Tag: john bradshaw

God’s Marvelous Acts

God's Marvelous Acts title picture

Here are six short stories from our mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa.

Eavesdropping Custodian

Pastor Justin Lyons’ nightly presentations were heard by a person he was not even aware was present: the custodian of the church where the series of meetings were held. Outside in the shadows, the custodian sat, listened, and learned. His heart was so moved that on the night when Pastor Lyons invited people who wanted to be baptized to come forward, he stepped into the church and came forward. I guess some eavesdropping is actually very good.

Found Purse

One of our volunteers took a taxi to run some errands. Unbeknownst to her, her wallet fell out of her purse while riding the taxi back to the hotel. This is a story that had the potential to have a very costly and stressful ending. However, God preserved the wallet from being found by the wrong person. The next person to ride that very same taxi was none other than another member of our evangelism team. God is good.

John preaching to a crowd at night

Balcony Audience

Pastor John Bradshaw’s meetings were held outdoors in a park surrounded by apartment buildings. Hundreds of people from the community attended every night. The best thing, though, was seeing people with their windows open or standing on their balconies listening to Pastor Bradshaw preach. Can’t beat a location like that. 

 

Christ’s Method

A wonderful Christian writer wrote: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” Two of our volunteers did just that. First, they went to grocery store and bought bags full of groceries, and then began to deliver food to poorest of the poor in a squatter community. The response of the people was: “No one has ever done that for us,” followed by some joyful spontaneous singing and dancing.

Powerful Prayer

Our video projectors have American plugs. In order to use them in South Africa, we had to purchase an adapter. When Donna, one of our volunteer preachers, plugged in her video projector, the adapter started to spew sparks. She immediately pulled it out from the outlet and wiggled it to make sure that it was properly connected. Then she plugged it again but it did the same. Without the adapter, no sermon slides. Disaster. So, Donna invited everyone present to pray with her. According to a witness, it was one of the most powerful prayers he ever heard. As soon as she said “Amen,” she plugged the adapter in the outlet again and NO problem. The presentation went forward without any more glitches. However, once the presentation was done, the adapter quit working again. Don’t tell me God doesn’t take care of little things too.

Get Help! 

Our medical team has seen hundreds of patients. Though limited in what they are allowed to do, they are still doing an amazing job. Case and point is the young man who came to our makeshift clinic in a poor section of Pretoria. After listening to the young man, the doctor did a quick exam and discovered that his cervical, axillary, and inguinal lymph nodes were swollen, firm, and non-movable. A strong sign that this dear man had cancer. The doctor passionately recommended that he get help at the hospital immediately. Before letting him leave, the doctor prayed with the man, connecting him to the Great Physician.

Doctor prays with patient

Dr. Martin Kelly prays with a patient after an examination. Health clinics were held in addition to multiple preaching campaigns as part of It Is Written’s mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa.

Halloween: Be Unafraid. Be Very Unafraid.

Across the street from where I’m staying in Boston, a skeleton is trying to climb through an open second-story window.

Two other skeletons are climbing onto the porch. A fetching auburn-colored wig seems to suggest one of the skeletons is a female. She and her friend appear to be trying to gain access to the house by taking a more direct route through the front door.

The porch of the house is festooned with enormous spider webs. Ghosts decorate the scene. At night, giant glowing eyes stare out of two windows. 

You get the idea. It’s Halloween.

Further up the street, a giant skull adorns the gate to another residence. A small imitation graveyard contains gravestones saying “Rest in Pieces,” “I’ll be Back,” and “Come, Join Me.” A few blocks away, a family has what the sign calls a “Zombie Party” going on in their front yard. Several skeletons appear to be climbing out of the ground.

A couple of blocks over is the most incredible front-yard Halloween display I’ve ever witnessed. The front yard is a veritable forest of Halloween paraphernalia, and the house is decorated like I’ve never seen. Voices call from somewhere in the midst of mayhem, invitations to join the deceased and to “be very afraid.”

But it’s all fun, isn’t it? Kids of all ages enjoy dressing up in costumes, and some Halloween costumes are fun and creative. Trick or treating is a long-established and much-loved American tradition.

Happy Halloween, right? Wrong. The “harmless fun” Halloween represents for many people is predicated upon a lie, and exists to perpetuate a lie. Fun isn’t really the point of Halloween. Halloween is a celebration of spiritualism, the belief that the spirits of the dead survive bodily death and communicate with or even taunt the living. Scary!

But the fact is that Halloween is all bark and no bite. Halloween revels in the idea that the dead come back to life, that the dead haunt houses, and that immediately beyond death is life in another realm. The truth is, that’s not the truth. There’s not a single reason to be afraid at Halloween.

Why? Because the last person who can trouble you, frighten you, or haunt your house is a dead person. The Bible is plain about this.

Writing in the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon stated, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing.” Far from being interested in climbing through your upstairs window, the dead are oblivious to anything at all.

No, the dead aren’t in heaven praising God. The Bible is unequivocal on that point. “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence.” Paul taught that the dead sleep—see 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18—and he did so plainly. Those who teach that humans possess an immortal soul or a soul that survives bodily death, owe their belief system more to Plato than to the Bible.

The creation story teaches—again, plainly—that human beings were not given a soul but that Adam was created as “a living soul” (Genesis 2:7, KJV). Without a soul that survives bodily death, we are left to conclude that the dead—who don’t praise the Lord and who know “nothing”—are not prowling around neighborhoods, or graveyards, or attempting to climb through second-floor windows on Halloween. They’re asleep. Should a person be afraid of the dead, of ghosts, and ghouls? No. Not in the slightest.

Vampires? No, of course not. Zombies? No. Things that go bump in the night? That depends on what those “things” are. But you can be certain they’re not the spirits of the dead.

Jesus Himself let all the air out of the Halloween balloon when He spoke to His disciples about their friend Lazarus. Jesus said: “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” The disciples were confused by this, “Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead’” (John 11:11–14).

The Bible is consistent. The dead sleep until the resurrection day. Remember Jesus’ words: “I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). Jesus made clear the righteous will be “repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14). If someone were to survive bodily death and go immediately to heaven, they would be “repaid” long before “the resurrection of the just.”

Halloween is a toothless tiger, and exists to perpetuate one of Satan’s biggest lies—the lie that the dead aren’t really dead. It’s an untruth that is setting people up for massive deception before the return of Jesus.

As Halloween comes and goes for another year, keep in mind what the Bible teaches about death. The key to life beyond this life is Jesus, “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Without Jesus, nobody comes forth from the grave. With Jesus, “the dead in Christ shall rise” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Our hope for life after this life is faith in Him.

And that’s nothing to be afraid of!

For more information on this subject, click here to check out the FREE It Is Written resource, “The Mystery of Death.”