Monday, April 24, 2006

Are you a good person?

Los Angeles

Well, here I am in the City of Angels, although the population (and the driving) could hardly be described as angelic*. I'm only here over the weekend, staying with friends of a friend, as I've developed quite a knack of doing.

I arrived here on Friday night after an all-day journey down from San Francisco*. When I arrived there was a Bible study going on at the Dandurands' house, so I was able to sit in - the subject was developing grace and humility in our daily lives. Good stuff, I reckon.

On Saturday - after sleeping in a little - I took off for a day as a tourist (also something I've developed a knack of doing!) and drove first over the Santa Monica mountains to Malibu, then along the coast to Santa Monica and Venice beach. Venice, you might recall, is a place populated by a lot of weirdos. I saw a short man with no legs and one arm listening to a walkman and pushing himself along on a tiny trolley. I also saw a hippie on rollerblades playing the electric guitar and having a good time, man.

One strange thing I saw at first was a group of three men huddled together with their eyes closed. "They look like they're praying" I thought, but walked on. A little later on, a man walking the other way held out a piece of paper to me and said "would you like a million dollars?" He had some $1,000,000 bills that he was giving out. "Actually" I replied, "I have a whole stack of those at home - but they're Canadian!" It turns out that a group of 50 people - 10 of whom were at Venice - were on a Way of the Master 'bootcamp' to learn how to evangelise!

Some guys were on a soapbox asking passers-by if they considered themselves good, with the promise of $20 if they passed. Needless to say, nobody did, as the criteria we use for goodness can be summarised in the 10 Commandments.

After listening to them and talking with a couple of the guys - it seems that Ray, Todd and Kirk weren't at Venice - I went back to the car and drove on: first through downtown LA and then west on the 101 to Hollywood. After some to-ing and fro-ing, I found a street heading straight up towards the Hollywood sign. There was a warning diamond saying "NO ACCESS TO HOLLYWOOD SIGN" which told me I was on the right track to get to the Hollywood Sign! I drove up the street as far as it would go, then parked the car at the top and hit the dirt trail heading up-hill.

It was a nice evening (past 6pm by now) and surprisingly quiet for Los Angeles. The trail eventually hit a tarmac road, and I followed it one way - which was wrong - and then headed back the other way, which although looked to be the wrong direction, curved around the hill, crested the mountain (giving a view of the north valley instead of LA) and eventually reached the top: a radio mast on Mt Lee.

When I got to the top, I realised that unfortunately I'd overshot the Hollywood Sign! I was standing 100ft above it, and there was a fence blocking access. But what's this? A gap under the fence where others have gone before? Some ropes hammered into the slope leading down to the sign?

Yes, that's right. When I shimmied my way down to the sign itself, I saw on the back of 'H' a small notice saying "NO TRESPASSING OR LOITERING" which was a little late as I'd already gone under the fence! What can I say - I'm a bad person, but remember that the Bible addresses this issue. When I did reach the sign itself a loud beeping suddenly started - I noticed the motion sensor, the tannoy and the CCTV camera, took a quick photo and left!

Today (Sunday) I had the opportunity to go to Grace Community Church and hear John MacArthur preach twice! In the morning he was talking about the rich man and Lazarus, and how a lot of people who don't expect it will end up in Hell; not Heaven as they expected. Straight after that service there was a student ministry where the pastor spent 40 minutes introducing the sermon for the next few weeks on valuing the Bible highly. In the evening, John was preaching again, and on (controversial!) the idolatry of Mary worship in the Catholic church. Lots to think about, for sure... in any case, I'm incredibly fortunate to be saved by God's grace and even more fortunate to be able to travel around like this!

* I'll write a blog on driving sometime later this week. Suffice to say, it's fun.


Son of Man said...

Chris, this is great stuff man. I'm so pumped that you ran into some more "way of the master" nerds. You can't get away from them!
It is great to hear that you are OWNING California.

TwinsK&D said...

Hey brother, glad your having a great time! Very cool that you ran into some wotm folk! They should come up with a Million Pound note for ya :-) I bet the Macarthur sermon was amazing! Deep delighting in Christ!

I_am_Batman said...

yo man its like sweet... Awesome....Cool dude

I_am_batgirl said...

1. That's so awesome about those Way of the Master people coming up to you (I'd love someone to offer me one of those fake million dollar bills) and that J.MacArthur message sounded really great!
2. You really need to write a book or something about all your crazy adventures because that Hollywood sign story made me laugh... take care!