just a thought

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Rev. Aaron Linford

IS BEAUTY ONLY SKIN DEEP?

It all depends on what you regard as beautiful. There is pleasure in physical perfection – in a woman attractive, in a man admirable. But the Bible speaks of a moral beauty called “the beauty of holiness” (Ps 96:9), that makes our worship acceptable to God.

The exhortation of Peter (a married apostle – 1 Cor 9:5), is not to major on “outward adorning” – elaborate coiffure, expensive jewellery, fashionable dress – but rather on “the hidden man of the heart, the ornament of a weak and quiet spirit”. (1 Peter 3:3,4). As Paul expressed it, modesty and restraint become “women professing godliness” (1 Tim 2:9,10). Neatness – yes! Tidiness – yes! Attractiveness -yes! But eye-catching sex-traps – no!

Character is more than clothing, yet our attire says much about our attitude to life, to others, to God. Clothing was originally intended as protection, but it actually becomes a projection of our personality. What do people see when they regard our attire? A trumped – up society – seeking person, a fashion – bound slave, or a believer who, without losing taste or trimness, displays a pleasing aspect. Our inner poise can be reflected in our outward appearance.

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illustrations that light up life

rev-ernest-anderson

Rev. E. Anderson

THINGS OF VALUE

Living Senior Ministries 

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” — John 15:13

A ten year-old boy was picking through a bucket of dirt near a commercial gem mine in North Carolina when he found an interesting rock. He liked the shape of it, so he took it home and showed it to his parents. After they took it to a gemmologist, the rock was discovered to be a 1,061-carat sapphire worth more than $35,000.

Quit often, things that might not appear to have worth can actually carry tremendous value. You’ve probably put a jacket or coat on simply because it was cold, only to reach in the pocket and discover a $20 bill you left in it several months ago. That which had a small perceived value at first ended up giving you more than you realized.

The same is true in our everyday relationships with others. It’s easy to take friends for granted, assuming they’re just going to be there the next time you call or visit them. But the truth is that those relationships should be deeply treasured because our life here on earth is temporary.

So as you think about your friends and family with whom you’ve built relationships, remember what they really mean to you and express that to them. Understand the value of a faithful friend and don’t take a moment with them for granted!

PRAYER CHALLENGE 

Thank God for the friends in your life. Pray you’d never take them for granted.

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healing testimonies

ernes1

Rev. E. Anderson

HEART PROBLEMS

Keisha Bass

Taken from Chicken Soup for the Soul

“Heal me, 0 Lord, and I will be. healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one 1 praise” —Jeremiah 17:13-15

“The tests show you have a heart murmur. Have you ever been diagnosed with this before?”

“No, Doctor. I’m not sure what that is.”

“Basically, it’s an irregular heartbeat. I see from your chart that you are recovering from drug addiction. How long have you been clean?”

“It’s going on two weeks now.”

“Well, good. I know it can be hard. And what was your drug of choice?”

“Marijuana and cocaine.”

He paused as his eyebrows lowered and he tightened his lips. “Well, snorting great amounts of cocaine has been known to cause an irregular heartbeat. Are you taking any medications?”

“Yes. Antidepressants, pain pills for my headaches, sleeping pills, and blood pressure medicine.”

“That’s quite a bit. There is nothing I can prescribe anyway. We will just have to monitor this. As you leave, make an appointment for a month from now.”

As I left the room, I thought about the consequences if I had continued to abuse drugs. Staying away from drugs the past two weeks had been one of the most difficult things I’d ever done. But I was glad to have made it that far. My previous attempt at quitting lasted six days, so fourteen was a big accomplishment.

I’d been attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings and did my best to follow my sponsor’s suggestion of ninety meetings in ninety days. When I called her, she told me she was headed to a Christian recovery meeting that night.

“Would you like to go? They serve dinner and you can bring your Bible.”

“I’d love to go.”

I looked forward to this because the NA meetings would use the term “Higher Power” to represent their God. I wanted to freely say “God,” my Higher Power, and not feel as though I was offending anybody.

I met her in front of the building behind the church where the meeting was held. With my Bible in hand, I met the people standing outside with great anticipation. Everyone seemed friendly and welcomed me into the gathering. People were everywhere, catching up with friends, and carrying plates of food to share at the meeting. You could see everyone’s story in their faces. They may have looked beaten down and broken on the outside, but each person possessed a light that shone from the inside. I wanted that light.

After introducing myself and sharing with everyone how many days I had been clean, I sat back and listened. We sat in a circle as people took turns telling the group how God had helped them through the toughest times in their recovery. I was at home and comfortable there. And although I didn’t speak that night, I knew I would be back.

I went back and forth between the NA meetings and the Christian meetings. I was torn between wanting to receive my key chains for NA attendance and wanting to declare the name of God loud and clear. Finally, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with going to both. I grew stronger in God’s Word and began to ask questions when I didn’t understand. I knew I needed the Word to stay away from the weed. And with each meeting at the church, I dug deeper into God’s Word. Then one night a man named Chuck gave his testimony about what God did in his life. He asked for prayer because he was travelling overseas on a mission trip. He couldn’t believe how his life had changed. He went from using to being used. Everyone prayed for him and praised him for being available for Gods plan.

After that session was over, my sponsor asked Chuck to pray over her. She had pain in her body and knew he had the gift of healing. I patiently sat and waited, not knowing what to think.

He picked up a small bottle and poured its golden contents on his hands. He then put one hand on her head and the other he raised high in the air. He closed his eyes and spoke with great confidence to God.

My sponsor swayed back and forth as tears flowed from her eyes. I didn’t understand what was going on, but it was real to me. A few seconds passed, and then she fell back on the floor. She lay there for a minute. And after about a minute more, a bystander and I helped her off the ground.

She smiled and said, “I know I’m healed.”

I wanted this. I wanted to be healed. I walked over to Chuck. “Would you pray for me?”

Without hesitation, he answered, “Of course.”

He held his bottle and said, “What’s your health issue?”

“I have a heart murmur.”

“Okay. Let’s pray.”

Again, he extended one hand to the heavens and he placed his other hand over my heart. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I kept my mind open. My stance was tense. I could feel my body start to move in minute circles, but my legs resisted. I heard my sponsor speak. “Let it go, Keisha. Trust God. Let it go.”

Before I knew it, my legs gave way and I was on the ground. I could see nothing but a white flash of light that almost blinded me. I sat up, but then froze. I took everything in. I could feel God all around me. I had peace and felt refreshed. I stood up and looked at my sponsor. “What just happened?”

“You experienced being slain in the spirit. I am going to tell you what someone once told me. Look up scriptures on it, study them and pray for full understanding. Also, enjoy and accept God’s powerful way to heal.”

That night you could not have dragged me away from my Bible I prayed and cried, and cried and prayed. The following day, I called the doctor’s office to confirm my appointment. I was overly excited to see if they’d be able to detect the irregular heartbeat. I knew in my heart of hearts that it wouldn’t be there. I just wanted the proof or paper. I told everyone even before the appointment that I had been healed from a heart murmur and it was an incredible experience.

By the end of the week, I was in the doctor’s office awaiting the results. The doctor entered the room with my chart in his hand and a smile on his face. He spoke what I already knew. “Well, Keisha. I can’ seem to find the heart murmur at all on the EKG. It has only been a few weeks. That’s amazing.”

“That’s God,” I smiled. “Amazing.”

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great stories

ernest-024[1]

Rev. E. Anderson

A PEARL OF GREAT VALUE

by Marcia Evans

Did the gift of the seed pearl come one day too late?

It was Thursday of my high school graduation week. Thirty of us seniors, fifteen boys and fifteen girls, had been summoned to a mysterious ‘secret meeting’ in the science room. Why us? We all wondered. Why, of all the soon-to-be-graduates, had this particular group been called together?

The science teacher, Mr York, met our puzzled glances with a smile. In his late thirties, prematurely bald, and his bow tie was much a signature as his horn-rimmed glasses. He proceeded to hand each of us a small white box tied with a pink or blue ribbon.

‘During the past three years,’ Mr York began, Tve come to know you well. And I see something in each of you that makes me excited about your future. In your box you will find a brooch or a tie pin decorated with a seed pearl. That pearl stands for your potential -the things you have going for you. Boys and girls, the world is your oyster. Just as a seed placed inside an oyster can grow into a pearl of great value, so each of you has a seed of greatness within.’

As we untied the ribbons I bit my lip to hold back tears. How much Mr York’s words would have meant, just one day earlier, to someone who’d never seen any greatness in herself! I opened the box and stared at the tiny pearl set in a silver brooch. Would have meant, but not now. The previous day, I’d learned I was pregnant.

The news spelled the end of a dream: my own and my mother’s. As long as I could remember, Mother had set aside a few dollars each week from her job at the grocery store towards a college education for my older sister, Marianne, and me. Education, she would tell us, was the way to escape the life of the coal mines. The life that mottled my grandfather’s face with indelible blue scarring, that drove men from their shift at Number 8 Mine into the many bars in our town, that turned strong young men into invalids.

I was three years old when my father Was admitted to hospital. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis, developed from years of breathing coal dust, but at that time the disease was considered such a stigma I was told he was in the Army. Once a month Mother and Marianne and I would make the long drive from Coaldale to the sanatorium. I could never understand why all the ‘soldiers’ wore bathrobes.

Even after he was discharged five years later to a rehabilitation programme, Mother’s wages often fed the family. Her dream that one day Marianne and I would change the pattern was one born out of hardship.

Marianne! Perhaps I would have lacked self-confidence anyway, but by comparison with her … Beautiful and brilliant, top girl in her class, school orator, National Society student, drum majorette, Carnival Queen, Marianne seemed to be everything that I, with my braces and Coke-bottle glasses, could never hope to be. Five years younger, I was still in secondary school when Marianne fulfilled her part of Mother’s dream by graduating from college. Now, instead of pride, I’d brought shame on the family: in our close-knit community, premarital sex was a scandal.

Dan and I were married two weeks after my graduation. We’d wanted this, but not until we’d finished college and started our careers. With a family to support, Dan dropped his own career plans and entered the Army. We had three children, and were transferred from base to base, moving ten times in seven years. Constantly uprooted, living nowhere long enough for me to do anything but settle in before packing up to move again, I would look at the little charm dangling at my wrist and wonder what ‘greatness’ Mr York had imagined he saw in me. Finally, I tucked my charm bracelet away in a drawer.

After ten years of being constantly on the move, Dan took a civilian job near our home town. It was great to be back in familiar surroundings, and great to be near our families, but of course the pearl had come back with me too. I hid it away in a drawer again, but it was. not so easy to shut it out of my mind. Increasingly it chafed and prodded me. You have potential. Find it! Use it!

Now that our youngest child was in school, I thought, perhaps I could do volunteer work. I threw myself into children’s theatre, a singing group, driving for Meals-on-Wheels. On top of all this, when the restlessness continued, I tried various jobs. I clerked at Mont­gomery Ward, managed a florist shop, taught aerobics, and even delivered singing telegrams.

I was busy, I was attempting to help others, I was adding to the family income, but still I was restless. I would open that drawer, look at the bracelet and think, ‘Is any of this building on that little seed Mr York saw?’

At night, after the family were asleep, the old goal of college would come back and keep me awake, tossing and turning. But I was thirty-five years old! It had been seventeen years since I’d writ­ten an essay paper or taken an exam.

My mother must have guessed at my turmoil, because one after­noon as we talked on the telephone while I started supper, she said, “Remember the money I saved to send you to college, Marcia? It’s still there.’

I could only stare at the receiver in my hand. Seventeen years had not been enough to blunt Mother’s dream. When Mr York had spoken of ‘things going for you’, I hadn’t been able to think of a angle one. But now that I looked about for them, they were every­where! A mother’s dream. A husband’s encouragement.

It took me six more months to work up the courage, but in September 1985 I enrolled at my local University. Of course all my self-doubts enrolled with me. When my aptitude tests pointed to a career as a teacher, I was incredulous. Teachers were confident people like Mr York, not people like me. The tests were so definitive that I entered the teacher-training programme. By the end of the second term I was ready to quit. I was competing with bright young people half my age and feeding my family packaged meals in a dusty house. On the two-hour daily commute, I would look heavenwards and ask God whether a college degree could possibly be in His plan for me.

For self-doubters, quitting always seems the sensible thing. Our daughter Kerry would be entering college in September. Instead of straining the family budget I should have been earning money for her education.

One May afternoon in my freshman year, after a particularly stressful class session, I drove home in tears. ‘God,’ I prayed, ‘If you really want me to stay in school, please find a way to show me.’

The following Saturday I ran into Mrs York at the dentist’s office. I told her about the seed pearl and how it had goaded me back to school. ‘But it’s turning out to be too hard.’

‘I know,’ she sympathized. ‘My husband didn’t start college till his thirties either.’

I listened in amazement as she described struggles just like my own. Sitting on his courses, I’d assumed Mr York had been teaching for years and years; from his wife I learned that my graduating class had been his very first. I saw that chance meeting as the nudge I needed in order to stick out the next three years.

Sure enough, on graduating, I knew that I’d found the ‘something’ Mr York had seen. I took a job teaching English at a local school. Due to the years I’d spent away from school, I tried to bring the workaday world into the classroom. Newspapers were as much a part of my curriculum as the classics, factory visits and talks by local employers as important as Shakespeare.

Towards the end of my first year, the principal stunned me with the news that he was nominating me for a national award for excel­lence in first-year teaching. In the application, I was to tell how one of my own teachers had inspired me. Of course, I told the story of the seed pearl. Only as I described the way that charm had dogged and pestered me did I realize that it had functioned exactly as a seed in an oyster is supposed to: an irritant and a discomfort, never letting the oyster alone until it has built something larger out of that tiny beginning.

In September 1990, I was one of one hundred teachers to receive the first-year award. More importantly, Mr York was given a Teacher Tribute Award and honoured by Newsweek magazine. When the two of us met for a newspaper interview I learned how appropriate the timing was: Mr York would be retiring at the end of the year.

I learned something else that day: to the reporter, Mr York revealed that he, too, had seen himself as a loser. After getting poor grades all through high school, he’d drifted for a dozen years, going from job to job, unable to believe in the future because he didn’t believe in himself. What had turned him around? ‘Seeing other people’s faith in me.’

Suddenly, I saw a science classroom and thirty high school seniors opening small white boxes. ‘That’s what we had in common, wasn’t it?’ I said as understanding dawned. ‘The kids you gave the seed pearls to. You saw thirty young people who lacked self-confidence.’

‘I saw thirty people’, he said, ‘with seeds of something great.

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gospel nuggets

rick warren

Rev. Rick Warren

JESUS CAME TO RECONNECT YOU TO GOD

 

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a NLT)

Many of us expect that God is ready to smite us after all we’ve done wrong. The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 forever proves that false. You’ve probably heard the story even if you haven’t read it in Scripture.

A man has two sons. One of the sons comes to the father and asks for all of his inheritance early. The father does what his son asks. But the son squanders the inheritance on wild living. He then gets a job cleaning slop from a pigpen. Starving, he realizes even the pigs he is feeding are better taken care of than he is. So the son returns home.

Instead of his father being angry and scolding him, the father runs to meet and embrace the son. The grateful father then throws a party for his long-lost son.

That’s also the story of Christmas. The Bible says all of us were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:5). Although humanity had been created as the apex of God’s creation, we sinned and forfeited the ideal relationship we had with the Father in the Garden of Eden. But God didn’t give up on us. Instead, he gave us Christmas. He gave us Jesus.

No matter what you’ve done, who you’ve hurt, or how you’ve been treated, that’s how much God loves you right now. He loves you enough to send his Son so he can have a relationship with you.

Jesus came to reconnect you just like the prodigal son was reconnected with his father. Some people assume that God is ready to scold them when they come back to him. But God isn’t mad at you; he’s mad about you! He’s crazy about you, and he can’t stand to see what sin has done to you.

That’s the story of the Bible.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 says, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ” (NLT).

The biblical term for what God has done through Jesus by bringing us back to him is “reconciliation.” When a married couple reconciles, it means the war is over. When warring nations reconcile, it means peace has come. When you reconcile accounts, they are no longer out of whack.

The Bible says that through Jesus we can finally have peace with God.

And it’s the greatest news we can ever discover.

TALK ABOUT IT

Have you experienced the peace that comes from being reconciled to God? What difference has it made in your life?

With whom can you share the opportunity to be reconciled to Jesus Christ this Christmas season?

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a time to laugh

ernestanderson

Rev. E. Anderson

PIZZA FUNNY

Pizza Delivery Kid: “Here’s your pizza, sir!”

Grouchy Customer: “What’s the usual tip?”

Pizza Kid: “I’m new at this, but the other guys said if I got a quarter out of you, I’d be doing great.”

Grouchy Guy: “Is that so? In that case, here’s five dollars.”

Pizza Kid: “Thanks, I’ll put it in my college fund.”

Grouchy Guy: “College, eh? What are you studying?”

Pizza Kid: “Applied psychology.”

GOLF FUNNY

Ted was struggling with his golf game so he enlisted the help of Bob, the club pro.

After observing Ted’s game through nine holes, Bob said, “I think I know your primary problem.”

Ted was eager for some answers: “What is it?” he asked.

Bob replied, “You’re standing too close to the ball after you hit it.”

CHURCHGOING

In one church, the pastor, apparently fed up with all the excuses given over the years as to why people don’t go to church, included “Ten reasons why I never wash” in the Sunday bulletin:

1.  I was forced to as a child.

2.  People who wash are hypocrites – they think they are cleaner than everybody else.

3.  There are so many different kinds of soap; I can’t decide which one is best.

4.  I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped.

5.  I wash only on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter.

6.  None of my friends wash.

7.  I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.

8.  I can’t spare the time.

9.  The bathroom is never warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer.

10. People who make soap are only after your money.

FUNNY PRAYERS

Two young boys were I   spending the night at their I   grandparents’ house, the week before Christmas. At bedtime, as the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers, the younger one began praying at the top of his lungs: “I pray for a new bicycle! I pray

for a new Nintendo! I pray for a new VCR!”

His older brother leaned over and nudged the younger boy and said, “Why are you shouting your prayers? God isn’t deaf.”

To which the little brother replied, “No, but Grandma is!”

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focus

ernest-024[1]

Rev. E. Anderson

FIRST THINGS FIRST

“Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine– Proverbs 3:9-10

There is no feeling like seeing the results of hard work for the first time—that sense of satisfaction when our toil and determination at last yield a tangible result. A farmer or gardener experiences this sensation when the first tender vege­tables sprout from the earth. An entrepreneur experiences it the first time she turns a profit and sees black ink on the balance sheet. An author feels it when he pulls a printed copy of his book out of the box from the publishing company.

These are first fruits—the promise of more to come. They symbolize potential turned into reality, and they indicate that we may become wealthy, or at least have enough for our needs. It’s only natural, then, that we treasure our first fruits. We step back and admire them from every angle with a deep sense of fulfilment, thinking, I did that. But that’s when God taps us on the shoulder and reminds us, “No, I did that.” He gave us the ability and blessed us with the right circumstances.

In the Mosaic Law, the Israelites were required to bring a portion of their first fruits to the priests as a sacrifice to the Lord. This offering represented the finest produce of the land. The result, God promised, would be blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel and God’s continued presence among His chosen people.

God asks the same of His children today: We are to give Him the first and best of what we have. Unfortunately, our tendency is to clench our fists around our first fruits and give what’s left over. But a grudging gift doesn’t honour God (remember Cain?), so He doesn’t pry our hands open. He doesn’t need our offering, but in His perfection He knows that giving what’s most precious to us changes our hearts. When we learn to let go of what we most desire—when we look for ways to honour the Lord with the best of our resources—our lives will brim over with blessings.

What do you value the most? Your money? The first hour of your day? Time with your family? When you’re tempted to give God the leftovers, consider whether that honours Him and what abundance you’re missing by holding on to it so tightly.

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dave’s snippets

new-image

Dr. David Allen

AMAZING   TESTIMONIES

      –  Dr Dave Allen*   takes a brief look  at  conversions  throughout history-

The   composer   Paul Mealor, whose   piece  called “Ubi  caritas”  was  played at the royal wedding,  gave an unusual  testimony in a recent  broadcast. He   became   a Christian  at  the tender age  of only  nine as he was swimming alone. Feeling he was in a strong current  and about to drown,  he did not become   alarmed but relaxed  and felt a deep calm settle on him as if he were  held  by strong arms  supporting him  and helping him  back  to the shore.  He believed  it could only  have been God   saving him, both  physically   and  spiritually. Was  this just a  childish fancy, he was asked; but Paul’s reply was  very clear.  Ever   since  that  moment, he had become   and continued to be  a  firm believer! 

 

THE  LIMITLESSNESS  OF THE “WHOSOEVER 

That    testimony  is only one  of many   dramatic   testimonies, both  in  the New Testament   and  since. One  of the most amazing is  that  of   Saul of Tarsus,  a leading  young rabbi  and  pupil of  Rabbi Gamaliel. Saul   was  fanatically  opposed  to the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, because he  regarded them as  heretical: they  apparently  worshipped three gods and   were   devoted to  a  man  who perished by  crucifixion as  a blasphemer. On  his way  to persecute  and imprison the embryo church  at Damascus, he was dramatically   arrested  by a vision   of the risen  Christ. Blinded literally,  his spiritual   eyes   were opened   to the true identity  of Jesus:  he was  not a blasphemer  but   the Son of God! Tax-collector  Zacchaeus curiosity   saved   him. Wanting   to see  Jesus,  he perched up a convenient tree  because  of his small stature. Jesus looked  up, called him down and  shortly after put his name   in the book of life!

Towards  the end of the  fourth  century a   young scholar, then   residing  in Milan, began  to attend  sermons  given  by Bishop  Ambrose. Hitherto  he  had  thought   the Bible was a barbaric   book   and   Christians  were   ignorant and    naïve. Listening    to Ambrose    gradually softened  his  antipathy  towards the faith, but still did not convince him. Conversion  came  in an  orchard    as he was reading  among   a  pile of books. As  he  looked  up he heard  children  voices   saying,” Take up  and read!” His eyes settled  on a passage   from Paul’s   epistle  to the Romans: ”Let  us behave properly…not in carousing or sexual promiscuity…but put on the Lord  Jesus Christ…”. From  that  moment, convicted   of his former style of life,   he became a convinced   Christian  and    was    baptised  soon  afterwards.  Bishop   Ambrose  baptised him.  This    scholar    was, of course,  Augustine. He was to  become  one of the most influential  of  theologians and teachers.

The conversion  of  Martin Luther was truly dramatic. A  brilliant  young man, who  was   destined   for the  legal  profession,  he had already   begun his studies.  However he  was beginning  to sense   a higher  vocation than that  of a lawyer: the Lord  was speaking to him and, following  the custom  of the times, he  purposed  to become a  monk.  Walking  back  to his  place of study,  he  was  assailed  by a violent   storm   and so took   shelter   under a tree.  As he cowered there  the tree  was shaken   by  a bolt of lightning   and Martin cried out  to God for   help,  feeling  death   was near.  Trembling  with fear, he   there and then   committed  himself  to the monastic life. And this     was   the beginning  of a long and sometimes   spiritual pilgrimage    from    religion   to  authentic faith  in Christ  –   from trying to trusting. Methodists  who know the   story    of John Wesley  will be well aware  that a memorable phrase  read from Luther’s  Preface  to Romans was  the instrument  used by the Holy Spirit  during the   Aldersgate moment  of John’s conversion. Yet  another  memorable encounter  with Christ!

Ramon Lull  spent  much of his time   at the  Majorcan Court  in Palma,  mainly  pursuing  lovely   aristocratic  beauties.  He  often  composed  love-poems  for his latest paramours. However, in  the midst of  one poem he was composing, a  disturbing  thought  appeared: The  Lord  spoke to him    and  said,” You   often compose  songs and poems  to your loves, but  none is  ever  addressed   to me, your Saviour.” From  that moment on, Lull’s life   totally changed.  After  a period of   vigil on a mountain top, he  purposed  to serve Jesus  as his only true love. Travelling  far and wide  in missionary   service  he, above all, refuted   Islam  and  was a stout     defender   of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.   He learned Arabic for  his missionary work in North Africa  and translated  the New  Testament  into Catalan, still spoken today in   Catalonia. He was stoned to death   near Tunis  about  1315.  His tomb   is in Palma.  

We should not be surprised to discover, when we  study conversions,  how   varied   are its  subjects. The  New Testament   sets the pattern for the whole Church Age: a  demonised   fallen woman, Mary Magdalene, and  Saul of Tarsus,   the fanatical man of   religion, set out  the whole range  of humanity and their  possibilities for future Christian   service. Mary,  from  supposed   prostitution,  is given the quasi-apostolic proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection; Saul,  the   arch-enemy of the  faith , becomes its most    devoted  advocate.  True  conversion  is primarily the    agency   of the Holy Spirit,  as   we can see   from  John 3:   mysterious  as   the wind    and penetrating every opening, it unerringly     reaches its  human   “target” in   the most  effective and suitable way,   by storm, wind, crisis  or a small voice!

 

THE  GLOBAL EMBRACE OF  THE GOSPEL 

Nevertheless  we must not forget that the Lord  not only  moves  in  personal  interventions  but also  via   movements  in history: the dominion of Rome, despite  times of persecution, in the final analysis, aided  the spread  of Christianity; the Renaissance|, beginning  with the flight of scholars and their manuscripts  when Constantinople   fell   to the Turks, proved to be the   necessary  preamble and preparation for the  Reformation, particularly  via Northern humanism. By 1550 most of northern Europe  was Protestant, the  seed-bed of  Bible societies   and   missionary and evangelistic  movements. As  the old hymn neatly   says, God is “ Disposer   Supreme and Lord of the earth”. He acts  both   personally  and   globally  and will continue till  the  number  is complete  and   the Father    tells   the Son,” Bring  my people home!”

So, what of  our own  time? And  here   there is    an  interesting  parallel with  the Reformation:  the  invention   of printing  with movable type wonderfully aided  the new movement;  and electronic  communications seem  a similar advance  in our day, providentially  coinciding  with the spectacular progress of the world wide   Charismatic  Movement. Could  it be that,  at long last, the spiritual   darkness  of Asia  will  capitulate  to the Gospel which  it resisted in the great missionary  thrust  of the nineteenth century elsewhere. South  Korea  may point  the way.

Postscript

Finally,we  need  to say that authentication  of   conversion  is largely a matter  of    what follows in terms  of lifestyle  and  useful  service  : Onesimus, the  fugitive slave,  meets Jesus   via Paul, then returns to Philemon  as  a  useful and beloved brother. It  is not enough  to  look back to a moment  of enlightenment but to  ask  where   am  I  now and what am I presently  doing. Demas   went very well  for a time, but  preoccupations with things of the present age deflected him and so was no longer moulded by  the world to come and   the  need for  continued   service  in the Gospel.  James  puts things succinctly, ”Without   works  faith is dead.”

*  Retired   Senior  lecturer in Christian and Doctrine History, Mattersey Hall. His  books on  the Lord’s Supper   and   Charismatic Church History  are available on 01636- 681091.

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message by dave wilkerson

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Rev. Gary Wilkerson

THERE IS A TIME!

There is a time! I am talking about when it is time to stand up and take action. A time when it is right to say, “I believe God is calling me to be an answer to help in rescuing hurting people.”

There is a time when you hear of a church going to the mission field—a time to say, “God bless them.” There is a time to engage in prayerful faith—and then there is a time for you to get up and go. It’s time to arise—to take action!

In Genesis 14:14-16 Abraham did just that when he heard that his nephew Lot had been taken captive. He got up, armed his three hundred and eighteen men and took them with him. He was outnumbered by tens of thousands to just his few hundred but God gave him a plan. Abraham said, “We’re going to split into two troops and we’re going to go in at night time.”

Do you see what he was doing? He was getting the mind of Christ for the battle plan.

Some of us are like Lot when we get upset or enraged, even though we know his actions got him into trouble. We say, “I’ll get up but I’ll take action in my own strength,” rather than listening to the Lord. I am not talking about a fleshly rising up and getting something done because you’re a New Yorker or your political beliefs are different from somebody else’s. I am talking about getting something done because you are a follower of Jesus Christ.

You move in the Spirit, you walk in the Spirit, and you hear the Spirit speak to you. Out of that comes trust, prayerful faith, but also an active, moving, engaging, vibrant life where you become a witness, a servant. You become engaged in ministry that makes a difference in people’s lives. Wherever you are involved—if your teenagers are in trouble or your husband/wife is far from God—you are engaged in speaking into their lives. You are modelling something that is different from what the world has to offer.

Wives win their husbands to the Lord through their humility; through their love; through their service. Men see their families come to Jesus Christ when they stop acting like ogres and begin to really serve and love and put others ahead of themselves.

The type of faith the Holy Spirit is calling us to says, “God, I need You and You want me to become involved.

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christian testimony

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Jermaine Defoe

DEFOE’S PRAYERS BEING ANSWERED

SPURS forward Jermaine Defoe appears to be having his prayers answered as his renaissance at the London club continues.

The 30-year-old has had no trouble finding the net this season and silenced his critics who thought the striker would leave White Hart Lane in the summer.

But his return to goal-scoring could well be the result of praying for help in raising his game, as Defoe, a Christian, gets on his knees every day.

FAITH

He said recently: “I pray every day, in the mornings and before I go to bed. I think it’s important to pray, and not just when things are going bad.

“When things are going bad, it’s easy to pray and ask God to help you out, but it’s also important to pray when things are going

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