Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sermon on the Mount Saturday and Event Reports

Hello Project Ezra! As most of you know, Sermon on the Mount Saturday is this weekend, and we are praying many of you will be able to participate. We have a few dozen signed up now, but are praying for many more. The chapters are Matthew 5 through 7, so as usual for our larger readings, I would like to encourage you to divide up the reading and invite your believing friends and church family to join you. Many likely do not share their faith regularly, and most have probably never shared it publicly. This is a great opportunity to encourage them to step outside their comfort zone. If you have already signed up, please post the event info on your Facebook or other social media page, or email it to people you think might be interested. A link to the event page is below, along with our blog’s introduction and history page, for those new to Project Ezra.

As an additional encouragement, I have posted some pictures and event reports below, especially from Mission Good Friday, our last event. After you participate this time, please let us know how it went, and post pictures if you have them. If you can not participate, please pray for those that are. Any public evangelism is also spiritual warfare, and prayer support is very necessary. Thanks all, and I’m looking forward to your praise reports!

This is me (Dan), reading in downtown San Jose. This is one of my regular open-air spots. Although you can’t see it in the picture, I am facing a light rail station, a Starbucks, and a movie theater entrance, all situated along a very busy pedestrian walkway. John and Nancy Murphy, the founders of Norcal Seedsowers, our local evangelism team, where there as well, handing out tracts and talking to people who stopped to listen.

Here are a couple blog posts from brothers Allen Peek and Adam Gray, both long-time Project Ezra participants.

From Tim Rector: Myself and a brother from our church, Jeff Stone, were able to go to two public places in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada yesterday and read Matthew 26-28. We first read at a park, and then out front of City Hall in downtown Kitchener. Our pastor gave us a large cross that we had standing beside us. Pray for John, who listened to the gospel presentation afterward and showed conviction.

The YouTube video below is from Tony Miano, our group’s founder. He is reading and preaching near the North Hollywood Metro Station in the greater Los Angeles area, southern California.

From Anthony Merkel: With bad weather here in IL yesterday I decided to read Matthew 26-28 today. God gave us a wonderful sunny 68 degrees with a light wind. I used that wind to my advantage!! Not many people came out, really only my wife, kids, and sister in law Miranda to start with. Midway through 26, a lady walking home from the grocery store stopped and listened to the rest, after we talked a bit we left her with a gospel tract. There were a few people moving around the downtown outside the local bars who could hear the word of God echoing off the buildings, but they never came closer. Prasie God for his word and that one lady who stopped by. I am looking forward now to the Sermon on the Mount reading!

Remember, although it is great to have many people listening, and we pray for that, there may be one specific person God brought you out to preach to that day, as was likely the case with Anthony. There have been times our group has met at our usual Starbucks to go out and talk to people, and never made it more than 20 feet because God had someone He wanted us to talk to there. The important thing is not the number of tracts you can distribute, or how loud you can open-air preach, or that you have immediate and compelling answers for every question that is asked. The important thing is that you give every situation to God, praying for His wisdom and that He will be glorified in all that you do, and then step out in faith and enjoy the privilege of watching Him at work!

All for His glory,

Friday, May 20, 2011

True and False Prophecy

Hello Project Ezra! The focus of our reading will be a little different this week. We will be revisiting a couple chapters we have touched on in the past, and talking about the truth of the Bible as demonstrated in fulfilled prophecy. The primary reason we are doing so this week is the Judgment Day prediction of Harold Camping from Family Radio, who has stated that the Rapture will be occurring this Saturday, May 21st. However, having a few verses prepared regarding fulfilled prophecy is wise, even apart from specific end-time prophecies, so even if you don’t have to deal with Camping’s followers directly, the information should be profitable.

Harold Camping has been predicting the end of the world for several years now. It is likely that you may have seen a billboard, such as the one pictured below. There are dozen up in my area. It is also likely that you have found or been given literature regarding his organization and predictions, as I have. He has come to his conclusions regarding the Rapture and the destruction of the world based on an odd system of numerology and allegory, allowing him to prove virtually anything he chooses to. He claims all his beliefs are biblically based, but the verses he uses are ripped out of their context and pasted back together in an arbitrary manner solely for the purpose of proving his points. Consequently, he has strayed from the Bible not only in predicting the end of the world, but in other theological areas as well. For more details, take a look at the resource page put together by James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries, which includes a radio debate between him and Camping. The page can be found here:

My goal here, however, is not just to deal with Camping’s false prophecy, although that is important. People are being led astray, lives are being destroyed, and God’s name is being impugned. But while Camping and his believers are a relatively small group, his prediction, thanks to billboards, his 150+ radio stations, and of course the internet, has been trumpeted far and wide. Even if you never meet one of his followers directly, for every one Camping follower there are dozens of atheists and agnostics glad for yet another reason to mock and reject Christianity, and which you are much more likely to run into. I have already heard many people make off-handed comments while I was preaching (and clearly meant to be heard by me) that indicate that they assume I am spreading Camping’s end time predictions. I have even had a number who have come up and asked me about the date specifically. Many people are more than happy to dismiss God’s truth for any reason, so we need to be prepared to show them a clear distinction between false prophecies from the likes of Camping and the true, specifically fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, particularly those dealing with Jesus Christ.

The outline below includes information from another recent outline on Isaiah 53, along with some additions regarding Psalm 22, another good example of specific prophecies concerning Jesus Christ. In fact, Isaiah 53 has become my default Project Ezra chapter, if I am out preaching and either have not prepared something specific or have already done my regular reading. I would encourage you to know it well and read it often. It can be very powerful in speaking to doubters regarding the truth of the Bible.

All for His glory,

Read Isaiah 53

If you are familiar with the Bible and Christianity in any way, you will likely recognize that this passage refers to Jesus Christ

It refers to Him being silent before his accusers, which he was.

It says he made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death. And we know He was crucified with two thieves, and then laid in a rich man’s tomb.

And of course, it refers to Him being punished for our iniquity, our sin.

What you may not realize is that this passage, Isaiah 53, was written nearly 700 years before Jesus Christ was born. This is not a record of His life after the fact, but a prophecy, fulfilled in detail, about the Jewish Messiah.

You may have heard that a certain religious group, which claims to follow the Bible, has stated that May 21st, this Saturday, is/was the day when the end of the world will start, and when Christians will be taken by God into heaven.

You will see/have seen that this is not the case. But do not make the mistake, as many likely will, of believing that the reason that prediction is wrong is because the Bible clearly predicted it, and thus the Bible is false.

There is a vast difference between the predictions of false prophets, and the specifically fulfilled prophecies of the Bible.

Read Psalm 22

The details in this chapter, such as the words Jesus repeated on the cross, really were fulfilled. His hands and feet were pierced, as the Bible prophesied, even though this chapter was written long before crucifixion was even invented. He was mocked, and lots were cast for His clothing, just as the Bible stated prophetically would happen.

Those who have predicted the end of the world this weekend do not represent true Christianity. Their prediction is wrong because the leader of that group handled the truth of the Bible carelessly, and thus was led astray and led many others astray. In fact, the Bible warns us to watch out for such teachers, so that we will not be misled.

It may be the case that you too have been misled, as many others have, regarding what the Bible actually says.

Many people have the idea that God is love, and ONLY love, and that He will judge and punish no one. You may believe that since God is Good, He would never send anyone to hell.

But don’t be fooled by the false statements of others, or choose to accept only what makes you comfortable. Look for yourself and see what God’s word says.

God is indeed a God of love, and the love He shows toward His children is amazing. But God’s word says He is not only a God of love, but a holy and just God, who must punish sin.

The same book of the Bible that say God is love also talks about sin, and lawlessness. God’s law is a reflection of His perfect character, and when we break that law we offend Him, and we hurt ourselves and others.

Look at yourself in the mirror of God’s law, and you will see yourself in truth


Every one of us deserves judgment, and hell, for their moral crimes against a holy God.

But God truly is love, and gave us incredible evidence of His love. While we were still sinners, Christ, God in human flesh, died for us.

Isa 53:5 - But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

Isa 53:6 - All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah says that it was the will of the Lord to crush him that our sins might be paid for.

That is true love! Jesus willingly went to a Roman cross, shed His blood, and was crushed by the Father so we could be seen as righteous, as morally good, on the Day of Judgment.

Every one of us will receive either God’s justice and wrath, or God’s grace and mercy. Claiming the name of God is not enough. Going to church on Sundays is not enough. You can not work your way to heaven.

You must do what God’s word says. You must humble yourself before Him, repenting of your sins and trusting in Him alone. Only then will God save you.

But He will do more than save you. He will transform you, as he did me. He will change your heart, change your desires, and give you joy in knowing Him that you can’t imagine.

So please, turn to Christ today. Don’t presume on God’s patience. Repent and trust in Christ while He has given you time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Colossians 2

Hello Project Ezra! This week’s reading is Colossians chapter 2. There is a tremendous amount of truth packed into this short chapter. There were a lot of different directions I considered going, but I ended up trying to focus on God’s character and on Jesus Christ’s nature as God in human flesh. I pray that the outline will be a blessing. Please consider sharing it with your friends and church family, and encouraging them participate, or posting it on your social network pages. Also, please take a look at the information at the end regarding the Ambassador’s Academy.

All for His glory,

Read Colossians 2

One of these passages warns us not to be taken captive to philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition. So I would ask you not to thoughtlessly reject what I’m saying, but test and see whether it is true.

The Bible says there is a God, and He has revealed Himself in a person, the person of Jesus Christ

It states that in Jesus Christ all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, and He is the head of all rule and authority

It also speaks of a record of debt, which implies there are legal demands that are upon us

Legal demands mean we are at odds with the law, and Jesus being the head of all rule and authority means it’s His law. We are at odds with God.

You have likely heard some of God’s law. You may not understand why God declared the laws He did. They may sound unreasonable or arbitrary. But they are neither.

God’s law, and His reaction to the breaking of that law, is based on His holy character. He is perfect, and pure and holy, set apart from His creation. His eyes are too pure to look on evil, and because He is good He will not leave the guilty unpunished.

The problem is, by God’s standards, you and I are guilty. We have broken God’s law, and are deserving of punishment. And God is a righteous judge, who feels indignation, who feels anger every day at those who break His law.

Because God is good, He will see that justice is done. Because God is perfect His justice will be perfect. He will perfectly punish not only murderers and rapists, but all who have done wrong.

He will punish liars. His character is truth and He expects the same from us.

He will punish thieves, regardless of the amount they have stolen or the amount of time since they have stolen. Time does not forgive sin.

He will punish blasphemers, and will not hold those guiltless who misuse His name. His name is above all names, and should be given the utmost respect, but is often used to express surprise or disgust.

He will punish adulterers, whether they have committed adultery in physical fact or in thought. God knows all thoughts, and our thoughts condemn us just as our actions do.

He will punish unbelievers, since His word says He has given ample evidence for His existence, and those who don’t believe are without excuse.

The punishment God’s word describes is beyond imagination. The Bible talks of outer darkness, and torment in eternal fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This may be a frightening thing to consider, but it is the truth of God’s word. If you examine it yourself you will find it to be true. And if you examine yourself in truth, you will know that you deserve it.

But that is only part of the story. The Bible speaks of the gospel, which means good news. And if we will read God’s word we will see that it is very good news.

God says He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He says that He is a God of love, who loves His creation.

Because God is a God of perfect justice, He made sure justice would be satisfied.
Hell will satisfy God’s justice. But because He is a God of perfect love, He provided another way for justice to be satisfied, and that way is through Jesus Christ.

In Jesus all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form. God came to earth in the form of a man to reveal Himself to us. Then He satisfied justice in His own body and blood, on a Roman cross.

On that cross the price of sin was paid, and the wrath of God was poured out on the one man who never deserved it. His infinite worth paid the price for our infinite sin.

But Jesus did more than die. Three days later He rose. He proved His power over death, and He ascended to heaven to sit in the presence of God, to speak on the behalf of those who trust in Him.

You see, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice does not save all, although it certainly could.
Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

His word says there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.
Those who will do what God declared, who will turn from their sins and put their trust in Christ and Christ alone as their payment for sins, and as their Lord and king, will be saved.

Those who choose to reject Jesus Christ will remain in their sins, and pay the price themselves in hell.

I plead with you today to turn from your sins and to turn to Jesus Christ. He is a good, loving and patient God. Throw yourself upon His mercy, and He will be faithful and just to forgive your sins and grant you everlasting life.

But please don’t delay. None of us is promised tomorrow. God is good and patient, but His patience will not last forever.

It is appointed to men to die one and then face judgment. Before you do, turn from your sins and trust in Christ alone.

At the beginning of June I will be heading to southern California to attend the Way of the Master Ambassador’s Academy, as a team leader. I would appreciate your prayers for me and the rest of the participants. I would also encourage you to attend one of the other upcoming Academies, if you have not already done so. It was the Ambassador’s Academy that launched me into public evangelism. The training is amazing, and you will be mentored by Godly men and women who God is using in amazing ways to share His gospel. Please take a few minutes to take a look at the links below.

Youtube Intro

Information Page

Friday, May 6, 2011

Selected Readings from Exodus

Exodus 33:12-23, 34:1-10, 29-35

Hello Project Ezra! This week we will be reading a selection of passages from Exodus 33 and 34. I have chosen not to include all of chapter 34 because some of that information, regarding God’s covenant specifically with Israel, if presented to someone ignorant of the historical background, requires more explanation than an open-air sermon would easily allow. You can certainly read the whole passage through if you like. The passages present amazing truth regarding God’s character, which is very powerful in helping people understand who God is, especially since it was the Lord Himself who proclaimed His character to Moses. But I also think that we, as believers and evangelists, can learn by examining how Moses approached God, and what he said.

Moses said “If I have found favor in Your sight, please show me Your ways.” We should be asking God the same thing, that He show us His ways. When I was a new believer, I spent a good amount of time studying biblical apologetics. It was, and still is, a passion for me. In fact, I derived much of my early ideas of theology from apologetics books. By God’s grace, I was given mostly good, solid material that, though I may disagree with some of the smaller details now, were Biblically sound. However, as good as these books were, they were not God’s word, and deriving your theology from secondary sources can be dangerous. As my faith has matured (although I still feel like a baby Christian sometimes), I have spent a lot more time and focus on the Bible itself, praying that God would show me His ways and reveal His will directly through His word. God can certainly show us His ways through the sound teaching of men and women of God. However, our primary source of truth must always be His word, and we should discipline ourselves to read it daily

Moses asked to see God’s glory. Like Moses, we should desire to see God’s glory, but even more, we should desire to see God glorified. We were created to glorify God, and that must be our primary aim, in evangelism and in everything else. Sometimes it can be discouraging, if you are reading the word and no one seems to be listening, or if they are listening they are mocking you or the Bible. However, ultimately we have an audience of one, God. We want people to listen, and to ask questions, and to engage us. And you will be surprised sometimes when you find out who was listening. But those results are in God’s hands. Our responsibility is simply to be faithful to our calling, and to leave the rest up to Him.

Moses pleaded for God’s presence to be with him and the people of Israel. He asked that they not be able to move on if God was not with them. Moses knew that they had no ability on their own. In the same way, whenever we go out to share the gospel, it needs to be in the power of God. We need to pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit and pray for divine appointments, that God will bring those to us who He has prepared to hear His gospel. It is easy to want to convince people, to want to argue them into the Kingdom of Heaven. And though God may choose to use a good argument to draw someone to Him, without a supernatural changing of their heart and mind, they can never be born again. Just as we put the whole weight of our trust on Christ for salvation, we need to do the same in sharing our faith

It still amazes me how often I sit down to write this blog, praying that it will be an encouragement to others in sharing their faith only to be convicted by what the Lord shows me about myself. Every day I find the riches of God’s word are deeper than I could imagine. If you don’t have a regular reading plan, please start one. Being in His word daily with absolutely transform you. The Grant Horner Bible Reading Plan, which we use for the Project Ezra chapters, is what I use and I would highly recommend it.

I pray this outline is a blessing.

All for His glory,

Read Selections from Exodus

In the beginning of these passages, Moses asked God if he could see His glory, if he could see the wonder and majesty of who God truly is. God told Moses He would let all His goodness pass before him, but he hid Moses in a cleft in the rock, and showed him only His back. God knew that the full site of Him in all His glory would kill Moses.

Then, as God passed by, the passage says the Lord proclaimed the name of the Lord. God declared and described Himself to Moses, and by extension, to us.

So what did God say about Himself?
He declared Himself to be a God who is merciful and gracious
He said that He is slow to anger, that He is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness
God said He forgives iniquity and transgression and sin
But it also says He is a God who will by no means clear the guilty, and that He will visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children

Then God told Moses that new tablets were to be cut for the 10 Commandments, and God made a covenant with Israel, telling them they will see great marvels.

Then, when Moses came down the mountain after speaking with God, the skin of his face shone and glowed. He had to put a veil over his face, because the people were afraid to come near him.

What can you learn from this passage? Something about the character and nature of God.

God is not like man

He can not be controlled, or comprehended.
Men are foolish and self-seeking. Most of the time we don’t want the truth. We want what we think will make us happy and give us power and control.
God is in control, and despite our best efforts to create God in our own image, He can not and will not be brought down to our level.

God is glorious beyond imagination
The sight of Him so affects a man that his face glows
Seeing God’s goodness and glory in its purity is enough to kill a man

God is powerful beyond imagination
Men spend their whole lives trying to break down the creation to the point where they can understand and control it completely, but can not and never will be able to.
God is beyond our natural understanding, but chose to communicate with us through His word. Why?

God is a God of relationship and covenant
God chose then, and chooses today, to communicate and have a relationship with mankind, the pinnacle of His creation.
But our covenant with God has been broken. How? It has been broken through our disobedience, through our sin.


God is just
God has given us His law, His standard, which reflect His perfect character
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
He will not leave the guilty unpunished, and we, who have broken His law, are guilty.
The punishment of the fathers will be visited upon the children. Sin has long-term consequences, both in this life and the life to come.

God is patient
God says He is not willing that any of His children should perish, but all come to repentance
It could be the only reason you are still drawing breath is because God is being patient with you, waiting for you to turn to Him.

God is forgiving
You can be forgiven, not based on your own works or goodness, but based purely on the goodness and grace of God. God, in His great love, chose to satisfy justice Himself, so you could be set free from the penalty of sin
Colossians 2:13-14 - And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.



NOTE: As you have likely noticed, I don’t always choose to include all the details of the gospel presentation in each blog. I believe it is vital that the essential truths of the Gospel, the framework that you hang all of your evangelism on, should be very personal and so much a part of you that they simply flow from you when the opportunity presents itself. All my notes are secondary. The gospel is primary. Many previous blogs have addressed those details, and I would also encourage you to look at the resources below. Many of you are likely familiar with Living Waters/The Way of the Master, but if you are not and may be struggling in that area, I can not emphasize enough what a blessing they have been to me. They will teach you to share the gospel boldly and biblically. Feel free to contact me directly if have any other questions.