I joined a home fellowship recently, and last night was my first night attending. I had nothing else to do around 3:30, so I just went over to the Park Place mall, hopped on the first bus, hoping to take it to the end of the line, return to the mall, and then take #75 to Tyrone Mall and then walk from there. Well, the Lord has better plans than I do.
I ended up on #52, which, by the time it got to Clearwater, did not leave me enough time to ride it back to Park Place and pick up #75. Fortunately, #18 goes through Tyrone Mall on its way to downtown St. Pete. So, after being told by the security guard at the Park Street Terminal that I cannot hand out tracts there (I expected him to say that once I saw him approaching me), and showing all the caricatures to a couple who was excited about the million dollar bills I had given them (Living Waters has a couple of sets featuring celebrity caricatures), I hopped on #18 and gave tracts to everyone who boarded who would take them.
I had already given one to the bus driver, and he was about to throw his out when a passenger said that she wanted his. I told her she should trade with him, and she did. The only way I knew that he was about to throw his out was that he handed it to her rolled tightly like a cigarette. Heh, even she commented about that.
Later, at the Veterans Hospital on layover, he asked to see another one, saying that his had flown out the window (liar). I gave him another one, and, as he looked at it, he asked if I had a Bible with me. Not having a pocket-size and wearing jeans that don't have much pocket space, I had only supplied myself with tracts. But the lady who was on board with us had a Bible--a real Bible, a really beloved, believed Bible, one of those tattered things that you can tell gets read and read and read (yes, I know some people can fake it, but you don't carry something that heavy in your purse to and from work just to fake it).
So he showed me a verse in Ecclesiastes 9: "For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten." (verse 5). Well, that was my second clue. The third was that he said, after reading the verse to me, that God had created Adam and Eve to rule over the earth, not Heaven, and he challenged me to "find me a verse in that Bible that says I'm going to Heaven." I wanted to say, "There isn't one, because you're not, you cult member!" but the Lord of love restrained me.
I didn't bother to look for the verse. I knew about Revelation 21-22, how it describes a place that far exceeds the creation that God called very good at the Beginning. I also knew that this guy's problem isn't that he believes in an earthly paradise, but that he studies the Bible under the tutelage of men who don't believe what it actually says. So I made it my point to challenge him during the layover at Tyrone to abide by the plain teaching of Scripture and not let anyone, no matter how educated or respected tell him any different. I don't think he appreciated that message, but it is the truth.
To be sure, there are some truths that aren't readily evident unless you know other Scriptures, too, but letting Scripture explain Scripture is a far superior method of understanding the Bible than letting men teach you. Yes, others can have insights that God hasn't shown to us yet, but we will always be able to check them independently of them, and none of those teachers has a perfect knowledge that will forever go uncorrected. And that's the problem for not only the obvious cults, but also the people who only ever believe what they hear from the pulpit yet disregard the plain wording of Scripture. I'll stop ranting right here.
Anyway, the study and the fellowship was great (so was dinner) at the Ruzinok's. We reviewed 1 Peter 4:12-19, which Ron Bouvier taught at Living Hope this past Sunday. I know I've faced some trials I didn't know how to work around, but nothing that could truly be called "fiery," and, in every case, God has always worked things out as time has passed. So I have yet to experience the fullness of what Peter was talking about in these verses, so we'll see what the future holds.
Afterwards, I was back at Tyrone Mall. I was going to catch the 75, but it had stopped running. I looked for other bus routes, and #18 was the only one available. I was going to catch it north to Seminole Mall and let #74 take me home, but the Lord advised me to ask the bus driver about it, and he confirmed that #74 would not be there when I got there, so I got off, went to the restroom at Chick-Fil-A, handed a young lady and either her mom or grandmother (sorry, couldn't tell) a tract, then returned to the bus shelters on the southside of Tyrone Mall to wait for the southbound #18. Once on board, I ran out of tracts. One girl dropped hers in her seat, so I recycled it to the young man who had boarded after us. He asked if he could keep it, and I assured him he could: "I'm not an Indian giver!"
Finally, at Grand Central Station, I boarded #19 northbound, which runs right by my house. I had no tracts, but I was able to strike up a conversation with a server from Denny's. She had a cross on her neck and claimed that Jesus was precious to her. I asked her if Jesus is important for everyone, and she said yes, so I asked her why.
She didn't want to talk about Hell, so I reminded her that Jesus threatened those who do not trust in Him with Hell. She was a bit uncomfortable with that, so I asked when the last time was she had read her Bible. She admitted that it has been a while. I said, "The best information in the world does you no good if you don't read it." She concurred.
Please pray for her and the many others I was able to pass a tract to that day, as well as those who rejected it. God bless.