My testimony

Caveat:

Please note that this testimony shows someone being repeatedly unfaithful to the Lord. I do not ever recommend this and believe that He stayed with me due to His love, truth and perfect faithfulness. As it is written:
if we believe not, yet he abideth faithfulhe cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

I have also struggled throughout this testimony to confess my most besetting type of sin, that of sexual immorality. Again I must warn about this. It has taken me just over 16 years to realise that I have demons due to sexual sin. The Lord has repeatedly tried to have me repent and follow Him, please join me in praying that I do so as soon as possible.

Childhood faith in Jesus

When I was a young girl, around 4-6 years of age (approximately), my parents witnessed the story of Christ’s crucifixion to me.  I was very little and humble, as most kids are, and I believed the truth of what I heard immediately.

My parents later read me stories from the “Children’s Bible” and I took to them wholeheartedly.  I used to gaze at pictures of the boy prophet Samuel and imagine that I too could minister to the Lord as a child priest.  I sometimes practiced acts requiring great faith such as dividing the Red Sea with an imaginary staff, as Moses did, or keeping evil vampires at bay with a crucifix.  I remember saying aloud – as a child’s honest prayer to God – that I wanted to be an Israelite, a follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I also remember several instances in time where God’s Holy Word was exposed to me and, by His grace alone, made an incredible impact upon me. I hadn’t yet read the adult Bible for myself but I knew that the words I was seeing were spiritually critical. For example, I was watching television one day when the following line of scripture flashed upon the screen, impressing itself upon my heart as the truth:

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

Another incident occurred in the early to mid 1980s. I was again watching television when the popular group Wham flashed on the screen and I noticed that both singers were wearing white t-shirts with the words “choose life” on them. This short phrase made an indelible impression on me but it was only many years later that I came to understand that it too was from the Bible, specifically, Deuteronomy 30:19:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live

Also in the 1980’s my beloved grandmother on my father’s side of the family died of cancer. Shortly after her death I saw a Bible her husband, my grandfather, had given to her. He had inscribed it with words similar to the following, “I can see you growing every day Sylvia in kindness and compassion due to God’s Word.” And I noticed that he had posted up a beautiful and inspiring saying on his modest living room wall. When I saw it it was as if my eyes couldn’t stop taking it in. It read:

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.

For those who are curious, the above is popularly attributed to Stephen Grellet, a prominent Quaker missionary. My grandfather lived out the saying by volunteering to maintain people’s gardens for nothing in the street that he lived in. He also became a lay preacher at one of his town’s local churches.

At this stage my response to both the Old and New Testaments (or what I could glean from them via the Children’s Bible) was genuine and fervent.  I believed in Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, telling my parents that I wished I could sit at His feet and listen to His teachings.  One interesting experience I had was when I was ill with a fever one day.  I remember putting my hand out and praying earnestly to Christ, from my whole heart, to heal me.  I then sensed an invisible presence move towards me comfortingly, and the fever left me so that I was able to fall into a restful sleep.

During my primary school years I tried to live out Jesus’ teachings: loving God first and foremost with all your heart, then loving your neighbour as yourself.  But I struggled with pride, self-will and fear of rejection.  I was also very rebellious, saying one day proudly to my father, “I don’t need to follow God, I can do things myself” (or words to that effect).  My father just looked at me steadily, with a slight smile on his face, and said quietly, “You’ll come back to it.”

I should add that I also remember several unpleasant spiritual experiences that occurred to me in the wake of finding faith in Jesus.  I suffered from bad dreams occasionally, including dreaming that my bed was spinning around on its own axis and levitating: I now know that these experiences were demonic but believe the Lord didn’t suffer them to continue as I was too young at that stage to understand what was occurring.

My parents were very strict with me growing up, in an attempt to teach me obedience and respect for authority (both of which are necessary to find faith in God and keep His commandments).  At the time, however, I didn’t understand the purpose behind their strictness, so felt miserable, unloved and rebellious (Proverbs 23:13-14, Hebrews 5:8, Matthew 18:3).

During my childhood I was exposed to people of faith on both sides of my family – both sets of grandparents were Christians in fact – but the person who made the biggest impression on me was my grandmother on my mother’s side, Mary.  Mary was quiet and gentle (1 Peter 3:4), with a forgiving sense of humour when laughed at or provoked.  She was also humble – my mother often talked about how well Mary kept house, even scrubbing the stone step on her knees when it needed cleansing (1 Timothy 5:14).

As a child who often had tantrums and other fits of bad temper, I found it incredible when my mother told me of Mary’s patience: she once made my mother a very elaborate meal of rissoles then quietly took it away when Mum didn’t want it anymore.  She had the true fruit of the Spirit that every real Christian is to have (Colossians 3:12-17).

When Mary died my mother gave me the source of all her patience and good character – her faith in her Saviour Jesus, stemming from her King James Bible.

We never went to church regularly during my childhood but Mum always ensured that we kept up remembrance of God through saying grace before each meal:

“Lord make us truly thankful,

For what we are about to receive,

For Christ’s sake,

Amen.”

High school to University

I vacillated between being a faithful Christian, drawn to the Lord Jesus and His Father, and being agnostic.

At University, I had a deep longing to be loved, due to my misunderstanding of my parents’ strictness in trying to teach me obedience to authority.  When I met my future husband at 18, he said to me, “I don’t believe in God.”  At the time his statement caused my spirit to shift uncomfortably but the human drive within me to be loved was so strong that I overrode the spirit.  I remember consciously choosing to love an unbelieving man over God.

I fell in love with this man – Luther – and retained a vague thankfulness to some higher authority (though I was no longer a believer) for the many joys I experienced in life.

Yet I was struggling intellectually and spiritually at University.  I noticed that as students progressed in the course I was studying (Medicine), they became less friendly and cooperative with each other, more ambitious.  Their characters seemed to change, and not for the better to my eyes.  I also struggled with the demands of study, failing several subjects and having to repeat them.  Other students seemed to have less difficulty with their memories but mine troubled me.

In the end I dropped out of Medicine half-way through 5th year, then took a break.  With my boyfriend Luther’s encouragement I took up a new course, IT, which I hoped I would be better suited to.

Karate school

In the late 1990’s, while I was studying IT, my brother Ben invited me to join a karate school he was attending.  This I did, though I had some concerns about the characters of the people running the school.  My then boyfriend Luther expressed it best by saying that there was “something stinky” about the instructor, and he was cautious of him therefore.

I later found out that the instructor was molesting some of his students/seducing them, plus having affairs on his wife.  There were rumours that he had placed cameras in the girls’ change-rooms, which added to a palpable sense of evil and dread that I had whenever I entered the school.

I now believe the school was almost overrun by demons of fornication and evil.  It took almost all of my remaining strength to leave the school (and not be overcome by its seductive, carnal pull) but I was damaged in all ways: physically, mentally and spiritually.  I tried my best to fight what I sensed was evil in the school by going to a detective (to check for hidden cameras), then to the police.  However, none of it did any good.  It was a hard lesson to learn but, as Christ Himself says, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

USA trip

Soon after I left the karate school my boyfriend (who then became my husband) Luther got transferred overseas.  I was told I could go with him, but we had to be married to do so.

At first I was rebellious about marrying, then, when we were, I felt happy to be a wife with a husband.  It felt right in my heart and soul.  I married my first partner.

However, I was unable, try as I might, to find employment in the USA.  I remember almost praying for a job (and being unconsciously angry at God, though I was not a believer at this stage), but none materialised.  So I then decided to keep house and not be a burden to Luther.  I washed and cleaned, surfing the Net when I had time.

One night Luther directed me to some writings by a man called Steve Kangas.  They were on left wing politics.  I started reading and became intrigued by Steve’s character.  He was thoughtful to others, went the extra mile in his duties, gave to those in need, and died in the end for his cause.  I quite literally fell in love with those aspects of his personality that I saw in his writings, becoming grief-stricken to the point where I saw no meaning in life any more once I realized he had either been murdered or suicided.  As I said to my husband, Steve’s life and character “reminded me of God.”  It was unbearable to me therefore that such a beautiful person had been trampled upon, thrown away forever.  I then tried to keep Steve’s memory alive by building a website devoted to his writings.  I tried to make peace between both the left and right sides of politics by including both viewpoints in the site.

The buffeting/damage I’d given myself spiritually at the karate school, plus the damage I took grieving for Steve, shifted my consciousness onto a different plane from the purely materialistic. One night I had a strange experience: I was drawn up from my bed and what felt like an arrow of fire pierced my chest, flooding my body with an oddly ecstatic feeling.  I was then dropped back onto the bed.  Later (perhaps that same night, I cannot now recall), I was awoken from sleep by a strange vision.  The vision was of a golden egg which spoke to me and said, to the best of my recollection, that I would never fall sick again.  In 2006 I wrote about these experiences here on this site: this was before I became a practicing Christian so please read what I wrote with care and discernment.

For a long time I believed that because the vision looked friendly and spoke nicely to me, that it must have a good source.  It was only when I got a slight cold (after the promise that I’d never be sick again) that I began to doubt.  I then wondered, “How can you tell if something behind a nice vision is good or evil?”

Around this time, while I was looking into the spiritual side of life, my brother gave me some books on New Age religion.  I trusted my brother Ben, and knew very little about any kind of religious doctrine (except what little I could recall from my children’s Bible), so I embraced the teachings with an open mind and heart.

One night, after my husband and I had returned from the USA back to Australia, I was reading the New Age teachings when I had a strange experience.  I felt descending upon me invisible hands, molesting my body.  I had no control whatsoever over the hands, the experience was disgusting and terrifying.  Though it felt physically pleasant, I knew it was wrong spiritually so burst into tears.  I remember weeping to my husband, saying, “How can He (meaning God) love me now?”  I felt soiled and unholy.

Return to Christianity – Orthodox Church

In the wake of the spiritual experience with the invisible hands, I began looking online for explanations.  The only religion I found that described the kind of spiritual evil I was experiencing was Biblical Christianity: it called this evil demons.  I was also concerned to read in the Bible that the “ascended masters” my brother Ben was following with his New Age religion were in reality demons from the pit of hell.  Ben told me they were “flaming beings”, which fit exactly with how angels (including the fallen ones who sinned against God) are described in the Bible.

More out of terrified obedience than love (Psalm 111:10), I returned to Christianity, and then tried to find a faithful Church that stuck to a plain, literal interpretation of the Bible.  I had what my husband described as a “conversion” and made the decision to follow the Lord first and foremost.  My husband was very jealous at the time and kept asking who my “new man” was!

Before I found a church to join, I emailed my family (including my brother Ben) a warning on all world religions that were not Bible-believing Christianity.  I told them I had found faith in Christ again after making a grave spiritual error and urged them to do the same.  To my surprise and shock, all my siblings came around to my apartment and I immediately understood that they did not believe me but thought my faith was a sign of mental illness (Luke 12:51-53).  There was a division now spiritually between myself and the rest of my family.

My family actually called the CAT team around to my apartment but I panicked, grabbed my handbag, and fled to a nunnery at an Orthodox Church I had been attending.

I was a faithful member of St Nicholas’ Antiochian Orthodox Church for at least 12 months, living as a novice in one of its nunneries, but eventually left.  The reasons I left included the following:

1)      The character of the Sister I was living with did not have the true fruits of the Spirit spoken of in the Bible eg. Galatians 5:22 and Ephesians 5:9.

  1. In particular, she could not discern truth from error eg. she was convinced a Nigerian email scam letter was a genuine movement of God to give her money for a monastery.
  2. She did not welcome visitors to the monastery with patience or gentleness but grew visibly irritated with them, as she felt they were interrupting her prayer time.  She was even irritated with little children, when Jesus says children have the closest characters to people in heaven (Matthew 19:14).
  3. She did not want to actively spread the gospel or minister to people, preferring to pray for “enlightenment” (or sanctification of the heart), over and over again, in solitude.  The Bible calls such prayers “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7) and Jesus warns against doing this.

2)      They had practices and traditions that made the Word of God of non-effect, or profaned it eg. selling “holy” water for money.  The latter contradicts Christ’s commandment to His disciples in Matthew 10:8, “Freely have ye received (of the Holy Ghost), freely give.”

After leaving the Orthodox Church, I attended many other Christian, Bible-believing churches in Melbourne.  I was trying to obey the commandment in Hebrews 10:25 to not forsake assembling together with other believers.  However, problems ensued.  I quite literally found no church in Melbourne where people were willing to follow the examples of Christ and His apostles/followers (including Paul) and become “conformed to the image of His Son.”  Romans 8:29 states that God the Father picked souls He knew would accept Christ during their earthly lives, and that He planned for these souls to be refashioned in the image of His dear Son.  To do this, they would have to live lives patterned after that of Christ and His followers (such as Paul), who knew they worshipped a holy, merciful, just and fearsome God (Acts 17:22-28).  Those lives should be filled with the fruits of the Spirit in each person’s character, leading to good deeds based on faith (Galatians 5:22, James 2:22).  Their lives should be self-sacrificial, directed to loving the one true God first and foremost (as His nature is revealed through close reading of the Old and New Testaments), then your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:25-28).

Yet many churches I joined were worldly (1 John 2:15, 2 Corinthians 4:18, Colossians 3:2) or else had fallen away from the truth of God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).  The latter was of grave concern to me spiritually as it indicated that the existence of “watered down” (or apostate) Christianity, mingled with other religions into one big, unholy, mass, heralded the coming of the Antichrist and the end of the world.  The Bible prophecies that the Antichrist will head up a one-world religion (with “lying signs and wonders” – such as the one I was given in the USA – behind it, as per 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10), which will deceive everyone who is not a true follower of Christ.

True followers of Christ will be persecuted, as they stick to living out the simple truths of God’s Words in the Holy Scriptures, but are exhorted by Christ to be faithful to Him “unto death” and they will inherit eternal life (Revelation 2:10).

We are exhorted to live holy, humble, self-sacrificial lives in obedience to God’s Words in both the Old and New Testaments (but especially the New).  We are told we must love God and our neighbour with everything we’ve got, and that our hearts must not be divided, or we just won’t have the kind of faith that stands up to persecution and death (Luke 6:49).

The Holy Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments have great promise of a new heaven and a new earth for believers, where order and peace are restored – even between animals that once preyed upon each other (Isaiah 11:6, Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 21:1-2).

But we need to be actively striving, with everything we’ve got, to live humble, separate from the world (ie. holy), blameless lives – the straight and narrow gate to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:24).  If we do not work with God’s Holy Spirit to transform our characters by living out His commandments (see Christ’s sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7), we will become foolish virgins or unprofitable servants (Matthew 25:1-3, Matthew 25:24-30).

It is not that doing things makes us right in God the Father’s eyes.  Rather that, faith that Jesus redeemed the fleshy, bodily side of us by coming to earth as the perfect Man (as He was also God), then sacrificing Himself on the cross…this faith in what Christ did means believers can have fellowship with the Father again.  If Christ had not sacrificed Himself (1 Peter 1:19), nothing any human could have done would ever have made them right in the Father’s eyes.  This is because even our best and truest acts have traces of selfishness (or sin ie. not doing God’s will but your own) in them.  So we are covered by Christ’s blood in the same way that the Israelites were covered by the Passover lamb’s blood on their door lintels in the Old Testament (Exodus 12:23).  I’m sorry if this explanation isn’t very good or detailed.  Basically, you just have to trust that Christ’s sacrifice makes you OK in the Father’s eyes, freeing you up to wholeheartedly do good deeds in His eyes.  Then, as Christ knows who you are (because you genuinely lived your whole life patterned after His, even up to your death), you can stand before Him on Judgement Day (James 2:22, Luke 21:36, Ephesians 6:13, Revelation 6:17) and be accepted before His Father.

One existing false Christ

Maitreya.  This being sits behind New Age religion and is a so-called “World Teacher” whom many non-Christian religions are waiting for.  His symbol is a six-pointed star (hexagram) and his powers come straight from Satan.  I have read there will be a “Day of Declaration” where he will telepathically message everyone on the planet to pretend that he is the one true God…however, we shouldn’t focus too much on him but on living holy, blameless lives to ensure we serve the real Jesus Christ so are kept from worshipping the Antichrist or False Christs (Revelation 3:10, Revelation 7:3, Revelation 9:4).  If we know who the real God is (holy, humble, merciful, self-sacrificing, just), we won’t fall for an imposter.

Christ Himself warned of the existence of False Christs at the end of the age, and said He has already given us the sign of His coming (His death and resurrection).  So signs and wonders, and people claiming to be Christ today, are sent to test out who God’s real followers are: Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, Matthew 12: 38-40.

There are instructions in the New Testament on how Christian men and women are to live their lives.  Scriptures for women:

As believers in Christ, we are to forsake all worldly things/attachments, ready to give to whoever may need them:

  • Luke 14:33, Matthew 19:27-30 (this is a promise of life to come in the New Kingdom, in return for forsaking worldly goods in the present time)

We are to become as humble, open and trusting (and honest) as little children, then only can we enter the Kingdom of God:

If we sin after we have accepted Christ, we can pray to Jesus directly to forgive us (as He is our advocate with the Father).  We don’t need to confess to any human being:

We are to love not just with words but actions

Here is how believers overcome the Antichrist during the end times (which we are in):

  • Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

Hope for you in tribulation

  • 1 John 4:4: “…greater is he that is in you (ie. Christ) than he that is in the world (ie. Satan)”

Put on the armour of God to stand strong spiritually against the powers of darkness

How I came to faith most recently (ie. 2013)

After leaving the Orthodox Church in 2004, I struggled to find a church in Melbourne that was really keeping Christ’s commandments.  In fact, I could find none that were.  Exhausted and disillusioned, still suffering from demons, I fell away from faith.  I went back to the world (ie. got a job), reunited with my husband (we had separated when I went to the nunnery), and “slumbered and slept” spiritually (Matthew 25:1-12).  I saw a psychiatrist instead of praying to the Lord, though the drugs she gave me did not help at all.

Interestingly, when I reunited with my husband he refused to go near me physically, hence we both became celibate.  We still loved each other, and still do, but I believe the hand of the Lord was there to prevent me falling into further sin/fornication.  As I’d married outside the Lord, and was still suffering from demons of fornication, I could not be with my husband physically and be OK spiritually.

As time passed, and the celibacy/abstinence continued, the torment of the demons lessened noticeably.  I have now been celibate for 9 years and the sensations are much less than when I first began.

A combination of factors occurred most recently to bring me to faith:

  • Feeling uncomfortable in a “leadership” role

I have never liked being a leader, and am in fact a happy helper and natural follower.

At NAB, I was put into a leadership role over men, which really embarrassed me.  I felt bossy and lacking in authority.

As Christ commands us to be servants who minister to each other, the above was going against what people should be like in the Kingdom of God.  Hence my feeling uncomfortable with it.

  • Being physically/carnally pressured by 2 men in the team at NAB.

This brought back memories of the spiritual darkness I fought at the karate school.

One of the guys kept putting his hands on me.  Though it was non-intimate, I felt very uncomfortable.  I only like my husband and my cat Buster touching me – people/creatures I know very well and trust.

The other guy was a Christian, though in the Catholic Church.  Though I was a non-believer at the time, I saw that he was not truly living the teachings of Christ.  He was eating lots of food, staring at my body and lips, and talking about how much “fun” it would be to see prostitutes in Thailand.

All of the above stirred up my spirit and made me realise that I agreed with all of the values held in the Bible eg. it is good to be spiritual and not earthly or carnal, it is good to be faithful to your spouse, etc.

  • My husband then went overseas for 2 weeks to the USA, so I had lots of time on my own.  This lead to contemplating where I was going in life and I realised I was craving stillness and solitude.  I saw that I was very unhappy and wanted to turn away from the world completely: I hated it.
  • I then came across a picture of Michael the Archangel on the Internet, striking with his sword.  The purity and inexorable decisiveness of what he was doing struck me – the beauty of holiness.  I was drawn to him due to what he represented and slowly found myself drawn back to the Bible.  At one stage I even heard myself say happily, “The Bible is a beautiful book, so much wisdom is in it…though I’m not a believer.”
  • It was then like there was a battle between two sides of me, the physical and the spiritual.  A line from the Bible struck me and I burst into tears: “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20).  When I read this, I knew I did have faith (or, rather, that I had been given it by God) and I had to then make a choice.
  • Around this time the Lord spoke to me quietly. He said, “I am Jesus and I am God. Follow Me.” I remember consciously choosing the seed of faith in my heart over the logical mind (which was battling my heart).  I said to the Lord, “This will be difficult because my husband is not a believer, but I’ll try.  I promise to try.”

So it was that I came back again to faith in Jesus Christ our Saviour.  I pray that this is where I will remain eternally, and not just me but others I have met (such as you) who I care about.

2013 – 2016: Hearing Negative Voices

From 2013 – early 2016 I worked at several jobs in an attempt to help my husband pay off our mortgage. I tried to keep following the Lord but the straw that broke the camel’s back was being sexually harassed by my male boss in an otherwise good role within IT. I felt horrible, as though I was in a place that was slowly strangling me spiritually.

One night in early 2016, after a period of intense stress at work, I heard what I thought were loud male voices coming from my roof. The voices were very aggressive and hostile. They told me that if I didn’t comply with their demands they would come down from the roof and strangle me, my husband and pet cat. The voices called me a whore, on the basis of sexual sins I had committed during my life, and that I was going to hell. Oddly enough, they then suggested that I call upon Jesus Christ in prayer. At the time I had wandered very far away from the Lord but took up this suggestion and started praying for the salvation of the evil voices as well as myself. The voices then began to leave me, one by one, claiming that they had been converted and now felt much freer and lighter spiritually.

I rang the police several times that night, as I believed the voices were actual people, but had no insight into the fact that no-one else could hear them and that I was unwell. I needed help and this lead to a visit by the CAT team and a period of recovery in hospital.

At the time I was hospitalised, I was deemed to be at risk due to the following:

  • I was giving authority to negative voices, and was highly distressed emotionally by what the voices were saying.
  • I became preoccupied with Christianity. I believed this helped me fight the voices in my head, who I then saw as evil spirits or demons who were trying to take my soul.
  • I withdrew from friends and activities I had previously been occupied with and enjoyed e.g. I resigned from my workplace and started spending lots of time alone in my room. I was also drinking to excess as a way to cope.
  • I had lost my sense of humour.
  • I was having problems sleeping as the voices would wake me up at night threatening to take me to hell. There were times when I didn’t think I’d make it through the night.

The burden of experiencing negative voices was so great I feared I would never work or be productive ever again. I knew that reading the Bible and praying comforted me but was devastated when the churches I reached out to (one in particular stands out as being particularly unsympathetic, Faith Baptist Church) were unable to cast out my demons. I remember being in tears after one prayer session, almost begging my fellow parishioners (who I saw as my spiritual and godly than myself) to pray for me.

One little light in this dark journey was the discovery of a fellow Christian blogger who had also been labelled as “mentally ill.” His name was Eric. He told me he too had been rejected from several churches but that he still loved Christ and Christ’s followers. Eric stood up for me when Faith Baptist Church effectively told me never to come back.

I now believe Faith Baptist Church, and many of its parishioners have a “form of godliness” but deny its power. The Bible instructs us to “turn away” from such places (2 Timothy 3:5).

Because I was hearing horrifyingly negative voices (which I knew in my heart and soul were demons bent on my destruction), it took years of struggle and heartache, and walking away from the Lord, for me to come to the slow realisation that I was in fact saved.

I remembered back to my childhood where I had heard negative voices then too saying that they were demons who were going to hell. I had no concept at all of what demons were at that age. Because they sometimes played chasey and other games with me, though they were invisible, I thought of them as trusted friends. So when I heard that they were going to a very bad place, hell, I offered to pray to God for them. Before I did, one of the demons said, “You’d sit on the edge of hell with me, wouldn’t you, and share the hot coals?” I said, “Yes”, though still did not feel that anything was untoward about the conversation. I believe the demons then tried to dissuade me from praying but I did to God anyway, asking if He could please let my friends into heaven too so we could be together. Shortly after this the demons told me that they would repeatedly rape me, once I was an adult, so I would understand that they could never be redeemed and that God had rightly condemned them.

Shortly after this incident with the demons a lovely new book came into my life. I believe it was from my godfather Victor, my grandfather. The book was a children’s Bible with much of the Word of God included, and I took to it immediately, as I’ve outlined at the beginning of this article. I was saved very early on in life, wholeheartedly accepting Christ as the way back to my Heavenly Father. And it is not the will of the Father that little ones such as myself who came to Him early should perish:

“Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:14).

Overcoming the world 2020

Because my husband and family are all at the moment in unbelief, though I pray for them daily, they view my faith in Christ as mental illness. As such, I have been forced to have stays in mental health units periodically within Australia. Being labelled as mentally ill when I just love and follow Christ seems terrible and unjust until you consider three scripture verses I would like to share with you. The Lord gave them to me while I was making a prayer request for Helen, a friend who also loves the Lord and has many painful physical conditions. God the Father is breaking us down and remaking us in the image of His Son. Here are the scriptures to meditate on:

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
(Romans 8:29, King James Bible)

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, King James Bible)

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11, King James Bible)

I particularly love Revelation 12:11 as it maps out the path Christ sets us on to overcome the world, and the powers of darkness, and to be His children. He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) who saves to the uttermost all those who come unto God by Him (Hebrews 7:25):

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

As Christ said in referring to His beloved Father, “He doeth the works.” So thereby does Christ do His Works in us who believe in Him:

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10)

We must keep Christ’s commandments to move along His path of sanctification after we have been saved:
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)


He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)


If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:10)

Be Thou My Vision

Audrey Assad

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with thee one

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all

Atheism: Penn Jillette urges evangelism

LAS VEGAS (BP)–Penn Jillette, the verbal half of the magician duo Penn and Teller, and an outspoken atheist, has posted a YouTube video exhorting Christians to share their faith.

Penn and Teller are headliners in Las Vegas, and their shows generally are marked by foul language and shock appeal. Penn Jillette, though, used no coarse language in telling about an audience member who gave him a New Testament.

Jillette was signing autographs after a show last fall when he noticed the man standing over to the side of the crowd.

“And he had been the guy who picks the joke during our psychic comedian section of the show. He had the props from that in his hand because we give those away. He had the joke book and the envelope and paper and stuff,” Jillette said in the Dec. 8 YouTube video.

The man walked over to Jillette, complimented him on the show and handed him a Gideons New Testament.

“And he said, ‘I wrote in the front of it, and I wanted you to have this. I’m kind of proselytizing,’” Jillette said. “And then he said, ‘I’m a businessman. I’m sane. I’m not crazy.’ And he looked me right in the eyes.

“It was really wonderful. I believe he knew that I was an atheist. But he was not defensive, and he looked me right in the eyes,” Jillette said. “And he was truly complimentary. It didn’t seem like empty flattery. He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible.”

Jillette then stated he doesn’t respect people who don’t proselytize.

“I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize — ‘Just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself.’

“How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” Jillette asked. “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

Jillette reiterated his impression of the man’s demeanor.

“This guy was a really good guy. He was polite and honest and sane, and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible, which had written in it a little note to me — not very personal, but just ‘Liked your show,’ and then listed five phone numbers for him and an e-mail address if I wanted to get in touch,” Jillette said.

“Now I know there’s no God, and one polite person living his life right doesn’t change that. But I’ll tell you, he was a very, very, very good man, and that’s really important. And with that kind of goodness, it’s OK to have that deep of a disagreement. I still think that religion does a lot of bad stuff, but that was a good man who gave me that book. That’s all I wanted to say,” Jillette said at the end of the short video.

John Mark Simmons, pastor of the Las Vegas-area Highland Hills Baptist Church in Henderson and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, told Baptist Press that Jillette’s video should inspire believers to share their faith even when they think people won’t be responsive.

“That episode is a wonderful encouragement for all of us to be salt and light,” Simmons said. “If you know anything at all about Penn or his shows, you know he pretty much represents the decayed and dark world we live in, yet someone’s obedience got his attention.”
–30–
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

Tony Evans’ Powerful Sermon on Surviving in a Declining Culture.

This article was written from a YouTube video sent to me today by Greg, a Saturday outreach worker for the gospel. The link to the video is below but I thought I’d include some of my own notes as it was very inspiring.

In the Holy Scriptures (see the Book of Daniel), Daniel drew a mental line in the sand when in the pagan, Babylonian culture, essentially saying: don’t mess with my faith because it’s not for sale.

Interestingly, God did not intervene until Daniel made a decision to honor Him (see verse 9 of Daniel 1). We often want things the other way around, for God to act and then we will decide. Everyone wants favor but few will step out in faith before God acts. If He doesn’t see a line, He doesn’t know if He can trust you with favor.

Daniel said he would appreciate it if the Babylonians did not ask him to give up his faith. He wasn’t being mean about it, just respectful and honest. He would not compromise his commitment to the Lord to not eat unclean meat offered to idols (as per God’s commandments in Deuteronomy and Leviticus).

Once Daniel stepped out in faith, God made him have an idea about how to test things (eating the King’s meat or not) with the prince of the eunuchs. God decides who gets promoted and how, even in a secular, godless culture.

Draw a line in the sand and God will help you to win.

Daniel made a decision based on scripture because he was tethered to the truth. God didn’t keep Daniel’s three friends from the fire, He joined them in the fire.

Daniel left his windows open when praying so he wasn’t afraid of being observed doing the forbidden (praying). He was not going to be a secret agent Christian! Nor was he going to be an apologetic Christian.

It should be clear that you represent Jesus Christ in the marketplace. And I’m not talking about going to church or believing in God but about a public commitment to Jesus Christ.

There is no favor if you do not draw a line in the sand.

Finally, Greg gave a scriptural warning from Jeremiah 23, which ties in with the spiritual adultery that was running rampant in Babylon when Daniel and his three friends were captured:

32 Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.

Training on Muslim Evangelism

From a Zoom training session by Bernie Powers on 7/08/21

Chapter 1: Jesus Christ—Our Only Way to Hope and Joy

The Key Question:

A key question for evangelists today is the following: how would Jesus respond to Islam today?

When we think of Islam many words may be conjured up. Terrorist, Isis, refugees, Waleed Aly, Usman Khawajah, Miss Australia 2006…Muslims can be anywhere along the spectrum.

Interesting facts on the Muslim faith:

Muslims make up about 25% of the world’s population.

The biggest populations are found in Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.

In Australia around 600,000 people identify as Muslims, roughly 2.6% of the population and similar to the ratio of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within the country.

Islam began with the birth of Muhammad in Mecca in 570 AD. About 70% of the world’s oil reserves are found in this area.

The Qu’ran points Muhammad’s DNA to Islam (all verses taken from https://corpus.quran.com/):

Verse 59:7 Yusuf Ali: What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the people of the townships,- belongs to Allah,- to His Messenger and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you. So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in Punishment.

Verse 33:21 (Yusuf Ali): Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.

Verse 4:80 (Yusuf Ali): He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah: But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds).

Muhammad had two faces:

  1. Face 1 – the peaceful preacher

Muhammad was called as a prophet in 610 AD when he was 40 years old and began his preaching to Meccan idolators. This lead to his persecution and some of his followers were killed by Meccans. Around 45 verses in the Qu’ran relate to this phase of Muhammad’s preaching, including:

Verse 7:199 (Yusuf Ali version): Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; But turn away from the ignorant.

Verse 45:14 (Yusuf Ali): Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah: It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each People according to what they have earned.

Verse 3:134 (Yusuf Ali): Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good;-

Verse 5:8 (Yusuf Ali): O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

Verse 3:22 (Yusuf Ali): They are those whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the Hereafter nor will they have anyone to help.

In 622 AD Muhammad moved to Medina. Around 200 followers went with him and during this time he changed. He undertook a reign of terror which brought him wealth and power, assassinating his critics and beheading prisoners of war. In total he made 77 military attacks and moved away from monogamous relations with his wife. He took ten more women as wives including a six year old girl, consummating his marriage with the latter when she was nine. Thousands of people were killed by Muhammad’s troops and his violence was reflected in his teachings:

2. Face 2 – violence

Verse 9:5 (Yusuf Ali): But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

412 verses are found in the Qu’ran which describe, endorse or command fighting or killing. At this state in his life Muhammad ruled over the Arabian Peninsula with around 100 thousand followers.

By the time 1500 AD came around, Islam was the biggest world power the world had ever seen. Militarily, economically and culturally, Islam dominated. However some issues crept in around this time. Lack of education, corruption, in fighting and colonialism led Muslims to become poor and oppressed.

Muslims differ in their world views:

Pure Islam (traditional, orthodox)

Folk Islam (shamanism and animism)

Fundamentalist Islam (with elements of Marxism)

Liberal Islam (secular modernism and feminism)

Sufi Islam (with elements of Monism and Buddhism)

How would Jesus respond to Islam today?

  1. During his lifetime Jesus faced physically violent enemies and He both exposed and broadcast their threats:

John 7:19, King James version of the Bible:

19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

John 8:37:

37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

We need to take an honest look at Islamic terrorism:

  • There have been around 30,000 fatal jihad attacks since September 11th 2001.
  • ASIO has a list of 26 terrorist organisations: 25 are Islamic.
  • Within Australia there are 40+ convicted terrorists. All are Muslim.

2. Jesus also faced ideological enemies and He stood up to them.

Matthew 23:23-24:

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Luke 11:46:

46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

We are to speak out against critics and to speak up for what we believe in in debates and other platforms.

3. How did Jesus respond to to those who wanted to hear?

He taught in the synagogues on the Sabbath and told His disciples that the fields were ripe for harvest:

John 4:35:
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

But there is hope regarding efforts today to evangelise Muslims. More have come to Christ in the last 20 years than in the 1400 years prior to that. We are living in a time when the fields are indeed white already to harvest.

What Drove Jesus’ 11 Nobodies to Turn the World Upside-Down?

This article, written by my friend Bill Taylor on Linked In, explains what drove Jesus’ nobodies to turn the world upside-down. His resurrection changed them, but didn’t drive them, they went fishing instead. What drove them to put their lives on the line to do it? Their love for Him, their love for each other, and their love for the lost.

Jesus' Love Is Greater Still – Sanger Faith Community Church

The Easter Effect

On March 30, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published “The Easter Effect” which began:

In the year 312, just before his victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge won him the undisputed leadership of the Roman Empire, Constantine the Great had a heavenly vision of Christian symbols.  That augury led him, a year later, to end all legal sanctions on the public profession of Christianity.

We don’t know whether he sincerely accepted Christ as his personal Savior or not.  He may have had another motivation:

He was a politician who had shrewdly decided to join the winning side. By the early 4th century, Christians likely counted for between a quarter and a half of the population of the Roman Empire, and their exponential growth seemed likely to continue.

How did this happen? How did a ragtag band of nobodies from the far edges of the Mediterranean world become such a dominant force in just two and a half centuries?

Starting with a tiny group of fired-up nobodies, Jesus’ message turned the world upside-down.  Christianity respected and valued women far more than other cultures.  Christians’ willingness to care for all the sick and not just their relatives gained them admiration, but did Christianity succeed on its merits?  The Journal argues that the revolutionary success of Christianity can’t be explained without including “the Resurrection.”

… that first generation answered the question of why they were Christians with a straightforward answer: because Jesus was raised from the dead.

It’s true that there would be no Christianity without the resurrection, but that wasn’t the driving force.

Read John 20:1-10  I really appreciate the Bible telling me about the weaknesses of God’s chosen people in the past – that helps me understand my own failings.

The disciples had walked with Jesus for 3 years.  They had seen Him raise Lazarus from the dead.  He had announced that He would rise from the dead plainly enough that the chief priests understood, but the disciples didn’t understand what He was saying until they saw that He was risen indeed.

That should encourage us.  We all have moments of doubt, discouragement, and misunderstanding as we try to tell others about Christ, but like the first disciples, we can know that He is risen, as He said.

Read John 20:11-31  That, too, is encouraging.  None of us has seen Jesus, but we are blessed by Him!  Think about how this chapter ends:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.  John 20:30-31

John wrote so that we would believe.  The disciples saw the signs and wonders John wrote about, they knew He had risen, they had received the Holy Spirit, He had told them to feed His sheep, but that didn’t get them going.  Those last two verses sound like a perfectly satisfactory end to the gospel, but that’s not how it ends.  Seeing with their own eyes that He was God and had power over death should have given them courage and the initiative to defy the priests and the forces of Rome, but it didn’t.

Read John 21:1-19  Jesus’ resurrection didn’t get the disciples going!  After twice seeing the risen Christ, having been told “as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you,” and being given the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-22), Peter and some others went back to fishing.  Jesus came after them once again.  After feeding them, He asked Peter if Peter loved Him.  Jesus had to ask three times, but Peter finally realized that he, Peter, followed Jesus out of love, not because Jesus commanded him.  Once they realized that they truly loved Jesus, the Savior of the world, they followed Him joyfully.  These few love-driven nobodies turned the world upside-down!

The Wall Street Journal said people became Christians because Jesus was raised from the dead.  The Bible shows that His resurrection wasn’t enough.  It was the foundation, but the dunomis, the Greek word for “power” from which we get “dynamite,” comes from our love for Jesus.  People followed Christ because they knew that the risen Christ loved them so they loved Him in return.  We just have to pass the word.  But there’s more:

John 21:20-25  After Peter acknowledged that he loved Jesus strongly enough to serve Jesus until martyrdom, Peter asked what the other disciple would do; Jesus asked, “What is that to thee?”  Jesus taught that I, who serve Jesus, shouldn’t worry about what Jesus wants others to do; I must concern myself with what the Holy Spirit tells me Jesus wants me to do.  Baptists call this “individual soul liberty.”  I answer to Jesus for telling others about Him and for showing them my love for Him; they answer to Jesus for how they respond to the gospel.

Although founded on Jesus’ resurrection, Christianity is driven by our love-based relationships with the man, Christ Jesus.  Paul put it, “For the love of Christ constraineth us (II Cor. 5:14).”  Jesus had told the disciples to get going and He had given them the Holy Spirit, but they went fishing instead.  They couldn’t hear the Holy Spirit until they knew their love for Christ!  God’s revealed Himself to Elijah in I Kings 19:11-12.  God sent a wind which rent the rock, but God was not in the wind.  He sent an earthquake, and fire, but God was not in these spectacular demonstrations of His power.  “And after the fire a still small voice.”  Ps 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  We can’t hear God if we love the clamor of the world more than we love Him.

Paul started building the church when Christ told him to.  He kept doing it, not just because he wanted to obey Christ, but because he loved Christ and the brethren even though they gave him a hard time:

Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not your’s but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.  II Corinthians 12:14-15

Christian outreach is driven, not only by Jesus’ commands, but by our love for Him and by our love for lost people.  The good news is based on His death and resurrection, but we show its power by showing lost people the power of our love for Him working in us so that we love them in His name and share in His sufferings for the sake of the gospel.  Our love for Him makes us want to share in His cross:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Philippians 3:10-11

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.  Philippians 1:9-10

Our love for Christ improves our judgment and keeps us focused on what’s excellent!  When we’re witnessing, nobody cares how much we know until they first know how much we care about them! 

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  John 13:35

Other Relationships

Our love starts in the home, as husband and wife show fervent love for each other and their children.  It spreads into the church.  When all men see our love for each other, they’ll want some of it for themselves.  The church is founded on the resurrection, but it’s our love for Christ that turns our world upside-down!

From her youth up, my wife desired to marry, bear children, and guide a house (I Ti. 5:14).  This is an immense amount of work.  “Man may work from sun to sun; woman’s work is never done.”  Why does she pour her life into our home?  Is it because she promised nearly 50 years ago?  That helps, but her love for her family and for Christ is what drives her.  II Thes. 3:13 commands, “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.”

What gives her the energy?  What keeps her keeping on keeping on?  As Christ’s love gives us the dunomis to go forward for Him, my love, appreciation, encouragement, and support give her the dunomis to recharge her batteries and keep guiding our house.  As the Holy Spirit reminds us of Jesus’ love when we’re discouraged, I must always remind her of my love for her.  My love also drives me to work to earn the money to take care of her.  As with Paul and the church, I gladly spend and am spent for her, our children, and our church.

Duty is involved, of course.  Jesus spoke of His servants being obliged to do their duty to Him:

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

The military understands this.  You can get a “Good Conduct” ribbon for obeying orders, but medals are awarded for heroism “above and beyond the call of duty.”  Your labor in serving the Lord and your spouse must be Above and Beyond the Call of Duty for you to prosper.  A-Above B-Beyond C-Call D-Duty.  ABCD,  Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.  That’s how to be a hero in the military and in your home.  Military heroes get dead.  Day to day heroes are worthy ambassadors for the Lord Christ and help keep relationships healthy.

Duty determines what a wife must do, but love is the fuel that keeps her going. Isaiah 61:3 speaks of the “oil of joy;” love is the oil that keeps the flame of duty bright.  A wife needs to know that she’s loved and appreciated.  I Co. 11:9 teaches that women are made for men.  God designed a wife’s emotions so that she cares very much about his view of her.  I Co. 7:34 teaches that a woman can be so concerned about pleasing her husband that she loses sight of pleasing God.  I must take care to ensure that she has time to read the Bible, have family devotions, practice the piano, do voice exercises, and study her Sunday School lessons so she can serve the church but I must also strive to be sure she feels appreciated.

As she looks to Jesus, the love of Christ constrains her to serve her home and family, but her love for me helps her find the energy to keep on keeping on.  The dunomis in marriage comes from the man’s love for his wife.

In the movie “Bruce Almighty,” Bruce complained that God wasn’t managing things properly.  God gave Bruce the power to hear prayers and decide which ones to answer, but he was not permitted to interfere with anyone’s free will.  Bruce had been pretty critical of his girlfriend who loved him deeply.  He heard her praying fervently that God would take away her love for him because caring so much how he felt about her was too painful.  The book “Unprotected” by Miriam Grossman explains biological reasons why a woman can be hurt so badly when a man to whom she’s given herself turns out to have no feeling for her at all.  Realizing that she was no more than a sex toy who was played with and discarded can be very destructive to a woman.

Proverbs 17:22 teaches, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  I have watched this play out.  My mother played hymns for church and taught three sons how to play the piano.  Her people skills were strong enough that her missionary letters got our family to 300% support.  My dad never let her know he appreciated her gifts even though her gifts were very useful to his ministry.  He didn’t spend the time he should have invested in making sure she felt loved.

My mother never understood why my wife, whose gifts were so similar to hers, was loved and appreciated while her gifts were not valued.  Even though she was convinced that her wedding vows had been said to God as well as to dad (Mal. 2:14), she was coming to the conclusion that she would have to leave my dad.  Like the woman in “Bruce Almighty,” the pain of not being loved was more than she could bear.

Instead of leaving when she was diagnosed with cancer, my dad took early retirement and nursed her for the rest of her life.  The pain of feeling unloved for all those decades had gone so deep that it took years of cleaning up her messes when chemotherapy made her throw up before she felt loved.  By the time she died, she was convinced that he cared deeply about her.  Her mother had lived to 95.  Given the choice of living 30 more years feeling unloved or dying in confidence she was valued, she’d have chosen early death.  For my mother, the certainly of being loved and appreciated was more precious than life itself.

I was blessed because my wife told me of her incredible need for conversation with me before we married.  She told me she was looking forward to being married, not for my reason, but “because we can talk more in one day of marriage then in a week of dating.”  She made meeting her desired level of conversation and considering her views when making decisions part of our marriage covenant.  It turned out that she also expected me to open my heart to her and supply at least 1/3 of the words as we went back and forth.  How else could we become one as Jesus expected (Matthew 19:6)?  How can we know Him without asking for wisdom and mediating on the answers?  Opening my heart to her was frightening and it took about 2 years of intense involvement to become accustomed to her way of talking, but that gave her the confidence that she was loved, something my mother didn’t have until just before she died.  Knowing she’s loved and appreciated makes my wife happy.

A man’s emotions are just as powerful as a woman’s.  A man who loves a woman can be as hurt as a woman who loves a man, so some men try not to feel love.  My close friend who was best man at my wedding saw the joy I receive from having my wife like belonging to me.  Whenever he talked of marriage, we told him to find a wife in church.  He was skeptical.  “Are you saying that only Christians can have happy marriages?”

Some years later, he told us he had gotten married semi-secretly.  He’d been living with her and married when he decided to start a family.  He didn’t say much, but it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going smoothly.

Proverbs 12:4 says, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”  I’ve seen that, too.  She did many things to shame him, even in front of my teen-aged sons.  It was no surprise to hear that he’d had a serious heart attack.  As we sat together in the hospital waiting area, his wife was furious, “How dare he die and leave me all alone!”  I told her some of the things we’d done together in college.  She was incredulous – he never told her much of himself.  Instead of sharing himself and his life with his wife and daughter, he’d remained an island.

About a year after he got out of the hospital, he told me his wife was dead.  They’d had a fight and she drove off to a meeting.  On the way back, she went off the road.  She hated seatbelts and always counted on the airbag.  The airbag blew her out of her car and killed her.

The Bible is serious when it says that it is not good for a man to be alone.  Although dad had not appreciated her, my mother had been the axle on which the wheel of his life turned.  Without her, he began to die.  In spite of his wife’s bringing enough stress into his life to literally rot his health, my friend was devastated by her death.  He finally admitted to me and to his daughter that he had loved her very much and that it would have been better for both of them if he’d somehow let her know that.  Would they have had fewer fights?

Having created Adam, Jesus knew that Peter would have a hard time admitting that he loved Jesus.  Did Jesus asking Peter about love make Peter love Jesus?  Or did Peter already love Jesus, but wasn’t willing to admit it, even to himself?  Although his actions finally showed my mother his love for her, my father didn’t admit to himself that he loved and appreciated my mother until after she was gone.  My friend did the same.

Both my friend and my dad would have been a great deal happier if they had convinced their wives of their love.  That would have made the women happier.  The Bible states five times that an unhappy woman is a hardship, but what’s the opposite?  There is no joy this side of heaven for a man that compares with having a woman be happy to belong to him.  What makes a woman happy?  It’s taught in the Song of Solomon – she likes hearing that she’s loved and appreciated often enough that she and her friends are convinced.

Why wouldn’t Peter admit to himself that he loved Jesus?  Why didn’t my friend want to admit that he loved his wife?  Why do so few modern husbands let their wives know they’re loved?  Is it fear?

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  I John 4:18

It was reasonable for Peter to fear letting himself love Jesus enough to follow Him.  He’d seen Jesus weep near Lazarus’ tomb.  Jesus wept because He knew that some who saw Him resurrect Lazarus would reject Him and go to hell.  Peter may have realized how badly rejection would hurt him if he tried to feed Jesus’ sheep.  Peter had seen how the powers that be treated Jesus, and Jesus had warned His disciples how they would be hated:

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.  Matthew 10:22

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.  Matthew 24:9

Men are generally reluctant to admit their feelings.  Beyond that, knowing what would happen if he followed Jesus could have contributed to Peter’s not wanting to acknowledge his love for Jesus.  Paul also gave us a hint:

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.  II Corinthians 12:15

Paul knew that other Christians didn’t always return his love.  Loving someone makes me vulnerable to how that person treats me.  The more I love my wife, the more she could hurt me if she wanted to.  Some husbands are too afraid of being hurt to let their wives know how vulnerable love makes them.  Consider Proverbs 31.  Who wrote it?

The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.  Proverbs 31:1

Most of Proverbs is father to son.  Proverbs 2 and 5 show that a man can teach his son about bad women, but chapter 31 shows that it’s a mother who teaches her son about good women.  What does she say?

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.  Proverbs 31:10-13

Men, the Bible teaches that you can trust your heart to your wife.  A virtuous wife does her husband good and not evil.  She could put a knife to his heart, but she’ll take care to speak kindly so she won’t shred him:

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.  Proverbs 31:26

A non-virtuous woman can damage a man, of course.  My wife used to take a friend to visit her husband who was dying in a nursing home.  He respected my wife because he could see her love for him and for his wife and her hope that their relationship would work better.  The last time she saw him, he was finally paying attention to her gospel message.  At a critical point, his wife interrupted, changed the subject, and ended the discussion.

“I could see he was listening to you,” his wife said after he died.  “I didn’t want him to go to heaven; I wanted him to go to hell because of how he treated me.”  Her emotions remained deeply engaged in spite of all the hurt he’d inflicted on her after taking her before marriage and beating her when he was drunk.  She missed him deeply in spite of the hurt and suffered major trauma every year on the anniversary of his death.

My friend’s wife, who seemed to be trying to hurt him, wasn’t a virtuous woman.  He hadn’t sought a virtuous woman, he failed to protect her virtue before they were married, and he refused to seek forgiveness from either her, her parents, or from God.  God commands men to avoid fornication, that is, any sex outside marriage:

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.  I Thessalonians 4:3-8

The first step in sanctifying a woman is marrying her before taking her.  How often do we hear of a man claiming to love a woman in order to persuade her to fulfil his lusts?  Isn’t that what Samson did to Delilah?  Absent the sanctification of marriage, its lust which God calls “fraud” and which God will avenge.

We know from news reports about dates gone wrong that being defrauded by being taken outside marriage can harm a woman badly and make her bitter.  My friend’s wife’s bitterness made him miserable.  God gave him the desire of his heart when he took her before marriage, but brought leanness into his soul (Ps. 106:15).  Fraud followed by bitterness isn’t a good foundation for marriage.  My friend didn’t want to take responsibility for defrauding her and he refused to try to heal the damage he’d done, so the situation couldn’t improve.

Men, the way you conduct your marriage to a virtuous woman, like Christianity, should be driven by your love for Christ and for her.  The Bible teaches that God loves “the world,” but God’s love doesn’t do a sinner any good unless we convince the sinner.  Your love doesn’t do your wife any good unless you convince her, over and over, and show that you mean it by nourishing her and heeding her needs.  This isn’t just her material needs; it’s letting her be one with you.  Philippians 2:3 teaches that we should esteem others better than ourselves.  Marriage prospers when husband and wife engage the dunomis of love.

The resurrection didn’t drive the disciples to turn the world upside-down, evangelism didn’t get going until the disciples realized they loved Jesus, after which, as Paul put it, “the love of Christ constraineth us.”  Jesus demonstrated love in action.  When His disciples allowed themselves to feel the dunomis of His love, they couldn’t be contained.  If we animate ourselves with His love, we can’t be contained either:

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.  Song 8:7

Your marriage won’t really get going until you both recognize your love for each other and let that love constrain you to serve each other as Paul served Christ and the church, but it starts with the husband loving his wife (Eph. 5:25, Col. 3:19).  If you draw on the dunomis Jesus’ love offers, your love cannot be contained.  When lost people see you and your wife passing God’s love back and forth between you, they’ll want it for themselves.  That’s how we turn the world upside-down!

You are Able

DAILY MANNA
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2021

Thank you to my friend in Christ whose name I do not know but who wishes for all the glory to go to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Is the Bible Really My Daily Manna? | Here's the Joy

It is advisable that you prayerfully and meditatively read the text first.

YOU ARE ABLE
TEXT: EXODUS 4:1-7.
🔑KEY VERSE “And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod” (EXODUS 4:2).

When God’s call is upon anybody, He will provide all that is needed to make the work possible, even though there may be temporary adversity. He often calls us to do that which is beyond our natural abilities. Paul the apostle affirms, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”.

Moses doubted the possibility of the children of Israel believing that he was sent by God. He revealed his insecurity about his leadership. He did not take to Egypt as evidence of his personal encounter with God on Mount Sinai. What is interesting about the evidence that he was to take back to Egypt were the signs that God gave him to prove that he was a messenger of God.

The Lord begins to work with a man with the little talent he has. Do not despise your talent or competence no matter how undeveloped it is. You will always start from the known to the unknown. Put to proper use the little talent available now for a bountiful harvest in the future. He said the children of Israel would not believe him if he told them his encounter with God. The almighty God told him to believe in himself.

Many people have remained in their mediocre level because they fail to accept the possibility of rising to the top from their little corner and with their Iittle knowledge. With our little, God can achieve great things through us. He proved to Moses that he could accomplish a lot with His backing. So, start to believe in yourself and develop the “I Can!” mentality.

✍THOUGHT FOR THE DAY Little is much when God is in it.

BIBLE IN ONE YEAR 1 SAMUEL 25-26.

MEDITATION

Necessity of signs in a skeptical world

  1. The important question
    a. Moses, having gone to the best school in Egypt, was no doubt a first class intellectual, Acts 7:21,22.
    b. He knew that in order to inspire faith in God among skeptics, the need for supernatural signs is imperative.
    c. His foresight, intelligent reasoning and a sound audience analysis made him to demand for signs that will make his ministry among skeptics easy, v1.
    d. Every wise person sent by God as a soul winner, counsellor or minister etc must think through on what will be needed for the ministration to be effective and for the audience to submit to God. Just as God answered Moses, He will do the same to His willing vessels, v1.
    Q Have you prayerfully thought through of what you need from God to be effective in your service or you are in hurry to move? The Apostles were asked to wait for 10 days in order to get the needed gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:4.
    e. The time of waiting on God is never a wasted time. One of the weapons of christian warfare is “preparation for the gospel of peace”, Ephesians 6:15.
  2. The imparted qualifier
    a. What God gifted him to qualify him was just a divine impartation on what he already possessed, i.e. the rod in his hand, v2.
    b. Every child of God has the innate gift or talent they need to function in God-given assignment in a measure.
    c. What is needed, in most cases, is the anointing and impartation of the Holy Spirit to activate and supernaturally enable that gift.
    d. Moses had the rod, he only needed supernatural unction on it. A talented natural teacher will be given the gift of a teacher to function more effectively. A natural argumentator may just have the life consecrated and purified with impartation of wisdom to be an effective contender for the faith. The Spirit may just lay hands on you and use your education or training for His glory.
    Q Have you discovered yours? If NO ask God. If yes, you just need to develop it after the Holy Spirit has ignited fire on it.
    e. Moses ran away from the rod turned serpent but exercised faith by touching the tail of the serpent in simple obedience to God without allowing fear, vv3,4. There is need for obedience and faith in God in order to upgrade your natural endowments to supernatural manifestations.

Prayer points
Lord, reveal to me the inborn gifts you have embedded in me.🙏
Lord, I hereby humbly consecrate those gifts for your glory alone.🙏
Lord, let fire of God activate and empower your gifts in me and turn them into supernatural manifestations.🙏
Lord, Let the gifts of God in every member of the Church be activated and empowered for effectiveness in this skeptical world .🙏

HYMN Give me a double portion (see http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/gospel-songs-chords/give-me-a-double-portion.htm for the lyrics):

On Holiness

What is True Practical Holiness? - Full Article | C.S. Lewis Institute

This article comes courtesy of Newton Mortha, a fellow gospel worker online.

1 Timothy 4:5-10 5:

For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

Of George Herbert, his favorite poet, the Puritan Richard Baxter said: “heart work and heaven work make up his books.” By “heart-work” Baxter meant cultivating the spirit of grateful, humble, adoring love to one’s divine Lover and Savior, as Herbert does in this poem (nowadays a familiar hymn):

King of glory, King of peace, I will love thee; And that love may never cease I will move [ask] thee. Thou hast granted my request, Thou hast heard me; Thou didst note my working breast, Thou hast spared me. Wherefore with my utmost art I will sing thee, And the cream of all my heart I will bring thee. . . .

Holiness is a paramount need in evangelical life today—by humanity. The deepest word that can be spoken about sanctification is that it is a progress towards true humanity. Salvation is, essentially considered, the restoration of humanity to men. This is why the slightly inhuman, not to say unnatural, streak in some forms and expressions of sanctification is so far removed from the true work of grace in the soul. The greatest saints of God have been characterised, not by haloes and an atmosphere of distant unapproachability, but by their humanity. They have been intensely human and lovable people with a twinkle in their eyes. The assertion I make, and must now myself face, is that Brain, Warren and Philip are right. Genuine holiness is genuine Christlikeness, and genuine Christ- likeness is genuine humanness—the only genuine humanness there is. Love in the service of God and others, humility and meekness under the divine hand, integrity of behavior expressing integration of character, wisdom with faithfulness, boldness with prayerfulness, sorrow at people’s sins, joy at the Father’s goodness, and single-mindedness in seeking to please the Father morning, noon, and night, were all qualities seen in Christ, the perfect man. Christians are meant to become human as Jesus was human. We are called to imitate these character qualities, with the help of the Holy Spirit, so that the child- ish instability, inconsiderate self-seeking, pious playacting, and undiscerning pig- headedness that so frequently mar our professedly Christian lives are left behind. “Holiness, rightly understood, is a beautiful thing, and its beauty is the beauty and tenderness of divine love”—which is precisely the beauty of truly mature humanity. I need to remember all this, and take it to heart, and set my sights accordingly.