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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Archbishop Michael Ramsey on Discipleship

Michael Ramsey
Michael Ramsey was the second son born to Arthur and Mary Agnes Ramsey. His father was a fellow of Mathematics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and a Congregationalist. His mother was a communicant in the Church of England. Michael eventually took the path of his mother.

Ramsey was ordained to the priesthood in 1927, and within three years he was shattered by the loss of both his mother and his brother, Frank, who died at age twenty six early in 1930. Michael performed the funeral. Frank’s tragic death deeply shook Michael and the priest was “faced with acutely worrying questions about the fate of unbelievers."

Archbishop Michael Ramsey died in his home in 1988. He was cremated and his ashed buried near William Temple in the Cloisters at Canterbury. The inscription on his tomb was a saying of Irenaeus’s: “The Glory of God is the living man; And the life of man is the Vision of God.”

This is an excerpt from his address at the opening of the 1968 Lambeth Conference:

The faith to which we are called will always be folly and scandal to the world, it cannot be in the usual sense of the word popular; it is a supernatural faith and it cannot adapt itself to every passing fashion of human thought. But it will be a faith alert to distinguish what is shaken, and is meant to go, and what is not shaken and is meant to remain. When men today tell us that they revere Jesus but find God or theism without meaning it sometimes is that the image of God as we Christians in our practice present it is the image of a God of religious concerns but not of compassion for all human life, and it is just not recognisable as the God and Father of Jesus Christ. So too when men reject theism it sometimes means that they cannot accept in this shaken world any easy, facile assumption that the universe has a plan, a centre, a purpose. It is for us Christians to be sure that our faith is no facile assumption but a costly conviction that in Christ crucified and risen, in suffering and victorious love and in no other way, there is a plan, a centre, a purpose. In dying to live, in losing life so as to find it – there is the place where divine sovereignty is found and theism has meaning and vindication. The Bishops who will lead our thinking about faith at this Lambeth Conference will help us to see that faith means standing near to the Cross in the heart of the contemporary world, and not only standing but acting. Our faith will be tested in our actions, not least in our actions concerning peace, concerning race, concerning poverty. Faith is a costly certainty, but no easy security as our God is blazing fire.

Ramsey recognized that it was often the lack of “costly discipleship” of Christians themselves who made Christianity seem implausible, but that rejection of an unfaithful church did not in itself signal a rejection of Christ. He wrote:

The Spirit’s renewal of the Church is linked with the Spirit’s witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The way of truth along which the Paraclete leads is always the way that is Christ himself, as he takes the things of Christ and declares them to the disciples….At the present time there are attempts to understand Christian spirituality as an experience somewhat apart from the historical events of the gospel…in the apostolic age the events and the experience are interwoven….The Christians are justified by faith, they have peace with God, they rejoice in hope, and they rejoice even in suffering, because the love of God was poured into their hearts by the Spirit. But what is this love of God? It is the love made known in the death of Christ for the sake of the ungodly, and in that death the love of God himself was commended to men. The event of the death of Christ not only enables the Christian life, it provides its continuing motive and interpretation.(Ramsey, Holy Spirit, 131)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Praying Hebrews 1

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

From Hebrews 1:6: I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: the word

“ again.” For when you send the Lord Jesus back again into this world no longer read veiled in human flesh any ability, but then in glory and power. While few men are heard the angelic message and of the rejoicing angels worship, then all will hear. You’ll be not only worshiped by the redeemed, but the angelic choir will worship and sitting in all their glory. Yet, of the song of the redeemed will be sweeter still at a manifestation of His glory of us from being objects of Your eternal judgment.

From Hebrews 1:6: I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: the word “again.” Or when you send the Lord Jesus back again into this world no longer veiled in human flesh in humility, but then in glory and power. While a few men heard the angelic message and rejoicing angels worship, then all will here. He will be not only worshiped by the redeemed, but the aim Jolly choir will worship and saying in all their glory. Yet the song of us the redeemed will be sweeter still.

From Hebrews 1:7, 8: “And of the angels He says:

"Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire." 8 But to the Son He says:"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” NKJV

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: resulted in the Lord Jesus. In the Old Testament and the new age teaching, Angels and their Ministry are thought of on the level above man and too often focused upon as the greatest attached and communication from you. In this passage the Lord Jesus is shown to be of transcending only greater. He came to us as a man so that we might approach Him as one who understands. Yet angels, only as Your messengers and service. Though man, He comes in the glory of being God and sovereign of the universe for angels and men the object of submission and worship and faith, as triumphant Immanuel; and conqueror of sin of angels as well as men therefore, the supreme demonstration of Your God the father’s glory. Amen and amen.

From Hebrews 1:8: “But to the Son He says:"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.” NKJV

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: this presentation of the majesty of Jesus deity. And in Your word You call Him, God. In the context, You present Him as the eternally reigning King of Your angels. It is one thing that You commanded all Your angels to worship Him (the process verse six), but here You picture Him as reigning on a Throne of Your making as having the scepter of authority to rule forever. I rejoice to find my place of honoring and worshiping Him, the King of angels and the Lord of my salvation.

From Hebrews 1:9: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions." NKJV

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: the perfect life that the Lord Jesus lived. In His perfections of living He completely pleased You as a man as well as God, the incarnated word. Father, it is both a challenge and rewarding to walk with You as He did. In so doing, I will receive the anointing and filling of Your Spirit that I receive through Him. In this, I will be experience gladness, joy and peace. Help me, Father, to so abide in Jesus, though I may experience these blessings as I abide in Him as the true vine and Your care as His vine dresser.

From Hebrews 1:10– 12: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; 12 Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail." NKJV

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: Jesus as the eternal Word. As such You created all the worlds through Him and holding them when of their purpose has been completed. Lord, father, Savior and Holy Spirit, I pray full me up quickly when my task and usefulness on earth is done. As a member of Christ’s body, I thank you when You have done Your work through me. Thank You that You are eternal and omnipotent so that I can depend on You always, both now and in eternity.

From Hebrews 1:13: “But to which of the angels has He ever said: ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’"? NKJV

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: Your promised to the Lord Jesus said to have accepted all that is involved in His gospel work. I praise You for the picture of Him waiting in all confidence as You bring all His enemies into subjection to Him. How may that I may also be filled with faith and confidence that You will accomplish the Ministry You have given me. Without this comfort I would despair, but by faith I will rejoice in Your work to complete all that is in Your will.

From Hebrews 1:13, 14: “But to which of the angels has He ever said: "’Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” NKJV

I give the following prayer of praise and thanksgiving for: The Ministry of angels in protecting and ministering to me and others who will receive the fullness of Your salvation. Since the coming of Your Son and Your indwelling Spirit to the Church, they have a much smaller ministry of conveying messages to us, yet how great it is that their ministry is still present. How wonderful to know that they are available for our physical defense and needs. I praise You for this ministry that You used as we start our Church and polity and as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death in Vietnam.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jesus and the Fire Witch

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

"Daddy, Poway is on fire! Where you started your first church! They say the Santa Ana winds are blowing so hard that the fire is uncontrollable!" It was my youngest daughter Lora calling from Southern California.

Terribly alarmed, I called Pastor Nikoley. With downcast voice, the Pastor informed me that they had just been advised to evacuate, and were packing up their valuables. Fire trucks screamed to the eastern part of Poway where houses were currently in flames, joining the eighty-five to a hundred already in ashes. Burning embers were jumping the fire breaks to restart the fires once put out. Trying to drive to a “safe place” was a risk, for some people stopped on the highway had actually witnessed the fire burn up their cars. Although friends had gotten a hotel room and were willing to share it, even the hotels were in “the line of fire.” With the concern of a prophet whose woeful prophecy was being fulfilled, Pastor Nikoley related that in his Sunday morning message, he had said that if California did not repent, the Lord would judge them. The fire started that afternoon. The Santa Ana winds blew with hurricane force, eventually getting as high as 100 miles an hour. In northern San Diego County, the media called this fire storm “the Fire Witch,” for it was humanly uncontrollable.

Earnestly desiring to encourage him, I reminded him that Jesus’ name means “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21) and that we were His people. I further reminded him how Jesus stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee. All He said was: "Peace, be still!" Immediately the wind ceased and there was a great calm. I began to pray over the phone with the Pastor for the church. I felt the passion of a father's heart surge through me as I prayed.

After I hung up, I prayed as never before. I pleaded with the Lord with everything within me. I claimed every promise that came to my mind. I even reminded the Lord of the time I wrote in the soft concrete footer of our first building: ". . . for word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev 1:9).

Now, most people don't believe in miracles. Even church-goers think anything irrationally good is just dumb luck, especially if the event happens within a short time span. However, through the years I had witnessed too many “lucky co-incidences” in immediate response to earnest prayer to deny any possibility of Divine Intervention, particularly in regard to the Poway Church.

We had been given a free lease to use a portion of land to put our first building, and were given a war surplus housing unit. Later the Lord enabled us to buy the land out from underneath the church building. Other miracles came as labor and materials were supplied from sources unknown before we needed them. Often these came when there was no time to spare. So I earnestly prayed: "Lord, we give us another miracle!" I prayed that the Lord would still this wind as He did on the Sea of Galilee.

Believing the biblical promise about the power of community prayer, I requested prayer from several churches, the prayer link of the Regular Baptist Ministries for whom we had started the Poway Church, and our closest friends throughout the United States. Pastor Nicoley did the same.

I called the Pastor again the next day. The wind had shifted away from Poway, but was burning out of control in other areas. In a later phone call, he verified what David, my son-in-law, had found in checking the computer internet showing a fire map of northern San Diego County. The fire map showed areas where the fire was burning and those other areas that were under immediate evacuation orders. Only one place was specifically exempt. That place was western Poway, composed of an area of only two to three miles in diameter — the area around our church and its members homes. Furthermore, Poway was the first area to be allowed to return to their homes, even though the smell of smoke was so thick that the Pastor had to wear a mask to avoid an asthmatic attack. Everywhere else in northern San Diego County, the smoke blotted out the sun, even out to sea, but, in the area around the Church, the wind was fairly calm and the sun was shining.

True, some will describe this as just a freak of nature, but it was undeniably a miraculous answer to prayer for a “Passover.” When the Fire Witch came to Poway Church, she was met by the Lord Jesus who said: "Peace be still!"

Related reading:  Digging Dirt By Faith: A true storyLaunching a Blog About Discipleship

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dwight L. Moody on Discipleship

Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899)

"A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have."

"We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining - they just shine."

"Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man."

"There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things."

"We can stand affliction better than prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God."

"God doesn't seek for golden vessel, and does not ask for silver ones, but He must have clean ones."

"Obedience means marching right on whether we feel like it or not. Many times we go against our feelings. Faith is one thing, feeling is another. Prayer does not mean that I am to bring God down to my thoughts and my purposes, and bend his government according to my foolish, silly, and sometimes sinful notions. Prayer means that I am to be raised up into feeling, into union and design with him; that I am to enter into his counsel and carry out his purpose fully."

Friday, April 3, 2015

Making Disciples

Jesus commanded that his disciples should go into the world and make disciples among all the nations and peoples. The Great Commission is the Church's mission.