Joe and Alan were already out on Mill handing out tracts when we got there. We prayed and Tom started doing some Open Air trivia in order to gather a crowd. Some girl scouts stopped by, so Tom took the parents through the Good Person Test (GPT), but they were getting uncomfortable when they were being confronted with their own specific sins, and just wanted to get out of there.
They saw the opportunity when Tom asked them about the 7th Commandment and that Jesus said that lust would make a person guilty of adultery in the heart. They stated that they would not answer that question in front of their kids, who were probably around 5 or 6, and had already lost interest in the conversation anyway. It was completely over their heads, with no foul language for little ears to latch onto. But these moms were looking for an escape, so they took the opportunity and headed off down the street, claiming their moral high ground, which I found a little ironic out there. I can only imagine the inappropriate things those little kids would see and hear out on Mill Ave at night.
We had a few others stop by, but nothing real exciting. We handed out a few tracts and did some more Open Air. Our friendly neighborhood heckler, Melissa, stopped by to interrupt and teach us about her religion of Darwinian evolution, which she likes to refer to as "science."
As usual, that conversation proved to be pointless, as she sang a song to express her views. I told her that she had already sung this one to me, but she had to serenade me with it again anyway. And I hadn't brought my Paper Jamz drums out there on this night, or I could have added a little music. Or maybe drowned her out with the noise I make on that. A friend of hers eventually showed up and I guess they found something else to do
So, although Mill Ave was pretty dead, we did still have a lot of spiritual opposition out there.
Sometimes, when we pray before starting, I've heard people pray for "just one person" to come and hear the Gospel and be saved. I disagree with that one, I always want as many as the Lord will bring us, and if it happens to be just one, then fine, but I'm going to ask for more. But this night, I think we had just that one. We didn't find her until we left Mill Ave.
Tom and I decided to stop at a different place than we normally do. We went to a Denny's on Rural Rd for some hot chocolate. We were talking about why so many believers are quiet and don't share their faith. There are many times that I don't share, even though I know that I should. I'm basically quiet by nature and prefer to be left alone. That's not an excuse for me or anyone else, it just means people like me need to work harder at overcoming that in order to be obedient to the Lord.
So, at Tom's prodding, I told our waitress (Meeka) that we normally pray before a meal and asked if that was ok with her. She said, "Sure, of course it is", so I asked if there was anything we could pray for her about. She thought about it for a minute and then told us that she will be moving out of state soon, so we could pray for her safe trip and that everything goes well with getting established in a new home.
I've never really known how this is received by people, but we found out later that she was quite excited that we would care enough to ask if we could pray for her. Her mother, Nikki, was also working there and Meeka had told her about us.
Tom put a curved illusion tract on the table to start a conversation, and we were able to take her through the GPT. She admitted to lying (9th Commandment), stealing (8th), blaspheming (3rd) and lust (7th, seen as adultery in the heart by the words of Jesus in Matt 5:28). However, Meeka was having some trouble admitting that she'd be found guilty when standing before God. So, Tom explained that if we've broken the law, we would obviously be found guilty. Still, she went a different direction, claiming that God would forgive, which is quite common. He asked her if everyone would get into heaven then, no matter what they've done. She wasn't sure about that, so he said, "I'll give you one more analogy, and then you'll have to answer the question. If I were found guilty of breaking the law here, and went before a judge at Maricopa county, admitted my guilt and asked the judge to forgive me, could he just let me go if he was a just and righteous judge?"
At this, Meeka understood, and admitted that she would be found guilty. Tom asked her then, where would God have to send her, and she looked down and said, "Hell." He asked if that concerned her, and she said, "Yes! I don't want to go to hell!"
Then she had to go take care of a couple of customers, but was back later, and even pulled up a chair to talk with us further. She knew there had to be more, and she wanted to hear it.
She asked, "So am I just doomed then?"
This is where it all makes sense to someone. If you only tell them about God's love, they might come to Christ to be saved, but in the back of their mind, they will still see God as harsh and mean to send someone to hell for eternity. But if you use the Law as it was designed, it shows us our guilt, and that we all actually deserve to go to hell because we've rebelled and broken God's law.
Then a person can understand God's mercy - when we don't get what we deserve, and His grace - when we do get something that we don't deserve.
When they express their concern, knowing that they deserve to go to eternal torment in hell, then we have the opportunity to tell them of God's love and it will actually make sense. This is so often lacking in American churches today. We have "pastors" like Joel Osteen giving us a warm fuzzy message where God's wrath doesn't even make sense.
We explained what God had done, in His great love for us, to keep us from the hell that we all deserve for breaking His holy law.
He came down, lived a perfect life in Jesus Christ, then suffered and died on a cross, taking on the punishment that we deserve. Three days later, He rose again, defeating death forever. Now, all that remains for us to do is repent of our sins - turn away from them, hating the sins that we once loved, and then to trust in Jesus Christ alone for the payment of our sins. There is nothing we can do, we don't deserve it, we can't earn it, but everlasting life is available to us through Christ's work on the cross. Any good works that we do after that are solely out of gratitude to the loving God on undeserving sinners.
After we had talked with her for a while, I asked if she had a Bible. She said she used to, but didn't have one any more. Her mother wanted one as well, so I gave them each a pocket sized ESV. Please pray that they would both read and obey the Scripture and that the Lord would draw them close for their salvation to the glory of God. And pray for a safe move and getting established in their new home.
Soli Deo Gloria