Archive for April, 2010

Death has a very good way of putting everything in perspective. As a believer, I can rest in the fact that after I die, I will go to be with my Savior, Jesus in heaven, not because of any good in me but because I have repented of my sins and trusted in the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers (born again Christians) , about those who are asleep (dead), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thess 4:13-15)

Lately, for some reason, I seem to be surrounded by death in one form or another and I have been thinking a lot about death and how we as christians should respond to it, especially to unbelievers. The bible says that we should ‘mourn with those who mourn’.

When we see the pain caused by death, I believe that our first response should not to get into a theological debate about where that person has gone but to have compassion and mourn with those who have been affected. It is such a difficult time for all involved and to see this first hand makes you look at life differently and makes you treasure the small things in life and not take anything for granted

But at the same time, if a person does approach you and asks questions pertaining to the afterlife, we have to be ready to give them an answer.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience – 1 Peter 3:15 (my emphasis added)

I think it would also be wrong to give a person false hope that the person who has died has gone ‘to a better place’ because the fact of the matter is that we dont know. In fact, a lot of ministers profess that the person who has died and ‘gone to be with Jesus’, not taking into account how they lived their life on earth.

I like this verse in Da Truths song ‘Go’

Sometimes it’s beautiful
Other times I’m fuming
When I go to a funeral- why
Because the preacher that’s ruling
The pulpit is fooling them
Pulling the wool over their eyes
So now what’s a man to think
When in every single case
The preacher boldly exclaims
Though he never claimed to be saved
And he died from aids
That he’s still in a better place
Now I leave confused
And the people leave confused
And the family is comforted, but
It’s under the false pretense
That once a weekend
Is all that Jesus wants
So you know that it’s our job
To open up their eyes
With the truth that’s found in the script
So we can’t afford to hide, the treasure that’s inside
Let’s bless the world with this wonderful gift
Let’s give it to them

This is a hard pill to swallow but the fact is, Jesus said that most people who die DO NOT go to a better place but to a worse place because they have not taken The Narrow Road but instead prefer the broad road.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Only God knows what has happened before the deceased’s final breath and we can only hope that they have repented before that happens but as stated before, we as believers need to be loving, compassionate, sensitive and understanding. Let us also ask God for wisdom as each situation will be unique.

And let us all remember that we are all part of the ultimate statistic. 10 out of 10 people die. We all will die one day and none of us know when that day will be. For some of us, it will be sooner rather than later as life can be so unpredictable so don’t take the risk and play Russian roulette with your soul. The bible says that it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this, the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

If you are not a Christian, please click here. It may be the most important mouse click you have done on the internet

If for any reason, you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, I STRONGLY urge you to look at this link called ‘Death is not dying’.

Jesus said…., “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies

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“Prayer is the pulse of life; by it the doctor can tell what is the condition of the heart. The sin of prayerlessness is a proof for the ordinary Christian or minister that the life of God in the soul is in deadly sickness and weakness.” – Andrew Murray

“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” – Ephesians 6:18

Taken from The Voice of the Martyrs

VOM-USA Prayer Update for April 23, 2010

On Tue. Apr 20 2010 at 01:09 PM Moderator wrote:

PAKISTAN — Hindu Background Believers Harassed — VOM Contacts

Christians who have left Hinduism and accepted Christ have been harassed, verbally abused and beaten by Muslims in Pakistan, according to VOM contacts. On Sept. 11, 2009, “Mahir,” a VOM contact in Pakistan, distributed 200 VOM Action Packs, 200 Triumphant Church books and 55 New Testaments to Hindu tribal people in Pakistan. That day, five Hindus were baptized in a water tube that supplies water to nearby fields. “On the same evening, 15 fanatic Muslims, including Muhammad Akram Muhammad Aslam, Muhammad Nadeem and their fellows came to Mahir and verbally abused her and stopped her visiting this village,” VOM contacts said.

Later that night, the Muslims visited Kishan, a Hindu background Christian, and threatened him.

Kishan shared his testimony with the Muslim men and told them the wonderful changes Christ had brought to his life. The men did not harm Kishan, but Muslim extremists later attacked and beat Kishan’s son “Hassan.” Kishan’s testimony touched the heart of a fanatic who was one of the persecutors. “‘Bashir’ and his family are seekers, and they have accepted Jesus Christ and have secretly been praying for their faith to grow strong,” VOM contacts said. Praise God for the strong faith of these believers in the face of persecution. Pray that God will give them boldness to continue serving him and sharing their testimony. Praise God for Mahir’s faithfulness, and pray for her protection.

Psalm 18

CHINA UPDATE — Court Rejects Uyghur Christian’s Appeal — ChinaAid Association

On March 16, The People’s High Court of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region rejected an appeal from Uyghur house-church leader Alimujiang Yimiti, according to ChinaAid Association. In October 2009, Alimujiang was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “providing state secrets to overseas organizations.” One of Alimujiang’s lawyers believes Alimujiang’s Muslim background plays a large part in the case. “We are fairly sure that there are a lot of factors which are totally outside the law that have influenced the investigation of this case. This is very clear from the procedures that were followed within the courts and from the final decision,” another lawyer said. Pray that Alimujiang, his wife and their two sons will rest in the knowledge that God is in control. Pray that God will protect and strengthen Alimujiang while he is in prison, and pray that the authorities will act justly in this case.

Psalm 23

IRAN UPDATE — Iranian Christians Await Court Ruling — Elam Ministries

Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh, Iranian Christians who were arrested by security forces in March 2009, await the results of an April 13 court hearing, according to Elam Ministries. The women, who were accused of being anti-government activists, were conditionally released from the notorious Evin Prison in November 2009. Maryam and Marzieh have been receiving medical treatment since their release from prison, but they remain weak and suffer from various illnesses. The outcome of the April 13 hearing was unknown at last report. Pray that God will protect Maryam and Marzieh physically and spiritually. Pray that they will recover completely from their illnesses and remain bold in their witness for Christ. Pray that all charges will be dropped.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Following the Ambassador’s fall, he has made the following statement. Please hear his heart.

Courtesy of DaSouth.com

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE AMBASSADOR

Dear Friends and Supporters:

First I want to thank everyone for your understanding, mercy and grace while my family and I worked on rebuilding our marriage and reconciliation. From the very beginning, I have wanted to communicate with you. However following the advice of the church leadership, and others to whom I entrusted my restoration, I remained silent.

Back in late April 2009, the Lord exposed me and consequently delivered me from being entangled in a season of willful disobedience, deception and darkness. I was involved in a non-sexual but very inappropriate relationship with a woman other than my wife, thereby betraying my Lord, my wife, family, Epiphany Fellowship (the church I love and was instrumental in founding) my co-laborers and ministry supporters like you.

It has often been suggested that no genuine Christian can willfully sin habitually for a prolonged period (1 John 3:6). And that those who do sin cannot do so without some sense of great conviction and internal disturbance. My life is a personal witness to this statement, as I for several months battled great depression, gradual and graphic spiritual deterioration.  However, it indeed was God’s mercy that exposed me, breaking sin’s enslaving grip on me. It was also His mercy which used that to lead me to experience what David did when Nathan revealed that the “gig was up” and said, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).

Like David, I instantly knew that, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). I was crushed by an enormous weight of guilt, shame, fear and sorrow, and I knew that the journey back to “ground zero” would be insanely difficult.  Even to this day, I wrestle with that shame from time to time, but I also know there is one place I can turn—the gospel! I have to continually contradict my feelings and believe the rest of 2 Samuel 12:13, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”

After nearly a year of retreat, rehabilitation and intense family focus, God’s grace has me reset on a trajectory toward spiritual wholeness. Like Paul the great apostle I admit, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect…” “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). God’s grace is teaching me that I am not supposed to attempt to “work” my way back to some supposed level of super-spirituality and then come out feeling “qualified.” But I am to recognize that I am never “sufficient in myself,” but “our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). As someone once said “He doesn’t call the qualified, but rather qualifies the called.”  I am deeply comforted by this gospel truth and equally dependant on its reality. Without this comforting and affirming word, I might never have come back to the service of our Lord.

So I say now, what I believed then—I sinned greatly against the Lord Jesus, my wife and family, the other woman and her family, my church, and all my ministry co-laborers and supporters.  I ask you to forgive me for being a prime example of the spiritual leaders I have often “put on blast” in the past, and further reinforcing the notion that the church is full of hypocrites. Forgive me for how my actions have caused many to be confused and insecure about the faith, and brought disruption to the peace of homes, churches, and ministries. May God give you the grace and the ability to forgive me, “as I have received the Lord’s forgiveness” (Colossians 3:13). By God’s grace, many that I have offended have forgiven me, most notably, my wife and kids. Pray that the Lord will continue to permit us to build on this foundation that will give the Lord Jesus Christ the greatest glory.

This has been an extremely painful time and now I accept the fact that although God’s grace is based on the merit of Christ and not my own performance, favor with man (Luke 2:52) must be gained through consistency over time. All I ask is for the opportunity to get started!

I have spent the past ten months in concentrated prayer, counseling, reading, studying, and fellowshipping with saints, and I am committed to diligently continuing on this course.  Unfortunately, the sin has taken a toll and has created some unpleasant consequences. Among many, the one that particularly grieves me is the separation from my church. With regard to the Epiphany Fellowship, I will not be permitted by the leadership to continue in covenant fellowship. This decision brings me much grief. However I trust the Lord Jesus Christ to heal my heart and that of my family and the covenant community.

After all this I have so much more tenderness toward the “fallen,” and an appreciation for the glory of a gospel that is so easily preached but not as easily applied. Lord permitting, I plan to proclaim the gospel with even greater passion than ever before and herald its liberating truth wherever the Lord will allow. The plan is also to musically represent the Lord Jesus so that the “fall of Ambassador” will not end with a period, but rather, with a comma. As you may or may not know Cross Movement the group had retired but as a soloist I was planning to continue as long as the Lord Jesus would provide grace. The release of my third solo album The Chop Chop actually fulfilled my contractual obligation with Cross Movement Records, so now as The Ambassador I’m trusting the Lord for new direction and for what lies ahead.

My experiences during this time of seclusion and obscurity have indeed been very challenging. And, I’m still not clear on all the things that the Lord has been doing. But I plan to leverage every lesson learned and every insight gleaned for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Since the very beginning, I have been under the care of a restoration team led by Pastors Byron Craig of Macedonia Baptist Church (Norristown, PA) and Zach Ritvalski of Sweet Union Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA).  They have given me the “green light” to move forward in serving the Lord Jesus Christ publically. My wife has also given her blessings and support to this decision. Therefore The UpLift! Group and I are actively seeking God’s direction for new opportunities to honor the name of Jesus Christ.

The nature of my call to be an aroma of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15), a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), and his ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20), compels me to reengage my generation and “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you (me) out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  This experience has taught me many things but one that will always stand out and I hope to become the embodiment of is God’s grace and mercy is more than sufficient.

William “The Ambassador” Branch

UPDATE

William “The Ambassador” Branch has also delivered an official video statement.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

UPDATE 2

Below is an interview with the Ambassador at the Christ Tabernacle with Chris Durso. Please forward the video to the 17 minute mark

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Related Post:

The Ambassador is ‘rested’ from Cross Movement Records

I got the title ‘Your transformed life is NOT the gospel’  from listening to Fighting for the Faith on the radio and is something that has bothered me for some time and I touched on this before when I was talking about baptism testimonies where you hardly hear anything about repentance from sin and faith towards God but normally hear about how their lives were transformed which IS a fruit of salvation but when that is ALL you hear, you can’t help but wonder if they actually truly understand the gospel.

I also touched on it in my message to Christians when I said:

Some people believe in ‘lifestyle evangelism’. I call this lazy evangelism because that is ALL that they do but your lifestyle alone cannot communicate the gospel. Your lifestyle should backup what you TELL them. Some people feel that “my life will let them know that I am a christian’ and then feel ‘well that’s my job done’ but they will not speak to someone and expound the good news.

As the radio program stated, if an unbeliever is happy with their lives, they have a good career, a good marriage, a happy family and everything is going well for them, why should they listen when they have it all already? If that is the reason why they should come to Jesus, why should they pay us any mind? I know I wouldnt and would be saying ‘My life is OK as it is thanks and I’m happy with my life so I dont need your Jesus’. 

In fact, the world is already doing a good job giving advice on how to transform your life MINUS Jesus.

 For examples see the following Tony Robbins videos

And to be honest, the church these days sound just like it with many self-help ‘sermons’.

Let me make it clear that I have nothing against bettering yourself in this life but when we reduce the gospel to such, then we have to address it. This is the kind of Christ-less gospel that you hear Joel Osteen preach every week but he just ‘christianises’ it. In fact, if you look at the next video, this could so easily be an advert of a Christian conference

Our biggest problem is not unhappiness but unrighteousness or in other words, sin. We are all born sinners and enemies of God and the only way we can become righteous i.e. have a right standing with God, is when we repent of those very sins that offend a holy God and when we put our trust in Christ and Christ alone to save us because our our good works are unable to save us. If we do not, then it doesnt matter how happy we are in this life, the next life will be infinitely unhappy because we will incur the wrath of God

What good is it to gain the whole world, have the best marriage, a good career etc etc and lose your soul

Your transformed life is NOT the gospel

Vodpod videos no longer available. 

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Jesus is Alive

 

Courtesy of Defending Contending

You look at a beautiful painting and you say to yourself, “There must have been a painter.”

You look at a motor vehicle of great workmanship and you say to yourself, “There must have been a manufacturer.”

You look at a meticulously detailed sculpture and you say to yourself, “There must have been a sculptor.”

You look at a massive bridge spanning a large body of water and you say to yourself, “There must have been an engineer.”


You look at a tall building and you say to yourself, “There must have been a builder.”

You look at a complex computer program and you say to yourself, “There must have been a programmer.

You look at a well-written best-selling novel and you say to yourself, “There must have been an author.”

You look at the human body and say to yourself, “This must have been the product of an accident. A long time ago absolutely nothing from absolutely nowhere exploded and not only created absolutely everything, but also created order and it all occurred as a random accident.

If this is you, then this is your day: HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words (Proverbs 23:9).

A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge is easy to one who has understanding (Proverbs 14:6).

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).

The foolishness of God is wiser than men (1 Corinthians 1:25).

God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27).

The wisdom of this world is foolishness before God (1 Corinthians 3:19).

A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
(Psalm 150:6)
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