Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Suggested Reading for the Week of March 27 -- Genesis 3

Genesis 3 is titled in most Bibles as "The Fall"--and rightly so.

In Genesis 3 we see the terrible scene in which sin and death entered the world. But we also see the first prophecy of the defeat of sin and death and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. When addressing the serpent, God said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heal" (Gen. 3:15).

If you choose to preach the Law and the Gospel after reading Genesis 3 in the open-air, there are several transitions you can use.

1) Original Sin -- Talk to the crowd about how every man, woman, and child is born with a sin nature.

2) The Human Conscience -- "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil'" (Gen. 3:22a). Talk to the crowd about how God has given every person a conscience, writing His Holy Law on their hearts.

3) The Cross -- As previously mentioned, there is a Messianic prophecy in this chapter (Gen. 3:15). It can serve as a wonderful springboard for the cross of Christ and his defeat of sin, death, and Satan.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you. May the Lord bless your efforts this weekend as you read His Word, in the open-air.

Project Ezra - Mission Good Friday and Our One-year Anniversary!

Project Ezra
Mission Good Friday
Matthew 26-28

Just under a year ago, the message below was sent out by Tony Miano, and the groundwork was laid for what has become Project Ezra.

The mission is simple and can be accomplished anywhere.

This is a call to all Christians everywhere, whether or not you are a street evangelist.

Find a public place--preferably a place where people gather (the size of the crowd matters not). Climb atop a box. Open your Bible. And read Matthew 26-28 (that's right: all of it) aloud, using the voice the Good Lord gave you.

If you have never open-air preached, and you don't think you are ready to do so, then simply read the text with love in your heart--love for God and love for lost people. The Scriptures can speak for themselves. The Word of God is true, powerful, and entirely sufficient.

Open-air preachers: Read Matthew 26-28 as your springboard for heralding the Law and the Gospel.

Join me in bringing Good Friday to the people who likely will not darken the door of your church.

Think of it. Men and women around the world, in large cities and small towns, reading the Gospel to the lost.

Who's with me?!

We are now approaching the one-year anniversary of Project Ezra, and the challenge is the same. The book of Hebrews says:

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

So let’s go out, and let the living and active word of God pierce the hearts of those in our community this Good Friday. If you are an active member of Project Ezra, or even if you are not, and challenge you not only to participate in our anniversary reading, but to invite others to participate with you. We will be reading three chapters, and it is easy to divide them up so multiple people can read. Also, please post this on your social networking profiles and email it to friends and family, and let’s let more believers know about Project Ezra. More and more, people are falling away from the Church. Inviting people to church is fine, but what if they won’t come? Then we need to go to them! The book of Romans says:

Romans 10:14 - How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

It is possible that through the reading of God’s word, and through public evangelism, you or I may have the amazing privilege of being the instrument God uses to bring the gospel to someone for the very first time, or be the encouragement he uses to draw someone to repentance and faith. Why would you not want to be part of that? What could be more joyous?

So start praying and preparing now. I will have the event up on the Project Ezra Facebook page a little later today and will be making up a Google map for the event, so be sure to sign up for the event and post your location on the event wall. I will also be taking down the current Mapping Project page soon. I will try to repost all the pictures to the main page first. Try to post all your pictures to the main page photo album in the future. Following the event I will change the Mission Good Friday event into the 2010 Mapping event so you don’t have to enter your information into both to show you are still participating. Let’s see how many people we can get to participate in our anniversary event and start into our second year strong. Thanks so much to all of you for being part of Project Ezra, and please pray that the group will continue to make an impact for the glory of God and the edification of his saints.

All for His glory!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Suggested readings for week of March 20th - Luke 12

Project Ezra
Suggested readings for week of March 20th
Luke 12

Hello Project Ezra brothers and sisters. I hope you have had a wonderful week serving and loving the Lord! I am actually pretty excited about the reading this week. The suggested reading is Luke 12, and is absolutely packed with springboards into the gospel. This is also my favorite outreach weekend of the month for our local team (Norcal Seedsowers). Every 3rd Saturday of the month I take a group to witness in the bar and club section of our downtown area here in San Jose (Northern California). We are usually out from 9:30PM or 10PM to 12:30AM or 1AM in the morning. It makes it a little tougher to get up for church the next morning, but it is so worth it. We have had many amazing witnessing encounters down there, and surprisingly, many of the people we meet are very willing to talk. Of course, sometimes that is due to the abundance of alcohol in their system, so you do have to be careful. You might want to try this kind of outreach yourself, but be sure to keep a couple things in mind. First, this is NOT an outreach you want to bring your children to (unless they are grown), and this is NOT a type of outreach you should generally attempt solo, for safety reasons.

My plan for this reading is to use verses 4 and 5 as an anchor point and build my message from there. Indeed we should fear him who can cast both soul and body into hell. We know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and although fear should never be the ultimate aim of our message, it can be a strong motivator. We should not be looking to point a finger at people, although we should be forthright about sin, but we should encourage people, even plead with people, to examine themselves in light of scripture to see if they are in the faith. And it is very clear from scripture that those who are not right with God certainly have reason to fear.

Several sections of Luke 12 provide excellent contrasts that can illustrate this point well. Verses 8 and 9 discusses those who are unwilling to acknowledge Christ before men, and how he will not acknowledge them before God. There have certainly been times where I have failed to mention Christ due to concern for what others might think. There are many “secret Christians,” who would never think of “imposing” their views on someone else, believing their religious beliefs to be a personal thing. But God is a jealous God and clearly will not accept this. Those who are more worried about men’s opinions than God’s opinion certainly have reason to fear.

Verses 13 through 34 talk about idolatry, putting riches before God or completely in place of God. The Silicon Valley, where I live, is a world hub of technology, and this perfectly describes many of the people I meet. It’s interesting that some of the surrounding cities, such as San Francisco and Berkeley, are known for their antagonism toward the things of God, while in San Jose their seems to be more indifference. People here have mortgaged their souls for success and it has left them spiritually flat. However, God’s word is living and active, sharper that any two-edged sword, and no soul, no matter how dead, can hear it and not be impacted.

Verses 35-40 deal with another frequent response to the message of the gospel. It deals with those who think they have plenty of time to get right with God, and who think they can repent at the last minute. But we know, and we need to remind them, that none of us has been promised a tomorrow. Any of us could die at any time, and we only continue breathing minute to minute because it is God’s pleasure to allow us to do so. 150,000 people die every day. Every second two people die, and one of those seconds has our name attached to it. So remind people that death and eternity are imminent, and get them thinking about what comes next.

Finally, verses 57 through 59 talk about settling with the magistrate before we stand in court. Truly, each one of us, and every person who will hear us read the word, will have their day in court, and will have a debt due for their moral crimes. So use God’s law to show people how great their debt of sin truly is before a perfect, holy God, and how they will be required to pay every penny of that debt through punishment in hell. They perhaps they will chose to approach the magistrate and, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone, forever settle that debt and return to a right relationship with their creator.

I hope to see some more video and read some more accounts of your outreaches this week. I would love to add some material to the blog, and we have had some great stories in the past. Please consider posting yours. Thanks!

All for His glory!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Suggested readings for week of March 13th - Acts 2

Project Ezra
Suggested readings for week of March 13th
Acts 2

Hello all. We are in list 10 this week, and our suggested reading is Acts 2, one of the best know and most powerful passages in the bible. In this chapter two ideas really stood out for me. The first is the true and essential connection between the gospel and true reality, both in practice and in proclamation. So many professing Christians that I have talked to, who claim to believe the word of God and who claim to have a relationship with God that is meaningful to them, seem to keep that faith and that relationship stored away in a little box that they can take out when it’s profitable and convenient to them. It reminds me of a lyric from an old Steve Taylor song (for those of you old enough to remember him) called “It’s a Personal Thing.” One line says “I believe for the benefit of all mankind, in the total separation of church and mind.” I’m ashamed of how many times that line has described me personally. But the true Christian message not only should not be separated from our everyday life it CAN NOT be separated from our everyday life. If we have been saved the truth of the gospel should soak into and permeate every aspect of our life.

But this chapter does more than show believers, and especially Peter, living out his faith. It shows a connection between that faith and real historical events. Those who heard Peter speak first saw the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out on believers, and Peter appealed to this when he spoke to them. Peter didn’t just share a personal belief or feeling, he talked about actual facts that he had witnessed. He had seen the crucified and risen Christ. Now, even though those who hear us read the word and preach may not have seen miracles as the crowds around Peter did, they are, none the less, fully aware of the truth of the gospel. They may suppress it, but the word says they are without excuse, and we should appeal to that. Preach the truth of Christ in history as well as our heart. And, of course, use the law of God to spark people’s conscience and show them their need of the savior.

Secondly, although Peter saw God do a mighty work through his preaching, the bible does not show a man with delusions of grandeur. He was a simple man, a blue-collar worker, who was called by God and obeyed. If God chose to use a simple fisherman, he can certainly use any of us, and that should be a source of encouragement. We don’t have to be a theologian or pastor or gifted public speaker, although those are all good things. We simply need to be obedient to his call, to be a ready and useful tool in his hands, and watch to see the wonderful things he will do through us for his glory.

On another topic, I will be working with our local evangelism team, Norcal Seedsowers, with Calvary Chapel San Jose and with the Living Waters and Wretched Radio teams this weekend on the Transformed conference. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated. If you are unfamiliar with the conference, check out the links below and consider hosting one at your church.

All for His glory!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Suggested readings for week of March 6th

Project Ezra
Suggested readings for week of March 6th
Jeremiah 10

Hello Project Ezra! This week’s reading, and particularly the earlier portions, contrasts false gods with the true God, giving characteristics of both. It specifically mentions idols of other countries and cultures, idols made of gold and silver who have no power, in contrast with the true God who made the heavens and the earth. I believe it would be safe to say that whether you live here in the States, in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zeland, Asia or Africa (we have Project Ezra members in all those places) idolatry is epidemic and takes many forms. Foreign gods here seem to frequently be a sign of cultural diversity and tolerance, and many people will pick a religion more for it’s popularity and it’s trappings than for it’s truth. Faith systems like Buddhism and Wicca have become almost trendy, and it’s amazing the new surge of interest in Islam AFTER the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, likely due to the media bending over backwards to NOT blame Islam in general for the attacks, in the name of political correctness. All of these facts of course circle back to the question of what people are believing in to save them, and why? Just like the pieces of wood covered with gold or silver that are mentioned in Jeremiah 10, none of these belief systems can save. None can deal with our biggest problem, our sinful state before a holy God. So, ask people what they are depending on. An idol? The sayings of a man or woman who is now dead and gone? The prayers of a dead saint? Their own goodness? Or are they depending on the Living God, the one God who not only gave us his law but, knowing we would not be able to keep it, provided a solution in his own blood? I pray that is helpful

We are now coming close to a full year of Project Ezra. Those of you who have been with us from the beginning will remember Mission Good Friday, the first Project Ezra event conceived by Tony Miano. Well, we are now approaching Good Friday and Easter once again, and I’m praying this will be a time for a new surge of interest and participation in Project Ezra. As last year we will be reading Matthew chapters 26 through 28. I would encourage you to invite two people who have never participated before to join you and each read a chapter. I will post more information on the event soon and put up an event page, put you might want to start thinking about who to invite and talking to them now. The idea of reading or sharing the gospel aloud in public takes some getting used to, but I’m sure every one of us knows a couple of people who love the Lord but who have not been active in publicly sharing their faith. Talk to them, tell them about Project Ezra and what we do, and invite them to join you. You might be surprised who says yes!

All for His glory!