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Archive for March, 2015

Hello friends,

My wife and I had the great privilege of leading our third trip to Israel a few months ago, in November, 2014.  I am still amazed at how thoroughly the Lord blessed our trip — from the smallest to the greatest of details.  MUCH prayer went into the trip; spiritually and in every way, it is difficult to imagine how it could have been any better than it was.

I just wrote an email to the 38 people that joined us on the trip and want to share that email with you now.  I’m thinking and praying of leading another trip to Israel, which would not be until sometime in 2016.  Perhaps you might be interested in joining me.  If so, please let me know.

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Here is the email:

Shalom, shalom dear friends!

As you know, we’re in the beginning of “Holy Week” on the Church calendar; what a great time to think back on our travels in the “Footsteps of Jesus”!

I just finished studying John 11, as I have intentionally done many times since coming back from Israel (to build my faith in God’s ability to come through when there is no visible sign of Him planning to do so).

The authenticity of where we all were in Bethany at the site where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead still amazes me.

I note in John 11:38 that John is intent on telling the reader that Lazarus was buried in “a cave.”  You may recall that tombs were usually caves, carved in the limestone rock on a hillside?  Sure enough, that site was in/on a hillside (remember walking up the hill to the site?).

Southern Steps of the Temple Mount and Baptisms on Pentecost

Moreover, who can forget the limestone that kept giving way as we gingerly crawled up those extremely narrow “stairs” (and I was petrified that someone might fall, but didn’t want to say that)?  Remember how tiny the area was for all of us to be in there at once?

I’ll also never forget that only one time on our trip did I give a salvation invitation, and it was right there, where John tells us that so many “believed in Him” (John 11:45).  How surprised I was that several hands went up!  More prayer answered!

Jesus performed this miracle of resurrection just six days (John 11:55; 12:1) before His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday (John 12:12), and the miracle surely meant to prefigure His own death and resurrection (cf. John 11:49-53).

What a joy, what a privilege for us to be in Bethany – such an “ordinary” and even “insignificant” town that Jesus made significant by His presence!

Likewise, you, beloved, are no longer “ordinary” or “insignificant,” because Jesus has visited you and lives His life through you; He has raised you into “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).  May His glorious, resurrection power fill you, renew you and encourage you this day and this week!

Sea of Galilee Jesus Boat

Father, thank You once again for leading us to Your Holy Land and blessing us so greatly on our trip just a few months ago – and for letting us “see” the “fifth gospel” — so that Your Word can come alive more than ever for us. 

Thank You that we have stood in the place where prophecy was fulfilled.  Truly, we say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD” (Ps. 118:26; John 12:13)!

Thank you fellow saints in Christ Jesus for joining Maureen and me for such a phenomenal trip!

Sincerely,

Brad

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St. Patrick’s Day Celebrated Today — But Who Was St. Patrick?

Pastor Brad Abley's Blog

Modified and updated by Rev. Brad Matthew Abley, 2011

Known as St. Patrick, this English boy was captured by Irish slaveholders at the age of 16 in the middle of the night on his own native soil.  Having worked as a swine-herder on a farm in Northern Ireland, Patrick prayed earnestly to God for deliverance.

He eventually escaped, traveling on foot 200 miles to the coast, where he persuaded the captain of a ship carrying dogs to allow him to travel, under condition that he work as a dog tender.

He ended up in France and lived there for several years in a monastery, where the Lord spoke to him in a dream to return to Ireland and convert the Irish – then bands of warring tribes. In 432 AD, he returned to Ireland, where he converted approximately 120,000 Irish to Christ and established 300 churches and a monastery.

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God has been drawing you! You have been coming to see the emptiness of this life, of all of man’s shortcomings (even yours) and even that this life ultimately has no hope.

But God has been drawing you! He has been putting it into your heart to seek Him. He has been drawing you to come to know Him – the Only Source of eternal life.

He alone can forgive you of your sins; and instead of judging you and holding you guilty for every single sin you’ve ever thought of or committed, He has already judged Jesus Christ – God the Son from all eternity – by punishing Him on the cross 2,000 years ago – in your place.

Through Christ, God the Father now reveals His love to you; through Christ, God the Father is now telling you that you can come freely to Him. Through Christ, your sins, your guilt, your shame can be wiped away – forever.

Through Christ, God the Father wants you to live with Him as His son or daughter; He wants to give you an eternal inheritance. You will live forever when this life is done – in a resurrected body – eternally free from sin and eternally living with His purpose for your life.

Perhaps you’ve read or heard of this verse from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only unique Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Now, God has even given you this moment the ability to place your faith in Him and receive Jesus as your Lord and your Savior – to surrender your life once-and-for-all to Him. By doing this, you will see that He alone can actually make your life count!

By giving your life to Him, you are saying to Him that your life is now “Under New Management.” He takes over your business (your life), but He has you run the business now — His way. You will see that He always knows best!

So how do you come to really know God? How do you receive Jesus Christ – the Savior of the world – as your own, personal Lord and Savior? You simply ask; you talk to the One who made you, who alone can redeem and renew you and reconcile you to Himself.

If you’re ready, it’s very simple; God is not complicated and He is easy to reach, if you’re sincere. Are you ready? I’ll lead you now in this simple prayer:

Heavenly Father, I see now that You have been drawing me to Yourself. I want to know You; I want to know that I have eternal life.

Lord Jesus, I see that You have claim over my life. You took my sins upon Yourself when You were crucified on the cross for me. I surrender my life to You; take it; it is Yours for eternity.

I will live now for You and no longer for myself. I receive Your life into mine now, Lord Jesus. I receive Your forgiveness; I am Yours now, forevermore! Live Your life through me, Lord Jesus and I will live for You and I will follow You all the days of my life.

Thank You Jesus, that You have heard my prayer; thank You Jesus that You have come into my life. Heavenly Father, I am now Your son/daughter. I delight now to come to know You, in Jesus’ name, amen!

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IMG_4624More on My Teaching

For my first three sessions with the pastors and leaders I focused deeply on the topic of prayer — particularly what I call the Lord’s Pattern of Prayer from Mt. 6:5-15.

I was a bit nervous going into these sessions; here I was planning on teaching leaders about prayer and I wondered how my teachings would be received; did they even need teaching on prayer?

But in my own prayer times, I consistently sensed that the Holy Spirit was leading me in this direction.

Imagine my relief and joy when the leaders told me how much they needed these teachings and that many of them were struggling in prayer!

I rejoiced greatly as I went through the various passages that I taught on, the Holy Spirit continually led me to emphasize and reveal the Father heart of God for His people.

They were just amazed and astounded at how much Scripture indeed shows about the Father heart of God and they really could not get enough of these insights.  I could see before my eyes how much God’s word was changing them.

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Furthermore, I also deeply emphasized to them their security with the Father because of their sonship in and through Christ. Once again this made a huge impact in their lives.

I taught them how to pray for their people consistently through Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, in Col. 1:9-12.  They told me that this was indeed a great help to them.

I also taught extensively on Jesus’ parable on prayer from Luke 11:5-13 and how to carefully interpret this parable and to see that in most of His parables, Jesus teaches by way of contrast or comparison.

In fact, we saw that Jesus intended to show through this parable the Father heart of God and His goodness in desiring to answer the prayers of His children.

Laptops, Tablets and ESV Study Bibles

As you might imagine, the laptops and tablets for the six leaders of CMF were a major hit!!!  And, an even greater hit was the Bibles!  Thank You, Lord!!!  The men and women were SO THANKFUL and so PROUD of their Bibles!

I admit that I was very nervous bringing the laptops and tablets into Kenya, concerned that customs officials might try and charge us exorbitant “fees” for them.  But, it turns out that we legally could bring in two each, without being charged.

Moreover, we never even had to go through customs!  Regarding the ESV Bibles, however, we fell five short: 2-3 were damaged (missing several chapters of Numbers and Psalms), one was lost or stolen and another was taken by the man whose compound we stay at (may he be blessed).

So, we’re going to order five more and get them shipped to the remaining pastors, ASAP.  We explained what happened and can only hope they truly understand.

Some very dear friends of ours gave me $500.00 just before my trip, to be used specifically for the pastors.

I had no prior idea we were going to be short five Bibles, so this amount will take care of the purchase of the Bibles (though we hope the publisher will donate them) as well as the shipping costs!

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Upcoming Video Teaching for the Leaders

 One of the six leaders of CMF showed all the pastors some video teaching I had done (courtesy of Ajit Ninan), here at my house, before coming to Kenya, to show them that they can expect teaching year-round, and they were extremely enthusiastic!

Another leader asked me eagerly if I would do teaching on leadership; I asked him if I could do 2 Timothy, because that little epistle just drips with leadership principles and examples, and I could also continue to teach principles of Bible Study that way.  He loved the idea!

So, I plan to begin this video teaching right away.  When completed, I just mail the “SD Card” to them, they plug it into their laptop, show the video on their new projector (which Danny gave them – or rather, his “old” projector, which is actually fairly new and very good!).

When they all heard Danny say and show them that he was giving them his projector, they let out a cheer!

Teaching and Training on Conflict Resolution

Danny and I had an “unplanned” opportunity to lead and teach the six leaders about conflict resolution on our second day, when one of the pastors, who was recently suspended by the leadership, showed up at our meeting!

This man is actually very divisive, proud and domineering and posed some real challenges to Danny and me on our previous two trips.  His doctrines are quite strange and he really wants to be the center of attention.

We extended much grace to him on our previous two trips, hoping that we could see a real change in him.

But shortly before our return trip last week, this man had “stolen” a worship leader from another pastor/church, under the pretense of just needing this young man for some help “for a short time.”

However, within two weeks, this man (I’ll call him “Pastor X”), had made the young worship leader a pastor in his church!  When confronted over this by the leaders of CMF, he simply would not repent and make things right.

Thus, the leaders of CMF had no choice but to suspend him.  Danny and I figured that he would show up to our meetings, and sure enough, he did, on Tuesday morning.

I was sick in bed from a sinus infection and fever (I was able to do my four hour teaching in the afternoon), so Danny told the leaders that they needed to pull Pastor X out of the meeting and explain why they were doing so and why Danny and I had already decided he could not be part of the meetings.

They did a great job and thank God, Pastor X went away quietly.  But after the meeting that day, Danny and I had to confront two leaders who are part of Pastor X’s church.

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One of the young men is very dear to me; he is the father of one of the little boys named after me – whose mother I prayed for because she was in danger of losing Brad at birth and also in danger of losing her own life.

However, I recently learned that this young man has three wives!  Yes, you read that correctly; three wives!  I don’t think he is even 30 years old yet.  He married those wives (apparently) while he was in a cult, before being delivered from the cult.

But also, African Traditional Religion allows for and even encourages polygamy.  I had to sit him down and show him from Scripture (1 Timothy and Titus) why he cannot be in a position of leadership in the church because of this.

I know he respects me, and praise God, he listened and accepted what I had to say.  I made it clear to him that our God is a Redeemer and that he should understand that he is no “second-class” Christian.

He did tell me of his passion to lead worship (or maybe he said to be on a worship team) and asked for my opinion about this.  I had four of the six leaders of CMF with me during this meeting.

I told him that if he were in my church, I would first consult with my own leaders about this.  If they agreed, we would disciple him, watch and test him and in time, we would allow him to be part of the worship team.

But I emphasized that we would all have to be in agreement before going to the church and letting him explain why he had three wives.

Then, I said we would explain to the church – from the standpoint of redemption and the desire to help him engage in service – why we would have him on the team.

I also appealed to him to leave Pastor X’s church; I urged him to leave because this pastor’s doctrine is in serious error and because the man is just full of pride and will end up damaging this young man and just about everyone else in this church.

Meanwhile, at the same time, Danny was in another meeting, appealing to another young man (I’ll call him “Joe”) — the young man who is now in Pastor X’s church, having been stolen away from his pastor and other church, to return to his church.

“Joe” told Danny that he believed he needs to be in Pastor X’s church because God is blessing his ministry and that he has an “apostolic anointing” that is now flourishing in the church.

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Danny did not deny this “apostolic anointing” but asked Joe if anyone in leadership had confirmed this call.  He urged Joe to understand that if there truly is this kind of a calling, others would recognize and support it.

In the next day’s session – in God’s providence – I addressed the “five-fold ministry” from Eph. 4:11-13 and what exactly apostolic ministry today looks like and really is.  I prayed that Joe would receive a Holy Spirit “gut-check” on this.

How this turns out remains to be seen!  Danny also pointed out that Joe’s wife does not support him now being part of Pastor X’s church and that in making this decision, he is causing pain to his wife and to his real pastor and church.

Danny urged Joe that if this really was God’s call, there should be agreement and peace about the situation, rather than the great amount of consternation that there already is.

Since my meeting with the first young man went so smoothly and quickly, I and the other leaders were able to attend Danny’s meeting with Joe, so I was able to witness most of the meeting first-hand.

Thus, the six leaders of CMF were able to gain very valuable, further experience in biblical conflict resolution.  We thank our Lord that it went so well, but once again, I have no doubt that it went well because of your prayers and the prayers of so many!

Erokamano ahinya, my friends!

Sincerely,

Brad

 

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Dear friends and Fellow Co-Workers for the Gospel of Jesus Christ,

Three days after finishing up my ministry to the Church in Siaya, Kenya, my first thought in writing this assessment is that once again, the fruit of this ministry to our brothers and sisters in Kenya is a direct result of the combined efforts of the Church in San Jose, CA (you and me).

Like my first two trips, this trip was also successful in every regard.  However, this trip was built upon two prior successes – in January, 2014 and July/August, 2014 — and now, the fruit for our Lord’s Church and kingdom is growing exponentially in Siaya.

But it all begins first with the power of corporate prayer, as we read in 2 Cor. 1:8-11.  Secondly, Scripture also calls us to do what is practical for other believers who are lacking the same financial resources that God has blessed us with (e.g. 2 Cor. 8:1-15).

So many of you partnered with me in prayer and in financial giving; this truly was a “team” effort and not just me doing all the work!  Thus, it’s exciting to see the parallel between the Church in Corinth from 2,000 years ago and the Church in San Jose today.  Thank you!

The Assessment of the Leaders of Christ Ministers’ Fellowship (CMF)

 Rather than give my own opinion in assessing our work with the Church in Siaya, Kenya, it is a joy to be able to report to you what the leaders of CMF said to Danny Gilbert and to me, as we debriefed together Friday evening when the conference ended.

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Danny and I both discern and believe that when the six leaders gave their assessment to us, their words were sincere.  I honestly was quite taken aback when they said to us, “We are following you as you follow Christ!”

Let me explain more fully: they shared with us the fact that as they watched Danny and I interact with each other with great unity and submission to each other, that this served as an incredible example to them.

That is, our Christ-like example is not one that they see anywhere in Kenya.  However, they shared, this is an example that is desperately needed in their nation.

The reason, they told us, is that most leaders are arrogant, self-seeking, unaccountable and independent.

As a result, they shared with us that over this past year, they have experienced a health, maturity, grace, humility and unity that they could never have imagined seeing as a leadership group!

Furthermore, they told us that all the pastors that they lead and other pastors and leaders outside of this fellowship that they interact with have noticed this significant change among them.

They even shared that non-Christians have commented about these same things!  Now, it bears repeating that without your help through prayer and through your financial giving, none of this would be happening!

Moreover, I can tell you that the struggling Church in Siaya, Kenya is most worthy of our support and that these leaders — for whom I have the highest respect — are worthy of our best efforts!

The president of this fellowship – Paul Tawo — told us this: “Before you came, we used to clash a lot; now, we get along much, much better. There is such a unity among us!”

CMF is made up of senior pastors, their associates, evangelists, youth pastors and worship leaders.  Most of these approximately 20 to 30 churches represented are both Pentecostal and evangelical, but you would recognize them as being very evangelical.

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My conservative estimate is that the combined total worship of these churches is somewhere between 2,000 to 3,000 people.

The six leaders of CMF told us that more and more of the pastors that they lead are telling them how much they’ve been changed through our ministry times together.  They remarked that our teaching is both deep and devotional and very practical.

The result is that their own teaching ministry has deepened and the churches are being rooted and grounded in their faith as they never have been before. The churches are growing numerically, and qualitatively.

This is highly significant, the leaders told us, because according to them it is nearly impossible to find anything in their region remotely similar to what Danny and I have been offering them in terms of deeper theological and biblical teaching and example.

The leaders also shared enthusiastically with us their deep appreciation that Danny and I were always led by the Holy Spirit in our teaching and in approaching everything that we did.

It was especially important to them to see that our teaching was not done merely in word but also in the power of the Holy Spirit — evidenced in the healings that they saw (both physical and emotional) and in the orderly operation of the prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit.

They repeatedly remarked that our teaching was empowered by the Holy Spirit.  This was particularly noteworthy to them because other leaders in the region outside of their fellowship mocked them (and us) by telling them that our teaching was just “head knowledge,” lacking in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Praise God for answered prayer!

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Because they have had no teaching on the orderly manner in which the apostle Paul tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to function (1 Cor. 12-14), I altered my teaching on the Parables of Jesus for two sessions.

I taught extensively on the spiritual, historical and cultural context of 1 Corinthians and then moved into in-depth teaching on 1 Cor. 14, focusing especially on what the prophetic is and is not, and how it should function, biblically.

There is a great and even inordinate focus on apostolic and prophetic ministry among so many Christian leaders in Kenya. So many leaders in Kenya and throughout Africa are self-styled, self-appointed “apostles,” and “prophets.”

While Danny and I affirmed the five-fold ministry of Eph. 4:11-12 for today, we showed the pastors and leaders the true, biblical reason for the five-fold ministry — that it isn’t about believers serving the leaders!

Instead, we show them what the Bible truly teaches about godly pastoral leadership: it is to equip and serve the people. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief coming from them! Once again, they just do not see these examples modeled around them.

I’ve repeatedly encouraged them that God exalts the humble and that as they walk in humility before Him, before one another and before the people that they have responsibility for in the Lord that He will use them greatly in their region and beyond.

Looking forward to sharing more with you tomorrow!

Erokamano ahinya, dear friends for partnering with me in this wonderful mission!

Brad

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