“The way of God’s precepts! Does not that mean that we ought to be acquainted with the relative position which the precepts occupy, for it is very easy brethren, unless God gives us understanding, to preach up one precept to the neglect of another. It is possible for a ministry and a teaching to be lopsided, and those who follow it may become rather the caricatures of Christianity than Christians harmoniously proportioned.
O Lord, what foolish creatures we are! When you do exhort us one way, we run to such an extreme therein that we forget that you have given us any other counsel than that which is just now ringing in our ears….
Is fidelity to the truth your cardinal virtue? Take heed of being unloving.
Is love to God and man your highest aspiration? Beware lest you become the dupe of false apostles and foul hypocrites…
Oh how easy it is to exaggerate a virtue until it becomes a vice.
There is a way about the precepts: there is a chime about them in which every bell gives out its note and makes up a tune. There is a mixture, so much of this and that and the other; and, if any ingredient were left out, the oil would have lost its perfect aroma.
So is there an anointing of the holy life in which there is precept upon precept skillfully mingled, delicately infused, gratefully blended, and grace given to keep each of these precepts, and so the life becomes sweet like an ointment most precious unto the Lord…” (emphasis mine)
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, aka The Prince of Preachers
From “The Student’s Prayer” sermon, delivered 1877 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
“You tell me this”, said Shaz* as we sat over coffee, “You tell me: if there was a homeless person lying in the gutter, would it be a Christian or a druggie that stopped and helped him? It would be the druggie every time.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan came to mind. And I knew she was right.
I said “I agree with you Shaz.”
That stopped her for a second.
We had met for a coffee, but when we got there she refused to have one. Said she’s not paying that amount for a coffee. I offered to buy her one but she refused that as well. So I drank my coffee and she sat opposite me with nothing. Instead she had the sugar bowl. With a spoon she stirred and stirred as she spoke. The constant stirring was mesmerising and I had to tear my eyes away from it. Also it was easier than looking in to her tormented eyes the whole time.
But when I agreed with her, she stopped stirring for a second and said,
“Ha – we agree on something. What do we do now?”
Shaz’s and my relationship isn’t an easy one. To be honest, I have no idea how to handle her. And that’s something I constantly say to the Lord, believe me.
Before Shaz, I thought I was pretty experienced with all sorts of people. When we had our home church for the outcasts there were times where we had seven heroin addicts sitting around our table at once for lunch. We have had neo-nazi’s in our home, murderers, profoundly mentally disturbed people, lonely people, homeless ones, ice addicts, people I met while street preaching, whoever God sent. They were difficult and God always gave us grace for each one.
I first met Shaz in March. I preached at the homeless mission in the city and she was there. Full of anger, bitterness, hard, cold as anything, she told me what her father had done to her from a terribly young age. She asked me how God could forgive someone like that if he repented. And why would she want to go to a place (heaven) where that animal might possibly be? She spat at me that nobody has been able to help her, even Christians.
As I listened to her story my heart broke. And she was right too, I didn’t know how to help her. What the heck do I say to this woman who had been so wounded by the one who should have protected her? ‘Oh God’, I cried out in my heart, ‘help me! I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to say to her.’
I didn’t know what to do, so I just put my arms around her little body, my head on her shoulder and cried. I sobbed. I said I am so, so sorry that this happened to you and I was. I cried and cried as she stood there silent, as stiff as a board while I wet her shoulder with my tears.
Then she moved away from me and I heard her swearing and cursing as she left. I said to God that I am sorry I failed. I couldn’t get through to her and I had no idea how to help her.
Two weeks later she was back at the mission.
She came over to me and said roughly, “the compassion you showed me that other night saved my life. I was going to go home and neck myself but after I met you I didn’t want to anymore.”
Then she swore and cursed Christians and left.
And pretty much that has been our relationship since. She clings to me, she pushes me away. She seeks me out, she runs and hides. Like a puppy who’s been abused and is scared of being hurt again. One time she came up behind me at the mission and hugged me. She literally clung to me. The anointing and love of the Holy Spirit came upon me so strongly that I just cried and prayed in tongues while I hugged her back. And she clung and clung. Then she ran out of the building.
As we sat at coffee that morning she cursed and called me a hypocrite. Everything I said to her was wrong, and she told me off the whole time. It was exhausting.
I left feeling like I had failed, yet there was an inexplicable joy in my spirit.
Two days later in the mail I got a card from Shaz in child-like, painstakingly neat handwriting saying that she can’t tell me this to my face but I am the only true friend she has ever had and that she loves me.
She said she doesn’t know how to be with “normal” people and that is why she hangs out with the street-people.
I cry for these ones. These ones who haven’t known love.
Not long after this we visited a local Baptist church, a good and decent church we sometimes go to. The pastor explained that they want to build a bigger auditorium to be able to seat more people at once to cut down on the number of services over weekends. To do this they are raising $2 million to replace the perfectly good auditorium they already have. I looked around and I knew that they would get that $2 million.
”Looking back to that day, I can clearly see what I did not then understand : that God’s Holy Spirit was leading me step by step, convincing me of my need, convicting me of my sins, and pressing the awful and tremendous fact upon me- if I die as I am,I shall die without Christ.”
page 22, Seen and Heard
James McKendrick, born in Scotland 1859, left school at age 9 to begin work in the mines. Saved in 1881 He soon became a preacher and evangelist, leading many to Christ in England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia.
Just how long can I get away with calling myself a “girl” anyway when I have an almost 15-year-old daughter…?
I’m not sure, but I’ll see how long I can push it.
Tonight Lucy came to the streets with me… it was such a blessing to have my teenager with me, tracts in hand, shyly offering them to passers-by. She was so excited when finally someone took the first tract from her.
It was surreal as well. I remember the first time, many years ago now, I went out , she had been a tiny girl eating pizza as I left.
My Pastor at the time had unfortunately told me that I shouldn’t be going out, that my place is with my family. I respected this Pastor and so his words brought me considerable confusion as I knew like I knew that I’d been called to it. But my husband, bless him, also knew I was called to it. I was a full time, stay-at-home mum who went out for a few hours on a Friday night or morning in obedience to the Lord Jesus and he wanted me to go and released and blessed me in it.
So I did for 7 years.
Until the last 2 or so years when I knew God had wanted me to stop going so that we could focus on our children who were rapidly approaching teenager-dom. And so for the last couple of years my going out has been few and far between.
But tonight, and this time with my teenage daughter by my side, it was such a confirmation that all those years were not my neglecting my family but God using it to draw my daughter out too, as she’d seen her mum do.
And she was sooo excited to come with me.
I was typical “Mum” all night though. We were like conjoined twins, we literally moved as one. I never let her out of my sight. Even while I preached I directed her to stand right next to me so I could see her at all times.
Someone said once that our teenagers need not be entertained every Friday night in the name of Christianity, but rather to send them out in to the streets, tracts in hand where they can confront the devil head-on.
Last night, after two years, I went back to the city to street preach.
Why did I stop? I don’t know, only that the Holy Ghost compulsion to go simply left me two years ago.
It’s not like I’ve been doing nothing in that two years, I’ve been preaching in a homeless mission on a regular basis, I have preached twice at a drug rehab centre and also a Baptist church. I’m almost now qualified as a Chaplain too, but the street preaching just stopped. I didn’t have any idea if I ever would go back to the street, but I knew that I certainly didn’t want to go back in the flesh.
The fact that I had been given an amazing PA system for free and I’d only used it once street-preaching sometimes haunted me. I had said a number of times to a fellow street-preacher that he is welcome to it, but he never came to collect it.
So why did I go back? I don’t know either. Only that over the last few months I’ve started to feel the desire to go again. Every now and then, little things, and then the fire inside would leap a little. And then I’d pray “Do you want me to go back Lord? I will go back but only if You want me to and You need to show me”.
And then I’d let it rest again.
And then my Mum said she’d take my kids last night for the night as it’s school holidays at the moment. Then I heard on the grapevine that the team was going out last night to the city. It was a perfect set of circumstances to go. And I wanted to go.
Then….I woke up yesterday morning with that familiar nervousness in the pit of my stomach, thinking why do I have to go? Why does it have to be me? All the other Christians are going out for dinner or sitting at home in their comfy PJ’s watching tv, why me? Sad huh.
If you want me to go, please confirm it Lord, because I don’t want to. I’m scared.
Hmmm. I remember that right now it is Sukkot and that Jesus cried out in the street at Sukkot:
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, “if anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37, 38
So I went. I took a darling daughter in Christ with me, for her first time, and we went. When we arrived Pst David prayed over us John 7:38.
I thought I wouldn’t preach, that I’d just hand out tracts and see how I went.
That’s what I thought.
When I got to the “gate of the city” at the steps of the great station I knew I was to preach. Seas and seas of people crossing the road toward me, coming down the steps from the trains behind me. Seas and seas of people whom perhaps had never heard the gospel, who may never hear it. So I preached. And man, it just felt like home. It felt so good, so right, so amazing.
Even when the two lesbians very deliberately came and stood right in front of me passionately kissing as I preached the gospel. Even when the father leant over on his small son’s back in mocking laughter at me. Even as people called out “My god is football!”
I was so glad to be there. Because that’s where Christ Jesus is.
I had forgotten that “all the while He was down (by His Spirit) among the poor struggling, drowning creatures in the angry deep, with His arms around them trying to drag them out, and looking up – oh! so longingly but all in vain – to those on the rock, crying to them with His voice all hoarse from calling, “Come to Me! Come, and help Me!” 
Preaching at the Homeless mission about six people came up for an altar call afterwards. As I was praying for them I felt that God wanted me to particularly minister to a young, tall, dark-haired woman.
I’d never seen her before. Her striking features reminded me of the gypsies I had seen years ago in Europe.
I simply said to her “God wants to say something to you”, but at that point I had no idea what.
She looked at me expectantly.
I said let’s pray.
So as I prayed for her I saw above her head a black bird and a white bird.
I told her this picture I saw and asked if she knew what it meant. No, she shook her head.
Neither did I. Let’s ask the Lord I said.
So we did and then a question for her:
“Have you ever been involved in the occult?”
“No,” she said, “not the occult. Just sometimes my friends read Tarot for me.”
I explained to her Deuteronomy 18 and that Tarot reading is one type of divination which God forbids. She had no idea.
“And horoscopes is the occult too?” she then asked.
“And psychic mediums?”
“But that was years ago,” said she.
I told her a story my pastor told me years ago. The occult can be likened to a legal situation we find ourselves in. We spend an hour with a solicitor discussing the matter, but when we leave we decide against pursuing the legal situation after all and let it drop. However that time we have spent with the lawyer must be paid for despite the fact that we have decided to let the matter drop. And you can rest assured that he will make us pay.
When a doorway is opened into the forbidden spiritual realm it is not closed by time, disinterest or our will. It is only closed through our repentance and renunciation.
I then saw that the two birds represented the two kingdoms – one of light and one of darkness. She was trying to mix Christianity with occultism/paganism, but they can’t be mixed. Those two birds are two very different birds and it’s one or the other. A plain and clear choice must be made. And the consequences are eternal.
The devil will try to murder us outright as Christians (physically or spiritually) and if that doesn’t work, he will bring in mixture. Think of Balak engaging a diviner to try to curse Israel. Murder. When that didn’t work what happened? Mixture. Instead the Israelite men began to engage in sexual immorality with Moabite women, then sacrificed to their idols. (Numbers 24 & 25). Murder or mixture.
Well praise the Lord my friend eventually repented of her sin and renounced it all. At the end of the night she lifted her hands in worship and sung with all her might praises to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom is far above all.
“Far above all, far above all. God has exalted Him far above all. Crown Him as Lord at His feet humbly fall. Jesus, Christ Jesus, is far above all.” Christian hymn
I went to preach at the Homeless Mission on Saturday night and praise the Lord I had the honour of leading two men to Christ afterwards.
pain acrylic and pastel
I didn’t know what I was going to talk about, I didn’t know how I was even going to be physically able to preach. My body was aching, exhausted, sore and bandaged.
Late October I woke up one morning with both my hands and feet tingling. This was constant and it covered both my feet and hands, up my ankles and wrists, non-stop. The doctors couldn’t explain it and I could get no answers. Then my back began to hurt. I have now been in constant pain since November. December was the worst when it was highly inflamed and agonizing. I spent most of December horizontal, including Christmas Day.
Why do you allow suffering Lord?
Because that is the order of things at the moment. The order of things is suffering.
Obviously I prayed. Although I don’t know if you’d call it prayer or just non-stop desperate cries for help. I certainly couldn’t get on my knees, I couldn’t even sit, but I non stop cried out to the Lord. That’s pretty much all I could do in December. I had all the usual questions : Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Have you finished with me God? Will I ever be ok again?
In late December I had a dream.
I was walking in a grassy field with my two kids. There in the middle of the field was a huge wooden cross standing upright. I made my way over to it. As soon as we got close to it the presence of the Lord was thick and strong. The children commented on how strong His presence was. I simply wrapped my arms around the thick, square shaped vertical beam of it and cried my heart out.
In fact I woke myself up crying. I was still in the presence of the Lord when I awoke. I could feel the solid wooden beam in my arms still and the thought foremost in my mind was that Jesus’ nail-pierced feet are so far above me, way up high compared to me.
I have been slowly improving through January until now. Every day I get a little better until…last Friday night I sat down on the couch with a cup of black tea in my hand. As I sat down, focussed on protecting my back, I spilled the whole cup of scalding water in my lap. The pain was intense. I ran straight to the shower/bath.
Though He slay me yet I will trust Him
Job was all I could think about in the bath. Job worshipping God despite his circumstances. I worshipped God in the bath, in the pain. Eventually I went into shock and an ambulance took me to hospital. Apparently if you burn yourself in an area larger than your hand then as your body tries to cool down the burn, your body temperature drops too far and you can go into shock. In hospital….Second degree burns, potential plastic surgery….
So there I was on Saturday night, in pain, still recovering from my back injury, legs and groin dressed in bandages, moving like an elderly lady, having no idea what I am going to say to these homeless people, to the suffering, the scarred and wounded…..
The order of things is suffering.
Man chose his way and now it must run to completion
Man has to be allowed to run with his independence from God to full growth because He will never impinge on his free will. But man has to see that the way he has chosen will never work.
Suffering will be brought to full-bloom
“Except those days be shortened no flesh shall be saved, but for the elect’s sake God will shorten those days”
Then Christ’s order will be ushered in.
To suffer is to be human. To suffer is to be Christian. It is through many hardships we must enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).
But there is One who left the glories of heaven and chose to enter the order of suffering. When Jesus took on human flesh He willingly took on human suffering. And He suffered more than any other human: beaten beyond human recognition, betrayed, abandoned, forsaken by God.
He chose the order of suffering for you and me. He stepped into it and brought us redemption. Not that we won’t have problems and suffering any more as His children and friends, in fact we may have more, but that He will be with us through it all.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;” Isaiah 43:2
The other day my prayers changed. I was lying on the floor asking Him to heal my wounds. I looked at the scars on my leg and suddenly I loved them. I felt great affection for those ugly brown, bubbly burn marks.
They identified me with my Saviour
And I thank Him for them now. I don’t want them to completely go. I want them to stay so I “bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus” (Gal 6:17)
I shared my suffering, pain, wounds and the great, great love of our scarred Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ with the homeless on Saturday. The presence of the Lord was strong as we came together in our suffering and brought two new babes with us to cling to that old rugged cross.
While I was preaching at the homeless mission on Saturday night my mobile phone was stolen.
It was an iPhone and contained my life on it – emails, access to this blog, photos, contacts etc. I saw the young lady touch my phone and I knew in my spirit that she was going to take it, but while I preached it didn’t even concern me, it simply left my mind.
But when I had finished it hit me that she had disappeared and so had my phone. And then I got annoyed, frustrated and concerned. Identity-theft, violation of privacy, indignation at her audacity all these thoughts and emotions were swirling around in my mind while I searched for her within the building and outside, all in vain.
And the other thing in my mind: that I was already being tested on the very thing I had just finished preaching about. I had spoken about broken-ness being the qualification in God’s kingdom for ministry. God’s breaking of the power of the flesh, the crucifixion of it. How He wants us to no longer react from the soulish realm, the realm of emotion and intellect, but instead to walk in the Spirit and live in His kingdom of love, forgiveness and mercy.
So we traced my phone by GPS and saw that she had walked down the road about 10 minutes and got onto a train. After that we lost trace of her.
I was mad, I won’t deny it. How dare she steal my phone? I was also mad at myself. Why didn’t I retrieve my phone when I saw her touching it?
I tried to call my stolen phone three times and she ignored it. She sent a message to one of my contacts telling them to tell me that I am not getting my phone back. I began to imagine all sorts of revenge scenarios. What I would say to her had I the chance! Thank God He didn’t let me talk to her then.
One of the things I had just preached about was how the natural man wants revenge and to “get his own back”.
I went home and changed all my passwords on everything. Then I sent her a message. A message to my own phone which was now hers. I knew her name because we had chatted before she stole my phone.
I told her that I forgave her for breaking my trust and stealing my phone. I told her I prayed she would find peace and blessed her and I shared the gospel with her over text. I prayed that God would convict her and bring her into His kingdom.
The next day we disabled the stolen phone and I got a new phone. Because the old phone was disabled I was now able to re-use my old number. That’s when the phone calls began.
A blocked number rang the first time and I answered. It was a guy asking who I am? I wouldn’t tell him but asked who he was. Then cursing and obscenities down the phone from him and a female in the background. I hung up. They rang back, my husband answered this time.
“Tell Belinda she’s not getting her phone back….” Then he told me husband all sorts of lies about me. Cursing and obscenities again.
They proceeded to ring all through the evening and even through the night. We obviously stopped answering the phone and rang the police. They advised me to change my number, which I have now done.
All I can say is that the devil was obviously very stirred up and was trying to provoke a fleshly reaction from me. If I had given in to it surely it would have been a defeat. But if we react in the kingdom way, of love and forgiveness, of blessing those who curse us, of praying for those who spitefully use us, then we will always have the victory over the works of darkness!
On Saturday night I preached at an inner-city mission. And praise the Lord a prostitute was saved!
After all these years of street-preaching and never being invited to preach anywhere, I have actually been invited to preach monthly at this inner city Mission for the homeless and disadvantaged.
The thing is I don’t know how to do “normal” preaching. I can’t get three points and then a conclusion and stand behind a pulpit.
As part of my Chaplaincy course I’ve just been reading an essay on how to be an “Effective Communicator” as a preacher. Even though this article does make some valid points, I find it rather sad that it is all about how to get your points across, how to make sure the audience remembers what you’ve said, how to be an effective communicator etc etc.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to come into it at all – it’s all fleshly business-speak. In these days of downloadable sermons and effective sound-bytes there is a need for anointed preaching again. For goodness sake let’s get back to the power of the Holy Spirit! So here’s my “how-to” list to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Preaching in the Spirit
Be in an intimate relationship with Jesus. If you’re not, then please don’t preach. Really.
Be constantly in the Word. It just needs to be a part of you.
Check your heart. If there’s anything between you and God deal with it immediately.
Cry. Yes, weep. This is hugely important. Weeping is the key to the anointing. This is something that cannot be forced, so ask God to break you for the sins of the people you will be preaching to. Preaching should ALWAYS come from a place of brokenness but it usually never does, and that’s why power in preaching is so rare these days.
Ask Him for His heart, for His burden, for what He wants to say. Even if you only get one scripture from Him it is enough. It is better to preach that one verse for 5 minutes if it’s from His heart than to preach for 30 minutes from your flesh.
Yield yourself to Him and His will. Ask Him to have His way in you and for you to be a vessel for Him.
Pray before you go: For Him to fill you with His Spirit; for the people’s hearts to be prepared; for the Spirit to preach through you right into the spiritual realm. You will need to resist the devil – all his methods, his agents, his interruptions, anything he would seek to do to disrupt or interfere with God’s message being delivered.
Thank God for the victory we have in Christ Jesus.
Go in Holy Ghost boldness, knowing it’s not about you, but about Him.
I preached Isaiah 1:18 on Saturday night: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
The Holy Spirit had impressed upon me that it was all about being honest with God, calling a sin a sin. So that’s what I preached. Afterwards there was a time of ministry and the prostitute came to me and we cried together and she was saved, praise the Lord. The pastor said at the end of the night that there had been a shift in the Spirit tonight, that there was a new honesty and people were being real.
And that’s the point: a shift in the spiritual realm. T Austin Sparks called it “preaching to the back of things.”
Preaching to the flesh is a waste of time. The flesh cannot receive the things of the Spirit. People may feel inspired in the emotional realm for a while, but nothing changes. No, we must preach to the back of things. We preach to the angels, the devils, to the spirit of man, to Christ Himself. And that’s when things happen.
I’m happy to answer any questions about this article!
Usually I share here a quote by a famous missionary. But today I’m sharing something my 11-year old daughter Lucy has done:
Yesterday she asked me for my street-chalk. This is not so unusual in itself as she sometimes draws pictures in the driveway and pavement outside.
This time however was a bit different. When I went out there and saw what she’s written I just couldn’t stop smiling. I’ve taken photos of what she’s drawn and written on the pavement outside our house and at the bottom of our driveway for all passers by to
No soft-peddling, political – correctness there! Out of the mouth of babes….needless to say, I am one proud mumma.
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