“No one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him…Let me, then, confess what I know about myself, and confess too what I do not know, because what I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me, and what I do not know I shall remain ignorant about until my darkness becomes like bright noon before your face.” ~St. Augustine of Hippo 354-430 AD Comments
[Re-posted from Feb 2016] Talking of Christian Eulogies -Watch Monty Williams, the 44-year-old associate head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, bring the gospel to bear on the “loss” of his beloved wife, Ingrid:
May the Lord make each of us more like this man: even when hurt and in deep pain, he is fixed on God-centered hope, with an eternal perspective, freely offering forgiveness and freed from bitterness and complaint.
Usually God’s children are able to most affectionately pour out their hearts before him in private. Here, they find their affections free to wrestle with God. Here, one finds most communion with God, and enlargement of heart. In private we are wholly at leisure to deal with God in a child-like liberty. Now, will you omit this duty where you may be most free, without distraction, to let out your heart to God? The sweetest experiences of God’s saints are when they are alone with him. ~ Thomas Manton
An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. Read More
When a believer yields to temptation it brings dishonour to the Lord and sad consequences for the individual and others connected with him. When a church breaks down or departs from the truth it is impossible to judge how far reaching the effects might be. Many a town [and village] seems to have closed to the Gospel for 50 years or more because a once -thriving and influential church in the locality was torn by internal strife or caught up in a public scandal that has become common knowledge. How we must watch and pray over the churches, recognising that we can only really combat the enemy if we understand the scriptures.
Nine Marks has an interesting article on why you should become a church member and even when you have an excuse for not joining one church you must look for another and BECOME A COMMITTED CHURCH MEMBER. Check this out….
REASONS TO JOIN THE CHURCH
These more deliberate conversations veer back and forth between the biblical and the practical. Typically, I generally encourage a person to join the church
# For the sake of the pastors. It lets the pastors know who you are, and makes them responsible for you (see Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17).
# For the sake of obedience to Jesus. Jesus did not give you the keys of the kingdom for binding and loosing. He gave the keys to the apostolic local church (Matt. 16:13-20; 18:15-20). You don’t have the authority to baptize yourself or feed yourself the Lord’s Supper. It requires a church to affirm your profession of faith, which is what membership is at its very heart (see Acts 2:38).
# For the sake of other believers. Joining makes you responsible for one local congregation, and they for you. You now own or have a share in their discipleship to Christ. That is, you are now responsible for their growth and professions of faith, insofar as you are responsible for the church’s faithful gospel preaching (Gal. 1) and that individual’s discipline (Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5).
A couple of years ago there was a Japanese minister who caught the eye of mainstream media when he lamented on his behaviour of not accounting for public funds. He publicly wept and brought a press conference to an unprecedented pause. I keep wondering what happened to Mr Ryutoro Nonomura there after – was he being remorseful or was he repentant? So, whats the difference?
I came across this article from a blog from the yester years that tries to explain alittle more by going into a bible story….
And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. (1 Kings 21:27)
Ahab was a wicked king, as anyone familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures will know. From the beginning of his reign until the end he defied the Lord God of Israel, in whose stead he reigned. Two verses earlier it is written: “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” (1 Kings 21:25)
After King Ahab took possession of the murdered Naboth’s vineyard, God sent Elijah to prophesy against him. Elijah told Ahab that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs, that he himself would have his blood licked up by dogs where Naboth had died, that God would cut off his posterity and all his descendants would have ignominious deaths. Upon hearing this, Ahab humbled himself before God by tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth garments, fasting, and mourning.
How long all of this went on we are not told. We are told that God honored his self-humiliation and postponed the fulfillment of the prophecy until after Ahab’s death.
Charles H. Spurgeon was born at Essex, England, June 19, 1834; led his class at every examination in school at Colchester; converted December 15, 1850; preached first sermon 1851 at age 16; became a pastor in 1852; published more than 1900 sermons in his lifetime; died 1892, he was mourned by thousands.
In Spurgeon’s own words:
I had been about five years in the most fearful distress in mind, as a lad. If any human being felt more of the terror of God’s law, I can indeed pity and sympathize with him. Bunyan’s “Grace Abounding” contains, in the main, my history. Some abysses he went into I never trod; but some into which I plunged he seems to have never known. I thought the sun was blotted out of my sky–that I had sinned so against God that there was no hope for me. I prayed – the Lord knoweth how I prayed, but I never had a glimpse of an answer that I knew of. I searched the Word of God; the promises were more alarming than the threatenings. I read the privileges of the people of God, but with the fullest persuasions that they were not for me. The secret of my distress was this: I did not know the gospel. I was in a Christian land, I had Christian parents, but I did not fully understand the simplicity of the gospel.
[First posted in 2011] Is it true that the green shoots of recovery are sprouting and there is a gradually surging under current of hunger for Scripturally sound preaching with relentless intensity, indepth theological conviction and astute hermeneutic discipline? A couple of years ago Christianity Today noted that there was a growing resurgence towards Reformed Theology. Reformed theology or Calvinism stresses that the initiative, sovereignty, and power of God is the only sure hope for the sinfulness, fickleness, and moral weakness of human beings—and the glory of God is the ultimate theme of preaching and focus of worship. But how proportional has this interest panned out among different ethnic communities? This in its self is just a glancing over view of the paradigm shift in the Black communities. Read More
“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. …Read More!
Costi Hinn discusses when he started to see red flags growing up in the Prosperity Gospel movement. How did God open his eyes to the true gospel? Costi Hinn is the nephew of Benny Hinn, a prosperity televangelist. He has been saved out of the Prosperity Gospel and now embraces the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Read more of this post
Sangomas, Umthandazeli and Umprofethi are common names used in South Africa for the local go-betweens or witchdoctors that mere mortals need to approach so as to discern the will and favour of God.
In this episode, Blaque Nubon of The Gospel Coalition Africa(TGC Africa) digs deeper into the practice of witchcraft and use of these go-betweens and how ingrained it is in many churches in Africa. Saneliswe Jobodwana tells of her testimony and journey to grace and true freedom in Christ as she speaks about witchcraft in the church.
In 1939 when King George had to muster some courage and give his Christmas speech – as the second world war loomed heavily over the future of Great Britain, Europe and the world, he borrowed the words of a poem written in 1912.
The poem had actually been first published just two years before the first world war. Interestingly it is so suitable for such a time as ours when now with the COVID-19 virus pandemic we see a foggy darkness descend and grip the world and life as we know it appears to be coming to a slow distressing ebb for the 21st-century millennial. For such a time as this…
“The Gate of the year” also titled ‘God Knows’:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
It’s coming to that time of the year and Christmas is in the air as they say. From movies to merchandising ads every one seems to have the same Christmas thought. Or do they? Say, your little ankle biters walk over to you and this year tell you they are not going to celebrate Christmas. What will you tell them are your reasons for celebrating or not? Here is a good link with resourceful answers…
The debate [reports Got Questions] about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?
First, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism.
At Christmas the time of the year when most people are setting up nativity scenes not many set up a bloodied cross or an empty tomb to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ yet his birth goes hand in hand with his death. Only true Christians know the immense and infinite significance of Christ’s death…He came as a lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. He came to die!
Imagine Christ, the sin bearer, approaching that hour…the hour of his appointed death. Is that a “Christmasy” thought? You bet! It gets better when you understand the reason why his death was was necessary.
Horatius Bonar puts it this way…
The feelings of the trembling sinner, when awakened under the terrors of the divine law, and made alive to the hell of sin within him, may help to give us some faint idea of the way in which the burden of our sins pressed upon Christ. It is true He had no sin—not the shadow of sin upon Him, for He was the Holy One; yet He speaks always of our sins as if they were His own, as if He had committed them. He felt under them just as if they were His own. He was perfectly holy, yet so closely were our sins bound upon Him by God, that He felt the pressure just as if they were His own.
Being our substitute, God dealt with Him as such—as if the sins He bore had really been His, not ours. Being thus in the eye of the law identified with those whose sins He bore, He was made to feel what they would have been doomed to feel, had God left them to reap themselves the fruit of their own transgressions. This awful burden He bore alone. He had none to aid Him; none to relieve Him of any part of its overwhelming pressure. There was none that could assist Him. There was none to divide the burden with Him; nor to uphold Him under it. “My lovers and my friends stand aloof…and my kinsmen stand afar off.” They all forsook Him and fled. And, as He bare it alone, so He bare it fully. …Read More!
This is an old humorous clip. It features a Baptist Church singing about Christmas (Er, plus 12 Doctrines that their pastor taught them). The kids seem to learn an earful in one seating…Please, sing along! 🙂
“You wonder why people choose fields away from the States when young people at home are drifting because no one wants to take time to listen to their problems. Ill tell you why I left. Because those Stateside young people have every opportunity to study, hear, and understand the Word of God in their own language, and these Indians have no opportunity whatsoever. I have had to make a cross of two logs, and lie down on it, to show the Indians what it means to crucify a man. When there is that much ignorance over here and so much knowledge and opportunity over there, I have no question in my mind why God sent me here. Those whimpering Stateside young people will wake up on the Day of Judgment condemned to worse fates than these demon-fearing Indians, because, having a Bible, they were bored with it—while these never heard of such a thing as writing.” Jim Elliot
“‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.” – William Booth
In nothing does Providence shine forth more gloriously in this world than in ordering the occasions, instruments and means of conversion of the people of God. However skillfully its hand had moulded your bodies, however tenderly it had preserved them and however bountifully it had provided for them; if it had not also ordered some means or other for your conversion, all the former favours and benefits it had done for you had meant little. This, O this, is the most excellent benefit you ever received from its hand. You are more indebted to it for this, than for all your other mercies. ~ John Flavel
Many ask that isn’t God’s purpose in mission and evangelism ruined by unbelief; especially when the gospel is taken to villages and hard hearted people groups who refuse to be receptive and responsive to the message?
It isn’t “The Parable of the Soils” in Matthew 13:1-23, but The Parable of the Sower, as Jesus himself called it (v. 18). The importance of this title is to show that it was Christ’s word, or the gospel, that is sown and that it is His intention to sow seed on the soil (people) who will not believe, as well as on those who would. Jesus is unambiguous. He clarifies that the gospel is able to be understood by a subset of those who hear (“to you it has been granted,” v. 11), “but to them [the rest] it has not been granted.” This surely had a special impact meant for the Jewish audience, as we see by reading Christ’s long quote in Isaiah 6.
The evangelism/mission cause can never be thwarted by the unbelief of the masses who will “keep on hearing but will not understand,” any more than Jesus’ own earthly evangelism was hindered by it. It has always been part of the plan that people will not understand. If a missionary hacks his way through jungle and finds no reception in some villages, it isn’t defeat. …Read More!
“There is no better test of our spiritual state and condition than our missionary zeal, our concern for lost souls. That is always the thing that divides people who are just theoretical and intellectual Christians from those who have a living and a vital spiritual life.” -Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Romans – God’s Sovereign Purpose)
In 2012 well, I went to Constance (Konstanz) in the South West corner of Germany to visit sites of historical importance to the Reformation. My plan was to of course visit the impeccable Constance munster (cathedral), John Huss (Jan Hus) museum and memorial stone. Or so I thought. As you may imagine the city of Constance always has its jaw dropping surprises and humorous detours. No wonder John Huss was short changed in that infamous Council of Constance by the Emperor Sigismund.
As I took in the nostalgic natural and ancient delights of this mesmerizing lake side University city guess who I stumbled upon again? Yup, that controversial Emperor Sigismund has had a statue of himself made. Well believe me it’s not a flattering one though. It is as controversial as it’s own colorful infamy.
Imagine walking down a peaceful foot path with park benches lining the sides of a clear lake harbor. A flower garden gives you a warm bear like hug from behind and thrusting you forward to catch the hue of the sun hidden behind the Spring time cloud line over the Lake Constance. There as you are intoxicated by the glory of the natural beauty of creation with no care in the world and just as you are about to take a nice cool sip of juice. There just before you can say “John Huss” There before you even can say “gesundheit”. There as you …Read More!
Is there a God? Is He sitting some where twiddling His thumbs or biting His finger nails as the world spirals into debauchery? Ever fancied taking a peek over His shoulder and catching Him taking a cat nap or slumped over in a yoga- pose with legs helplessly inter twined? Calvinism is associated with Reformed Theology the Theological system associated with the Reformer John Calvin that emphasizes and underlines the vitally important truth that God is in control of all things, not man; that God is the source of salvation; and that men and women can do nothing to save themselves. It emphasises our total dependence as guilty sinners on the mercy and grace of God for salvation. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation. Read More
Going through my old mail (this article was first run in 2011) I came across a copy of one of the hardest letters I have ever come to write. I have edited the particulars and specifics but featured the letter in it’s entirety. I have featured it not to cause any malice but to perhaps help somebody who may be in a similar situation. When breaking fellowship with a church that is digressing from orthodoxy, it is never easy especially after you have been a devout member. I thank God for the journey I have come through, without which I would not have known his providence and grace.
Dear Pastor XX,
Warmest summer greetings to you and your family. The last six or seven months have been a period of soul searching and re-evaluation of our own lives, our family and church visions in light of the Gospel. Read More
This is a common question especially when a church is beginning to define it’s rules and how things will be conducted. Here is some help:
The Bible’s teaching on Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is found in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 and promotes “open” participation for believers. All those who are true believers in God through personal faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, are worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper by virtue of the fact they have accepted the death of Christ as payment for their sins (see also Ephesians 1:6-7).
The actual reasoning behind some churches practicing “closed” communion seems to be that they want to make sure everyone partaking is a believer. This is understandable; however, it places church leadership and/or church ushers in a position of determining who is worthy to partake, which is problematic at best. A given church may assume that all of their official members are true believers, but even this is not necessarily always true. …Read More!
When it comes to missionaries to South East Asia or rather India in particular William Carey, a shoemaker by trade is the first name that springs up. Born in England in 1761 he spent an active forty-one years serving the Lord in India, including translating the Scriptures. This was after being heckled,”Young man, sit down: when God pleases to covert the heathen, He will do it without your aid or mine.”
To know what William believed I will let this excerpt unfold the story:
William Carey’s greatest contribution to the modern missions movement was his trust in the sovereignty of God in missions. This fueled his zeal to reach the heathen with the gospel. In his youth, he was told to sit down by an elder brother, a hyper-Calvinist, who told him that when God wanted to reach the heathen He would do it without him or Carey. Carey’s Calvinism however, his theological understanding of God’s sovereignty and the responsibility of man, would not allow him to either doubt God’s sovereignty or neglect his responsibility. Read More…
Oh how the words of some hymns just linger in the recesses of your mind and nourish you with rich spiritual truths. Today I will feature the first two verses and the last verse of William Cowper’s hymn ‘There is a fountain filled with blood’
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains…
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away… …Read More!
Why do so-called Christians forsake the pure wine of Gospel joy for the adulterated poison which the whore of the world smilingly holds out to them in her golden chalice? Is it because the message of the Gospel, which once sparkled in the preached Word, and furnished comfort to mourners, has now gone stale? Or has that stream of spiritual joy which has run through the lives of saints for so many generations, without mingling with the world’s polluted pleasures, at last fallen into them and lost its divine nature? No, the Gospel stays the same. . . and the joy it brings is as refreshing and restoring as it has always been. It will be lovely as long as God and Christ continue to be life, for it flows and is fed from their heart.
The problem is not in the Scripture; it lies in those who say they hold to it. Those who insist that they obey this Gospel are not like holy men and women of earlier times. The world has grown callous, and men’s priorities and affections have chilled and become cold. Our palate is no longer chaste; it no longer prefers the heavenly foods served in the Gospel. The cheer is as lively as ever but the guests are as deadened by constant contact with the world. We have grown debauched in our judgments and corrupt in our principles; no wonder that our joys are carnal.
Error is a whore that lures the heart away from Christ and His spiritual joys. Once the mind is confused by error and begins to malign the truth, it affects the heart, poisoning it with carnal joys. Here, then, is the root of the misery of our times. ..Read More!
Look around in the world, and you may see some in every place who are objects of pity, bereaved by sad accidents of all the comforts of life, while in the meantime Providence has tenderly preserved you .- John Flavel
Psa 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Ecc 3:14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
Isa 46:4 even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.
Jer 32:40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Phi 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
2Ti 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safety into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Of all whom he has called and brought to Christ, none will be lost
Joh 6:39-40 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Joh 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Rom 8:28-31 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? …Read More!
In this day and age when kids think being a missionary and going into all the world is dressing up like an Avenger or Captain America or one of those Marvel comic characters and busting a few skulls in the process makes you realise there’s a whole lot of teaching to be unlearned and re-learned the right way.
Needless to say Scripture is clear when it explains God’s desire for his church to participate in global evangelism (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8) and take the good news of the gospel to the ends of the world. Scripture is equally clear in explaining God’s desire for his people to train up their children in his ways (Deut 11:18–21, 32:46, Prov 22:6; Isa 38:19; Eph 6:4; 2 Tim 1:5, 3:14–15).
Mike Pettengill has written an article on how to engage the youth from an early age to understand missions. For the expansion of Christ’s kingdom, it is vital that the youth in our churches be taught about God’s passion for the lost and that he desires his disciples to reach out to non-believers and teach them about the grace and mercy of Christ.
Here are seven ways (adapted from Mike) on how your church can reach the kids of your congregation and teach them about the importance of world missions:
1. Study Missionary Biographies
In your children’s church and youth groups, include a series of stories about the great missionaries of the past. Tell your kids about the incredible missionaries who have served in the name of the Lord. Revere the martyrs and laborers who sacrificed for God. Let the youth see how these great servants were not super-Christians, but simply obedient Christians. Have the youth study, write, and report on their favorite missionaries of today and the past.
2. Video Conference With Missionaries
Help the children of your church get to know missionaries by asking missionaries to use video conferencing technology to talk directly to your Sunday school or VBS classes. Take a few minutes to interview the missionaries and their kids and let the kids of your church ask questions that interest them. Help your youth to get to know the missionaries your church is supporting and praying for. Allow the kids to learn missionaries are normal people just like they are.
3. Study Biblical Missions
Make concerted efforts to regularly study what Scripture says about the relationship between the church and missions. Help your youth understand missions and evangelism are central themes throughout the Bible. Train the kids of your church to see missions was on the heart of God from the beginning of time and that it is a command every church is to follow. Learn about biblical missionaries like Abraham, Jonah and Paul and study how God used average disciples to accomplish amazing things. …Read More!
“Christ can soften hearts which seem as hard as the millstone. He can bend stubborn wills which have long been set on self-pleasing, sin and the world. He can create, transform, renew, break down, build and quicken with irresistible power. There are no incurable cases with Christ. Let us never despair about the salvation of others for as long as we live. Let us name them before the Lord day and night and cry to Him on their behalf.” J.C. Ryle
One of the most important questions for a Christian after where will I spend eternity and whom shall I marry is what church shall I attend? Well of course if you just need a joint where to spend Sunday morning ‘s hang over then you may as well a steer away from this site. Steer far away.
I was recently asked by a friend how to choose a good church. To be honest it is a head ache. Possibly a migraine of a decision. With the plethora of churches on the high street these days one needs a lot of prayerful patience. You probably won’t find a perfect church but a good solid Biblical church with sound doctrine is indeed a God send. There’s More
Is the truth that which I imagine to be revealed to me by some private communication? Am I to fancy that I enjoy some special Revelation and am I to order my life by voices, dreams and impressions? Brothers and Sisters, fall not into this common delusion! God’s Word to us is in Holy Scripture. All the Truth that sanctifies men is in God’s Word! Do not listen to those who cry, “Lo here!” and, “Lo there!” I am plucked by the sleeve almost every day by crazy persons and pretenders who think that they have Revelations from God. One man tells me that God has sent a message to me by him—and I reply, “No, Sir, the Lord knows where I dwell and He is so near to me that He would not need to send to me by you.” Another man announces, in God’s name, a dogma which, on the face of it, is a lie against the Holy Spirit. He says the Spirit of God told him so-and-so, but we know that the Holy Spirit never contradicts Himself. If your imaginary Revelation is not according to this Word of God, it has no weight with us! And if it is according to this Word, it is no new thing! …Read More!
We must not concentrate overmuch upon our feelings. Do not spend too much time feeling your own pulse taking your own spiritual temperature, do not spend too much time analyzing your feelings. That is the high road to morbidity.—Martyn Lloyd-Jones. (Spiritual Depression)
This is an excerpt from a Table Talk (TT) magazine interview with an African pastor (Conrad Mbewe) of Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia…
TT: What are two important lessons that Western Christians can learn from the African church?
CM: Western civilization has lost a lot of its interpersonal virtues. It has become overly individualized—if you see what I mean. Issues like hospitality, respect for authority and the elderly, being more people-conscious than time-conscious, and so on are largely lost. This has affected not only the society generally but Christians as well.
Western Christians have filled their lives with too many things (toys?) that have robbed them of eternal perspectives. Electronic gadgets, holidays, sports, recreation, and so on have almost become idols. Even church must be about having fun.
God brings different seasons in our lives to teach us different lessons. There are times of joy, plentifulness and happiness and there are also times of difficulty and trials where our most immediate cry is almost”Lord, how long?”
This is an excerpt from an article of a man who learnt of the comfort that only comes from the God of all comfort when he and his family went through a very tough time:
I had known throughout my ministry, of course, that God comforts His own. I had taught about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, our paraclete, who was sent by Christ to help us. And I had seen that the reading of the Bible brings solace to sorrowing hearts and peace to those in great turmoil.
But now my wife and I are experiencing God’s comfort for ourselves. In the months since Elsie’s stroke, we have known daily the comfort of the Savior, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the precious Word of God…
The faith of the Christian should grow stronger in times of trial and trouble. Trials have a way of digging up the soil of our hearts and turning up weeds. That is good for us, for it is not in the sunshine but in the storm that we discover the depth of our need. Someone has said, Great soldiers are not made in the barracks nor on the parade ground, but on the battlefield where the going is tough.
Trials provide opportunities for us to get to know God better. In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul assured the Christians that he was praying for them on a regular basis. Included in the list of things for which he prayed was the request that they might be increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:10). Paul knew that one of the secrets to a full and blessed life is getting to know God better.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Do not be discouraged at the difficulties and oppositions that will rise up before you when you begin resolvedly to walk with God. Discouragements turn multitudes from religion, and provide a great temptation for many young beginners to turn back. Israel in the wilderness was ready to retreat to Egypt. God himself will have his servants and his graces tried and exercised by difficulties, and Satan, will quickly raise up storms before us, as soon as we are set out to sea.
But God is on your side and has all your enemies in his hand, and can rebuke them, or destroy them in a moment. O what is the breath or
fury of dust or devils, against the Lord Almighty! In the day you entered into a covenant with God, and he with you, you entered into the most impregnable rock and fortress, and covered yourself in a castle of defence, where you may (modestly) defy all adverse powers of earth
or hell. If God cannot save you, he is not God. …Read More!
It’s the 21st century now and it’s been awhile since we heard of nation wide outpourings of a sense of conviction over sin and a turning to the Lord in revival. It almost feels like no body prays for revival any more.
Speaking of which I recently went to Wales. Yes … the land of the Welsh revival of 1904! Oh yes again… I also had an opportunity to visit a church with an interesting historical root – the church at Blaenannerch. It’s pronounced differently by the Welsh and markedly differently by the English – Pahaha. Please just don’t ask me to explain.
Well, it is quite sobering what happened in that year in Wales. Listen to this account…
Thousands of people were saved. Public houses became almost empty. Men and women who used to waste their money getting drunk were now saving it and giving it to the church. They were using their money to buy clothes and food for their families.
Stealing and other offences became less and less. Often a magistrate came to court and found that there were no cases for him to try.
Men who blasphemed learned to talk purely. The miners put in a better day’s work but the pit ponies could not understand what had happened to the miners as they spoke to them more kindly. They were so used to being sworn at that they became disobedient!
People who had been careless about paying their bills or paying back money they had borrowed gave back all they owed.
David Livingstone gave his life to serve Christ in the exploration of Africa for the sake of the access of the gospel.
Here is what Livingstone said to the Cambridge students about his “leaving” the benefits of England:
For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? …Read More!
There is a book I am yearning recklessly to read and I will not abandon this pursuit. The book Reckless Abandon has been aptly summarised in this blog post from Cripplegate…
“It wasn’t the half-naked woman breastfeeding her baby on one breast that captured my attention. Rather, it was the piglet munching down on the other breast that stunned me into silence.”
So begins David Sitton’s autobiography, and I must say that the tone of that first sentence captures the tenor of the book. Reckless Abandon is a the summary of Sitton’s 35 years as a church planter among unreached people groups in Papua New Guinea, with a few forays into México (and one pit-stop in Minneapolis). The introduction explains that for Christians there is no such thing as a risk, because the worst-case scenario to all of our actions is death (“airmailed to Jesus” is Sitton’s phrase), and the rest of that book demonstrates this kamikaze world view.
If Jesus is worth more than our lives, then we should be willing to face death to take the gospel to the nations. What would a person’s life look like if they a) actually believed that, and b) actually lived that out? Reckless Abandon provides a good answer to that question. Sitton labors among the most difficult to reach groups in PNG, capitulates home to get a wife, returns to PNG until he gets expelled, then recapitulates to the states to start a lifetime of tourist visas. Reading this book made my passport feel tired.
Some one once said George Whitefield preached a pure gospel, a powerful gospel and a passionate gospel. He was a man of deep prayer, tremendous spiritual fortitude with a burdened heart, burning lips and brimming eyes. A contemporary of Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley, he was an English Anglican preacher who spent most of his life spreading the gospel by preaching in open air and was one of the major instruments of God used in the Great Awakening in Britain and the United States.
He drew great crowds when he preached to people from all walks of life. From a lordly chamber heavy with the pungent aroma of costly perfumes, Whitefield would race off to a street meeting. Catch his joy as he says, “There I was honored with having stones, dirt, rotten eggs, and pieces of dead cats thrown at me.”