor Bob wasn't talking about homosexuality at the time).
I waited until they were ready to check out, then I asked them my usual deadly question: "Have you ever taken the Good Person Test?" We got stuck on the question of if calling someone mean names is hatred, even though it is not treating them with love. Then Steve (no, the other guy's name was not Adam, it was Chris) said, "But the message of the cross is that you can be forgiven of all these things." True enough, but incomplete.
"But the cross also says that we now have the power, through Jesus Christ, to overcome these sins."
"No, I believe that the message of the cross is that you can continue to mess up and still be forgiven." When I tried to point him to Romans 6, then the fun began: "The Bible is not the authority."
His primary argument was that the Catholic Church had guardianship over the Holy Scriptures for too long for him to trust them. This is a patently false view of history, one that Satan loves for two reasons: if you like the Catholic church, then you let them tell you that they have authority over the Scriptures and can "interpret" (meaning, twist) it to mean whatever they want it to, as well as ignore it whenever it suits them [yes, I have had Catholic apologists tell me that the church is in authority over the Bible]; if you hate the Catholic church, then you are successfully inoculated when someone wants to tell you what the Bible says, because you view it as fruit from the proverbial poisoned tree.
[Pause to note: I know that there are people in the Catholic church who don't believe everything their church teaches, but that doesn't mean that their church doesn't teach it.]
Obviously, the latter was his position, but it is false: there has always been an independent Church, possessing the Scriptures in their own language, in direct opposition to Rome's dictates, and under frequent attacks from the Vatican. E.H. Broadbent documents this in his book, The Pilgrim Church (you can get a copy from thebereancall.org; I think it's $20; very well worth it). Luther and Calvin actually opposed this Church when they led their respective movements (which is why I don't respect them very much; yes, they were strong against a clear enemy, but they were so blind to their true allies).
But when I tried to tell him this, he insisted that I was completely ignorant of history. So I wrote down the title of the book for him, and the author. He still insisted that his position was right. Of course, this is only because he wants to be able to hold on to sin and hold on to Jesus at the same time, but, as Jesus so plainly told us in Matthew 7:21-23, it doesn't work that way. He tried to tell me how much he had studied the Bible as a kid growing up, and that he had studied for the priesthood. Sorry, bro, you missed that part about, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5). And he insisted that the Gospels were written a minimum of 100 years after Jesus' time on earth. But Sir William Ramsay, as early as the 1800s, clearly proved from archaeology in the Middle East that all the Gospels were "written by a baptized Jew in the thirties or forties A.D.," something that liberal theologians like to ignore and to hide from their students (see Dave Hunt's In Defense of the Faith for citation).
Chris asked me how old I am. When I told him, he said, "I want to see you when you are forty and get your position at that time."
I have never responded this way to this absolutely ridiculous rejoinder: "Why not ask the guys who say this stuff who are already in their fifties? They've been saying it for as long as I will have been by then."
"But I want to talk to you!"
Why? I'm supposed to change the facts of history in the next 14 years of my life? Ludicrous.
Anyway, Steve told me that he didn't come to the Amish Market (Hello?) to get preached at.
I don't recall anything from Thursday right now. Friday, I was trying to get to downtown St Pete to catch up with Team Hope, but I had left my wallet at home, which holds my bus pass, so I rode my bike back home, and was going to catch the 52 at the Park Place Mall (again) to get there...but the bus was pulling out while I was over 300 feet away. So, I had begun the journey with a few more than 100 tracts, intending to hand them out on the bus and downtown, but hadn't dispensed most of them on my walk, so I just turned around and stood between the movie theater and the shopping plaza...and ran out of tracts in ten minutes! Wow! I didn't know that the Regal Theater held that many people on a Friday night (but that's because I don't ever go). Some people didn't take, some people dropped them once they realized that they were Zero Dollar Bills, not real money, and some people laughed about the Zero, some people insisted on getting their very own Zero dollar Bill, and some people thoughtfully read it.
I thought that I was out of tracts when I left, but, as I entered my trailer part, I realized that I had two more still in my pocket. I handed one of those to the guy standing outside the trailer next to mine, and the last one I gave to a homeless couple on US 19 as I went to catch up with Team Hope as they returned to Calvary Chapel.
So, yeah, it's been a fun, busy week!
Oh, today, I went up to Aldi's and saw Saraia for the first time in about a month. She smiled when I told her that I had been praying for her just this morning because I haven't seen her in a while. She still hasn't read the book, only my note to her in it. I think she is hesitant because she knows that following Jesus means giving up her life (that's what it means for everyone, not just homosexuals: "He who seeks to save his life will lose it; he who loses his life for My sake will find it" Jesus said), and she doesn't want to do that just yet. Please continue to pray for her.
Thanks for your prayers for my grandmother. My aunt reports that she is doing better. Please also continue to pray for my neighbor Dave, for the Woods family (I still have not heard back from them; the mom emailed me to tell me that they were in the accident, but she probably hasn't had time for more communication), and for the RCH Orphanage in Thailand.
I don't have an update on Lori Ogle, except to say that her Dessert Venue fundraiser in early June was a great success. Her tentative departure date was set for sometime in August, but I don't know the details. The Calvary Chapel St Pete High School Youth are preparing for a trip in August to Guatemala. Danielle Nadzan is going to Uganda, either this month or next. Joe Nerad has been back from Bible College in Hungary for about three weeks. Um...let's see. Always keep Paul and Marcia Cowley in prayer (Nairobi, Kenya; I just saw an article in my local paper about clean water being scarce over there). Natalie Stillman came to Mission Minded in June to tell us about her time in Bethlehem, where she serves with YWAM, but is eager to do more than YWAM can do. Who else?
Oh, Jim and Jan Larson have moved out of their home in St Pete and are staying at one of D&D's places until they launch. I don't have a date for them, either, but they are looking to help Paul and Marcia Cowley. And Sue Richards recently finished training in Mexico for Shepherd's Staff. She has no clear direction on where to go, so please continue to pray for that for her.
I should write on Saturdays more often, so I can include all this extra information.
But I should also write during the week, so I can shorten the emails! Thanks for bearing with me. God bless you all! Thanks so much for your prayers.