September Giving Promotion!

Raymond Mowla’s journey to the cross was no easy ride. Marred with desperation, heartbreak, addiction, abuse, legal troubles and more, his story tells a unique tale of God’s divine schooling for the life of his called and chosen ones.

From prison bars to Prison Fellowship, Raymond’s life now serves as a beacon of light for those whose choices in life have caused them to feel inadequate, undeserving, or hopeless towards the possibility of true freedom, and speaks revelation to reality of the underlying battle we face in order to achieve the purposes for which we were created.

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Are You A Moon, Or A Son?

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ARE YOU A MOON OR A SON?

 

 

From the Old Testament to the New, there is a major paradigm-shift taking place in our identities that our churches are still struggling to fully comprehend today. Call it an ‘identity crisis.’ You can identify this because you’ll hear things being said like:

 

“You are called to be moons, reflecting the light of the sun, (or ‘Son’)”

 

And this might seem really encouraging to you if you haven’t wrestled through major doctrines like ‘positional righteousness’ before. But truly this was the same perspective that Old Testament patriarchs like David held as they prayed:

 

———-

 

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine ‘upon’ us
Psalm 67:1

 

———–

 

No doubt God’s ‘face shining upon us’ could be speaking metaphorically for God’s favour, but I’m using it as an example to convey a truth about where we stood positionally with God *prior* to Jesus coming 2000 years ago.

 

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God could not come to live *inside* of a person, the Spirit could only come ‘upon’ a person at varying times – empowering them to carry out the will of God; give supernatural wisdom or strength; cause to prophesy of future events, and perform miracles, signs and wonders.

 

But *after* the sacrifice of Jesus was completed on the cross, for the first time since the Garden of Eden a positional change took place for every believer by faith – the very Spirit of God could now dwell *’in’* a person, in which case, man was no longer ‘reflecting’ God’s light, but had *become* the very lamp of the Lord.

 

———-

 

Consider the words of Jesus himself:

 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

 

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

 

———-

 

The promises of the New Covenant are far greater than anything that could be experienced in the Old – as miraculous as they were. But being so accustomed to the old religious systems and ways of thinking, in many ways the early Church (and we along with them) struggled to understanding what we have been welcomed into through the Gospel, and all that makes God’s immeasurable ‘grace’ toward us so wonderful and praiseworthy!

 

Imagine the scandal… The very Holy Spirit of God indwelling sinful human beings! The mere thought of that makes the religious man’s skin crawl.

 

But this was indeed the change that occurred which is why the Apostle Paul vehemently refuted every form of false teaching that ever so slightly even attempted to bring the New Testament Church believers under a yoke of ‘religiosity’ again, keeping them from understanding all that was now available to them in Christ as sons and daughters of the living God – whom God now *indwelled* by His Holy Spirit.

 

Which is why when the Church was falling into legalistic righteousness, Paul passionately penned the letter:

 

———–

 

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

 

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

 

Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, (received by faith) are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? (Religious effort) 

 

Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain?

 

So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
Galatians 3:1-5

 

———

 

In other words, are we still living out our New Covenant relationship with God constantly hoping for Him to ‘shine upon us’ so that we may in turn reflect His light, but only if we keep a few laws and commandments a little bit better each day in hopes of not eclipsing our connection to Him?

 

Or will we realize that His light has been made to dwell *within us,* rescuing us from the kingdom of darkness and transferring us into the Kingdom of His Son as we are being made into the very image of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God? (Col 1:3, Rom 8:29)

 

In fact, one might add that even all ‘correction’ and ‘conviction’ is also the fruit of this un-severed relationship we now share with God at all times. For a Father only corrects those He acknowledges as His children. (Heb. 12:5-6)

 

It may seem like a trivial thing to the undiscerning, but the effects of misunderstanding this can be monumental. Which is funny, because using the celestial bodies to confer our misunderstanding of identity is indicative of the greatness of its implications.

 

It’s the difference between a moon – that has no real light of its own, desperately seeking out light outside of itself in order to reflect its shine;

 

And a Son – who experiences perfected relationship with his Heavenly Father at all times, even when he doesn’t feel like he always perfectly measures up.

 

 

So I implore you,

Dig deeper…

 

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

 

Does Truth Matter?

 

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DOES TRUTH MATTER?

 

Jesus answered “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Pilate said to him, “what is truth?”
John 18:37-38

 

————

 

In prison, as with all life, you never quite know what kind of people you’ll meet, but I’ll never forget one particular acquaintance.

 

To pass the time, I used to attend the prison gym regularly. In prison, there’s an unwritten code among inmates that you never ask what a person is incarcerated for. If it is ever something worth the inmate population’s knowledge, (like the crimes of Paul Bernardo for example) there are often inmates volunteering in the administrative sector that will usually inform the population long before the inmate is released into the general population.

 

More than six months would go by of faithfully attending the gym with this other inmate but never really knowing each other more than just superficially, saying ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ alone pretty much week to week before one day I no longer saw him there.

 

I didn’t really think too much of it at first. But when I got back to my cell that evening and turned on the CP24 news as I would regularly do, I was shocked to see my acquaintance from the gym was on the news standing just a few hundred feet away from me, but on the ‘outside’ of the very prison doors of the institution we were housed at.

 

I quickly grabbed the remote to increase the volume.

 

“It has been officially determined due to further investigation that Mr. ‘so and so’ and his wife, who were both serving sentences of 5 & 10 years for the death of their infant child, have been exonerated of all charges due to recent evidence brought forth that proves that the child in fact died from a very rare case of S.I.D.S (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at no fault of the parents.”

 

———-

 

I was sort of frozen as I tried to process it all. He was in the ‘eighth year’ of his ten-year sentence, and his wife who had served her full five, was waiting faithfully at the doors of the prison to welcome him at his release.

 

Of course they always knew they were innocent, but now their whole community would know it too.

 

 

 

I can only imagine that some close friends and relatives had long agreed with their conviction of guilt by the courts and how painful that must’ve been to go through. Not to mention their employers and co-workers who probably voiced their suspicions of their guilt around the offices where they once worked. There could’ve been neighbours who saw them taken away in handcuffs, news articles that defamed their character, and relationships completely severed by the mere idea that they could’ve been guilty of hurting a child.

 

———-

 

The reporter questioned: “Will you be seeking some recompense for this wrongful conviction?”

 

Before he could answer, I could already hear other inmates angrily shouting ‘eff yea!’, who were watching along from their own cells.

 

Completely unprepared for his answer, he replied: “My wife and I are only now able after more than ten combined years of fighting our own personal battles, to properly grieve the loss of our child and hopefully move on. I sincerely forgive the prison system, mostly because I don’t want to waste anymore of my life or time fighting for something they will never be able to return to me anyway.”

 

———-

 

I’m not sure if I was more perplexed by the humble demeanour I witnessed each week at the gym unexpected to be found of a man so wrongly accused, or at his radical forgiveness and gentleness with which he spoke in earnest of sincerely moving forward beyond this incredible injustice that robbed him of eight years of time together with his family and his freedom where he could easily find every self-justifying reason to be upset.

 

For the first time in my life I witnessed a level of spiritual maturity I so rarely ever see in this lifetime. Something so incredibly beautiful that is only ever given opportunity to pour forth from the most overwhelmingly painful injustices of this lifetime.

 

In God’s divine planning for my life, I was privy to what now serves as my most memorable example of Christ-like forgiveness – not from professing believers at the local church – but from one of the most challenging season spent in a prison that I was once ashamed of.

 

———–

 

I think that many painful injustices throughout our life can severely affect our ability to think objectively about truth, and not everyone has the spiritual maturity and clarity of sight to see life with such profound perspective as this man has demonstrated.

 

In the opening text I used, I think that when we consider Pontius Pilate’s life, because of the position that he occupied in Rome, what we see is the retorts of a man who had been completely disillusioned by the constant injustices he was privy to and maybe even partner to throughout his life. And I’m sure something I his response to Jesus even resonates with many because of the various things we’ve all been through.

 

But does truth matter?

 

If you asked this acquaintance of mine from prison, undoubtedly he’d be the first to tell you a definite “Yes!” but only because he thoroughly understood through his experiences its power to affect the outcome of his situation.

 

Truth is often treated as a mere conceptual idea without any real objectivity, so it may seem irrelevant to some, but only until the day that they find themselves on the receiving end of all the harm that is caused by a lie.

 

Which is why I’ll never cease to implore you, if today you hear the Truth calling you,

 

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

 

Nobody’s Perfect 

​”NOBODY’S PERFECT”

 

What a telling sentiment. I’m certain that everyone would agree that we’ve all found ourselves saying it at one point in our lives or the other.

 

(I’m always most fascinated by the things we say and do by instinct rather than by the beliefs we profess to hold in theory)

 

The reason I find it strange is because one hundred percent of the time when we use it, we seem to take it for granted that we’ve assumed that the person we’re saying it to holds to the very same ideas about this assumed ‘standard of perfection,’ and that it should be a given that they agree that ‘we all’ indeed ‘fall short of it’ – like it should be common knowledge.

 

If this wasn’t true, we’d instead find ourselves saying things like: “I’m not perfect, but you possibly could be.” Yet, unless for merely sarcastic effect, I’ve never heard anyone retorting that before.

 

Instead, the sentiment seems to always be used when we want to validate our own imperfection by reminding our hearers that ‘they too’ fall short of this standard they also should already know of.

 

Imagine if the person turned to respond, “No, I actually am perfect!”

 

If we were kind, we might then see fit to insist upon a mental health assessment on their behalf.

 

But before I stray too far from the original thought, I think it’s a good time to now clarify that the kind of perfection that I noticed that we seem to assume that ‘all people fall short of’ when we say ‘nobody’s perfect’, seems to be *moral* perfection.

 

But I’m curious to investigate today *why* we all assume that it should be collectively acknowledged that “nobody’s perfect”… unless of course we all believe that the statement we’re making is ‘objectively true’ – meaning, regardless of our individually professed belief system, this stands as an absolute fact that should be acknowledge by all and that it transcends our individual beliefs even if we hold to the contrary somehow ‘in theory’. In which case, a self-professed moral relativist would be guilty of undermining their own professed beliefs by ever making such a statement.

 

Here’s the problem though:

 

Self-professed moral relativists ‘do’ make such statements.

 

In which case they make it apparent that although they profess to believe such things as “all ways to God are right” or even that “many ways to God” is plausible, (even if they know that the world’s top religions fundamentally contradict one another), we find that although they can try to escape logic in theory, they can’t seem to escape their own subconscious from making absolute and objective statements in daily practice.

 

Which tells me something very important about moral relativists – that their theoretical professions, no matter how articulate, how forceful, how brazen, how self-assured, nor how much approved by the consensus of others – should *never* be accepted as valid or ‘true.’

 

I’d even go as far as to say that if the dogmatic beliefs of such professors was a form of ‘subjective moral reasoning religious adherence,’ (which I totally believe it is) then I caution you: *Beware,* these are the true hypocrites of our day.

 

———–

 

There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 
Romans 3:22-24

 

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
John 3:17

 

Since “nobody’s perfect” – not Muhammad, not Buddha, not Mother Teresa nor Hitler – what better reason is there than for us to trust in the one sinless, perfect, Son of God who gave His life for us?

 

So I implore you,

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

Incipit: The Magnificat 

The Year

Approx. 6-8 B.C

 

The Scene

Zechariah, a priest who regularly served in the temple, had just received news that his formerly barren wife Elizabeth would bear a child in her old age. This child would grow up to be John the Baptist and so the angel Gabriel instructed Zechariah to name the child “John.” However, because of Zechariahs’ doubt, he would be silenced as a mute until the fulfillment of the Word of God through the angel Gabriel came to fruition.

 

The Contrast

Months later, a young local commoner and virgin girl betrothed to be married; Mary, receives a similar visit from the angel Gabriel where he informs her that she too will bear a child, except, her child will be born to her while she remains a virgin because this child will be begotten of the Holy Spirit. The angel also informs the servant Mary, about her cousin Elizabeth’s child who was now in his sixth month.

Mary, faithfully obliged to all that was spoken by the angel, received it as true and humbly accepted her fate.

 

The Twist

Unbeknown to Mary of Zechariahs’ vision and silence, but now informed of her cousins pregnancy, she excitedly hurries to the town where Zechariah lived, and enters their home to greet Elizabeth.

At the sound of Mary’s greeting alone the child leaped in Elizabeth’s womb and she also is then filled with the Holy Spirit.

Speaking by the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth then acknowledges that the child Mary is carrying is ‘her’ Lord – the Lord Jesus – who would soon enter the world.

 

The Reverb

Mary then recites what would today be known as, *The Magnificat*
I have read the Magnificat many times before, but only recently did I consider what it must’ve been like to hear the Magnificat through the ears of one person in this particular season of his life whom I believe was present in that house when Mary arrived: Zechariah.

 

The Magnificat:

“Oh how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
And from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
And He has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
To all who fear Him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
And sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped His servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.
For He made this promise to His ancestors,
To Abraham and his children forever.”
Luke 1:46-55

———-

 

Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah for three months before Elizabeth gave birth to her child. At the time of his birth, the relatives wanted and maybe even expected that the child should be named Zechariah after his father, but Elizabeth insisted that his name should be ‘John.’

And now was the moment of decision. Zechariah had obviously notified his wife of the name the angel had spoken. Zechariah had been silenced so that he could do more listening than speaking in this next season of his life, and Zechariah had been privy to hearing what we now call ‘the Magnificat’ spoken by Mary while considering his silence and Mary’s overflowing joys from having received the Word of God by the message of the angel Gabriel.

How would he respond?

 

“He (Zechariah) motioned for a writing tablet and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “his name is John.”
Luke 1:63

 

Instantly, the Bible says, Zechariah could speak again and now the first words out of his mouth were praises to God in a doxology of his own!
(See Luke 1:68-79)

———-

 

What things has the Spirit of Jesus, or the angels of God placed before us in this season of transition and change, to stir us to repentance so that we too can carry out God’s instruction – for our own good – to move us to overwhelming joy and worship as we are being likened more and more to the image of Christ?

Whatever comes to mind for you and I specifically today, I pray that in it we’ll learn all the more to,

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

When Satan Leads

“Wait, what?” You might be thinking. “Satan is leading my life? No way!” But to believe that you can never – or will never- be led by demonic influence, is to deceive yourself of the true revelation of Scripture.
Redemption has to do with being ‘redeemed’ from a situation that was destitute; even death by resurrection.

 

Salvation has to do with being ‘saved’ from sin.

 

So how are either of these possible realities for us today if we weren’t first susceptible to, and carried along by demonic leading at times in our life?
But instead of swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction and living in fear of falling prey to demonic designs, Jesus instead gave us a powerful example of how by trusting in God’s Spirit in us, we can identify and challenge Satanic ploys against our life with the Word of God and live out a fearless confident and even joyful profession of faith even when situations seem destitute and trying which can have the tendency to lead us into sin.
———-

 

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan *and was LED BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness,*
Luke 4:1

*THE DEVIL LED HIM (Jesus) up to a high place* and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
Luke 4:5

*THE DEVIL LED HIM (Jesus) to Jerusalem* and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
Luke 4:9

———

 

Even though *God allowed* satanic leading in Jesus life during this trial of testing known today as the “Testing in the Wilderness” (as Satan is powerless to do anything against us unless he is first given expressed permission by God – *Job 1:12*) Jesus’ preparation to be victorious against any such leading resulting in sin was always rooted in an authoritative use of a well reasoned and balanced understanding of the entire counsel of Scripture.
These are the three responses Jesus retorts in the wilderness when satanic leading undoubtedly ‘attempted’ to direct him towards sin:

 

1. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

2. “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:7

3. “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:10

——–

Please note the escalation in Jesus’ responses:
First, a firm footing on ALL of God’s Word as the foundation of His faith
Secondly, a well balanced reasoning of Scripture against Scripture. (e.g Yes it says *this* but not to the neglect of *that*) was his defence against unbalanced demands “supposedly” of God.

 

Lastly, an authoritative demonstration of a firmly established sense of identity *over Satan* by commanding him, *”Away from me Satan!”* and a reminder of Whose glory he was living for alone – God.

———-

For we are NOT fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12

———–

But what happens when it becomes God’s design for you to glorify Him by not only your life, but also, by death – as Jesus and eleven out of His twelve disciples did?
The Apostle Paul certainly recognized this when he received the prophetic Word from Agabus in the book of Acts:

 

After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, *but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 21:10-13

———-

 

Fast forward two thousand years. Imagine going to someone in your congregation on a Sunday morning who professes to follow Jesus and giving them a prophetic word like that!

 

They might rebuke you as demonic.

 

They might say, “I’ve tested the spirits and this is not from God!” (which ‘could’ be true)
But my point is that true wisdom that comes from above is *impartial*, and the Apostle knew it.

 

He recognized that this Word was exactly as the prophet said it was, *from the Holy Spirit.* But he also recognized that it didn’t mean that the men who would carry it out were from God.

 

Paul was in essence going to be led by a satanic plot – but for the glory of God, because through it he would show that to suffer and die for Christ was greater by far than to live the few years of temporal life here on this earth without Him.

 

Do we see Christ as this precious to us?

 

I know many men and women who would be willing to die to protect the temporal lives of their children, but who would not so urgently even give a second thought to dying for the One who alone has the power to give eternal life.

———
Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
John 21:18-19

 

Since we know that those who trust in the Lord shall never be put to shame, (Psalm 25:3) both in the good as well as the bad that stands before us each day, may we all grow just a little bit deeper in our devotion as we learn to,

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!

Spiritual Retirement Planning 

SPIRITUAL RETIREMENT PACKAGES

 

Whenever I speak to people who’ve retired or are considered retiring, there’s usually two major considerations that they have to decide upon:

1. Will my retirement fund carry me through for the rest of my life?

& 2. What will I do with all this free time?

———-

Having been someone who retired five years ago from all religion, these questions were very important for me to also ask myself in a spiritual sense:

 

1. Was the price that Jesus Christ paid with His own life on the cross – to purchase my life from death – sufficient to keep and sustain me for all eternity?

 

& 2. What does He call me to now do with my freedom?

————-

And the answer for any believer is far more simple than we’d probably expect it to be:

“Yes” His sacrifice was more than enough!

 

And so now, we joyfully spend our time offering spiritual retirement packages to the world!

 

Bad credit?
No credit?
Reprobate?
Penniless?

 

That’s okay! God is in the business of retiring you from trying to fix yourself and earn your way to heaven (which is impossible anyway) to instead come and receive His loving grace which alone has the power to transform!

And you certainly don’t want to miss this offer!

 

– Full reconciliation to your loving Heavenly Father
– Abounding in joy
– Unshakable peace
– Understanding and insight
– & freedom from sin and death!

 

If you can find a better offer than that – take it! That’s how confident I am that you never will.
———–

 

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf:
Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20


So, want to put an end to worrying about your eternal future?

 

 

Trust ♔ Jesus!