July 18, 2015

Morning Good News at the Square

The good news. It was an ironic morning. I met up with a man who, in a certain aspect, resembles the governor of Pennsylvania. He is a dear Christian brother who wants others to know the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ. We grabbed some coffee and had an edifying conversation. Afterwards, we hit the street to talk to people and pass out tracks.

People are full of stories. While Tom spoke with a man who appeared to be in his seventies about his new experience in joining a church, I spoke with Luis, a quiet Puertoriqueño (Puerto Rican — Latin Americans don't refer to themselves as "Spanish" unless they are from Spain, in which case they are not Latin American, so it's best to just ask their heritage). We talked about everything from the gospel of God's grace (la buena nueva de la gracia de Dios) to family and children and church (familia, hijos, iglesia). He told me he reads la Biblia at home, so I took the opportunity to recommend a good church in the area for him to look into. God bless Luis!

There was a gentleman on the wall from SW Philadelphia. I can't remember his name, but he was a real nice guy and we talked. I should do better at remembering everyone's name.

Caleb came walking over pointing to his shirt. It said, "Play Hard and Pray Hard." He told us his basketball team, members of which were fired up for the gospel, was travelling for a tournament. He agreed to pray for us. The Biblical figure Caleb was a man of rock-solid faith. He wouldn't back down at the sight of Israel's tall enemies, but quieted the people's fears with words of encouragement (Numbers 13:30).

Tom had a sign on that wall with the question: "Are you going to heaven? Free test." So as people passed by, I asked them if they new the answer to that question. There was a young couple passing by who stopped, willing to hear the question. The young man answered, "I know I am going." He responded to my "why" question with, "Because I believe in Jesus." So I asked why he should be accepted by God as a believer in Jesus and not millions of other people who don't believe in Jesus; like Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others. He said that was too deep a question. Of course, I pointed out that it's no deeper than the thoughts we all have concerning these things. They both seemed very eager to hear me explain the answer. My response was along the lines that the good news in Romans 1–5 shows how sinners need to receive a perfect sacrifice of blood and righteousness from Christ, who provided it on the cross and empty tomb, to make us perfect and acceptable before God. We're all in the same boat. We're unworthy due to real guilt. God's holiness requires perfection and God's Son provides it. I pray they both dig deeper into such world-tilting matters.

Lastly, I talked to Angel. He came up in gold chains, covered in tats and a cigarette between his lips. If I could judge hearts, I'd say he is as great a man of faith as I  have met in a long time. His answer to the heaven question was totally Christ-centered. His testimony was that of a former gang-banging, multi-million dollar drug lord turned to Christ. He spent 15 years in prison and after reading the gospel in the Bible and meeting Christ, he became a testimony of God's power to save, speaking to youth all around. He asked me a question to test my knowledge of Scripture, and after that, we just encouraged one another with Bible stories and testimonies of God's grace. Angel in Greek is ἄγγελος meaning 'messenger.' May the Lord use Angel to continue spreading the message of Christ-exalting transformation!

I confess, I am a sinful man. Yesterday and today I spoke unkind words to family. I also confess my need for pardon and reformation through the cleansing blood of the risen Christ applied by the Holy Spirit. Thanks to Jesus Christ, I'm able to talk freely (and guilt-free) about the truth of the Bible, because it is a gift meant to be shared.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
(1 Corinthians 1:27-31 ESV)