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Sunday, May 14, 2006

...For Just such a time as this.

This is the story I told Greg at Planned Parenthood:

Esther 4:6-16 6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

9 Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."

12 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

This is the story we did in Sunday School today:

Acts 8:26-35: 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.

31 "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
"He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth."[e]

34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

In the Sunday School lesson, the wording went something like: Now Philip knew why he had been brought to this place at this time...

Why have you been brought to this place at this time? There are people living across the street that could very well be living across town or across the country. There are people working with you that could very well be working for another company, in another department, in another town, in another country. Heck, you could be working from home, but God has prevented it.

Do you believe that God is sovereign in salvation? Do you believe that He directs your path? Do you believe that He has saved you unto good works prepared in advance for you?

Read with me the Word of the Lord from Ezekiel 3:4-11
4 He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel- 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate. 8 But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. 9 I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house."

10 And he said to me, "Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says,' whether they listen or fail to listen."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My mind is like a seive: Only the chunks remain.

You might recall when I was struggling with how to love people who are displaying behaviours that are contrary to my notion of appropriate behaviour.

My mind is like a seive: Only the chunks remain. So God has to keep pouring that milk through until it turns into cottage cheese and some of it sticks.

I meet them all the time, these people who don't behave. They belong to God, and they belong to the prince of this world. They might be someone as distant as the television or internet. They might be a stranger on the street, a student at the local high school or university. They might be as close as my neighbors, co-workers, children, step-children or other reletives, distant or close.

Enough of that!

I learned a little something last night about how to react. It was a little milky, so much of it washed right through. Here's what stayed: Talk to God.

My kids and I were looking for a graphic to apply the finishing touch to Holly's graduation announcement. She decided on a symbol of wisdom. She has long been an enthusiast of greek mythology-- she is the one who introduced me to the story of Icarus, which might turn out to be ironic-- so she was looking for a graphic of Athena.

I was feeling uncomfortable with the idea of applying a goddess icon to her announcement, and I was trying to decide whether this was silly or not. Glen called and we talked. I mentioned it to him, and he acted like it was trivial either way, and I should do what I want. I hung up with him, and while Holly was in the other room, I talked it over with God. God gave me peace in that He is not afraid of Athena, and Holly is not a Christian. I spoke honestly to Holly about my discomfort with this. She assured me that she does not worship Athena.

For what it is worth, and I have done many things wrong, this was an opportunity to have a genuine conversation with my daughter. It was also an opportunity to have a Father-daughter conversation with my God.

The bottom line is the peace that He gave me over this, and I am looking at other instances in a different light.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Greg @ Planned Parenthood

Greg is an active police officer who was serving as a guard at Planned
Parenthood today, divorced from his own convictions in any way. He
claims Jesus as his Saviour, but right now he is on the job. Someone
else is paying him right now.

It blows my mind to be involved in something that God is doing.

...doesn't it you?

I don't want to spend too much time on this, so I'll just give a few highlights.

Greg was a new guard. I've never seen him, and neither has Carole. So I hollered "Hi" and settled in. He approached me.

His name is Greg. He likes the hymns "Nothing but the Blood" and "Old Rugged Cross." His grandmother used to take him to church. He has been a Christian for 7 years.

He is on the police force and sometimes policemen have to do what they don't like to do. (Not on PP payroll? Police are apparently commissioned for protective duties like this.)

When I left, David and Josh were still talking to him.

I believe that God is opening doors for us to proclaim the Gospel!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Not so much alone at Planned Parenthood

I have said that I have been at Planned Parenthood alone. I want to say that lately that has not been the case (except the first Thursday in April; that rainy day... see the Rain/Impatience/Regret post below). I want to express inexpressible emotions to the following people (I'm not sure they want their full names on the world wide web):

David (Anna's husband and Carver's dad)
Scott (Shannon's husband)
Lucas (off now to see his parents in Africa)
Josh (I think I got this name right--might be Jake, he is a friend of Lucas)
Andrew (plays stringed instruments in our praise band)
Josh (teaches Latin @ a certain state university and Greek @ REPC)
Bob (the official Match Maker of CGS)
Alex (assisted Bob this Thursday...will he be the next match?)
Jennifer (Steve's wife; she's a mother-to-be with moxey)
Carole (David's wife, and long time PP protester)
David (Carole's husband and Disc Jockey)

There was a guy last summer when I was coming later and staying in my van. He would ride up on his bike, lean it against a tree and either stand or kneel and pray for a short period of time. He always came alone after the others had gone.

Dave and Tim have been there, too; and Shauna (Eli's mom). My hero, Glen, has been there several times, too.

This week there was a retired policeman; I don't remember his name. He wasn't a Catholic, and although he said he had a Bible at home he sucked the words off the page when I let him read mine. When I talked about the wrath of God rising up, he thought I was talking about "Left Behind."

(I'm only there for one hour each Thursday, so I can only say who is there when I am.)

God gave Carole a transition into a new house and bookkeeping blues in order to prevent her from going to Planned Parenthood as she thought she ought...was this to give me some alone-with-God-at-Planned-Parenthood-time for seasoning? Sorry, Carole.

I hope I didn't forget anyone, and if I do, let me know.

I have often thought that from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm on Thurdays the killing continues, but there is no one proclaimiing God's Word of whom I am aware.

Another thing that ocurred to me: A couple of Tuesdays ago, there was a national wear-an-anti-abortion-t-shirt day (Christ Centered Pro-Life link on the sidebar for shirts) and Carole asked if people would come to PP and stand with her. Apparently on Tuesdays, women come in for their screening. They were coming in by the car-load! I went during the non-peak time (my lunch break 10 - 11am) and was able to talk to someone that day (Sarah; just there to support a friend; goes to ECC). She was very curious about why I was there, since I was (can you guess) all alone. On Tuesdays there are no people on the sidewalk, but the parking lot is very busy.

Please, if I have forgotten anyone, and you are him/her or if you know their names, then leave a comment here and I will edit this post to include them. Also, if you are on this list and want to boldly include your full name, let me know. Conversly, if you want your name removed, let me know.

It is encouraging to stand with Christian brothers and proclaim the Word of God in this dark world. It is not gratitude I want to express, for it is not my place. It is I think fellowship, or the Tie that Binds that wells up within me.

Erica Said...

Re: Gary, Evangelism, God and our words

Erica said...
I think what was said was what was meant to be said. God's in control. If our words made him commit his life to Christ, where would our trust be? In our own words? We must trust Him. You spoke to him about the first thing we must realize before salvation. Let God do the work.
5/04/2006 9:51 PM

I sometimes spend long periods of time going over and over conversations in my mind. Mostly I listen to the really sharp answers and come-backs I could have made. When it comes to being Christ's witness, or evangelizing, I think of the things I should have said, but couldn't think of at the time.

I thank God for faithful sisters who will help me to see the hand of God, reminding me of my God's great power.

When we started having mid-week evening Bible studies last year, we were talking about this and Joyce said that probably God did not have anything for me to say at the time, because He did not give me the words.

Whoa! I had never thought of that! On the one hand, that could be used as a huge cop-out. "Oh, God didn't give me any words, so I don't have to say anything."..really meaning, "I'm too chicken to say anything, and I don't want to offend anyone, and, that's just not my thing." On the other hand, Scripture backs this up. If I'm out there, making myself available, in obedience engaging people in discussions, well grounded and studied in Scripture, and God constricts my throat, then, He was stopping me from spouting off with my own words.

I was going on I Peter 3:15: "15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."

Joyce, however was going on what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:18 - 20: "18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."

I could say that Gary wasn't a governor or king, but then in Luke 12:11 & 12, Jesus put it this way:  11 "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

Gary was in a position, in a sense, of authority.

All of this makes me think deeply about this business of speaking. Why sometimes, does my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, and my heart hammer so hard and fast that I can't hear myself think? It this the Lord shutting my mouth against my own words, or is it simply the fear of man. Only recently have I had words of God come out of my mouth without me planning them (Thanks be to God!) and that was at Planned Parenthood.

Remember Hannah, who for a long time longed for a child. God could have opened her womb at any time. In His perfect wisdom, He perfected her prayer through waiting. Moses, could not go straight from the Pharoah's palace to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but God perfected him. God could have given Abraham his promised son at anytime, but waited so that Abraham fully trusted Him through waiting, and stumbling.

I would think my own words clever if I were to be an effective witness. I would think I am a saviour if I were to prevent an abortion, lead someone to the Lord, or anything else.

So God has had me at Planned Parenthood, where the battle line are drawn and sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden. He has had me there with my throat constricted and unable to talk, alone sometimes, quietly reading Scripture, and generally feeling like I don't know why I'm there and what I'm doing... Only knowing that He has called me there.

In my weakness, His strength is perfected. I am totally dependent on Him. Now I read Scripture more boldly, and stand firm as cars drive around me. But, I still know that I look like a fool, and it is not my boldness, but boldness in Christ.

Finally He gave me words, and I think, "I'm cool...Yah!" So then he puts me out there alone in the rain again. Then I realize anew that it is He who has the whole world and the hearts of men in His hands.

I Peter 4:10-11 "10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

Also, to fill out the previously cited passage:
I Peter 3:15-17 "15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Gary G @ Planned Parenthood

A new guard at Planned Parenthood today.

His name is Gary and I think his last name starts with a G. His is retiring from law enforcement and he is just starting up in the private sector. Today was his first day at Planned Parenthood, because someone called in sick.

(There is nowhere we can flee from your spirit Oh Lord. You have sovereignty over even microbes!)

He has no opinion on or off the record regarding abortion, he just wants everybody to remain safe.

(Gary, everyone will not remain safe here today; people will die here today.)

He "knows" Jesus and he is certain that Jesus has an opinion about "this."

(Gary said that without a hint of a shudder.)

Gary says he is not a bad person, and he seemed uncomfortable when I told him I am, and that I have been forgiven. He wasn't going to agree that I am bad.

Dear God,
You who alone have made this man, and know his heart. I pray that you would use the feeble words of your servant and turn Gary's heart from stone to flesh. Make him painfully aware of his depravity and grant him your faith and repentance.
In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ,

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Evangelism: To Do or not To Do

I have tried to rewind the discussion of last week's Bible study to determine how we came to discuss evangelism...

...Were we diverted by our efforts to protect our idols from exposure by reviewing the idols of the culture in which we live? Thanks be to God, who is able to do more than we would ever ask or imagine! As we attempted to cover our idols, He used our attempt to expose another idol: Fear of Man (aka: Pride).

Only in Scripture do I see the admonition to live the life of a gentle and quiet spirit so that they may be won without words. Only in Scripture do I see the admonition to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

Nowhere in Scripture do I see either examples of or commands to keep our mouths shut in order to witness. The shining light is not to the exclusion of proclaiming, verbally, God's truth. The gentle and quiet spirit passage actually does tell the wife of an unbelieving husband to keep her mouth shut, but that is pretty specific.

I don't know about anyone else, but I can find more excuses on my own to keep my mouth shut, and generally need a kick in the butt to get me going. I think that Jesus called this being ashamed of Him before man, and said of that person (me) that He, then would be ashamed of him before His Father.

A dear sister told about when she was a new Christian and she was so filled with the joy of her Savior that from a certain perspective, she might have been seen as "overly zealous". She talked her friend's ear off until her friend didn't want to hear any more. We feel like a fool, and as we look back, we think, " how foolish I was, how could I have behaved so foolishly!" But through whose eyes are we seeing this? Not through the eyes of Christ, I think, but through the eyes of flesh. Would not Jesus have looked at His servant lovingly to see her talking so foolishly to her friend? And wasn't it the Sword of the Spirit who divided her and her friend, causing her friend to all the more vehemently reject the message, and the messenger with it? Would our sister also have taken credit for it if her friend had received with joy the message of salvation and kissed the Son? No, then why would she take the credit for the rejection of the Precious Blood of Jesus?

If anyone understands the fear of man, it is I.

We also need to guard our hearts against pride. It is not to hear our own words or to acheive quotas or goals that we do this; although, I believe He will even use this, while also disciplining His arrogant servant. It is out of obedience to our Master. He calls us to it, and will enable us to do it. He calls us to sow the seed. We need to trust Him to make it grow, or not.