Seeing the breakdown of our society — especially the violence of words and actions — is beyond distressing. I know people wonder why, but without a clear reason, many shrug their shoulders and give up reasoning.

Here is the reason: it’s that we have no fear/reverence of and for God. When people don’t fear or have reverence for God, they won’t have reverence for one another and they will hate and despise. They set themselves up as gods and play by their own rules.

They foolishly think themselves unaccountable to anyone. Sin in their hearts won’t leave, however, so it rages within — and then comes out. It’s true that no man is an island to himself; sin poisons everyone. Just because its effects are not immediately visible doesn’t mean they won’t eventually be seen.

And we can see those effects; they’re all around us and they’ve encroached us all. But where there is reverence for God, there is reverence for people. There is order and peace, because people understand God will hold us accountable for every word, every action against Him, His will, and His Word — both in this life and at His judgment.

Here is the diagnosis (which also offers the solution), from Jesus (Matthew 22:36-40):

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and [o]foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

I’ve read and quoted these words so, so many times over the past 42 years, but as I’m reading through Mark’s gospel, they strike me this morning as though I’m reading them for the first time.

They are stunning in their urgency. Man’s words mean little and can never give eternal life; Jesus’ words are assurances of eternal life. If you’re reading this and you’ve never surrendered your life to Jesus, do it. NOW. If you put it off, yet another opportunity may never come to you again:

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34-38).

An observation from my decades in the Church now…There is something called a “Theology of Glory” (to borrow the phrase from Martin Luther) — heard in preaching or in praise and worship songs — which focuses constantly and sometimes solely on “victory” or overcoming.

But this is only part of the picture of our faith, and it dangerously dismisses a large portion of the Psalms, which are lament Psalms — given to the people of God to express our burdens to God in the midst of the trials of life.

In fact, the vast majority of lament songs are absent in certain parts of the Church today, in favor of more “upbeat” songs. It’s the same with the preaching in those same parts of the body of Christ — an opting for “positive” or “uplifting” messages.

But again, this misses the majority of Scripture. For Jesus, the cross was the occasion of His own glory or glorification — despite its shame and humiliation (John 3:14; 12:32, 34). Indeed, it was through His suffering and humiliation on the cross that He would “draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32).

This is the Theology of the Cross (which Luther strongly emphasized) — something Paul reiterates in Phil. 1:29-30:

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

This is why it’s so important for Christians not to get caught up in hype, but to be Bereans (Acts 17:11) — the kind of followers of Jesus who recognize the importance of the full counsel of God.

Thank you” doesn’t seem enough to express my deepest gratitude to you for your partnership with me, financially and/or in prayer. I just have to trust the Holy Spirit to impart my joy to you and for you because of all you’ve enabled me to do on this latest ministry trip to Kenya!

Early this morning as I further contemplated my trip to minister in Siaya, Kenya, it occurred to me that this was a sacred trip. I’ve never associated those two words with any of my trips before. But even now, that sense of the time being sacred is still with me. What do I mean by this?

I can try and break it all down in three categories:

1. Salvations (especially among young people);

2. Ministry – from the youngest of orphans to a 70-year-old bishop, to the young man I’ve been mentoring – Wesley Bremer;

3. Substantial open doors for future return trips.

I won’t try and share everything in this letter because it would be too much, but here are some highlights:

  1. We had a total (a conservative count) of 114 responses to a salvation invitation given in three different Sunday worship services! That is most sacred of all!

2. The time of ministry was very sacred as well:

The heavens seemed quite open when I taught repeatedly about the nature of God the Father – commonly known as The Father Heart of God. If ever there was a “now message” for a culture, this is it. It seems that the majority of the Kenyan culture is a “fatherless” culture, and the Christian culture barely knows anything about God the Father.

I’m still moved and even stunned at the overwhelming response of the people to this message – especially as I taught through the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) – with particular focus on the father in the parable. A 70-year-old bishop was almost in tears when he said how he wished he had heard this teaching decades ago.

  • Ministry to a 14-year-old rejected orphan, named Sherry. Born out of wedlock in a very scandalous situation, Sherry has been rejected by all family members and seemingly everyone in society that knows about this situation – one she had nothing to do with.

I had literally just finished teaching on the Father heart of God from the Parable of the Prodigal Son when Pastor Paul (our host pastor) asked me to pray for Sherry (in the picture above). At first, it seemed odd to me that he brought her up before about 85 bishops, pastors, and worship leaders.

I worried that this 14-year-old would be overwhelmed and intimidated (Sherry was there with a bishop’s wife), but God had this one set up to bring an extremely powerful demonstration of Himself as our Father.

Immediately, I felt led to ask Wesley to join me and for us both to get on our knees in front of her, hold her hands, and by the Holy Spirit I began to look into her eyes and tell her she is accepted by the Father and the Son, by us, that we value her, that she is just as important to God as I am, that we care for her, that she has a destiny with God and that He is going to use all of what she’s had to endure for His glory.

I know for certain that no man or men have ever spoken to her in that way.

What I didn’t know and couldn’t see is that virtually everyone in the church building was in tears – including the men – who never cry in public. Furthermore, Pastor Paul said the presence of God was so strong that the women dropped to their knees.

But Wesley and I were so focused on Sherry that we were oblivious to all of that around us. And we literally saw Sherry’s countenance change dramatically before our eyes. It was like a cloud of shame was lifted from her and her eyes – which were “cloudy” – brightened and her face beamed with a marvelous smile – one of the best smiles I’ve ever seen.

I told the people afterward that we had just witnessed a living demonstration of the Father heart of God and to take this back to their congregations and treat people the way He treats and loves us. Apparently, due to lack of funds for this precious orphan, Sherry had not been to school in seven years. When this was made known, leaders rushed forward to give money toward her tuition!

The picture above is of me preaching at a large youth gathering at an Anglican church.

On another day, I had some very tender ministry to about 30 widows to encourage them in their very small businesses (think fruit and vegetable stands in a rural area). These women also feel rejected and unimportant, so I went to each one of them before I spoke and touched each of their hands.

I also spoke encouragement to them from the Father, along with what His Word says about them. And I gave them the same strategies from Proverbs that I used years ago for success in outside sales, to help them to set themselves and their businesses apart from their competitors.

I can tell you there was much rejoicing in that place!

  • I was able to spend much time with Wesley (see picture below, with us having lunch with two bishops) during week two, teaching him principles of Bible study. He devoured this, and immediately put these principles into practice in Mark’s gospel. But we discussed so many other things about the Lord and His Word – too many valuable things to go into here!

My great concern was stamina for this two-week, packed schedule for ministry — but through the prayers of many — stamina was hardly even an issue! In fact, I ministered for 11 consecutive days (though I won’t do that again) before I had a day off.

Pastor Paul and I were able to do two months of radio broadcasts live, thus eliminating his need to drive an hour round trip every week to the radio studio to translate for my weekly radio broadcasts. Our ministry together for these broadcasts went off without a hitch!

Open doors for future ministry:

  1. One Anglican bishop asked me to return and preach evangelistically to their school of 10,000 girls (yes, 10,000) and also to preach in his church.
  2. Another Anglican bishop asked me to come and preach in his church and to his school of 1,000 students.
  3. Two bishops said they want me to do a pastor’s conference of 500.
  4. One of the largest universities in Kenya is about a half-hour away, and Pastor Paul knows the most influential campus minister there; he’s going to speak to him about bringing me in to speak to the students.
  5. The pastors are already discussing putting on a major evangelistic crusade in Siaya and asking me to preach that crusade.

The two women in the picture above traveled by a motorbike/taxi about one hour each way to meet me and hear me teach. They knew about me from my weekly radio broadcasts!

This is Pastor Paul Ogombe, who has been asking me for years to preach at his church; I’m so glad I did; many were in tears hearing about the Father heart of God from the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and many gave their lives to Jesus!

The boy to my right was named Brad — after me. His mother had a precarious pregnancy in 2009, my first visit to minister in Siaya. In fact, I recall her situation was dire. I prayed for her healing, and she name the boy Brad. He’s now nine; what a joy to see and take a picture with him!

This is the radio station I’ve been on since September of 2022, each Saturday evening. It was great to meet the owners and employees of the station, to preach in the studio, and in this case, to be interviewed for a live program on The Role of the Church as Peacemakers. It was timely, since there were strong riots in at least two major cities only a week later.

This is Felix, one of the orphans at the orphanage we stay at (this is in the guest house we stay at). Felix is a boy that by God’s grace I’ve been able to have an important role and influence on, beginning when he was just four years old and had suffered horrible abuse. He’s now 12, and is a substantially different boy!

This is a picture of me doing a three-day pastor’s conference.

I love this picture; the young woman interpreting for me is Lucy, whom I taught for several years. She was a model student and it was a great joy and honor to have her interpret for me. The picture below is similar; I taught Michael for several years as well and to have him interpret for me was also very special.

The above picture is at the orphanage. Our church gave some gifts that I was able to distribute. Shortly after that, they celebrated my birthday with me — which is the third year that has happened with them!

For more Blogs on my Kenya Mission’s Trip, go to my ministry website blog page: https://www.bradabley.com/blog And https://www.bradabley.com

“A Heart After God, Bible Teaching Ministry: Reaching Africa & Beyond!”

In this, the 40th anniversary of President Reagan’s proclamation of 1983 as The Year of the Bible (signed by Congress), I continue to highlight Scripture.

Of the many prominent words throughout Scripture is the word translated “blessed.” It’s found in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament. In our culture, we tend to use the word “bless” or “blessed” perhaps without understanding or appreciating its full weight.

The Hebrew word in v.8 from the verse above is ashrey (cf. Ps. 1:1). It’s in the plural tense, which signifies intensity and which offers us insight into the goodness of God in what He has for people who seek Him. Ashrey comes from the root word “to walk straight.” It means to be “supremely happy”; to be “fulfilled”; to be “highly envied”!

Willem VanGemeren correctly and wisely cautions that biblical happiness “is not merely a feeling.” He adds,

“Even when the righteous do not feel happy, they are still considered ‘blessed’ from God’s perspective. He bestows this gift on them. Neither negative feelings nor adverse conditions can take his blessing away.”[1]

Peter Craigie is correct in noting that the “happy” condition of the righteous “is not something given automatically by God, but is a direct result of their activity.”[2]

Charles Spurgeon’s understood this concept of being “blessed” very well, indeed. Although Spurgeon suffered throughout his life with deep bouts of severe depression, yet he could still declare this from personal experience: “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”

I invite you to a deeper study of the greatest Book of Encouragement in existence — the book of Psalms — to live in it and to devour it. God’s truly blessed life — independent of circumstances — is there for you. For more nuggets of key Hebrew and Greek words, see my two devotionals on the subject: https://www.bradabley.com/books

[1]Willem A. VanGemeren, Psalms, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 5, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 53.

[2] Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 19, eds. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Waco: TX: Word Books, 1983, 60.