Monday, May 26, 2014

The Way

"A woman named Lydia,
a dealer in purple cloth, a worshiper of God,
listened, and the Lord opened her heart..."
Acts 16:14

I can imagine Lydia listening to Paul eagerly,
drinking in his words.
She was already a worshiper of the true God,
and He opened her heart to receive
Paul's words, to accept them,
to respond to them.
The message found a place in her heart.

It's easy to see how Lydia would
open her heart and follow Jesus
after Paul spoke to her.
He was obviously a charismatic speaker.
But how about others?
Why did they decide to follow?

How did Christianity grow from Lydia, 
the first Christian convert in Europe, 
living a clandestine, persecuted way of life,
to being the legal religion
under Constantine the Great?
A miracle? Most certainly. 
There are always miracles 
for those who believe.

But in sociologist Rodney Stark's book,
The Rise of Christianity,
he proposes that "the way" provided
a better life for its followers.
There were more women followers because
women were honored and respected,
unlike their low status in the pagan world.
He cites that "loving one another"
and helping each other attracted many followers.

"Amidst the epidemics and fires,
and other disasters that beleaguered
the Greco-Roman cities,
Christian communities were a stronghold
of mutual aid, which resulted in a
survival rate far greater than that
of the pagans.
In the meantime, voluntary martyrdom,
especially a generation 
after the death of Christ,
reinforced the commitment of 
the Christian rank and file."
Rodney Stark

Do our actions attract others 
to our way of life as Christians,
the way the first Christians did?

"The churches were strengthened in the faith 
and daily their number increased."
Acts 16:5

Jesus' followers grew in numbers after He died.
How about today?

In his book Witness Essentials,
Dan Meyer lists some encouraging statistics
about the growth of the church around the world:

In 1900 Korea had no Protestant church.
Today, there are over 7,000 churches
in just the city of Seoul, South Korea.

At the end of the 19th century,
the southern portion of Africa
was only 3 percent Christian.
Today, 63 percent of the population
is Christian, while membership in the
churches in Africa is
increasing by 34,000 people per day.

In India, 14 million of the 140 million members
of the "untouchable" caste have become Christians.

More people in the Islamic world have come
to Christ in the last 25 years than in the
entire history of Christian missions.

In Islamic Indonesia, the percentage of Christians
is now so high (around 15 percent)
that the Muslim government will
no longer print statistics.

In China, it is estimated that there are now
more self-avowed disciples of Jesus
than members of the Communist party.
Even the most conservative estimates
suggest that China will soon have
more Christians than any country.

Across the planet, followers of Jesus
are increasing by more than eighty thousand per day.

510 new churches form every day.

Meyer concludes: "The irony is that,
except for the Middle East
(where Christianity was born)
and Europe and America
(to whose civilization it gave birth),
Christianity is expanding everywhere today."

 "They laid hands in them and 
they received the Holy Spirit." Acts 8:17

I went to have myself baptized in the
Holy Spirit about 3 or 4 times, maybe more!
Each time, brothers and sisters 
would lay hands on me, 
just like in the apostles' day.
Each time, people around me would 
get slain and speak in tongues.
Me? Nothing. :^(((

One day I decided to just speak 
in "tongues" the whole day.
I spoke in "tongues" in the car,
and everywhere I went. 
My mom took pity on me 
and asked me to stop.
I didn't. I just continued
until I got back home.
I locked myself in my room,
sat down on my rocking chair,
and just continued with my "tongues".

Then suddenly,
it was as if I had a fountain in my mouth,
"rivers of living water", and words came,
filling me with joy.
After a long time, I asked God, 
what was I saying?
And my "tongues" became English,
and I was praising the Lord!

Yes, the Holy Spirit is real,
and He still comes to those who seek Him.
And He has many other gifts to give!
The gift of healing, miracles, the word of wisdom,
prophecy, discernment of spirits, teaching, 
generosity, leadership, service...
We just have to DO it, practice it, claim it.
Like, I'm claiming the gift of healing.
I just have to remember to lay hands 
on the sick ALL THE TIME!!!


  1. Thanks for joining us for Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

  2. A very good prayer for our family friends and ourselves. Open our hearts to receive each days message. This one I just love. I remember the first time I read that scripture thirst years ago and this is the best picture of it I have seen. We like to see your wonderful art here at Word Art Wednesday. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. God Bless, Carole

  3. And may our love for one another still shine light into the darkest of places. Thank you for this, Patsy.


I am so glad you dropped by! You are a blessing!
:^) Patsy