Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A powerful lesson from ER?

Some of you may have seen Ray Comfort's recent email with a "A Powerful Lesson From ER". Of course, Ray does a great job of breaking it down.

The extended clip (see below) however adds a lot of understanding to where the writers of the show ultimately went with the concept, how they wrapped up the scene...and it paints a very telling picture of what contemporary culture thinks about "faith"! Is it any wonder that most churches dumb down the hard truths (a partial truth is a lie...isn't it?) when relativism has been so finely crafted, packaged and sold to the culture by the vast majority of the media outlets, newspapers, TV, movies - and even so many contemporary pastors/religious leaders and religions?

And why? Because those pastors don't want to "offend" anyone with the hard truth about what judgment, sin and ultimately grace and "atonement"...the true Gospel means.

The guy in the clip is a former prison doctor that has administered the "medication" to kill death row inmates during their executions...he's now dying of cancer and is looking for answers...

Here is the extended clip from ER.

What will it take to turn the tide of contemporary moral relativism in our culture and in our churches? We have to take hold of this one person at a time, we have to proclaim it to the spiritually dead in our churches, to the pastors and leaders in those churches...and we have to boldly proclaim it to the world one on one...one person at a time.

Remember the rich young ruler who fell to his knees before Jesus?
Matthew 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
What do you think most contemporary Christians and Pastors would tell the rich young ruler at this point? No doubt that most would simply tell him to say the sinner's prayer, that Jesus would fill the God shaped hole in his heart and that he would have lasting joy, peace and happiness.

How did Jesus respond? And how should we witness about the truth of the Gospel? By speaking to a person's conscience (God's law that is written on our hearts):
Matthew 10:18,19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.
And the ruler's response? He proclaimed his own goodness (though we know clearly from scripture that none of us are intrinsically good in God's eyes):
Matthew 10:20 "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
Jesus cut through this man's self perception of his own "goodness", his own self-righteousness by LOVINGLY pointing out to him that he had failed to keep the first commandment:
Matthew 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Matthew 10:22 At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
By the example of Jesus...is it loving to speak the hard clear truth of the Gospel? Or is it offensive, intolerant and simply not very "Christian" to show people their sinfulness, their unrighteousness before God through the lens of the His Moral Law?

And what does the New Testament say about the law?
Galatians 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

Romans 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
Read through the New Testament again for yourself, pay careful attention to the relationship between the Law, sin and righteousness. Believe it or don't...I didnt' write it!
"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself."
- Augustine.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

House Guest

We drive through a pretty rough part of town on the way to and from work (Nevada/Tejon and I-25). We often see folks begging with signs...or maybe just shuffling along the sidewalk. We've given a few people rides and shared the Gospel with them.

A few weeks ago there was a girl at the corner of Nevada and the I-25 off ramp, standing there with a sign that read "Pregnant and hungry". So we stopped and asked her if we could buy her some food. I'll call her "V".

She gladly hopped in the car and we asked a few questions to figure out how we could help her. She's 20 years old, pregnant (more on that later) and a bit strung out. Turns out she was staying in an apartment with a few other friends, including one other girl who was pregnant. We asked if we could take her to the grocery store and just buy them a bunch of food.

So...we headed to Safeway. This was the week that Heath Ledger had died, when the news came out I immediately prayed "God...please lead me into a conversation about the Gospel through Heath Ledger's death."

So we went through Safeway with her picking out a bunch of stuff they could eat in the tiny apartment. All the time I was asking God to give me a door to witness to her. I find out later that my wife was doing the same thing.

So - we are in the checkout line...V turns to me and says "Can you believe that Heath Ledger died this week?" Well...thank you God. So we chatted about Heath a few minutes and then I asked her "So...V...what do you think happens to us when we die?"

We got to share the Gospel with her for the next few minutes as we checked out and took her to the apartment they were in. My eyes well up with tears thinking back a few weeks to the conditions she and her friends were living in.

We helped them get the groceries in the place, chatted with them all for a few minutes - asked if we could pray with them. We all stood hand in hand and prayed for a few minutes. I left a copy of "One Heart Beat Away" with her and left my name and cell phone number written inside the cover.

Fast forward to three days ago (Wed evening).

I get a call in the evening on my cell phone, and it's V. She's desperate...she has a bus ticket to "home" in North Dakota but it doesn't leave until the following Tuesday. She's in a bad place...has shuffled to some townhouse with some people she barely knows and doesn't feel very safe. I thought for a few...thinking "well, we could put her up in a hotel - but she'd probably keep hanging around the same crowd - that wouldn't do a whole lot of good." I told her that if she was willing to trust us...that she can stay at our house until her bus leaves on Tuesday.

I talk to my wife...she says "Well...of course." Now...it's an oddball thing to invite a strung out homeless girl into your house for a few days. You have all these fears run through your head...you wonder what stuff to "put away" so it doesn't get stolen...what she might do to your kids...or at the least what she might say to them that wouldn't be "so good" for them. I had Dany call her back...we only gave her two rules. She couldn't bring any drugs with her and she had to smoke outside...she was cool with that.

We prayed quite a bit about it...and still didn't get a real sense of ease about it. But God kept reminding me that this crap we have is NOTHING, there's nothing we own that she could steal, break or destroy that would have any eternal significance anyways. I kept getting this image of me needing to give her/anyone anything that we own to serve them, love on them, protect them...even the clothes off my body if necessary.

Anyhow...so we picked her up on Thursday. Let's just say the place she had moved was no better than the apartment we had seen a few weeks before. Got her home, we had to jet to a Parent/Teacher conference so we left her with the in-laws (300ft from our house) to help cook dinner. On the way home we find out she was in the foster care system most of her life, her dad and her step-dad both sexually abused her...she's even prostituted herself out to live and get high. I am amazed at how much "living" someone can have gone through at such a young age.

She went in to work with Dany yesterday...hung out there and helped out as much as she could. Then Dany took her down to the police station for an appointment where she was picking up her "narc" money for helping the cops bust the prostitution ring she had worked for. Wow.

We get home last night...and as Dany and I were bedding down for the night, Dany asks me "Please, lets take some time to pray for V and for a real, heavy duty opportunity to dig back into the Gospel with her." We took some time...prayed fervently for it.

I remember drifting off to sleep at about 10pm.

Sometime in the middle of the night...I hear Dany moving around in our room...I ask "What's going on...?" She says "I'm talking to V". I drift back off to sleep praying...

I get the full story in the morning.

God woke Dany up at about midnight. Told her to get up and talk to V. Dany wrestled with it for a bit...saying "But...she's asleep..." God saying "Just get up."

Dany gets up...and the house is dark. She walks down the hallway and notices that V's door is open, but doesn't want to disturb her so she keeps the lights off. Dany looks around the house...goes into the kitchen and turns the light on in the kitchen, then walks back to V's room and realizes she's not in there.

Confused...she walks through the house again...looks out on the back porch and finds V out there. She's been having a rough night. She was on the phone with her (as we find out now) common law husband who is in North Dakota. She found out he's been cheating on her. We also find out she's not, nor never was pregnant - it was just a ruse to work people for money.

They chat outside for a bit, then come inside and talk for nearly two hours about life...and she gets a loving, heavy and convicting walk through the Gospel. She's reading through the book of John. She wants to know the truth...she desperately wants to be out of this social cycle of lies, deceit, drugs, alcohol, sex and sin.

Dany and I both want to offer her to stay here...she knows and we know that she'll just be right in the middle of all that junk if she goes to North Dakota. Dany is feeling lead not to offer her that until she's finished the book of John.

Pray for us all, especially for the Holy Spirit to cultivate the soil of V's heart and to draw V near