Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Simplicity of Witnessing

Based on Luke 8:27-34; Mark 5:15-20; John 4


          "And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. 

          "(For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) 

          "And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. 

          "Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country."
(Luke 8:27-34 KJV)

          "And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 

          "And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. 

          "And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."
(Mark 5:15-20 KJV)

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          In this story of the demoniac, we see the basis of true witnessing: it is the sharing of one's personal testimony or experience. Just as in the legislative system, witnesses tell the story from their point of view, in their own words -- as they saw it, heard it, felt it. It's their experience altogether.

         The the best thing about such a testimony is that no one can argue about it. No audience can say that the witness has falsified their message to their own advantage, because they were not there and did not experience it; only the witness himself can say, "I lied." And, on the other hand, the speaker can not say that all must have his experience in order to have any real experience at all; each person endures different circumstances and has different stories.

          A true witness cannot be countered. No one can tell me that I am wrong about my experience. But if my my witness is true and penetrating, then others might be led to search for themselves.You can only experience something for yourself. "O taste and see that the Lord is good..." (Psalm 34:8).

          We see this very thing illustrated in John 4, with the woman of Samaria. After her encounter with Jesus, she ran back to the city with this testimony: "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"

          "Come see what I saw! You evaluate it for yourself." She had met someone who read her life story like an open book; and by that she came to a conclusion. Now she says, "Come meet this guy, and find out what experience you have!" 

          As it turned out, the people did have an experience with Jesus; so much so that they said to the woman who had led them there, "Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." We have heard Him for ourselves. We now have our own experience with Him. 

Now that's a true witness!

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          As witnesses for Christ, our personal testimonies build on each other. One person's testimony confirms another person's testimony. We form this collection or scrapbook of experiences in advocate of Christ and Him crucified. 

          "And they overcame him [the "accuser of our brethren"] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Power of Music - Part 1

          "The history of the songs of the Bible is full of suggestion as to the uses and benefits of music and song. Music is often perverted to serve purposes of evil, and it thus becomes one of the most alluring agencies of temptation. But, rightly employed, it is a precious gift of God, designed to uplift the thoughts to high and noble themes, to inspire and elevate the soul.

          "As the children of Israel, journeying through the wilderness, cheered their way by the music of sacred song, so God bids His children today gladden their pilgrim life. There are few means more effective for fixing His words in the memory than repeating them in song. And such song has wonderful power. It has power to subdue rude and uncultivated natures; power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action, and to banish the gloom and foreboding that destroy courage and weaken effort.

          "It is one of the most effective means of impressing the heart with spiritual truth. How often to the soul hard-pressed and ready to despair, memory recalls some word of God’s—the long-forgotten burden of a childhood song,—and temptations lose their power, life takes on new meaning and new purpose, and courage and gladness are imparted to other souls!

          "The value of song as a means of education should never be lost sight of. Let there be singing in the home, of songs that are sweet and pure, and there will be fewer words of censure and more of cheerfulness and hope and joy. Let there be singing in the school, and the pupils will be drawn closer to God, to their teachers, and to one another.

          "As a part of religious service, singing is as much an act of worship as is prayer. Indeed, many a song is prayer. If the child is taught to realize this, he will think more of the meaning of the words he sings and will be more susceptible to their power.

          "As our Redeemer leads us to the threshold of the Infinite, flushed with the glory of God, we may catch the themes of praise and thanksgiving from the heavenly choir round about the throne; and as the echo of the angels’ song is awakened in our earthly homes, hearts will be drawn closer to the heavenly singers. Heaven’s communion begins on earth. We learn here the keynote of its praise."

(Taken from Education, pp. 167 - 168)