Wednesday, September 30, 2009

THE CROSS AT YOM KIPPUR

Yom Kippur , also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for religious Jews.
Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days.


I have a burden for people from all walks of life, 'religious' or not. A concern for the state of their souls and their eternal destiny. I must confess, however, that I carry a special burden in my heart for those of the Jewish faith. If you are a genuine Christian, the reasons should be obvious.

Monday past was Yom Kippur.

And as a harbinger of God's Word, I felt I had a responsibility to do something, no matter how small, to bring a reminding awareness of their eternal shortcoming via repentance without faith in the promised Messiah, Jesus. And that, as respectfully as possible. But how?

"The cross!" I thought to myself. "I could stand across the street from one of the local synagogues, stand and silently witness with my questioning cross as the religious observers of Yom Kippur leave their service." No sooner said, Kim and I were on our way with about one hour in our afternoon to do so.

The rain was light to heavy at times, but constant. No matter. We arrived at a nearby synagogue, I got my cross out of the car and stood across from where the devout observers of Yom Kippur were exiting the temple grounds by foot and car.

It was impossible for anyone not to see me. More importantly, the cross.

Ten minutes into my stance, a car pulled up across the street with two well dressed men inside. The driver rolled down his window and took some pictures of me and then they both got out of their car and made their way to the fool with the cross.

They were cordial in their greeting and friendly in their demeanor. But they had concerns. I can't say I blame them. If the shoe were on the other foot, I most likely would have shared the same concerns.

One gentleman's name was Mitchell. The other, David. Kim was standing beside me.

The following is an edited transcription of our 10 minute discussion:

David: Hey! (In a friendly tone as they cross the street to confront me)

Paul: Hey, hi there!

Mitchell: Are you actually appealing to people coming out of synogogue, is that your point?

P: Well, this being Yom Kippur, the holy day of the Jewish year...yes, it's where I'm directing it. I carry this cross wherever I go.

D: Oh, you do?

P: Yeah, to various events and things like that, and downtown. It's a ministry that I have going. I'm a Christian, my name is Paul. (extending my hand)

D: I'm David

P: Hi David. Nice to meet you.

M: I'm Mitchell.

P: Hi Mitchell. Nice to meet you.

M: So you carry it (the cross) around with you everywhere, and go to synogogue?

P: I normally do my evangelism work downtown. And what this cross does is draw people to ask the obvious question, "Are you ready for what?" ...I try to get people to think about eternity, all people, including those who have the blood of Abraham flowing through their veins.

M: So are you worried you might offend some people here? On Yom Kippur?
P: Well the Bible says that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing", but the thing is I'm also here to offer good news to those who ask.

M: Right. Are you worried though you might, given the history of the church and Jews and what this Day symbolizes, that you might find some people here offended? I'm just wondering. And what the ministry says about purposely offending people.

P: Well I'm not here to purposely offend. Actually, I'm here because I love you. I'm here with compassion...

M: Yeah, sure, sure, compassion. But is it compassion when you know you're going to be, you know... there are many people here who are going to be saying, "What the heck?Our whole stay here, after our history of prostelitizing and forced conversion, here he comes on our holiest day?"

D: (to Mitchell) The other thing is, he's trying to start a diologue here, you know? I mean, this is the whole idea, it's provocative. It's that 'BUT', there's that 'BUT' there. That's what it's about!
P: Well, the question is, is that even with your repentence, are you really truly ready? If you were to die today, would you be ready to face God on Judgment Day to answer for every thought, word, and deed, according to the10 Commandments?

D: Well that's what we're doing here now.

P: Yeah, I understand Yom Kippur, but the Bible goes on to say in the New Testament that it is only by repentence AND faith in Christ, that we can be saved and go to heaven.

M: Yeah, these people are still working on the old one. (OT)

P: Yeah I know. Except that the promised Messiah in Isaiah Chapter 53, really shows that the Messiah has already come and...

D: You know, I watched "The Last Temptation of Christ" last week, on Rosh Hashanah. I watched it.

M: Really?

D: It was really something, really something.

P: It's not biblical though.

M: Have yourself a great day, but I think that you need to be aware that most people leaving here aren't going to be as charitable as us to come here to talk to you! Most would be very, very upset.

P: Oh I understand that. And for anyone who does come here to talk, I offer hope and...

M: Do you not think, you can carry it around town, and no one will bother you, but to do it outside of synogogue?

K: Oh, wait! You didn't see him at the Gay Pride parade!

M: Yeah! THAT would be another inappropriate place!

K: Oh no, it was very good...

P: My approach is motivated by love.

D: Yeah.

P: The thing is, I am no better than you, no better than any other sinner, none whatsoever. And I am amazed that God sent his Son to die for ME, a wretched sinner like ME! He was the perfect Lamb, He shed his blood for me. That He was my substitute on that cross. The wrath that God poured out on his own Son should have been poured on me. By grace we are saved, undeserved favor. I don't deserve to go to heaven when I die because of my sins, because I've broken God's 10 Commandments, every one of them a million times over! So then...

D: Every one of them?!

P: Every one.

D: And that often?!

P: I've lied, I've stolen...

M: Have you murdered?

K: Think about it. If you, in your mind, ever hated someone, ever, that's murder (in the eyes of God).

P: In our heart, God looks at the motive.

D: It was nice chatting with you Paul, and I believe what you are doing is...

P: From my heart.

D: My advice to you is by positioning yourself right here is actually an intrusion in a faith, where people have been moving forward. I realize you are not on the property, but I think you may be creating, you may be inadvertantly making people feel uncomfortable even though you didn't intend to, because where they've been. They've been talking about the martyrology and the history of oppression and all those things and they are at a very vulnerable place. So I appreciate that you want to bring your message to everyone and I think that's a good thing, but positioning yourself right here as a kind of a billboard, where people are coming out, it's a bit of an intrusion in their space, I think it may be not the best place. It's an intrusion on their messiah, and basically it's an insult.
P: Well, I have to think of that everywhere I go because, like I said, the message of the cross is offensive. It takes away people's pride. It takes away people's concept that they can make it to heaven based on their good works; the fact that their good works will outweigh their sins. But in the book of Isaiah, it says that "all your righteous acts are like filthy rags". They don't mean a thing, you know?

D: No, I understand, because I understand, that what you do is by nature an intrusion, and an intelligent one. But let's say, pretend you were at the Academy Awards and someone was busy getting their award and you were to go up onstage while they were making their speech, and do your thing, it would be kind of rude?

P: Yes, well, I would see your point if I was on temple property,but the fact is I'm on city property.

D: You have the right.

P: And freedom of speech.

D: You have the right.

P: Right.

D: You know the thing that happened with the Danish cartoons?

P: Sure do.

D: I think that the offense of that was they absolutely had the right to do those cartoons depicting Mohammed, but just because you CAN do something doesn't mean that you SHOULD do it. There's a lot of sensitive wisdom in it.

P: Well, what drives me is what Jesus said...

D: Well if this is a legal issue about where you're standing, of course you're free to do it, but what I'm saying is once you recognize what's possible, once we can do anything, what would we choose to do? That's what I'm asking.

P: My Jewish Messiah, Jesus, said that "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." THAT is what drives me. I want to reach everybody I possibly can to share the good news of Christ.

D: And you figure that the potential of that overweighs the potential...

P: Yes, it trumps it.

D: Okay, fair enough. And you're thinking about it. You're being conscious about it.

P: My obedience is to God.

D: You're being conscious about it and that's all I'm asking, that you think, that you be conscious of it. Okay?

P: Yeah, I am. David, God bless you. Shalom.

D: Okay, bye. Nice to meet you.
------------------------------------------
Mitchell had already excused himself the conversation due to the fact he was getting soaked from the rain. David stayed a while longer to drive home his point that he had no problem with what I was doing, but it was where I was doing it and when.

I was hoping to launch into a straightforward presentation of the gospel without interruption but the rain was not making this an easy thing. So be it. What was said was said.

After David left, I just bunkered down and stood where I was for a while longer as car after car, temple congregants and other pedestrians continued to pass by, taking into view (and hopefully, consideration) the question on the cross "But Are You Ready?".
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everone who believes: first for the Jew and then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

Friday, September 25, 2009

CROSS ENCOUNTERS OF THE ONLY KIND

You've never shared the gospel with strangers on the street before, but you want to.

But, how do you approach strangers on the sidewalk whose last thing on their minds is the gospel? How do you break the ice to get a gospel conversation going?

Good news: you don't have to be the one to do so!

Let them be the ones to approach you. Let them be the ones to break the ice.

How? Easy.

Stand on a street corner with a homemade "Are You Ready" cross. They will approach you. They will start the conversation by asking the obvious question: "Ready for what?".

"Eternity." is your response. "If you were to die today, would you be ready to face God on Judgment Day to give an account for every thought, word and deed during your lifetime here on earth? Are you ready?"

Done! The ice is broken. A conversation has begun and you are poised and ready to present them with the Law and the Gospel.

God brings the very people He has determined who are in line to hear the good news to you. It's really that simple! The onus has been put on the stranger to approach YOU!

Watch as James, my gospel giving partner last week, and I work a couple of evenings in the market area of downtown Ottawa. Watch how many people are drawn to us by the questioning cross. Watch how busy we get witnessing to two separate individuals or groups at the same time.

Then be pleasantly surprised of what you learn of James in the last minute of this video.

I pray this will be a source of encouragement for those who have a burning desire to give the gospel to people on the street but are not sure how to begin.



Here is a short tutorial on how to make your own "Are You Ready" cross for you evangelizing ease.


Go for it!


Monday, September 21, 2009

CROSS WITNESSING AT 4,245 PEOPLE PER HOUR

Fellow street evangelist and originator of the "Are You Ready" cross, Tony Miano, recently went to do what he does often in his home area in Southern California: stand on a street corner holding his cross for an hour or two at a time while cars and pedestrians pass by.

Tony produced and posted on his blogsite today a 7 and a half minute video of himself doing so, with a bite from one of Paul Washer's powerful sermons regarding the true meaning of the cross of Christ on the accompanying soundtrack.

The sermon is awesome and well worth the listen. That being said, what Paul Washer sermon isn't?

But what about the visuals? It's just 7.5 minutes of a guy with a cross with a question on it standing on the corner of a busy intersection as cars from all points go whizzing by.

"An excercise in futility!", one may think.

But it's what God sees, that we don't see, that's important to consider in this excercise which is: what's goes on in the hearts and minds of the people in the passing cars who spot the cross, the question and the fool.

We don't remember the mundane everyday things we see when we're going from Point A to Point B in our cars. But we do remember the unusual things and make mention about them or think about them at some point later in the day, do we not? I do.

But is the effort worth it? Well, check this out and see:

Tony's video only shows 7.5 minutes of however long he stood at the intersection with the cross. I watched the video a second time to count the number of cars that passed by in that time frame. (Yes, I do have a life. I was just curious about this.)

And in those 7.5 minutes, a total of 377 cars drove by via the 4 corners of the intersection.

Realistically, let's say inside, there are on average 1.5 people per car. If so, then in those 7.5 minutes on the video, a rounded number of 566 people saw Tony and read the question on the cross.

If Tony stood on that corner for 60 minutes (which he probably did) with an average of 566 people passing by per 7.5 minutes, then, let's seeeee...tickety, tickety, tick...ding!!

At grand total of 4,528 people drove home with something to think about!

Tony's work is done. From that point on the Holy Spirit continues His work in the hearts and minds of the passing motorists.

Because the sight of a man on a street corner holding a cross with the question "Are You Ready" is rather unusual, I believe many of those who saw this unusual sight talked to someone about it later and maybe even went to bed thinking about it that night.

For some, a seed may have been planted. For others, a watering of a an earlier seed planting took place. And, yet, for some others still, what they saw might be the the very thing that God uses to bring sinners under conviction and drive them to their knees in repentance and faith in Christ for their eternal salvation, once and for all!

Think of that while you watch the video. Listen carefully to Washer's message.

But don't bother counting the cars. As much as you wanted to, it has already been taken care of.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

THE CROSS THE MODERN PREACHERS PUT IN THE BACK - PAUL WASHER

Speaking of the cross...

Anybody foolish enough to hit the streets this weekend and tell people the truth?

HT: Lane Chaplin

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A CROSS, A QUESTION AND A FOOL

If you are foolish (pridefully challenged) enough to stand on a street corner with a questioning cross and you are "prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (2 Tim 4:5), then you can let the cross do the work of bringing the inquiring hearts to you to ask the inevitable question and open the door to gospel conversations.

Nothing could be easier!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

Carter Conlon, of Times Square Church in Manhattan, New York, preached this stirring message on the first Sunday following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

I hear this as an urgent message to stir genuine Christians to run from out of their comfort zone and into the danger zone (the streets, perhaps?) as many police officers and firefighters did at their own peril on that terrible day, and warn people to repent and flee from false teachers whose doctrines will only lead them to an eternal firey death.

That was eight years ago. The message is no less important today.



Jesus said:

"Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty (worse sinners) than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13:4-5)


HT: Bravehearted Gospel

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SAVED! - WITH NO THANKS TO YOU, CHRISTIAN

I am eternally grateful that a couple of Christian men, who crossed my path almost ten years ago, loved me and cared for me enough to share the truth of the saving gospel of Jesus with me, no matter how I might have reacted against them (and I did) or thought of them.

Up to that point in my life I had not ever been told the truth of God's grace and mercy made available only through the substitutionary, sacrificial work of Christ on the cross for the atonement of my sins.

I had never been given a gospel tract on the street. I had never been stopped to be engaged in a gospel conversation on the street. I had never seen or heard an open air preacher preaching the gospel on the street.

I "did church" here and there in my life and did churchy, religious things. Had anyone asked if I was a Christian, I would have responded with an emphatic "Yes!"

But now I know that had I died in my churchy lifestyle, I would have stood before God on Judgment Day clothed in the sinful self-righteousness of ME instead of the perfect righteousness of CHRIST.

And I would have gone to hell...forever.

As I said, I am grateful for the two men who made the effort to share the truth of salvation through Christ with me almost a decade ago. But I know there had to have been genuine Christians around in this city long before that.

Question is: Where were they and why were they keeping the truth of the gospel of Christ to themselves?

As we see in this short video, I'm not the only one who was (and still is) wondering:



If you are a genuine Christian, then the following is for you:

"GO into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)

Share the Good News of salvation through Christ with someone today! It may be that person's first and last opportunity before they leave this earth.

Judgment Day will be a day too late for that person to say "I'm sorry!"


HT: Living Waters

Friday, September 4, 2009

A CROSS. THE GAY PRIDE PARADE.

Last Sunday, Kim and I, along with our friend, George, went to the Ottawa gay pride parade to give the good news of God's love, mercy and grace through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

As I open aired, George stood by my side with the questioning cross. Many eyes were laid upon it. Some people were compelled to take photos of him while he stood there with the cross.

Despite the expected noise, interruptions and jeers from some in the crowd, many others were drawn to listen with interest as the gospel was being preached. As I am one to be easily distracted, God gave me the grace to persevere and press on in the preaching of His Word.

You can well imagine the living display of fallen man's depravity being celebrated and paraded at such an event. There are no images of such in this presentation.

(Note: unfortunately, due to technical difficulties with our video camera, the video portion of this presentation is only partial and not of good quality.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

PLEASE DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET

Kim and I went out to give the gospel last Sunday at the Ottawa gay pride parade. I was hoping to have a report of our venture by Tuesday but have been dealing with two problems that have caused a delay.


1): Our video camera was inadvertantly set on very low resolution and it also was unexpectedly zorching out every minute or so while Kim was trying to shoot. What we have to show is of poor quality and short as it konked out for good in the middle of my open air.


2) Another unexpected battle as of late has been with my movie program. It is causing me all kinds of grief, forcing me to tackle Plan B, which I have yet to impliment as working full time kind of gets in the way of things.


I hope to have this probelm resolved and a report up by this weekend.


Ho, hum. Technology: great when it works, but...