September 18, 2008

Grace Abounding: Love is the Motivation

Love was manifest (made clear) to us in the gift of Christ Jesus our Lord, who died for us while we were still His enemies (Romans 5:6,10). God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Love comes from God (1 John 4:7), and those who love have been born of God and know God (1 John 4:7-8). In fact, our faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). In other words, we are saved because of God's love for us, our love for God and for one another comes from Him, and all the works of faith are worked through love. As my grandmother likes to say, "Love is the key."

So why am I saying all this? "Don't we already know it?" Well, because when I drove through the city of York today, I was praying for God's love to work in me to love the people. I met my friend, Matt, in the square. We stood there for about 5 seconds when we met a guy carrying a motorcycle helmet who said he didn't believe in God. I talked with him for about 10-15 minutes, appealing to the fact that he knew when he was a child that there was a God, and that he was afraid of dying (I said it all in a gracious manner). We talked a little about Creation and the Fall in Genesis, but my main focus was testifying to God's love shown in that He loved me while I was a self-righteous religious hypocrite and an enemy of God when He reconciled me by grace. This guy at first didn't look like he wanted to talk, but he ended by thanking me and accepting a small gospel of John. I ended by pointing him to Jesus and saying, "You cannot believe, because faith is a gift that God must give." (See Ephesians 2:8). He agreed with that statement more than anything, and perhaps he will read that gospel of John (See John 20:31).

The next person we met was Brad. He was in his early twenties and is white. He lives in the city and told me some guys on one street threatened him with a gun. He seemed a little stressed out. I thought he probably had a mental illness, and he told me he is bi-polar and had been praying because of his suicidal thoughts. We went to McDonald's to sit down and talk. While we were there, one of the older black women said he was her neighbor. She sees me come in every week, so I think they are opening up a little. We sat down and talked about our health conditions and our outward vices, each of us sharing similar but different problems, then we talked about the ROOT of the problem - SIN. I kept pointing Brad to Christ as the answer, and he said, "He's the root killer!" I said, "Yeah, He killed our sin root problem in His own body when He was crucified." Brad wanted our phone numbers, so perhaps he will meet with us again. He said God meant for us to meet today. (Of course, a lot more was said concerning the gospel in these conversations, but I cannot write it all. My main text was Romans 5:6,8,10).

Last of all, as Matt left, I was at the cross walk, and there were a group of Hispanic Christians preaching in the Square from a loudspeaker. They had a bunch of people from their own church standing around with tracks. It was all in Spanish, so I couldn't understand what they were saying, except for, "A Su nombre Gloria!" ("Glory to His name!" I'm not sure if I worded that right?). There was a girl standing at the cross walk, so I handed her a gospel tract and asked her some questions. I will call her "Luella," because I couldn't pronounce her name in Spanish. She had an accent, and as we talked she said she had been here for 9 years, so I asked where she was from, and she said from the Dominican Republic. So I said, "I have a friend who lives there!" (I hope you don't mind me mentioning you, Rita? Rita's blog is New Human Life). I said what I always say in Spanish, "Tiene un Biblia?" (Do you have a Bible?) She pointed to her purse. Then before I left, I mentioned, "La salvacion es por la gracia de Dios... no por obras." And I explained that in english, that it is the gift of God by grace that we are saved, and not by our works.

I left feeling joyful, because God answered my prayers. I also saw Charles, my homeless friend, and Smitty, who always asks me for things now at McDonalds. I don't have the love apart from God's grace working it in me through Christ, but God called me to evangelism, and I am so thankful that He raised up Matt as my fellow worker in the field. Usually I don't like to go alone. I share all this to encourage you all in your prayers and love toward the perishing. I order a lot of good resources to give to people from these places:
www.mountzion.org (Tracts and booklets - "The Poor Huckster" and "Greasy the Robber" are classic stories to give to those interested).
www.wtsbooks.com (inexpensive Bibles and pocket NT's in ESV).
www.ibsdirect.com (gospel of John in English and Spanish, and sometimes other languages).

This is grace abounding from York to Gap, Pennsylvania. Grace to you (Ephesians 6:24).
(Please also listen to these songs: "Why?" and "Love Crucified")


14 comments:

Rita Martinez said...

"so I couldn't understand what they were saying, except for, "A Su nombre Gloria!" ("Glory to His name!" I'm not sure if I worded that right?)"
the exact translation is "to His name, Glory!" but its the same as "Glory to His name"(which in spanish would be Gloria a Su nombre..see? its the same thing)

"asked where she was from, and she said from the Dominican Republic."
I'm telling you we Dominicans are everywhere!
"So I said, "I have a friend who lives there!" (I hope you don't mind me mentioning you, Rita? Rita's blog is New Human Life)."
no its ok! I really don't mind.
I love these evangelism stories they truly are an encouragement, and food for the soul. I will be praying for the guys you witnessed to.

"I said what I always say in Spanish, "Tiene un Biblia?" (Do you have a Bible?)"
its a femenine word, the word Biblia. So it would be "Tiene una Biblia"
Generally when words in spanish end with an a, they are femenine words: example: Nevera (refrigerator). La nevera (the refrigerator), una nevera(a refrigerator). Hermana (sister), La hermana, una hermana.
Comida (food), La comida, una comida. Donde esta la comida?(Where is the food?, this question is a must! lol)
"Then before I left, I mentioned, "La salvación es por la gracia de Dios... no por obras."" wow, bold! but you never know.
did she say Amen?
Do you know John 3:16 in spanish yet?

Penn Tomassetti said...

Thank you for this help in Spanish, Rita! I really do think Spanish is fun to learn.

"I'm telling you we Dominicans are everywhere!"
I know what you mean... I've met others before. One pastor, who's name I can't remember, who was from the DR, once gave me his card, but now I don't know where it is. :( He was encouraging my friend Julian who had just become a Christian. Julian lives in South Texas not far from the gulf, and it was living with him for two weeks that got me interested in learning to speak Spanish. He taught me how to make “pico de guaio (gallo – not sure how to spell it)”.

I will not forget to say "una Biblia." Thanks for this.

I forgot to add, "solamente." I said to her, "La salvacion es por la gracia de Dios solamente... no por obras." :) She may have smiled a bit, but I don't know if she agreed or not. She didn't say "Amen."

I don't know John 3:16 yet, but I was practicing Ephesians 2:8-9 for a while. I can't remember it now.

Dios bendiga, Rita.

Rita Martinez said...

"Thank you for this help in Spanish, Rita! I really do think Spanish is fun to learn." anytime! :D that's the right attitude if you want to learn.


"He taught me how to make “pico de guaio (gallo – not sure how to spell it)”.
Pico de Gallo...love it! specially in my homemade tacos!


"She may have smiled a bit, but I don't know if she agreed or not. She didn't say "Amen.""
No Amen after that? ah well.

"I don't know John 3:16 yet, but I was practicing Ephesians 2:8-9 for a while. I can't remember it now."
well let me know if you need some help, especially in that last word gloríe, the tiny dash above the i (or any vocal for that matter) is to tell you that you're going to emphasize that letter when saying the whole word. "...para que nadie se glorIe."

Dios bendiga, Rita. -> Amen! Dios te bendiga tambien! :)

semifl said...

The female voice in "Why" is Sarah Groves, who also has an amazing gift for songwriting and storytelling. I think her best album is called "All Right Here"; she often writes about the Christian experience, worship and sanctification. She made a wonderful documentary about her work with Katrina victims and her work with IJM in Africa. It is a fantastic story, if you ever see it:

http://www.nomadshow.com/thefilms.html

www.saragroves.com

penn (chief sinner) said...

Rita,
Gracias para la ayuda. I know what you mean about the accent marks, I have some books and CD's that teach me different things. It is a lot better learning from a real person though.

penn (chief sinner) said...

Sean, (I hope you don't mind me using your real name?):

Thanks for the info about Sarah Groves. I've heard some of her songs before and liked them. I'm not musically talented at all, and I don't even listen to music that often, but when I hear a song I really like, I usually want to hear it again. I actually don't own very many CDs, so I want to buy some that will be worth listening to. Perhaps I will check out more of Sarah Groves music and Michael Card's. Do you know any good music that is based on Scripture?

Rita Martinez said...

Semifl, you read my mind! I was wondering who the artists are, I've never heard of them before, at least not that I remember. Thanks for the link and info!

semifl said...

We listen to Sovereign Grace Music almost exclusively. There is a lot of scripture in it and great theology in their worship. You can listen to the latest releases online at:
www.sovereigngrace.com
(click on the little icon in the upper right: Sovereign Grace Radio)

you can buy their music at:
www.sovereigngracemusic.org

The Scribbling in the Sand album by MC is great! It is the CD version of the videos you have been posting.

Sarah Groves was more accoustic in her begginnings, now she has more of a folk/country flare. I have liked her evolution so far.

A great slow meditative CD is Kathy Troccoli's "Draw Me Close":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgQJVfUQLho

That's what's on at our house these days (unless you like kid's music; then Steve Green's "Hide 'Em In Your Heart I and II" are on almost constantly. our daughter gets a kick out of hearing her favorite song lyrics when we read Proverbs every morning. Little does she know it works the other way around!)

BTW: It's fine to use my name.

semifl said...

oh, and you're welcome, Rita!

Rita Martinez said...

"There is a lot of scripture in it and great theology in their worship."
I can vouch for that! they're great...Penn they have an album out called The Psalms you can listen to it online.

penn (chief sinner) said...

Rita,
could you tell me where to listen to those songs? I couldn't find them by searching.

Rita Martinez said...

go to http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/
and on the far right on top of the box that has the Blog updates, where it says: "Sovereign Grace Radio", click there. And a new window should pop up.

Stephanie said...

Those are beautiful songs! Thanks for sharing.

Penn Tomassetti said...

Stephanie,
Thanks for listening! I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Rita,
Sorry I asked you to list the website where you found the songs you mentioned, I see now that Sean already did that.

Sean,
Thanks for all the really helpful information on music. Sovereign Grace Ministries has some good music, I have one album by Steve and Vicki Cook, and I have a bunch of other songs. I actually know Doug Plank who is one of the pastors at the Lancaster SGM church. You may be familiar with some of his songs also.
I think I will order that CD by Micael Card called scribbling in the sand. It is $10 on his website, so I'll probably go ahead and buy it, it will be a good tool when I have passengers in my car, I can play some of those songs ;)

Thanks to all for commenting.
-Penn