BILLY GRAHAM –THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PREACHER OF THE 20TH CENTURY DIES

(February 22, 2018) Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service, shares some very personal reminisces…

American evangelist Billy Graham – a confidant to presidents, a guiding light to generations of American Christians and a world-travelling preacher who saw millions give their lives to Christ, died today (Wednesday, February 21), at the age of 99.

Dr Graham, who was known as ‘America’s Pastor’ passed away at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

‘The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelised to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama,’ said CNN. ‘Several presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, relied closely on his spiritual counsel.’

 

 

 

 

 

A dynamic young Billy Graham preaching

 

 


Billy Graham was the reason I got into journalism
But on a personal side, it was 50 years ago in London, England, when I got my first job in journalism. It was with The Christian, an historic British newspaper that the Graham Association had bought and modernised. (more…)

FLIES-ON-THE-WALL AND THE SECRET LIFE OF SAINTS

(February 22, 2018) Stuart Reynolds challenges …

Flies-on-the-wall’ documentaries are not new – if our television broadcast schedules are anything to go by, we can’t get enough of them!

And with the rapid progress of camera technology, such broadcasts have become deeper, clearer, even truer, spawning a whole new breed for our watching – from The Secret Life of Pets  to The Secret Life of 4 & 5 Year Olds,’ and, if you really want it, The Secret Life of Books and even of Buildings!

What about The Secret Life of Saints? What would ‘flies-on-the-wall’ learn and admire… or be unimpressed by?

Watchman Nee wrote: This is the test. How much of my life is seen? When men look on the surface, have they seen the whole, or is there more? Have I, in the unseen, a secret history with God?’ (more…)

GUILTY BY ACCUSATION

(February 17, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares a concern…

Joseph had not seen it coming!

His jealous brothers sold him to traders who took him to Egypt where was bought as a slave by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s palace guard. It was an inauspicious start for the 17-year -old. The future did not look bright – he was a slave in a foreign country.

But Joseph showed a quality of character that Potiphar recognised and eventually he became the captain’s household supervisor.

‘Potiphar was pleased with him and made him his personal servant; so he put him in charge of his house and everything he owned’ (Genesis 39:4 GNB).

The curveball experience!
But no one anticipated the ‘curveball’ that came his way –

‘Joseph was well-built and good-looking, and after a while his master’s wife began to desire Joseph and asked him to go to bed with her.  He refused … Although she asked Joseph day after day, he would not go to bed with her.  But one day when Joseph went into the house to do his work, none of the house servants was there. She caught him by his robe and said, “Come to bed with me.” But he escaped and ran outside, leaving his robe in her hand. (more…)

SHAPED BY UNITY IN 2018

(January 25, 2018) Tim Edwards shares some challenging post Christmas/pre-Easter/pre-Pentecost reflections…

To many Christmas 2017 is long gone! It’s almost the 30th of January 2018 already! We’re rushing towards another 30thEaster’s Good Friday… the 30th of March! In fact I’ve seen some Easter eggs and hot-cross buns in supermarkets already!

As we move ahead in 2018 our church is continuing to work our way through the Cover to Cover Bible with daily scripture readings. But – although we’re definitely moving forward – I feel led of God to share some thoughts that came to me last December that are so relevant for moving forward in 2018.

For example, I recall we found ourselves in what appeared to be the somewhat strange predicament of pre-Christmas preparations while studying scriptures traditionally associated with Easter!

Strong link between Easter and Christmas
The more I read, thought and prayed, the more I realised that the link between Christmas and Easter is so strong, so real, tangible and necessary.

Easter, the suffering and death and resurrection of Christ, couldn’t have happened without Christmas (the birth of Christ) and by the same token Christmas is simply not complete without Easter – they are two components of the same story; both vitally important and eternally joined.

Jesus himself drew the link between the two events in the middle of his trial at the hands of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate: he referred back to the first Christmas and said, ‘The reason I was born and came into this world is to testify to the truth’ (John 18:37).

As he stood there approaching the designated time of his death, Jesus reminded the listening crowd of his birth, thereby joining the dots and bridging the gap for them by explaining what it was all about – that he came to testify to the truth, truth that would bring humanity into relationship with a loving God. (more…)

2018… and 21st CENTURY MISSIONS

(January 23, 2017) George Forbes, missionary spokesperson, shares some missions-centred truths…

We’re definitely into 2018!

But more importantly we are well into the twenty-first century and it’s important to review where we are heading in our mission to the ends of the earth!

  • There have been major eras in the history of Christian mission in the world. Each has had its distinctives and its time… in 2018 and beyond.
  • I join with many who thank God as we remember the fruitfulness of past eras in this great task.
  • However… at the same time I and others are looking to God for his plan and will for our time.
  • A mistake that has been made more than once is to perpetuate a strategy that worked well in the past, without fully considering God’s time and his plan for now… in this 21st century!

Great mission’s thinkers such as Ralph D Winter, founder of the Centre for World Mission in
Pasadena California, raised his voice before he graduated to glory, about vital issues in mission that could make or break what is done and how.

The famous evangelist, Dr Billy Graham said, ‘Ralph Winter was a man of God who gave a vision to many Christians of a world in need of the gospel. I used to meet with him on many occasions, often in small group prayer. Some of my vision for world evangelisation came from my interaction with him, and I am grateful.’ (more…)

DOORS… LOITERING WITH INTENT

(January 22, 2018) Stuart Reynolds shares an interesting concept …

Muriel (not real names here) was a small town local church gossip. Unmarried, she was the self-appointed monitor of the church’s moral behaviour and was sure to keep an eye on people, sticking her nose into where it did not belong. Several church members were unhappy and uncomfortable with her extra-curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

And so, Muriel continued undeterred in her presumptions… until the incident with new church member, Harold. One evening just before the prayer meeting, she accused him of being an alcoholic… she’d seen his car parked in front of the town’s only bar that afternoon.  Before several others she sternly told Harold off, saying that everyone seeing his car there would know what he was doing!

Harold, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment, then turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny anything. He said nothing… but later that evening he quietly parked his car in front of unmarried Muriel’s house… and left it there all night!

Contrast that with this: Your car breaks down and you find yourself unexpectedly stranded at midnight in an unfamiliar, intimidating, dimly lit city back street. As you try to get your bearings, you hear the noise of voices from some young men who have just exited a building and appear to be loitering. Then they notice you, look at one another and start coming your way, their footsteps noisy on the cobbled pavement…

Wouldn’t it make all the difference in the world to know whether this ‘gang’ had just left a night club – or an anointed, exhilarating Bible study?

Two striking examples of loitering with intent – one presumptuous, the other pressing.

Loitering… legally, society deems loitering with intent’ to be a crime, but scripturally, it is about a claim – God’s claim. It’s not about stalking but seeking. Loitering with intent for God’s purposes comes from… (more…)

LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION

(January 22, 2018) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares on understanding an important scripture…

Recently Pope Francis suggested that in the English version of The Lord’s Prayer  the phrase, which is usually translated as ‘lead us not into temptation,’ should be revised to ‘do not let us fall into temptation.’

He maintains that the phrase ‘lead us not into temptation’ implies that God tempts humans.  One can understand such reasoning in view of what is found in James 1:13-14 which states ‘When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.’

So it states that God does not tempt. Consequently it would seem that the Pope’s suggestion (‘do not let us fall into temptation’) is a good one since it suggests that God will help us when we are tempted… and this seems to be in line with what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13, ‘When you are tempted, he (God) will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’

While that seems to settle the matter in favour of the Pope’s suggestion, let’s look more closely at the actual text of The Lord’s Prayer which is found in Matthew 6:9-13 and a shorter account in Luke 11:2-4.

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
‘This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,  but deliver us from the evil one”.’

The following line is often omitted (See *Footnote):  ‘For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’  (more…)

MOVING AHEAD… AND THE WOMAN WHO STOLE FROM JESUS

(January 20, 2018) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share a 2018 encouragement…

Well we’re right into 2018! It’s so obvious from the way that so many people – including church leaders – are acting and talking about moving forward this year, that 2017 with its disappointments as well as highs has been forgotten about. There’s an enthusiasm about this new year, a decidedly good spirit in many people, a fresh happiness, and a feeling that we are moving ahead this year with a determination that good things are going to happen.

Incidentally… we’re picking this up among unsaved people, not just Christians! But we Christians particularly should be even more determined to move forward in 2018… after all we have the Holy Spirit of God – the all-powerful CEO of the church of Jesus Christ within to assist us!

Safe in Jesus in a dark world
Admittedly the world is still a dangerous place… the media’s bad news continues to tell of troubles in our own nation as well as in other countries. Increased crime, unstable governments, crazy governmental decisions, rumours of war, horrific mudslides, sicknesses… the list goes on.

Of course good news comes through too we admit… but we long to hear the real good news, the gospel of Christ, being heralded in the media! We’re seeing thousands attend the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne and encouraging their stars… how wonderful it would be to see thousands longing to attend churches and acknowledge Jesus Christ!

It’s good to discover Christians who are determined to honour Jesus in 2018, are seeking God’s will for their life and desire to move forward no matter what goes down or comes against them or their churches. (more…)

LETTING GO OF ‘SELFIE’

(January 20) Carol shares a revelation that leads to reaching out beyond ourselves…

In 2013, the word ‘selfie’ gained international recognition when it was named the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year.

Their definition follows: ‘A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

Selfies abound on social media, especially Facebook. Although the younger generation is more likely to post self-portraits, I’ve seen others, from their 50s on up, post photos, not of their faces necessarily, but of wounds they’ve accrued through accidents or after surgery.

The first ‘selfie,’ according to different websites I checked out, was posted on Facebook by a 22-year-old Australian man who had suffered a busted lip after tripping and falling face-first at a party. The man apologised for the somewhat blurry photo of his lower lip when he said, ‘Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.’ (more…)

THE DAWNING OF THE LIGHT

(December 19, 2017) Dr Jim McClure respected theologian, shares a Christ-centred Christmas word…

Today millions of Jews around the world are almost at the conclusion of the celebration of Hanukkah – which relates to something that occurred 2156 years ago.

It celebrates the recapture of Jerusalem and the rededication of the temple after the Syrian ruler, Antiochus, killed thousands of Jews, banned Jewish worship, prohibited the reading of the scriptures, sacrificed pigs on the altar and refused the Jews to practise the ceremonial laws of their religion.

A group of Jews, under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, formed a band of guerrillas to fight against the much stronger and larger army of Antiochus – and they won! Jerusalem was liberated, the temple was cleansed, a new altar was built and the temple was rededicated in 139 BC. A new lampstand had to be made as the beautiful golden lampstand had been stolen from the temple by the Syrians.

Only pure fresh olive oil was ever used to provide the light on the temple’s lampstand… this is where the story gets really interesting. Only a small jar of pure olive oil could be found, sufficient for keeping the lamp lit for only one day. But apparently, miraculously, it burned for eight days until new oil was again available. That event is still celebrated over an eight day period today and it is also called The Festival of Lights. That eight day period this year is celebrated between the 12th and 20th of December.

I mention this because of the proximity of the Festival of Lights celebration to the Christian celebration of Christmas, and also because, while Hanukkah celebrates the miraculous gift of oil that provided light in the temple for eight days, at Christmas we celebrate the inexpressible gift of Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. (more…)