Friday, December 28, 2012

Prophetic Endorsement


Hope your Christmas was a blessed time.  In between doing an evangelistic outreach at a college in the Bay Area and other ministry (update later) and attending a wedding and trying to throw a few things together for Christmas Day that was fast approaching, a few things came about and come to mind that we thought would be cool to share before our year-end update letter later on. Did I just say years-end? Wow! The New Year is just around the corner, boy how time flies!!!  Anyways, check this out:

  • We are blessed and honored to have received a powerful endorsement of our ministry and lives from Pastor of Shekinah Fellowship David Sloane who is also an old friend that we have known over the years.  We go back all the way to the days of hanging out with Lonnie Frisbee so it is an awesome blessing to receive his words endorsing our lives and work in the Lord, as well as his prophetic encouragement.  He sent this, along with some other powerful prophecies and words to us personally, just out of the blue some twenty years to the day after Lonnie had prophesied over us at a meeting in South Orange County.  Frisbee laid out some powerful words over our lives and the meeting was one of those off the chart deals that left you basking in the presence of God for days.  David just put this endorsement of us on his website that we thought we'd share with you.  Interestingly enough a little white dove showed up and landed right in front of us the day we received this from him!! Glory! (Excerpt and photo below.)
  • Revival is the cry today and we desperately need it.  How revivals happened and what took place are important points of study.  We've recently added a revival history page to our website. For example, our program on "The Great Awakening" shows how the confluence of Reformation Foundations and the Power of the Spirit flowed together into an explosive outpouring that shook the early American Colonies.
  • We do some musical stuff now and then.   We've recorded a few things that we've put on our music page on MySpace.  With everything else we are doing, we've haven't put much out about it, so check out Immanuel a song we wrote and recorded.  When you are your own: guitarist for both rhythm and lead, bassist, vocalists, drummer, song writer and sound engineer you remember why you don't do it more often: Oy vey! So much work!  
  • Following is an excerpt of what David Sloane wrote about us on his website:

If you desire to donate where your money does not build mansions and fancy lifestyles then this is the ministry you have been looking for to give your support to. Grace World Mission. Please pass this on to others in your own network.

We know Brian and Mercedes and have seen the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their walks with God. Lonnie Frisbee personally laid his hands upon this couple and prophesied their ministry before it came to pass. He imparted into their young lives the things of God and the unction of the Holy Spirit. They move in divine appointments in much the same way that Lonnie Frisbee had moved in them. They enjoy many of the same blessings that Lonnie has been noted for. Evangelism, healings, deliverance's, and wonderful teaching of the Living Word of God are just a few of the attributes that come forth from this incredible husband and wife team.


They have a God given powerful vision for ministry teams goingout far and wide preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. If you desire to give of your tithes and love offerings where it will do the most good for the kingdom of God and won't be misused you would do well to support Grace World Mission.  

Seriously folks this is what you have been praying about and desiring, a place where you know your support is actually needed and used for what you have wanted for so long. No more frustration and disappointment seeing your gifts going to ministries that abuse the privilege of serving you and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

You will never hear of them building Mansions in places where the kings of the earth live. Nor will you ever hear of them living the lifestyle of the kings of the earth like other ministers gone astray of their calling in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

What you will hear is the amazing and powerful stories of people coming to know their Lord and Savior. You will hear stories of New Testament type deliverance's.  You will hear of how God has used your tithes and offerings to do the work of the Kingdom for His glory and honor.  http://www.graceworldmission.org/

Thank you and may you pray about supporting Grace World Mission today! 

David Sloane and Wife

Assistant pastor Shekinah Fellowship




(If you would like to see his entire posting you can go to his blog: )

Here's a video from our friend Erik Janssen talking about our ministry:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o5xbAlKUtY

A video from our good friend and one of the fathers of the Charismatic Renewal Harald Bredesen talking about our ministry:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYtTLR5K_pY

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings





MERRY CHRISTMAS AND 
MANY BLESSINGS IN THE NEW YEAR!

It is such an awesome time to think of how Christ came for us sent from heaven to reach into our lives. A couple of Scriptures that come to mind this Christmas season are:

Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” The Son of God gives peace in the heart, a peace that passes all understanding, to those who receive him as Savior. His favor rests on those who receive Him by faith through grace by believing upon his Son!  For grace is unmerited favor!  When we receive Christ His favor rests on us freely not by anything we have done but by His grace through faith in what He has done for us, Hallelujah!

As well as this Scripture in John 1:11-12:  "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

Jesus came right to those who had the very prophecies about His coming. However spiritually blinded as they were, they weren’t able to see the fulfillment of the ancient Scripture right in front of them.  Yet those who opened their eyes and believed in Him were born anew as children of God.

Christ continues to reach out through the ages! He has reached us who were on the fringes looking in, while those He came directly to refused Him, such an enigma, but praise God he opened our eyes by grace. He has paid the price for sin, and those who by faith receive Him and His free gift of pardon are adopted into His heavenly family.  

What an act of humility when you think about the very son of God’s willingness to be born in a manger—to enter earth so humbly and hidden.  Yet those with faith who perceive who He is and believe find glorious salvation.  It is amazing that we who receive Him as Savior are adopted as his very own children. 

May the wonder of the little child born in a manger who reaches out with such grace and mercy to a lost, broken, and sinful world drenched in strife and senseless violence, be made new in your mind and heart this Christmas as you remember that the very Son of God robed in glory made His entrance into the world in the most humble circumstance to reach out to us in our fallen state.

It is such an awesome thing to remember that no matter where you go or what you do you are a child of God by faith in Jesus and that He is with us and will never leave us nor forsake us, no not ever!!  The world may fail and nations may fall but His Kingdom endures forever!!!

Many blessings to you this Christmas! Bryan, Mercedes, and Patrick Marleaux



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Martin Luther and the Reformation: The Priesthood of all Believers


A must watch video on one of the most important events in post-
biblical Christian history. (Our second most popular video on YouTube.)
Direct link to video: http://youtu.be/WDr66ITavlI




Martin Luther and the essential topic of the Priesthood of all Believers.
Filmed on location in Eisenach, Germany.
Direct link to video: http://youtu.be/05_lc7EtsfM

On November 1st, All Saints Day, in 1517, there would be a special indulgence issued by the church. An unknown Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, the evening before confronting this and other abusive church practices. Indulgences were literally the selling of forgiveness—the church actually offered papers for the remittance of sins for payment rendered. 

The indulgence of All Saints Day in Wittenberg was especially odious as the church had accumulated numerous relics.  Claims of pieces it said to have amongst its collection would make even the most unskeptical person blush with embarrassment over the unbelievable things the church offered as part of the relic practice: a thorn that pierced Jesus’ brow, a tooth of St Jerome, four pieces of Augustine’s body, four hairs of the Virgin Mary, a piece of Jesus’ swaddling clothes and a piece of straw from his crib, a hair of Jesus’ beard, and a twig from Moses’ burning bush.  Those who made the stipulated contribution on the designated Day of All Saints and viewed the relics could receive for themselves or their dead relatives 1,902,202 years and 270 days off their own or their dead relatives’ time in purgatory(1) (a place invented by the Medieval church located between heaven and hell where one must still suffer for hundreds of thousands to millions of years to pay off sins).

Johann Tetzel who was hawking indulgences for the pope made a dramatic plea: “ Listen to the voices of your dead relatives beseeching you saying, ‘Pity us, pity us. We are in dire torment from which you can redeem us for a pittance.’ Hear your departed father or mother say, ‘We bore you, nourished you…are you so cruel that you are not willing for so little to set us free?  Will you let us lie here in these flames?’”  A master salesman, Teztel got many buyers of indulgences, which pushed Luther to a response.  The hideous indulgence traffic had started with the equally hideous crusades and it was time to say something.

While he was only putting up the Theses as a subject for debate with other theologians, his words ended up lighting a spark that exploded into the Protestant Reformation.  A group of students took hold of the Theses and reprinted them and began to distribute them all over the region in different universities and towns, and the furor over his confrontation of such unbiblical practices morphed into an international conflagration. The German population, when reading Luther’s, words responded with a boisterous, “Ja wohl!”

Sometime prior to this, Luther had been struggling trying to find peace with God.  Even though he had followed all of the rituals prescribed by the church, including long hours fasting, hours and hours confessing sins, doing penance over and over, even using indulgences, he felt further away from God after doing these rituals than when he first entered the monastery. 

He was sent away from the monastery to study the Bible, just to get him out of the priests’ hair with his endless confessions. In fact, his superior, frustrated with him, had told him he should go out and commit some real sins before coming back to confess. As he began to study the Bible he found out that its teaching was radically different than what he was being taught in the church system; the priests didn’t study or read the Bible so they wouldn’t have been aware of the differences since they just followed the order of church-prescribed rituals. 

As Luther mulled over Paul’s teaching in the New Testament, especially in Romans and Galatians, he began to see that Christ had already paid for his sins.  He states he began to understand what Christ had done and how He justifies us through faith in the work He did for us on the cross. Luther says that he was “born again” when the Holy Spirit opened his eyes.   He thus began to preach on Paul’s teachings in his epistles, but instead of being heard, the powers that be in the Catholic hierarchy attacked and persecuted him instead. 

Luther was naturally a low key and soft-spoken man, but as he was persecuted he took his stand upon God and His Word and a lion seemed to come forth from within as he stood up for the truth.

Along with the important foundation of “justification bygrace through faith”, which became an established principle of the Reformation, another of the important principles that Luther saw in the New Testament was “the priesthood of all believers.”

Luther saw the teaching that all believers are priests clearly in New Testament Scripture: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (1 Pet. 2:9) However, the Catholic system had fabricated an idea, foreign to the New Testament, that priests stood above regular “lay” people, both spiritually and authoritatively, and thus were superior.  Titles for example like “Mother Superior” for the headmistress of a convent are not mere niceties but actual acknowledgements that this person is superior and others are less than that person.  In fact, the pope is a semi-god in the Catholic system and an intermediary between God and man, which then follows the Catholic teaching that one must be part of the Catholic church to be saved, since the pope must mediate between God and man for a person to be saved.  This, of course, all goes completely against what Jesus taught: 

But you must not be called 'Teacher,' because you have only one Teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters together. And don't call any person [in the church] 'Father,' because you have one Father, who is in heaven. And you should not be called 'Master,' because you have only one Master, the Christ. The only ‘superior’ among you is the one who serves the others. For every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion. Matt 23: 8-12

I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father except through me. John 14:6


Martin Luther and his English contemporary William Tyndale both worked to get the Scriptures into the vernacular language of their people.  Since the Bible was only allowed in Latin and not to be possessed by common people according to Canon church law, the church was able to control people’s spiritual understanding.  These reformers’ proclamation that they would make the common ploughboy more knowledgeable of the Scriptures than the priests in the Catholic system was not a pipe dream.  All they had to do was get the Scriptures into the hands of the people in a language they could understand, and this did indeed happen since the priest didn’t read or usually have any knowledge of what the New Testament taught.  The reformers sought to liberate the people to understand the finished work of Christ and that in Christ there is a priesthood of all believers.

William Tyndale was an Englishman who was friend’s with Martin Luther and was greatly influenced by Luther’s translation of the Bible into German and sought to do the same for the English.  The two would meet at the White Horse Inn to share a pint and discuss theology.

Both worked in spite of severe persecution and attack on translations of the Bible into the common tongues of their people.  When Tyndale had translated the New Testament into English he had pocket-sized New Testaments smuggled into England from Belgium, which became hugely popular throughout the island nation. Tyndale had to flee England to try and survive severe persecution launched against him for his reformed ideas.

Luther had done his translation while evading arrest and burning at the stake and hiding in the Wartburg castle; there he translated the Bible into the common German tongue.   While Luther survived his ordeal, Tyndale however, was hunted down and strangled by the religious authorities and then burned at the stake.  He gave his life for seeking to translate the Bible into the contemporary language of his day; they would have done the same to Luther had he not been hidden by his elector at the Wartburg. 

Tyndale’s legacy lives on today. Many, however, are not aware of the fact that, according to scholar David Daniel, about 90% of the King James New Testament was the work of William Tyndale.  His influence on the English language is probably larger than any other single person as well and goes beyond even people like Shakespeare, as he coined phrases still in wide usage to this day in the English speaking world like: “salt of the earth,” “scapegoat,” “apple of my eye,” etc.

Luther’s and Tyndale’s idea was simple yet revolutionary, and subsequently opposed vehemently by the church. Tyndale was in fact murdered by that institution for seeking to reach the common man with the Gospel: Luther and Tyndale both wanted and worked to get the New Testament Scriptures into the hands of the common people in their own language, believing that this would result in the individuals’ understanding easily opening up to the finished work of Christ on the cross for them. They would likewise understand that they have been made a new nation of priests and kings forever in the kingdom of God, a kingdom where Christ alone rules and reigns in love and His subjects are lifted up by humbling themselves and not by exalting themselves over others. The greatest in the kingdom of God is one who serves others, not lords it over others.  They wanted to shine the light of Christ rather than keeping the people in the dark like the church system had sought to do. 

Thus, the believer in Christ is made new and forgiven by virtue of what Christ has done for him; Christ’s blood has washed and cleansed him and clothed him in righteousness.  That glorious blood has also made the simple believer of the crucified Christ a priest in the risen Son’s glorious kingdom forever—Hallelujah. 

Let’s remember the price paid by Christ for our sins and the price paid by His followers who went before us so we can have His liberating word!!!  

Footnotes:
(1)--Here I Stand by Roland Bainton--an excellent in-depth biography on Martin Luther.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!-- America's Reformation and Revival History


Hope you have a great Fourth of July!  While most of us are busy enjoying fireworks or a barbeque or something of that sort, it is important to pause a moment afterwards, hopefully you take a moment to reflect and read a bit here, and think a little bit about what exactly led up to the birth of one of the most unique nations in history.

One angle not talked about much regarding this topic is just how much the Protestant Reformation is tied into the birth of America. The secular "History Channel" recently did a program that declared: “without Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation there would be no America!”  Pretty startling but true words from a secular institution, words that we should take a look at and see the reality of what happened:

At the signing of the declaration of Independence, according to renowned historian Sydney Alhstrom, 75% of the signers of that history-making and trailblazing declaration were of Puritan background, the others were mostly Separatists and Quakers.

All of them: Puritans, Separatists, and Quakers, are products of the Protestant Reformation.  This points to the enormous impact and influence the Protestant Reformation—a movement that Martin Luther unintentionally started when he refused to bow down to men’s traditions, instead choosing to stand firm on the Word of God alone—had upon the very formation of the American Nation.   

The roots can be traced back to the enormous influence of the Word of God.  It was the Bible's very words of grace and mercy in the books of Romans and Galatians that brought Luther into his born-again experience.  This in turn led him to stand against the false teachings of penance and dead works for forgiveness that were taught by the Catholic church which was wedded to the state at that time. 

Luther's struggle with the condemnation he felt under the man-made system of rituals and dead works in the Catholic system led him to throw off the yoke that had been pushing his face down into the mud of condemnation for far to long.   When he finally came into the revelation of God’s grace he threw off that oppressive and tyrannical yoke of medieval Catholicism.  

A great throng throughout Europe who had had enough as well began to do the same.  This revelation of grace found in Scripture was so freeing and life-giving that Luther was thus willing to stand up against the tyranny of his day and speak the truth and he inspired others to do likewise.  He became more than willing to suffer the reproach of men and even face certain death and martyrdom that came with doing so (he was pronounced as a heretic and the church sought to have him put to death but the prince of his region abducted and hid him in a castle to spare his life.) 

In the process of standing up he directly influenced many others to do the same and to stand up for the truth, no matter what the cost, and a great Reformation began to spread throughout Europe. 

This willingness to throw off the yoke of tyrannical oppression followed suit later in the American colonies when they grew tired of the oppression and tyranny of the English monarchy, who wouldn’t even allow them to print a Bible in their own English language.  The first American English language Bible was printed in 1782 by the Congress of the United States after independence had been established.

When Luther took his stand  there was a ripple effect throughout Europe, including in Great Britain.  People like Thomas Cramner (archbishop of Canterbury) who were influenced by Luther began to turn back to the truth of the word of Scripture.  Though Cramner was later martyred for his faith, the Reformation spread throughout Great Britain and other like the Puritans adopted its principles.  In Scotland reformer John Knox also had come into the truth and he directly influenced the thinking of many early American revolutionaries. 

The Reformation in Great Britain spread in many ways and groups like Puritans who wanted to Purify the church were spawned.  The Puritans saw the need to have a life filled with the Spirit and felt tradition bound forms of worship just didn’t cut it.  They were pushed to the fringes of English society.   In time it led to this Protestant group coming to the New World seeking, amongst other things, freedom to worship as they saw fit.

America was discovered by an Italian who was underwritten by the Spanish, with many others like the Dutch and French finding their way here long before the English.  However, it would nevertheless be the English, and more specifically this unlikely group of English Christians known as the Puritans, that would have such an important influence on the formation of the emerging nation.

Though not the first on the scene by any means, it was in fact this large movement of English Puritans that began to come in more and more numbers and form colonies that would have the biggest impact with their Christian ideals, and would eventually have the greatest influence in the creation of a new independent nation.

Early Puritans were unique amongst Protestants in that they saw as essential the need for the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s heart and not just mere Bible knowledge for the head; they were thus known as some of the first “Protestant-Mystics.”

They came, willingly facing starvation, hardship, privation and even death. Why were these English Puritans so ready to suffer in this primitive and undeveloped land where other colonizers had given up and fled for their lives? According to historian Alhstrom it was for a very specific and yet simple reason:  They saw it as their duty to the Great Commission to come and establish the Gospel in this new land.  They saw it as a place they not only wanted to influence, but also where they would have the freedom to worship as they saw fit without the bounds, traditions, controls, and persecution of the Established Church.  

The moniker "Puritan" came from their desire not to be purer or holier than others—popular misconception notwithstanding—but rather it developed from their roots in the Reformation and their desire “to see the church purified from papal pollution of false doctrines and teachings and be brought back to New Testament foundations.”

Indeed their allegiance to the Great Commission caused them to see the New World as their mission field, and so they came and willingly suffered for the establishment of the Gospel in this land. 

America’s foundations have so much of the Christian faith running through them, much more than we have been told by the deceptive institutions of our day, like public schools, whose favorite activity seems to be to rewrite and redact history.   Rewriting history was one of the control tactics of the Communists, by the way, and especially Stalin, who actually said: “If we rewrite history we can control the people.”  Scary to think this what is going on in American public schools and universities in our day.  Stalin’s values have become the status quo as history is re-written in such a way as to expunge the reality of the Christian impact and influence on the history of the American nation.   Can anyone detect Satan’s hand in all this revisionism?

The awesome thing though is that when you just know a bit of what took place you see that “The Kingdom of God”, and “God's Word of Truth”, has impacted the US’s history far more for the good than we could ever imagine.

America not only had those like the Puritans come here early on in direct response to The Great Commission but it also had many revivals in its early days and through its history that set the tone for the foundation of faith that was laid.  These revivals made a huge mark on the early American frontier and set a tone of faith and belief in the truth that shaped the landscape of the early American experience.

Revivals like The Great Awakening and the Cane Ridge Revival shook and shaped things in a massive way.  Revivals have kept sweeping on throughout different periods as well, bringing salvation and the power of God to untold multitudes in the process.  Revivalist Charles Finney experienced a conversion and baptism in the Holy Spirit that led him to go throughout America and see great revival fire spread all over.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the great cloud of witnesses who went before us suffering to establish God's truth and influencing history to do the same.


Have a look at some of these video and audio programs we’ve done when you get a chance, doesn’t all need to be done in one day. In the meantime when you see, or have seen some fireworks, remember God’s fire made it all available.









Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day! - The Christian Celtic Legacy


There is no doubt that the spiritual legacy of Celtic Christian pioneers like Patrick and Columcille inspired missions in their successors. And it was indeed those Celtic Christians who would have a hand in converting one of the most brutal people Europe has ever known, in a way they would never expect.

Some of the most unlikely converts to Christianity were those people who were collectively known as the Scourge of Europe and even of Christendom itself. Threatening the whole of European civilized society with their brutal raids, ransacking, and wholesale destruction of the towns and villages they plundered, the Vikings were eventually undone by some of the very people whom they settled amongst and enslaved in their crushing conquests.

The Viking Age officially began in 793/4 AD when Lindisfarne, a small island off the coast of Northumberland, England, that served as one of the main centers of Celtic Christianity that was birthed through missionaries coming from Iona, Scotland, was suddenly attacked. Marauding Norsemen hit the small island near the Scottish border with an early form of shock and awe, devastating its inhabitants with overwhelming force as they came ashore in their strange-looking boats.

Ransacking and looting the small island, which was inhabited by Celtic Christians involved in study and prayer, they carried off many of its treasures and took captives as slaves back to Scandinavia. As the Vikings continued their attacks in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and began to establish settlements throughout those lands, a strange thing happened: “Under contacts with the peoples they were attacking, the inherited religion of the Vikings was disintegrating and they were adopting both the faith and much of the culture of those they conquered.” (Latourette, A History of Christianity)

Here we can see the amazing paradox of the verse: “…The weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength,” (1 Cor. 1:25) played out through real-life events. God used those in a position of military weakness, Celtic Christians, to reach those Vikings who were, militarily and politically speaking, much stronger than themselves. The One crucified in weakness on a cross would, through the power of the Gospel, be the beginning of the undoing of the Viking’s violent culture. Missionaries, who themselves would go willingly to Scandinavia later, would help complete the process God had begun in such a paradoxical fashion. Much like the Roman Empire itself which was conquered by the Christians whom the Romans spent so long persecuting.

Lindisfarne

We had the privilege of visiting the beautiful little Island of Lindisfarne on our last trip—all via divine appointment, more on that in a future post—it was not a place we were originally planning to go. However, God hooked us up with some awesome families in the North of England and our friend Al insisted on taking us up for a visit that we were more than glad to do!

Walking along the shores of Lindisfarne we reflected upon what a significant place of history we were standing on. Lindisfarne became over time one of the main centers of Celtic Christianity in its day. It was also where the infamy of the first Viking raid marked the official beginning of the Viking Age. It was an incredible moment to walk on a place so rich in history, and reflect on that great cloud of witnesses who went before us—such triumph and suffering—seen so radically in one spot.

Celtic Christianity had spread throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the British Isles, and Lindisfarne had become a center for missionary training and Bible Scholarship. Missionaries had come directly from Iona, Scotland to establish a center there. Pioneers of the faith like Patrick and Columcille had inspired succeeding waves of missionaries and mission activity that had carried the purer form of the faith (*see footnote below) well into lands on the lower part of the continent of Europe as well.

Many of the far northern areas in Europe had been left unreached though, with the exceptions of some attempts by people like Anskar, who went to Scandinavia as a missionary. But because his mission work was never followed up on, Scandinavia, by and large, remained firmly in the pagan grip. And yet the weakness of God is greater than man’s strength…

When invading Vikings took captives from places like Lindisfarne in their raids and began to settle in Celtic lands, they unwittingly took captives home to be used as slaves, not realizing they were actually taking home those who’d be missionaries to them. Isn’t it divine irony that those they settled around and those they took home as slaves and captives would eventually end up evangelizing them.

It was, however, an incredible form of suffering to be endured for those who were invaded as well as captured: first witnessing the brutal destruction suddenly unleashed by these invading hordes come on shore in strange foreign ships along with the slaughter of friends and loved ones, then for some to be captured and taken from their lands and to be put into servitude like this. The utter devastation visited upon the land, which seemed shocking and unthinkable, was in the end redeemed by God and used as a means to bring forth the Gospel into the forsaken and frozen territories of the extreme north. The extreme north had bred extreme men in the Vikings, which required extreme means to bring forth God’s redemption.

The Extreme North

It is interesting to notice that the areas in the northern British Isles and Ireland lied outside what had been the boundaries of the former Roman Empire, consequently lacking some of the usual defenses the Romans would have built in earlier days. Lindisfarne, in fact, lies just an hour north of the huge defensive wall and other defenses built by emperor Hadrian during the Roman era in Britain.

Ireland, given the name of Hibernia (“land of endless winter”) by the Romans, had in fact been ignored altogether by the Romans who didn’t want to bother with the constant rain and cold there (those old Roman tunics didn’t repel rain like your North Face jacket—no Goretex back then.)

The Vikings, however, came from an even harsher climate and were an adept seafaring people who had the fastest boats in Europe. They swept in with speed and ferocity to these unprotected Celtic lands, plundering and looting as they went and making settlements and taking captives with them. They continued to expand their barbary further and further out throughout these lands.

Dublin itself, Ireland’s capital city, is in fact a Viking name given by its conquerors which means Blackpool, further indicating what an incredible imprint the Norsemen left upon the Celtic landscape.

The conquered Celts however, ended up causing the very demise of the Vikings’ savage violence, and the Celts left a deeper and longer-lasting imprint with the power of the Gospel than the Vikings ever did in all their ruthlessness and savagery. The weakness of God is greater than man’s strength. (It is worth noting that the Scandinavian lands once known for producing “The Scourge of Europe” later became, comparatively speaking, one of the more peaceful regions in all of Europe, thanks largely to the strong and lasting Christian permeation effected there).

Signs and Wonders

God also brought forth conversions to the Vikings through signs and wonders in some amazing ways to aid in bringing the Gospel back to Scandinavia.

A Viking leader named Olaf Trygvassen was on a raiding venture when he heard of a fortune-teller in the Isles of Scilly, which lie off the coast of Cornwall in Britain. Deciding to pay a visit, he ran upon what instead turned out to be a Christian prophet.

Olaf received a prophecy that he would be wounded in a mutinous battle and carried back to his boat on his shield by sailors faithful to him. He would lay seven days wounded, and then would recover, turn to Christ, and take the Gospel back to Norway.

After Olaf was wounded and survived just as the prophecy had foretold, he then visited the prophet again in amazement, who then led him to Christ, baptized him, and sent him back to Norway to proclaim the Gospel.

Olaf began to proclaim Christ, leading many to salvation throughout Norway, where he eventually became the first Christian King. Latourette says: “He converted many by persuasion, but sometimes by force when he saw neccessary.” He was, after all, a Viking trying to rule in an equally violent Viking land and this was a violent age; furthermore, believers not always acting exactly as they should after conversion is just part of the whole saga through and through in Christian history from beginning to end and what the Scriptures speak of as the remaining battle of the “old man.”

Another Christian King would also have a dramatic effect upon Norway’s process of conversion. Olaf Harraldson (lots of Olaf’s to keep straight here) was another Viking out “going a-viking,” meaning out pillaging and plundering more innocent victims throughout Europe, when he had a strange dream “of a great and important man saying ‘return home, you shall become king of Norway.’ ” Olaf had a conversion and did become King of Norway and proclaimed the Christan faith throughout the realm and built churches. Though he stood firm and strong against enemies, he preferred peace and law, and was used to spread the faith even more, as well as to further the process of dismantling the pagan stronghold in Scandinavia.

“The weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” God worked through the conquered Celts as well as using signs and wonders to begin the process of converting some of the most ruthless and unlikely people Europe had known—the very scourge of Christendom—in bringing them to Christ.

*Footnote - Celtic Christianity was much more similar to later Protestant Christianity that held to justification by faith through grace and upholding scriptural authority while Catholicism at that time was descending into a spiritual and political morass.