What a wonderful day God blessed us with here in Hobart today! Blessed with beautiful warmth and a gentle cool breeze, peace, good food and drink and the wonder of being called (though unworthy) to share the gospel with others. As is always the case at this time of year, there were many people in the mall and quite a few of them stopped to listen and some to talk. The only troubling cloud in view is the scowl that passes over certain people's faces as they read the pro-marriage flyer on the front of the bible table. The latest face to do that was homosexual activist Rodney Croome just before he took pictures and video of the preaching and bible table.
After I set up I was able to briefly chat with Tim, who has been coming to support my work for many months now. He and four other Christians all commented on the fact that I had been drawn by two atheists (Sam and Mitch) into a extended debate the previous week. They were quite concerned that I had not preached and a couple of them (rightly) rebuked me for neglecting my duty to bring the gospel to mall and to them. There is a lesson in this I am glad to hear; never, Never, NEVER neglect the gospel for any other topic or discussion. God willing it will not happen again, please pray for me in this.
For the first time in the afternoon I preached on the joy and heart-break of pregnancy and children. I firstly pointed to the great tragedy of miscarriage and grief and pain that so many couples face at the loss of a child in the womb. From here I pointed to the horrible evil of abortion, which denies the value of every human life, no matter how small. By normalising the "right to chose" an abortion society has refused the right of men and women to grieve at the loss of a child in miscarriage. After all at the early stages the child is "only a fetus", "only an embryo", or most horrid of all "its just tissue...". God says on the other hand that we should grieve whenever someone dies because death is an enemy and not a normal thing; it has come through sin and will one day be done away with. From this I called people to consider how much God loves each and every one of us, He makes us, provides for us, and gives us a mind and conscience. And more than that, He saw how evil and helpless in sin and death we were, are, and continue to be and He had compassion on us! He came and did something about it, He took our broken-ness and sinfulness on the cross and took our place. Then He conquered death and hell in one fell swoop, triumphing over them on the cross and rising from the grave! Praise our awesome God!
After preaching I got to have a good chat with Tim (another Christian friend) who has been helping with the fantastic work of Pierce and Christina Beahr. This lovely Christian couple run Pilgrim Hill, a ministry aiming to reach out to backpackers through hospitality and art. Each week they host 40-80 people for a free dinner and a short gospel talk and then an opportunity to talk with Christians about matters of life and faith. Among the many other calls for prayer out there I would add this one, please pray for the Beahrs as they do this difficult and demanding work week in week out.
I also discussed with Mr S. my regular heckler regarding homosexual marriage. I had challenged him the week before to show me the ways that he would argue against paedophilia being legalised when they use almost the same arguments as the same sex marriage lobby (arguments he accepts). Thus far he has spoken only of the disparity in power between individuals as the basis of his argument, I will wait and see what else he thinks of in coming weeks. For those who may be unaware, since homosexual marriage was brought into law polygamy, paedophilia, incest, and even beastiality are being put forward as perfectly normal alternative forms of "marriage" in the USA, Europe, and Canada. The arguments put forward by these groups are the same as homosexual marriage advocates used, they merely challenge a further article of marriage (age, number, blood relation or species). This should be a clear warning to us in Australia that acquiescing to homosexual marriage will open wide the door to all manner of relational evils. As is the case of any compromise made with sin, national or personal.
I preached a further two times (quite croaky at the end) and spoke of the evidence of creation that is all around us and the deceitfulness of riches. I urged the people to humble themselves and have faith in Jesus and follow Him and no-one and nothing else.
Afterwards the conversation with Mr M. and Mr S. continued for a time but I sidestepped the debate to talk to a young guy Mr W. We had a wonderful conversation beginning with the documentary support for the bible and working out from there to topics like suffering and God, absolute morality and the gospel. It was fantastic to talk with him and hopefully he will come again in the future.
Praise God for all His goodness and faithfulness!