2.09.2017

At The Crossroad

There comes a time and place along the path of our Christian journey when we arrive at a crossroad and are being forced to make a choice. The choice becomes whether we are willing to lay down our own lives so that we might pick up the burden of another, or to let another suffer while we go about living our daily life pretending that we are not responsible for helping them in the midst of their suffering; that they are somehow the one responsible for their own miserable condition. This is the greatest test of our faith! It is easy to walk past those who suffer, and to turn a blind eye to their suffering. But to look at the suffering of others through the loving and compassionate eyes of Christ means we are being called to die on the cross with Him in order that those who are suffering might live. And if we see Christ Himself in the suffering soul, then we are fulfilling the call of Christ by truly ministering unto Him.
~ Fr. Richard+
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James 2:15-16
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

1.11.2017

You Were Created for His Love

When we begin to understand how it is that God knew each of us before we were created in our mother's womb, and how He infused our soul from out of the unseen realm into a living body that has form and substance in this realm, we can begin to see each other as having equal value and worth to Him who created us and who loves us. Christ, who was both the Eternal and the Incarnate Word, He who was both fully God and fully man, came into the world to walk through our human experience, not so He could understand our human toil and struggles (although He was acquainted with our griefs and our sorrows), but for us to come in contact with His Divine nature, which is Love, and to be made partakers of that Divine nature. He spoke in human parables about God's kingdom so that we would understand in some small way that there is an eternal existence beyond our corporeal (fleshly) existence. He demonstrated the eternal kingdom of God before our very eyes for our benefit, all so that those with eyes to see and ears to hear might have hope of the life to come and understand that Christ was showing us the way back home to the Father who loves us and created us for His Love. However, because of sin, none of us deserve to be in His presence, nor deserve His grace. Yet, so valuable to God is each life and soul which He created, that the Holy One from heaven came down and walked the earth with sinners. He sat with sinners, He dined with sinners, He healed sinners... He saved sinners. Each one of us, no matter what lot in life we've been dealt, can reach out to be touched by the Divine, and be united with the Divine, the Holy One who is not from this world, the One who sets us completely free from the things of this temporal life which bind us to the world. And once set free from the world and all the things in it, there is no thing that can keep us from fulfilling our Divine and eternal purpose for which we were created.
~ Fr. Richard+
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2 Peter 1:2-4
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature (love), having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5.07.2015

True and False Prophets

We read in Daniel 11:32, that those who are influenced by the spirit of the antichrist will use smooth words (flattery) to draw people to themselves. The one unmistakable characteristic of every false prophet in history has been flattery. And the one unmistakable characteristic of every true prophet has been rebuke.

False prophets flatter people in order to win them to their group, or to build their own kingdoms, or to get honor, or to get money, etc. Many of these false prophets correspond faithfully with people, in order to retain their personal hold over them. Their letters will not however contain words of rebuke and/or correction (as in the letters of the Lord and of the apostles - as we read in Revelation 2 and 3 and in the epistles). Instead, they will only contain words of flattering commendation.

Smooth words will only defile your heart with pride and self-satisfaction. Words of rebuke on the other hand will cleanse your heart and make it pure. Jesus said "Those whom I love, I reprove and I discipline" (Rev.3:19). Rebuke is one mark of Divine love.

When God sends a prophet into our midst to rebuke us, that is a proof of the fact that God loves us. When God forsakes a church, it will "no longer have a prophet in its midst" (Psa.74:1,9) to rebuke it. Instead, it will have preachers who preach smooth words (2 Tim. 4:3,4). That is a sad condition for any of God's people to be in.

In Revelation 2 and 3, we see that even though five of the seven churches there were in a bad shape, yet the Lord had not forsaken them as yet. The proof of this is seen in the fact that He sent a prophet (John the apostle) to rebuke and correct them through his letters.

John had strong words even for the elders - words such as, "You have left your first love.... You are spiritually dead.... You are wretched and poor and blind and naked". If those elders and those churches did not respond to those words of rebuke, and repent, they would be forsaken.

Once the Lord "takes away the lampstand" (Rev.2:5), He will not send His prophets to rebuke that church any more. The false prophets will then take over, and smooth words will be heard regularly at the meetings, Sunday after Sunday!! This has happened in church after church, in generation after generation, throughout these twenty centuries. And it is happening all around us today.

It is at such a time, that there is a great need for those "who know God, who are strong, and who will do great exploits for Him" (v.32). Because they know God, they will fear no man.

by Zac Poonen

4.20.2015

The Monday Martyrs

The Monday Martyrs:

Each Monday we post something special about a particular Christian martyr or group of martyrs, past or present. It might be a known quote, a powerful prayer that was offered up to God by a martyr, something written by a martyr, a short biographical piece about an historic Christian martyr, etc. The purpose of The Monday Martyrs is to keep in remembrance the price that has been paid by those who have sacrificially given their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel. We are currently living in a time when Christian martyrdom is increasing around the world. Our prayer is that each person who reads this series, comes to a profound and powerful understanding that the faith we as Christians proclaim today, was brought to us through the blood and sacrifice of faithful saints who came before us.

Today we look at the approximately 30 Ethiopian Christians who were just martyred yesterday, Sunday, April 19th, 2015

In a gruesome replay of beheadings of captive Egyptian Coptic Christians, an Islamic State video disseminated on social media Sunday purportedly shows the point-blank shootings and decapitations of two groups of Ethiopian Christians in Libya. There was approximately 30 men who were martyred, all told.

The video switches between footage of the captives in the south being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a beach. The same English-speaking fighter who presided over similar killings in a video released in February declares, “We are back again.”

In the new video, released one week after Eastern Rite Christians celebrated Easter, the black-clad apparent ringleader informs “the nation of the cross” that Christians falling under Islamic State’s control face death if they do not accept Islam, according to a transcript provided by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activity. The killings were carried out to “take revenge for Muslim blood,” the chief executioner said.

“We swear to Allah … you will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam,” he said. “Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy.”

In the video, black-clad captives kneel before a line of masked fighters dressed in military-style camouflage uniforms and armed with automatic weapons, with a few scrubby tree branches in the background. Most of the kneeling men bow their heads, but in a still photo, one directs an abjectly terrified gaze at the camera.

Elsewhere, more African-appearing men are forced to kneel on the beach, their orange jumpsuits — like those seen in previous videos — contrasting with the bright blue water behind them. Like the February video, this one lingers on the aftermath of their beheadings, with the waves stained red with blood and the executed men’s severed heads placed atop their corpses with faces plainly visible.

The exact number of victims could not be determined from the videos, which panned along the lines of men, but the two groups together appeared at least as large as that of the slain Coptic Christians, if not larger. They were identified in a caption as adherents of “the hostile Ethiopian church.”

The video’s date and locations could not be independently verified, but depictions of previous killings have been authenticated by Western intelligence services.

Libya has fallen into chaos, with an array of heavily armed militias battling for political power and energy wealth. They are organized loosely into two factions loyal to either the Islamist-leaning former parliament or an internationally recognized government based in the country’s east.

Neither has gained the upper hand in months of fighting that has caused tens of thousands of Libyans to flee their homes, and international mediation efforts have failed. Christians have been at particular peril.

Islamic militant groups across North Africa have declared allegiance to the Sunni Muslim militants of Islamic State, whose home base lies in a swath of Iraq and Syria. In Libya, militants identifying themselves as Islamic State loyalists have carried out strikes, including the deadly bombing of a luxury hotel in Tripoli in January.

The violence against Christians by Islamic State and other groups has drawn expressions of horror from Christian leaders, including Pope Francis. On Sunday, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was visiting Egypt to express condolences over the Copts’ executions.
(Compiled from various news sources)

4.06.2015

The Monday Martyrs

The Monday Martyrs:

Each Monday we post something special about a particular Christian martyr or group of martyrs, past or present. It might be a known quote, a powerful prayer that was offered up to God by a martyr, something written by a martyr, a short biographical piece about an historic Christian martyr, etc. The purpose of The Monday Martyrs is to keep in remembrance the price that has been paid by those who have sacrificially given their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel. We are currently living in a time when Christian martyrdom is increasing around the world. Our prayer is that each person who reads this series, comes to a profound and powerful understanding that the faith we as Christians proclaim today, was brought to us through the blood and sacrifice of faithful saints who came before us.

Today, we look again at The Kenyan martyrs.
Garissa, Kenya, April 3, 2015

With grim predictability, the Easter weekend of 2015 brings annual Islamic attacks against Christians in the Middle East and Africa. This year it started in Kenya.

Kenyan authorities have imposed a curfew in the northeast part of that country a day after radical Muslims slaughtered at least 148 Christian university students.

The Muslim terror group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the horrific attack.

Early Thursday five shooters from the Somali-based al-Shabaab terrorist organization swept through Garissa University which is located near the Kenyan town of Garissa, shooting Christian students. They knew who to kill because they ordered students to recite an Islamic prayer. Those who could were spared. Those who could not were martyred.

"It was around 5 a.m. We wake up early in the morning for the morning prayers. We tried to turn on the lights, but they were not working," one survivor recalled.

Eye witnesses say the terrorists went from room to room asking students whether they were Christian or Muslim. Those who identified themselves as Christian were murdered on the spot without mercy.

Survivors of the Garissa attack spoke of merciless executions by the attackers, who stalked classrooms and dormitories hunting for non-Muslim students.

Reuben Mwavita, 21, a student, said he saw three female students kneeling in front of the gunmen, begging for mercy.

"The mistake they made was to say 'Jesus, please save us', because that is when they were immediately shot," Mwavita said.

It appears the gunmen had extensive knowledge of the campus layout, even targeting an area often used by Christians for prayer.

Many of those killed were reportedly beheaded after being asked to recite verses from the Koran. The siege lasted 13 hours before police finally stormed the university. The gunmen died when they detonated their suicide vests.

"On my own behalf and on behalf of my government, I extend condolences to the families of those who have perished in this attack," Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

Garissa is close to the Somali border. The town is mainly Muslim but many Christians attend the university.

The military has stepped up security as a dusk-to-dawn curfew has been ordered in Garissa and three nearby counties.

There is now a $215,000 reward for the man identified by Kenyan authorities as the mastermind behind the slaughter.

Since 2008, Kenya has been at war with Al-Shabab. The group has launched several attacks on Kenyan soil, but Thursday's was by far the deadliest.

The killings of these Christian students reveals, once again, the harshest reality of the chaos spreading throughout these regions. The reality is that multiple jihadist armies, invoking Islam, are engaged in a planned strategy, not merely of territorial aggrandizement, but of extermination.

(Compiled from various news sources)

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Please pray as the nation of Kenya mourns this horrible atrocity. Pray for the Holy Spirit to comfort all who mourn. Pray that God gives Kenya the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Pray especially for the futures of all the surviving students. Most of all, pray that the blood of the 148 Christian martyrs was not poured-out in vain, but that it is the precious seed that springs up to a great African revival like nothing the world has ever seen! Pray all this in the name of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen.

3.27.2015

The Coming Great Awakening

SECRET OF THE GREAT AWAKENING
by J. Edwin Orr

Dr. A. T. Pierson once said, 'There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.' Let me recount what God has done through concerted, united, sustained prayer.

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution (following 1776-1781) there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards; they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church 'was too far gone ever to be redeemed.' Voltaire averred and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.”

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place, where they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College, and they put on anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and they burnt it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790's that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer.

There was a Scottish Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh named John Erskine, who published a Memorial (as he called it) pleading with the people of Scotland and elsewhere to unite in prayer for the revival of religion. He sent one copy of this little book to Jonathan Edwards in New England. The great theologian was so moved he wrote a response which grew longer than a letter, so that finally he published it is a book entitled “A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of all God's People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom on Earth, pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies...”

Is this not what is missing so much from all our evangelistic efforts: explicit agreement, visible unity, unusual prayer?

1792-1800

This movement had started in Britain through William Carey, Andrew Fuller and John Sutcliffe and other leaders who began what the British called the Union of Prayer. Hence, the year after John Wesley died (he died in 1791), the second great awakening began and swept Great Britain.

In New England, there was a man of prayer named Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, who in 1794, when conditions were at their worst, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States.

Churches knew that their backs were to the wall. All the churches adopted the plan until America, like Britain was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings, which set aside the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.

When the revival reached the frontier in Kentucky, it encountered a people really wild and irreligious. Congress had discovered that in Kentucky there had not been more than one court of justice held in five years. Peter Cartwright, Methodist evangelist, wrote that when his father had settled in Logan County, it was known as Rogue's Harbour. The decent people in Kentucky formed regiments of vigilantes to fight for law and order, then fought a pitched battle with outlaws and lost.

There was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister named James McGready whose chief claim to fame was that he was so ugly that he attracted attention. McGready settled in Logan County, pastor of three little churches. He wrote in his diary that the winter of 1799 for the most part was 'weeping and mourning with the people of God.' Lawlessness prevailed everywhere.

McGready was such a man of prayer that not only did he promote the concert of prayer every first Monday of the month, but he got his people to pray for him at sunset on Saturday evening and sunrise Sunday morning. Then in the summer of 1800 come the great Kentucky revival. Eleven thousand people came to a communion service. McGready hollered for help, regardless of denomination.

Out of that second great awakening, came the whole modern missionary movement...

10.25.2013

Outflow - Today is All We Have

We cannot act in the unborn future, nor in the dead past, but only in the living present. For today outflows life and death, character and destiny, from its hands. We must learn to live each day by the faith of Christ, challenging and discerning every opportunity for its eternal purpose and meaning. Most miracles in the Bible took place in a brief moment in time, changing the natural course of events, and thus forever altering the destiny of those who were there in that moment. Our lives have the potential to change in the blink of an eye, for good, or for bad. But the past cannot be changed, and the future will yet be determined. Often we will say, "Perhaps some other time", only to find that there is no other time. However, NOW must be the place where we take our stand; today may be all we have. So, therefore, let us bring great glory to our Lord and King while it is still yet today! †††

©2013 Fr. Richard L. Jones

7.19.2013

Closer Than a Friend

Meditation:
If a close friend is one who encourages us to do our best, then is Jesus not our best friend? Should we not look at the Lord's Supper as one of His primary requests for us to be our best? The Eucharist does not look back into our past with a critical eye, but Christ looks to our future with hope and Divine calling. The Master draws us from what we have been into what we might be. He bids us come, not because He sees as somehow better than we once were, but because He wants us to be. To stay distant from Him because our heart has grown cold, is to refuse to go to the fire so we can be warmed; and the fire is always there, its flames fanned by those who came before us to receive its warmth.

©2013 Richard Lewis Jones

7.18.2013

Cultivating a Habit of Pleasing God

Meditation:
There is a quality about all we do, when we do it to please the Father, that redeems the lowliest and most mundane task from insignificance, it puts hope in the most monotonous of duties, and it dignifies the smallest of efforts. If we think of life as our opportunity in which to form the habit of doing all things to please God and bring Him glory, then nothing is trivial. Whether we give or receive a cold cup of water on a hot summer day, visit a sick neighbor, smile at a passerby, or pray for a complete stranger, whatever we do, we can cultivate a habit of pleasing God. This habit is well worth establishing, for it will surely outlive our very life in this world, and keep pace with eternity in heaven to come.

©2013 Richard Lewis Jones

4.25.2013

Picture of a Prophet


The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men.

Years back, Dr. Gregory Mantle was right when he said, "No man can be fully accepted until he is totally rejected." The prophet of the Lord is aware of both these experiences. They are his "brand name."

The group, challenged by the prophet because they are smug and comfortably insulated from a perishing world in their warm but untested theology, is not likely to vote him "Man of the Year" when he refers to them as habituates of the synagogue of Satan!

The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality.

In a day of faceless politicians and voiceless preachers, there is not a more urgent national need than that we cry to God for a prophet! The function of the prophet, as Austin-Sparks once said, "has almost always been that of recovery."

The prophet is God's detective seeking for a lost treasure. The degree of his effectiveness is determined by his measure of unpopularity. Compromise is not known to him.

He has no price tags.
He is totally "otherworldly."
He is unquestionably controversial and unpardonably hostile.
He marches to another drummer!
He breathes the rarefied air of inspiration.
He is a "seer" who comes to lead the blind.
He lives in the heights of God and comes into the valley with a "thus saith the Lord."
He shares some of the foreknowledge of God and so is aware of impending judgment.
He lives in "splendid isolation."
He is forthright and outright, but he claims no birthright.
His message is "repent, be reconciled to God or else...!"
His prophecies are parried.
His truth brings torment, but his voice is never void.
He is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow.
He is excommunicated while alive and exalted when dead!
He is dishonored with epithets when breathing and honored with epitaphs when dead.
He is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but few "make the grade" in his class.
He is friendless while living and famous when dead.
He is against the establishment in ministry; then he is established as a saint by posterity.
He eats daily the bread of affliction while he ministers, but he feeds the Bread of Life to those who listen.
He walks before men for days but has walked before God for years.
He is a scourge to the nation before he is scourged by the nation.
He announces, pronounces, and denounces!
He has a heart like a volcano and his words are as fire.
He talks to men about God.
He carries the lamp of truth amongst heretics while he is lampooned by men.
He faces God before he faces men, but he is self-effacing.
He hides with God in the secret place, but he has nothing to hide in the marketplace.
He is naturally sensitive but supernaturally spiritual.
He has passion, purpose and pugnacity.
He is ordained of God but disdained by men.

Our national need at this hour is not that the dollar recover its strength, or that we save face over the Watergate affair, or that we find the answer to the ecology problem. We need a God-sent prophet!

I am bombarded with talk or letters about the coming shortages in our national life: bread, fuel, energy. I read between the lines from people not practiced in scaring folk. They feel that the "seven years of plenty" are over for us. The "seven years of famine" are ahead. But the greatest famine of all in this nation at this given moment is a FAMINE OF THE HEARING OF THE WORDS OF GOD (Amos 8:11).

Millions have been spent on evangelism in the last twenty-five years. Hundreds of gospel messages streak through the air over the nation every day. Crusades have been held; healing meetings have made a vital contribution. "Come-outers" have "come out" and settled, too, without a nation-shaking revival.

Organizers we have. Skilled preachers abound. Multi-million dollar Christian organizations straddle the nation. BUT where, oh where, is the prophet? Where are the incandescent men fresh from the holy place? Where is the Moses to plead in fasting before the holiness of the Lord for our moldy morality, our political perfidy, and sour and sick spirituality?

GOD'S MEN ARE IN HIDING UNTIL THE DAY OF THEIR SHOWING FORTH. They will come. The prophet is violated during his ministry, but he is vindicated by history.

There is a terrible vacuum in evangelical Christianity today. The missing person in our ranks is the prophet. The man with a terrible earnestness. The man totally otherworldly. The man rejected by other men, even other good men, because they consider him too austere, too severely committed, too negative and unsociable.

Let him be as plain as John the Baptist.
Let him for a season be a voice crying in the wilderness of modern theology and stagnant "churchianity."
Let him be as selfless as Paul the apostle.
Let him, too, say and live, "This ONE thing I do."
Let him reject ecclesiastical favors.
Let him be self-abasing, nonself-seeking, nonself-projecting, nonself-righteous,nonself-glorying, nonself-promoting.
Let him say nothing that will draw men to himself but only that which will move men to God.
Let him come daily from the throne room of a holy God, the place where he has received the order of the day.
Let him, under God, unstop the ears of the millions who are deaf through the clatter of shekels milked from this hour of material mesmerism.
Let him cry with a voice this century has not heard because he has seen a vision no man in this century has seen.
God send us this Moses to lead us from the wilderness of crass materialism, where the rattlesnakes of lust bite us and where enlightened men, totally blind spiritually, lead us to an ever-nearing Armageddon.

God have mercy! Send us PROPHETS!

Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994)

About the author: Leonard Ravenhill was a well-known British evangelist who brought many people to Christ through his straightforward preaching of the Word. In 1959, he and his family moved to the United States, where Ravenhill continued to travel, ministering in tent revivals and evangelistic meetings. He placed great emphasis on the subjects of prayer and revival, and though he wrote many books, he is probably best known for Why Revival Tarries. ("Picture of a Prophet" was taken from Ravenhill.org and used by permission of the author's son, David Ravenhill. Copyright (C) 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill.)