Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:3).
It was just before dawn on a cold winter morning on the farm. I had just shifted a line of irrigation pipes in a crop of potatoes. My bare feet were encased in congealed, cold, numbing mud. My last task before breakfast was to start the irrigation pump. When I tried to kick start the motorbike my foot slipped off the kick starter and my big toe struck the metal foot peg. I felt nothing at the time but when I arrived at the pump I looked down and noticed lots of blood oozing through the mud on my feet! On closer inspection, I discovered that I had a very deep gash under my big toe. It was a really nasty injury which was surprising! I had not even felt it because my foot was so numb from the cold.
It seems to me that just as I was oblivious to the serious damage done to my body, we can be unaware of the damage that is done daily to the body of Christ.
Every day followers of Jesus around the world are subjected to ridicule, persecution, abuse, torture, abduction and even death. In a recent statement, the International Society for Human Rights said that 80% of all religious freedom violations in the world are directed against Christians. Shockingly, it is estimated that every five minutes a follower of Jesus is put to death somewhere in the world simply because they have faith in Jesus. Some have gone as far as to say that the current levels of persecution against Christians are worse today than at any time in history!
As followers of Jesus, we are spiritually connected to all of the other followers of Jesus around the globe. The Bible describes this union as just like being part of a body (1Co 12:12).
Just as pain from an injury in one part of our physical bodies affects the rest of our body, so to the pain and suffering of one part of our spiritual body should affect the whole in some way. So why don’t we always feel their pain? Perhaps we do not feel the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world because we are numbed by complacency, indifference, apathy or just plain ignorance.
I did not know that there was a problem with my toe until I went looking and noticed some disturbing signs. There are a number of organizations that help us be aware of what is happening for many of our brothers and sisters around the world; organizations such as the Barnabas Fund, the Voice of the Martyrs, or The Open Doors.
When I found out that my foot was injured, I immediately took action to give aid to my injured member. The bible says that we should empathize with our suffering family to the point of actually considering ourselves to be in their shoes.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3).
The following websites can provide specific information about the scope and pain that the body that you and your church are a part of is experiencing worldwide and may assist in providing information as to how we can aid those parts of the body that are hurting.
I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all.
I read the online edition and was blown away by the response of the Solomon Islanders to the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing, or should I say God-planned. Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work, but also writing a book about it all. It’s as if it has all happened in a world apart, but the events in Brisbane show that it could happen in Australia also. ~ Barbara Vickridge (Perth, Australia)
Geoff Waugh’s life and ministry have influenced people all around the world. The story of his life and ministry will be of interest not only to those who know him – you will find yourself reflecting on your own journey with Jesus. Here is a personal journey with reflections that will enrich the lives of all readers. As he `looked to Jesus’ along the way he was opened up to many exciting new ventures in Australia and into countries where revival and renewal is vibrant, changing many lives. Although a biography, many others are involved. His reflections fit naturally, showing how his personal journey has relevance for others. (John Olley)
I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all.
I read the online edition and was blown away by the response of the Solomon Islanders to the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing, or should I say God-planned. Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work, but also writing a book about it all. It’s as if it has all happened in a world apart, but the events in Brisbane show that it could happen in Australia also. (Barbara Vickridge)
Book 1: Journey into Renewal and Revival
Introduction:Waugh stories – an overview
1. Beginnings: state of origin – growing up in NSW, Australia
2. Schools: green board jungle – learning and teaching
3. Ministry: to lead is to serve – theological college and pastorates
4. Mission: trails and trials – pioneering teaching in Papua New Guinea
5. Family: Waughs and rumours of Waughs – Family life in PNG and Australia
6. Search and Research: begin with A B C – exploring Israel and studies
7. Renewal: begin with doh rey me – charismatic renewal in Australia
8. Revival: begin with 1 2 3 – teaching revival leaders in many countries
1. ‘The Christmas Message’ is an appealing, highly unusual and very creative anthology. After an introduction about the Queen’s public expression of faith, Geoff Waugh provides a selection of noteworthy passages about Christmas from the Queen’s Christmas messages from 1952. He sets them into context by brief historical references, photos, and Christmas stamps. Finally there is an epilogue of famous Christmas hymns and carols including those used in the Christmas Broadcasts. This book would be the perfect Christmas present. – Alison Sherrington (Author)
2. I haven’t seen anyone else draw the events of these years together in this way before. Using the Queen’s speeches not only ties in the unfolding events of our time but reveals a deep spiritual glue that provides a fascinating and intimate insight into the personal life of our Queen. A fascinating read. 5 Stars. – Rev Philip Waugh (Minister)
3. The core of the book is the excerpts from The Queen’s messages. Geoff introduces each broadcast with a short commentary on the events of that year and highlights The Queen’s words in the context of each year, accompanied with appropriate photographs and commemorative stamps. The appendix is a fitting conclusion to this new and innovative approach to the Christmas Story and its clear message of peace and goodwill to all. It is a rewarding experience to read it from cover to cover. – Don Hill (Consultant)
4. The Queen Would Be Proud – 5 stars
What an amazing collection! This has so many wonderful Christmas messages and is a great addition to any family during the holiday season. – Jenny & Benny (Amazon)
God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general … but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. … It is my prayer that … we all might find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord. (2011)
This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ. (2012)
For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach. (2013)
For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none. (2014)
Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another. (2015)
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe. (2016)
We remember the birth of Jesus Christ, whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem. He knew rejection, hardship and persecution. And, yet, it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad. (2017)
The Christmas story retains its appeal since it doesn’t provide theoretical explanations for the puzzles of life. Instead, it’s about the birth of a child and the hope that birth 2,000 years ago brought to the world. Only a few people acknowledged Jesus when he was born; now billions follow him. I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone. It’s needed as much as ever. (2018)
Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child, a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem. But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps, taken in faith and in hope, can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding. (2019)
Printed books have a double page for each of the annual Christmas Broadcasts.
Queen Elizabeth II has spoken about the significance of Christmas to more people than anyone else in history, including 28 million in the UK and many millions more worldwide in just one of her Christmas Broadcasts.
We have annual Christmas Broadcasts from Queen Elizabeth II, freely available on the internet. Her Majesty refers to the meaning and significance of Christmas in them all. I have included selections in this Blog.
Jon Kuhrt wrote a blog about The Queen’s Christmas messages. He was impressed by comments in the 2014 broadcast while working with people affected by homelessness, offending and addictions at the West London Mission. Jon wrote: “I have not been a committed viewer (apart from when I am at my Mum’s when it is compulsory viewing). So I went back and read her previous Christmas messages over the last 5 years.”
Here, I have adapted Jon’s Resistance & Renewalblog in which he describes how The Queen’s Christmas messages are a model of how to talk about faith in the public sphere.
1) The Queen speaks personally
“It is my prayer this Christmas Day that Jesus’ example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.” (2012)
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.” (2014)
Personal testimony is significant and convincing, causing respect in those listening. The Queen is personal in the way she speaks, using words like ‘for me’; ‘my life’ and ‘my prayer’.
2) The Queens speaks compassionately
“Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.” (2015)
“Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.” (2016)
Consistently, The Queen and the Royal Family show deep concern for the bereaved and suffering, both in personal contact and in correspondence. The heart of Christmas is about God’s love for everyone, especially the hurting and fallen.
3) The Queen speaks inclusively
“The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.” (2013)
“Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.” (2014)
God’s love is for all people and believing in this love leads us to respect and value everyone. Jon adds, “It resonated with my own experience of meeting The Queen in 1997, when she came to open a new hostel for young homeless people that I was managing. I showed her round and introduced her to all the residents. I had expected it to be quite formal and awkward but I remember how adept she was at talking to such a diverse range of people.”
4) The Queen speaks about Jesus
“This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.” (2012)
“God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general … but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.” (2011)
The Queen talks directly about the person at the heart of Christmas, the reason for celebrating. That includes both the example and achievement of Jesus and makes orthodox theology accessible to the widest possible audience.
5) The Queen speaks about faith in action
“Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.” (2011)
“For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people.” (2013)
Reconciliation, service and love flow from Christian commitment. The Queen talks about what faith does. It makes a difference to how we live and helps us to be ‘better people’.
God really did love the world so much (all races and all religions or none) that he gave us his Son, our Saviour. We celebrate that gift at Christmas.
Excerpts from some of The Queen’s Christmas Broadcasts with links to each Speech.
[Christmas] has, before all, its origin in the homage we pay to a very special Family, who lived long ago in a very ordinary home, in a very unimportant village in the uplands of a small Roman province.
Life in such a place might have been uneventful. But the Light, kindled in Bethlehem and then streaming from the cottage window in Nazareth, has illumined the world for two thousand years. It is in the glow of that bright beam that I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.
I would like to read you a few lines from ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, because I am sure we can say with Mr Valiant for Truth, these words:
“Though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his battles who now will be my rewarder.”
I hope that 1958 may bring you God’s blessing and all the things you long for. And so I wish you all, young and old, wherever you may be, all the fun and enjoyment, and the peace of a very happy Christmas.
Every year at this time the whole Christian world celebrates the birth of the founder of our faith. It is traditionally the time for family reunions, present-giving and children’s parties.
A welcome escape, in fact, from the harsh realities of this troubled world and it is just in times like these, times of tension and anxieties, that the simple story and message of Christmas is most relevant.
The story is of a poor man and his wife who took refuge at night in a stable, where a child was born and laid in the manger. Nothing very spectacular, and yet the event was greeted with that triumphant song: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.”
For that child was to show that there is nothing in heaven and earth that cannot be achieved by faith and by love and service to one’s neighbour. Christmas may be a Christian festival, but its message goes out to all men and it is echoed by all men of understanding and goodwill everywhere. …
“Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.” The words of this old carol mean even more today than when they were first written.
The first Royal Christmas Message televised in colour, 1967
Modern communications make it possible for me to talk to you in your homes and to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. These techniques of radio and television are modern, but the Christmas message is timeless.
You may have heard it very often but in the end, no matter what scientific progress we make, the message will count for nothing unless we can achieve real peace and encourage genuine goodwill between individual people and the nations of the world.
Every Christmas I am sustained and encouraged by the happiness and sense of unity which comes from seeing all the members of my family together.
I hope and pray that, with God’s help, this Christmas spirit of family unity will spread and grow among our Commonwealth family of nations.
We are celebrating a birthday – the birthday of a child born nearly 2,000 years ago, who grew up and lived for only about 30 years.
That one person, by his example and by his revelation of the good which is in us all, has made an enormous difference to the lives of people who have come to understand his teaching. His simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since. He showed that what people are and what they do, does matter and does make all the difference.
He commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, but what exactly is meant by ‘loving ourselves’? I believe it means trying to make the most of the abilities we have been given, it means caring for our talents.
It is a matter of making the best of ourselves, not just doing the best for ourselves.
I was glad that the celebrations of my mother’s 80th birthday last summer gave so much pleasure. I wonder whether you remember, during the Thanksgiving Service in St. Paul’s, the congregation singing that wonderful hymn “Immortal, Invisible, God only wise”.
“Now give us we pray thee the Spirit of love, The gift of true wisdom that comes from above, The spirit of service that has naught of pride, The gift of true courage, and thee as our guide.” …
In difficult times we may be tempted to find excuses for self-indulgence and to wash our hands of responsibility. Christmas stands for the opposite. The Wise Men and the Shepherds remind us that it is not enough simply to do our jobs; we need to go out and look for opportunities to help those less fortunate than ourselves, even if that service demands sacrifice.
It was their belief and confidence in God which inspired them to visit the stable and it is this unselfish will to serve that will see us through the difficulties we face.
Christ not only revealed to us the truth in his teachings. He lived by what he believed and gave us the strength to try to do the same – and, finally, on the cross, he showed the supreme example of physical and moral courage.
That sacrifice was the dawn of Christianity and this is why at Christmas time we are inspired by the example of Christ as we celebrate his birth.
It is no easy task to care for and bring up children, whatever your circumstances – whether you are famous or quite unknown. But we could all help by letting the spirit of Christmas fill our homes with love and care and by heeding Our Lord’s injunction to treat others as you would like them to treat you.
When, as the Bible says, Christ grew in wisdom and understanding, he began his task of explaining and teaching just what it is that God wants from us.
The two lessons that he had for us, which he underlined in everything he said and did, are the messages of God’s love and how essential it is that we, too, should love other people. …
The message which God sent us by Christ’s life and example is a very simple one, even though it seems so difficult to put into practice.
I am always moved by those words in St. John’s Gospel which we hear on Christmas Day – “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not”.
We have only to listen to the news to know the truth of that. But the Gospel goes on – “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God”.
For all the inhumanity around us, let us be grateful for those who have received him and who go about quietly doing their work and His will without thought of reward or recognition.
They know that there is an eternal truth of much greater significance than our own triumphs and tragedies, and it is embodied by the Child in the Manger. That is their message of hope.
We can all try to reflect that message of hope in our own lives, in our actions and in our prayers. If we do, the reflection may light the way for others and help them to read the message too. We live in the global village, but villages are made up of families. …
I hope you all enjoy your Christmas. I pray, with you, for a happy and peaceful New Year.
“Blessed be the peacemakers,” Christ said, “for they shall be called the children of God.” It is especially to those of you, often peacemakers without knowing it, who are fearful of a troubled and uncertain future, that I bid a Happy Christmas.
It is your good sense and good will which have achieved so much. It must not and will not go to waste. May there be still happier Christmases to come, for you and your children. You deserve the best of them.
At Christmas I enjoy looking back on some of the events of the year. Many have their roots in history but still have a real point for us today. I recall, especially, a dazzling spring day in Norwich when I attended the Maundy Service, the Cathedral providing a spectacular setting.
The lovely service is always a reminder of Christ’s words to his disciples: “Love one another; as I have loved you”. It sounds so simple yet it proves so hard to obey. …
If only we can live up to the example of the child who was born at Christmas with a love that came to embrace the whole world. If only we can let him recapture for us that time when we faced the future with childhood’s unbounded faith.
Armed with that faith, the New Year, with all its challenges and chances, should hold no terrors for us, and we should be able to embark upon it undaunted.
St Paul spoke of the first Christmas as the kindness of God dawning upon the world. The world needs that kindness now more than ever – the kindness and consideration for others that disarms malice and allows us to get on with one another with respect and affection.
Christmas reassures us that God is with us today. But, as I have discovered afresh for myself this year, he is always present in the kindness shown by our neighbours and the love of our friends and family.
Christmas is the traditional, if not the actual, birthday of a man who was destined to change the course of our history. And today we are celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ was born two thousand years ago; this is the true Millennium anniversary.
The simple facts of Jesus’ life give us little clue as to the influence he was to have on the world. As a boy he learnt his father’s trade as a carpenter. He then became a preacher, recruiting twelve supporters to help him.
But his ministry only lasted a few years and he himself never wrote anything down. In his early thirties he was arrested, tortured and crucified with two criminals. His death might have been the end of the story, but then came the resurrection and with it the foundation of the Christian faith.
Even in our very material age the impact of Christ’s life is all around us. If you want to see an expression of Christian faith you have only to look at our awe-inspiring cathedrals and abbeys, listen to their music, or look at their stained glass windows, their books and their pictures.
But the true measure of Christ’s influence is not only in the lives of the saints but also in the good works quietly done by millions of men and women day in and day out throughout the centuries.
Many will have been inspired by Jesus’ simple but powerful teaching: love God and love thy neighbour as thyself – in other words, treat others as you would like them to treat you. His great emphasis was to give spirituality a practical purpose. …
To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.
I believe that the Christian message, in the words of a familiar blessing, remains profoundly important to us all:
“Go forth into the world in peace, be of good courage, hold fast that which is good, render to no man evil for evil, strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, help the afflicted, honour all men.”
It is a simple message of compassion… and yet as powerful as ever today, two thousand years after Christ’s birth.
Anniversaries are important events in all our lives. Christmas is the anniversary of the birth of Christ over two thousand years ago, but it is much more than that. It is the celebration of the birth of an idea and an ideal. …
I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning, I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.
Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.
The Founder of the Christian Faith himself chose twelve disciples to help him in his ministry.
In this country and throughout the Commonwealth there are groups of people who are giving their time generously to make a difference to the lives of others.
As we think of them, and of our Servicemen and women far from home at this Christmas time, I hope we all, whatever our faith, can draw inspiration from the words of the familiar prayer:
“Teach us good Lord To serve thee as thou deservest; To give, and not to count the cost; To fight, and not to heed the wounds; To toil, and not to seek for rest; To labour, and not to ask for any reward; Save that of knowing that we do thy will.”
It is this knowledge which will help us all to enjoy the Festival of Christmas.
Religion and culture are much in the news these days, usually as sources of difference and conflict, rather than for bringing people together. But the irony is that every religion has something to say about tolerance and respecting others.
For me as a Christian one of the most important of these teachings is contained in the parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus answers the question “who is my neighbour?”
It is a timeless story of a victim of a mugging who was ignored by his own countrymen but helped by a foreigner – and a despised foreigner at that.
The implication drawn by Jesus is clear. Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race, creed or colour. The need to look after a fellow human being is far more important than any cultural or religious differences.
Now today, of course, marks the birth of Jesus Christ. Among other things, it is a reminder that it is the story of a family; but of a family in very distressed circumstances. Mary and Joseph found no room at the inn; they had to make do in a stable, and the new-born Jesus had to be laid in a manger. This was a family which had been shut out.
Perhaps it was because of this early experience that, throughout his ministry, Jesus of Nazareth reached out and made friends with people whom others ignored or despised. It was in this way that he proclaimed his belief that, in the end, we are all brothers and sisters in one human family. …
It is all too easy to ‘turn a blind eye’, ‘to pass by on the other side’, and leave it to experts and professionals. All the great religious teachings of the world press home the message that everyone has a responsibility to care for the vulnerable.
Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive. Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer: O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in. Be born in us today.
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.
At Christmas I am always struck by how the spirit of togetherness lies also at the heart of the Christmas story. A young mother and a dutiful father with their baby were joined by poor shepherds and visitors from afar. They came with their gifts to worship the Christ child. From that day on he has inspired people to commit themselves to the best interests of others.
This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son ‘to serve, not to be served’. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.
It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.
The carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service: ‘What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part’. The carol gives the answer ‘Yet what I can I give him – give my heart’.
For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.
On the first Christmas, in the fields above Bethlehem, as they sat in the cold of night watching their resting sheep, the local shepherds must have had no shortage of time for reflection. Suddenly all this was to change. These humble shepherds were the first to hear and ponder the wondrous news of the birth of Christ – the first noel – the joy of which we celebrate today.
[Centenary of the start of World War I, 1914-1918]
‘Reconciliation’ by Josefina de Vasconcellos at Coventry Cathedral
In the ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral is a sculpture of a man and a woman reaching out to embrace each other … inspired by the story of a woman who crossed Europe on foot after the war to find her husband.
In 1914, many people thought the war would be over by Christmas, but sadly by then the trenches were dug and the future shape of the war in Europe was set.
But, as we know, something remarkable did happen that Christmas, exactly a hundred years ago today.
Without any instruction or command, the shooting stopped and German and British soldiers met in No Man’s Land. Photographs were taken and gifts exchanged. It was a Christmas truce. …
For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.
A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.
Sometimes it seems that reconciliation stands little chance in the face of war and discord. But, as the Christmas truce a century ago reminds us, peace and goodwill have lasting power in the hearts of men and women.
On that chilly Christmas Eve in 1914 many of the German forces sang Silent Night, its haunting melody inching across the line.
That carol is still much-loved today, a legacy of the Christmas truce, and a reminder to us all that even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found.
Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch on 9 September, 2015
It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.
One cause for thankfulness this summer was marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War. …
At the end of that war, the people of Oslo began sending an annual gift of a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square.
It has 500 light bulbs and is enjoyed not just by Christians but by people of all faiths, and of none. At the very top sits a bright star, to represent the Star of Bethlehem.
The custom of topping a tree also goes back to Prince Albert’s time. For his family’s tree, he chose an angel, helping to remind us that the focus of the Christmas story is on one particular family.
For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus’s birth – in a stable – were far from ideal, but worse was to come as the family was forced to flee the country.
It’s no surprise that such a human story still captures our imagination and continues to inspire all of us who are Christians, the world over.
Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.
Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading that love to others, whenever and wherever we can.
At Christmas our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago. It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary, did not think they were important.
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.
The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received, and that love begins small but always grows.
Today, we celebrate Christmas, which, itself, is sometimes described as a festival of the home. Families travel long distances to be together.
Volunteers and charities, as well as many churches, arrange meals for the homeless and those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. We remember the birth of Jesus Christ, whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem. He knew rejection, hardship and persecution.
And, yet, it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad. Whatever your own experience is this year, wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.
The Christmas story retains its appeal since it doesn’t provide theoreticalexplanations for the puzzles of life. Instead, it’s about the birth of a child, and the hope that birth 2,000 years ago brought to the world.
Only a few people acknowledged Jesus when he was born; now billions follow him. I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone. It’s needed as much as ever.
Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child, a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem. But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps, taken in faith and in hope, can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.
Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Friedrich Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer.
In Part I the text begins with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only “scene” taken from the Gospels.
In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the “Hallelujah” chorus.
In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glorification in heaven.
When King George II attended a royal performance of Messiah he stood up for the Hallelujah Chorus in honour of the King of kings. When the king stood everyone in his presence had to stand. So it became the tradition for the audience to stand up when the Hallelujah Chorus is sung, as millions of us have done in honour of the King of kings.
Chorus — Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
Soprano Recitative — Luke 2:8-11, 13
There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Chorus — Luke 2:14
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men.
Chorus — Revelation 19:6, 11:15, 19:16
Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ;
and He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of kings, and Lord of lords.
Lyrics: Holy Bible, Authorised Version, 1611, arranged by Charles Jennens, 1741
In the Foreword to this book Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wrote:
As I embark on my 91st year, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the words of a poem quoted by my father, King George VI, in his Christmas Day broadcast in 1939, the year that this country went to war for the second time in a quarter of a century.
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
A lot of key passages and exciting developments get lost in the details of this book so I have highlighted passages in this book which bring some of those key revival passages together.
From Chapter 5 – Australia: Elcho Island (1994)
In that same evening the word just spread like the flames of fire and reached the whole community in Galiwin’ku. Gelung and I couldn’t sleep at all that night because people were just coming for the ministry, bringing the sick to be prayed for, for healing. Others came to bring their problems. Even a husband and wife came to bring their marriage problem, so the Lord touched them and healed their marriage.
Next morning the Galiwin’ku Community once again became the new community. The love of Jesus was being shared and many expressions of forgiveness were taking place in the families and in the tribes. Wherever I went I could hear people singing and humming Christian choruses and hymns! Before then I would have expected to hear only fighting and swearing and many other troublesome things that would hurt your feelings and make you feel sad.
Many unplanned and unexpected things happened every time we went from camp to camp to meet with the people. The fellowship was held every night and more and more people gave their lives to Christ, and it went on and on until sometimes the fellowship meeting would end around about midnight. There was more singing, testimony, and ministry going on. People did not feel tired in the morning, but still went to work.
From Chapter 9 – Philippines (1995)
During the class seminars, my students reported on various signs and wonders that they had experienced in their churches. Many of them expected God to do the same things now as he did in the New Testament, but not all! “We don’t seem to have miracles in our church,” said one student, a part-time Baptist pastor and police inspector. “You could interview a pastor from a church that does,” I suggested.
So he interviewed a Pentecostal pastor about miraculous answers to prayer in their church. That student reported to the class how the Pentecostal church sent a team of young people to the local mental hospital for monthly meetings where they sang and witnessed and prayed for people. Over 40 patients attended their first meeting there, and they prayed for 26 personally, laying hands on them. A month later, when they returned for their next meeting, all those 26 patients had been discharged and sent home.
From Chapter 9 – Ghana (1995)
When we arrived in the mountain town of Suhum, it was dark. The torrential rain had cut off the electricity supply. The rain eased off a bit, so we gathered in the market square and prayed to God to guide us and to take over. Soon the rain ceased. The electricity came on. The host team began excitedly shouting that it was a miracle. “We will talk about this for years” they exclaimed with gleaming eyes. We had clear days all that week, although it was in the monsoon.
My interpreter that night didn’t know a lot of English. I think he preached his own sermon based on some phrases of mine he understood or guessed, and apparently he did well. When we invited people to respond and give their lives to Christ, they came from the surrounding darkness into the light. Some wandered over from the pub, smelling of beer. They kept the ministry team busy praying and arranging follow up with the local churches.
At that point I left the work to the locals who understood one another. I just moved around laying hands on people’s heads and praying for them, as did many others. People reported various touches of God in their lives. Some were healed. Later in the week an elderly man excitedly told how he had come to the meeting almost blind but now he could see.
Each day we held morning worship and teaching sessions for Christians in a church, hot under an iron roof on those clear, tropical sunny days. During the second morning I vividly ‘saw’ golden light fill the church and swallow up or remove blackness. At that point the African Christians became very noisy, vigorously celebrating and shouting praises to God. A fresh anointing seemed to fall on them just then.
From Chapter 9 – Toronto, Canada (1995)
Over 100,000 a year flocked there from all over the world for well over a decade. The wide diversity of people from different denominations and countries there impressed me. Love and respect for others filled the atmosphere and testimonies. We joined the crowds of over 1500 each morning and night, enjoyed the low-key sensitive worship (knowing very few of their songs), appreciated the balanced teaching, and received personal prayer.
Both of us appreciated the gracious, caring way people prayed for us, and others. No rush. No hype. No pressure. Whether we stood, or sat in a chair, or rested on the carpeted floor, those praying for us did so quietly with prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit. Those praying laid a hand on us gently, as led, and trusted the Lord to touch us. He did. Warmth and love permeated us. We returned to our hotel after the meetings aware of increased peace and deeper assurance of the Lord’s love and grace.
After returning to Brisbane I noticed that people I prayed for received strong touches from the Lord, most resting in the Spirit on the floor. We needed people to be ready to catch those who fell, to avoid them getting hurt (then needing extra healing prayer!). Some of them had visions of the Lord blessing them and others.
From Chapter 13 – Nepal (2000)
After praying on the bridge we approached the Chinese officials to get a permission to enter Tibet. The first official refused but the second one nodded approvingly, taking the four Australian passports from my hand as security, and let us go free of charge! This could happen only by the supernatural intervention of our Almighty God, Hallelujah! We had good prayer inside Tibet, especially on those individual shopkeepers whom I would grab and pray on without any resistance from them!
On 21 April all the eight of Australians and I had a trip to Gochadda in west Nepal and held a three days conference over there at Easter. While driving toward the destination I shared the Word with the driver of the private bus and during the inauguration of the conference he approached the altar and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. On the same day a Christian brother whose hand was partially crippled for six years was touched by the Holy Spirit and healed absolutely. He was shaking in his whole body and raising his hands, even the crippled one already healed, praising the Lord with all his strength, he glorified the Lord for his greatness, Hallelujah!
Out of about 200 participants in the conference by the grace of God 100 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit praising the Lord, singing, falling, crying, and many other actions as the Holy Spirit would prompt them to act. About ten of them testified that they had never experienced such a presence of the power and love of God. Some others testified being lifted to heavenly realms by the power of the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by the angels of the Lord in a great peace, joy, and love toward each other and being melted in the power of his presence. Many re-committed their lives to the Lord for ministry by any means through his revelation.
On the second day of the conference the trend continued as the people seemingly would fall down, repent, minister to each other in the love of Christ, enjoy the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, singing, prophesying, weeping, laughing, hugging, and all the beauty of the Holy Spirit was manifested throughout the congregation by his grace and love. One woman of age 65 testified that she never had danced in her life in any occasion even in secret, but the Lord had told her that she should now dance to him and she was dancing praising him with all her strength. For hours this outpouring continued and the pastors of the churches were one by one testifying that they had never experienced such a presence and power of God in their whole Christian life and ministry.
Some 60 evangelists from Gorkha, Dhanding, Chitwan, Butwal declared that they were renewed in their spirits by the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and they are now going to serve the Lord in the field wherever the Holy Spirit will lead them to be fully fledged in His service. In the last day of the conference while praying together with the congregation and committing them in his hands, many prophesied that the Lord was assuring them of great changes in their ministry, life and the area. While the power of God was at work in our midst three children of 6-7 years old fell down weeping, screaming and testifying about a huge hand coming on them and touching their stomachs and healing them instantly. After the prayer all the participants got into the joy of the Holy Spirit and started dancing to the Lord, singing and praising Him for His goodness.
Before leaving Gochadda while we were having snacks in the pastor’s house a woman of high Brahmin caste came by the direction of the Lord to the place, claiming that she was prompted by a voice in her ear to go to the Christians and ask for prayer for healing of her chronic stomach pain and problems, and that is why she was there. We prayed for her and she was instantly healed and we shared the Gospel, but she stopped us saying, “I need to accept Christ as my Saviour so don’t waste time!” She accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour being lifted in spirit, and even the body as she said she didn’t feel anymore burden in her body, and spirit, Hallelujah!
On 25 April we held another conference in Nazarene Church pastored by Rinzi Lama in Kathmandu. Ten churches unitedly participated in the two days gathering where about 100 people participated. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued in this conference refreshing many in their spirits and bringing much re-commitment. Some cases of healing were testified. …
On 27 April we held a one day conference in Hosanna Church where the touch of the Holy Spirit was tremendous and people blessed by the Holy Spirit and his might were manifesting his power and presence in the place. While people were worshipping and praising the Lord, a prophecy came and the Lord said, “What happened to the vision given to you six years ago? You have forgotten to pray about it but I have not forgotten what I have promised to you through the vision!” I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I had seen a vision where I was taken over the highest mountains in this country with a few of my foreign friends and some of our evangelists and as we put our step on the top of the mountain it started shaking and melting and my friends and the evangelists started disappearing, then I cried out, “Lord where are my friends?” And He said open your eyes and see, and I saw all my friends and the evangelists were scattered all over the mountains and they were coming towards me with multitudes of people behind them. I started weeping and with a feeling which words cannot explain I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, I was laughing in the Spirit for the repetition of the vision which I could see again. Hallelujah!
From Chapter 14 – USA: Pensacola
I liked the spontaneous bits best. Before Friday night’s revival service some people in the singing group of over 50 people on stage began singing free harmonies without music while they waited for the sound system to work, and we all joined in. It sounded like angels harmonizing in continual worship. Wonderful. No need for words!
Later, during the service Lindel Cooley, their worship leader, led spontaneously from the keyboard without other instruments, singing the chorus of an old hymn from his youth (and mine) – ‘Love lifted me’. All the oldies joined in, and then it went on to a verse sung from memory. It moved me deeply, from my own boyhood memories, especially as I had just then been asking the Lord for a personal touch from him.
A visitor preached, calling for faith and action. Their prayer team prayed for many hundreds at the ‘altar call’ – short and sharp, but relevant and challenging. The man who prayed briefly for me spoke about national and international ministries the Lord would open for me.
From Chapter 15 – Vanuatu (2002)
By Romulo: “The speaker was the Upper Room Church pastor, Jotham Napat who is also the Director of Meteorology in Vanuatu. The night was filled with the awesome power of the Lord and we had the Upper Room church ministry who provided music with their instruments. With our typical Pacific Island setting of bush and nature all around us, we had dances, drama, testified in an open environment, letting the wind carry the message of salvation to the bushes and the darkened areas. That worked because most of those that came to the altar call were people hiding or listening in those areas.The Lord was on the road of destiny with many people that night.”
Unusual lightning hovered around the sky and as soon as the prayer teams had finished praying with those who rushed forward at the altar call, the tropical rain pelted down on that open field.
God poured out his Spirit on many lives that night, including Jerry Waqainabete and Simon Kofe. Both of them played rugby in the popular university teams and enjoyed drinking and the nightclub scene. Both changed dramatically. Many of their friends said it would not last. It did last and led them into ministry and mission.
From Chapter 16 – Vanuatu (2003)
Significant events associated with the coming of the Gospel to South Pentecost included a martyr killed and a paramount chief’s wife returning from death.
Thomas Tumtum had been an indentured worker on cane farms in Queensland, Australia. Converted there, he returned around 1901 to his village on South Pentecost with a new young disciple from a neighbouring island. They arrived when the village was tabu (taboo) because a baby had died a few days earlier, so no one was allowed into the village. Ancient tradition dictated that anyone breaking tabu must be killed, so they were going to kill Thomas, but his friend Lulkon asked Thomas to tell them to kill him instead so that Thomas could evangelize his own people. Just before he was clubbed to death at a sacred Mele palm tree, he read John 3:16, then closed his eyes and prayed for them. Thomas became a pioneer of the church in South Pentecost, establishing Churches of Christ there.
Paramount Chief Morris Bule died at 111 on 1stJuly, 2016, the son of the highest rank paramount chief on Pentecost Island. After a wife of Chief Morris’s father died and was prepared for burial, the calico cloths around her began to move. She had returned from death and they took the grave cloths of her. She sat up and told them all to leave their pagan ways and follow the Christian way. Then she lay down and died.
Chief Morris’s son, Paramount Chief Peter, had an uncle who returned from Queensland as a Christian in the early 1900s. When he was old, after many years telling them about the Gospel, one day he called all his relatives to him, shook hands in farewell with everyone, and lay down and died immediately.
From Chapter 16 – Solomon Islands (2003)
Revival began with the Spirit moving on youth and children in village churches. They had extended worship in revival songs, many visions and revelations and lives being changed with strong love for the Lord. Children and youth began meeting daily from 5pm for hours of praise, worship and testimonies. A police officer reported reduced crimes, and said former rebels were attending daily worship and prayer meetings.
Revival continued to spread throughout the region. Revival movements brought moral change and built stronger communities in villages in the Solomon Islands including these lasting developments:
1 Higher moral standards. People involved in the revival quit crime and drunkenness, and promoted good behaviour and co-operation.
2 Christians who once kept their Christianity inside churches and meetings talked more freely about their lifestyle in the community and amongst friends.
3 Revival groups, especially youth, enjoyed working together in unity and community, including a stronger emphasis on helping others in the community.
4 Families were strengthened in the revival. Parents spent more time with their youth and children to encourage and help them, often leading them in Bible reading and family prayers.
5 Many new gifts and ministries were used by more people than before, including revelations and healing. Even children received revelations or words of knowledge about hidden magic artefacts or ginger plants related to spirit power and removed them.
6 Churches grew. Many church buildings in the Marovo Lagoon were pulled down and replaced with much large buildings to fit in the crowds. Offerings and community support increased.
7 Unity. Increasingly Christians united in reconciliation for revival meetings, prayer and service to the community. …
Children received revelations about their parent’s secret sins or the location of hidden magic artefacts or stolen property. Many children had visions of Jesus during the revival meetings. Often he would be smiling when they were worshipping and loving him, or he would show sadness when they were naughty or unkind. …
At Seghe the children and youth loved to meet every afternoon in the church near the Bible College there. The man leading these meetings had been a rascal involved in the ethnic tensions but was converted in the revival. A policeman from Seghe told me that since the revival began crime has dropped. Many former young criminals were converted and joined the youth worshipping God each afternoon. Revival continued to spread throughout the region. …
We taught in morning sessions about revival and answered questions. One mother, for example, asked about the meaning of her young son’s vision of Jesus standing with one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth. What a beautiful, powerful picture of Jesus’ claim that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matthew28:8), seen in a child’s vision.
From Chapter 17 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2004)
By Matthias: The deliverance ministry group left the college by boat and when they arrived at the Bungalows they prayed together. After they prayed together they divided into two groups.
There is one person in each of these two groups that has a gift from the Lord that the Holy Spirit reveals where the witchcraft powers are, such as bones from dead babies or stones. These witchcraft powers are always found in the ground outside the houses or sometimes in the houses. So when the Holy Spirit reveals to that person the right spot where the witchcraft power is, then they have to dig it up with a spade.
When they dug it out from the soil they prayed over it and bound the power of that witchcraft in the name of Jesus. Then they claimed the blood of Jesus in that place.
Something very important when joining the deliverance group is that everyone in the group must be fully committed to the Lord and must be strong in their faith because sometimes the witchcraft power can affect the ones that are not really committed and do not have faith.
After they finished the deliverance ministry they came together again and just gave praise to the Lord in singing and prayer. Then they closed with a Benediction.
From Chapter 19 – Vanuatu Pentecost (2004)
By Don: The night’s worship led by the law students started off as usual with singing, then spontaneously turned into a joyful party. Then Joanna Kenilorea gave a testimony about a very sad event in her family that brought the Keniloreas back to God. She was especially eloquent in her address and when finished, Geoff found that it had been so powerful that he had no more to add that night and made an immediate altar call for prayer. Almost as one, 300 high school students, teachers and others present rose from their seats and moved out into the aisle to the front of the hall. There were a couple of slow starters, but when it became apparent that Geoff could not possibly pray for each individually, even these moved up to the back of the crowd until everybody in that room had come forward. Geoff in all his years of ministry and association with renewal ministries and revival (and that was the subject of his doctorate) had never experienced anything like it. The most remarkable thing for Helen and me was we were there and part of it in such a remote and previously unknown part of our world! It was surely a night to remember.
From Chapter 21 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2005)
Many of the older people attending these intensive teaching sessions had been involved in local revivals through many years. They understood the principles involved such as repentance, reconciliation, unity, personal and group prayer that was earnest and full of faith, and using various gifts of the Spirit. They were most familiar with words of wisdom and knowledge, discerning spirits (especially from local witchcraft), revelations, healings and deliverance.
I learned much from them, especially about the spirit world and humbly seeking God for revelation and direction. We westerners tend to jump in and organize things without really waiting patiently on God for his revelation and direction. Many westerners, including missionaries, find waiting frustrating or annoying, but local people find it normal and natural. Wait on God and move when he shows you the way. For example, you can seek the Lord about who will speak, what to say, and how to respond.We westerners often use schedules and programs instead.
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
From Chapter 22 – Kenya (2005)
Before the Kibera slum church moved into their corrugated iron shed they met in a community hall. I taught leaders there, and spoke at their Sunday service with about 30 people. We gave them real bread for communion, not just symbolic cubes. The Spirit led me to give them all the bread we had, just t loaves (not five barley buns as the boy had in Scripture).
“Can I take some home to my family?” asked one young man. That’s a hard question to answer in front of 30 hungry people.
“It’s yours. You can take some of your own communion bread home if you want to,” I answered.
Everyone then took a large handful of communion bread, and most put some in their pockets to take home later. We shared real glasses of grape juice in plastic glasses, thanking the Lord for his body and blood given for us. After my return to Australia I heard that the bread apparently multiplied, as those who took some home had enough for their families to eat. Some of them were still eating it two weeks later.
From Chapter 22 – Fiji (2005)
By Jerry:While we were praying and worshipping, the Lord told me for the first ever time to take the salt water and the land and give it back to God. And I told this brother that when we offered it to God the rain is going to fall just to confirm that God hears and accepts it according to His leading.
I told him in advance while the Lord was putting it in my heart to do it… this is the first ever time and I always heard about it when people are being led… now it has happened to me… I could not even believe it.
As soon as he brought the water and I brought the soil to signify the sacrifice, I felt the mighty presence of God with us and was like numb… and the sun was really shining up in the sky with very little clouds. This rain fell slowly upon us…. I still could not believe… my cousin was astonished and could not believe it… it happened according to the way the Lord told me and I told him. It was like a made up story.
It was the blessings of God and I told the Lord that I am waiting for His own time to rebuild the walls of my village… but the Lord already told me that He wants and has chosen me to rebuild the wall of my village like Nehemiah.
From Chapter 23 – Fiji (2006) re Tanna Island
The Director of the Department of Meteorology in Vanuatu was in Fiji for a conference and I met him there again. He is also a pastor (Pastor Jotham) at Upper Room church in Port Vila where many of the law students attended.
In May 2006 he had been on mission in Tanna Island where the Lord moved strongly on young people, especially in worship and prayer. Children and youth were anointed to write and sing new songs in the local dialects. Some children asked the pastors to ordain them as missionaries – which was new for everyone. After prayer about it, they did.
Those children are strong evangelists already, telling Bible stories in pagan villages. One 9 year old boy did that, and people began giving their lives to God in his pagan village, so he became their ‘pastor’, assisted by older Christians from other villages.
From Chapter 24 – Vanuatu (2006)
At sharing time in the Upper Room service, a nurse, Leah Waqa, told how she had been recently on duty when parents brought in their young daughter who had been badly hit in a car accident, and showed no signs of life – the heart monitor registered zero.
Leah was in the dispensary giving out medicines when she heard about the girl and she suddenly felt unusual boldness, so went to the girl and prayed for her, commanding her to live, in Jesus’ name. She prayed for almost an hour, mostly in tongues, and after an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered.
The revival team, including the two of us from Australia, trekked for a week into mountain villages. We literally obeyed Luke 10 – most going with no extra shirt, no sandals, and no money. The trek began with a five-hour climb across the island to the village of Ranwas on ridges by the sea on the eastern side. Mathias led worship, and strong moves of the Spirit touched everyone. We prayed for people many times in each meeting. At one point I spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. Merilyn Wari, wife of the President of the Churches of Christ, then jumped up asking for prayer for her eyes, using the mud. Later she testified that the Lord told her to do that, and then she found she could read her small pocket Bible without glasses. So she read to us all. Meetings continued like that each night. …
Revival meetings erupted at Ponra. The Spirit just took over. Visions. Revelations. Reconciliations. Healings. People drunk in the Spirit. Many resting on the floor getting blessed in various ways. When they heard about healing through ‘mud in the eye’ at Ranwas some wanted mud packs also at Ponra!
One of the girls in the team had a vision of the village children there paddling in a pure sea, crystal clear. They were like that – so pure. Not polluted at all by TV, DVDs, videos, movies, magazines, and worldliness. Their lives were so clean and holy. Just pure love for the Lord, especially among the young. Youth often lead in revival.
The sound of angels singing filled the air about 3am. It sounded as though the village church was packed. The harmonies in high descant declared “For You are great and You do wondrous things. You are God alone” and then harmonies, without words until words again for “I will praise You O Lord my God with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name for evermore” with long, long harmonies on “forever more”. Just worship. Pure, awesome and majestic.
From Chapter 24 – Solomon Islands (2006)
Revival in the Guadalcanal Mountains had begun at the Bubunuhu Christian Community High School on Monday, July 10, 2006, on their first night back from holidays. They were filled with the Spirit and began using many spiritual gifts they had not had before. Then they took teams of students to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people, especially youth. Many gifts of the Spirit were new to them – prophecies, healings, tongues, and revelations (such as knowing where adults hid magic artefacts).
The National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in the north-west of the Solomon Islands at Choiseul Island, two hours flight from Honiara, brought over 1,000 youth together from all over the Solomon Islands.
By Grant: “Most of a thousand youth came forward. Some ran to the altar, some crying! There was an amazing outpouring of the Spirit. There were so many people, Geoff and I split up and started laying hands on as many people as we could. People were falling under the power everywhere (some testified later to having visions). There were bodies all over the field (some people landing on top of each other). Then I did a general healing prayer and asked them to put their hand on the place where they had pain. After we prayed people began to come forward sharing testimonies of how the pain had left their bodies and they were completely healed! The meeting stretched on late into the night with more healing and many more people getting deep touches.
It was one of the most amazing nights. I was deeply touched and feel like I have left a part of myself in Choiseul. God did an amazing thing that night with the young people and I really believe that he is raising up some of them to be mighty leaders in revival.”
A young man who was healed that night returned to his nearby village and prayed for his sick mother and brother. Both were healed immediately. He told the whole convention about that the next morning at the meeting, adding that he had never done that before.
The delegation from Kariki islands further west, returned home the following Monday.
The next night they led a meeting where the Spirit of God moved in revival. Many were filled with the Spirit, had visions, were healed, and discovered many spiritual gifts including discerning spirits and tongues. That revival has continued, and spread.
From Chapter 25 – Solomon Islands (2007)
We held revival meetings at the Theological Seminary at Seghe in the fantastic Marovo Lagoon – 70 kilometres with hundreds of tropical bush laden islands north and west of New Georgia Island. Morning teaching sessions, personal prayers in the afternoons and night revival meetings, with worship led by the students, filled an eventful week in September 2007. That was the first time the seminary held such a week, and again we prayed for so many at each meeting, students and village people. Meetings included two village revival services in the lagoon. At the first, an afternoon meeting in the framework of a large new church building, everyone came for prayer, all 100, and 30 reported on pain leaving as we prayed for healings. Then we had a long evening meeting at Patutiva village, where revival started in Easter 2003 across the Lagoon from Seghe. That meeting went from 7pm to 1.30am with about 1,000 people! We prayed personally for hundreds after the meeting ‘closed’ at 11pm. Students told me they could hear the worship and preaching on the PA across the lagoon 1k away in the still night air, so those in bed listened that way! …
The week at Taro was the fullest of the whole trip, the most tiring, and also the most powerful so far. Worship was amazing. They brought all the United Church ministers together for the week from all surrounding islands where revival is spreading and was accelerated after the youth convention near here in Choiseul the previous December, where the tsunami hit in April. Many lay people also filled the church each morning – about 200.
Night rallies at the soccer field included the amplifiers reaching people in their houses as well. Each night I spoke and Mathias also spoke, especially challenging the youth. We prayed for hundreds, while the youth lead worship at the end of each meeting. The ministers helped but they preferred to just assist us, and people seemed to want us to pray for them. I involved the ministers in praying for people also. There was a lot of conviction and reconciliation going on.
It’s fascinating that we so often see powerful moves of God’s Spirit when all the churches and Christians unite together in worship and ministry. God blesses unity of heart and action, especially among God’s people. It always involves repentance and reconciliation.
In all these places people made strong commitments to the Lord, and healings were quick and deep. Both in Vanuatu and in the Solomon Islands the people said that they could all understand my English, even those who did not speak English, so they did not need an interpreter. Another miracle.
Saturday night was billed as a big meeting at Patuvita across the channel. This is where the revival started with children of the lagoon at Easter 2003. Geoff had previously visited this church in September 2003. The old church building has been pulled down and the foundations were being pegged out on an open ridge high above the lagoon for the new one, which will probably hold up to 1000 as the revival swells the numbers.
Again students led the worship. Most of the adults were traditional, but there were forty or so in revival ministry teams who pray for the sick, cast out spirits and evangelise. We joined the meeting by 8pm and finished at 1.30am!
Worship went for an hour. Geoff then preached for nearly an hour. In his words –
Very lively stuff. Only tiny kids went to sleep – 50 of them on pandanus leaf mats at the front. Then we prayed for people – and prayed, and prayed, and prayed and prayed, on and on and on and on! I involved the ministers (after praying for them and leaders first), and the students – and still people came for prayer – by the hundreds.
We prayed for leaders who wanted prayer first, then for their ministry teams, then for youth leaders and the youth, and then for anyone else who wanted prayer, and at about midnight Mark called all the children for prayer, so the parents woke them up and carried the babies. I guess I prayed for 30 sleeping kids in mother’s arms and for their mothers and fathers as well.
Then after midnight when the meeting “finished” about 200 remained for personal prayer, one by one. So I involved 4 students with me, and that was great on-the-job training as well as praying. We prayed about everything imaginable, including many barren wives, men whose wives were un-cooperative, women whose husbands weren’t interested, and healings galore – certainly many more than 100 healings. In every case, those with whom we prayed said that the pain was totally gone.
I doubt if I’ve ever seen so many healings, happening so quickly. At 1.30am there were still 30 people waiting for prayer, so I got desperate, and prayed for them all at once. I told them just to put their hands on the parts of their body needing healings, and I prayed for them all at once, while the students and some ministers still there laid hands on them, and I also moved quickly around to lay hands on each one.
They were all happy, and again reported healings. I wish I’d thought of that at midnight! But at least a few hundred had a chance to talk with us and be specific about their needs.
From Chapter 27 – China (2007)
I loved it there among such humble, hungry, receptive, grateful, gentle, and faith-filled believers. I was often in tears just being there, appreciating their heartfelt zeal in everything. I have rarely been so impressed anywhere. No concerts. No acting. No hype. Just bare essentials. What a big and wonderful family we belong to, and our Father is so proud of his family there, I’m sure.
I had the great honour of speaking at a house church. People arrived in ones or twos over an hour or so, and stayed for many hours. Then they left quietly in ones or twos again, just personal visitors to that host family. Food on the small kitchen table welcomed everyone, some of it brought by the visitors.
About 30 of us crowded into a simple room with very few chairs. Most sat on the thin mat coverings. They sang their own heartfelt worship songs in their own language and style, pouring out love to the Lord, sometimes with tears. The leader played a very basic guitar in a very basic way.
Everyone listened intently to the message, and gladly asked questions, all of it interpreted. There was no need for an altar call or invitation to receive prayer. Everyone wanted personal prayer. Our prayer team of three or four people prayed with each person for specific needs such as healing and with personal prophecies. That flowed strongly. I knew none of that group, but received ‘pictures’ or words of encouragement for each one, as did the others.
While prayer continued, some began slipping quietly away. Others had supper. Others stayed to worship quietly. It was a quiet night because they did not want to disturb neighbours or attract attention.
Most people in that group were new believers with no Christian background at all. They identified easily with the house churches of the New Testament, the persecution, and the miracles, because they experienced all that as well. Many unbelievers become Christians because someone prayed for their healing and the Lord healed them.
From Chapter 28 – Fiji (2008, 2009)
By Romulo (2008): “Inter-tertiary went very well at Suva Grammar School that was hosted by Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship (CF). It was an awesome two nights of fellowship with God and with one another. The Pacific Students for Christ combined worship was a huge blessings for those that attended the two nights of worship. Pastor Geoff spoke on Obedience to the Holy Spirit – this being a spark to revival and power.
“Students came in droves for prayers and the worship lit up the Grammar School skies with tears, repentance, anointing and empowerment. The worship by Fiji School of Medicine students brought us closer to intimate worship with the King. It was a Pacific gathering and each and every person there was truly blessed as young people sought a closer intimate relationship with the King. We were blessed beyond words. Thank you all for the prayers, the thoughts and the giving.”
Roneil, a Fijian Indian, added, “It was all so amazing, so amazing that words can’t describe it. For me, it was obvious that the glory of God just descended upon the people during the Inter-tertiary CF. I’ve never seen an altar call that lasted for way more than an hour. I myself just couldn’t get enough of it. It was and still is so amazing. God’s anointing is just so powerful. Hallelujah to Him Who Was, Who Is and Who is to Come.”
By Romulo (2009): Two of the memorable highlights were the washing of leaders’ feet at RCCG Samabula and the worship service on Wednesday at RCCG Kiuva village. In fact I remember picking up the pastors on Sunday morning, and seeing Pastor Geoff carrying towels. I said to myself, ‘This is going to be fun.’ And fun it was.
God was teaching the church the principles of servanthood, demonstrated not just by words but by actions. It was a moving experience as Pastor Geoff on his knees started washing feet, drying them with a towel and speaking into the lives of leaders. Powerful also was the fact that Pastor Geoff’s leading was to wash the feet of leaders.
That Sunday former PM Rabuka, who heard of the Pastor’s visit, came to church for prayer. Of course, the leading for Pastor Geoff to pray for leaders meant Rabuka would get his feet washed too. One of the acts that will be embedded forever in my mind was seeing Rabuka sit on the floor, remove his coat and wash the feet of Pastor Geoff and KY Tan. He then dried their feet with his ‘favourite’ Fiji rugby coat (he played in their national rugby team). I was blown away by this act of humility, as demonstrated by Christ on his final night with the disciples before his arrest and execution.
On Wednesday night, (their last night in Suva), we were at Kiuva village in Tailevu. The powerful and angelic worship of young people and kids in Tailevu made the atmosphere one of power with a tangible presence of the Lord in the place. We saw a glimpse of revival and the power of God at work in such a simple setting. I was blessed to witness for myself the prevalent hunger in the body as lives connected with God. In all, it is purely refreshing being in the presence of God and being touched and filled by the Holy Spirit.
By Adrian Plass, The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass. Canterbury, 1987, pp. 102-103:
‘He was a nuisance then,’ said Braddock, ‘and he’s a nuisance now. He won’t let you work out cosy little systems and call ‘em “churches”, and he won’t let you get away with having four meetings a week to discuss what you’re going to do in next week’s meetings. If that’s what you want, you’ll find Jesus a real pain in the neck. He says awkward, difficult things, like “Love your enemies”, and “Invite the people who really need it to dinner”, and “Love God before anything else”. He’s terrible like that. They couldn’t pin him down then, and you can’t pin him down now, but I’ll tell you something … if you want to pay the cost, there’s no one else worth following, and nothing else worth doing!’
By Larry Lea in C. Peter Wagner, Territorial Spirits. Sovereign World, 1991, p. 84:
Jesus was controversial. Not just a little. Not just occasionally. He was thoroughly, persistently controversial throughout most of His ministry.
Folks today who think they will follow Jesus, say the things He said, and do the things He did without encountering opposition are in for a rude awakening. Jesus was controversial in His day, and we who express His life and His teachings will be controversial today as well. Jesus even said so. He said to His apostles, ‘If they treat the master of the house as if he’s the devil, how do you think they’ll treat you?’
By John Stott, Christ the Controversialist. Tyndale, 1970, p. 49:
The popular image of Christ as ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ simply will not do. It is a false image. To be sure, He was full of love, compassion and tenderness. But He was also uninhibited in exposing error and denouncing sin, especially hypocrisy. Christ was a controversialist. The Evangelists portray Him as constantly debating with the leaders of contemporary Judaism.
By Pierre Berton, The Comfortable Pew. Hodder & Stoughton, 1965, pp. 90, 94:
In the beginning, Christianity was anything but a respectable creed. Its founder moved among the outcasts of society – among the prostitutes, racial minorities, political traitors, misfits, vagrants, and thieves; among “the hungry, the naked, the homeless and the prisoner.” He himself was considered a religious heretic and a traitor to his nation, an enemy of the status quo, a man who broke the Sabbath, a dangerous radical, a disturber and a malcontent who fought the establishment and whose constant companions were the sort of people who are to be found in the skid-row areas of the big cities. When he stood trial, there was an element of truth in the charge under which he was found guilty: “He stirs up the people.”
It has been said, with truth (and by a Christian minister), that none of the twelve apostles would feel at home today in a modern church. Nor is it likely that a modern church would welcome the kind of people with whom its founder associated…
By Philip Yancey. 1995. The Jesus I Never Knew. Sydney: Strand, pp. 22-23:
What would it have been like to hang on the edges of the crowd? How would I have responded to this man? Would I have invited him over for dinner like Zacchaeus? Turned away in sadness, like the rich young ruler? Betrayed him, like Judas and Peter?
Jesus, I found, bore little resemblance to the figure I had met in Sunday school, and was remarkably unlike the person I had studied in Bible college. For one thing, he was far less tame. In my prior image, I realized, Jesus’ personality matched that of a Star Trek Vulcan: he remained calm, cool, and collected as he strode like a robot among excitable human beings on spaceship earth. That is not what I found portrayed in the Gospels and in the better films. Other people affected Jesus deeply: obstinacy frustrated him, self-righteousness infuriated him, simple faith thrilled him. Indeed, he seemed more emotional and spontaneous than the average person, not less. More passionate, not less.
The more I studied Jesus, the more difficult it became to pigeonhole him. He said little about the Roman occupation, the main topic of conversation among his countrymen, and yet he took up a whip to drive petty profiteers from the Jewish temple. He urged obedience to the Mosaic law while acquiring the reputation as a lawbreaker. He could be stabbed by sympathy for a stranger, yet turn on his best friend with the flinty rebuke, “Get behind me, Satan!” He had uncompromising views on rich men and loose women, yet both types enjoyed his company.
His extravagant claims about himself kept him at the centre of controversy, but when he did something truly miraculous he tended to hush it up. As Waiter Wink has said, if Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent him.
Two words one could never think of applying to the Jesus of the Gospels: boring and predictable. How is it, then, that the church has tamed such a character – has, in Dorothy Sayers’ words, “very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies”?
By Dr James Allan Francis, 1926
“He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where He worked in a carpenter shop
Until He was thirty when public opinion turned against Him.
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but Himself
He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied Him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, His executioners gambled for His clothing
The only property He had on earth
When He was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life.”
Riverlife [formerly] Kenmore Baptist Church, Brisbane, Australia
Message Outline, October 2, 2016 (Logos Team)
“LOGOS – Faith on the Frontlines”
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Tough questions always come when least expected. They put you on the spot. They can make you sweat over your intellectual, ethical, and emotional responses to pressing problems that you know are important — wars, poverty, humanity’s origin, God’s existence, globalization, climate change, other religions, and eternal destiny. Today’s message came out of the types of experiences where people ask hard questions and you only have an opportunity to respond for perhaps a couple of minutes. What we want to look at are some of the biggest barriers to beliefs.
How can we know there is a God?
Perhaps the best short answer you can give to why you believe in God, or why you are a follower of Jesus, is your own personal testimony. You all will have reasons of your own for being Christians.
Two well know reasons for believing in God include that He provides a basis for understanding why there is a universe rather than nothing and how moral values can exist.
(1) God provides an explanation for the existence of the universe.
The first reason for thinking there is a God is that He is the best explanation for why anything exists at all. Perhaps one of the most profound and important questions of life is why is there a world and why are we in it? Why is there something rather than nothing?
The answer really comes down to two possibilities – chance or providence. The universe and humanity are either here by accident or we are here by design. The thought process in this argument can be explained with two premises and a conclusion. 1. The universe began to exist.
1. The Universe began to exist
Today if you pick up a science text you will read that the universe began to exist in an explosion called the big bang around perhaps 13 billion years ago. In that explosion you have the beginning of all matter and energy in the universe as well as space time.
2. Everything that has a beginning needs a cause.
From nothing comes nothing. No one has shown something coming out of nothing without any cause.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
So you have here evidence from science and philosophy that the beginning of the universe surely requires a cause. And that cause must be greater than the universe which means the cause is timeless, immaterial and powerful. Which is a round about way of describing God.
To learn more you can watch Dr William Lane Craig and Dr Lawrence Krause discuss the topic “Why is there something rather than nothing” that took place in Sydney in 2013.
(2) God provides an explanation for the existence of the objective moral values.
The second reason for thinking there is God is that God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values. The heart of this issue is whether moral values are objective in nature or subjective. And by objective moral values what is meant is that they exist independent of people’s opinions.
The Earths’ shape as a sphere is an objective fact and is independent of people’s opinions. Whether a person likes chocolate or vanilla ice cream as the ‘best’ flavour is a question of individual subjective preference and is dependent on a person’s opinion.
If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. Many famous atheists would agree with this. Richard Dawkins has said that “in a world without God there can be no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”
Yet most people accept things like rape really are wrong but often don’t appreciate there is no good basis for believing that if they do not accept God exists.
To learn more on this you can watch or read the debate between Dr William Lane Craig and Dr Sam Harris ‘Are the foundations of moral values natural or supernatural?’
The central claim of Christianity is that God sent His son Jesus to be punished to death by crucifixion for our wrong doing. Jesus demonstrated He was divine by resurrecting from the dead and offers all people the chance at life after death.
Many people will make claims that ‘Jesus didn’t exist’ or ‘His disciples stole His body from the tomb’ or that He was taken off the cross alive. Scholars today accept though a wide range of facts about Jesus’ life regardless of their backgrounds.
Virtually all scholars regardless of their backgrounds will accept that Jesus died by crucifixion and that His disciples and others had experiences of Jesus after His death and believed He had risen from the dead.
A majority of New Testament scholars would also accept:
* that after Jesus’ burial, His tomb became empty;
* the church persecutor Paul was suddenly changed into the church’s best missionary as he genuinely believed he met a risen Jesus;
* that Jesus’ sceptical half-brother James was suddenly transformed and became a leader of the early church.
To learn more on this you can listen to or podcast a discussion between Dr Gary Habermas and Dr James Crossley from the UK radio show Unbelievable that took place on 1 August 2015.
Science and faith are not in conflict and fit beautifully together, both uncovering truth sometimes in different ways and other times in overlapping ways. As science honestly probes the natural world, it encounters problems and questions which are philosophical in character and cannot be resolved scientifically.
There are many leading contemporary scientists and engineers who believe that their faith provides a framework or undergirds their scientific inquiry. Kepler famously said that science was thinking God’s thoughts after Him. Boyle, Faraday, Pascal and many others were amazing minds that transformed our world – none needed to reject their faith for scientific inquiry.
To learn more try the works of Dr John Lennox such as the book ‘God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God’ or his 2015 lecture ‘Science and the God Question Faith and Science’ on YouTube.
How can God allow so much suffering in the world?
Our answer begins with a belief that God values authentic relationship, and like any good relationship where love exists there is freedom in how we act towards one another. Rather than creating mindless robots so nothing ever goes wrong, God designed life in such a way that we can freely accept or reject His love. This gift of freedom is also something we share with one another. Haven’t we each experienced a moment where we have done the wrong thing in a relationship? Did God stop us with a lightning rod and thunderous voice? No. There was a freedom to choose because at the heart of God’s love we have choice. When asked “what’s wrong with the world today?” G K Chesterton responded, “I am”. To a greater or lesser degree (no pointing to the person next to you), we have each played a part in the suffering we see in the world. God made us to love Him, love each other and lovingly care for this world. Instead, at times we have despised God, abused each other, and vandalized our planet. In a world designed for relationship, our choices affect others. Blaming God for this is to miss our personal responsibility. Maybe a better question is “how can we allow so much suffering in the world”, but the good news is that God has not left us to suffer alone without hope.
Christianity makes sense of why our suffering is not the way it’s supposed to be. We are in a good world gone bad, a world in process of restoration. But to speak of ‘God-and-suffering’ is to miss the heart of our story, for God entered the story to set things right. The problem looks radically different when we speak of ‘God-in-Jesus-and-suffering.’ Did Jesus sit idly by and watch our pain? No. He healed the sick, set captives free and comforted those grieving. He is still doing this today. When we are in pain, smart answers don’t help. We need a wounded healer to stay by our side. So God suffers too. He enters into this mystery. Even more, He defeats death and grounds our hope that one day He will resurrect the whole cosmos and us with it to a world without suffering—no more tears, no more brokenness, just a loving embrace.
To learn more try the Unbelievable podcast ‘Why Does God allow suffering?” between Vince Vitale and Julian Baggini.
Why should I believe in a God who tells me what to do and a religion like Christianity that will restrict my freedom and fun?
True freedom is more than just the absence of constraints.
Freedom always comes with a form. A river must have its banks to flow freely and with purpose. Without them, it is a giant puddle at best, and a destructive flood at worst. Likewise, our form is in God, for whom we were created, and it is only in Him that we truly come alive.
Jesus Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” It’s not that God doesn’t want us to have a good time; it’s that He wants us to have abundant life. He wants us to experience the fullness of His love, to enjoy the majesty of His creation, to prosper in the community that He designed for us to be part of and to reach our greatest potential.
God offers freedom from the slavery that sin traps us into. So it is only in Jesus that we have truly found life and truly found freedom.
Isn’t an ancient near eastern faith now outdated and irrelevant in this modern world?
The most important questions in life are timeless. Where did I come from? Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? Where am I going? What happens when I die? Christianity now, as it has done for centuries, offers the most satisfying answers to these age old questions.
Christianity has been making itself relevant in other countless ways now, all over the world and through past history. The Church is the largest single provider of healthcare and education in the world, with an overwhelming presence in places of poverty. In some countries the Christian Church is the largest financial contributor to both non-government and government forms of education, including schools and universities.
The church provides aid all over the world through agencies like Tear Fund, Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Compassion, World Vision, Samaritans Purse – feeding the poor, housing the homeless, caring for the sick, the abandoned and the destitute. At the centre of society’s values, ideas, laws and institutions is Christianity and its gospel message. Christianity is made relevant wherever Christians go transforming the world for the better.
The challenge for Christians is to continue to show Christianity relevant in the world today
Riverlife [formerly] Kenmore Baptist Church Senior Leadership Team
It is impossible that Christianity is not God’s revelation of truth. Simply impossible. The math proves it beyond question. It doesn’t take faith to believe that one plus one equals two, and it doesn’t take faith to identify the religion which has mathematical certainty in its corner.
God didn’t have to give us mathematical proof of His existence, but He did it anyway. God didn’t have to give us proof of Christianity, but He chose to do so. And God didn’t have to give us proof of His love for us, but that is exactly what He did. The proof is irrefutable.
I live in Nebraska where I serve as a pastor. Imagine someone covering this entire state in silver dollars 6 feet deep. Then mark one coin and bury it anywhere across the state. Next, blindfold a man and have him choose one coin. The odds that he would choose the marked coin are the same odds of getting 8 prophecies all fulfilled in one man. God gave us about 300 fulfilled prophecies in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Here are 8 of those 300 prophecies:
(1) The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6)
(2) The Messiah will be a descendant of Jacob. (Numbers 24:17; Matthew 1:2)
(3) The Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9; Mark 11:4-11)
(4) The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend. (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:47,48)
(5) The Messiah’s betrayal money will be used to purchase a potter’s field. (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:9,10)
(6) The Messiah will be spat upon and struck. (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67)
(7) The Messiah’s hands and feet will be pierced. (Psalm 22:16; John 20:25-27)
(8) Soldiers will gamble for the Messiah’s garments. (Psalm 22:18; Luke 23:34)
There is no way one man could have fulfilled all 8 of these prophecies unless God was making it happen. Who else controls history? Who else could give us such irrefutable proof for Christianity? The odds are one in one hundred quadrillion, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.
This mathematical proof was calculated by Professor Peter Stoner. He was chairman of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College until 1953. He then went to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where he served as chairman of the science division.
You don’t have to be a mathematics professor to see that this evidence is irrefutable. No one would pick the marked coin under those conditions. No one but God could have given us these biblical prophecies, and then brought them to fulfillment right before our eyes. It is impossible that Christianity is false. The math proves it, and the Man behind the math rose from the dead, just as it had been foretold.
It doesn’t take faith to see how the Bible could only have come from God. It does take faith, however, to accept Jesus as your Savior and to believe in God’s promise of eternal life. God has done everything to make this way open to you. If you choose to reject it in spite of the overwhelming evidence and in spite of God’s love for you, you will be walking away from an open door to paradise.
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Luke 24:27, 32, 44-45)
Introduction1 Love God:Faith in God – God our FatherFollow Me – Jesus our LordFilled with the Spirit – God’s Spirit our Helper
2 Love Others:Love one anotherServe one anotherEncourage one another
Jesus was wholly obedient in different ways at different times as a child, a student, a carpenter, a teaching rabbi, a healer, a sacrifice. We can obey in our different situations.
The Great Commission is a call to obey everything Jesus commanded. That’s not easy! But Jesus reminded us that he now has all authority in heaven and on earth and he is with us to the end of the age:‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)This book is about learning to obey Jesus as we love God who loves us totally. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, 23). The greatest commandments of all are to love God and love others. …
We encourage Christians, especially leaders, to obey what Jesus told us to do. All Christians love to speak and sing about Jesus but we may not follow his instructions. So I wrote a mission book about how Jesus trained his followers: Jesus the Model for Short Term Supernatural Mission.It’s the first in my Great Commission Series and this is the second book in that series.Jesus taught his followers to do what he did. He commanded them to love one another as he loved us. He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, to heal the sick and to cast out unclean spirits. I hope this book will help you do what Jesus told us to do. Jesus said that all the commandments could be summed up in two: loving God and loving others.‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).Jesus described our neighbour as anyone, especially those in need. He said that we would keep his commandments because we loved him.Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)God our loving Father expects us to believe in Jesus, his Son, to trust him and to obey his teaching and instructions.And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment (1 John 3:23).
What is obedience?Jesus told a parable about two sons whose father told them to work in his vineyard (Matthew 21:28-32). One son said he would go but he did not. The other son said he would not go but changed his mind and went. The one who said ‘No’ but then went was more obedient than the one who said ‘Yes’ but didn’t go. The story shows how we can repent, change our mind and obey.Jesus’ parable of the two sons encourages us to repent, turn around, and obey even if previously we did not.
Often we may feel guilty that we are not obeying Jesus fully and wholeheartedly. When we pray we may remember how we disobeyed or were half-hearted or reluctant to obey. We can repent, and obey.Some of Jesus commands seem hard for us to obey: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you; whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me; carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; sell your possessions, and give alms; those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples (Luke 6:27-28; 9:23; 10:4; 12:33; 14:33). And that’s just a few of his instructions!
We’re not all called to be Saint Francis or Mother Teresa. But we are called to follow Jesus – and that’s a challenge. Jesus’ instructions can shape our attitudes and actions. We may live it out in different ways in different places, but his commands will always guide us as we are led by his Spirit. Jesus was wholly obedient in different ways at different times as a child, a student, a carpenter, a teaching rabbi, a healer, a sacrifice. We can obey in our different situations.
Our obedience springs from love and flows strong in God’s love. We love Him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus reveals himself to those who obey him in love: “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love them and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to them. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by them and make Myself real to them.]” (John 14:21 Amplified)
The guards report these things to the chief priests
APPEARANCES OF CHRIST AFTER HIS RESURRECTION
1) To Mary Magdalene: ‘All hail! Fear not. Touch me not’
Mt 16:9-10, Jn 20:14
2) To the women returning home:
‘Go tell my brothers that they go into Galilee – there shall they see me’ The Garden Mt 28:9,
3) To two disciples going to Emmaus Emmaus Road Mk 16:12, Lk 24:13-34
4) To Peter Jerusalem 1Cor 15:5, Lk 24:34
5) To ten Apostles Jerusalem Lk 24:33, Jn 20:19
‘Peace be unto you As my Father hath sent me, so send I you. ‘Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whoever’s sins you remit,’ etc Jerusalem Jn 20:2-23
6) To the eleven Apostles Jerusalem Mk 16:14, Jn 20:26 ‘Peace be unto you’.Jn 20:2
To Thomas: ‘Reach out your finger,’ etc ‘Blessed are they that have not seen, yet have believed’
7) To 500 at once Unknown 1 Cor 15:6
8) To James Unknown 1 Cor 15:6
9) To the disciples at the sea of Tiberias, including a miracle draught of fishes Galilee Jn 21:1-24
To Peter; ‘Feed my sheep, feed my lambs’ Galilee Jn 21:15-17
10) To the 11 disciples on a mountain: ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, … Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.’ Galilee Mt 28:16-20
THE ASCENSION Mt of Olives, Bethany Mk 16:19, Lk 24:50-51, Acts 1:9-11
Due to different emphases in each gospel, the chronological order is not always clear. The tables are one possibility. This chronology is adapted and used with permission from Believe: http://mb-soft.com/believe/txh/gospgosp.htm