The gospel was proclaimed loudly and often at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic in Columbus, OH on March 1, 2014. Here are some highlights:
We arrived later than hoped, about 11:40am. An interesting twist occurred when another man began preaching with a megaphone just 25 feet from where I set up to preach. I spoke to him briefly, confirmed he was preaching salvation by grace through faith alone and then wished him well.
He preached for an hour. Although we were happy about him, his preaching was … less than stellar. It wasn’t so much his presentation, but his theology. I also noticed that he rarely mentioned the resurrection of Jesus. You cannot consider yourself a gospel preacher if you do not speak of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-4).
During this time, Fred Triplett, Joe Conkle and I passed out the newly printed tracts my church, Berean Baptist Church, bought. The weather was great, about 14-15 degrees warmer than last year! Praise God for that. Joe, for the second year in a row, drove from over an hour away to help. What a lover of God!
Finally, at about 12:40, I saw Darius (the other preacher) taking a break. I asked him if I could preach, and he assented. I began by reading Psalm 47 and then proclaiming God’s goodness and grace in Christ. I didn’t stop preaching for 2 hours. I really had a fun time. After a short break I preached for another hour or hour and a half before we settled down and headed home around 5pm.
Click here for the best picture from the day. This is on Facebook, so you have to be friends with Rusty Beals to see it (Sorry!).
The day was filled with encouragement. Christians were constantly approaching us to thank us and encourage us. One little girl even approached me while I preached and put a dollar in my tract box as a gift. There was another woman, clearly listening to the preaching whose family sorta dragged her across the street. I noticed this because she was really focused and listening, and then you could see her husband sorta get her attention.
A few minutes later I looked down and she and her son were standing in front of me. She said she just wanted to shake my hand and thank me and then said other kind things about me that I don’t deserve to hear as only the grace of Christ allows me to live, let alone serve him. Her son introduced himself and they each told me they were Christians and were glad I was doing what I was doing. This is very encouraging to a preacher and to anyone else out handing out tracts. Praise be to the most high God who died for me while I was yet a sinner.
I read the Bible in the open air frequently, pausing to explain passages periodically. By the end of the day I had read the following chapters publicly: Genesis 1, Psalm 47, Psalm 19, 1 John 1, John 10, selected parts of Matthew 5, portions of Isaiah 1, portions of Genesis 2, and portions of 1 John 2.
Dear Christian, I do not mean to be offensive, but will you consider if this is even too much for your own daily reading? Consider your own state of affairs if the Spirit brings conviction.
Rusty Beals also came and helped us most of the day. Praise God for Rusty who drove 8 hours round trip to be a part of our humble team. We also met up with several men from New Life Community Church, home of the 2014 Ohio Fire! Finally, thanks to Bill Adams who publicized our little outreach, we had 2 new friends appear, Steve and Daisy Rohr. What a blessing they were as they listened to the preaching and handed out tracts with us.
Throughout the day, homosexuality and a description of homosexuality as an abomination was only mentioned twice. Interestingly enough, I was not the person who shouted that. Two (I assume) gay men, on separate occasions, found it necessary to shout something concerning homosexuality. The first man stopped and yelled, “Isn’t homosexuality an abomination?” I don’t recall what he may have been responding to in my OA. But I replied, “All our sin is an abomination to a holy God and we are all hopeless without Christ.” He wasn’t happy with my response, but he didn’t stay to discuss it further.
Shortly after that a man walked by and shouted in his best “gay voice”:
Don’t forget to call homosexuality an abomination!
I supposed I didn’t need to, as he had just drawn enough attention to the topic himself. Not that I’m particularly shy about speaking concerning any certain sin, but I have never really focused on one sin. My preaching style, if I have one, is more of a proclamation of the goodness and grandeur of God and what He did for sinners in Christ. I make it my goal to constantly refer to the resurrection, the trinity, the deity of Christ and the grace and humility of Christ while reminding the hearers frequently of their pathetic and hopeless state in their sin and flesh. For more information on how to speak to homosexuals, click here for three short talks, all of which can be downloaded as pdf.
About a decade ago a friend gave me some advice. He said, “When someone shows you their true colors, thank them.” I’ve never forgotten this and I found it applicable to this next circumstance. As I was preaching, there was a man holding a young child. You know the scene, he’s about 10 feet in front of me, and the child is rear-facing over the man’s shoulder. Now what happened next was enough to shock me. What is important to understand is the actions of the next man I’m about to describe are a to-the-letter description of the old me.
A pretty large man walked by with a group of his friends. Tired of my preaching, he turned and shouted obscenities I will not type. But in the process, he effectively yelled the ‘f’ word about 3 feet from this little child. I was seriously disgusted. I reacted, not in the flesh but in the Spirit (I hope!) and called him a vile, wicked man and told him that he should shut his profane mouth. He followed that up with more cursing. I did not let up. I commanded him to repent of his wickedness and turn to Christ to be forgiven. But in the spirit of the earlier quote, I thank this man and God for him as he became my object lesson as I used him to describe for the remaining hearers a bit about the sorry state of man. I was not angry with him personally, but there were other hearers who had words for him. I was glad about that.
God is and was very good to me that day. One of the most remarkable and unpredictable ways was that I felt like reading Matthew 5. I like to believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of the following verse as I proudly read God’s Word:
Matthew 5:11-12 ESV
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As I spent the day primarily being encouraged and feeling safe, surrounded by good brothers and righteous policemen, I still endured the reproach. People spat toward me (never on me), yelled cruel things and generally mocked and scoffed. No amount of ridicule or ‘suffering’ I could endure would ever compare to my Savior’s, but I do feel I get a little chance to identify with Him more fully through these circumstances. Praise God the most High!
Psalms 47:1-2 ESV
1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! 2 For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.