I drove from Camp Greeneville, deep in the mountains of northern South Carolina to a suburb of Charlotte NC. Then, I decided to take a day off to catch up on some work that had been neglected during the conference.
I met up with Steve Lefemine at USC. Since we did not have a permit to use the stage by the student union, I first set up on Greene Street on the public sidewalk, just outside the student union. The foot traffic was sparse. I tried a couple of times to gather a crowd, but the apathy was stronger than my voice. Steve set up on Greene Street further on down the public sidewalk. The reflecting pool area has a nice bricked area where a crowd could gather without any traffic interference. Steve has been a long time soldier in the abortion war. He brought out his signage and set up behind where I stood to take this picture.
Steve was able to gather a small crowd without preaching. I think I am beginning to appreciate the power of a banner. When I preach alone, often times I have difficulty getting the students to stop. It seems that a big sign or banner aids very much in getting attention. I am going to get me a couple of them. Perhaps one of the down sides of the growth of preachers is that the students become very hardened very fast. I love heckling, I love persecution. But Lord deliver me from apathy. It is a torture for my soul.
At the second location, I was again ineffective in gathering any attention. A group of three heckled, but without any real commitment. After a couple more tries, and after Steve had to go to another event, I packed it in and headed home. Tomorrow is another day.
When I finally found the university, inquired about the free speech area, and parked my car, I found, much to my delight, that the area was already occupied. Messenger Micah Armstrong had arrived on campus shortly before I got there and had already started to build a crowd that would at times reach several hundred. It was a very pleasant surprise because I really enjoy both his and his wife's preaching and their fellowship. Here is one of the crowds that he build over the the next two days.
Micah built a good size crowd that was about twice the size of the picture while I sat off to the side. Micah called upon me after an hour or so, and I jumped into action. He had the crowd in a good state of lather, and I decided to take a little different track, maybe a little good coop/bad cop action. My introduction was this.
"Students, oftentimes when we come out here to preach, jargon and buzz words that we are familiar with are thrown about with abandon. I want to pause a little and bring it down a little to a level that even you can understand."
As I hoped, they all quieted down and began to listen. I started in the Garden of Eden and explained the relationship that Adam had with God. It was one on one, personal, talking, and first hand. Since Adam did not have the knowledge of good and evil yet, his behavior would have been determined by some other criteria. That meant that Adam could have done things that God did not allow, but since he did not yet have the knowledge of good and evil, his behavior decisions would have been more or less randomly determined by curiosity, or imitation.
Adam would have done things that God disallowed but Adam had no knowledge of. In which case, God would have disciplined him. The original plan was for Adam's character to be shaped by God by discipline over the term of his life - 1000 years. Had Adam not sinned, after 1000 years of admonition and correction of God, he would have had the knowledge of good and evil, except it would have been rooted in discipline. He would have had the character to handle the knowledge.
But the enemy deceived Adam by suggesting that there was a quicker and easier way to be like God. If he merely obtained the knowledge of good and evil, he would be like God. The only problem was that that path was the only forbidden thing to Adam. The path that Adam was offered replaced first hand experiential knowledge with second hand knowledge. The result was that Adam died in the spirit. He did not die physically, but the spirit of God that was in him before was withdrawn.
Down through the ages, God has been seeking those who would simply listen and obey Him. He found such in Abraham and the patriarchs of the Bible. He made a covenant with Israel that was based on just that - listening to Him.
De 28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
But all along the way, the enemy has been offering instead his alternative - second hand information. God wants to give us first hand information, but the devil turns us aside, just like he did with Adam, to second hand information, Which brings us up to today. Jesus wants to place the Holy Spirit back in us, cleanse us of our sin, and restore us to a listening relationship with God. In essence Jesus is restoring us to the state of Adam in that we, by way of the Holy Spirit, can commune with God and be taught of God first hand.
I preached for about 40 minutes to a quiet crowd. It was truly a remarkable period. Some actual questions were asked and answered (as opposed to mocking and ridiculing questions). When the crowd began to become rowdy again, I turned it back over to Micah. He continued to do a fine job defending the holiness that the students seem determined to hate.
We went back and forth several times but by 4:00, the crowds became unworkably unruly, so we packed it in and went to dinner. We had a marvelous time fellowshipping. So much so that an American Indian woman chided us good amicably that we were have just too much fun. Ah the fellowship of soldiers, front line soldiers is so sweet.
During the day, I was able to have several conversations with one student who was raised Christian, but because of the assault made by false science on his faith foundations, he had been reduced to agnosticism. He was begging for help, and I spent a lot of time talking to him about how science, devoid of preconceptions and biases, actually points to the Bible as being true, and the earth as being young. When we left we planned on returning the next day. I promised the young man, Brian, that we would continue the conversation on Thursday.
Today we had to contend with Obama supporters and a group of women demonstrating against violence against women. Now, we have nothing against fighting violence against women, but they seemed to have a problem with us fighting all the rest of the sins. They had a crowd of 0, and we had a crowd of up to 200, so they called the police on us to force us to leave the free speech area. The police at NC State were exceptionally professional and protective of our safety and our rights. They came up to talk to Micah, but explained that they had to put on a show. Nothing happened. Micah continued for some time.
When the crowd was turned over to me, they were stirred, and I had to bring them back down. It was a challenge. At one point the violence protesters came into my crowd and tried to steal them. I told them that they should build their own crowd. I was not able to duplicate the placid crowd of yesterday. The battle was fierce.
Several times during the day whenever students would get too close to a preacher, the police would intervene and tell them to back off. This greatly helped in controlling the crowd. Towards the end of the day, I realized that the sergeant in charge was a friendly. He actually had suggested some things to preach to Micah's wife Elizabeth. It is a good thing to have friends like that on a campus that is very hostile to the preaching of the Gospel.
No matter how simple one makes the gospel, when it comes down to it, it requires us to forsake our sin. That is the one thing the students hate. Even the Christians, sadly to say. Most of the Christians we encountered were of the compromised kind - we can never be free of sin. Jesus saves us and then leaves us wallowing in the sin that He came to save us from. Not all were in such a low state. We did have 5-6 students come up to us during the two days and thank us for our bold stand. The polarization continues as the Lord continues to bring the church to judgment.
On the sidelines, I continued my conversations with Brian. He came under conviction and asked me very seriously what would be the nature of the judgment for someone who knew the truth and abandoned it. I told him as honestly and as gently as I could that the judgment would be very much worse for such a one. He seemed to be heavily burdened by the fact that the things that he has been taught seem to disprove the Bible. Pray for Brian. I hope that I put enough evidences to start him looking at the science of creation. I hope to return to NC next week for a couple of days. This coming week, I will switch to science.
The highlight of the day was that one of the students who had been soundly rebuked for compromising with sin brought his pastor out to meet me. The pastor was concerned about our methods and intentions. We had a very fruitful talk. I was able to give him a Biblical defense of what we preach and for our methods. He understood what I was saying, and while I don't think he was fully convinced, I believe he knows that there is a Biblical foundation to our ministry. I stressed to him that our preaching opens up hundreds of doors for Christians to share their faith in whatever way they want. He said he appreciated that and acknowledged that to be the truth.
I pointed out to him the large number of Bibles that were visible throughout the crowd and said that our method causes people to open their dusty Bibles to see how to prove we are wrong. What they find is that what we have been telling them is right from the Bible. I told him of my encounter with Susan at SEMO last week. She was the perfect example of how our unusual method of confrontational evangelism makes things happen.
Even when I told him that part of the purpose of preaching is to drive people AWAY from God, he understood that that must happen. We do not place the decision into the hearts of the students. Even God does not do that. All we do is to cause the students to make the choice that their heart already treasures. We force them to choose. If they choose to go away from God, that is good in the sense that they can no longer delude themselves into thinking that, even though they sin continually, God loves them and will not send them to Hell. The most dangerous place in the universe is to be convinced that you are acceptable to God when you are lost in your sins. Condemned but completely oblivious of the condemnation is the place that Satan wants to keep everybody. It is the most dangerous place of all. The danger is absolute but the conscience is lulled into complacency and apathy.
To the church of Laodicea the Lord said this:
Re 3:15-16 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
He wants hot or cold. Lukewarm is where most people are. Condemned in their sin but ignorant of the danger they are in. Jesus prefers hot. He can work with cold. All He can do with the lukewarm is vomit them out. Driving people away from the Lord by forcing them to act on the treasures of their heart gives the Lord movement that He can direct.
I told the students that I would be returning next week. I also told them that I loved their filthy sin-stained hearts and wanted them to live.
A bust. Raining all day in North and South Carolina.
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