This story was written on October 21, 2009, and is reposted from another blog.
All it takes is love and obedience.
It had been a productive day at Living Waters. I finalized the dates for the 2010 Ambassadors' Academy season. We're still several months away from Academy #13 in March, but I'm already getting excited. "Origin Into Schools" project team leaders are already receiving their allotment of books. I was able to put together a couple of videos--one for Project Ezra, and an Ask The Lawman segment.
The drive home was without incident, which is always a blessing when you drive 100+ miles every day on Southern California freeways. Knowing I wouldn't have the time after dinner, I decided to stop at one of my favorite corners in town to carry my cross.
As I pulled my cross out of the trunk, I noticed a man (probably 10-15 years my senior) slowly walking across the street toward the corner where I planned to stand with my cross. His gait was such that it appeared he had either issues with his knees or his back. He had paperwork in his hand and he was heading in the direction of a medical building.
I arrived at the corner just several seconds after he did. He looked at me, then at the cross, then at me again.
"Hi. How are you doing, today?" I asked.
"Hi." He replied. "Fine."
Within moments, the light turned green and he slowly made his way across the street. I prayed for him as he walked away; and I continued to pray for my time on the corner.
As I stood there, I noticed the man across the street had stopped and sat down on a planter wall, at the corner of the medical building. I thought he might have been tired from walking and that he was just taking a breather. But I also noticed that he was watching me.
The man sat their for what seemed like a minute or two. Then he stood up and pushed the button on the stop light, indicating he was going to walk back across the street to where I was standing. When the light turned green, he slowly made his way across the street.
As the man stepped onto the sidewalk at my corner, he looked up at the cross.
"So, what church are you affiliated with?" He asked.
"I attend Granada Hills Community Church."
"Oh, so you live in Granada Hills and come up here?"
"No, I live here. I just attend church in the valley."
"Oh. So, why are you doing this?"
"I'm doing this hoping people like you will stop and ask me why I'm doing this."
The man chuckled.
"I'm asking people if they're ready--if they're ready to stand before Jesus Christ and give an account for their lives."
"So, what do you think will happen to you when you die?"
"I don't think anyone knows."
"Yep. I'm a church-going man; but no one has ever come back to tell us what will happen to us after we die."
"You say that you're a church-going man. Do you believe the Bible is true?"
"I do. I believe the Bible."
"Well, the Bible makes it clear what happens after this life. The Bible says that it is appointed once for a person to die, and after that comes the judgment. And the Bible makes it clear that heaven and hell are real places.
"My name's Tony, by the way."
"Nice to meet you, Russ."
"Russ, we're all going to die someday. Ten out of ten people die."
"And when we die, we will stand before God and He will judge us according to the perfect moral standard of His Law. If you've ever lied, He will see you as a liar. If you've ever stolen anything, He will see you as a thief. If you've ever taken His name in vain, He will see you as a blasphemer. If you've ever had a lustful thought about someone other than a spouse, then God will see you as an adulterer. If you've ever hated anyone, He will see you as a murderer.
"God is holy, righteous, just, and good. He must punish sin. And the punishment God has ascribed for sin is eternity in hell.
"But God provided a way of escape from His just and holy wrath. He provided a way for sinners to be forgiven. This is what God did. Two thousand years ago, God the Father sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ--fully-God and fully-Man, and without sin. Unlike you and me, He never once violated the Law of God in thought, word, or deed. He was perfect in every respect."
"About thirty to thirty-three years into that earthly existence, He voluntarily went to the cross. He suffered and died, shedding His innocent blood--taking upon Himself the punishment you and I rightly deserve for our sins against God. Then, three days later, He rose from the dead, forever defeating sin and death. He is alive today and He will return at a time of the Father's choosing.
"What God requires of you, Russ, is that you repent. God commands that all people everywhere turn from their sin and by faith, and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He is your only hope."
As I shared the Law and the Gospel with Russ, he nodded his head and affirmed that salvation is by God's grace and not by works.
"Russ, the apostle John wrote, 'I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life' (1 John 5:13). Yes, if a you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you most certainly can know that you have eternal life."
"Well, okay." Russ said.
I extended my hand to Russ, and he gave it a firm shake.
"Russ, thank you for talking to me."
"God bless you, Russ. I will be praying for you."
Russ smiled, turned, and walked away. But the interesting thing is that Russ didn't cross the street again toward the medical building. It was clear that he was heading somewhere when I first saw him. But Russ walked from whence he came when I first saw him, disappearing down a paseo in the distance. It was as if our conversation caused him to change his mind about what he was going to do and, instead, he headed back home.
I rejoiced in the Lord as I watched Russ walk away. And I prayed for him--prayed that the Lord would draw Russ to Himself and give him the assurance of salvation that only the Lord can give.
Within a minute or two of finishing my prayer, the Lord provided yet another opportunity to proclaim His gospel.
A white Mustang stopped in front of me, at the light. The tinted front passenger window rolled down. A young lady of Chinese descent sat in the front passenger seat. A young man was driving. And another young man sat in the back seat. The young lady looked at me and smiled.
"Ready for what?" She asked.
"Are you ready for eternity? Are you ready to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and give an account for your life?"
"I'm ready." She said with a chuckle. "I'm a Christian."
"Really? What's your name?"
"Oh. Well, that's a pretty name."
"My name's Tony."
I stooped down, lowered my cross, and leaned against it. I wanted to make sure I could look Chanelle in the eye. I also wanted to be able to keep an eye on the two guys in the car. (Sorry. Some habits die hard.)
"Chanelle, let me ask you. What if I wasn't a Christian and I only had three minutes to live? What would you tell me?"
"I don't know."
"Well, what's going to happen to me when I die if I don't know Jesus Christ?"
"I'm not sure." She looked down and remained silent for a moment. Then she said...
"I'm not ready."
A car pulled up behind the car in which Chanelle sat. I waved to the driver, indicating that they would have to drive around the Mustang. I wasn't going to let this young lady go until I shared the gospel with her.
"Chanelle, this is what I would say to you. "In just a few minutes you are going to stand before Almighty God; and He is going to judge you according to the perfect moral standard of His Law. If you've ever lied, He will see you as a liar. If you've ever stolen anything, He will see you as a thief. If you've ever taken His name in vain, He will see you as a blasphemer. If you've ever hated anyone, He will see you as a murderer.
"God is holy, righteous, just, and good. He must punish sin. And the punishment God has ascribed for sin is eternity in hell. And that's what you face in about two minutes, unless God does something."
"This is your only hope. Two thousand years ago, God the Father sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ--fully-God and fully-Man, and without sin. Unlike you and me, He never once violated the Law of God in thought, word, or deed. He was perfect in every respect."
"About thirty to thirty-three years into that earthly existence, He voluntarily went to the cross. He suffered and died, shedding His innocent blood--taking upon Himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God. Then, three days later, He rose from the dead, forever defeating sin and death. He is alive today and He will return at a time of the Father's choosing.
"What God requires of you, Chanelle, is that you repent. God commands that you turn from your sin and by faith, and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He is your only hope.
"In just a minute or so you are going to stand before God. Unless He saves you, you are going to spend eternity in hell. My hope is that instead of receiving what you deserve for your sins against God, you will receive what you and I don't deserve, which is grace, mercy, and the free gift of eternal life. So, please, repent and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior while He has given you time.
"Does that make sense?"
She silently nodded her head.
Another car pulled up behind us. As with the first car, I motioned to the driver to drive around the Mustang.
"Chanelle, is there any reason why you wouldn't repent and place your faith in Jesus Christ to save you?"
"Chanelle, there is nothing more important than where you are going to spend eternity."
"I know. My mom tells me that all the time."
"You're mom is right. Listen to her. Do you have a Bible?"
"As soon as you get home, read the gospel of John."
"I bet your mom has been praying for you."
"She has been."
"I'm going to pray for you, too."
"Thanks for talking to me, Chanelle."
I stood up and reached into my bag for some tracts. All three of the vehicle's occupants accepted the paper gifts. I picked up my cross and stepped back to my spot on the corner.
The driver of the Mustang had originally approached the corner intending to make a right turn. In California, you can make a right turn on a red light. But instead of proceeding through the intersection, the car didn't move. The driver inched forward and stopped again.
Chanelle leaned out the window and said, "Do you think the world is going to end in 2012?"
The recent false prophetic nonsense getting some people excited is the notion that the ancient Mayan calendar predicts that the world will end in 2012.
"No, Chanelle. Jesus made it very clear that only the Father knows when Jesus will return and when the world, as we know it, will end. Anyone who tells you they know when those things will happen is lying to you. But the Bible makes it clear that we should live our lives as if we expect Jesus to return at any moment. Because He could return at any moment."
"My mom says that, too."
"Listen to your mom."
And with that, the three young people in the car turned onto Lyons Avenue and drove out of sight.
Once again, I prayed. I thanked God for another divine appointment and I prayed that He would graciously save Chanelle and her two friends.
I stood at the corner with my cross, but I'm not at all certain my feet were on the ground. I was thankful and blessed.
I looked at my cell phone and saw that I had been on the corner for only thirty minutes. In less than thirty minutes time, the Lord allowed me to share the gospel with four people who I probably never would have met had I not decided to stop on my way home from the office, for a little "cross time."
It doesn't take a long time to share the gospel. All it takes is love and obedience.
Don't you have thirty minutes to spare, today? Who knows what the Lord will do to you and through you if you will just take the time.