Persecuted in Nigeria: 6 Pastors Killed - 40 Churches Destroyed

NIGERIA – Following Muslim attacks on Christians in Nigeria on Nov. 28-29, six pastors are dead, at least 500 other people are killed and 40 churches are destroyed, Compass Direct News reported. More than 25,000 persons were displaced in the two days of violence, according to...

Read the rest of the story at Voice of the Martyrs blog. Persecutionblog.com


Outflow - Eternal Purpose

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

The outflow from Heaven can only begin to increase through our lives as we decrease to our own way. God's ways are not our ways, they are higher in purpose than what we could ever think or imagine. What helps us to decrease is to know Christ as our life. We must come to the knowledge that He has an eternal purpose weaved into our destiny if we will only walk in the hope of His glory, putting to death the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life. Then we can step into His kingdom and really begin to experience all of its possibilities.

©2008 Richard Jones


Outflow - Looking Like A Cross

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

As we celebrate the season of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us put on Christ. Let our outflow be a reflection of His very character and nature. This is a time when those around us need to see His goodness, mercy, patience, faithfulness, and compassion, authentically flowing out into a world that is so often times impersonal, self-absorbed, uncaring and cruel. Yet out of His great love, Jesus died for them all. Will you love them as He did? Do you look like a cross to those without hope?

©2008 Richard Jones


Outflow - Good Works...Walk In Them!

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

The outflow from God is demonstrated through a life of good works that were ordained beforehand for us to walk in. For it is through the outflow of our good works that many will behold the love of our heavenly Father and give Him all glory! But let us consider one another to provoke each other unto love and to good works, that they which believe in God might be careful to maintain their good works in the sight of God and all men. These things are good and profitable unto all who believe.

©2008 Richard Jones


Persecuted in Orissa, India

Report: Hindu Groups in India Offering Rewards to Kill Christians

Extremist Hindu groups offered money, food and alcohol to mobs to kill Christians and destroy their homes, according to Christian aid workers in the eastern India state of Orissa.

The U.S.-based head of Good News India, a Christian organization that runs several orphanages in Orissa — one of India’s poorest regions — claims that Christian leaders are being targeted by Hindu militants and carry a price on their heads. "The going price to kill a pastor is $250," said Faiz Rahman, the chairman of Good News India.

A spokesman for the All-India Christian Council said: “People are being offered rewards to kill, and to destroy churches and Christian properties. They are being offered foreign liquor, chicken, mutton and weapons. They are given petrol and kerosene.”

Ram Madhav, a spokesman for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the largest hardline Hindu group, denied the claims. “The accusation is absolutely false,” he said.

Orissa has suffered a series of murders and arson attacks in recent months, with at least 67 Christians killed, according to the Roman Catholic Church. Several thousand homes have been razed and hundreds of places of worship destroyed, and crops are now wasting in the fields.

In recent weeks, the violence has subsided but at least 11,000 Christian refugees remain in camps in Kandhamal, the district worst affected. “They are too scared to go home. They know that if they return to their villages they will be forced to convert to Hinduism,” Father Manoj, who is based at the Archbishop’s office in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa's capital, said.


Outflow - Let Christ Be Lifted Up!

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

Freely you have received, so freely give! If you have freely received Christ, then give Christ freely! Christ freely gave us all things pertaining to life and Godliness through the outflow of His life, and so we are commanded to freely give Christ through the outflow of our lives to those whom we encounter. In order to do this we must first put on Christ and be transformed into His image so that the world around us sees only Christ, and if Christ be lifted up, He draws all men to Himself.

©2008 Richard Jones


The Crisis of a Christless Christianity

The Crisis of a Christless Christianity
by Chip Brogden

"As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him... beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him..." (Colossians 2:6,8,9a)

The Christian life is a life that is lived IN CHRIST. That is to say, to walk IN HIM is to live as a Christian. Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. A Christian is a branch that grows out of the Vine and continually produces abundant fruit for the Husbandman. The Church is the gathering together of all individual branches into one Vineyard (see John 15). In this metaphor we see that Christianity is supposed to be a living phenomenon, an observable reality, not a religious philosophy or set of teachings.

As we first received the Lord Jesus, so we continue to walk in the Lord Jesus. Receiving Christ is the Gate, but walking in Him as we have received Him is the Path. The Gate is an event, while the Path is a process. The Gate is for entering, while the Path is for walking.

Everything God has done, is doing, and will do is aimed at bringing us deeper into Christ, to finish what was begun in us when we first received Him. God is the One Who brings us through the Gate, and God is the One Who leads us along the Path. Everything God has done, is doing, and will do has the same purpose, and that purpose explains everything you have been through, everything you are going through, and everything you will go through.

Jesus is the Alpha from Whom all things in God are initiated, and Jesus is the Omega unto Whom all things of God find their purpose, their meaning, and their reason for being. Everything begins in Christ, and everything ends in Christ. He is the Beginning as well as the End.

Real spiritual growth occurs when we realize that God has only one goal for us, and that is, the full, mature, complete, and experiential knowledge of Jesus Christ. To the extent that we discard "things" and become focused wholly on Christ, to that extent we will make progress.


Christians should walk in the Lord Jesus as they received Him. We must not allow anything to keep us from growing up in to Him. Spiritual growth in the life of a Christian is determined by the measure of the increase of Christ and the decrease of Self: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). It is not a question of gifts, knowledge, years of experience, or power. If by the end of today there is less of me and more of Jesus then I am growing. Otherwise I am not. Jesus must become greater and greater in my life, and I must become lesser and lesser. This is the Path.

Along this Path towards apprehending Christ as all in all there are many pitfalls, snares, hindrances, and detours. Thus, Paul says we are to be on our guard and let no man spoil us. In this context, the word "spoil" means, "to destroy and strip of one's possessions; to deprive of something valuable by force." Every spiritual blessing heaven has to offer is found in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Each believer has an incredible fullness and completeness in the Person of Jesus Christ. Christ is THE Gift of God, the ultimate Gift, and this Gift is precious, valuable, and of great worth.

How then can we be spoiled? According to Paul we are spoiled "through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments (elements) of the world, and not after Christ." It matters not if the philosophy is good, right, morally excellent, and praiseworthy. It matters not how well intentioned, meaningful, or helpful the tradition is. It matters not how necessary we think the worldly element to be, or how important it is to society in general. If none of these things are "after Christ", that is, if they are not of Him, through Him, and unto Him, then they are worthless insofar as God's Purpose is concerned and must be discarded.

This is what Paul alludes to in Philippians 3. Paul represents the very best that religion, philosophy, and tradition has to offer - education, gravity, intelligence, doctrine, zeal, community service, and so on. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (v. 7,8). To be able to sweep aside all religious upbringing, moral philosophy, and tradition with one wave of the hand and consider it refuse is to know Jesus experientially as Enough. This is what it means to be decreased. God's Purpose for all believers is to be reduced to Christ, and everything is working to bring us to this final conclusion: "not I, but Christ" (Galatians 2:20ff).

The apostolic letters that make up a significant portion of our New Testament, more than anything else, seek to redirect the saints back onto Christ and away from a myriad of things seeking to rob them of their time, energy, attention, focus, and spiritual devotion. Many things competed with Christ and tried to spoil these new believers. These distractions were abundant in the early Church. They became entangled in many things. The whole controversy of Jews and Gentiles; to be circumcised, or not to be circumcised; to marry, or to remain single; to keep the Sabbath, or not to keep the Sabbath; which foods to eat, and which foods not to eat; whether one should follow Peter, or Paul, or Apollos; to speak in tongues, or not to speak in tongues; how men should behave, and how women should behave; what about this, and what about that. On and on it went, and on and on it still goes today.

I have said many times that we do not need more of the Lord, since we are already complete in Christ - we just need less of everything else. There are many things that spoil, hinder, distract, and lead us away from the simplicity of an abiding relationship with Jesus. Many of them are spiritual and religious. The spirit of Antichrist is not necessarily seen in something that is obviously satanic or demonic. Instead, the spirit of Antichrist is revealed in anything that seeks to spoil us by taking our eyes off of Christ - it is anti-Christ, against Christ, antithetical to the great Purpose of God.

How easy it is for us to become distracted into something less than Christ! Are you centered on Christ? Is Jesus your obsession? Is He your focus? Or have you set your sights on something beneath Him? This speaks right to the heart of the crisis we find ourselves in today.


The crisis of Christless Christianity begins with the way we go about reaching the Lost. Jesus said if He is lifted up then He will draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). Instead, we lift up religion and draw all men into an institution. Sinners today are presented with a Gospel that is decidedly in their favor. It is marketed and packaged the same way a salesman makes a sales pitch: it must answer the all important, universal question: "What's in it for me?" And the answer is salvation, the assurance of a home in heaven, deliverance, solutions to problems, peace, blessings from God, and so forth.

The death of Christianity will not be the result of everyone rejecting the Gospel, but the result of everyone accepting a watered-down version of it.

All too often the object of salvation, its very purpose, is overlooked. Why should a sinner repent? Not for what he or she can get out of it, but for what the Lord Jesus gets out of it. Do we reach out to the world based on their own self-serving need, or based on the Lord's Need? The harvest is for the Lord, not for the workers, and not for the ones who are harvested. The sheep are for the Shepherd.

A sinner ought to repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand. They should be shown that God is gathering together in one "all things in Christ" (Ephesians 1:10ff), that this is God's Purpose for all men, and that yielding to Him now is the only reasonable, logical, and life-saving alternative they have. But an easy Gospel begets easy disciples. If our message is easy then many will respond under the impression that they are doing God a big favor by "getting saved". Thus, God becomes their debtor, and they expect Him to repay them many times over, not merely with a future promise of life in heaven, but with good things for them in their present life on earth. Is it any wonder that the Church is spiritually weak and immature, with "disciples" such as this?

Christless evangelism does not give anyone salvation, it only gives them the false assurance of salvation. The Church is supposed to make disciples for Christ, not record decisions for Christ. A decision does not necessarily make a disciple. Christ must be the object and the focus of all outreach.


What is "the ministry"? According to the Scriptures, there is but one ministry, and that is the ministry of directing everyone to Christ as all in all. Now how this ministry functions in each one of us is different according to how God has placed us. There are many operations and many functions, many gifts and many manifestations, but there is only one goal and that goal is Christ.

For example, the purpose of the apostolic ministry is not church planting, or setting churches in order, or taking missionary journeys. The purpose is Christ. Now, they may DO those things. We are not suggesting that Paul did not do all these things; we are simply saying that Paul's purpose was Christ, and towards that end he labored accordingly. Without God's End in clear view, all these things become mere activities, religious carryings-on, but there is nothing ultimate about it, nothing that ties it all together or justifies it in terms of furthering God's Purpose. I have my little work, you have your little work, but there is no harmony, no communion, no relatedness between any of several million projects, ministries, and outreaches. Each one struggles to achieve their own ends, and there is little if any agreement on what exactly that "end" is supposed to be.

The apostle communicates the ultimate Purpose of God, lays the foundation, and then keeps the End before the builders at all times. But many of today's apostles seem to be presenting themselves as church planting or church growth experts. Is this what the apostolic ministry is becoming? Church growth is not God's goal. Church planting is not His purpose either. These are merely things: they are not Christ. You can plant churches and grow churches and completely miss Jesus in all of it.

What about the prophetic ministry? The purpose of all prophetic speaking is Christ. "It is the truth concerning JESUS that inspires all prophecy" (Revelation 19:10b, Knox). Those inspired to speak or proclaim something by the Holy Spirit should be helping to direct our attention onto Christ and away from everything that distracts us. The prophetic voice should rise up like a trumpet and bring clarity and direction out of confusion and misunderstanding. It is not just truth stated in an inspirational way, it is the truth concerning JESUS spoken by those who know Him and can lead others to Him. But of all things, the prophetic ministry today does more to distract us from Jesus than to tell us the truth concerning Jesus. In fact, it is difficult to find Jesus at all in most of what is touted today as "prophetic".

The prophetic word is given to point us to Jesus. Everything the Holy Spirit would speak, reveal, teach, and show us is towards this same end, which is CHRIST. We do not need to mull over every dream, vision, word, or prophecy, trying to exegete its hidden meaning, struggling to extract some spiritual significance where none exists. If what we see and hear does not point us to Jesus then it is not prophetic and should be discarded. This simple test will keep us from distraction.

Apostles must point people to Christ. Prophets must point people to Christ. Evangelists must point people to Christ. Pastors and teachers must point people to Christ. Otherwise they are not fulfilling the purpose for which God placed them in the Church to begin with. Apostolic ministry is not an end unto itself, but is a means to an end. Prophetic ministry is not an end unto itself, but is a means to an end. Evangelistic ministry is not an end unto itself, but is a means to an end. Pastoral and teaching ministries are not ends unto themselves, but are a means to an end. What is the end? What is the purpose? What does it all lead to? It leads to "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13b). The fullness of Christ, the full-knowledge of Him - this is God's Goal and His Ultimate Intention.


We know by now that the actual church building has nothing to do with God's Eternal Purpose. The church service is a thing created by us and for us - God's Need is seldom, if ever, considered. If we recognize that the service, ministry, meeting, gathering, or building is not the end, but only a means to an End (which is Christ), then we do well. But when we attach spiritual, emotional, or even superstitious significance to a mere thing, or place, or day, or tradition, or way of doing things, then we will be spoiled through "traditions of men", and will not walk after Christ Himself.

Even something as good as fellowship with other believers becomes such a distraction from Christ that He cannot trust us with relationships. We hunger and thirst for "like-minded believers", which is sometimes a code word for "anyone who thinks and believes the same as I do and will always agree with me no matter what!" The end result is we seldom find what we are looking for in other people.

Christians go here and there looking for "fellowship". They participate in meetings, conferences, seminars, groups, and online discussion lists and email exchanges. To be sure these can be useful tools for bringing Christians together - but not if they are looking for fellowship as a "thing", instead of the fruit of a Christ-centered life.

If fellowship with others is my focus then I am bypassing the Head and trying to have fellowship on some ground other than Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that "what we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ…if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…" (I John 1:3,7a).

Fellowship is ordained by God as a means through which the Life of Jesus may be shared: "From Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, making increase of the body towards the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16). In other words, we are joined together to experience the Life of the Lord together. This is what makes us of one mind and one accord. Like-mindedness only occurs when we agree to "let this mind be in [us] that was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). Life is not in a meeting, or in a gathering, or in a way of doing things - Life is Christ, and Christ is Life. He is the Purpose.

So true fellowship is grounded in Jesus first of all. Fellowship with others on THAT basis is neither forced, nor orchestrated; it is effortless, spontaneous, and full of life. Fellowship naturally occurs because we have all seen and heard the same thing from the Lord - we are walking in the same Path towards Christ as all in all. We are in one accord not because we all look, think, and act just the same, but because we all, in spite of our differences, have God's End in mind.

If we look to one another for fellowship apart from what we have seen and heard of the Lord then we are limiting ourselves to relationships with people with whom we naturally get along with. If we see fellowship as the reason for our existence as Christians then, ironically, we will never be satisfied. We cannot know one another according to the flesh and find contentment. We cannot properly discern the Body until we establish communion with its Head. Life is given and received as we stand with one another in relationship to Christ.


What is the "deeper Christian life"? It is nothing more and nothing less than Christ Himself. To be deep is to be simple, focused, and devoted to the One Thing that is needed (see Luke 10:41,42). But even here, some believers seek the deeper Christian life as a thing, a teaching, a certain way of acting spiritual. The "deeper life" becomes the goal instead of Christ as Life. They become profoundly mystical and spiritual, but it is death because they do not touch Christ, they touch spirituality. There is no life in spirituality, or mysticism, or religiosity; there is only Life in Christ. Anything less becomes a distraction.

I came to the Lord in the midst of the Charismatic movement. The emphasis was on Spirit-filled living, restoring spiritual gifts, the power of God, and so forth. We find no fault with walking in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. But what is the purpose of all this fullness? Why tongues, and prophetic words, and other spiritual gifts? Why the manifest power of God? All of these things are given us by the Lord to draw us deeper into Himself; to repeat, they are means to an End, but they are not the end, for the End, the Purpose, and the Reason for all things is Christ.

"When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all Truth [Christ]: for He shall not speak of Himself… He will glorify Me, for He will receive from Me, and will reveal it to you" (John 16:13,14ff). All the gifts, all the power, all the counsel, everything pertaining to the Holy Spirit has the goal of bringing us into a more complete knowing of Jesus Christ. Everything must be in harmony with this.

But just see how the experience of being "filled" or "baptized" or "anointed" or "slain in the Spirit" has replaced Christ! What is the result? Excess, error, and a falling away into the flesh. Today we see only a shadow of what we once saw. How many "Full-Gospel" believers are still living off of the glory that they saw twenty-five years ago! They are still looking for an experience, but if God gives it to them, it is a step backwards. They have not grown one bit; they are simply coasting on the energy of what God was doing twenty or thirty years ago.

It is time for us to leave elementary school and go on to maturity. "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man I put away childish things" (I Corinthians 13:11). The Lord has a high calling for us, and we are called to "go on to maturity" (Hebrews 6:1ff). The spiritual life begins in Christ, is sustained by Christ, and leads us to Christ. We may begin by having some profound spiritual experiences, but maturity is certainly not achieved through them.


Out of the Charismatic movement came an intense interest in spiritual warfare. Here is yet another potential distraction from Christ. What is spiritual warfare? It should be the process of demonstrating the preeminence of Christ over all things. It should be bringing all things into conformity to God's Ultimate Intention and showing that Christ is the Head of all principality and power. It should be learning how to defeat the dragon by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and the denial of Self (cf. Revelation 12:11).

Instead, spiritual warfare has become a weird end unto itself, and Jesus is scarcely seen. The revelation of Christ is seldom found; instead, we are often told to seek the revelation of satan and all his workings. Saints are kept occupied day and night fighting the devil (sometimes only in their imagination), or traveling all over the world to "confront" territorial spirits (which only proves they are warring after the flesh, for there is no distance in the spirit realm), intruding into things they have no business getting into. The backlash is swift and the damage is severe. Why? They have grasped spiritual warfare as a "thing" apart from Christ.

True, we cannot afford to be ignorant of satan's devices (II Corinthians 2:11b), but neither can we afford to make darkness the focus of our lives. Our focus is not the devil, what the devil is doing, or what the devil is planning to do. Our focus is Christ, and to the extent that we walk in the Light, to that extent the Darkness will be exposed by the Light and will flee.

Victory is not the result of everything we know about spiritual warfare: Victory is a Man. All the formulas, methods, teachings, manuals, and books in the world will not sufficiently prepare us for demonstrating the preeminence of Christ over all things if we do not, in fact, have an abiding relationship with the One Whom we are proclaiming.

What is the focus? Spiritual warfare, or Christ Himself? The first is a thing, the second is a Person. Spiritual warfare, properly carried out, is harmonious with God's Purpose because it exalts Christ (not the devil) and demonstrates that all things are submitted to Him. But without this foundation we are inviting disaster.


We are trying to get to the heart of things, down to the very root of these matters. The bottom line is there are many things that are ABOUT Jesus, but are NOT Jesus. Then there is Jesus Himself. When the things about Christ become more important than Christ Himself then we need to revisit who we are and what we are doing.

We live in the Laodicean age that is characterized by insipid lukewarmness and blindness to the truth of our own spiritual condition (cf. Revelation 3:1-19). The picture presented to us is one of Christ standing on the outside of things, knocking at the door, and waiting for someone to open the door to Him (cf. Revelation 3:20). Since this is written to the saints it cannot be construed as an invitation to sinners to "invite Jesus into their heart"; instead, it is the Lord calling upon the church to make Him the center again. The issue was, and still is fellowship, communion, and abiding - maintaining its relationship to the Head.

God's solution for a lukewarm, tasteless, colorless, odorless church is a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ. He will bring us back to our foundation. He will align us with His Purpose. He will adjust us back to Himself. God will purge, refine, chasten, and conform us to the image of His Son. But we must respond to His invitation and open the door.

O Christian, come back to Christ! Simplify your life, eliminate the "many things", count them as dung, and cling to the One Thing! Be reduced to Christ!

The Lord says, "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Revelation 3:21).

Amen! Even so, come Lord Jesus.

I am your brother,
Chip Brogden

©1997-2008 TheSchoolOfChrist.Org


Persecuted: The Underground Church In China

We in the western Church have become complacent with our faith in so many ways. Our brothers and sisters in China and other parts of the world are experiencing great persecution for their faith. But praise be to God that the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ has always flourished under the hand of persecution! Watch the video below and see how God is bringing true revival in the midst of persecution. As you watch, ask the Lord to search your own heart and show you how you might have a greater impact for the sake of the gospel.


Outflow - Out of the Abundance of the Heart

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) What is the outflow of your heart? Do the words you speak bring forth good or evil? Is the outflow from your lips blessing or cursing?...life or death? Which will you choose? God gives us the answer to these in His Word. He says: "Choose life!" "Speak forth blessings!" "Do that which is good!" But first, oh God, let our heart be purified by Your Word.

©2008 Richard Jones


Outflow - Giving It All Away

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

There was no greater outflow in the entire universe than on that fateful day at Calvary when the blood was drained from Emmanuel's veins. God gave us His very best. And to all those who receive this precious gift, God gives them His righteousness, in His Son Jesus, with all the resources of God's Kingdom made available to them through the Holy Spirit. This and eternal life are our inheritance. God's plan for us who have recieved His inheritance is to go and give it all away! Freely we have received, so freely we give. Today is the day of God's salvation!

©2008 Richard Jones


Fighting Demons - Transforming a City

As a missional church plant that has been called to invade the culture of our city and subvert it with the love of Christ, we have been prayer walking the downtown club district every Friday evening between 6:30 and 9:00 PM. We have been praying for a shift in our city and for the downtown adult entertainment district to be overcome by the glory of God resulting in an awakening that will draw all men & women to Jesus. So far we have seen some interesting things begin to happen.

One of the more interesting things that has happened is that as we have been praying in front of the area’s only adult bookstore each week, the devil has been getting more ticked-off. After we prayed there 3 weeks ago, the following week they put up a sign in the door that says “NO LOITERING ON THE SIDEWALK OUTSIDE”. Of course this is a public sidewalk and we are within our legal and constitutional rights to pray in front of the store as long as we don’t block customers going in and out, which we haven’t and wouldn’t. We don’t harrass the customers, nor do we carry any signs of protest. We just form a circle and pray.

Last Friday (7-18-08) there were 6 people including me and my wife. As we were circled-up praying quietly, the owner came out and began to yell and scream every fowl curse word I think I’ve ever heard at us. (As an ex-biker gang member, he could have made the whole gang blush!) He threatened to call the police on us for loitering in front of his store (again, we were on a public sidewalk) and then he began to throw huge handfulls of dirt and bark mulch from the new decorative planting area between the street and sidewalk on us until all 6 of us were covered with dirt and mulch. (The picture above is an older picture and does not show the new planting area.) We had it in our hair, down our shirts, in our pockets, in our ears, and all over our clothes! LOL! He also intentionally and forcefully walked between us as we were praying, almost knocking one of the women down. Well, 3 police units finally showed up and told the owner we were within our rights to do what we were doing and if he continued to use fowl language around the women they would arrest him and he would have to pay a fine. They furthermore told him that if he threw anymore dirt and mulch on us, or touched us in any way, they would arrest him for assault.

The owner of the Adult Superstore then told the police he was going to call all his gang-banger friends and stand in front of our church and turn up their boom boxes. That’s when I said, “Come on by, bring all the gang-bangers you can, they are welcome.” (I figured we would have a captured audience!) The cops saw it as a threat and told the owner that the city ordinance designates churches as “Quiet Zones” and if he did anything disruptive to our church that he and his gang-bangers would be arrested. Funny thing is, he doesn’t even know the name of our church! Anyway, the police warned us that he might be serious. I told the police we were used to this kind of response from the devil and that I did not want to press any charges against the owner. So the police THANKED US for praying in the area and especially in front of the porn shop. They said if we had any problems to just call.

Last week we prayed in front of a club in the same area as the porn shop that has had a problem with gun violence. It's a hip-hop club that is frequented by gang-bangers, some who are under-age. In the last 15 months up till last week there were 3 shootings that resulted in one man shot in the face, a 15 year-old shot in the neck, and a man shot and killed on New Year’s Eve 2007. Right after the murder, the club owner cancelled his lease, that's whe we offered the owner of the building an opportunity to let us use the building temporarily as a church, but he turned us down. He instead leased it for use as a club again to someone who claimed (to me) to be an active member of a local mega-church. When they opened the club, the ads in the local urban news rag showed a woman laying on a couch dressed only in a skimpy 2-piece lingerie!

So we prayed over the club last week and that the building would be used for God’s purposes. We also prayed for the owner of the club because he was mocking God with the name of the club (Club Pure) and his ads were semi-pornographic. All this while at the same time claiming to be a Christian involved in a local mega-church. We prayed that God would get his attention. Well, God acted swiftly. Two days later the owner was shot in the back inside the club! Thank God he was rushed to the hospital where he was expected to recover. Now the city council and the police are trying to shut-down the club and declare the building a public nuisance, keeping it from ever becoming a club again!

No one can ever tell me that being a Christian isn’t exciting!

©2008 Richard Jones


Outflow - Living Epistles

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows
out. 3. any outward movement.

The outflow of God's word is to be seen and manifested in the lives of His true believers. The apostle Paul wrote that we are living epistles, known and read by all men. That we are an epistle of Christ, written not by hands, but by the Spirit of the living God; not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:2&3) Christ was full of mercy and grace, and He was moved with compassion. Are people
seeing the same writen on our hearts? Oh Lord, search our hearts. Change us. We want to be just like you!

©2008 Richard Jones


Outflow - Pray for the Great Awakening

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

If we want a true outflow from God, then we must let our petitions and prayers flow out of a thankful heart to Him who sits on the Throne of Grace. And as long as we ask within the boundries of His will, He hears us and gives us what we ask for. John Wesley once said, "God can do nothing in the earth, except a man pray." All we need is to pray with the faith of a tiny mustard seed and God can do BIG things! He wants to outflow a great awakening in the Earth like never before. So pray and believe!

©2008 Richard Jones


Outflow - The Face of Jesus

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

The outflow of God's glory was seen in the face of Jesus Christ. (2Cor. 4:6) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image from glory to glory. (2 Cor.3:18) Are we allowing ourselves to soak in the glory of God and His Word long enough to be transformed into the image of Christ? When the world looks at us do they see an outflow of God's glory? We must begin to look more like Jesus if the world is to ever see the transforming glory of the Lord.

©2008 Richard Jones

Joel's Army or Gideon's Army?

-by Robert I. Holmes.

There is a commonly held belief in the church that the army of Joel and the army of Gideon both represent the same end time, militant and victorious church. My intention here is not so much to examine the theological foundations of such arguments, but to share a revelation I had recently which seems to contradict this understanding. I am fully convinced that the Lord is preparing his Bride for these last days. As part of this preparation I believe He is preparing an end time army. Not an army who will take over the world and set up the political system Christ will rule in (called Dominion Theology) but rather, a militant and victorious church who shall defeat the hordes of Hell.


In late October 1996 I had a startling vision. I was looking down from a high place and I saw a mighty army. It was marching in a long line, like a great column snaking through the jungle. It looked for all the world like a serpent. At it's head was a banner, which read "Joel's' army". Behind them they left a swath of destruction, a road of sorts cut through the jungle. I was made aware that this army was 'now marching' or had already mobilized.

I also saw off to one side, hidden in dense undergrowth, a battalion. This group stood quietly, waiting in the jungle. They were assembled in a square, and they were awaiting instructions. At the head of this smaller group was a banner which read "Gideon's army".

Then I looked and saw a single platoon, off to the side of the bat-
talion. It stood divided. I looked carefully at this group, feeling at first that it represented the local body of believers I belonged to at the time. They were standing in mud, in two ranks facing each other. The Spirit expressly said, "Many have passed through their ranks" and I began to realize they were (are) the prophets. These troops were stuck in the mud, and had not moved on for some time.


Joel's army has been promoted widely as being a good army, an army of the church. Many songs, sung in Pentecostal and mainline Evangelical churches even quote the warrior Scriptures as relating to the church. However I do not hold to that understanding. To me, Joel's army is one of terrible locusts, "a great and powerful army... Before them is like Eden, after them is desolate" (Joel 2:2,3). This is similar to the picture I had. Joel says they are "a powerful army, drawn up for battle, before them the nations are in anguish" (5,6). Why are the nations terrified of this army? Because they are an instrument of judgment.

Note that the Scripture does not say, "God's enemies are in anguish before them." Nor does it imply that the devil is afraid of them. It is the nations who are afraid. This army is made up of "the cutting locust... the swarming locust... the hopping locust... the destroying locust" (Joel 1:4). This is not a picture of the Bride of Christ. Evidently the army first destroys or brings judgment against God's own people because later in the book of Joel, God consoles His people saying, "I will repay YOU for the years the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, that great army I sent against you" (Joel 2:25).

This is clearly God's instrument of judgment against both his church and the nations (peoples), not a great or good army in the church! The passages relating to Joel's army confuse some, because it is said that the Lord is at the head of HIS army. He is in control of them. But that no more makes them the church than it made Babylon or Assyria the church! Jeremiah depicts Babylon as God's own instrument, his servant (Jer 25:9), just as Isaiah depicts Assyria as being a weapon in God's hand (Isa 7:20). God used them, as He uses the army depicted by Joel, to berate and scold an unrepentant Israel. In the same way, Joel's army is marching in the end times, to scold and rebuke, to consume and devour the unregenerate church.

I was impressed that this army was "now marching". There is only one globally significant move underfoot at this time. It has already affected many churches, denominations and groups. I have previously labeled it the "Blessing Movement"- It's 'streams' are severally identifiable as Howard Browne Ministries, the Toronto Blessing, Sunderland Outpouring and Pensacola Revival. This is, to me, one and the same movement in various forms.


The second army I saw however, portrays an altogether different picture. Here is an army fully prepared, awaiting instruction. It is not yet mobile. The battalion (in military terms about 10,000 men) was labeled Gideon's army. It represents the refined, the chosen, the remnant church. This second army is not yet marching. They are stable, focused, balanced and awaiting instruction. They have NOT been given their marching orders! Gideon and his men were exhorted: "Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel... I will be with you and you shall strike down the Midianites" (Judg 6:14,15). Note there is an explicit command to strike down the enemies of Israel, or for the church, the devil and his powers- not the church!

As I read through the account of Gideon in Judges 6-8 several things strike me about them. If this army is a picture of the remnant, then it will help to see what they had, and what they did. Firstly, they were twice refined. At first a great number of men gathered to fight (32,000 in all). During the first purging the Lord removed those who had the fear of man. This took their number down to 10,000. In my vision I saw the battalion (10,000 men) labeled as Gideon's army. This seems to indicate that the assembling battalion has already been refined of the fear of man. The second purging Gideon's army underwent was to remove those who trusted in their own strength. This took their number down to 300. The present Gideon's army (the one of my vision) may expect this second purging next.

I should say at this point that it is my understanding that the 'end time' army of God, the militant church making war on the enemies of the kingdom and taking ground for Christ will be made of many companies. Just one of these companies is Gideon's. Others have seen and labeled such companies as the Isaiah 57 company, the Elijah force and the warriors of Gilead. Perhaps these are all part of the same picture?

The next thing we notice about Gideon's army (and from now on these things are to come to the Gideon army gathered today) is that they were fewer in number than would be expected. Their number was so few in fact, that the move of God could not be blamed on them! The glory could only go to God and Israel would not be able to boast about the strength of her right arm. This fits well with my vision, as the assembled crowd represented only one battalion, not a whole army. The mighty triumphs and victories destined for this group can only be laid at the feet of Jesus.

In their first battle, Gideon moved only according to God's command. It was at God's initiative, at His request and by His plan only. It was interesting that as an army, they carried no swords! How could they possibly win the battle without weapons? Their battle cry was "a sword for the Lord and Gideon" (7:20) and the enemy "feared the sword of Gideon"(7:13). Yet in actual fact their hands were full. They went into battle with a shofar in one hand (trumpet) and fire in jars in the other.

The shofar symbolizes the prophetic clarion or the watchmen, used to sound the alarm and awaken the city. The fire in jars may well speak of this very great treasure we have within us, this precious truth about Christ which shall demonstrate his very great power: "we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." (2 Cor 4:7). Likewise the secret to our warfare is also that the weapons of our battle are not merely carnal, they are divine to the tearing down of strongholds (2 Cor 10:4).


After winning an amazing victory in their first battle, Gideon's army pressed the defeated enemy far into the Northern region. They passed through into the land of Ephraim, toward Penuel. The inhabitants of this region - the sons of Ephraim, were accomplished soldiers. Over the years they had managed successive enlargements of their territory, and were powerful enough by Isaiah's time for him to even call them the Northern Kingdom! (Isa 7:28,29). They had defeated the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb (Jud 8:3) and were furious that Gideon had left them out of the battle!

Gideon must have considered taking such fine fighting men along to rout the enemy, yet we read that he proceeded on without them (v 4). Whilst Gideon acknowledges their superior strength in battle (Judg 8:2), he in fact uses this as a way of diplomatically declining their implied offer of help. He proceeds without the prestigious fighters. It would have been tempting to take them along in his battle.

Who are these sons of Ephraim, and what might they represent to the present vision of the army of Gideon? Ephraim was the second son of Joseph. Joseph blessed him with his right hand, and placed him over his brother Manassah (Gen 48:13) signifying that he would be greater. From the beginning of the tribe, Ephraim gained a place of honor and prestige. Several notable leaders came from the tribe or region - Joshua, Samuel, Jeroboam, Tola and Deborah.

They had a special place in God's heart, until their rebellion against the house of David. He states, "I am the father to Israel and Ephraim is my first born" (Jer 31:6). Similarly "Gilead is mine, and Manassah is mine, but Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my sceptre" (Psa 60:7). They had several of the ancient and blessed places of worship, including Bethel, Shiloh and Shechem within their borders.

There were, and are many good reasons to bring along people who seem to have a fruitful ministry (the name Ephraim means "fruitful place" in Hebrew). They may have prestige, they may have power, they may be experienced in battle and spiritual warfare, they may have ruled in the previous moves of God, yet we like Gideon should deny their aide. Gideon did not choose their help at all. They do indeed have a special place in God's heart and plan, but not in His present plan for the army of Gideon. They are to rout the enemy with the help of Jehovah alone!


Finally, the group I saw off to the side of Gideon's army represents, I believe, the prophets. One important point of my vision was that they were divided. They stood separated from each other, and in at least two rows facing each other. The Lord said, "Many have passed through their ranks". I am reminded of the Scripture which speaks of the coming unity among the prophets: "your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion" (Isa 52:8 NKJV).

It is my experience that, by and large, prophetic persons are loners. Or at least they have a tendency to stay inward. They retract from too much publicity. Camaraderie among prophetic groups is a rare treasure indeed. In Australia especially, prophetic ministries tend to be individualist, elitist and aloof. But we can trust in the Scripture that as the Lord restores Zion, the watchmen shall gather together in harmony and unity. This is something to be overcome in Him.

Mud represents, at it's most basic level, wet earth. Earth or dust is the fabric which man is made from. Mud may therefore represent worldliness, or earthliness which taints prophetic ministry. Mud in Scripture is also associated with wickedness (Isa 57:20) and un-cleanliness (2 Pet 2:22). Being stuck in the mud up to the boot straps indicates the many ways in which the prophetic ministry has become tainted. Many groups have become attached to worldliness, and the keeping of position and power. Others of us have become proud, and others just plain sinful. Of all this we must repent, and be cleansed.

The prophetic band I saw were stuck in the mud, being not only tainted, but obviously trapped. Jeremiah used this analogy in warning the people of Israel that they faced captivity to Babylon since they had failed to head his warning. He warned, "this is what the LORD has shown me - a vision of all the women remaining in the house of the king of Judah being led out to the officials of the king of Babylon and saying, 'Your trusted friends have seduced you and have overcome you; Now that your feet are stuck in the mud, they desert you.' All your wives and your children shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon; and this city shall be burned with fire." (Jer 38:21-23).

Being stuck in the mud means to become trapped, and left open to being pillaged by the enemy, Jeremiah is basically saying to the captives of Jerusalem, "because of your sin, rebellion and failure to listen to God, you are trapped and shall be not only deserted, but carried away by the enemy. What a tragedy for the prophetic
ministries! My vision, lastly, is a warning that we must clean up, and move on. We must not pretend we are clean when in fact we are dirty. The call of the hour for those who call themselves prophetic is 'holiness unto the Lord'. Holy so that we may prepare and join the gathering, training, waiting army of Gideon in battle.

(c) Copyright 1997
~ Robert I. Holmes


Outflow - God's Goodness

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2. that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

The outflow that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, not partial, and not with hypocracy.(Jas.3:17) Are we allowing these things to flow out of us and into a dying world? Or are we being judgemental, unbending, harsh, and playing favorites? Jesus is our perfect example of how we should be towards those who are in the world. He knew it was God's goodness that brought a person to repentance and into His Kingdom.

©2008 Richard Jones


Help Us Lord

Heavenly Father, Help us remember
that the lady who cut us off in traffic
last night is a single mother who
worked nine hours that day and
is rushing home to cook dinner,
help with homework,do the laundry
and spend a few precious moments
with her children.

Help us to remember that the
pierced, tattooed, disinterested
young man who can't make
change correctly is a worried
19-year-old college student,
balancing his apprehension
over final exams with his
fear of not getting his
student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord,
that the scary looking bum,
begging for money
in the same spot every day
(who really ought to get a job!)
is a slave to addictions
that we can only imagine
in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the
old couple walking annoyingly
slow through the store aisles
and blocking our shopping
progress are savoring this
moment, knowing that,
based on the biopsy report
she got back last week, this
will be the last year that they
go shopping together.

Heavenly Father,
remind us each day that,
of all the gifts you give us,
the greatest gift is love.

It is not enough
to share that love
with those we hold dear.

Open our hearts not to
just those who are
close to us,
but to all humanity.

Let us be slow to judge
and quick to forgive,
show patience, compassion,
mercy and...


Outflow - Our Testimony Unto Death

OUTFLOW out-flow (out-flo) n. 1. the act of flowing out. 2.that which flows out. 3. any outward movement.

Revelation 12:11 says that: "We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony." The first was the outflow of Jesus for the atonement of our sins. The second is an outflow from our hearts in response to the first. We each have a testimony that God wants us to share with those who are in need of His forgiveness, grace, mercy and compassion. However, while doing so, just as Jesus did in order to bring us the testimony of His Kingdom, we are also to "love not our own lives unto death".

©2008 Richard Jones


Whisper of Angel Wings

Today I stumbled and once again,
was lifted by an unseen hand.
What comfort and joy that knowlege
brings for I hear the Whisper of
Angel Wings.

The guardian Angels God sends to all,
to bear us up when we stumble and fall.
Trust Him my friend, and often you'll hear,
the Whisper of Angel Wings hovering near.

©2008 Ashlie York
Age 15


Touching the Untouchables

Pure and undefiled religion is this: to minister to widows and orphans in their distresses. The compassion of Christ is the breeding ground of miracles, and we must fully comprehend the revelation of the mystery that the fullness of Christ, the hope of glory, dwells in us. We must allow ourselves to be formed into His image, then we can become living expressions of Him and His compassion will flow from us like rivers of living waters! Jesus said that if we touch the untouchables, if we minister unto the least of these with His compassion flowing out of us, then we are ministering unto Him and we will step into the realms of His glory where signs, wonders and miracles are made manifest.

Perhaps, just perhaps, if we were to stop arguing and bickering among ourselves over petty issues, and we went out to the highways and hedges touching the untouchables, then the Church would begin to look like a cross to a hurting and dying world. It is then that we would see the whole world flocking to the Church in order to know the one true Savior. In the meantime, the world sees the Church as hypocrites, having no better character and integrity then the rest of the world. Wounded and disallusioned, people are running out the back door of the church as fast as new people are coming in the front.

There are BILLIONS of people who do not know the message of the cross, and the best way to convey that message is if we ourselves become as living epistles. If we are to be identified with Christ then we must humble ourselves, pick-up our cross and carry it out into the world. We must be dead to ourselves, our agendas, and the things of this world so that the light and resurrection life of Christ can pour out of us. The light of Christ belongs in the darkness. It is not the light of Christ if we use it in an attempt to outshine each other. If that is all we use it for, then our lampstands will be removed.

In the story of Gideon (Judges 7:19-22), he used a remnant of 300 who took their trumpets, torches and empty pots into battle. They put their torches, representing the light of God's Word, into the empty pots, representing ourselves as vessels of clay who were empty before the light of God entered into us. As they went to battle they blew their trumpets, representing the prophetic announcement of victory over our enemies, and they broke their pots, representing us as being totally broken before the Lord, then they held their torches in their left hand, representing the light of God's Word that shines out of us as we allow ourselves to be completely broken before the Lord, and the enemy became confused slaying themselves with their very own weapons!

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds...the stongholds of sickness, disease, poverty and opression. Please Church, take the light, which is your weapon, and go out into the highways and hedges as living epistles, full of the compassion and love of Christ who dwells in you, and touch the untouchables! Then we will truly see God's will being done on Earth as it is in Heaven, with transformation and revival spreading like a wildfire wherever the soles of our feet shall tread!

©2008 Richard Jones


Luke 14:12-14

Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (NKJV)