Wednesday, October 26, 2016

More Holy Spirit

by Dan Jones

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8 NIV)

I happened to catch a bit of Janet Parshall's program on Kinship Christian Radio recently as she was interviewing Linda Evans Shepherd.

Shepherd told of a pastor named Murray who changed the known world back in the 1800's by sending children out to be missionaries with one simple prayer: 

"More Holy Spirit."

Andrew Murray was the son of Andrew Murray, Sr., a Scottish pastor stationed in South Africa. He was born in South Africa, but educated back in Scotland. 

After seminary, he returned to a South Africa that had experienced 150 years of spiritual drought.

Colonists in the area where originally Dutch but had long given up their native language in favor of Afrikaans, a kind of slang Dutch that incorporated words from many other languages and which the church authorities found unworthy of being used in church services, prayers, or even personal devotions.

So, it wasn't surprising that spiritual drought occurred in an area where church leaders were telling people that God would not hear prayers spoken in their normal, everyday language. And who would go to church if they couldn't understand what was being said?

Eventually, the British became involved in the area, which lead to use of the English language and then (through a variety of circumstances) Scottish preachers being given the task of spreading the gospel in South Africa.

The elder Andrew Murray was among those Scottish preachers. He is known to have prayed every Friday evening for 36 years for Revival.

In August 1859, pastors were challenged to preach on the character of God, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the need for corporate and private prayer asking for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. All were asked to pray fervently for one hour each week for the blessing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. 

At first, the prayer meetings that took place drew no more than three or four participants.

But then, on April 18,1860, a conference was scheduled in the town of Worchester to discuss the subject of revival. Over 374 visitors attended, representing 20 different congregations. This included eight ministers from the Murray family.

The younger Andrew Murray's participation in this conference was limited to one prayer, but it is said that this one prayer "was so full of power and conviction that people came under a deep conviction of sin."

It is also said that the Revival of 1860 can be traced to that one prayer.

And Revival did indeed "come like a firestorm." It was written that:  “The whole of society has been changed, yes, turned literally upside down!” Church buildings needed to be enlarged to cater for the influx of new converts. Side wings were built onto existing churches."

People everywhere  experienced lengthy periods of wrestling through self examination, repentance and surrendering all to God. Witch doctors and murderers came to the Lord.

One of the pastors who experienced the Revival, Servaas Hofmeyr, wrote: “… when the Lord started to move among us how intense were the prayers for Revival and the cries for mercy! 'I am lost!' cries one here.  'Lord, help me!' cries another.  Anxious cries were uttered, heart rendering testimonies of conversion were heard.  Visions were seen … Corporate prayer, even behind bushes and rocks, on mountains and in ravines, men, women, greyheads, children, gentlemen, servants all kneeling on the same ground crying for mercy. And none of this was expected by anyone, nor prepared by anyone, nor worked up, or preached by anyone  it was all the Spirit of God, and not for a few hours or days, but months long."

The Revival spread across South Africa with new churches built, existing churches expanded, many new pastors volunteering to serve the Lord, and a fervent focus on missions throughout the land. 

And this great revival was not something that lasted for just a few months or even a few years.

By 1927, there were a recorded 304 serving missionaries and 72,079 baptized African Christians. Those missionaries had established 1,447 schools with 2,699 teachers and 96,309 pupils.

And, the language barrier was overcome as Afrikaans became the language of the pulpit and in 1925 Afrikaans was granted equal status with English as an official language of the country. 

In 1933 the first complete Bible translated into Afrikaans was published.

Andrew Murray himself published 240 books on the love of Jesus Christ, the grace of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit. He died at the age of 88 and many of those books are still in print to this day. 

Today's Praise

"O my blessed Lord Jesus! Teach me to understand this lesson: The indwelling Spirit streaming from You and uniting us to You is the Spirit of prayer. Teach me how, as an empty, wholly consecrated vessel, to yield myself to His being my life. Teach me to honor Him and to trust Him, as a living Person, to lead my life and my prayer. Teach me especially in prayer to wait in holy silence, giving Him time to breathe His unutterable intercession within me. And teach me that through Him it is possible to pray without ceasing and to pray without failing, because He makes me a partaker of the never-ceasing and never-failing intercession in which You appear before the Father."

From Chapter 25, "With Christ in the School of Prayer" by Andrew Murray.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The "D'oh!" Moment

by Dan Jones

I was just now watching the Andy Griffith Show and Opie had caught himself a fine, fine trout. Andy remarked it was so large it reminded him of when Jonah caught that whale.

Opie was a bit confused and said, "I thought the whale swallowed him."

"Well, that's what I mean," Andy replied, "when somebody catches a fish from the inside--now that's fishin'!"

Of course, Opie was right. Jonah didn't catch that great fish. It caught him.

And it caught him because Jonah refused to obey God.

He was supposed to go to Ninevah and preach against it, but Jonah was headed for Tarshish, because he thought he could run from God.

You'll remember that a great storm came up while Jonah was on the ship, and all the sailors on the ship were praying to their false gods to save them, but the storm grew worse.

Meanwhile, Jonah was sound asleep in the hold of the ship. The Bible says he was in a "deep sleep." Then, in Jonah 1:6, it says:

 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

The sailors cast lots to see which of them was responsible for this calamity, and the lot fell to Jonah.

 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. (verses 8-9)

This terrified them.

As well it should.

Jonah had told them he was running from God.

And in that moment, I wonder if Jonah didn't realize how stupid it sounded to be running from the very God who made the heavens and the earth, and have the most epic of "D'oh!" moments ever. 

In another, seemingly unrelated Bible story, King David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and he had her husband killed so that he could have Bathsheba for his own.

Nathan, a prophet and trusted adviser to King David, then tells David the story of a rich man who takes a poor man's only ewe lamb that is like a pet to him and kills it to feed a guest, even though the rich man has many lambs of his own.

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." (2 Samuel 12:5 NIV)

Nathan retorts, "You are the man!"

And it was David's turn for a "D'oh!" moment.

All of which makes me wonder when our nation will have it's "D'oh!" moment?

Are we asleep in the bottom of the boat as the waves crash around us? Does the storm grow worse with each passing moment?

When will the captain come to us, rouse us from our slumber, and plead with us to call upon our God that he might take notice of us?

Have we committed adultery and murdered to cover it up, so that it would not be inconvenient for us and so that we can have what we want? Do we murder so we can entertain guests without diminishing our own wealth?

God promises us that our "D'oh!" moment will come.

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. (Luke 8:17 NIV.)

And, while we congratulate ourselves that we have caught a great fish from the inside out because of our great learning and amazing skill, someday we will realize that it is the great fish that has caught us.

Today's Praise
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19 NIV)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


by Dan Jones

I am at an utter and complete loss on how I could possibly write any sort of blog for you that does not continue to immerse you in the smarmy, putrid, festering mess that is our current political cesspool.

And so, I have resolved that I shall write none of my own words about the situation but instead defer to a great number of quotes, all of which originate with Mr. G.K. Chesterton, vaunted English writer, poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic of about one hundred years ago:

“We have had no good comic operas of late, because the real world has been more comic than any possible opera.”

“Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance.”

“The real argument against aristocracy is that it always means the rule of the ignorant. For the most dangerous of all forms of ignorance is ignorance of work.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."

“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

“The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.”

“All government is an ugly necessity.”

“By experts in poverty I do not mean sociologists, but poor men.”

“A thing may be too sad to be believed or too wicked to be believed or too good to be believed; but it cannot be too absurd to be believed in this planet of frogs and elephants, of crocodiles and cuttle-fish.”

“Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.”

“I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.”

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

“Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.”

Today’s Praise
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


by Dan Jones

This past Saturday, I went out to the garden to pick squash.  By the time I was done, I had harvested 106 butternut squash-- from a single hill.

From about four plants, growing out of one square foot area that had basically overtaken most of the garden and more, I gathered up over 300 pounds of squash.

There were so many of them, I stopped using the wheelbarrow to haul them up the hill and went and got the tractor so I could put them in the bucket.

In among the squash, I also picked seven large beautiful pumpkins.

But I hadn’t planted any pumpkins.

All seven came from a single volunteer plant.

Earlier this year, I harvested 80 onions that averaged the size of a softball with the largest weighing in at 23 ounces.

At the same time I pulled the onions, I also harvested 214 shallots from a single row.

After that, I dug up about a hundred pounds of potatoes (from a single row) with the largest tipping the scales at 34 ounces.

Yes, boys and girls, that’s a single potato at over two pounds.

I also had an abundance of green peppers and the tomato plants have spread out to a double arm-span while giving up buckets and buckets of that glorious BLT-enabling fruit. (Choir of angels sings.)

I remember saying a prayer after planting in mid-May and asking the Lord to bless my humble garden with His glorious abundance.

Talk about prayers answered! HALLELUJAH!

Now, my garden is in an excellent location. A century ago, it was the shoreline of Jackson Lake, which was subsequently drained for farming. But this little chunk was never farmed as it was on the edge of woods. After I built my house here, several large elm trees died and (because I had just bought a tractor that could do it) I dug out the stumps.

When I dug out the stumps, about three or four feet down, I encountered the sand that had been the lakeshore long, long ago.

So, my garden is mostly very black, very fertile, very good soil with just enough sand mixed in so it drains reasonably well.

As a result, I haven’t had to fertilize my garden since I established it. And I didn’t use any herbicides or pesticides in it at all.

We’ve had an excellent growing season with above average growing degree days and above average rainfall in my area. Granted, there were some areas that got too much water and some crop (and property) damage from recent flooding, but the overall “big picture” has the USDA forecasting a record crop year.

So, yes, God gets the glory for creating the beautiful soil in my garden and this year’s excellent growing conditions.

But, God gave me the ability to do my part, too.

Years of gardening have taught me that my little piece of ground is going to yield abundantly because God will always do His part. It’s my choice as to whether that abundance will be glorious and wonderful fruit or scads and scads of noxious weeds.

And it’s that time right after the garden is put in, early in the growing season, when neglect and a desire to do something else will allow the weeds to set down deep roots and choke out the good and desirable crop.

Matthew 13 tells the parable of the sower, who spread seed on various types of ground. It’s one of the few parables Jesus explained afterward.

We all remember that some of the seed fell on the path, some fell on rocky ground, some fell among the thorns, and some fell on good ground.

But the sun shines and the rain falls on all four types of ground.

Jesus calls himself the Light of the World and the Living Water. His love shines on and waters us all each and every day in glorious abundance with his intention that we produce a glorious abundance of good fruit, to the praise of His glory.

He explains that the thorns that choke out the plants that should bear fruit are the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth.

And aren’t both of those things a lack of trust in God for what we need? Aren’t worry and striving after wealth, at their very root, a lack of faith that God will give us our daily bread and more?

When Jesus talks about faith, he again goes back to a garden analogy, saying that faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot trees and throw them into the sea (Luke 17:6) or pick up and move whole mountains. (Matthew 17:20)

So our job every day is to pull out the weeds of worry and doubt and greed that choke out our ability to produce the fruit God designed for us to yield up in abundance. We do our best when we recognize the weeds for what they are, uproot them and nurture and tend to growing the good plants of love and truth and mercy and joy and praise and faith in the One True God, for He is the God of Abundance.

Yes, the thorns are relentless. They never give us a day off, but faith can uproot them and cast them into the sea.

So, again I say, HALLELUJAH!


By the way, if anyone would like a free squash or three, I can help you out with that.

Today’s Praise

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
Psalm 36: 5-9 NIV

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Purple Fish

by Dan Jones

I recently ran low on reading material and came across a copy of the book Purple Fish by Pastor Mark O. Wilson.

It’s about Jesus and fishing, which means it could have just as easily been titled “Hey, Dan Jones, You Should Read This Book.”

More specifically, the book is about how to share Jesus, which is something I have long thought I don’t do very well at all in person.

Yes, I can write about Jesus, but there is something about doing it face-to-face that’s much more difficult.

Early in the book, Wilson describes a failed evangelism attempt that wonderfully illustrates how we’ve been doing it wrong.

As a youth, he was on a bicycle mission trip in Ohio when he came across a man whose car was stalled by the side of the road.

The hood was up and the man was bent over the engine. Wilson pedaled up and said, “Hey mister, I have something important to ask you.”

“The irritated man turned toward me, holding a wrench in his greasy hand.”


“If you died today, would you go to heaven or hell?”

Wilson recounts the man told him exactly where to go-- and it wasn’t heaven.

There are many chapters that recount stories like this, and each one brings us a little closer to honestly shining the light of Jesus.

When I got to Chapter 22, I found a section called “Start With Hurting” that really made an excellent point:

“God’s purple fish--those he treasures most--are lost, broken, and hurting people. That includes everybody you meet. When we engage in spiritual conversation with the lost, broken, hurting people, it’s best to start with hurting.

If you start with lost, then your job is to set them straight. That means you know something and they don’t. In other words, you assume you’re smart and they’re stupid.

If you start with broken, then your job is to fix them. The unspoken message is that broken things are problems, less valuable, and may be beyond repair.

But when you start with hurting, your job is to bring healing.

People resent those who try to fix them or make them feel stupid but respect those who bring a healing presence. That’s what Jesus did. He started with healing, and then moved from there to straighten and repair. The healing came first.”

That’s wonderful advice.

We are called to start with love. We are told that if we don’t have love, we are nothing but clanging gongs or noisy cymbals. So when we address the hurting first, we put love first.

The book goes on from there, giving examples and ideas on how to help people who are hurting deeply.

The book reads easily and quickly, but is also worthy of careful study. I think it would lend itself well to group study in your church.

I give it five spinnerbaits.

Today’s Praise

"But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Matthew 17:27 NIV