GOD’S GRACE CAN REACH ANY HEART

This story from Voice of the Martyrs is just one of many demonstrating the truth of these words.

It is the story of Sergei Bessarab who was shot to death in a small city called Isfara, where he had planted a church.

Sergei Bessarab became a Christian in prison as a result of another man also named Sergei who had prayed for Bessarab’s salvation. The two men had met in prison while Bessarab was serving time for his criminal activities.

In prison, Sergei prayed every day that Bessarab would come to Christ. But Bessarab was less than grateful for his friend’s concern. “Don’t waste time praying for me,” Bessarab told him.

Sergei remained steadfast in prayer, however, and Bessarab did eventually bend his knee to Christ. This should be a lesson for all of us. Keep praying, particularly for family members and loved ones. The former criminal became a bold witness for his Saviour both inside the prison walls and, after his release, as a pastor on the outside. In addition, he made frequent return visits to the prison to share the gospel with inmates.

Soon after, Bessarab and his wife Tamara moved to Isfara and planted a church, which began to grow as Muslims turned to Christ, a headline in the local paper asked the pointed question, “What’s Going to Be Done About Sergei Bessarab?”

Picture of a man playing the guitar
Sergei Bessasab strumming his gutar in worship

On Jan. 20, 2004, the son of a local mosque leader answered the question, shooting and killing Bessarab as he strummed his guitar during his nightly time of worship, Scripture reading, and prayer.

When the young man who killed Bessarab was convicted and sent to prison, Christians were waiting there to meet him. In God’s amazing providence, the killer was eventually assigned to a cell with a Christian prisoner who had been led to Christ and discipled by Bessarab!

And over time, the mosque leader’s son became Bessarab’s spiritual grandson, placing his trust in Christ.

Think about it, Bessarab was once a convicted criminal. Many would have written him off spiritually. His killer, a Muslim was also far from God, and some may have written him off as well. But God’s grace can reach any heart.

Picture the final chapter of this story: Pastor Sergei Bessarab stands worshiping before God’s throne with the man who ended his life on earth and perhaps the two may be working together on this earth again during Jesus’ soon coming Millennial Kingdom.

Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:6

ANOTHER POWERFUL TESTIMONY

You need to watch this video of young, Shelby Houston, speaking at her father’s memorial service. Her dad, Officer Richard Houston, was shot and killed on December 3 in Mesquite, Texas while responding to a domestic disturbance.

This clip from her message is so wonderful, so powerful. This is the grace of God. What a legacy her father left and what a reminder of the incredible impact that godly cops can and do make in our culture. Watch and listen—this dear young woman is a living, breathing embodiment of the grace and forgiveness of Jesus. She knows she will meet up again with her father and perhaps serve with him during Jesus’ coming Millennial reign on this earth. Jesus will rule and reign with the resurrected Saints.

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:4-6

https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/tears-and-laughter-at-funeral-for-mesquite-police-officer-richard-houston/2835335/

BIBLE PROPHECY IS A POWERFUL WITNESSING TOOL

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, a Master’s in Christian apologetics, and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His testimony of how God used Bible prophecy to get Him into the kingdom of God confirmed my own belief in its importance in making new disciples of Christ.

Robin Schmacher’s testimony

God used the teaching of Bible prophecy to bring me to Himself. As an engineering student in college, I was blown away by the statistical impossibilities of the Old Testament predictions of Christ’s first coming happening by chance, with God opening my eyes to the fact that “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21).

My jaw dropped even further when I became educated to the fact that just 20 percent of the Old Testament prophets spoke about His first coming, but 80 percent speak to His second coming. Moreover, there are 1,500 passages in the Old Testament that refer to Christ’s second coming, and one out of every 25 verses in the New Testament refer to Jesus’ return.

The study of Bible prophecy and the second coming became a special area of joy and study for me, and I woke up every day praying, “Maranatha” (1 Cor. 16:22; “O Lord come”). Chances are, as a Christian, you do the same.

Scripture testifies to the fact that, as believers, we should be “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13) and “awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7).

The Bible tells us we ought to join with John in saying, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) because “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20) and “in the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

The intensity of this desire is made especially strong when we observe the upside-down world in which we now live.

Today our society vilifies law enforcement and celebrates lawbreakers, imprisons the innocent and releases criminals, murders babies in the womb and lets killers go free, feigns respect for women while letting biological males into their bathrooms, disrespects strong work ethics, and coddles the lazy, shirks responsibility and embraces victim mentalities, preaches justice while committing injustice through mob-driven tactics, prioritizes gender-neutral toy aisles over stopping rampant business theft, decries racism with its mouth while promoting it through its actions, steals from others in the name of “equity,” censors truth while promoting lies, and cancels anyone with an opposing view.

Our culture is summed up well by Paul’s simple statement, “whose glory is in their shame” (Phil. 3:19).

Given all this, how could any believer not pray every hour for Christ to come back?

TESTIMONIES ARE POWERFUL

And they have conquered him (The Accuser/Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11

Brian Ivie
Brian Tetsuro Ivie

Young Christian filmmaker Brian Tetsuro Ivie says Christians are losing relevancy in modern-day society for not speaking to people’s spiritual and physical needs as Jesus did. To change that, Ivie has teamed up with NBA all-star Steph Curry to create films with original content that will inspire Christians to do both.

Ivie’s testimony is inspiring and is typical of how God works with His new children:

“When I became a Christian, I thought I was gonna leave the film industry entirely because I figured once you became a Christian, you had to go to Africa, or you had to give up all of your dreams,” Ivie told The Christian Post in a recent interview. “I think, in some ways, that was good because it taught me how to just walk with God and not look at my career as something that was going to ultimately fulfill me because it’s not.”

At the beginning of his faith walk, Ivie took part in philanthropy and social work for a few years, a season he pegged as a “desert.” He worked in South Korea and other parts of the world, which is how his film “The Drop Box” came about. The movie, made in partnership with Focus on the Family, told the story of South Korean Pastor Lee Jong-rak, who, after gaining a reputation for his willingness to care for disabled children, built a box into his home’s wall because he did not want any babies to be discarded and left for dead.

Years later, Ivie was asked to make “Emanuel,” which tells the story of the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. It was then that he and Steph Curry became acquainted, and soon after, Curry joined the film as an executive producer. 

So when the famous athlete thought about launching his own production company, he brought in Ivie to help create the faith content that would be overtly Christian and inspiring to viewers. 

It felt like it was the realization of the dream — the new dream and the new vision God had put into my heart when I became a Christian. It felt like the moment where the old dream and the new dream came together. And it felt like, ‘OK, this is God’s plan for my life,’” Ivie said.

Justin Bieber Shares Gospel, Condemns Cancel Culture in New Song ‘Afraid to Say’

Great to see this article on Faithwire by editor Tré Goins-Phillips: Pop star Justin Bieber, who has been outspoken about his Christian faith, is using a single on his new Gospel EP to share Scripture and condemn cancel culture.

In the song “Afraid to Say,” 27-year-old Bieber expresses sorrow over the accelerating cancel culture that has consumed much of our public discourse in recent months.

“What have we done with society when everybody’s getting canceled?” he asks. “And can’t there be room for maturity? ’Cause writing ’em off is not the answer.”

The “Peaches” singer then goes on to explain that redemption from God is the solution to what ails our broken culture:

We can’t write people off. God never writes us off, even in our darkest days. Even when we least deserve it. Even when we’re doing that stupid thing we wish we weren’t doing. God never writes us off — ever. He’s with us in our pain. He’s with us in a struggle. He’s with us in our bad decisions. He’s with us all the time. He never writes us off.

In the chorus, Bieber sings: “Does what I gotta say even matter? / Is life about climbing up the ladder? / And can we even see lives that are shattered?”

The songs ends with Lauren Walters reciting Psalm 139:13-16.

“You formed the whole of me, inward and out,” he said. “I am awesomely and wonderfully created. Your creations are spectacular. You skillfully designed me. You saw the Essenes of me, before I was formed. Before I existed, all of my days were written in your book.”

OBEDIENCE AND LISTENING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

These interviews and testimonies will help you to acknowledge the necessary actions we need to take to disciple and make a difference in other peoples lives. There is 6 minutes of introductory music so you can do something else while you listen to the delightful music but the testimonies that follow are worth the wait. The TLR movement is being used by God mightily to bring many into God’s Kingdom. The healings and the miracles demonstrate that the power is back in the church as disciples move out into the marketplace totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit to do ministry. For me in Australia it was wonderful to learn what God is doing in Eastern Europe. It is wonderful to see how God was moving in wonderful ways so it was obvious God was doing the work. His children were just doing His will. The testimony of the couple Abraham and Annemarie Levy is powerful. You must listen to them on “love”, Abraham makes three important observations of being a disciple that stand out: “You cannot follow Jesus without sacrifice”, “You must deliberately bury your own life”, “The flesh will always war against the spirit”, tough but exciting when you learn what God has done and is doing with their lives. If you live in Poland make sure you connect with this couple.

Dave Rubin: Why I’m no longer an atheist

Dr. Erik Strandness is a physician and Christian apologist who has practiced neonatal medicine for more than 20 years. He continues to practice neonatal medicine and engage in apologetics through speaking, writing, and blogging. He is passionate about helping Christians understand their faith so that they can effectively engage their critics as well as winsomely proclaim the Gospel to others with gentleness and respect.

This post which I have abbreviated is taken from his excellent article Dave Rubin: Why I’m no longer an atheist published on http://www.patheos.com

Dave Rubin is one of the bright lights of the intellectual dark web. He occupies that unique niche inhabited by the likes of Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray, where the sacred and secular rub shoulders. Tired of living in a contentious world of non-overlapping magisteria, these men seek a parley. They aren’t puppets of a particular ideology but a curious audience who just wants to know who is really pulling the strings. 

Rubin, while raised in a conservative Jewish home, considered himself a cultural Jew content to adopt the atheist label. However, things began to change during one of his yearly self-imposed technology sabbaticals when he began to realize that he was no longer an atheist. 

Rubin already knew that a political or cultural agenda without a foundation is not only unworkable but dangerous. He recognized that this bedrock must be outside of us because only then can we hope to find universal truth. He acknowledges that the biggest threat to foundational unity is the wrecking ball of postmodernity. 

“The postmodern project calls each of us to create our own purpose, live by our own rules, and do what makes us happy. It insists that we become the master of our fates, the captain of our souls. In other words, it tells us we must sail alone. I would suggest that the source of the problem is the original sin of wanting to become like God. Thinking we can create our own personal kingdom without boundaries we also end up with no citizens. We are forced to be king, handyman, and chief bottle washer, which is great as long as you don’t have to fix a broken faucet or clean up after a night of hard-drinking. The world becomes millions of kingdoms ruled by “divine” despots who are constantly stepping across the line and gerrymandering the boundaries of their personal fiefdoms.”

Postmodernism reduces metanarrative to improvisation and instead of being characters in a grand drama, we are reduced to comics taking suggestions from the audience. One group finds their place in the greatest story ever told while the other creates their own personal reality. 

Unfortunately for our postmodern friends, improvisation just becomes a “theater of the absurd,” amusing to watch, but practically useless as a way to understand the world in which we live. 

Postmodernism, however, encountered a problem as it wielded its wrecking ball of deconstruction: how could it hold the crumbling cultural structure together while simultaneously trying to destroy it? The answer was the flimsy duct tape of tolerance, a concept that appears quite friendly and inviting on the surface but is fraught with all sorts of difficulties. Rubin weighed in on the problem of tolerance: 

Who are the most intolerant people in society right now? It’s the people that are constantly telling you how tolerant they are; that’s the irony – it’s the people that tell you you’re a bunch of racists and bigots and homophobes and the rest of it. And that’s the real bizarre flip that we have happening in society, and I think that is linked to – however, you want to phrase it – either a post-Christian world or a post-Judeo-Christian world or a post-modern world, however, you want to define that. 

Postmodernism has not only destroyed political, scientific, philosophical and historical foundations but has ushered in a crisis of meaning. It’s no mystery to our young people that the world is a lonely place. They know they are spiritually broken, but their schools tell them that spirit doesn’t exist. They feel a crushing darkness and then are told to light the divine spark within even though they know that it has always been a fire hazard. Told they are just molecules in motion, they turn to happy chemicals to numb them to the blind pitiless indifference of the universe. 

In this digital age, our young people have unprecedented access to sexual partners, mates, and friends? So why are they so lonely? The internet promised us a global village but ended up building a digital monastery. I would argue that the loneliness that plagues our young people isn’t due to a lack of personal contacts but a lack of a cosmic presence. They don’t feel alone in their communities but rather feel alone in the universe. 

You can play video games all day, you can do whatever it is to fill up that hole, if it’s an existential hole or a hole in belief or in whatever it is. But there are a lot of ways to fill that hole. Jordan, in my opinion, has given the best set of beliefs that take from a religious tradition and blend what I would say are Enlightenment values or basically secular values, Judeo-Christian values – and he’s blended them in the most effective way.

While Rubin has been outspoken on political and cultural issues, he has been a bit reticent to share his personal thoughts on religion, which makes this Unbelievable? show so interesting. He clearly recognizes that the world has a problem and that problem is due to a foundation that lacks spiritual concrete. 

Rubin has graciously given us a ticket to join him on his spiritual journey and while we hope that he makes Jesus the conductor we are grateful that he has let us come along for the ride. 

ONLY GOD CAN CONVERT A PSYCHOPATH

This is the most amazing testimony I have ever heard. You have to listen to listen to this interview. It will show you that God is at work in all of us regardless of who we are and what we have done.

Former Psychopath David Wood Shares his astounding transformation into a Christian Apologist. Before he was twenty years of age, he attempted to murder his father with a hammer and was sentenced to ten years in prison. You will be mesmerised by his journey to faith. You will see how in control God is of your life and who He brings into it to help you come to the truth about Him and His world.

David now runs an apologetics ministry called “Acts 17 Apologetics.” To follow his work (dealing primarily with Christianity, Islam, and atheism), be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Acts17Ap…

David was used by God over a four year period to bring former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi into His Kingdom. Nabeel is the author of the New York Times bestselling No God but One: Allah or Jesus?, the follow-up to his bestseller Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, the only book ever to win Christian Book Awards for both “Best New Author” and “Best Nonfiction.”