Happy Good Friday as we think about the suffering Jesus experienced on our behalf. It certainly makes me want to make the most of every day living for Him. THIS video was sent to me this morning, and it was very touching as I thought about Jesus and how He gave His life for me. No other Savior could ever compare.
Our team in NYC has had to overcome severe health problems this year, as well as severe snow and rainstorms. I am working on scheduling trips to TN and to CA, and I am making progress getting a new leader for our outreach at Venice, though Dan and Mike are certainly doing a great job when they are able to set up.
My new outreach to women who have left abusive men in NYC continues to fill up my heart and life, and this is a ministry I am working on daily. I love all of the women in the group, and they are all a blessing to me.
I am also doing web site updates and working with the web designer to detail this new ministry on the LTW web site. I hope to have the new outreach of Cabo San Lucas, MX, featured on the Lighting the Way web site by the end of the month.
My computer downloaded malware, and it had to be in the shop for a few days this week. The tech guy gave me a good deal for repair for 125.00. These unexpected expenses are much better than the unexpected expense of having to get a new computer, so I am thankful the problem was nothing serious.
The bookkeeper is working this week to catch up on all receipts for LTW for 2014.
I am thankful that the Lord saved us to have a relationship with us. More than any work we could ever do for Him, He wants us to love Him and spend time with Him in prayer, and what a joy it is to read the Bible or hear another good sermon that teaches me something new about His love for me. It is a beautiful thing to hunger for Him. As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, I celebrate the new life Jesus has given to me every single day as He has made my heart His home. Mere religion could never compare to a relationship with Him.
Friday, April 18, 2014
Monday, April 14, 2014
Update from Mike and Dan:
Five or six Hare Krishnas set up in a spot maybe 100 feet from us and spent much of the day singing and playing their instruments. During a break, one of their ladies came by our table and looked over the materials. Mike told her about Brian Flynn, whose book Against the Wind describes his experiences as a psychic. When Mike mentioned that Brian discovered his "ascended masters" were actually demons bent on leading him to destruction, Dan noticed that her face seemed to register a "dose of reality" (as he put it).
A Bulgarian man who has been to our table in the past stopped by to see if we had any Christian music. While I was looking for some, Dan told him about Dwayna’s CD's. We were unable to find any, so we gave him a few that we had. (Note: We'll have to make sure we bring them next time we're at Venice.)
A man who bore a slight resemblance to Mark Twain stopped by in a sharp-looking white Zoot Suit. He began to discuss the Bible at length and seemed to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the scriptures as well as the historical setting of the New Testament. He is known as "Sarge" to the others at Venice (as he had been a Sergeant in the military). Although he is currently homeless, he is an itinerant preacher and was hoping to find someone who could video him presenting an Easter message that could be put up on Youtube. He also used to have an extensive collection of Christian materials (lexicons, commentaries, and other books typically found in a church or seminary library) that he has studied over the years. He stopped by to chat several different times during the course of the day and was a great blessing to us, although we did not tape him for YouTube. Dan also got his contact information, so perhaps we'll see him at future outreaches.
While we were talking to Sarge, a passer-by read our sign offering to reveal what "God has to say about your future -- for free." He seemed annoyed that we would be giving out "free" readings when other psychics are charging, and he told us we should be charging a fee as well (implying that we're taking away their business). Mike quoted Romans 5:18 to him and then added that we're not going to charge money for telling people about the free gift God is offering.
While Dan was briefly away from the table, a Hispanic man came by and looked over the materials. He had been by the table last year, but Mike didn't remember the details of any previous conversations. He told Mike he believed in God but didn't believe in church. Mike mentioned that the Church is not a building or denomination, but it's the collection of true believers. The man then said the white man came from Europe with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other to force the indigenous people in North and South America to convert. He seemed to be under the impression that Christianity is the religion of rich, white men, so Mike pointed out that Jesus was Middle-eastern and probably had darker features than the actors who portray Him in movies. Mike also mentioned that God has a tender heart towards the poor and quoted James 2:5 to him. This seemed to soften his demeanor somewhat and he left the table.
A little later a group of people stopped by and asked what God has to say about their future. We gave them the Romans road to salvation, and since they are already Christians, they were encouraged to hear the Gospel being shared there at Venice.
A young man named Gabriel stopped by the table to chat. His father is a lay preacher in the Seventh Day Adventist organization, but Gabriel had left the church. He said he didn't seem to follow any particular faith, but he said he liked Jesus… because Jesus accepted outcasts and sinners. We pointed out to him that Jesus loves people but that He also called them to repentance (as with the woman caught in adultery). We told him about how we're all sinners and that Jesus paid our sin debt to the Father. We also spoke to him about how some denominations stress works but that the works the Book of James speaks of are a by-product of genuine faith that will be evident in every true believer. These works don't save the believer and may not even be part of the Levitical Law (for example, Abraham's offering of Isaac). Gabriel was taught that Jesus' death opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles, but we added that both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled to God the same way, and that's through Christ. About this time, another man came by and Dan shared his testimony with him; meanwhile Gabriel spoke to Mike a little longer and then thanked us before leaving.
Two men stopped by and asked about our sign, and we presented the Romans road to salvation (quoting verses from Romans about how to be saved). After hearing the message, one of the men indicated that he was still struggling. We quoted Ephesians 2:8-10 about how salvation is by grace through faith, and that believers would then voluntarily respond in love to God by walking in works that He had prepared for them. We then briefly went into Romans 3 and 4, Galatians 2, and James 2 and explained how they complement one-another. We also shared from Romans 6 how grace is not a license to sin, but that we are to depend on the Holy Spirit as we live out our faith.
There were several other conversations that we didn't write down. For the day we presented the salvation message, reading verses from Romans, on at least three different occasions and had more people than usual stop at the table.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
April 12, 2014, Sugarlands Visitor Center, Gatlinburg, TN
From leader, Claudette Litz
From leader, Claudette Litz
Today has to be one of the most beautiful spring days I can remember since I started an outreach to the tourists and local people at the Sugarlands Visitor Center in 2008. It was a perfect day filled with the beauty of spring and God’s love. At some point in every conversation, I invited people to my church, First Baptist of Sevierville. I’m always happy to let people know we’re all about missions and lovingly sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with people from all walks of life. I remember a song I learned as a little girl, and it came back to me today. “I’ve got joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” That’s how I feel as I write this update.
A father came by the outreach table with his family. After hearing me tell the story of salvation by using the little Wordless Book with his five year old son, he asked if I would talk with his thirteen year old stepson about the importance of believing the teachings of the Bible. It seems his biological father has been steering him away from it. At first the boy was fidgeting and a bit embarrassed by his step-dad’s suggestion, but after I started talking to him, he was listening with ease. I began by turning to the book of John in the New Testament, which I gave him. Jesus was with God in the beginning of the creation of the world. Every story throughout the Old Testament points to our redemption from sin through God’s only son, Jesus Christ. God is holy and pure. He cannot have sin in His presence. Until the time was right for Jesus to come to earth and be born, the people had to sacrifice their best lamb as an offering to God, because He required a blood sacrifice in order to forgive their sin. Jesus knew He was to become the perfect Lamb of God, and He came into the world to redeem us through giving His own blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. God laid our sins on Jesus, and He became sin for us, although he had never sinned. He lived a sinless life, suffered a terrible death on the cross, and rose again to live forevermore. He did this for you, for me, and for all who believe in Him and entrust their life to Him. He promises us everlasting life when we do this. We follow His teachings as they are given to us in the Bible, because of our love for Him and our desire to be more like Him as we live our lives. I continued by sharing my testimony about how I felt as a little girl when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Back then, I knew that even children die, and I wanted to know for sure that I would go to heaven. He said he wanted to know this, too. We prayed together, and I gave him Billy Graham’s tract, Steps to Peace with God, which contains a summary of everything I told him. He also took a DVD, God of Wonders by Eternal Productions and a tract by Child Evangelism Fellowship, You Are Someone Special. He promised to read the entire book of John first and then read the rest of the New Testament. I can’t put into words the joy that I felt as he left. Please remember to pray for him. His name is Kevin.
Another meaningful conversation was with a man and his wife who were celebrating the anniversary of their third year of marriage. They did not believe in the Trinity and believed Jesus was the same as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. I told them Jesus was God in the flesh, but He was not the same person as His Father. They said that when we get to heaven, Jesus, alone, will be on the throne. I pointed out how Jesus, after His resurrection, went to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God, the Father (Hebrews 1:3), and how God talks directly to Jesus in Hebrews 1:8-12. At the baptism of Jesus, God the Father spoke from heaven about His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. Jesus taught His disciples how to pray by saying, “Our Father which art in heaven . . .,” and He spent much time in prayer praying to His Father. He even spoke to His Father from the cross. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to be with us and point us to Him. The Holy Spirit descended from heaven at the baptism of Jesus as He began His ministry. It’s because the Holy Spirit is in each believer that we have the power to do all things through Christ who strengthens us. They left after we prayed together, and although they remained strong in their beliefs, they knew our differences did not deter our love and respect for each other. I prayed out loud with them that God would show them, like He shows all of His children, if they were wrong about anything…
The last experience I want to share is about a lady who was a Catholic and concerned about life after death. She took the booklet, After Death What Then? Although she and her daughters were tired and hot from hiking, they stopped to talk about this concern.
As the old hymn, Beneath the Cross of Jesus states, “I take O cross thy shadow for my abiding place. I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face.” I felt that sunshine today, and it was more than wonderful!
Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Friday, April 11, 2014
From Curt and Janie Rolf at table outreach in Rio Grande Valley:
We absolutely loved being there today, even with a strong possibility of rain. We started our day with a visit from vendor, Rosie. Rosie is Leo's mom. Many months ago Leo would actually sit and read the Bible with me. Every month on Jackson St. Rosie stops by and gives us an update on her 2 boys. It was soooo good to hear they both are eager to improve their math skills and are more than willing to attend extra classes. I asked Rosie how it was going with her hubby. She said “OK”. She prays for him and their relationship and also permitted me to pray with her today, specifically for their marriage. She took 2 little RBC Easter booklets; one for herself and one for Leo. IT MADE MY DAY! What an uplifting start to an otherwise gloomy/misty day. Thank you, Jesus!!!
A gal we've met at our church several years ago stopped by to say hello and give us a little update on what's happening in her life. We talked about the possibility of a bilingual pastor planting a Spanish-speaking church in this area. We shared our excitement for that possibility. She too took an Easter devotional booklet along with an RBC Spanish booklet “Why Does it Make Sense to Believe in Christ?” and Curt also gave her a 'Daily Bread'.
As I pondered the verse on our banner “Let the little children come unto Me”...Matthew 19:14/Mark 10:15, I remembered someone passing by and completing the verse....”...and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” The notes in my MacArthur NKJ Study Bible explained something I've wondered about; infant death. Note, Mt. 19:14 “of such”... “Jesus' words here suggest that God's mercy is graciously extended to infants so that those who die are sovereignly regenerated and granted entrance into the kingdom—not because they are deserving of heaven, but because God in His grace chooses to redeem.” (A good rebuttal for the Catholic doctrine of "limbo".)
One gal took one of many items when she discovered the materials were free. Our prayer is God will use them to draw her and her family onto Himself.
A young man spotted a booklet on Do You Believe in Magic?. I pray God will speak powerfully on this topic which is so enticing to many young adults.
Praise the Lord!!! Little Lynette (who looks to be about 9 years old) returned. I had given her a New Testament a couple of months ago, and she said she had been reading it. I asked if she had time for me to read the '7 Days of Creation' from the Old Testament today. She said, "Yes." When we finished I asked if she would like the whole Bible. She said, "Yes," and I showed her where the 10 Commandments were and told her to highlight and number each one for next month. She is such a delight.
Our coloring pages were on Easter...”If Jesus is God, how could He die?”... “If Jesus died on the cross, then how can He be alive today?” (from ChristianAnswers.net). We also gave a few crayons and a tract “Jesus Is Alive...Happy Easter” with the coloring pages. We were pleasantly surprised to see 18 of the 20 copies leave the table.
Just as we were about to pack up, a lady stopped, took “101 Last Days Prophecies” and “The Most Important Story” for her 8 year old niece. We can go for months and no one will take any of the booklets. Today three of John Blanchard's left the table.....Where is God When Things Go Wrong?, Can We Be Good Without God? and Is Anybody Out There?. One lady that stopped by said who she had read Where is God When Things Go Wrong? and couldn't say enough good about it!!! (PTL!!)
Here's hoping we remember the camera next month!! :) ….... Lo siento!!!! (Sorry!!!)
May God richly bless each of those who faithfully trust in what He did for us as we celebrate the most holy of Christian holidays!!
Happy Resurrection Sunday!
Curt and Janie Rolf
Rio Grande Valley
Monday, April 07, 2014
With articles like THIS about the various shifts in culture and our society, it is nice to have a firm foundation. This article does come as sad news, though, as more of our freedom in America (reserved for even private conversation and beliefs) seems to be on the attack.
Sunday, April 06, 2014
"Walkin in the Light" was written for victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and for parents of children who have been injured or killed in recent public school shootings in America. It is for survivors who have been left traumatized by such horrific tragedies and crimes against humanity. This inspirational song is about how we cannot let darkness overtake us as we walk in the light through the triumph of forgiveness and faith.
It is now on Soundcloud where it can be heard for free HERE .
Friday, April 04, 2014
This has been a very busy day, but it has been so different than what I had planned. God reminds me that, while it is fine to make plans for my days and set work goals for every day and every week, God certainly has the permission to change my plans. I have been busy today doing ministry that I had not planned on doing. Because of the public Internet, I feel I should not say anymore due to anonymity. Unlike the table outreach, sometimes God initiates opportunities for me to do ministry with people who know me, Google my name, etc., and I would never want to write anything on the Internet to demean in any way the sincere honor I have when I get to tell someone about Jesus and be there for them with encouragement in God's love, sharing with them my testimony and offering them a Bible...
It was not nearly as much fun to check my email afterwards and find that someone is attempting to use my Apple ID to make purchases on iTunes under my name. I was talking to support at Apple this afternoon, because this is the second time this has happened recently. I am glad that these attempts keep failing, but handling this took precedence over everything else today.
I have a beautiful update ready to be sent out via Constant Contact, but there have been some technical problems that CC has rectified. They have given me some "homework" to do to make sure this newsletter gets out to everyone on the LTW e-newsletter list, so I had planned to work more on that today before sending out the update. Well, suffice it to say, that newsletter will get sent out on Monday to everyone on the email list.
I have thought more about the exciting new outreach to victims of the Boston Marathon. I have some ideas, and we will see what happens. I want to love the victims and help them "walk in the light" emotionally when many of them can no longer walk at all. How beautiful to encourage them with the love of Jesus. I feel that no other organization is probably doing this, so LTW will begin. My song "Walking in the Light" will open the door to love these victims of the bombing in Boston with God's pure love.