"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV
As I'm writing this, I feel tired and am somewhat suffering from fomo (fear of missing out) today--I miss my churches at home, and am used to my Sundays being so full... I went to a Presbyterian church service for the first time (I think) this morning, which blessed me, but I'm hungry for more time in the assembly of the saints--especially corporate worship. I want to visit more of the churches around the city, but it's difficult when they're all around the same time and my mobility is limited. I know the church of the Lord isn't about buildings, but is about believers communing with and around Christ. "Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25 BSB. Nonetheless, having a building, set times, google maps info, etc., allows for people who are searching for other believers--like myself--, to more easily access church communities where they are.
Even so, I trust the Lord to connect me with His church as He sees fit; He has already done so in a lot of ways, even since last Sunday. Quite a bit has happened, but I'm going to try and keep it somewhat brief. I did a Bible study and prayed with Mark, Allison, and Will--all Catholic ministers--, along with others from the shelter, on Tuesday. Had Bible study with the Baptists again last Wednesday with Sam. I went and got a hotdog at Doug and Danny's tent last Thursday, where they and their team serve hotdogs and minister to the homeless. I started talking with Doug and we were encouraging one another--him and Danny have hearts of gold, and they've been serving the streets faithfully for a long time now--and he suddenly told me to take the mic (they had these stationery loudspeakers they were preaching with) after the lady who was with them was done speaking. I was surprised, but was like, "Sure man!" I had no idea what I'd say, but the moment I took the mic the Holy Spirit gave plenty of words for me to proclaim haha. There were no salvations from what I could see, but I'm just grateful I got to proclaim Jesus. I really emphasized the son and daughter identity that Jesus died to give each of us--that He loves them with an everlasting love and is calling them home to their rightful place at His side. So I street preached for the first time at Doug and Danny's street-corner tent; my voice was echoing through the streets and the surrounding tent city 😂 It's also been absolutely amazing to see what God is doing in my brother Mike, who I met here and who is staying here at the moment. The devil definitely hates what God's doing in him, and theres been a couple times he's tried to thwart Mike's faith--but the faithfulness of our God, and the prayers of His people, are providing breakthrough for this man right before my eyes! Though I only met Mike a couple weeks ago, I know the Lord has blessed me with a lifelong friend in him.
The Lord continues to use me to encounter people, most of the time with the Gospel, sometimes just with food, sometimes with only a few words. The truth is beautiful and pure, and is like a refined blade that divides lies from love; illusions from reality. There are so many weird and deceptive doctrines out here, rooted in the wisdom of man--even with some supposed believers--, that when truth is spoken by someone else it's like a warm campfire to me compared to a cold dark night. Only the Holy Spirit can truly reveal Jesus, and the glory is His alone. It can be as simple as opening the hands, closing the eyes, and saying, "Jesus, I am precious to You. I am Your beloved." Without the living God, everything is but an empty promise, a passing shadow. Yet, hope is realized through the finished work of the cross. The joy of Jesus is able to lift us up over our circumstances, and the peace of God really does surpass all understanding. Christ doesn't change!!! The Lord's also led me to find a really nice spot by Rady's Shell where I'll sit with Him by the water and get away from everything. It's a great spot to watch the sunsets. Sometimes it all seems overwhelming and my natural mind questions, saying, "What change can I possibly make here that would be lasting, or of any impact at all?" It can seem pretty hopeless around here sometimes, especially with how contrary people can be toward Jesus, and the conditions people are in physically, spiritually, emotionally... But then I remember the God that I serve, and the countless testimonies of His power and glory, and my doubts are quelled and my fears stilled. A couple testimonies that encouraged me recently is remembering Desmond Doss and what the Lord did through him at Hacksaw Ridge, among the other things in his service to the U.S. He delivered 75 people from that hellish place single handedly, and without a gun!!! Amazing. And Jackie Pullinger, who went to the Walled City of China by faith. I definitely recommend her book "Chasing the Dragon," where she writes about what she went through. The Walled City doesn't even exist anymore, and in many ways, it's because of Jackie and her obedience and faith! Thank You Jesus!!!
As always, I continually thank God for you and pray the peace, joy, and love of Jesus fills you to overflowing! He's coming soon!!! There is hope. Amen.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16 NKJV
"Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer."
2 Corinthians 5:16