On the night before Halloween the Norcal Seedsowers, out local evangelism team, headed out to the streets of Downtown San Jose to share the gospel. For those of you not familiar, San Jose is about 45 minutes south of San Francisco in Northern California. San Jose, a city of about 1 million people, is the heart of the Silicon Valley. Many of the world's top technology companies, such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Cisco, Intel, and Ebay are located in San Jose or one of it's suburbs. Although there are not many large public gathering places, the downtown area, particularly on weekend nights like this one, can be very busy. We were able to share the gospel with many people via open air preaching and one on one conversations. I hope this video is an encouragement to you.
Thanks to Jared Duba of Depraved Wretch Design (also know as Jesus Disciple when he sings and writes Christian Hip-hop) for putting this video together. Be sure to check out his site when you get a chance.
Below is the text for a new tract I am having designed. I would love to get everyone's feedback and constructive criticism. I will be making the finished product available for sale (At Cost!) in the near future, and will, of course, be posting the proofs of the graphics prior to that. If you think you might be interested in getting some of these tracts, let me know. The more people who buy them, the less they will cost for everyone, since I can get quantity discounts.
The million dollar question: where will you go when you die? Everyone has an opinion on the subject. Some say heaven or hell, or even multiple levels of heaven, some say purgatory, some say paradise on earth or destruction, some say Nirvana, or enlightenment, and some say nothing. But SOMETHING is true about eternity, and although all these ideas could be wrong, there is no way they could all be right. You can be sure that all of us will be dead a lot longer than we will be alive, so it’s a good thing to think about now. After all, none of us are promised tomorrow.
The Bible says something specific is true about eternity. It says it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that, the judgment. But most people don’t think much about judgment very often, because they figure that if heaven exists, they are good enough to get in on their own merits. Does that describe you? Do you think you are good enough to go to heaven? Are you sure you are ready to stand before God?
Listen to what the Bible says about God. It says He is perfect and holy. It says He hates sin and that His eyes are too pure to look on evil. It says He is angry with the wicked every day. And it says that He is a just judge who must punish moral crimes, which the Bible calls sin. Have you committed any moral crimes?
Take a moment to look at the 10 Commandments. God gave them to us to act like a mirror, giving us a true reflection of how we compare with His perfect standard, provided we will look with a tender conscience. So ask yourself, have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something, even if it’s small? Have you ever used God’s name lightly or disrespectfully, or even in place of a curse word? God says that all thieves and liars will not inherit the kingdom of God, but will have their part in the lake of fire, and that He will not hold him guiltless who misuses His name.
But God will not only look at our actions. He even knows our thought life. Every impure thought and desire that crosses your mind is known to Him. Jesus said that anyone who looks with lust has committed adultery, and no adulterer will inherit the kingdom of God. He said that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and that no murderer has eternal life in him. God also said that anyone who breaks even one commandment is guilty of breaking them all, and like hitting a mirror with a hammer, it is impossible to break only a small piece of his law while leaving the rest intact. Jesus said to be perfect, as His heavenly father is perfect, and none of us comes close.
So here is our problem. God is a just judge who must punish moral crimes, and by God’s standard each and every one of us has committed more sins than we could count. The Bible says God will do right, and justice must be satisfied. But God is not only a just judge, but a loving father. The Bible says He is rich in mercy, not willing that any would perish, but that that all would come to repentance. But it doesn’t just say that God loved the world, but how He showed that love. He demonstrated his love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 2000 years ago Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, and without sin, came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then died a perfect death to pay the fine we couldn’t pay. When He was on the cross, it wasn’t just the nails he suffered from, but the wrath of God. God’s anger and hatred of sin was poured out on Jesus Christ so it wouldn’t have to be poured out on us. Then Jesus rose on the third day, proving His power over death, and He sat down at the right hand of God as our advocate, our lawyer for the Day of Judgment. God said there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood, and in His love, He was willing to shed His own son’s blood so that you could be forgiven. Jesus Christ, the creator, sustainer and Lord of all that exists, humbled Himself, took on human flesh, and chose to die for the sin of His creation. No other love story in history even comes close.
So what does that mean for you? It means there are two possibilities. You can repent of your sins and trust in Christ, as the Bible commands, so that Christ’s death will be the payment for your sins, or you can deny Him and reject Him, and pay for them yourself. Please, examine yourself, as the Bible says, to see if you are in the faith. See if you are bearing the fruit of the Spirit, which the Bible says shows you are trusting Christ. And if not, throw yourself on God’s mercy, confessing your sins, and trusting in Him alone. And when you do, the Bible says God is faithful and just and will forgive your sins and grant you everlasting life. Please, turn to Christ today, while He has given you time.
Recently I had the privilege of preaching the gospel open-air style across from the HP Pavilion in San Jose just before a Taylor Swift concert. I was joined by a couple brothers in Christ who I do outreach with regularly. I headed down with to the arena that day with a bit of trepidation. I had heard that another local street evangelism group was planning to be there as well, a group that could properly be categorized as “hellfire” preachers. This group seemed to fit well into the stereotype that jumps to most people’s minds when they think of street preachers: Anger, judgment, condemnation, an appearance of self-righteousness, etc.
I have struggled with my feelings on such preachers and their approach. On one side I appreciate their perseverance and their obedience to the gospel call. Far too few professing Christians are willing to even talk to a friend or pass out a gospel tract for fear of offending someone or having to deal with the pain of rejection, much less stand on a box and proclaim the gospel in public. But on the other side I think the majority of the time they do more harm than good. Preaching the gospel is likely to offend people under even the best of circumstances. But while Christians are called to preach the gospel regardless of the offense, it is not necessary or appropriate to increase that offense by our own bad behavior. I have seen the damage that can do, and, I am ashamed to say, have been the propagator of that type of damage more than once.
After we arrived and set up, my friend Stuart started his first round of stoplight preaching. For those not familiar with the concept of stoplight preaching, we set up a small ladder or box near a busy intersection in front of the arena, wait for people to gather at the red light waiting to cross, and then we share a gospel presentation with those waiting. It’s tricky, since you usually only have about two minutes to share the whole message and you want to make sure you hit all the relevant, biblical points. Sometimes I have found myself raising my voice to finish the message as the crowds are walking off. So Stuart got started and I walked across the street to listen to the man who was preaching there. There was only one member of the group on this day, which is unusual since there are usually several. I hadn’t met this man, so I simply stood and listened to his preaching.
As usual, my opinion was mixed. He was equipped with a megaphone and a large banner, though I don’t recall its exact words. He was walking up and down in front of those waiting to be let in for the concert. As expected his tone was caustic, and angry, with bellows of “BURN IN HELL!” at regular intervals. But there were biblical concepts touched on at least partially correctly. He talked about sin, and rebellion against God, facts that many people try very hard to ignore. He talked about repentance, and turning from sin, which is essential for true salvation. He talked about obedience to God’s law and being saved through Jesus, and salvation is indeed only possible through Jesus Christ. And he certainly talked about punishment in hell.
But something struck me that I hadn’t noticed before. I knew there was something frequently missing in this type of preaching, but I hadn’t seen it before.
It was the cross.
I heard a lot about sin, but nothing about the solution for sin. I heard a lot about what people should turn from, but not what they should turn to. Sure, Jesus was mentioned, but not the sacrifice he made, or what that meant. It sounded like “Jesus hates everything you are doing, so you need to follow him.” That’s a huge oversimplification, and to be fair, I have listened to several YouTube videos from this group since, and have heard them mention the cross, and repentance and faith, but they seem to do so almost as an afterthought.
While I am hardly the poster-boy for sound Biblical street preaching, since I’ve only been involved in this type of ministry for a couple years, I have had the privilege of training under and receiving advice from some amazing men of God, and their preaching has a pattern, or at least a framework: man’s sin, God’s justice, man’s inability to merit heaven through his works, God’s grace shown through Jesus death and resurrection, and salvation through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ alone. Different evangelist may approach things differently, have different styles, use different analogies, and the like. But those basics are the core of the gospel. If they are not preached, I don’t believe the gospel is being preached. And the cross needs to be at the center of that.
The cross is center-point of all of history, and this is particularly evident in Biblical history. Everything before it, in the Old Testament, looks forward to it, and everything in the Apostle’s writings looks back. It is the most amazing act of a God amazing enough to create our universe in all its complexity. It is at the same time the ultimate expression of God’s love and grace, and the ultimate expression of his intense hatred toward sin. “For God so loved the world” is more than an expression of why God sent Jesus Christ, but tells us how his love was expressed through him. God, in his love, did not just send us an example to follow, he sent us a sacrifice. God’s justice, his anger and wrath toward sin, had to be satisfied, and Jesus provided that satisfaction on the cross. He did not just make salvation possible, by giving us a fresh start (as is professed by many cults and apostate churches), but he made salvation actual, by paying our debt in full, so through repentance and trust we could be made the righteousness of Christ (see Romans 3).
I believe God has convicted me in this area recently, both in my public preaching and in my private life. I want to have the cross always at the forefront of my thoughts. I want to always be thinking about and praying to understand who Jesus Christ is and what he did for me, and how incredibly profound and special that is. The death and resurrection of Christ isn’t just something you need to understand to become a Christian so you can go on to other things. Jesus’ sacrifice for our justification is everything! Thanksgiving for that gift should propel our worship, deepen our prayer, give purpose and passion to our evangelism, and strengthen our desire for obedience.
So look to the cross. If you are a believer, consider the cross daily, and rejoice and God’s amazing love for us. When you share your faith (as all believers are called to do), preach the cross, who Christ is, and what he did. If you are a skeptic, or are depending on your own goodness to merit heaven, flee to the cross. Only in Jesus Christ, who paid the full penalty for our sin, is there hope of salvation and eternity in heaven. Repent of your sins and trust in him alone. And when you do, he will be faithful and just to forgive you your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Then you too will start to understand the true wonder of the cross, and you too will want to share it with everyone you meet.
The two episodes of the Storefront Saints show below are about Project Ezra, which I coordinate and write a blog for. The first describes an outing by Fresh Springs Baptist Church in Angleton TX, which hosts the Storefront Saints show and participates in Project Ezra every week. The second is an interview with me on what Project Ezra is and how it works. Hope you enjoy them!!
Welcome to my (semi)new blog. This blog, Man on the Street, has been a long time in coming. I chose that name because I am just that, a pretty average guy like a lot of other guys you might meet in your day-to-day life. I have a normal job, a mortgage, a lovely wife and two beautiful daughters, and a couple cats. But I am also a believer in and follower of Jesus Christ, and spend a good amount of time involved in public evangelism. I talk to people about the things of God, pass out gospel tracts (cards or pamphlets with a Christian salvation message) and read the bible and preach open-air style. So, I’m an evangelist.
Most of the time that word, “evangelist,” is attached to slightly greasy-looking, overly dramatic TV preachers with fancy sets, expensive suits, and an intense desire to separate you from your hard-earned money. That is, of course, a gross generalization, since there are many pastors on TV with integrity and the purest motives, and there is nothing wrong with asking for support if you need it. However, it’s that negative image that will be immediately conjured up in most people’s minds when I say “evangelist.” As for me, I have not desire for my own TV show. I don’t collect any money. I’m not looking specifically to draw people to my church, and wouldn’t benefit in any way if they did attend (I’m not a pastor). I just want to tell people about Jesus and his amazing gift of grace. And the best place to do that, where there are plenty of people willing to engage in a polite, if sometimes intense, conversation, is out on the streets.
But it seems like just about everybody has a blog these days. Even people’s dogs and cats have blogs! And, since I have no desire to be an intellectual or emotional exhibitionist, I have tried to avoid sharing a lot of personal opinions on a lot of subjects that don’t matter, or at least where my opinions don’t matter to anyone other than me, and maybe a few of my friends. Facebook has been more than sufficient to accomplish that up to this point, so this blog has sat mostly empty.
However, through a number of different experiences over the past few years, including running events, organizing evangelistic outreaches and being asked to write a weekly blog for the purpose of encouraging believers to read the word of God in public (projectezra.blogspot.com), I have seen potential value in sharing some of my thoughts, so I will now try to re-launch this blog. For instance, I have had people tell me they have been encouraged by my posts on other sites, and by participating in the activities I have been involved in. I may or may not be gifted in encouraging others, but I certainly have a desire to encourage others in their walk with God, and since I appear to have helped a few people, I would like to continue to do so in whatever way I can. So, hopefully this blog will be encouraging to some.
Second, I have found that the process of being forced to struggle with issues, whether for writing, or for personal evangelism, or for open-air preaching, has been an incredible growing experience for me. I have learned a lot about myself through study and self-reflection, but I think self-reflection should only be a starting point. How I see myself is often not nearly as important as how I come across in expressing myself to others. I have often asked people, after sharing the gospel with them, what their impression of the conversation was. This has generated some great feedback. So, I hope by sharing my thoughts and beliefs as transparently as possible there may be an additional opportunity for me, and those who chose to read and comment on this blog, to grow.
Finally, my greatest passion in life is to see God glorified by seeing souls saved through the proclamation of His gospel. Toward that end, I hope to use this blog to encourage people to think about claims of the bible. You may not believe in God at all, or you may disagree with my views of God and salvation. But please consider this: I may be wrong about eternity, but SOMETHING is true about eternity. Someday every one of us will die, and every one of us will be dead a lot longer than we were alive, so we need to make finding out what comes next a priority. If there is some kind of conscious existence after death, we need to know now so we can prepare for it. If there is no conscious existence after death, we need to know that too, so we can do everything possible to prolong our lives and squeeze every last drop of pleasure and fulfillment out of the time we have left. So this blog will talk about men and our relationship to God, about eternity in general, and about biblical evangelism in particular.
So, I will try to post every week or two, with the first post sometime this weekend. I hope you will be encouraged in your walk with the true God. I hope what I share will be cause for self-reflection and growth. And I pray that you, and I, will gain a better understanding about what is indeed true about eternity. I look forward to hearing your comments.
SOMETHING is true about eternity. You may believe reincarnation, paradise, Nirvana, Heaven or Hell, or nothing comes next, but SOMETHING is true, and the answer matters. This page is here to encourage you to ask yourself two questions about eternity:
1) What do you believe? 2) How do you know what you believe is true?
SOMETHING is true about eternity, and since we will all be dead a lot longer than we will be alive, we should take these questions seriously. Don't tell yourself truth is relative, because that would make that statement itself relative and meaningless. Not all beliefs are compatible. Many world views teach ideas that are in direct opposition to each other. If what someone believes doesn't matter, explain Hitler, the Inquisition and 9/11. There are important philosophical questions that need to be wrestled with, and I would encourage you to wrestle with them.
2000 years ago a man walked this earth who claimed to not only have the answer, but to be that answer. He said he was the way the truth and the life. He fulfilled prophecies written hundreds of years before his birth, silenced the critics of the day with his philosophical brilliance, healed the sick, raised the dead, and finally raised himself from the dead after predicting he would do so. Don't believe it? Look into it yourself with an open mind and you'll find it to be true. And if a man can walk off into eternity and come back to tell us what's there, that's a man we should listen to.
That man was Jesus. He message was to repent, or turn from our sins. What do you have to repent of? Have you lied? The Bible says all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. Stolen anything, regardless of the value? The Bible says no thief will inherit the kingdom of God. Looked with lust? Jesus said that was the same as adultery. Hated someone? Than God sees you as a murderer, and no murderer has eternal life in him. If THIS is what is true about eternity, judgment for our sins, and hell if we fall short of God's standards, we are all in trouble.
But Jesus said something else. He said no one could come to the Father except through him. Why Jesus? Because he died on the cross. When he was dying on the cross the wrath of God, which should have been poured out on us for our sins, was poured out on him instead. He paid our fine, our sin debt, so we could go free. Then he rose from the dead, proving he had power over death. Not only was this the most incredible miracle the world has ever seen, but the greatest act of love. If Jesus is who he claimed to be, God in the flesh, he could have stopped his death. But instead he chose to die to save those who rejected him, mocked him and nailed him to a cross.
So what should you do? Repent, or turn from your sins, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. Only he paid for your sins, so only he can save, if you trust in him. So let him pay the price for your sins, or you will have to pay it yourself. And remember, choosing not to make a choice or to put it off IS making a choice. This world is uncertain, and none of us is promised a tomorrow, so don't waste your time on things that don't matter. If you look with open eyes and an open heart, if you examine your conscience and see that you are a sinner, and examine the evidence of the fulfilled prophecy of the Bible and its historical reliability, you will discover, as I did, that THIS is what is true about eternity. I pray that you discover it soon.
I'm not a pastor, I don't do this for a living, and I don't want you to join my church or send me money. But your soul DOES matter, to God and because of the change he's made in my life, to me. So please, consider these things, talk to me if you have questions, and study these things yourself to see if they are true.