THE ‘OTHERS CAN BUT YOU CAN’T’ CHALLENGE!

(May 6, 2021) Robert and Maureen McQuillan reflect…

Sunday May 23 this year is regarded by many churches as Pentecost Sunday, especially Holy Spirit-filled ones, celebrating the outpouring of God’s Spirit on those humble first disciples.

Since that Acts 2 experience the church has grown – about 2.6 billion adherents globally in early 2020. Testimonies, Christian books, even secular encyclopedic history, record demonstrations of Holy Spirit assistance, miracles, emboldened men and women anointed by him to move in the Spirit and speak forth genuine prophecy, words of knowledge and wisdom, cast out demons… and more!

Praise God for churches that have been open to the Holy Spirit… and for individuals who have been bold in allowing the Spirt to use them to brighten darkened lives. But… sadly, many churches, many bold Christians have not been regarded or respected for their service (See Erica Grace’s heart-touching April article True Fruit – From Unsung Heroes).

The reality is that it isn’t always been easy to be bold for Jesus and allow the Spirit to take one down a different road to others… yet remaining humble and down-to-earth!  Indeed, for all of us, there is the constant challenge to allow the Holy Spirit to keep us under control so that we don’t get bigheaded and move beyond our station – unless of course it’s God directed, and he gets the glory in all that’s achieved for the kingdom.

The challenge
Such recollecting reminds us that some 40 years we came across the following challenge by the late Bill Britton, entitled Others May, You Cannot)… still fresh, challenging, and meaningful, especially if you’re sold out to the ministry call of Christ on your life.

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ANTI ‘CANCEL CULTURE’ CHRISTIANITY

(April 13, 2021) When folks become subscribers to this free monthly Onliner,we receive a brief intro, such as a young Asian describing himself as… ‘A Normal Person: 100% Honest and Trustful Person.’

In other words… who and what he is.

The fruit of the Spirit
Not that this young man’s a prophet, but Jesus warned his followers against untruthful, dishonest Christianity: ‘You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act’ (Matthew 7:15-16NLT).

Christianity needs to be kept simple! Jesus liked to keep things simple and here he makes recognition simple… ‘the way they act’ identifies all true Christians, let alone prophets. He went on to teach that a good tree produces good fruit whereas a bad tree, bad fruit, rapping it with ‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them’ (vv17-18). How simple!

F B Meyer has written ‘The worth of the gospel has been attested all down the ages by the characters which it has produced… There are many new systems of theology, many nostrums are being loudly advertised, but the one test of them all is in the fruit they bear.

Nothing superspiritual here… ‘fruit’ is fruit, something easily recognised and desirable. For followers of Jesus, this is reaching out with our Christian characteristics to help whoever we can in some way. People see us in action, observe us! We’re the fifth gospel – The Gospel According to You. May they see the characteristics of honesty, trustworthiness, generosity, helpfulness and more.

Paul describes nine of these in Galatians 5:22-23, calling them the fruit of the Spirit

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SILENCE IN THE CHURCH?

(May 17, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, brings a timely challenge…

Silence is not always golden – sometimes it is dross – rubbish!  Solomon succinctly stated in Ecclesiastes 3:7, ‘(There is) … a time to be silent and a time to speak.’

I would maintain that the ‘time to speak’ is now!  There is a rampant decadence and ungodliness today that is saturating and destroying our culture, unsettling our society and silencing our Christian witness.

That witness has been severely undermined in recent years.  While the Christian faith was once seen as a pillar of society and generally enjoyed a degree of esteem and its message was respected and valued (even by many of those who did not embrace it), today the church and its message is largely scorned and dismissed in many Western countries. There are various reasons that could be quoted but I highlight two that I sense are very pertinent.

1. The scourge of ‘political correctness’
The so-called ‘good old days’ were not as good as some may want to claim, however once there were values that now have not only been discarded in society but also scorned.

(i) The reversal of values
There was a time when…

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THE ESSENCE OF EXISTENCE

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(May 16, 2021) Bonnie Spencer shares a meditation on our existence…

I rarely ponder philosophical questions.

They take me back to the merry-go-round of my childhood playground. We’d get the wheel spinning so fast that I’d hold on with a death grip to keep from flying off and bouncing across the hardpacked dirt!

Ride to nowhere
In college I took the required Philosophy 101. It was one of my top five least favourite classes. I couldn’t wrap my brain around questions such as…

  • What are thoughts?
  • Where do they come from?
  • Do numbers really exist?
  • Are they something man has created?
  • Why do women open their mouths when they put on mascara?

Occasionally, though, I do end up on that ride that goes nowhere. That was the case recently when my mind encountered the idea of existence. What if I had not been born? What would it be like if I had never lived?

The alternative, of course, would be that I never existed… ever. I wouldn’t know anything. But that would be okay, I thought, because… well, I wouldn’t even know I didn’t know anything. By now, the wheel was spinning furiously while my neurons were off swinging on the monkey bars instead of communicating with their neighbours!

Reality
The reality is that I do exist, and it can’t be undone. So here I am. I didn’t ask to be here, and no one asked me if I wanted to be here.

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ONLY GOD CAN DO THINGS LIKE THIS

(May 12, 2021) Mark Ellis shares how two students a from Chinese orphanage meet 15 years later in U.S. on a random bus ride…

Only God can do things like this! A few weeks ago, sophomore Ally Cole and freshman Ruby Wierzbicki stepped on a campus bus at Liberty University.

Ally saw a seat that happened to be open near Ruby, sat down, and the two started talking, according to a report by CBN.

During their conversation, the students discovered that they were both from China and both from the same city, Jinan.

God-ordained reunion
Even more remarkable, the two young women were shocked to find out they were both adopted from the same orphanage in China within one week of each other!

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DAVID’S ARSENAL

(May 10, 2021) Brian Bell shares a follow-up meditation…

Last month I shared a meditation about David (See David-and-his-Giants). In it I referred to David’s encounter with Goliath and suggested several ‘Spirit-filled’ characteristics which I believe David displayed but I did not elaborate on them in that article.

For several weeks now I found myself meditating on the Holy Spirit and I was drawn back to David’s encounter with Goliath and an emphasis on how the Holy Spirit enabled David. I will try to relate it to how the Holy Spirit enables us as believers in the ‘battleground’ of prayer.

The encounter is found in 1 Samuel 17: 38-47 and in verse 45 we find –

1. David came in the right name (v45: ‘…in the name of the Lord Almighty’)
I am sure some of you will be familiar with a Power of Attorney. It’s a legal document giving a person the authority to act on behalf of a nominated person – very often an elderly relative – but only in their best interests. This reminds me of the words of the Lord Jesus ‘whatever you ask in my name.’

This term ‘whatever’ is not an opportunity for me to come with a personal wish list of selfish requests (while I can bring personal needs in prayer), it is an opportunity to seek those things which are in the best interests of the Lord’s divine will and purpose and those persons or issues the Holy Spirit may lead me to pray for.

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TRUE WORSHIPPERS ARE SEEKERS

(May 10, 2021) Norman and Margaret Moss share this encouraging meditation…

We were meditating on John 4:23: ‘True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.’

We felt the Lord was saying: This is whom I seek… those who will –

  • Worship me in spirit and in truth
  • Sit at my feet to learn of me as Mary did (Luke 10:39)
  • Wash my feet with their tears (John 11:2)
  • Come before me as Daniel did (Daniel 10:12)
  • Cry to me in their distress as David did from his youth (I Samuel 16:7, 17:42-54)  
  • Be like Hannah pleading before me for a child and receiving much more (1 Samuel 1:10-15)
  • Like Abraham look to me for direction and follow my instructions (Genesis 15:2)
  • Like Joseph be so devoted to me that I raised him from deep distress to the highest place in the land (Genesis 41:40).

Such people are my joy and delight.

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CHANGES, CHOICES, CHALLENGES… CLINGING TO JESUS!

(May 09, 2021) Carol Round reminds us of…

If we need a reminder of the changes that have occurred in our world, we only need to study history. One can also read newspaper headlines or listen to the daily news. Nothing stays the same. If it did, there would be no news to report.

Change
A post on Facebook reminded me of how times have changed since I was born… and maybe since your birth.

The list was long, but here are a few of the mind-boggling changes mentioned:

  • Did you ever think in 1998 that three years later, you would never take pictures on film again? With today’s smart phones, who even has a camera these days? While I still do, I take more photos with my iPhone than with a camera.
  • In 2018 the first self-driving cars appeared on the road. Talk about changes.
  • Technology has invaded our world creating unimaginable changes in every area of our lives. If you’re old enough, you can recall a world before colour television, computers, microwave ovens, and computerised medicine.
  • I had my second knee replacement recently (Thanks to all who’ve been praying for me! I’m continuing in my recuperation and appreciate your prayers). Four years ago, I had the first one done. During the time span, technology has brought improvements to the procedure, and my latest surgery involved the use of a robotic device.
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EASTER ATTACK AFTER DRAMATIC HEALING CONVERSION

April 13, 2021, Morning Star News reports…

Sources tell of a mother of seven children in eastern Uganda suffered serious wounds and is cut off from her family after her husband and other Muslim relatives attacked her on Easter Sunday for putting her faith in Christ.

Salimati Naibira, 37, of Bukoba B village, lost consciousness after her husband cut her with a dagger known as a Somali sword in the thigh and back on April 4 as she attended a worship service for the first time in the area, she said. She had converted from Islam to Christianity three days prior to Easter.

She said she was on her way to the church service when she met her brother-in-law, Ahirafu Kowa, who asked her where she was going. He likely became suspicious after Salimati told him she was going to visit a friend, she said. One hour into the worship service, she saw through a window that her husband and other relatives were approaching.

Somali sword attack
‘I saw my husband, Ayubu Kairu, and some family members enter the church gate shouting “Allah Akbar (jihadist slogan ‘God is greater’),”’ she told MSN. The church members took off from church worship to save their lives.’

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APRIL REFLECTIONS

(April 17, 2021) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share…

This is a month of reflections and memories.

1. April Fools’ Day
This is what April 1st has been known as for several centuries in different cultures. Traditions include playing hoaxes or practical jokes on others, and then pronouncing ‘April Fool!’ at their end.

For example, managers would send clueless staff out on impossible ‘gofer’ tasks such as ‘Get me a lefthanded screwdriver’ or ‘Paintbrush that paints round corners.’ In 1998, after Burger King advertised a Left-Handed Whopper resulting in scores of clueless customers requesting this fake.

In 1976, BBC pulled off another of its many AFD pranks. Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore told listeners that at 9:47 am that day, the temporary alignment of Pluto and Jupiter would cause a reduction in Earth’s gravity, allowing people to briefly levitate. At 9:48, hundreds of enthralled callers flooded the lines with reports that they had floated in the air!

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TITHING TO – GOD?

(April 16, 2021) Robert McQuillan responds to a troubled family man’s question…

Dear Dr Robert
Not naming my church, but our pastor demands we pay tithes to God, that if we don’t, we won’t be blessed. He quotes people receiving great new jobs or healings because they tithed and others receiving neither because they didn’t tithe. I feel uneasy about this… must I tithe to God? ‘Victor.’

Dear Victor

This instantly causes me to query ‘What kind of a God of free grace are we worshipping if we have to pay for his blessings?’ The truth is that we could never financially pay God for all he has done for us! Your pastor is using God’s name but referring to the church and its responsibilities.

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