Prison Break

Two convicted murderers have dominated the news since they made an improbable escape from a maximum security prison 20 miles south of the Canadian border.  Using power tools, the two men—one serving a life sentence and the other doing 25 years to life—cut through a steel plate, brick walls and pipes, and made their way through a sewer on their way to the outside world.  Within days they were being pursued by 700 law enforcement officials, and a reward of $100,000 was offered for information leading to their arrest.

One former Clinton Correctional Facility inmate said that when his incarceration there he and other prisoners thought about escaping “all the time.”  Something within the human heart drives us to want to be free and something in the heart of God desires that His children experience freedom.

After James was executed, the apostle Peter was imprisoned in Jerusalem. It seemed that Peter’s loss of freedom was going to be followed by the loss of his life. But God had other ideas. There would be a prison break

Acts 12:5 says, “But constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” While Peter slept—bound with chains between two Roman soldiers—“an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:7).  Peter was led by an angel past prison guards to the prison gate, which opened before Peter allowing him to walk to freedom.

And God is still setting people free! Yet even though slavery ended in the United States 150 years ago, many people are still in bondage. Sin has made slaves of the very people Jesus died to save, people God is willing to set free—if only they are willing to be freed.

When Peter was liberated from his prison cell, it was the angel that secured Peter’s freedom. All Peter had to do was be willing to be freed, and to cooperate with the angel as the angel led the way to liberty.

The same is true in the experience of sinners today. The plan of salvation originated with God. Salvation was purchased through the death of Jesus. Forgiveness is secured through the blood of Jesus. Power for holy living is granted through the Holy Spirit. In other words, everything concerning the plan of salvation is provided for us. Those who accept what God has done and follow His leading will be led to freedom.

I remember a pastoral visit to a penitentiary to visit an inmate who had been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. I’ll never forget the feeling that gripped me when I saw the size of the tiny prison cell he called home. I recoiled at the thought of any person having to be locked away in such a small space for the rest of his or her life. But the man I visited that day had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and had experienced the freeing miracle of salvation. I knew that the majority of people living outside the walls of that prison were in fact prisoners, shut up in the prison house of sin.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus died so we might live. He offers eternal life to the world. He offers eternal life to you

The two men who escaped from the prison in upstate New York aren’t expected to spend long in the outside world. Prison escapees rarely elude capture for long. That kind of prison break is destined to fail.

But if you live your life in connection with Jesus Christ, you can’t help but experience the freedom of a new life in Him. And “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

SALT: It Is Written School of Evangelism

Each year SALT holds two training sessions. The mission to share with others how to be a soul-winner is the same for both, but we understand that availability to receive training for each person is different. Either SALT curriculum is an excellent choice as they are similar in spirit, purpose, and content; they only differ in format and duration.

There is the main session, widely known and referred to as SALT, which is a three and one-half month training segment. Participants are taught by Southern Adventist University professors in the classroom and given hands-on training, as they work with heavy mentorship as a life-coach and evangelist each week in the field. After the program has finished participants receive a Bible-worker certification from the university!

For those not able to take such an amount of time off as SALT requires, there is the Summer SALT intensive; spanning no longer than one week. SALT staff members and guest lecturers teach summer SALT seminars, and cover many of the different facets of evangelism. Ultimately, participants are taught how to share the word of God and lead others to make a decision for Christ.

No matter your background or schedule, there are opportunities for you to be trained on how to be a soul-winner for God’s kingdom. At SALT, we look forward to you taking advantage of this training and leading others to know Jesus Christ. Remember, “You are the SALT of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).

Find out more at southern.edu/salt

IIW-9

Expert Testimony

06-004

The death penalty is a subject that arouses strong feelings among those on both sides of the question. According to a Gallup poll, support for the death penalty peaked in the United States in 1994, when 80% of Americans claimed to support capital punishment. In 2013, that number had dropped to 60%.

The United States is one of few countries in the world where the death penalty is enforced. Less than 20% of nations in the world carry out the death penalty.

I’ll never forget reading about a man who was executed in the United States for a crime he quite apparently never committed. At the trial the jury listened to expert testimony which claimed the man was guilty. Later testimony by other experts contradicted that earlier evidence, but by then it was too late—and the man was executed protesting his innocence.

It’s difficult to know who to trust, whose testimony is actually accurate—and lives often depend on that. There are many voices in this world vying for your attention, voices claiming to be telling the truth. But there’s only one voice you can trust one hundred percent. 

2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Bible is inspired. By God. You can trust it. Sometimes we don’t understand it, and there are times we don’t interpret it correctly. But in such cases, the problem isn’t with the Bible, but rather our understanding of it. 

You can trust the Bible. It’s genuine “Expert Testimony.”

Looking Forward—Remembering Warren Judd

The world is full of sadness and sad news. Right now in various parts of the world there are wars being fought, floods unexpectedly taking lives, lethal heatwaves, and crippling droughts. And daily, people are dying for any number of tragic reasons.

In the past few weeks, several people I have known well have died far too soon. One was a dear friend of mine who left behind a pre-teen daughter when cancer prematurely ended her life. Another friend, It Is Written Associate Speaker Ron Halvorsen recently lost his battle with cancer. And just today Warren Judd, a long-time friend of the It Is Written ministry, has laid down his armor and gone to his rest.

Warren learned right around a year ago that he was facing health challenges. He had worked beyond retirement age, and was a picture of health: tall and lean, positive, active in life and ministry, part of a vibrant family and possessing an ardent faith in God. Not the typical cancer patient by any means, although cancer so often does what isn’t “typical.”

As the manager of the facility where It Is Written was located for many years, Warren dealt with our It Is Written team on virtually a daily basis. Warren loved people, and he loved ministry. A creative thinker, he was always kind in his dealings with others—even if they were not kind in their dealings with him. He was a gentleman. And now he rests, waiting for the resurrection.

We’re reminded yet again that life is precious, that life is fragile, that nothing in this world is guaranteed, that every day is a gift and that family and friends and faith in God are the truly important things in this world.

Over the weekend I had lunch with friends who had lost a year-old grandson to cancer. Someone asked me, “Why does the wages of sin have to be so severe?” I wondered if God—who witnessed the death of His own Son—ever considered the same thought.

But we’re reminded—again—that believers in Jesus have everything to look forward to. In God’s providence, this world is not where everything ends. There will soon be a great, getting-up morning. The dead in Christ shall rise. We’ll see our loved ones again. We’ll be reunited with family and friends. God is His providence has designed a perfect plan. Even death cannot prevent God’s ultimate design from being carried out.

And we’re also reminded that we possess the answers to precious few of life’s challenging questions. Why should a man of faith come down with a terminal illness? Why are some healed and others are not? Why does God not always answer our prayers for deliverance from illness? While answers are somethings hard to find, the True Answer is not. When confronted by questions like these, rather than ask Jesus for the answer, it might be better to remember that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The Bible tells us that “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). 

And miracles come in many shapes and shades. This morning in our staff worship—as we prayed for a miracle for Warren and his family—two experiences were shared concerning people who were told they had tested positive for cancer, only to be told when surgery was performed that no cancer was present. Miracles? It would seem so  Miracles, or misdiagnoses. But let’s say they were in fact miracles—which seems to be the case. Why was there not a miracle in Warren’s case?

Ah, but there was. Cancer is a terrible diagnosis to receive. And yet since Warren was diagnosed with cancer, he and his family have only radiated positivity, trust, and faith in God. Which isn’t to say a family doesn’t have challenging moments. But as the news got progressively more grim for Warren and his family, reports from Warren’s family exuded increasing faith in God and surrender to His Sovereign will. An attitude of constant faith and trust in God in the face of a brutally challenging diagnosis is as much a miracle of divine grace as healing from a difficult illness.

God doesn’t always reveal His goodness through the absence of challenging circumstances. Often, God’s goodness is experienced in the midst of challenging circumstances.

We have everything to look forward to. Keep looking forward! Jesus is coming back soon.

[photo courtesy of North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists]

It Is Written Puts Down Roots in Collegedale, Tennessee

On May 13, 2015, global Christian media ministry, It Is Written, purchased property at 9342 Four Corners Place in Collegedale. The ministry is relocating from California after nearly sixty years due to the sale of their former location. The ministry is currently operating out of leased office space near Collegedale, but will soon begin building a new media headquarters. A ground breaking will be announced at a later date.

“We are so excited to make Collegedale, Tennessee our new home,” John Bradshaw, Speaker/Director for It Is Written said, “We quickly felt right at home in Tennessee, and we are thrilled to continue to share the love of Jesus with the world from our new location.”

378A1097(edited)

Pictured left John Bradshaw (Speaker/Director of It Is Written) and with Gordon Bietz (President Southern Adventist University).

It Is Written is best known around the world for its weekly television series which has aired every Sunday for 59 years. Today, It Is Written can be seen on multiple networks including TBN, The Discovery Channel, The Hope Channel, 3ABN, and LLBN. The weekly programs feature Pastor Bradshaw and provide spiritual guidance and encouragement on a variety of Biblical subjects.

It Is Written began in March 1956, when founder George Vandeman began a then innovative concept of televising religious programing from southern California. Over the years, the ministry has had the opportunity to share the word of God with many countries including areas where there are very few Christians and where there is great resistance to the gospel.

In recent years, It Is Written has received 32 Angel awards from the Excellence in Media organization for promoting high moral values and has also received three Aurora awards and 12 Telly awards including the Silver Telly. Its most recent Telly award was received in 2014 for the “Eyes for India” television program.

 

Press Phot FInal

From left to right: Jesse Johnson (It Is Written Manager), Marty Hamilton (Associate Vice President Southern Adventist University), Tom Verrill (Senior Vice President Southern Adventist University), John Bradshaw (It Is Written Speaker/Director), Gordon Bietz (President Southern Adventist University), Charles Reel (It Is Written Treasurer), Jeff Blumenberg (It Is Written Trust Officer).

 

 

Pastor Ron Halvorsen (1938—2015)

It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that our beloved It Is Written associate speaker Ron Halvorsen fell asleep in Jesus on Friday, May 15. For decades Pastor Ron powerfully proclaimed the everlasting gospel. Thousands and tens of thousands of people came to know Jesus as their personal Savior thanks to his passionate ministry. Ron was truly a giant in ministry. A kind man, who relentlessly lifted up Jesus. He had a thousand stories to tell and he told them so well, always directing people to faith in Christ.

There’ll never be another one quite like Ron. When he stepped in for me when I couldn’t preach in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2013 he was having some health-related annoyances, but he didn’t let that keep him from preaching the message. He wouldn’t let anything keep him from doing that.

Ron would want us to keep doing what we’re doing with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Carol, his wife, expressed how much he loved It Is Written. “He was a wonderful person. Ministry was his life, and he was excited about the speaking appointments he had on his schedule. He had so many sermons he just couldn’t wait to preach,” Carol told me.

Paul’s poignant words in 2 Timothy 4:7 best describe Pastor Ron: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Please join us in praying for Pastor Ron’s family at this difficult time. And also join us in looking forward to that wonderful day when Jesus returns.

One short story: after I learned of his death, the very first person I told said to me, “He preached at our church a few years ago. My sister had been out of the church for 35 years. The Holy Spirit spoke to her through Pastor Halvorsen’s preaching, and she came back to the Lord. Now she’s bringing others to Jesus.”

“Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

—Pastor John Bradshaw and the staff of It Is Written

 

ron

It Is Written programs with Ron Halvorsen:

From Gangs to God: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9710

Making Prayer Matter: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9433

Power of Prayer: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9434

Assurance of Salvation: http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9722

 

If you would like to make these programs a part of your collection, follow the links below.

From Gangs to God: https://store.itiswritten.com/tv001238.html

Revelation Today: https://store.itiswritten.com/RevelationToday-Ron.html

 

 

 

A Mother in Israel

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Visits have been made, the special lunches, breakfast in bed, long-distance phone calls, family gatherings… and hopefully the glow hasn’t yet worn off. My family and I were traveling this Mother’s Day, and we overheard many Mother’s Day phone calls between various people and that special mother in their lives.

In 2 Samuel 20, the Bible talks about a “wise” mother in Israel. The city of Abel-bethmaachah was in jeopardy. A rebel loyal to the former King Saul was being pursued by Joab, the leader of David’s armies, and the rebel—Sheba—was hiding there. Joab arrived in town determined to kill Sheba, and as long as he was in Abel-bethmaachah, the entire city was in danger.

An un-named mother in Israel realized that her life was in danger, her city was in jeopardy, and therefore her own children were imperiled. What do you do when your children are in danger? This mother, like most mothers would, decided that she’d do whatever it was she had to do. And so she said to Joab, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall.”

Grim, for sure, but think about what had to have gone through her mind. “This Sheba’s a scoundrel, and he’s endangering us all. And the only way we’re going to turn this around is by convincing Joab that the man is dead. And we won’t be able to convince him without proof. And so that means…” You can imagine her thinking this through, and she realized how awful this was going to have to be. Mothers give life, they don’t take it. For anyone to take a life… you’ve got to cross some pretty significant mental and emotional bridges in order to make it happen. This wasn’t a warrior in Israel, or a soldier in Israel. She was a mother in Israel, but her people were in danger. Her children were in danger, so what did she do? She did what she had to because she was a mother.

Notice how verse 22 puts it. “Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people” The details of what had to have been a difficult conversation aren’t recorded in the Bible, but the end result is. “And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab.” We’re not told how she communicated this to the people, but by the time this episode is over, Sheba has met with a very unfortunate end. And after all this, Abel-bethmaachah was safe. Joab never entered the city, and the people—including the children—were left in peace.

That was a tough call. And very obviously I’m not recommending anyone imitate what this woman did. But this was a desperate time and it called for desperate measures. And it was a mother in Israel who stepped forward and said, “We have to preserve our people, our children, and I’ll do whatever needs to be done to make that happen.”

And that’s what mothers do. They nurture their children in a thousand different ways, they give and give and give of themselves, they aren’t paid for what they do as mothers and their work is more often than not unrecognized. They’re the glue that keeps thousands of school committees and volunteer organizations and children’s groups and sports clubs and who-knows-what-else held together, when they often don’t have time and when they could be doing other things or pursuing other interests. Mothers do what they do because… well, because they’re mothers. It’s what mothers do. That’s what God has placed in their hearts.

 

My own mother is a phenomenal human being who raised seven children, and was simultaneously a nurse, counselor, chauffeur, mediator, psychologist, companion, caterer, financier, doctor, tailor, playmate, motivator, nurturer, educator, decorator, referee, chef, and a thousand other things. True, Dad played a major role, too. I was blessed with two parents who were very involved in my life. But I only had—and thank God, still have—one Mum. Among all she has been, “friend” is probably the greatest of all.

So we recognize mothers a day a year. But we can do better than that, surely. Along with buying flowers or cooking breakfast or taking Mum out to dinner or whatever it might be on Mother’s Day, make sure that’s not the only time you do it. And tell your mother often, “I love you and appreciate you and don’t say thank you often enough.”

Adapted from “A Mother in Israel”, from It Is Written television. Watch it here http://www.itiswritten.com/television/episodes/9719

A New Direction for It Is Written

It Is Written’s Executive Committee recently voted to appoint a ministry Manager alongside the Treasurer. In recent history, a Speaker/Director has led It Is Written with other administrative duties being carried out by a Manager/Treasurer. This will result in increased efficiency and improved operating procedures.

Dr. Jesse Johnson has accepted the invitation to become It Is Written’s Manager, joining Speaker/Director John Bradshaw and Treasurer Charles Reel to form the ministry’s administrative team.

Jesse and his wife of 24 years, Nema.

Jesse and his wife of 24 years, Nema.

Dr. Johnson, who holds several masters and doctorate degrees in business, education, and technology, is a businessman and entrepreneur with extensive experience in ministry leadership. He has worked with many local conferences helping them innovate their technology departments as well as the General Conference and has been the President of ASI Mid-America. Dr. Johnson is also an active member of his local church congregation and has been involved in a wide range of ministry initiatives.

“Jesse brings a wealth of talent, experience, leadership ability, and Christian maturity to It Is Written,” said John Bradshaw, It Is Written’s Speaker/Director. “In the past he has helped It Is Written in enormous ways through his wisdom and his vision for ministry. To actually have him on our staff in such an important role is a new day—a hugely exciting day—for It Is Written. His presence on our team has already been a huge blessing.”

It will be a busy role for Dr. Johnson, as he will be adding the duties of his managerial position to his role as It Is Written’s current I.T. Director.

“I’m so excited about this. I’ve always believed in It Is Written and I can see the huge potential this ministry has. I’ve been a board member since Mark Finley was director and have watched It Is Written use the latest in technology for evangelism. I hope to build on that momentum to utilize technology to help spread the gospel to the world,” Jesse said.

Dr. Johnson is married to Nema, and they have four children, three daughters and one son, ranging in ages from 13 to 22 years-old. The Johnson family has already relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Jesse has already begun his work in the office as Manager.

“I see God creating the It Is Written of tomorrow,” Pastor Bradshaw said. “Having Jesse as part of our team is a truly exciting development, it will allow It Is Written to be a more dynamic ministry, and it equips us to take on the growth the organization is experiencing.”

We’re Not Going To Stop

Over a span of 24 hours It Is Written’s Revelation Today team experienced the highs and lows of evangelism in Edmonton, Canada. On Saturday night, a crowd of people came forward in response to Pastor John Bradshaw’s passionate appeal to follow Jesus. As the meeting concluded, the excitement among the pastors and Bible workers was tangible. However, less than twelve hours later that joy was replaced by indescribable grief.

The next morning, still basking in the thrill of what had happened the previous evening, the team was greeted by the shocking news that the 26-year-old son of one of the Edmonton pastors working with us on the Revelation Today series had been killed overnight in a car accident. What a somber moment it was as the whole Revelation Today team gathered at the pastor’s house to comfort the heartbroken parents. Just like that, everyone involved was poignantly reminded that the enemy of God is not going to go away without a fight.

Crises and problems are always expected when God’s people are loudly and boldly proclaiming the everlasting gospel as they’ve been doing in Edmonton. But this? One of the pastors succinctly described it: “The Devil has just made this personal, very personal, but we’re not going to stop.”

And so on Sunday night everyone gathered at the hall again and Pastor John powerfully preached on the topic of baptism. At the end of the presentation there was a moving baptismal service. It was like a ray of sunshine piercing through dark clouds to remind everyone that God is still God, and that victory is His now and forevermore, in spite of the Devil’s horrible attempts to make people believe otherwise.

Hearts are heavy in Edmonton but the people in the community are not deterred from doing what God has called them to do. Baptisms are scheduled every night of the series until our final presentation on Saturday, May 9. Please keep Pastor John and your fellow brothers and sisters in Edmonton in your daily prayers as they bravely forge ahead.
Edmonton Baptism April 26 (1)

Nepal: An Enemy Has Done This

Nepal_relief_location_mapOn April 25, New Zealanders and Australians observed ANZAC Day, the annual remembrance in honor of those who died in military service, and a time to show respect for all who have served their country.

This year’s ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Day was especially poignant as this year marks 100 years since the disastrous World War 1 battle at Gallipoli, Turkey where the ANZACs fought—and died—side by side. ANZAC Day isn’t celebrated. It’s observed. Thousands of people attend services at dawn on ANZAC Day where tears are often shed and relatives of the dead mingle with servicemen and women and dignitaries and everyday people who show up simply to remember.

But in reality, the entire day is a reminder of tragedy. War is a tragedy. Death is a tragedy. Conflicts are regrettable at best and disastrous by any other measure.

We live in a world of tragedy, and the disaster that recently befell the Himalayan nation of Nepal is a stark reminder of this inglorious fact. More than 5,000 people left dead, thousands more injured, massive damage done, the psychological trauma of living with the threat of aftershocks, and a people trying to figure out how life can ever return to “normal” after such a massive tragedy.

Of course there have been bigger tragedies, numerically. But to assess tragedy by such a measure is to forget that as well as affecting nations, tragedies affect people. Individuals. And whether there are two dead, more than 5,000 dead as in Nepal or 220,000 dead as occurred in the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, real people are forced to face tragedy on a daily basis.

Nepal_Earthquake_2015_01These are reminders to us that we live in a battle zone, and that Satan is the general of the enemy forces. Whether it’s ISIS brutalizing innocent people, a mentally unbalanced pilot downing a plane full of unsuspecting travelers, a ferry capsizing or a deadly earthquake in Nepal, the reason behind the constant stream of tragedy is always the same. In the words of Jesus, “an enemy has done this” (Matthew 13:28).

We live in a world that was never meant to experience death, or even sickness. We’re so used to existing in such a totally broken, dysfunctional world that anything else can be almost impossible to imagine. God’s original plan for the planet was that tragedy would never occur. But a rogue angel with malice in his heart beguiled our original grandmother into abandoning her faith in God, plunging the world into the misery we now endure.

And it’s everywhere. Heart disease, financial ruin, marital discord, racial prejudice, SIDS, substance abuse, pollution… What we accept as normal is anything but. Things aren’t meant to be this way. “An enemy has done this.”

But there is hope! Before he left the world Jesus made a promise He fully intends to keep. He said, “I will come again” (John 14:1-3). God has promised that there will one day be “no more death, neither sorrow nor crying” (Revelation 21:4) because “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven… and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).

Tragedy, on the scale that has ravaged Nepal, is a clear signal that we are living in enemy territory, and a sign that this Earth—as beautiful and tranquil as it can so often be—is not our home.

I’m writing from Edmonton, Alberta, where I’m currently conducting It Is Written’s Revelation Today seminar, an in-depth study into the Bible and in particular the prophecies of the Bible. On Sunday morning, one of my ministerial colleagues here received some tragic news.

On Saturday night, his 26-year-old son had been participating in a youth ministry event near the university he attends in the Caribbean. A first-year medical student, he was often involved in sharing his faith and using his musical gifts to bless others and point them to Jesus. But as he drove home that night after an evening of ministry, he was involved in an automobile accident that claimed his life. A 26-year-old with his future stretching before him was senselessly cut down in the prime of his life. He now awaits the resurrection, and his mother and his father—deeply committed believers in Jesus—are now faced with any parent’s worst nightmare: having to bury their child.

Nepal_Earthquake_2015_08Why? “An enemy has done this.” This world, in its present state, is not our home.

But the good news is that ultimately, the enemy does not win. In spite of appearances, he does not win. While we may occasionally be bruised, battered, and bloodied, he does not win! There’s a better day a-comin’. And it won’t be long now.

We may live in enemy territory, but we live with hope. The people of Nepal may also have hope. While this hope does not remove the pain of tragedy and loss, it offers hope in the midst of hopelessness.

Jesus is soon to return to this Earth. Irrespective of circumstances—as calamitous as they may be—God holds out the hope of the return of Jesus. In fact, it’s more than a hope. It’s a promise.

“Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

 

 

Photo Credits