Monday, September 22, 2014

The Beginning of Wisdom

For those of you who have teenagers, you know that parenting takes on a whole new level. This is mainly due to the fact that teenagers know everything. I do mean EVERYTHING and they no longer need you. My teenagers will politely listen to me and nod their heads but I know they are not listening. How do I know? Simply by observing the results of their actions. At this point it is too late to change the outcome and I can't help but think to myself, "if only you had listen to me".......

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7
What is fear? 
It is the emotional foreboding or dread of impending distress or misfortune. I personally do not want to live in this kind of fear. I would end up stuck in my house for days on end! Thank fully this is not what the Bible refers to. The fear of the Lord refers to an awe-inspiring reverence. I have to confess that most days, I do not live with an awe-inspiring reference for God. I get up and drink my coffee and get the kids ready for school and start tackling that never-ending to-do list. On those days that God is not at the top of my to-do list, I often feel frustrated, exhausted, defeated, angry, desperate, etc... I am more than likely acting like a brat and God is looking down, saying "if only you had listen to me."


The Beginning of Knowledge
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

I believe that we will never fully know God until we are complete in heaven. Even the psalmist cried out, "such knowledge is too wonderful for me" (Psalm 139:6). Yet the fear of the Lord, this awe-inspiring reference IS the beginning of knowledge. Every journey has a starting point, every story has a beginning. Our journey with God starts with full reference for who He is. There is nothing greater, better, bigger than our God. NOTHING. He alone is worthy of all our praises. Wisdom has its origin in God, and whoever fears him receives it if he prays in faith (James 1:5). 

Fools
but fools despise wisdom and instructions...... Jeremiah 4:22 talks about those who are unwilling to know God and they are referred to as "stupid children". I do not want to be a brat and called stupid. I feel pretty confident that neither do you. Here is my challenge to you and me this week. Let's practice greeting each day with an awe-inspiring reference for God. Let's greet each day with a praise and a song. Let us pray "God grant me wisdom today".

Download the study for free here

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hearing with the Heart

For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:3

An American missionary in Africa wanted to translate the English word faith into the local dialect. He could not find its equivalent. So he went to an old sage, who was himself a fine Christian, for help in rendering the needed word into understandable language. The guru studied it, and finally said, “Does it not mean to hear with the heart?”

What does faith mean to you?
How would you explain it to someone who does not speak English? How do you explain it to yourself?
In order to fully understand what James mean by the testing of our faith, we need to fully be honest with ourselves about what faith means. Does it mean going to Church on Sunday? Does it mean putting more in the offering plate? Does it mean reading your Bible every day?

Most Bible translation will render James 1:3 as "testing of your faith". The KJV translates this verse as "the trying of your faith." Have you ever been tried? I know my kids have tried me on many occasions growing up. Fortunately I never had had to go to a trial and stand before a judge. I never had to live through a series of witnesses telling about me. I never had a group of jurors declaring me guilty or not guilty, when they never met me. I never had to see the gavel go down on my verdict. 

What would it look like today, if my faith was put on trial? Would I be found guilty or not guilty? Would I pass or would I fail? Would I fail and persevere or would I give up?

How about you? How is your faith? How is it when all is well? How is it when nothing makes sense and God's presence is a distant memory?

Adolf Hitler could not silence pastor Martin Niemöller, and kept him imprisoned for seven-and-a-half years. His ministry during and after incarceration was courageous and constructive. Having read many of his books and heard him during frequent trips to America, I was pleased that he granted me an interview in the Ecumenical Center in Frankfurt. He was warm and outgoing, repeating frequently, “We are responsible for mankind.”
Toward the end of our visit he said: “Christianity is not an ethic, nor is it a system of dogmatics, but a living thing. One cannot deal with God in solitude or in remoteness only, but in the struggles of life.”

How is your study of James coming along? Will you be joining us? Let us know if you do, we would love to pray for you.

You can download the James Study right here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Consider it pure joy James 1:2

"Consider it pure joy my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds." James 1:2


There is a song that always makes me bob my head when it comes on the radio. Here are the beginning lyrics and I am sure that you will be singing along...


Here's a little song I wrote

You might want to sing it note for note

Don't worry, be happy

In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy
Don't worry, be happy now

I was curious one day and did some research about the inspiration for that song. Here is what Wikipedia taught me: 


The Indian mystic and sage Meher Baba (1894–1969) often used the expression "Don't worry, be happy" when cabling his followers in the West. However, Meher Baba communicated variations of the sentiment; fuller versions of the quote – such as, "Do your best. Then, don’t worry; be happy in My love. I will help you"— which incorporate responsibility with detachment, as well as the master/disciple spiritual relationship.



I do like the concept of responsibility with detachment and master/disciple spiritual relationship. However I am not convinced that being "happy" is what God intends for my life.

We, Americans have this engrained in our brains that
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Those words penned on July 4, 1776 are echoed in the Declaration of the Rights of Men and Citizens, penned by a revolutionary French assembly in 1789, with the exception of the word happy.

Those two countries at the time were going through some major turmoils and faced many trials of many kinds. Yet when making a declaration the concept of freedom and happiness was there. How can this be? I do not know about you but I never had to face the kind of trials that those men and women faced. The few that I faced rarely made me consider pure joy. 

James here uses the word joy not happiness. The word happy in the Hebrew language is esher, and is mainly translated as blessed. It is only used a few times, Job 5:17; Psalms 1:1; 2:12; 144:15; Proverbs 8:32; Daniel 12:12.

ʾEsher, the word translated “happy” (kjv, nlt), can also be translated as “blessed.” These two felicitous states of human beings are intimately laced together. They are at times impossible to differentiate in some biblical passages; by definition, the Lord blesses the happy person and the person blessed by the Lord is happy. Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words
Happiness is a secondary emotion to joy, an overflow of joy.
A quality or attitude of delight and happiness, which is ultimately grounded in the work of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Among the many situations in which joy is experienced, Scripture recognises as supreme being accepted in the presence of God. Dictionary of Bible Theme
The question remains, how I can consider it pure joy to face trials? If God loves me, why isn't He taking those trials away? If God is all powerful, why does He let me suffer?

The questions are hard. The answer is simple.

Think of Job. Job was a good, godly, god-fearing. Yet Job had trials after trials after trials. Yet he NEVER cursed God. Job loses everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Yet he never curses God. His wife tells him to, his friends tell him to. He holds his ground and NEVER curses God. He just makes appeal after appeal. Finally in chapter 31 Job makes his last appeal. Here is his claim:

In my innocence, I cry out for a hearing before God (31:1–40).
1. I have not looked with lust on a maiden (31:1–4).
2. I am not guilty of lying or deceit (31:5–8).
3. I have not committed adultery (31:9–12).
4. I have treated my servants fairly (31:13–15).
5. I have been generous and kind to the poor and the disadvantaged (31:16–23).
6. I have neither worshiped gold nor celestial bodies (31:24–28).
7. I have not rejoiced in others’ ruin (31:29–30).
8. I have not refused hospitality to anyone (31:31–32).
9. I have nothing to hide, but I wish God would give me a written statement of charges (31:33–37).
10. I have not withheld payment for the laborers on my land (31:38–40).

Job is saying, I am a righteous man yet I am suffering. None of this makes sense and he feels that he would be better off, if he was sinning. He quickly finds out that he is speaking without knowledge. Bottom-line God is just.  And God answers.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 

Dress for action like a man; 
I will question you, and you make it known to me. 
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Job 48:2-4

Then suddenly Job understands and cries out

“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? 
I lay my hand on my mouth. 
I have spoken once, and I will not answer; 

twice, but I will proceed no further.” Job 40:4-5

God's answer is like a slap in the face

Dress for action like a man Job 40:7

Ouch...... Then God keeps on talking and reminds Job of the things that only He can do. Even though Job had proclaimed in chapter 19 that His redeemer lives, he did not get it. Then God revealed all of His power and glory to him. Then Job knew without the shadow of a doubt that His redeemer lives and concludes with those words:

“I know that you can do all things, 
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ 
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, 
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 42:2-3

Job prayed and God accepted his prayer and restored his fortunes. 

So why rejoice when we face trials of many kinds? Because only then can we get to see the glory and power and majesty of God. Only then can we grow in our faith. Only then can we know Him and know without ANY doubt that Our Redeemer lives.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why do we study the Bible?


The Bible is above all a book that talks about God and His relationship to the world. What is God like? What is His relationship to His creation? What is His intended purpose for creation? (From the Holman Bible Illustrated Dictionary)
When I was in school and a book was studied in class, we would invariably always cover those basic questions:

  • Who are the main characters;
  • What is the setting;
  • What is the climax of the story;
  • What is it about.
If we apply those same basic questions to the Bible, I think that we can all agree that the main characters are God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Sub-characters would be Adam and Eve, Noah, 
Abraham,  Moses, David etc.... The setting is creation. I think it is fair to say that the climax is the cross. The story is about God's love for the world. 

Sadly though too often we turn a Bible Study into a study about us and for our particular needs. The Bible is for us not necessarily about us. Now before you call me a heretic, let me explain.


Imagine that just like any good books the Bible is made into a movie. If the Bible was about you then you would have a part in the movie. The truth is that the only part you would have (if you are lucky) is the one of an extra whose head or hands are seen for a second. So first and foremost let's read the Bible to know God better. 


To know him is to recognize him for what he is, the sovereign Lord who makes a demand on man’s obedience and especially upon the obedience of his people Israel, with whom he has made a covenant. He is the God whose holiness and loving-kindness are ‘known’ in the experience of nation and individual. The criterion of this knowledge is obedience, and its opposite is not simply ignorance but rebellious, wilful turning away from God (cf. 1 Sa. 2:12; 3:7; 2 Ch. 33:13; Is. 1:3; Je. 8:7; 24:7; 31:34). (taken from the New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition)

The beautiful thing is that the more we get to know Him, the more we get to know ourselves. Our heritage is with God and we are called His children (Romans 8:14). That lofty knowledge comes with some instructions too. Like any parent God wants us to follow some rules and make the family look good:

  • we are to be peacemakers Matthew 5:9
  • we are to love our enemies Matthew 5:44-45
  •  we are to believe Him and receive Him John 1:12
  • we are not exempt from suffering Romans 8:17
  • we are to be blameless and innocent Philippians 2:15
  • we are to know Him and recognize Him 1 John 3:1-2
You have all heard that couples that have been together for a long time tend to look alike. University of Michigan psychologist Robert Zajonc conducted an experiment to test this phenomenon. Here is one of his findings; "Zajonc suggested that older couples looked more alike because people in close contact mimic each other’s facial expressions. In other words, if your partner has a good sense of humor and laughs a lot, he or she will probably develop laugh lines around their mouth — and so will you." (http://www.livescience.com/8384-couples-start.html)

We are called to be imitators of God Ephesians 5:1. Imitate means "to follow as a pattern, model or example" (Webster). The word imitator from Ephesians 5:1 is also translated as followers in the KJV. We cannot imitate what we do not know, therefore we need to know God and the only way to know God is by spending time with Him through His word. The more the better. Do not treat the Bible as a self help book. It is so much more than that. 

Open your Faithbook more than your Facebook.

This semester PWOC Fort Drum will offer a study on the Book of James. I hope that you can join us either physically or online. The study and teaching will be posted here weekly.


I cannot wait to start this journey with you!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

30 Day to pray for your husband

When people pray, God listens and works miracles. Praying for your husband does not mean to ask God to fix the little (and even big) things that bug you. Praying for your husband is simply laying his needs and your marriage at His feet and allowing Him to transform your marriage into what God intended it to be.
Take the challenge with us. It is NEVER too late to start. Whether you have been married one day or 50 years, start praying today.

You can find this challenge here.  Reviveourhearts.com has many other great resources as well.


"An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels 
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life."
Proverbs 31:10-12 (emphasis mine)

The main focus for this week's prayers is your husband relationship with God. Whether your husband is a believer or not, he is a child of God. He may follow God wholeheartedly or reject Him completely. Regardless of the situation, praying for a right relationship with God is crucial. Not just that but praying for your husband will also ensure that your relationship with God is on track as well.

So join us in this challenge and do let us know if we can pray for you.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Be a Voice for the Voiceless - IJM Prayer Gathering



Here are some testimonies from our ladies who experienced the IJM Global Prayer Gathering this past April in Washington DC www.ijm.org:

Overall, I was really glad that we went to the prayer gathering. It was great to hear from all the different representatives from all over the world....hearing about the various kinds of work they are doing. It's not 'just' sex trafficking or slavery, there's also land grabbing in Africa, or rape victims advocates in Central/South America, undercover operations, and then even US legislative representatives stateside. The work that IJM does reaches a wide scope of victims/issues. It was kind of shocking to hear that there's over 27 million slaves around the globe. Seems like a very large number in today's world. But in the US we're so blinded by our life of relative comfort. As far as what to "do"......So many times we want to pack up our stuff and go on a mission trip somewhere to 'convert' people or spread the gospel....that's great, and there's a time/place for that. But what I learned at the gathering was that sometimes what we REALLY need to do to help these people, is to seriously pray for them. Also, shine light on the reality of these dark issues here in America as well, because we are a great nation w/great resources.
-Jessica


For me The IJM Global Prayer Gathering was very much an emotional event. When asked to share something, I was stumped, because words simply cannot convey what I felt. I can tell you about it, but telling is not enough. You have to feel it to truly understand what it is to have your eyes and your heart opened to the depth of the suffering that goes on in this world. 

In the GPG first session on Thursday night, Gary Haugen spoke about shining God's light into the darkness. In the subsequent meetings they began to introduce us to that darkness. While all the speakers had poignant stories, the one that hit me hardest was an IJM investigator who spoke about the thousands of boys enslaved in the fishing industry in Ghana. He showed us a picture of a little boy, perhaps five years old, sitting, dejected and unresponsive on a fishing boat. 




When I saw that little boy, I thought of my own son, who is eight. I remembered his smiles, his laughter. I saw him sitting on a big plastic toy truck that we bought for his birthday one year. I saw his joy when he got his first medal in his first gymnastics competition. I remembered how I know he needs his mom when he asks me to read to him or tries desperately to keep me in his room, talking to him and playing with him at bedtime. These are things that the little boy on the fishing boat, and countless others like him, will never know. Never, that is, unless people like you and I step up to our God-given role and purpose; unless we step outside of ourselves and do our part, what ever that may be, to help spread justice in this world.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt he gave them a mission. They were to enter the Holy Land and destroy the sin that existed there. Then they were to live according to God's laws and if they did so he promised to bless them and make them fruitful. They would be a leading nation that all the world looked to. And the world would see the glory and power and love and caring nature of God the creator. Unfortunately, the Israelites got it all wrong. They thought God had put them there and blessed them because they were somehow special, better than everyone else, and that they deserved to be better off than the rest. They failed their God-given mission, and he disbanded them as a nation. They have never recovered that former glory. God passed the mission on to the Gentiles.

I believe that God blessed this land because the people who founded it were tired of unreligious people with selfish motives telling them how to worship God, and they wanted to make a nation where God, and not human ends, is the motive and the means for worship. Like he did with Israel, God gave prosperity to this land because the people were honoring him. But also as with Israel, God did not give prosperity simply so the people could be wealthy. Rather, he gave it so that they could glorify his name. And for a while, we did that. But, like the Israelites, our prosperity has gone to our heads. We think that we are here just because we're great. God Bless America. But God says America, bless God!
We studied Ephesians at the beginning of the year, and the major theme that stood out from that book is unity of the body. But it's not unity of the PWOC body, or of your local church body. It's not even unity of the city, state or nation's body. God desires unity in the church as a whole. That means that Christians in Cambodia, Ghana and Brazil are as much a part of your body as is the lady sitting next to you. 

What I experienced at the Global Prayer gathering tore my heart and moved me to want to help, in some way, the people who are suffering. And truly not just them, but the people who keep them in this suffering, because I cannot help but wonder what brings one to the depravity of mind, to the state of pure callousness, that allows human beings to treat other human beings this way. The first step in helping is to see that there is a need, and the next step is to feel the pain that God feels because of it. If your heart is not yet broken for the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, the downtrodden of this world, I urge you to start exposing yourself to the truth. Seek out information on what's going on in the world, and then pray pray that God will break it your heart for what breaks his.
- Carol



Dear PWOC of Ft. Drum,
     I wish to thank you for allowing me to share in the recent International Justice Mission Prayer Gathering.  As a wife of a retired Army Veteran, I am inspired by you young women of faith engaging in the experience of expanding your influence through prayer opportunities for individuals and families of our nation and our world.
     We live in a world with extreme challenges.  The IJM experience brought home to me the need for women and men of faith to pursue DILIGENT HOPE through DILIGENT PRAYER.  as our founding fathers of this great nation sought religious freedom and justice from the tyranny of British rule. They acknowledged along the journey the role of DIVINE PROVIDENCE.  We need only to look at our dollar bill to see the eye which signified tribute to Divine Providence glorified.  The Latin inscription of "Anniuit Coeptis"  means , "God's blessings on our undertakings".  Also, "Novus Ordo Seclorum" labeled the currency as of " A new order of the ages" , recognizing our nation's deep roots in Christian principles  of the many denominations who fasted and prayed this nation into the "land of the free and the home of the brave.
     George Washington's love of liberty produced perseverance as he acknowledged repeatedly God's miraculous intervention in the winning of the American Revolution.  History records him admonishing his men to practice Christian virtues. Washington prayed regularly, daily, in fields alone, on his knees, and in tents of an evening. This posture of prayer is what the IJM experience reiterated for me. A calling to arms of sorts... to fight the good fight for Justice....as only the Light of Liberty in Christ reveals.
     In recent days we've heard various stories that our founding fathers were not so Christian.  Benjamin Franklin has been said to be such.  YET, he quoted Psalm 127:1.
   "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain", and asked the "Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings."  When the newly formed congress was in a stalemate much as our present day congress is,  Franklin spoke these words ,  " I believe that without HIS concurring aid we shall succeed no better than the builders of Babel"
Seems to be a message relevant for today's political builders in Washington.
     And so as we were encouraged by Gary Haugen in Washington with IJM to pray ....may we recognize the parallels of poverty and violence and injustice here in the USA as well as in those places in the world where the laws of justice are so rarely enforced.    May we encourage one another to pray diligently for healing of a polarized country and world.
     May we ask God to shrink the shadows of fear as Isaiah 61 calls us..
     May we seek to dispel the darkness as John 3:20 calls.
     May we plead for the melting of the mountains and defeat evil as Psalms 97:5&6 depicts.
     May we call forth healing as seen in Psalms 30.

     May we persevere to the dawn.  (psalms 30:5)     Oh Lord, guide our feet & our prayers in the way of peace. ...rescue...restoration... repentance ... rehabilitation....rejoicing.  Amen
- Nancy


The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3

Monday, May 19, 2014

Does God Owe You?

I have a friend who is frustrated with God right now. He has certain talents and abilities, and he expected God to give him certain things in the way of a job, things which would utilize his God-given talents. But he didn't get what he wanted and now he's angry with God, maybe even falling away. It makes me sad, and I pray that he will not walk away from his faith. But I can relate to him. Not too long ago a similar thing happened to me, a disappointed expectation, and I blamed God. Thankfully, we serve a forgiving God, and because of Jesus he does not hold my error against me. I think it's all too easy for us to come to expect things and to be angry with God when we don't get them.

You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 
James 4:2b-3

God did not put us in this world to live here.  We are to be in the world, but not of the world. 

"Jesus answered, 'My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.'" John 18:36 



But what does that mean? 

God gave us abilities and gifts, and he expects us to use them. If you don't believe that, read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. God also wants us to have prosperity and enjoy the world. Why else would he have promised "a land flowing with milk and honey" to the Israelites if they obeyed him? And why did he give us stars, snow-capped mountains, the Grand Canyon, delicious food or sunsets if he does not want us to have pleasure in this life? All of this is the "in the world" part.

The problem is not in having, using or enjoying these things. Rather, the problem comes when these things become the focus. That is what being "of the world" means. If we desire things simply because they give us pleasure or make us happy our heart is not in the right place. And it is the heart that God is after. So if you're asking God for something, or expecting anything from him that is not forth-coming, try doing a heart check. 



Is your focus on Him?

 Or is it on your own pleasures? 

Ask God to show you. He knows your heart better than even you do.


Holy Father, YOU alone are God and worthy of all praise and worship. Thank you for your goodness and for the many blessings you continually pour out. Help us to receive them with humble, generous, and thankful hearts. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you and to live faithful, god honoring lives. Thank you Jesus. Amen 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Be Alert and sober minded for the purpose of PRAYER...




The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. 1 Peter 4:7

This seemed a fitting verse to me, after our study of Joel, culminating in the letters to the churches in Revelation. To us, it may not seem like the end of all things is near. After all, Peter wrote this 2000 years ago, and the end doesn't really seem any closer than it was back then. So perhaps we have another 2000 years to go. I doubt it, but I don't pretend to know the mind of the Lord. Yet whether it seems near to us or not, the end is coming. And the command is clear - keep praying! Clear your mind, Peter says, focus it on the things that matter, and pray. Our prayers increase the kingdom. They keep us oriented. And they heal the church. Let's keep the church in prayer asking God to fill the body with his Spirit and help us to accomplish his purpose. Pray that the church will stand out as separate and different, and that we will glorify our Lord.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your Word, the Bible. I thank you for the prophets, for their words that point out sin and tell us what you truly desire. I thank you for conviction and correction, so that I can always be reaching toward a holier life. I thank you for the body, and for the way that you give each of us a part to play. I thank you that not one of us is neglected in the gifting. I thank you for prayer, our communication with you. I thank you that you have not abandoned us here on earth; you have not given up on us or forsaken us but have saved us. I ask you to fill the church with your Holy Spirit. Bring your love and conviction into the body. Make the words of the prophets real to us so that we will see our sin, face our unholiness and cling to what is good, bringing glory to your name. Purify our hearts and our minds to serve you fully. Amen.

 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:11-13

Monday, May 5, 2014

Be the change you want to see!


Do Something



To every decision in our daily lives we can simply ask ourselves, 
"Does this honor God and bring Him glory?”    




Do you think about your daily habits? 
Are you pursuing His Kingdom?
Who are you following?
How are you set apart?




Some thoughts on ways to SHINE the LOVE of CHRIST:
  • Spend time in the WORD each day. Listen and obey.
  • Spend time with and nurture your own families and homes
  • Reach out to the widows in your family and community
  • Write snail mail to loved ones sharing your testimony & what God is doing in your life
  • Serve with JOY at your church doing your part
  • Be generous givers and remember the poor, orphans, and widows
  • Check out your Local foster Care and adoption agencies or support those who foster and adopt children
  • Proclaim the good news and praise His name at every opportunity - do not be silent!
  • Walk in a manner worthy of the LORD - be "Above reproach" 
  • Say "YES"to God! Be available, open, and surrendered to HIS KINGDOM work
  • Pray without ceasing
  • AND IN ALL THINGS...



A few good organizations to learn about and support the cause: 

  • Compassion International - www.compassion.com
  • International Justice Mission - www.ijm.org 
  • Samaritan Purse www.samaritanpurse.org 
  • Voice of the Martyrs www.persucution.com 
  • World Vision - www.worldvision.org 



Romans 11:36 - 12:2  "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Join us in prayer tomorrow!


National Day of Prayer
The trumpet is sounding, rallying the people of God to come with “one voice” in prayer and repentance.
Around the world and especially in our very nation, we see the battles of good and evil raging. We, as a nation are too often filled with pride, selfish ambition, materialism, greed, envy, and all types of evil and idolatry. We live in a day and culture where often evil is called good and good evil. Too often, we Christians follow the world and would rather our ears be tickled and entertained than to adhere to the great calling and purpose we have been given.

We are in need of a wake up call. Sound the trumpets! Rally the troops! Put on sack cloth and, like Ezra, pour out your heart to intercede in prayer for this nation. Will you answer the call? Will you join us? It begins with me. It begins with you.
May 1st is our nation’s “National Day of Prayer”. This day was originally declared by George Washington for the people of our fledgling nation to humble themselves before the Almighty God in prayer, fasting, and in seeking His will and ways. It is a day set aside to meditate on His goodness. A day to give thanks and to praise His name! The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has blessed us with grand providence and provision! Ask the thousands, if not millions, who have fled to this nation in search of freedom and in hopes of finding refuge, my own ancestors included. God, in His grace, allowed this Nation to rise into a world power. It was a place of freedom and hope for millions of people fleeing persecution or hardships. God, in His sovereignty, has protected her and poured out his blessings on her. Sadly, like the Israelites, we Christians have fallen in love with the gifts instead of the giver. We can be fickle people and prone to leave the God we claim to love. Will you join us in “rending your hearts and not your garments” this May 1st? Will you join us in interceding for the individuals of this Nation? As you ponder your own whole hearted devotion to the LORD GOD who is worthy of all praise, take time to also reflect on the plight of our Nation. Take a minute to read President Ronald Reagan’s 1983 address below and join us in prayer. Choose this day whom you will serve.!




JANUARY 27, 1983 - BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION
PRAYER IS THE MAINSPRING OF THE AMERICAN SPIRIT, A FUNDAMENTAL TENET OF OUR PEOPLE SINCE BEFORE THE REPUBLIC WAS FOUNDED. A YEAR BEFORE THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, IN 1775, THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS PROCLAIMED THE FIRST NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER AS THE INITIAL POSITIVE ACTION THEY ASKED OF EVERY COLONIST.
TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGO IN 1783, THE TREATY OF PARIS OFFICIALLY ENDED THE LONG, WEARY REVOLUTIONARY WAR DURING WHICH A NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER HAD BEEN PROCLAIMED EVERY SPRING FOR EIGHT YEARS. WHEN PEACE CAME, THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER WAS FORGOTTEN. FOR ALMOST HALF A CENTURY, AS THE NATION GREW IN POWER AND WEALTH, WE PUT ASIDE THIS DEEPEST EXPRESSION OF AMERICAN BELIEF -- OUR NATIONAL DEPENDENCE ON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
IT TOOK THE TRAGEDY OF THE CIVIL WAR TO RESTORE A NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER. AS ABRAHAM LINCOLN SAID, “INTOXICATED WITH UNBROKEN SUCCESS, WE HAVE BECOME TOO SELF-SUFFICIENT TO FEEL THE NECESSITY OF REDEEMING AND PRESERVING GRACE, TOO PROUD TO PRAY TO THE GOD THAT MADE US.''
REVIVED AS AN ANNUAL OBSERVANCE BY CONGRESS IN 1952, THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER HAS BECOME A GREAT UNIFYING FORCE FOR OUR CITIZENS WHO COME FROM ALL THE GREAT RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD. PRAYER UNITES PEOPLE. THIS COMMON EXPRESSION OF REVERENCE HEALS AND BRINGS US TOGETHER AS A NATION, AND WE PRAY IT MAY ONE DAY BRING RENEWED RESPECT FOR GOD TO ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD.
FROM GENERAL WASHINGTON'S STRUGGLE AT VALLEY FORGE TO THE PRESENT, THIS NATION HAS FERVENTLY SOUGHT AND RECEIVED DIVINE GUIDANCE AS IT PURSUED THE COURSE OF HISTORY. THIS OCCASION PROVIDES OUR NATION WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO FURTHER RECOGNIZE THE SOURCE OF OUR BLESSINGS, AND TO SEEK HIS HELP FOR THE CHALLENGES WE FACE TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM THURSDAY, MAY 5, 1983, NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER. I CALL UPON EVERY CITIZEN OF THIS GREAT NATION TO GATHER TOGETHER ON THAT DAY IN HOMES AND PLACES OF WORSHIP TO PRAY, EACH AFTER HIS OR HER OWN MANNER, FOR UNITY OF THE HEARTS OF ALL MANKIND.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I HAVE HEREUNTO SET MY HAND THIS 27TH DAY OF JAN., IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD NINETEEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-THREE, AND OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THE TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTH.
RONALD REAGAN
[FILED WITH THE OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL REGISTER, 11:22 A.M., JANUARY 28, 1983]
NOTE: THE TEXT OF THE PROCLAMATION WAS RELEASED BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY ON JANUARY 28.

Prayer:
To the Almighty Sovereign LORD,
There is none like You. Forgive us our sins and transgression and make us willing to forgive and love others, especially when it’s difficult. Grant us the strength, humility, and courage to do your will. Set our hearts on fire with love and passion for your great name! Turn our affections from anything and everything that is outside of your will. You alone are worthy of our hearts devotion.

We pray for a revival to spread throughout the nation and world by leading the church to repentance by your mercy and grace. Deliver us from temptation and save us
from the enemy. May we be a generation that is found faithful and true in your eyes. A people full of LIFE, full of JOY, full of HOPE, full of LOVE, full of POWER, and full of YOU. You are our God and we are your people. Come LORD JESUS, Come! To your name be all
the glory. Amen! 

Joel - Return to the LORD!



























Saturday, April 12, 2014

Deception Locuts in America




 I have spent way too much time trying to figure out when the book of Joel was written and who was Joel. Eventually I realized that those details did not matter and they did not for a specific reason.
If we knew exactly the time the book was written and the life of Joel, we could draw conclusion about the writing and tie it all to that time and place. The truth about this book is that it is for here and today.

Hear this, you elders;
    give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
    or in the days of your fathers?
Tell your children of it,
    and let your children tell their children,
    and their children to another generation.
What the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.
Joel 1:2-4

Joel starts with this horrible picture of locusts invading the land. Locusts were a common bedtime story during the Passover as the Israelites would recall the Exodus stories.
Locusts are still alive and well today. They still swarm in Africa and destroy everything in their pass. It is now possible to predict the pass of locusts and prevent the destruction with pesticides. Yet they still come and destroy. In revelation you can read how in the last days we will be plagued with locusts. On the day of judgement we will face the locusts.

Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. Revelation 9:3

The battle of Armageddon will be fought after the return of Christ our Lord. The time and day are and will always be unknown. Where we stand today is the valley of decision. Today you have to decide where you are standing. In the valley of decision there is no gray just black and white. We have been misled into thinking that God’s laws offer room for interpretation and options. I will call this living in the gray.

The truth is that God’s laws are black and white. The gray is sin. Sin that entered the world with a simple question “Did God really say…” You can read all about this in Genesis 3.

This gray is what I call the locusts of deception and this is why the prophesy of Joel is applicable to you and me today.

 Let me walk you through a few examples of locusts in our daily lives:
  • Prostitution: 
Did God really say......
 "Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (emphasis mine)
We have slowly and surely accepted prostitution as a fact of life. Each deception locusts pushing us farther and farther into the gray. Simple thoughts such as "it is the oldest job in the world" or "it does not affect me" turn the white from God's law into gray. Here are some facts about prostitution:
The average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years (M.H. Silbert and A.M. Pines, 1982, "Victimization of street prostitutes, Victimology: An International Journal, 7: 122-133) or 14 years (D.Kelly Weisberg, 1985, Children of the Night: A Study of Adolescent Prostitution, Lexington, Mass, Toronto). Most of these 13 or 14 year old girls were recruited or coerced into prostitution. Others were "traditional wives" without job skills who escaped from or were abandoned by abusive husbands and went into prostitution to support themselves and their children. (Denise Gamache and Evelina Giobbe, Prostitution: Oppression Disguised as Liberation, National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 1990)
 
Estimates of the prevalence of incest among prostitutes range from 65% to 90%. The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon Annual Report in 1991 stated that: 85% of prostitute/clients reported history of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest.  

Does it still not affect you?

Most of us either watch the Superbowl or know someone who does. At that time of the year it is nearly impossible not to hear about the Superbowl.  Urban legend has it that sex trafficking is increased during the Superbowl and that an influx of prostitutes arrive in the city where the Superbowl is held. There are no real evidence that this is true. However those observations might be tainted by the gray lenses we are looking at those facts. What constitutes prostitution? What is acceptable and what is not? Here is another fact for you to consider.

Law enforcement in New Jersey has worked for years to battle forced prostitution. The state strengthened its human trafficking law in early 2013, but it hit a roadblock in August when a federal judge ruled that a portion of the law that pertains to commercial sex ads posted online may conflict with federal legislation. The state is appealing. [source:AP.org]

  • Pornography:
 Did God really say...
"But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28 (emphasis mine)
 Pornography is a plague that is affected all of us. What you and I consider pornography might not be what God would call pornography. That is the first gray area that we have allowed. What is lustful intent? Lusting after any man or woman that you are not married to is pornography in God's eyes. Accepting anything else is stepping into the gray. We have slowly but surely allowed darker gray to invade this truth by saying "I am a Christian and immune" or "I am a woman and not affected" or "there is no harm in just looking". Here are some facts.
Seventy percent of American men ages 18–34 view Internet pornography once a month. This shocking fact is one of many that CT consulting editor John W. Kennedy found during his research for this month's cover story, "Help for the Sexually Desperate" (page 28).

Don't assume that porn isn't a problem in the church. One evangelical leader was skeptical of survey findings that said 50 percent of Christian men have looked at porn recently. So he surveyed his own congregation. He found that 60 percent had done so within the past year, and 25 percent within the past 30 days. Other surveys reveal that one in three visitors to adult websites are women.

Porn is gaining a stranglehold on mainstream American culture. One reason is the false message that porn viewing is harmless and socially acceptable for the sexually frustrated. One reason it is not harmless is the number of casual porn viewers who end up sexually addicted. The term sexual addiction is only 25 years old. But it describes the very real problem of extreme sexual behavior that is destructive to self and others. [source: Christianity Today 2008]

  • Slavery:
Did God really say...
 
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry. Psalm 146:5-7

Slavery was abolished in the United States after the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was a key person in this movement. Here are some of his thoughts about the topic in 1858:

I have always hated slavery, I think as much as any Abolitionist. I have been an Old Line Whig. I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska Bill began. I always believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in course of ultimate extinction.
The topic of slavery is a tricky one and we could spend hours discussing what we think God says about slavery. After all we are all slaves. Romans 6:16 states that we are slaves to the one we obey. Either slaves to God or slaves to sin. So for the sake of argument I will replace here the term slave with the term oppressed. You might argue that you do not own any slaves and therefore are not responsible for this epidemic. Read the following story:
Antonio was taken to a run-down trailer where 28 workers slept on mattresses on the floor and shared one bathroom. "In the morning when I woke up and wanted to go outside I realized the door was locked. We were told we could not leave until the debt was paid off."

He subsequently worked for 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. "It was hard work, very hot and we had to work constantly squatting down and carrying the heavy buckets of tomatoes. The first week I thought I'd earned good money. But from the wages I received he took out money for the driver, the rent, the water- everything."

Antonio was kept under 24 hour surveillance, was not allowed to make phone-calls, and faced constant threats of violence to himself and his family back home. "What made me most scared was when I heard about the people who had tried to escape. One of them had been beaten very badly.”
http://freedomcommons.ijm.org/news/national/slavery-america-meet-antonio

Antonio is not a slave in South America, or Asia or Africa. Antonio is a slave in a tomato farm in Florida. You very likely bought a tomato picked by Antonio.

The first gray about this deception locust is to believe that slavery is not our fault and that we do not oppress anybody. Through the Freedom Commons you can take a survey called the Slavery Footprint Survey. I took it and found out that I have 66 slaves working for me. I cannot pretend any longer that it does not affect me. I can no longer stay in the gray. I want to stand in the light and apply God's truth to my life - executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry -

There are many more areas where the deception locust has invaded our lives. Hear the trumpet and make a change to day.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13

I am extremely grateful for a God that is merciful and abounding in steadfast love. All He wants is for us to return to Him with all our hearts. Remove the grays in your lives and step in the light.