What will people think when they read that you're a Jesus Freak?

This is a group of noders who have sincerely and publicly declared that they are Christian. This is to say that according to their own lights and the teachings of their church, they have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

If you're currently keeping your light under a bushel for whatever reason, know that if you decide to come out, we've got your back.

/msg per ou to be added or removed from this list.


Testify!

On a chilly, yet refreshing morning here in Fairbanks, Alaska, I woke up and remembered an itsy bitsy spider for some odd reason. This remembrance brought on some interesting thoughts. But first, I must tell you of my clash with... the itsy.. bitsy.. spider..

One evening, I was minding my own business in the kitchen, rummaging about trying to find something to digest. Amidst my burrowing, I suddenly became thirsty. Water, I thought, I must have. I innocently reached out and grasped the cupboard knob and pulled open the door. My innocence was met with a violence to my eyes. There, above the assortment of mismatched and odd-sized cups, was it. The spider.

There it crouched upon its web of confusion. Although perfectly still, it seemed to move its surrounding air in a swirl of death. For some reason, rage began to boil my mind as my eyes met its beady little eyes. Avast, foul beast! I cried within my mind. I shall make sport of thy death, thou vile rogue which hast violated mine abode!

In a feverish frenzy, I retreated to amass my weapons which I would undoubtedly hurl at this grotesque intruder. My mind raced as I assessed the situation, choosing to arm myself with but one weapon---one of a horrible, destructive nature. I got my candle lighter.

Gripping this weapon of mass destruction in my hot palm, blood racing through my veins, I pulled up a chair so as to get close to the enemy. I wish I could say I smelled its fear, but I believe that was my own. Strategy was key. If I allowed the pea-sized brute to escape, it could regroup for a surprise attack. Failure was not an option.

My eyes locked onto it. There were no countermeasures this goliath could employ---nothing would deter my sight. According to my strategy that I had formulated when pulling up the chair to the cupboard, I would activate the lighter first before nearing it to the behemoth, and then... I did so, and with a swift move of my adrenaline-fueled arm, the monster was engulfed in relentless flame.

It took mere milliseconds for it to shrivel up into a crispy little knot as it fell from its web, which had all but disintegrated in the heat. My enemy was defeated...

This is encounter with the arachnid gave me some thoughts on that crisp morning. Just a little while ago, I was sitting there, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, when suddenly, a feeling of insignificance, yet total self-awareness, befell me. I realized how...human...I was, and somehow insignificant, in a sense---but also my awareness of my own existence became very sudden and real. It was odd. And that is linked, I think, somehow, to my battle with the itsy bitsy spider.

This spider, sitting on its web in the cupboard, was minding its own business, unaware that it was on someone else's territory. I don't think it meant any ill will, but nevertheless, it was occupying a space with a human who, at times, does not realize how instinctive and anamilistic he can be at times. No doubt, it saw me see it, and how I scurried about in horror. Yet, it didn't move at all the whole time. It just watched. Whether out of stupidity or just being unaware, it met its impending doom with a sort of complacency. Spider's are generally more intelligent, being a more powerful type of hunter, than their counterpart bugs, but compared to the vast and essentially infinite intellectual capacity of a human, it is nothing. But something so insignificant as this nothing-spider caused this highly intellectual being (by comparison, anyway) to resort to the most simplistic of reactions: instinctive and animilistic.

The only thing I can say now is, Farewell, my fellow creature. I have yet to model your still resolve in the face of inevitable and unavoidable doom.

John Sung was a Chinese revivalist, evangelist, and prophet. He was one of the most influential Chinese Christians of the revival of the 1930s. Sung preached with a strong emphasis on repentance, and was a very powerful man of prayer.

Early life and education

John Sung was born in Hingwa, Fujian province on September 27, 1901. His father was the pastor of a Wesleyan Methodist church. In his youth he assisted his father with church duties, including leading sermons when his father was too ill. He was nicknamed "Little Pastor". In 1900, he left for America to pursue higher education. He studied at the Wesleyan University of Ohio, and later Ohio State University and Union Theological Seminary. He worked menial jobs full time to support himself, and earned three degrees within 5 years. However, as a result of all this work he became backslidden and doubtful.

Transformation

Sung received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on February 10, 1927 during a time of repentant prayer. After this experience he was strengthened and more fervently preached the gospel to those he met, including his peers and teachers at the seminary. Some believed he was mentally ill, and he was committed to an insane asylum by seminary authorities. He was incarcerated for 193 days (about 6 months), during which time he committed himself to nearly continuous bible study and prayer. He read the Holy Bible from beginning to end 40 times.

This spiritual renewal was to be his training for his role as a revivalist in China. He did not graduate from the seminary, and returned to Shanghai in November 1927. He threw all of the academic awards he earned into the ocean on the trip, except his doctorate diploma which he saved for his father. This was an outward display of his full commitment to the gospel. On returning to China, he passed up academic and employment opportunities in favor of preaching the gospel.

Ministry

John Sung preached in Min-Nan region for 3 years, with messages centered on spiritual rebirth, salvation, and bearing a cross. He joined Bethel Bible School and formed the Bethel Evangelistic Band with some of the other graduates. He became the school's field evangelist and focused his sermons on how to deal with sin. When not preaching he was mostly reserved, but was full of intense emotions behind the pulpit.

Sung emphasized that repentance should be made as a whole group, and taken step by step in detail. During sermons, he listed categories of sins, and if one had committed any sins within a category they must be admitted to during group prayer. Full of excitement, he often jumped onto the pulpit to preach. He also made use of props to aid in getting his point across, and would usually sing a hymn for up to 30 minutes at a time.

He spoke out against hypocrisy, including against ministers and pastors in attendance. Sung was known to intercede carefully for a large list of requests for many hours. He kept small photos of those he prayed for. He was a great example for the Chinese church as a man of prayer, and allowed nothing to interrupt his time in prayer. Sung defined faith as "watching God work while on your knees". Many sick and crippled came to him for healing. The blind received sight, the lame walked, and the deaf and mute were made well when he prayed for them in the name of Jesus.

Later life and legacy

Sung was sick with intestinal tuberculosis through the later years of his ministry. He overcame this difficulty and continued to preach, often in a leaning position to lessen the pain. He suffered with painful, infected ulcers in his colon. Sung died at the age of 43 on August 18, 1944. He was the most influential Chinese evangelist of the 1930s. Sung helped found the Church Assembly Hall with Watchman Nee and others. He led many thousands to Christ in China and Southeast Asia, and had a profound impact on the church.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Sung
http://articles.christiansunite.com/article2068.shtml

For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21-24

"(21) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (22) But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. (23) But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; (24) yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake"

--St. Paul

I remember the first time I saw this. It completely baffled me: Why in the world would someone be just as well off living as dead? Most people think that death is the final step... the final curtain to life before we shuffle off this mortal coil. For those who have relationships with our heavenly father, though, that couldn't be furthur from the truth.

Let's take a look at how Paul contrasts the two options. He starts off by saying "to live is Christ". What does he mean? Well, earlier he said:

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me"
(link)
What Paul's getting at is this: For those who have chosen to give Christ control of their life, quite literally, living is Christ. They've given themselves over to the one who created them in the first place.

Fair enough, but what about death somehow being a gain? Listen again to the words of Paul:

"Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord -- for we walk by faith, not by sight -- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."
(link)
If I'm hearing Paul correctly, he's telling us that those who have relationships with Christ will be at home with him in eternity when they die. To those who love Christ enough to give their lives away to him, that's a pretty hefty gain.

For Paul, and indeed for all christians, living is Christ, and dying is gain. Either way, they win. Having the one who designed, created, and sustains them within a whisper of a prayer gives them a winning life; and departing to spend an eternity with a loving heavenly father gives them a winning death.


Venerable members of this group:

per ou, Lometa, jaubertmoniker, milspec, Mer, swirlsbeforepine, abiessu, apraetor, VT_hawkeye, bis, flyingroc, Anml4ixoye, iambic, Habakkuk, Nora, Nero, doulos, pylon, bookw56, Sofacoin, bipolarbear, Inflatable_Monk, Ahab, Posmella, Quizro, teos, Erin Lee, drownzsurf+, FireBanshee, weivrorrim, Byzantine, LeoDV, anemotis, telyni, The Lush, Bakeroo, j3nny3lf, Transitional Man$, Radar, 18thCandidate, Kit, Kizor, fortheloveofgod, eruhgon, Federalist, kohlcass, tentative, yudabioye, Tom Rook, Mnky, bpseaton, Scout, Shizzle Melon 69, edebroux, cipher, Intentions, RossBondReturns, A.M.Gulenko
This group of 58 members is led by per ou