Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Ministry Accredited by God

What is true ministry?

How is true ministry accredited by God?

You may be surprised to learn that truly accredited ministry is through suffering.

T Austin Sparks explains:

“Accredited ministry represents a tremendous victory, set in a background of great conflict.

A determined effort is made through the age to discredit spiritual ministry, and to do so through the one engaged in that ministry.

In the case of the Lord, there was a persistent effort to discredit Him, and thereby discredit His ministry. It drew forth the words: “No prophet is acceptable in his own country” (Luke 4:24).

In the case of Paul, the Judaisers sought to discredit him, and thereby discredit his ministry. At Corinth a great battle raged over his position as an Apostle, and 2 Corinthians is much taken up with the establishment of his own position, and therefore his authority in ministry.

“For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life: yea, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.” (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

One who counts for the Lord, is a joint of supply, who can be of value in any way to the Lord’s people, and stand in His testimony, will know the enemy’s effort to render those spiritual values nil by discrediting. The enemy will give a strong sense of unworthiness, unfitness, uselessness to the Lord, or he will cause something to be associated with the vessel for the discrediting of the ministry; he may even patronize in order to compromise, as when the demons cried: “These men are servants of the Most High God, which proclaim unto you the way of salvation”. Sometimes he will cause to associate with a pure thing people who are unsaved, to bring discredit.

The Lord’s answer to that is to keep the vessel of ministry in weakness, dependence upon Himself; so that all is kept spiritual, and all is of the Lord alone….

Metal is passed through the crucible and refined then the stamp is put upon it to show its calibre.

So God brings through the fires of Satanic antagonism, allows the thing to reach a point where He alone is its life, and then brings it up out of the conflict, and puts the stamp of resurrection life on it, so that it has in it the power of an indestructible life – that only comes through death.

All ministry that is to be accredited will be bound up with suffering; a decision we have to make is as to the object of our ministry. A good many things can be taken into consideration, but there comes a point where all other things have to be ranged on one side, and one thing on the other side – the real spiritual value, without alloy: that which is wholly of God and not at all of man. In the measure in which that is true there will be suffering. To stand utterly for what is spiritual is a costly thing.

There must be a willingness to be dealt with by the Lord, in such a way as to keep the ministry living and pure. All ministry which issues from such suffering is going to count. It may not be welcomed or desired by the mass, but where there is need and a call for that which we have gained through suffering there will be response.

Two tragedies today amongst the Lord’s people:

(1). So many have no knowledge of the truth in any adequate way, and are therefore spiritually immature.

(2). So many have a great deal of truth, and are dead. The Lord needs a vessel to meet these conditions – a vessel that has gone through the fire, and is living in the power of resurrection.

Such a vessel is going to be a suffering vessel, which has come to the place where God Himself meets the situation.

This may explain much; it may be a challenge; it may be a call.

“Seeing we have this ministry… we obtained mercy” – we have received grace to help – and so “we faint not”. But the treasure is in vessels of fragile clay, the vessel is being broken day by day. To stand in the power of God, the revelation of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, represents cost. Are we prepared for that? That is the way of the accredited ministry.

God has accredited the ministry of His Son, yet there was a universal combination to set Him at naught.

God has accredited the ministry of His servant Paul, but he was taken through depths of suffering.

So for us; ministry accredited of God is linked with suffering, but the suffering produces that which is wholly of God and cannot be destroyed.”

First published in “A Witness and A        Testimony” magazine, Sep-Oct 1946, Vol 24-5

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Hanakkuh and Persecution

Wednesday night began Hanakkuh, also known as the “Feast of Dedication” or the “Feast of Lights”.

Hanakkuh is an 8 day Jewish holiday, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, celebrating the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees in about BC 164.

Hanukkah has now become a special time for us because on Wednesday, the first night of the feast, both our daughter and our son were baptized in our bathtub by their Dad.

We had friends and family over for a meal last night whom witnessed our children’s public declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ.  At the same time we asked their Poppy to dedicate them to the Lord, since this is a Feast of Dedication.

The interesting thing is that until yesterday I didn’t know that Jesus actually attended this very feast Himself in Jerusalem.

“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.  And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.”  John 10:22, 23

Because all of the Feasts point to Christ, and by the fact that Jesus attended this Feast Himself, I think we could say that Jesus attached some significance to it, and so it is worthy of our consideration.

During the period of the Syrian rule over Palestine the Jews suffered extreme persecution.  Under Antiochus Epiphanes many Jewish men, women and children were slaughtered mercilessly.  He also desecrated the Temple of the Lord by removing the golden altar, candlestick and vessels and setting up a statue of his false god Jupiter in the Holiest of All.  The Jews were commanded to worship this idol and only (un-kosher) pigs were allowed to be sacrificed in the Temple.  The Jews were forbidden from keeping the Sabbath and from practicing circumcision.

Eventually a godly remnant of Jews revolted against this oppression and the desecration of the Temple.  The Maccabees family led the revolt which eventually drove the Syrians from Jerusalem.  Judas Maccabees then cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it to the Lord.  During this time the Temple was illuminated with a consecrated oil which miraculously lasted for eight days.  This is why Jews today light nine candles, one for each day of the Feast, during the “Feast of Lights”.

Eventually there arose from the revolt three sects amongst the Jews – the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes.

Pastor Bill Randles writes this about the Pharisees in his article “Why Saul Hated Christians”:

“Pharisees were not rationalistic unbelievers as the Sadducees were, nor were they political schemers as the Herodians of Jesus day. Pharisaism was a serious attempt to systematically observe the laws of God, and to separate from ungodliness. However, of all of the known sects of Israel in Judea at the time of Christ, Pharisaism was closest to the theology of Jesus.”

(From “Pastor Bill Randles Blog”)

Think about it.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders during the time that Jesus walked the earth.  They observed the Feast of Dedication as a way of commemorating the Maccabees cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple at a time when the Jews were set free from massive persecution.  They lit candles in honour of the miracle of the light shining for eight days.

hanukkah photo: Hanukkah Wallpaper 1920x1080x300 ppi HAN_WALL_06_zps899f55ee.png

Yet  when Jesus, the fulfillment of the feast, was walking right among them –  they didn’t recognize Him.

While they were lighting the candles in the temple, He who is the Light of the World was walking amongst them in the temple.

While they were commemorating the cleansing of the temple all those years ago, He, who had cleansed the Temple twice in front of them, was there.

While they were celebrating the emancipation from their persecution, they were persecuting the Son of God Himself.

Why?  Because they couldn’t see Him.  For all of their knowledge of the Torah, their good works and their religion, they didn’t recognize their Messiah even when He was right in front of them.  Whilst they were celebrating a feast that pointed to Christ, He was there in their midst and they missed Him.

 “The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10

Further to not being able to see Him, they also persecuted Him:

“ Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10

As Kevin Conner writes in “The Feasts of Israel:

“They had become worshippers of the Temple but failed to worship the Lord of the Temple.

They kept the Feast of Dedication but sought to stone the One to whom the Temple was dedicated.  Thus they missed Him at another Feast, even as they had at previous Feasts.”

They had external works of the natural – but none of the spiritual

They kept the letter of the law – but had not the spirit of it.

They had the ritual, but not the reality – Jesus Himself!

How easy it could be for us to now say “Tut-tut how could they have missed Him?” But….have we ever done this ourselves?

Do we have a worship of God based on ritual, on the external works of man?  Are we, ourselves, of the letter and not of the Spirit?

Do we actually have the reality of Christ Himself?

And here is a BIG question – Have we actually, amidst our profession of Christ, missed Christ Himself? Or worse still, have we persecuted Him?

As a Christian, we may well wonder whether it is actually possible to persecute Jesus.

The answer is yes.

When Saul was persecuting the Christians, Jesus appeared to him on the Damascus Road.  Notice that Jesus didn’t say “Saul, why are you persecuting my children?”,

No. He said “Saul why do you persecute Me?”

We need to be careful that we don’t persecute Him, by persecuting one of His children

We need to be careful that we don’t reject Him, by rejecting one of His children

Have we ever deliberately withdrawn our fellowship from another believer because they do not conform entirely to our own concepts and viewpoints?

Have we ever slandered other Christians?  Caused division between brothers and sisters?  Have we accused others of having a spirit other than the Holy Spirit?

And…what if we are wrong…?

We need to watch that in our quest to be right we do not miss the Saviour.  What if He were to come to us in a way we did not expect – in a meek and lowly way, in a way of weakness?

What if He were to come to us through someone outcast or poor?  Or how about a mentally- ill person?

What if it were through a Christian whom didn’t conform to our idea of ‘Christian’?

Jesus spoke a lot with the Pharisees. He warned them, spoke honestly to them, because He loved them.  He wanted them to see Him, but they wouldn’t.  If He was the Messiah then they didn’t want Him.  He wasn’t what they were looking for, He didn’t come to them as they expected – so they rejected Him.

No wonder Jesus wept over Jerusalem and said:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”  Luke 13:33-35

This brings us to a very important point:

It is possible to know the Word of God without knowing the God of the Word.

If the Pharisees had truly known God they would have recognized Jesus.  They knew the scriptures, they knew the Law, but Jesus they didn’t know.

Jesus is not separate from His Body, the Church.  So when one of His members is persecuted He takes it personally.  We need to be careful, oh so careful, that we don’t become so full of head-knowledge that we can no longer recognize Jesus nor His Body.  Because in doing so we may become like Saul, like the Pharisees, and persecute the very Lord we profess to follow.

Jesus said, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Mark 7:6

The letter truly kills, but the Spirit gives life.  This Feast of Dedication, let us re-dedicate our lives to Christ Himself, not to a creed, not to a denomination, nor to a set of rules or ideals, but to the Son of God Himself.  Let us live in the light of His illumination and really get to know Him personally.

Once we truly know Him, then we will recognize Him, even in the unexpected.


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The Moon Turned to Blood…

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,

I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:……
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

(Acts 2:17-20)

Could we be on the brink of seeing this verse of scripture fulfilled?

Next year on 15th of April the first in a series of four full lunar eclipses will occur.  A full lunar eclipse creates a “Blood Moon” as the earth’s shadow passes over the surface of the moon, rendering the moon a deep blood-red colour.  This is a rare occurrence.

blood moon photo: Blood moon Blood_Moon.jpg

What’s more interesting is that it falls on Passover next year.  The 15th of April 2014 is Passover.

Yet more rare is the fact that the lunar eclipse on Passover will be followed by another three full lunar eclipses, in the beginning of what’s known as a “tetrad” – a sequence of four consecutive full lunar eclipses.

And guess what else?   The following three lunar eclipses, or Blood Moons, will also fall right on Biblical feasts!

Here are their dates:

15 April 2014 – first Blood Moon on first day of Passover

8 October 2014 – second Blood Moon on the eve of Tabernacles

(20 March 2015 – Total Solar Eclipse on Nisan 1, the Religious New Year)

4 April 2015 – third Blood Moon on first day of Passover

28 September 2015 – fourth Blood Moon on the first day of Tabernacles

Could it be that God is trying to get our attention??

After all He did say in Genesis 1:14:

“..Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens…for signs and for seasons…”

The rabbis say that signs in the moon are for Israel.  In May 2018 Israel will celebrate her 70th birthday anniversary – could this be connected?  We know that 70 years seems to have significance attached to it in relation to Israel – ie, the 70 years captivity in Babylon; also it was 70 years after Jesus Christ was born that Israel’s temple was destroyed.

The rabbis also say that signs in the sun are for the nations, or Gentiles.  On 20th March 2015 there will be a total solar eclipse.  This is when the sun goes dark …”the sun shall be turned into darkness…”

Over the last 500 years there have been three lunar tetrads falling exactly on Biblical Feast days.  These signs in the moon were all preceded or followed by major events for the Jews or Israel.

Derek Prince says in “Appointment in Jerusalem”:        “On May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel was born.  Of the countless prophecies in Scripture that refer to the close of the present age, all without exception assume one thing: the presence of Israel as a nation in their own land.  Until Israel was thus restored as a nation, none of these prophecies could be fulfilled.  Now the way is open for the fulfillment of them all.”

We are living in very interesting times.

“Therefore…what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,  looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:11, 12


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The Return of the Bride-Groom

joyful4.jpg

This post is part 3 in my series about Marriage and the Church, in the light of Jewish marriage customs.  This is the next installment of the interpretation of the analogy which I wrote about recently, (The Beauty and Significance of Jewish Marriage Customs).  If we look at these Jewish customs in the light of Jesus Christ and His Bride then we will begin to see, not only the beauty of the analogy, but also the bearing this has on us as Christ’s Bride, the Church….

 

Preparing A Place

In the analogy the young man leaves his betrothed to go and prepare a place for her in his father’s house.  Just as the young man is busy preparing for his bride a place, so too our Betrothed has not forgotten His bride and is busy preparing for us a place.

Jesus had said to His disciples concerning His return: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,f but only the Father….Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:36-42

 

The Father’s Consent

When the time comes and the father gives permission to his son to collect his bride, the young man takes three days to prepare before he begins his journey to go and collect his bride.  As John and Helen Gardiner write in “Wow! So that’s how Jesus loves me!”:

We know that one day is as a thousand years to the Lord.  And just as with working out the three days of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we know that the Jewish method of measuring days is different to ours.  So, we are on the brink of the third millennium, the third day.  Yes the third day is almost upon us.  Our bridegroom has been preparing Himself for three days.  He is fully prepared and fully expectant, longing to be with His Bride…”

jewish bride 

The Bride….Waiting

Meanwhile the bride has been patiently awaiting her groom’s return, not knowing when it will be, but knowing that he will keep his promise to her. Because she is uncertain of the date and time she must keep watching.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night…But you, brethren, are not in darkness so that this Day should overtake you as a thief…Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober..” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6

Jesus will return for His Bride, just as he has promised.  So the picture of the young man returning to collect his bride, is a picture of the Rapture of the Church.

 

 

The Fetching of the Bride

Just as the young man brings his friends and escorts with him to collect his bride, so too will Jesus Christ return for His bride with His holy angels in the Rapture of His Church.

Matthew 24:31 says:

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Jesus’ arrival will also be preceded by a loud shout and the blowing of a trumpet (shofar) to alert His Bride that He is on His way:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. ” 1 Thessalonians 4:16

“…For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:52

 

As Arnold Fruchtenbaum puts it so clearly in “Fruit from the Frucht” here’s what will happen:

“1. the Messiah will come from Heaven into the earth’s atmosphere and He will enter into the realm of the home of the Bride.

2. He will then give a shout.  The Greek word used means “a military command”.  Thus, He will issue the command as a military general does for the process to begin.

3. The third step will be the voice of the archangel.  Michael the archangel is pictured here as the sub-commander, who will repeat the order of the chief commander.

4. Then… the trump of God will sound.  After the sub-commander had issued his orders, the trumpeter would issue his calls so the soldiers could know what to do: whether to attack or retreat, whether to go forward or reverse, whether to go right or left.  So the trump of God will sound.

5. Then the dead in the Messiah will rise first.  This is why the dead saints will not miss out on the benefits of the Rapture, they will receive them first by being raised first.

6.  Those who are alive will be caught up (or be raptured) to meet the Lord in the air.

7.  The believers will ever be with the Lord.  From then on, believers will be with Him because He is their husband.

rings

The Wedding Ceremony

Now the Bride is with her Groom and so the wedding ceremony can take place.  As in the analogy, the ceremony took place in the groom’s house.  There were only a few guests at the actual ceremony, usually family members and two witnesses.

Once again, the Jewish marriage system foreshadows what will take place between Jesus and His Bride, the Church.  At the ceremony in Heaven, there will only be a few in attendance.  These will be those who have already been raptured.  Revelation 19:6-8 describes the wedding ceremony:

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

 

The Wedding Feast

 

In the analogy the bride was hidden away for 7 days in the bridal chamber (huppah).  So too will Christ’s Bride be hidden away for 7 years during the Great Tribulation upon the earth.

 “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19

Then after this 7-year period the veil will be lifted off the Bride and she will be revealed in all her glory:

 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” Revelation 21:2

The Wedding Feast is different from the ceremony, in that whereas only a few were invited to the ceremony, many are invited to the Feast.  It is the Wedding Feast that will usher in the Millennial Kingdom on earth and so it takes place on the earth.

The ones invited to the wedding Feast will be as follows:

  • The Old Testament saints (including John the Baptist, whom are not resurrected with the Church, but after the Tribulation period.)
  • The Tribulation saints (whom are saved by faith in Christ during the Tribulation period, but not resurrected until after the Second Coming.)
  • Israel (those who survive the Tribulation)

“And the angel said[b] to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”” Revelation 19:9

 

The Home of the Bride

We cannot forget the glorious, eternal home that Jesus is even now preparing for His beloved Bride…

“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal….” Revelation 21:9-11

 

Conclusion

“The Spirit and the bride say “Come!”… (Revelation 22:17).

If you do not know Jesus the Messiah as your Lord and Saviour, hear His voice today and come to Him.  He, in essence, is making to you a marriage proposal.  Will you allow the One who gave up His life for you to be your Husband….to have and to hold…in sickness and in health…forsaking all others from this day forward?

And will you, accept the cup offered to you and become part of His Bride?  Will you pledge to Him your troth (your faithfulness) from this day forward?

If you do know Jesus, if you have already been betrothed to the Bridegroom, then I exhort you to remain faithful to Him.  God is not slack concerning His promises as humans are, Jesus is returning for you very soon. He has already paid the Bride-price for you with His own precious blood.  Keep watching and waiting for Him.

It won’t be long now!

“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32)

Next time, Is Virginity Important?


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The Dangers of a Shallow Faith

sugar coated preaching

“The Bible has no compromise whatsoever with the world.  The Bible has a message for the evangelical church, calling it back home.  The Bible always sends us out into the world, but never to compromise with the world; and never to walk in the way of the world, but only to save as many as we can.  That is the one direction….

 

From AW Tozer’s The Dangers of a Shallow Faith


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Guess What? I Know Where Jesus Is

“There is a disillusionment and emptiness in the average Christian’s life because they think that Christ suffered on the cross so that they can go to church every Sunday.” Jim Cymbala

If this is you dear Christian friend, then I have a solution:

Get to the streets

Seriously.

Christians think I am trying to condemn them when I say this.  Or force them to do something they don’t feel comfortable with.  But I am not.  Really.  I feel sorry for you if you don’t go. Truly, I am telling you that you are seriously missing out by not going.

flinders st

Missing out on what? You may well ask…

Real life

Serious joy

Excitement

Fellowship

Fun

But most of all – the tangible, real presence of Jesus Christ.

If you are wondering WHERE JESUS IS – I am here to tell you that He is in the darkest, dirtiest, sin-ridden place in your city.  Yes He is.  He is there pulling people out of the darkness into the Light with His own nail-pierced hands.  But He needs us to go there with Him. He uses His Body to do His work with Him.

I can honestly say that the two places where I have been in His presence most (other than my own prayer closet), was in

1. a drug addict’s home and

2. on the city streets.

…..Next to homeless ice-addict Roddy.  Ruthlessly he was kicked out of my old church, (coincidence?).  I met him a while ago, but now he’s sleeping rough.  Now white stuff oozes from the corners of his eyes.  He talks and talks to me, very quiet. I can hardly hear what he’s saying, but he talks about Jesus.  He talks about speaking in tongues.  He keeps talking and talking even when I am no longer next to him.  To himself.  Oh Roddy… Jesus help this man.

Yes sir.  This is where Jesus is.

He is there when I am preaching.  He is standing right in front of me.  I am preaching to Him.  The bullets fly all around me, the looks of hatred, other looks too.

“You’re an idiot,” one guys says to me.  That bullet stings.  But Jesus is there.  I see Him, I feel Him.  I preach to Him.  I love Him.  He is there.

How people respond is not my problem, I preach to Him.  And He is happy.

Last night as I was preaching I saw out of the corner of my eye a man standing next to me, to my left.  He stood with me as the bullets flew.  Six foot 4 and built strong.

Afterwards he said to me that it was a war zone and he wanted to stand with me in the trenches.

I cried right in front of him because I suddenly realised that years before, when street-preaching was not an option for me, when it seemed impossible that I would ever do that, God had given me a vision of this very man standing next to me in the city as I preached.  God had shown me this man would stand next to me and protect me.

And there he was…..

 

But…hang on a minute…… did I really say FUN?

Yes.  Even in the midst of the spiritual battle.

The Public Safety Officers told us to move on.

Some guys came and set up a massive sound system next to us and blared their music whilst holding signs “Free Hugs”.

One of the young guys with us responded by making up a sign “Free Salvation”.  There they stood side-by-side.

We laughed and laughed.

And then the “Free Hugs” sign man came to me and said “I don’t believe in God, but you can try to convince me if you like.”

But that’s another story.

On the way home in the car I laughed with joy.

I felt so alive.

Oh Jesus, there’s nothing more important than You and Your Gospel.  May Your Body see that.

God bless you!