The Lord gave me this awesome revelation today that there is nothing in this world that He cannot bring us through wiping away every shred of doubt from my mind! As Watchman Nee always says, "It's revelation that changes us." Nothing can stop us when God is working through us. I was really blessed by that story about Watchman Nee, having read his books for so long. That really encouraged me. I had alot more boldness today witnessing to others at work not caring at all if I get fired or not. This has given me a desire more than ever to win the lost at any cost.
| 2008/5/15 15:48|
Chinese professor Bob Fu and his wife held secret Bible studies in remote villages. The inhabitants hunger for Gods Word never ceased to amaze him.
One memorable trip began with a twelve hour bus ride on which a church leader stood in front of the broken window for hours to keep the rain out so that Fu could rest. The next night, they drove a small van on rough, muddy roads until the van got stuck; then they drove a tractor for hours in the pouring rain until the tractor also got stuck. After that, they walked all night by the light of the moon, slipping and falling in the muddy fields.
They arrived early the next morning to a warm welcome. Villagers began arriving at the house church to pray for two hours before the service. Some had walked fifty miles just to hear Gods Word. The house had no chairs, so the church members sat on rocks or pieces of wood. In this area, they had another blessing: It was too difficult for the police to follow. For a few days, they could worship freely!
Each had overcome extreme travel conditions to worship, and none considered it a sacrifice. They just had a desire like David, who was drawn to worship with every fiber of his being.
For those in restricted nations, church is not optional; it is essential. In contrast, in free nations many people make up their minds each week whether or not they will attend church. Do they have time? Is it raining? Would they rather sleep late? Whats the sermon topic anyway? Shamefully, we often run through a gamut of questions trying to decide whether church is worth our time. For David and others, going to meet with God was a no-brainer. In fact, they would not let anything keep them from it. When is the last time you asked God to give you a desire for worship like this? Ask him today, and make plans to attend church this week and meet with God.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.
| 2008/5/16 9:52|
Governor Agricola of Armenia was confronted with "mutiny." Forty soldiers refused to offer the sacrifice ordered by emperor Licinius. The forty who stood before him that wintry fourth-century day in Sevaste were fine specimens of manhood who radiated an aura of courage. He was determined to make them see reason.
But the soldiers were adamant. They refused to sacrifice. To do so was to betray their faith in Christ. "But what about your comrades?" asked Agricola. "Consider--you alone of all Caesar's thousands of troops defy him! Think of the disgrace you bring upon your legion!"
"To disgrace the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is more terrible still," replied the men. Exasperated, the governor threatened to flog and torture them. The soldiers stood firm, although they knew he would carry out his threat. In the fourth century, there were few civil rights. Boldly the men answered, "Nothing you can offer us would replace what we would lose in the next world. As for your threats-- we despise our bodies when the welfare of our souls is at stake."
Pairs of guards seized each man and dragged them out into the cold where they were stripped and tied to posts. Whips laid open their backs and iron hooks tore their sides. Still the forty refused to surrender. Agricola chained them in his dungeons. Finally, he commanded that they be stripped naked and driven onto the ice of a pond below Sevaste.
The "rebels" did not wait for the sentence to be imposed, but tearing off their own clothes, ran to the pond in the raw March air. "We are soldiers of the Lord and fear no hardship," they said. "What is death for us but an entrance into eternal life?" On this day, March 9, 320, singing hymns, they stood shivering on the pond as the sun sank.
Baffled, Agricola ordered hot baths placed around the pond. Surely the warm water would lure the men off the ice! But the crisp night air carried a prayer to all ears: "Lord, there are forty of us engaged in this battle; grant that forty may be crowned and not one be wanting from this sacred number."
One of the men did lose his nerve, however, and crawled off the ice to a bath. He died the instant he touched the hot water. This was too much for one of the guards. He shucked off his clothes, marched onto the ice and took the place of the man who had failed.
Basil, St. "Homily on the Forty Martyrs."
"Bravest Soldiers in the Army: The Forty Martyrs of Sevaste." Glimpses #146. Worcester, Pennsylvania: Christian History Institute.
Gregory of Nyssa. "First and Second Homilies Concerning the Forty Martyrs." http://www.sp.uconn.edu/~salomon/nyssa/martyrs.htm
Kirsch, J. P. "Forty Martyrs." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
Various encyclopedia and internet articles.
Last updated May, 2007.
| 2008/5/16 19:04|
Barbarians menaced the Roman empire. Emperor Diocletian instituted a number of reforms aimed at saving the sprawling political entity. He reorganized the provinces and made the army more mobile while increasing its size. To battle inflation, he issued a new coinage, established a uniform system of taxation and implemented wage-price controls.
Recognizing that the empire was too large for a single man to rule, he divided it into four administrative units. In doing this he raised to power a man who did Christians much harm. This man, Galerius, instigated by his mother (a die-hard pagan) prodded the Emperor to persecute the Christians. With their new customs, Christians were a threat to imperial unity, he said; and their vast, well-knit organization was the largest non-governmental body ever seen. Surely they could not be trusted: their loyalty was to King Jesus rather than to Caesar. Diocletian, who for eighteen years had never lifted a finger against the faith, followed this wicked advice. The crackdown began on this day, February 23, 303.
The persecutors dragged off church leaders and tortured them to death, employing the rack, the scourge, slow fires, crucifixion, and many other barbarities against them. They burned Christian books and scriptures. Many Christians died deaths of great courage. Theodotus, for example, after terrible tortures said as he was being led back to prison, "It is but just that Christians should suffer for Him who suffered for us all."
Timothy, a deacon in Mauritania, allowed his eyes to be put out with red hot irons rather than reveal the hiding place of scriptures. His wife of just three weeks was then brought in and she attempted to persuade him to recant for love of her. He refused. Growing stouthearted, she joined him. After horrendous torture, both were crucified.
In the end, it was the church which won the showdown. All the powers of Rome could not crush its allegiance to Christ. Even Galerius eventually left off the persecution. In 311, the dying emperor issued an edict of toleration. Christians had outlasted the might of the empire. Their resistance to arbitrary power was instrumental in winning the right to follow their Christian faith.
Aland, Kurt. Saints and Sinners; men and ideas in the early church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970.
"Diocletian." The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
Foxe, John. Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Various editions.
Ridpath. Encylopedia of Universal History. 1890. Source of the image.
Scannel, T. B. "Diocletian." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.
Various encyclopedia and internet articles such as www.roman-emperors.org/dioclet.htm.
| 2008/5/17 9:41|
Drunken Russian guards entered the cold cell one harsh winter afternoon. One prisoner, Nicolaie Moldovae, was a poet and composer as well as a devout believer and leader of an evangelical movement in the Orthodox church. He received a five year sentence in the brutal Russian prison for his ministry work.
Lie on your belly! a guard yelled to Nicolaie. In his thin shirt and shorts, he lay on the freezing floor. The guards then stepped on his back, legs, and feet with their heavy boots for an hour.
When the guards left, fellow prisoners knelt beside Nicolaie to see how badly he was hurt. To their amazement, Nicolaie said, I have written a new hymn while I was being walked upon. He began to sing, May I not only speak about future heavens, but let me have heaven and a holy feast here.
After Nicolaie was released from prison, the Communist police searched his home and confiscated a unique book of manuscripts that Nicolaie had worked on for several years. Hundreds of hours of precious work, writing, and devotion were immediately taken. After this, Nicolaie composed another hymn. I worship you with gratitude for all you ever gave me, but also for everything beloved you took from me.
You do all things well, and I will trust in you.
Today, Nicolaie Moldovaes songs are celebrated throughout his nation.
It has been said that life is ten percent what happens and ninety percent how one responds to what happens. In that light, the actual circumstances of life do not matter as much as a persons attitude toward them. Circumstances are beyond anyones control. But an attitude or response is a choice. Life may bring us a disharmonious jumble of notes and melodies in a minor key. With Gods help, however, we can choose to arrange the notes to produce a song of worship and victory. We can choose to hear melody in the madness of our lives. How would you describe the current circumstances in your life? What is your attitude toward your situation? What do you need to do to change your tune?
| 2008/5/17 20:27|
Word that John Wycliffe was dying whipped like storm winds across England. Now on this day, December 30, 1384, clerics--many of them his enemies--crowded into his room at Lutterworth. If they hoped to hear some last word or a recantation from him, they were disappointed. John could not speak.
Two days earlier, he had grown numb and collapsed while saying mass. When he came to from this, his second stroke, he was paralyzed and unable to speak.
John was the most famous priest of his day. His learning was immense. He had been a leading scholar at Oxford and a chaplain to the King of England. More to the point, he spoke out boldly against the errors of the popes, the organizational hierarchy of the Roman Church, and the corruption of the clergy in his day. He criticized not only the organization of the medieval church but its theology as well and argued for a return to the Scriptures. Pastors should live lives of simplicity and holiness, he taught, shepherding their flocks (people)--not plundering them.
If the people in England were to know the truth, John reasoned that they must have the Word of God in their own language. Under his direction, the Bible was translated into English for the first time, although the job was not completed by his associates until 1395, eleven years after his death. Repeatedly condemned and burned by church authorities, copies of Wycliffe's Bible continued in use for over a century, until printed Bibles took their place. This work greatly influenced William Tyndale who made the first printed translation of the New Testament in English.
We can still puzzle out the meaning of John Wycliffe's words. Here is how he describes the transfiguration: "And aftir sixe dayes Jhesus took Petre, and James, and John and ledith [led] hem [them] by hem selve aloone in to an high hil ; and he is transfigurid before hem. And his clothis ben maad [were made] schynynge [shining] and white ful moche [much] as snow, and which maner clothis a fullere [cloth worker], or walkere [worker] of cloth, may not make white on erthe. And Helye [Elijah] with Myses apperide [appeared] to hem, and thei weren [were] spekynge [speaking] with Jhesu."
John Wycliffe died of his stroke on the last day of the year. The religious authorities had never excommunicated him because they feared public opinion--the people loved John and his fame was international. So he was buried in consecrated soil. But about thirty years later, the Council of Constance revenged itself on his criticism by condemning his teachings and ordering his bones to be dug up and burned.
But the burning of such a man's bones could not end his influence. As John Foxe said in his book of martyrs, "though they digged up his body, burnt his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the Word of God and the truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn; which yet to this day...doth remain."
Adapted from earlier Christian History Institute stories.
Bowie, Walter Russell. Men of Fire. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961.
Caughey, Ellen. John Wycliffe: herald of the Reformation. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour, 2001.
Innis, George S. Wycliffe: the morning star. Cincinnati: Jennings and Graham, 1915.
Kenny, Anthony. Wycliffe. Oxford University Press, 1985.
Kunitz, Stanley L. British Authors Before 1800; a biographical dictionary. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1952.
Russell, Bertrand. Wisdom of the West. London, 1959. p. 215.
Wood, Douglas C. The Evangelical Doctor; John Wycliffe and the Lollards. Herts, England: Evangelical Press, 1984.
"Wycliffe, John." Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. London: Oxford University Press, 1921-1996.
| 2008/5/18 13:50|
The Romanian pastor and his wife had hidden Soviet soldiers during the Nazi occupation of their country. Now it was Nazi soldiers who needed refuge.
Three German officers hid in the little building behind their house. The pastors wife sneaked them food and emptied their waste buckets at night. As a Jew, she felt hatred for their actionsthey had murdered her entire family. But as a Christian, she felt compelled to aid the refugees and offer them physical and spiritual support.
The show of favor intrigued the captain: I wonder why a Jewess should risk her life for a German soldier? I do not like Jews, and I do not fear God. I must tell you that when the German army recaptures Bucharest, and it surely will, I will never return the favor to you.
The pastors wife was undaunted by his cold heart. She continued preaching to him, Even the worst crimes are forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ. I have no authority to forgive, but Jesus does, if you repent.
The officer replied, I wont say I understand you. But perhaps if more people had this gift of returning good for evil, then there would be less killing.
The officers soon escaped to Germany, still unrepentant. But the pastor and his wife had done their part in showing them the true meaning of Christianity.
Jesus shared a parable about a farmer who sowed seeds in different types of soil, producing different results. In his story, the seed is the Word of God. Like birds who gobble up the trampled seeds outside a garden, the devil wants to take Gods Word away from those who hear it. In contrast, those who represent good soil receive Gods Word and respond. Whenever we share the gospel with others, we dont know what type of soil is in their hearts. We cant be responsible for their response, positive or negative. Are you discouraged because someone did not respond to the gospel? You have done your part. Now let God do his.
| 2008/5/19 12:25|
The Martyrdom of Polycarp - A.D. 155-156 by Unknown
Three days before he was apprehended, as he was praying at night, he fell asleep, and saw in a dream the pillow take fire under his head, and presently consumed. Waking thereupon, he forthwith related the vision to those about him, and prophesied that he should be burnt alive for Christ's sake. The pursuers having arrived late in the day found him gone to bed in the top room of the house.
Hearing that they were come, he came down, and spoke to them with a cheerful and pleasant countenance: so that they were wonder-struck, who, having never known the man before, now beheld his venerable age and the gravity and composure of his manner, and wondered why they should be so earnest for the apprehension of so old a man. He immediately ordered a table be laid for them, and exhorted them to eat heartily, and begged them to allow him one hour to pray without molestation; which being granted, he rose and began to pray, and was so full of the grace of God, that they who were present and heard his prayers were astonished, and many now felt sorry that so venerable and godly a man should be put to death.
When he was brought to the tribunal, there was a great tumult as soon as it was generally understood that Polycarp was apprehended. The proconsul asked him, if he were Polycarp. When he assented, the former counseled him to deny Christ, saying, 'Consider thyself, and have pity on thy own great age;' and many other such-like speeches which they are wont to make.
The proconsul then urged him, saying, 'Swear and I will release thee; - reproach Christ.'
Polycarp answered, 'Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?'
The proconsul again urged him, 'Swear by the fortune of Caesar.'
Polycarp replied, 'Since you still vainly strive to make me swear by the fortune of Caesar, as you express it, affecting ignorance of my real character, hear me frankly declaring what I am -- I am a Christian - and if you desire to learn the Christian doctrine, assign me a day, and you shall hear.'
Hereupon the proconsul said, 'I have wild beasts; and I will expose you to them, unless you repent.'
'Call for them,' replied Poplycarp.
'I will tame thee with fire,' said the proconsul, 'since you despise the wild beasts, unless you repent.'
Then said Polycarp, 'You threaten me with fire, which burns for an hour, and is soon extinguished; but the fire of the future judgment, and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly, you are ignorant of. But why do you delay? Do whatever you please.'
The proconsul sent the herald to proclaim thrice in the middle of the Stadium, 'Polycarp hath professed himself a Christian.' Which words were no sooner spoken, but the whole multitude, both of Gentiles and Jews, dwelling at Smyrna, with outrageous fury shouted aloud, 'This is the doctor of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the subverter of our gods, who hath taught many not to sacrifice nor adore.' They now called on Philip the asiarch, to let loose a lion against Polycarp. But he refused, alleging that he had closed his exhibition. They then unanimously shouted, that he should be burnt alive. For his vision must needs be accomplished - the vision which he had when he was praying, and saw his pillow burnt. The people immediately gathered wood and other dry matter from the workshops and baths.
When they would have fastened him to the stake, he said, 'Leave me as I am; for he who giveth me strength to sustain the fire, will enable me also, without your securing me with nails, to remain without flinching in the pile.' Upon which they bound him without nailing him. So he said thus: - 'O Father, I bless thee that thou hast counted me worthy to receive my portion among the martyrs.'
As soon as he had uttered the word 'Amen,' the officers lighted the fire. The flame, forming the appearance of an arch, as the sail of a vessel filled with wind, surrounded, as with a wall, the body of the martyr; which was in the midst, not as burning flesh, but as gold and silver refining in the furnace. We received also in our nostrils such a fragrance as proceeds from frankincense or some other precious perfume. At length the wicked people, observing that his body could not be consumed with fire, ordered the confecter to approach, and to plunge his sword into his body. Upon this such a quantity of blood gushed out, that the fire was extinguished.
| 2008/5/20 14:42|
Your son has been killed.
Mr. Simpson received the terrible message that day. His missionary son, William, had built a small school on the Tibetan border where he had been teaching Gods Word to children. Williams father lived nearby and immediately rushed to the school after receiving the news. As he looked around, the memories of his sons ministry flooded his mind.
William had traveled four thousand miles a year on horseback to share the gospel with the people of Tibet. Muslim fanatics had slaughtered fifty thousand people in one Tibetan city, but even this did not scare his son away.
William had written, All the trials, the loneliness, the heartache, the pain, the cold and fatigue of the long road, the discouragement and all the bereavements, temptations, and testing seemed not worthy to be compared with the glory and joy of witnessing these glad tidings of great joy.
Williams father walked slowly through the destroyed school and found his sons mangled body lying on the floor. He later learned that a horde of Muslim army deserters had attacked the Christian school, showing its founder no mercy.
As a missionary himself, Mr. Simpson was very proud of the example of Christ William had been to others. Under his sons body was a piece of paper smeared with blood. He gently picked it up and read the fitting words, In Remembrance of Me.
Memorials are scattered throughout every country of the world. Each one commemorates an act of heroism, bravery, and personal sacrifice amid trials. People from every era in history have erected memories and remembrances. Its part of human nature. We donwish to forget those who paid the ultimate price while preserving our ideals of freedom, justice, love, and honor. Our hearts contain the memorials of Christian martyrs who died for the sake of Christ and his gospel. No military honors are awarded at their funerals. No statues erected in their place. Yet we read their stories and we vow never to forget. Take time to remember them today and praise the God who inspired them.
| 2008/5/21 14:30|
The Ten Primitive Persecutions
The First Persecution, Under Nero, A.D. 67
The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that 'he wished the ruin of all things before his death.' Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.
This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.
To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesians, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.
| 2008/5/22 19:06|