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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Easter 2016

Readings for Easter
Acts 10:34-43

See last year's Easter post here:
There are links to a lot of posts within that link.

Readings for Saturday, March 26 2016 can be found here

Recommended readings for Good Friday
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 31
Hebrews 4:14-5:9
John 18,19

Recommended readings for Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14
Psalm 116
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-15

Recommended readings for today (Wednesday of Holy Week)
Isaiah 61:1-9 
Psalm 69
Revelation 1:1-8
Luke 4:16-21

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday 2016

Readings for Palm Sunday:
Luke 19:28-40 
Isaiah 50:4-7 
Psalm 22
Philippians 2:6-11 
Luke 22:14-23:56

Praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ now and forever :)
This blog is turning 7 years old today, the very first post being about Palm Sunday itself.
Click here to see the post from 2009.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Ben Hooper

Today's Readings (5th Sunday of Lent, 2016)

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:8-14
John 8:1-11

For more content like what follows below, buy the book "Craddock Stories" by clicking here

A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests.

The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.

“Where are you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice.

“Oklahoma,” they answered.

“Great to have you here in Tennessee” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?”

“I teach at a seminary,” he replied.

“Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple.

The professor groaned and thought to himself, “Great… Just what I need another preacher story!”

The man started, “See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question,

‘Hey boy, who’s your daddy?’

“Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad.

“When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ‘Who’s your daddy?’.

But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him,

‘Son, who’s your daddy?’

“The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, “Who’s your daddy’.

This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy… “Wait a minute!” he said,

“I know who you are, I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.”

With that he patted the boy on his shoulder, and said, “Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance, go and claim it.” With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person.He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ he’d just tell them, “I’m a Child of God”

The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, “Isn’t that a great story?”. The professor responded that it really was a great story!

As the man turned to leave, he said, “You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!”

 And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, “Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting at our table?”

The waitress grinned and said, “Of course, everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper. He’s the former governor of Tennessee!”

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Heroic Witness And Martyrdom Of Ivan "Vanya" Moiseyev

Today's readings (4th Sunday of Lent, 2016)
Joshua 5:9-12 
Psalm 34
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Luke 15

- Adapted from this page. You can purchase the book here

Ivan Moiseyev (1952-1972), known to friends and family as Vanya, was a brave soldier in the Soviet Army, but he was braver still in his witness to Jesus Christ. He was tortured for his faith and died as a Christian martyr in 1972 at the age of 20. What fuelled his faith and courage in witnessing for Christ?

His parents had raised him and his six brothers and one sister in a Christian home. They were from Moldavia, which was part of the Soviet Union at that time, and they belonged to an underground Christian church, because religion was outlawed by the Communist government.

When Vanya completed school in 1968 at the age of 16, he decided to personally commit his life to Jesus Christ and to read the Bible daily. He joined the Evangelical Christian Baptist (ECB) Church in Slabodeyska and was baptized in 1970. After his baptism he had an intense desire to tell others about the good news of Jesus Christ and the gift of new life and forgiveness of sins which he won on the cross. He preached the Gospel with great enthusiasm and joy, both in his local church and to many young people of the town where he worked as a delivery driver.

In November 1970 he was drafted into the Soviet Army to perform two years of required military training and service. When Vanya began to speak openly of God in the army, his military supervisors began a systematic campaign of intimidation and torture to silence him.

In one of his letters to his parents Vanya wrote:

Even though I am a soldier, I work for the Lord, though there are difficulties and testing’s. Jesus Christ gave the order to proclaim his word in this city, in any meeting, in a military unit, to officers and soldiers. I have been in a division headquarters and in a special section. Though it was not easy, the Lord worked so that it turned out well there. I had an opportunity to proclaim his word to the most senior personnel. But I was reviled and thrown out of the meeting.

On one occasion the sergeant in his barracks challenged him to prove that God exists. The test was that God would miraculously arrange a military home leave for a certain sergeant. Leaves were hard to get. After asking God if he should accept the challenge, Vanya agreed. All night, he sat up with the sergeant explaining the things that he would need to know when he became a Christian. The next day, an authority from another town called and ordered the leave.

The sergeant became a Christian and so did other men.

Shortly after this incident, Vanya wrote again to his parents about his determination to speak about Christ to his commanders and fellow soldiers alike. They [his officers] have forbidden me to preach Jesus, and I am going through tortures and testing’s, but I told them that I will not stop bearing the news of Jesus. And the Lord shamed them before the entire unit, when they were torturing me.

 A soldier stood up who had miraculously gone on leave and had told everyone, and he asked, “Whose power was this?” The authorities did not wish to let me go, but they were put to shame.

On his last leave home, Vanya made a recording of the ordeals and cruelties used against him in the army. At times he was starved when his officers forbade him to eat for many days. He was awakened and interrogated night after night, and often struck.

Once, after a discussion about God, Vanya was made to stand in the street throughout the whole night wearing his summer uniform. The temperature at that time was thirteen degrees below zero (-25 Celsius). He obeyed the order and stood in the street the whole night, remaining faithful to God. Miraculously, his eyesight was still functioning and he could see his officers and he could move his body despite the terrible cold. All throughout the ordeal, Vanya prayed for his persecutors.

For the next twelve nights, Ivan continued to stand in the street outside his barracks. Miraculously, he did not freeze, nor did he beg for mercy. Ivan continued to speak about his faith to his comrades and officers. Other miracles also confirmed his testimony.

Once he was run over by a truck. He was told his life could only be saved by the amputation of an arm and part of a collapsed lung. Delirious with fever he earnestly prayed aloud. The next morning, he was completely healed.

Soldiers around him were converted, impressed by his ardent faith.

His commanders continued to interrogate him, trying to get him to deny Jesus. They put him in refrigerated cells. They clothed him in a special rubber suit, into which they pumped air until his chest was so compressed he scarcely could breath. In his interrogation, Vanya testified, “I have one higher allegiance, and that is to Jesus Christ. He has given me certain orders, and these I cannot disobey.”

At the age of 20, Ivan knew that the communists would kill him. On July 11, 1972, he wrote his parents, “You will not see me anymore.” He then described a vision of angels and heaven which God had sent to strengthen him for the last trial.

A few days later, a coffin arrived at his parents' home, welded shut. Vanya's mother insisted it be opened. One of his brothers, who belonged to the Communist party, resisted, but the rest of the family prevailed. Vanya was barely recognizable. Witnesses, Christian and non-Christian alike, signed a statement which declared that his chest had been burned. His face and body were covered with lumps, bruises, and heel marks. His heart was punctured in six places.

In his last letter, dated July 15, 1972, Vanya wrote:

I desire that all of you, dear friends, young and old, remember this one verse. Revelation 2:10
Receive this, the last letter on this earth, from the least of the brethren.

Letter from Ivan Moiseyev (Vanya) to his parents

written June 15, 1972

"My dear parents, the Lord has showed the way to me...and I have decided to follow it.... I will now have more severe and bigger battles than I have had till now. But I do not fear them. He goes before me. Do not grieve for me, my dear parents. IT IS BECAUSE I LOVE JESUS MORE THAN MYSELF. I listen to Him, though my body does fear somewhat or does not wish to go through everything.

 I do this because I DO NOT VALUE MY OWN WILL as much as I value HIM. And I will not await my own will, but I will follow as the Lord leads. He says Go, and I go."

"Do not become grieved if this is your son’s last letter. Because I myself, when I see and hear visions, hear how angels speak and see, I am even amazed and cannot believe, that Vanya, your son, talks with angels. He, Vanya, has also had sins and failings, but through sufferings the Lord has wiped them away. And he does not leave as he wishes himself, but AS THE LORD WISHES."

On July 11, 1972 at the age of 20 he knew the communist would kill him

He wrote to his parent "You will not see me anymore."

A few days later, his body was returned to his family.

Monday, February 29, 2016

True Praying - Leonard Ravenhill

Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent (2016)
Exodus 3:1-15
1 Corinthians 10:1-12
Psalm 103
Luke 13:1-9

True Praying - Leonard Ravenhill

If one man could influence the Christian world as this man has done, what would an army like him do? There is no field more unexplored in Christian experience and possibility than this limitless field of prayer.

Prayer means care for souls. Prayer means pain. Prayer means privacy, for often the battle is waged alone. Prayer means power. Prayer, Luther said, means “sweat on the soul.” Prayer means filling in the sufferings of Christ.

We cannot shoot fire-belching jet planes with sling shots nor repulse tanks with bottles; less still can we push back the powers of darkness with mere words.

Jude talks of praying “in the Holy Ghost.” This praying alone can bring to pass the purpose of a Holy God and put to flight the army of alien powers.

This praying is no toy soldier’s game. This is realism. This is a fight to the death — no parley with the enemy — no truce — no terms — a fight to the death!

Excerpt from “Meat for Men”

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Annie Johnson Flint (1866 – 1932)

Readings for today (adapted from here):
Genesis 15:1-23
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 9:27-36

Check this link out as well:


What is the secret behind the popularity of the poems of Annie Johnson Flint?

The answer lay in the fact that here is one who wrote from her heart; one who endured, heroically and triumphantly, throughout a long life of suffering and pain. She demonstrated to the world how God could be glorified in the midst of physical trials and tribulations few of us are called upon to bear. It is of the simple things of life that Annie writes. And yet, it is the simple things that are often the most profound.

These she expresses by words that enchant the ear, delight the heart, and minister comfort to the soul. Buffeted by the perplexities and the sorrows of life few others are called upon to bear, Miss Flint wrote out of the depths of her own experience. She lived the realities she proclaimed through verse.

Born in Vineland, N.J., her father was from Vermont, and her mother, Scotland. But her parents died before she reached the age of six, so she and a younger sister were adopted by a childless couple who lived until Miss Flint was twenty-three. She was about fourteen when the family moved to a town near Camden.

Here, as a young girl, she enjoyed two years in the public schools, followed by one year in the school at Trenton, and three years of teaching. But it was at this time that arthritis first laid its cruel touch upon her, strengthening its grip so rapidly that in less than five years she was unable to walk.

Hearing cures were possible at the Sanitarium at Clifton Springs, New York, she went there, but the disease proved to be far too advanced for help. However, because of the large numbers of ministers, missionaries, and teachers that visited the resort, she found the spiritual atmosphere of the place extremely satisfying and stimulating. So she decided to make Clifton Springs her home, and remained living there till the time of her death.

At only nine years of age it was discovered that she could put words together in rhythm and rhyme. Her first poem was descriptive of frost pictures on the windowpane. Realizing that she possessed the power of painting the beauty of nature in words gave her such a thrill of awe and delight. From that time forward, everything around her went into rhyme - lessons, school incidents; all sorts of happenings, both real and imaginary. From the beginning. “verse-making was so easy and so pleasant to do that it had never seemed a work or a duty. It appeared so small a thing that I held it of no importance. I was like the Syrian General who would not have shrunk from doing some great or difficult task, but despised the seven dippings in the Jordan.”

Before she was twelve years old she was setting poems to music. Her talent seemed to be musical, and she had hopes of becoming a composer and concert pianist. But this dream was abandoned when she became unable to play. According to His mercy, she was shut in to just one mode of expression: that of poetry. Not willing to accept this to be a restriction, as the years passed, it became more and more, an absorbing occupation, as well as a solace and a delight.

Many a year had gone by before she ceased to regard her poems merely as a compensation for the loss of her music, and came to see them as the work and the ministry to which God was calling her. There is an old legend that the nightingale sings best with its breast against the thorn; and it was so with Miss Flint. The crucible of her suffering became the vehicle through which her verse was brought into full bloom.

A great number of Miss Flint's poems were written about God's great outdoors, from which she was shut off almost entirely all her life. But her radiant faith lent wings to her imagination. She sang many a song of praise, not only for the things bright and beautiful, but for all that had come from the hand of the Lord she loved. The seven volumes of her poems issued by Evangelical Publishers are bubbling over with the joy of life; with praise and thanksgiving for all created things, and the love of God that was made manifest to this world through His Son.

Something of Miss Flint's trials and suffering are told in Dr. Bingham's story of her life, “The Making of the Beautiful.” And though it was for more than forty years that she quite literally “endured as seeing Him who is invisible,” there is not a trace of self-pity or despondency, no moaning over the fate that was hers to bear, no railing against the Will of God, nor any questioning of Him Whom she was convinced does all things well.

It may be that Miss Flint's poems will never qualify for a place in the niche of fame or be found among the ranks of the immortals. But, then, she did not strive for that. Instead, she wrote for the common people of the world; men and women who face life with its burdens and its difficulties. Those who search through the rain and dark shadows, to perceive that promised rainbow, just beyond the clouds: The one encircling the throne.

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.
Refrain: But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

He Giveth more Grace

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday 2016

Ecclesiastes 3:20New International Version (NIV)

20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

Please read these bible verses too:

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross. Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday, it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday.” The Bible never mentions Ash Wednesday—for that matter, it never mentions Lent.

Lent is intended to be a time of self-denial, moderation, fasting, and the forsaking of sinful activities and habits. Ash Wednesday commences this period of spiritual discipline. Ash Wednesday and Lent are observed by most Catholics and some Protestant denominations. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not observe Ash Wednesday; instead, they start Lent on “Clean Monday.”

While the Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday, it does record accounts of people in the Old Testament using dust and ashes as symbols of repentance and/or mourning (2 Samuel 13:19Esther 4:1Job 2:8Daniel 9:3). The modern tradition of rubbing a cross on a person’s forehead supposedly identifies that person with Jesus Christ. 

Should a Christian observe Ash Wednesday? Since the Bible nowhere explicitly commands or condemns such a practice, Christians are at liberty to prayerfully decide whether or not to observe Ash Wednesday.

If a Christian decides to observe Ash Wednesday and/or Lent, it is important to have a biblical perspective. Jesus warned us against making a show of our fasting: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16-18). We must not allow spiritual discipline to become spiritual pride.

It is a good thing to repent of sinful activities, but that’s something Christians should do every day, not just during Lent. It’s a good thing to clearly identify oneself as a Christian, but, again, this should be an everyday identification. And it is good to remember that no ritual can make one’s heart right with God.

Also see the following links: