Friday, 31 July 2009

The Sheep and the Goats: Keith Green

I'd never heard this 'song' by Keith Green before today-but how often do I need to hear and heed its message-I put my hands up-I'm guilty!
I've also included Keith singing 'Open your eyes' in which he again challenges us to do authentic mission.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Who was John Sung?

In answer to this question, John Sung was the greatest evangelist in China, some say the world, in the twentieth century. As a teenager I read several books by and about the great chinese Christian leaders among them were Wang Ming Dao, Watchman Nee, David Yang and John Sung.One book that springs to mind at the time was 'Three of China's mighty men' by Leslie Lyall which gave a short biography of the first three mentioned, but I never did read his biography of John Sung :'Flame for God in the Far East'. As you will see from this recent talk which I pasted below, John Sung was a tremendously passionate as well as interesting character.He was to die at the relatively young age of 42.I hope you will enjoy reading article and that it will encourage you to find out more about these great Christians who can still inspire us today.Many of them died in prison for their faith, and it was through their sacrifice that has resulted in such a large and vibrant church in China today. It also has modern day relevance in that the liberalism faced by the evangelical church a hundred years ago is now ago very much on the agenda seen in the current debates with some streams of the 'emerging church' over the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ,authority of Scripture,Christ being the only way etc. Be encouraged.AK

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, June 6, 2009

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

June 4, 2009 marked the twentieth anniversary of the “Tiananmen Square Massacre.” For six weeks in 1989, thousands of Chinese, mostly students, peacefully demonstrated against the Communist government, calling for more freedom of thought. Then, in the early hours of June 4, the government’s army opened fire on thousands of unarmed demonstrators, killing unnumbered thousands and leaving thousands more injured. Hong Yujian watched the violence unfolding in Beijing on television as an exchange student at the University of Pennsylvania. He said that the Tiananmen Square Massacre made him question his hope in science and democracy and led to him becoming a Christian.

He says the massacre at Tiananmen helped him and others see their own sin and need for Christ: “I think God used it to pave the way and prepare the heart of the Chinese people” (World Magazine, June 6, 2009, p. 38).

World Magazine says,

The growth rate of Christianity in China has exploded over the past 20 years. Experts cite rapid urbanization and a growing number of influential thinkers embracing Christ. OMF International (formerly China Inland Mission) estimates there are some 70 million Christians in China. The group says Protestant Christians in China numbered less than 1 million in 1949 [when the Communist government took over] (ibid.).

Dr. C. L. Cagan, a statistician, estimates that there are now about 700 conversions to Christianity every hour, 24 hours a day, in China.

The history of Christianity in China ought to be extremely interesting to Christians everywhere. The modern missionary movement in China can be said to have begun with Robert Morrison (1782-1834). Morrison was sent to China by the London Missionary Society in 1807. Aided by his colleague, William Milne, he translated the entire Bible into Chinese by 1821. During his 27 years in China only a few Chinese were baptized – yet all of them remained faithful Christians. Morrison’s Chinese translation of the Bible, and printing of gospel literature, became the foundation of evangelical Christianity in China.

In 1853 an English medical doctor, James Hudson Taylor, sailed for China. In 1860 he founded the China Inland Mission, now known as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. Taylor’s associates eventually spread throughout the whole interior of China. Hudson Taylor died in Changsha in 1905.

In 1901 John Sung was born. He became known as the greatest evangelist in the history of China. Thousands of those who were converted under his preaching remained faithful to Christ after the Communists took over in 1949. In the last 60 years the number of Christians in China has exploded in the greatest revival of Christianity in modern history. Tonight I am going to tell you the remarkable story of Dr. John Sung. I will begin by giving an outline of his life from Dr. Elgin S. Moyer.

John Sung (1901-1944), nationally famous Chinese evangelist; born in Hinghwa, Fukien, China; son of a Methodist pastor. Confessed Christ about age nine [?]. Brilliant student; studied at Wesleyan University, Ohio State University, and Union Theological Seminary. Received Ph.D. in chemistry. Returned to China to preach the Gospel rather than teach science. Spent fifteen years in evangelistic preaching throughout China and surrounding countries with unique power and influence (Elgin S. Moyer, Ph.D., Who Was Who in Church History, Moody Press, 1968 edition, p. 394).

Now that is just a brief sketch of John Sung’s life. Going back in more detail, I do not believe he was converted at the age of nine. I do not believe he was converted until February, 1927.

John Sung himself believed that he was not converted until he went through a spiritual crisis in America many years later. When he was nine years old a revival occurred in Hinghwa. Within a month there were about 3,000 professions. On Good Friday morning he heard a sermon on “Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.” The preacher contrasted the sleeping Disciples with the fearlessness of Jesus. Many people wept with grief at the end of the sermon. Among the mourners was John Sung, the nine-year-old son of the Methodist preacher. It seems to me that John Sung “dedicated” his life to Christ but was not truly converted at this time. Like my former pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin (whose father was also a preacher), John Sung began to preach and help his father by the age of thirteen. But, also like Dr. Lin, he had not yet experienced real conversion. He was a diligent student and finished high school at the top of his class. During this time he became known as the “little pastor.” But in spite of all his zeal and activity his heart was not completely satisfied. The work he was doing in ministry he described as “spectacular as the blue of a kingfisher’s feather, abundant as summer foliage, but without a single plucking of fresh fruit to offer to the Lord Jesus” (Leslie T. Lyall, A Biography of John Sung, China Inland Mission, 1965 edition, p. 15).

In 1919, Sung, now 18 years old, decided to go to America, and was accepted at Ohio Wesleyan University with free tuition. He began a pre-medical and pre-theological curriculum, but dropped the pre-theological courses and decided to specialize in mathematics and chemistry. He went to church regularly and organized evangelistic bands among the students. But during his final term he began to neglect Bible study and prayer, and cheated on one of his examination papers. He graduated in 1923 cum laude, as one of four students at the head of a class of three hundred. He was awarded the gold medal and the cash prize for physics and chemistry, was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Fraternity, an exclusive society of the foremost scholars, and was given a gold key, a badge of great distinction in scholarship.

He was now offered scholarships from many universities, including Harvard. He accepted a scholarship for a Master of Science degree at Ohio State University. He finished this degree in only nine months! He was offered a scholarship to study medicine at Harvard. He was given another offer to study at a seminary. He felt he should study theology, but the fame that had come to him blunted his desire to become a minister. Instead he entered a doctoral program in chemistry at Ohio State University. He completed his Ph.D. in just twenty-one months! Thus he became the first Chinese to earn a Ph.D. He was described in the newspaper as “Ohio’s most famous student.” “But deep in his heart there was no peace. A growing spiritual unrest showed itself in periods of deep depression” (Lyall, ibid., p. 22).

During this time he came under the influence of liberal theology, and their teaching of the “social gospel.” Liberal theology teaches that Jesus is a noble example, but not the Saviour. It seems to me that John Sung thought of Jesus as a “noble example” when he was nine years old, and for that reason he had a false conversion back then. But God was still calling him. One evening as he sat alone he seemed to hear the voice of God say to him, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” FOR THE REST OF THE MESSAGE SEE THE FIRST COMMENT.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


I remember many years ago(about 35) an old Pentecostal type called Harry Greenwood saying that the man who hasn't made a mistake hasn't made anything- How true he was!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


My wife read out this article from the magazine 'Liberati' for me and which gave me mixed emotions. I'd be also interested in reading your thoughts about it. Is the new strident disbelief in the Church a good or bad thing for Christians? OR Will it open up doors for productive dialogue and discussion on the things of God, the hypocrisy of the Church etc? Feel free to comment even if you want to do it anonymously. Peace and Grace Ak

An interesting change has occurred in the recent history of the West. At first imperceptible but gradually dawning into disturbance, it has finally, like a different kind of flower, come to full bloom. I'm talking of the fact that most Western nations are now officially Post-Christian, as verified in a recent speech by President Obama. The generation growing up right now has little context for the words Jesus Christ except as an expression frustration.

A recent news item trumpeted the rise of intentional atheism with the advent of debaptism certificates. People christened as infants are now making the choice for themselves. Launched by the National Secular Society, the initiative follows a controversial advertisement on London buses proclaiming that there probably isn't a God so relax and enjoy your life.

The NSS have produced a debaptism certificate that can be downloaded from the net for £3. At the date of the news article, 1500 had been sold. One man, after asking the Church of England to delete his name from their records, put a notice in the Gazette to renounce his baptism. Similar initiatives have begun in Roman Catholic strongholds such as Spain and Italy where legal action has awarded people the right to be officially depabtised.

What should we make of all this? Is it a travesty, a breach of faith? Or should we welcome these things for the clarity they bring to what Christianity actually is?

In the first few centuries of Church life, Christians made the choice to follow Jesus to the detriment of their work life, their comfort and their safety. Many people lost their lives; others were forced to flee from their homes and nations. It cost a lot to be a Christian and the injunction that Jesus' followers needed to carry their own cross gave clear context to a life of faith. However, in the 4th century the Emperor Constantine forcibly converted his entire army to Christianity, thus ushering in the era known as Christendom that was to last over 1500 years.

Contrary to general belief, Christendom, far from facilitating Christianity, actually corroded it, diluting its depth and intensity. It's not hard to understand that if your livelihood and social acceptance depended on it, and given the alternative, most people would profess to be Christian. The amazing experience of meeting with Jesus for the first time and learning to live with Him as a day-to-day experience was largely lost. Agreeing with the 'theory' of faith in Christ was substituted for knowing Him personally.

So, where does that leave the Church now?

In the best place it's been for a long time!

Previously, most people automatically designated themselves Christian based on the fact that their parents had christened/baptised them, believing that God's only requirement to count them as His own was for the Church to acknowledge them. The christening of infants inoculated many people against true faith in Christ; in the same way as giving a tiny dose of polio serves to keep someone from catching it. Well meaning as this is, it totally belies the fact that to be a follower of Jesus you have to make the decision for yourself. No one else, no matter how loving, can make this choice for you. The decision to be debaptised is a great one, in that it clears the clutter away from what Christianity really is, and clarifies again the original teaching of Jesus, which is that not only is faith in Him a choice, but it is also not an easy one to make.

People aren't as much against God as they are against the Church's portrayal of God. Wealth and rules, pomp, ceremony and hypocrisy have stripped the Church of its true call, which is to love the world as Jesus loved it, showing grace, power and humility to people who need to see that there is a hope and a future in Him.

We don't need to be told we are breaking the rules; we all know we are. We don't need to be harangued for our inadequacies; we do that to ourselves. The role of the Church is to make clear that there is an antidote to sin and it is to be found in the life of Christ. The Church can't save anyone - all we can do is to be a clear signpost pointing to the One who can.

The fact that people are increasingly choosing to clarify their position as those who don't believe in a God who was chosen for them, gives fantastic opportunities for the Church and should be celebrated rather than grieved over. As the lines of demarcation are clearly drawn, freedom to show the real Jesus becomes increasingly easier. The world the Church is called to is the world that is out there now, not the one that used to be there.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

He Is Your Life

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.

Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Another Gem From Spurgeon's Pen

I have been posting from time to time on this blog short comments on Scripture from Charles Spurgeon's book 'Morning and Evening' which is a set of daily readings published in the 1800's.Those that I post I have personally found beneficial and hope that those who read them here will equally be blessed. AK
1 Peter 5:10
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

You have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven. It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun-beams and passing rain-drops, how can it abide?

The graces of the Christian character must not resemble the rainbow in its transitory beauty, but, on the contrary, must be stablished, settled, abiding. Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing. May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no "baseless fabric of a vision," but may it be built of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite. May you be rooted and grounded in love. May your convictions be deep, your love real, your desires earnest. May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you.

But notice how this blessing of being "established in the faith" is gained. The apostle's words point us to suffering as the means employed-"After you have suffered a little while." It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old knots on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Thought Conditioners

I remember getting a little booklet when I was in my teenage years called 'Thought Conditioners' by Norman Vincent Peale. Each 'conditioner' was a verse from the Bible which was to settle your mind and set it on things above. It was accompanied by a little exposition by Dr Peale. To be truthful there was a time in my life when learning off these verses each day was a great help to me particularly when I was facing a difficulty of some kind. I had been literally trying to 'lean on my own understanding' and one verse encouraged me to 'trust in the Lord with all my heart'. I would encourage anyone who feels inclined to copy and paste these verses onto a document then learn one one each day.As always there is always a great satisfaction when memorising a piece of Scripture and often the Holy Spirit will bring it back to us when we are in need of it. I have included 12 verses here and the remainder of the 40 can be found on the first two comments.Peace and Grace Ak.

Thought Conditioner No. 1
The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Luke 18:27

Thought Conditioner No. 2
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

Thought Conditioner No. 3
Renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Thought Conditioner No. 4
Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Thought Conditioner No. 5
What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mark 11:24

Thought Conditioner No. 6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Thought Conditioner No. 7
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

Thought Conditioner No. 8
Confess your faults, one for another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

Thought Conditioner No. 9
If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Thought Conditioner No. 10
The kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21

Thought Conditioner No. 11
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 11 Timothy 1:7

Thought Conditioner No. 12
Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Psalm 73:24

Sunday, 12 July 2009

What words of wisdom!

Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take to heart my commands.
They'll help you live a long, long time,
a long life lived full and well.

Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track.
Don't assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;
don't sulk under his loving correction.
It's the child he loves that God corrects;
a father's delight is behind all this.

You're blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom,
when you make friends with Madame Insight.
She's worth far more than money in the bank;
her friendship is better than a big salary.
Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth;
nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
With one hand she gives long life,
with the other she confers recognition.
Her manner is beautiful,
her life wonderfully complete.
She's the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.
Hold her tight—and be blessed!

For the rest of Proverbs 3 which was taken from the 'Message' hit comments.