Monday, 24 December 2007
He possessed neither wealth nor influence. His relatives were inconspicuous and had neither training nor formal education.
In infancy He startled a king; in childhood He puzzled doctors; in manhood He ruled the course of nature, walked upon the waves as pavement, and hushed the sea to sleep.
He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His service.
He never wrote a book, and yet perhaps all the libraries of the world could not hold the books that have been written about Him.
He never wrote a song, and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the songwriters combined.
He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students.
He never marshaled an army, nor drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun; and yet no leader ever had more volunteers who have, under His orders, made more rebels stack arms and surrender without a shot fired.
He never practiced psychiatry, and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the doctors far and near.
Once each week multitudes congregate at worshiping assemblies to pay homage and respect to Him.
The names of the past, proud statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone. The names of the past scientists, philosophers, and theologians have come and gone. But the name of this Man multiplies more and more. Though time has spread nineteen hundred years between the people of this generation and the mockers at His crucifixion, He still lives. His enemies could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him.
He stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints, and feared by devils, as the risen, personal Christ, our Lord and Savior.
We are either going to be forever with Him, or forever without Him. It was the incomparable Christ who said:
"Come to Me, all you who are weary and
burdened, and I will give you rest."
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through Me."
"Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
I encourage you to do this today.
Enjoy this video about Charles Wesley the author of the great Christmas hymn:
'Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the new born king'.
Below are the words of another hymn mentioned in the video and was also one of the first hymns he penned after his 'assurance of faith'.
Note in this hymn that he is not merely content to sit and muse on his own deliverance, rather, he calls and invites all others to share the blessing he's received.
Says Jesus:'Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men'.Charles Wesley and his brother John were to become such 'fishers' and are numbered among the greatest of them.
1 WHERE shall my wondering soul begin?
How shall I all to heaven aspire?
A slave redeemed from death and sin,
A brand plucked from eternal fire,
How shall I equal triumphs raise,
Or sing my great Deliverer's praise?
2 O how shall I the goodness tell,
Father, which thou to me hast showed?
That I, a child of wrath and hell,
I should be called a child of God,
Should know, should feel my sins forgiven,
Blest with this antepast of heaven!
3 And shall I slight my Father's love?
Or basely fear his gifts to own?
Unmindful of his favours prove?
Shall I, the hallowed cross to shun,
Refuse his righteousness to impart,
By hiding it within my heart?
4 No! though the ancient dragon rage,
And call forth all his host to war,
Though earth's self-righteous sons engage
Them and their god alike I dare;
Jesus, the sinner's friend, proclaim;
Jesus, to sinners still the same.
5 Outcasts of men, to you I call,
Harlots, and publicans, and thieves!
He spreads his arms to embrace you all;
Sinners alone his grace receives;
No need of him the righteous have;
He came the lost to seek and save.
6 Come, O my guilty brethren, come,
Groaning beneath your load of sin,
His bleeding heart shall make you room,
His open side shall take you in;
He calls you now, invites you home;
Come, O my guilty brethren, come!
7 For you the purple current flowed
In pardons from his wounded side,
Languished for you the eternal God,
For you the Prince of glory died:
Believe, and all your sin's forgiven;
Only believe, and yours is heaven
It is hard to read such words and not feel the passion of this great evangelist.
If you would like to read more, click the 'Wesley Fellowship' link on my fav Websites and you can download any or all of his great hymns and messages.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
My dear friends,
What does the Kingdom of God look like in the slums, where little children play with excrement, fall into dirty drains, where waste rots, pigs feed, flies feast, pollution lingers, odours ferment and diseases mock? Where children live in tents stitched with rags, neglected and abused, where the joy of childhood is never experienced? Where women are suppressed and beaten, stripped of their rights, voiceless?
I began my spiritual quest nearly 20 years ago through sitting outside a tiny slum hut, one among hundreds of huts squeezed together along a filthy drain. I treated the sick all day, listening to them and comforting them. Today, nearly two decades later, as I see the beautiful women holding their heads high, empowered and confident, healthy children living in safe and secure homes, and playing happily on the clean paved streets, perhaps I have had a glimpse of what the Kingdom of God looks like in the slums.
In this Kingdom, the slums become a place where the poor, created in the image of God, become possessors of a dignity, their inherent worthiness, which is inalienable and inviolable. Where they are empowered to live full and meaningful lives. Where God's justice and impartiality are consistently expressed. Where the oppressed and exploited, those treated with scorn, exclusion and contempt, are defended and comforted. Where the fainthearted are encouraged, where the dimly burning flame is never quenched, where fairness and truth reign.
It is a place where we respond to injustice through non-violent resistance and active peacemaking, thus showing ourselves not violent or weak, but rather courageous and dignified and strong, exposing the naked greed and cruelty of our oppressors.
It is a place where compassion and love is the fundamental thing. And it is not just about loving friends and hating enemies, but about loving our enemies. About pursuing forgiveness and reconciliation, not retaliation and revenge.
It is a place where we practise a liberating generosity toward the poor, to dethrone greed that clouds our outlook, and topple the regime of money.
It is a place where joyful, worshipping communities of the poor and the outcasts experience God's forgiveness and blessing, healing and restoration.
Those belonging to this Kingdom refuse to respect economic, class or social barriers, but rather treat everyone with kindness and respect. They enjoy the company of the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged, the social outcasts and the marginalized women and children, eating and drinking with them.
This Kingdom advances not through those who are preoccupied with money, power, status and control, but through those who are preoccupied with service and love, justice and mercy, humility and hope. With those who are fired up to sacrifice their time, intelligence, money and energy in the advancement of this Kingdom. And once we get a glimpse of this Kingdom, nothing else will fully satisfy us.
It is my prayer that my slums will become a place God is at home in, a place that God takes pride and pleasure in, a place where God's dreams come true.
God bless you and keep you.
Dr. Kiran Martin
Founder and Director
New Delhi INDIA
Monday, 10 December 2007
God, Jesus, Billy Connolly, Bruce Almighty and Homer Simpson: Using pop culture as a tool for spreading the gospel.
I was struck the other night when studying the gospel of John with some unchurched youth in Belfast.We were talking about the Spirit coming down from Heaven upon Jesus when one of them asked me: ‘Did you see the film ‘the man who sued God', there was a scene in it when the sky opened up and God spoke, it was amazing.’ I told him that though I hadn’t seen it I had seen ‘Bruce Almighty’ . This lead to us talking about different scenes in it, such as the massive filing cabinet which contained the details of all the words, thoughts and actions of disbelieving Bruce.
One of the guys is just off cocaine so during the study I encouraged him to reject the devil’s temptation which might come to him in a seductive manner such as : ‘take it this once, it’ll be okay this time, go ahead and take it’ while the Spirit would be encouraging him to be strong and resist the devil’s lies. He replied : ‘Yea, its just like in the Simpsons when Homer is in the bar and the devil is on one shoulder saying ‘go on take it’ and an angel is on the other telling him to resist.’
I had always believed that we could and should use aspects within the culture which can make the gospel accessible to those with no biblical background, but never had I seen it so clearly illustrated as this.
When Paul preached on Mars Hill in Athens Paul he did not quote Moses or other Old Testament prophets as he did when he preached to the Jews. He did however quote Epimenides who wrote of Zeus ‘In him we live and move and have our being’. He also quoted the Greek pagan poet Aratus who said ‘we are his offspring.’
He was not afraid to go outside scripture to make his point and use even pagan writers to speak the truth about God. He certainly did not pull any punches when he called on the Athenians to turn from their false notions and turn to the true God: ‘In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands people everywhere to repent, for he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.’
Such 'mission practice' by Paul should encourage us to use aspects of culture because it is not all bad though much of it needs redeemed be it the internet, television and cinema.
Sunday, 2 December 2007
'Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize'.
St Paul to the Corinthians