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.

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

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.