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Monday, September 24, 2007

Five Points Friday: in three short chapters

This last Friday night, the LORD had a lesson for me I was quite unprepared for. In the past, He has blessed with so many opportunities to share the gospel, giving me a boldness I’ve never had before, so I prepared for our Friday foray as usual and 20 of us made our way down to Five Points, expectations soaring. I was not prepared for being held back, and made silent.

Chapter 1: Silence

We got to the street, divided into teams and made our way toward the fountain. Our team wandered a bit, and we took an adventure up a side street we had never ventured on to before. As we walked, I began to grow increasingly aware an unsettling feeling. Now, as feelings go, I don’t pay much attention when evangelizing; but this time, the more we walked, the more I began to notice that I was being held back from speaking—and this was unnerving to me. I was greatly troubled about this. We even stood on a street corner, waiting for the light to change, and became surrounded by people I would normally have given tracts to or started conversations with. But I could not tell if God was holding my mouth shut and my hands in my pockets, or if some kind of warfare was going on. I was that confused. Never had that happen before. We crossed the street and joined another team who struck up a conversation with a couple of guys. I sat on the bench and prayed, waited, and tried to figure this out.

About an hour later, we went back to the fountain where one of the other teams was playing music and handing out bottled water. I just sat on the wall. I called Leslie and talked to her for a few minutes and asked her to pray. Nick, our leader, came over and noticed I was not my usual self. We agreed that I should sit and pray. So sit and pray I did. Conversations were going on all around me and I felt so useless sitting on a wall in the middle of party-central. I could not produce a tract—I was frozen.

I watched a cabby eat her dinner and read a tract someone else gave her. I prayed for her salvation. I watched a team member hand out water and blessings. I prayed for her and that she could get a conversation going. I watched others point people to Christ. I prayed. And I finally realized I had to thank God for keeping me silent—maybe getting a little prideful about this work of ministry. I was not ready to be silent, but I accepted it and gave thanks.

Chapter 2: The Floodgates Open

Just then a cab pulled up right in front of me and the driver just sat there. I found my legs lift me up and I walked over to the open window on the passenger side and looked in. “Did you get one of these?” I asked, producing a tract from my pocket. The driver got out of his cab from the driver’s seat, came around to the passenger side, opened the door and sat down. We talked for nearly an hour. I thanked God for letting me talk to this man—in His right time, in His right place. Later, as my friend Javaris was praying, he thanked God (in a prophetic way?) for the times when we hold on to the pearls. I almost started crying.

The cab driver was living under the wrong gospel and was bound in sin—he told me all about it. He could not get out of his shackles because he did not have the right gospel. He did not know about the justice of God and the centrality of the cross, so I took him through the law to the cross. He plainly (and surprisingly) saw how God saw his heart, but was so convinced he had to show God his good own works that he was reaching the line of despair. He wanted out of the cycle, but could not admit it. I took him down the Romans Road and showed him the cross and begged him to repent, let go of the works. He asked good, deep questions, but when it came down to it, he was back at works again—“doing good deeds will erase bad deeds” mentality. I took him back through the law again, to the cross. He sat quietly and thought. My prayer is that he repented. He had to leave, so we shook hands and he melted into the traffic of the night.

Not long after this, another team member and I crossed paths with two girls, obviously well down the path to drunkenness. I don’t like to talk to people when they are drunk, but God does not care what I think—He’d demonstrated that once already. We talked to them about what they looked for when dating and the only thing they were concerned about is that the guy shell out lots of money on them—and keep their hands off. I asked them if they would go out with liars or thieves. Of course not. They were very vocal about dropping cheaters. Then I turned the tables on them with the Ten Commandments. They confessed to lying and stealing and it became obvious they were busted when it came to adultery. Then one girl, quite indignant, said rather loudly and sloshingly, “But I asked Jesus into my heart and he forgave me. God is in my heart!” All I could say is, “Are you sure?” I pointed her to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and encouraged her to repent. The girls’ eyes were huge as she glared at my open Bible. I was going to ask if she was aware that, if God was in her heart, then she was also breaking the 3rd commandment, and was not living in obedience . . . she stamped her foot and told me what she thought of me and left, quite upset. My team-mate smiled, and I had to smile too because the Holy Spirit was obviously working despite the other spirits.

Chapter 3: “A Lutheran, an Agnostic and an atheist were standing on a street corner, when this Christian come up and says . . .”

Our time was about up, but on the way back to the rendezvous point, we struck up a conversation with three guys waiting for the light to change. They were very quick to recite a list of 10 beers and 10 football teams, but when it came to 10 Commandments, why you could almost hear the crickets chirp. Suddenly, the situation became like a typical joke—we discovered we were talking to a Lutheran, an Agnostic and an atheist. What is fun about talking to groups of friends is that the friends learn things about each other they never knew once a good evangelistic conversation gets started. They spent more time arguing with each other and all I could do is . . . be silent. After a while the atheist and agnostic were at odds (as should be expected) about the existence of God, which was quickly proved with a closing appeal to the conscience.

The Atheist went to find food and the Agnostic tried to dismiss the reality of hell, but I showed his philosophy does not follow—denial does not change reality. He insisted it did. I told him to follow me because we were going to stand in the road and deny the existence of trucks. For some reason he would not follow me. Point made.

I tried to drive home the hard realities and inevitability of God’s truth and the agnostic stood with his arms crossed. The atheist returned to the conversation unfed and took up the conversation again, asking me to prove the authority of scripture. I appealed to natural revelation and told them 1) they could not argue with their conscience; 2) history and archaeology backed me up; 3) honest investigation would find confirmations. Though I was able to shake hands with two, the agnostic would not uncross his arms and left upset with me—and his Lutheran friend. None of them repented, but at least they saw how God saw their heart and their need for regeneration.

Pray for the lost.

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