Thursday, December 30, 2010
Recently I have been quite concerned about prayer and it's importance. I'm going to share with you a little of the background.
I am participating on a project at our local church where we are working on an initiative we have deemed "Prayer Partnership, Circle of Prayer". The goal of the Partnership is to encourage 100% of the congregation to participate in our missions endeavor. We believe we must support our missionaries first and God will meet all our church's other needs. Prayer is the one thing that EVERYONE can do.
But, I digress.
The initiative we are undertaking means that we're going to be asking the congregation to commit to praying for 1 missionary, each, daily. Example - if we had 300 people in the congregation and 15 supported missionaries that would mean each missionary would be prayed for by 20 different individuals, daily. The circle is then completed when each missionary agrees to pray for our church and the Missions Committee daily.
I should have been quite excited by this initiative, yet, I actually felt uneasy. I think it would be more accurate if I used the word vexed or maybe a better word would be convicted.
It took a few days of searching and asking God to help me understand. [Note: long ago I stopped asking "why" about things and started asking for understanding. I figure God has His reasons and I don't really need to know the why. So now I just ask for understanding.]
Ok, a few days into it, I'm praying and chatting with God and all of a sudden God brings up the verses and an image about Jesus clearing the merchants and money changers out of the Temple. Each gospel has an accounting, Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 & John 2. Jesus was disturbed, to say the least. God impressed it on me that the "world" had entered the Temple and was using a place made for worship & prayer to transact business! Jesus called the Temple His Father's house. Here are the verses from John 2: 13-16 ESV -
(13) The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (14) In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. (15) And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. (16) And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade."
A lighted bulb appears above my head! I now knew why I was feeling convicted. I have been concerned that we on the Missions Committee were not spending enough time praying & fasting as a group, seeking God's will and direction for our committee and the Missions outreach. In fact, it was a minimal amount of time, imho. God had allowed me to see that the Christian Church is being successfully assimulated into the world. [but that's another blog post for the future]
Now I was feeling like somewhat of a hypocrite. Here we were going to ask the congregation to pray, in earnest, daily and we on the committee were not earnestly spending real time in prayer & fasting, as a group. Individually maybe, but not as a group. Oh, we would pray, but it was the kind of prayer where we did all the talking and none of the listening. Ever found yourself doing that? Bet you have. Having this realizaton, I asked God what the verses had to do with this? His answer -
"The reason you are bothered is because you know that prayer has not been a priority with you or the committee.You are being convicted by my Spirit..." He continued... "omd, the world had entered My Temple, a place of worship and prayer. They were carrying on worldly business as if they were in the marketplace. Think about this. There is now a new covenant as well as a new Temple. OMD, the new Temple is your body... it is each one of my children's bodies. The Holy Spirit resides in each of you. You are bothered because you now have realized there is much of the world left in you and it is contending with the purpose of my Temple. Remember, you are only IN the world, you are no longer OF the world! There is no place for the world in you. "I, Jesus, drove the world out of the Temple. Now, I say to you, ask that the world be driven out of you!"
Gulp!! I had always been told to be careful what you ask for. 0=:o)
Now my prayer is, "Father, drive the world from me and each of your children & the believing church."
With 2011 just 1 day away I challenge each of my brothers and sisters in Christ to make their New Years resolution to be just this
I resolve to beseech Jesus and ask that the world be driven out of me.
Please make this your resolution, too. God is earnestly at work encouraging His children to pray and fast seeking His face and direction.
Happy New Year and I pray that God will prosper each of you & your families spiritually, financially, in good health, content and seeking Him. Let me know if you are willing to take this resolution.
I am a Fellow Christian Sojourner and One More Disciple of the Christ, Jesus
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Brothers, Sisters & Friends,
It's been a longer than expected hiatus from this blog for me. There's been much water under the bridge. I've had my struggles, trials & tribulations and I fight with procrastination. I just got stuck in life, is all!
Many years ago a wise older man gave me a tidbit of wisdom that has stuck with me. I must have been selling an excuse for something. His retort was; "My young friend, Life is what happens to you in-between your plans." - How very true! It's
too bad that there are times when we choose the happenings of life as an excuse to ignore our relationship with God.
What I'm posting today is a great article providing us with a good thumbnail sketch of the differences between Biblical Christianity and the other belief systems we humans may subscribe to. You will discover other works by the author by clicking on "The Berean Call" at the beginning of his article.
Hope you all enjoy. Here goes. OH, and feel free to post any thoughts you have regarding the article.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The Berean Call
When we compare biblical Christianity with the religions of the world, using the Scriptures to guide us, we see that the gap between them is unbridgeable. In fact, one is forced to the conclusion that there are really only two religions in the world: biblical Christianity - and all other religions. (Note: I refer to biblical Christianity as a "religion" only for comparative purposes: a religion is a manmade belief system, whereas biblical Christianity is what God has revealed to mankind.)
- "For those things that are good remove those that are evil" (Surah 11:114).
- "The balance that day will be true: Those whose scale [of good works] will be heavy, will prosper: Those whose scale will be light will find their souls in perdition" (Surah 7:8,9).
- "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [salvation is] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast [emphasis added]."
- "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
- "...for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."Adam and Eve loved themselves more than they loved God, because they didn't "keep [His] words." They disobeyed Him, and the consequence was death. "The day you eat of it you will surely die." In the Scriptures, death always involves separation, and in God's judgment upon them, two applications are found: 1) physical death (the degeneration of the body, leading ultimately to its separation from the soul and spirit), and 2) eternal separation from God.
Our situation would be absolutely hopeless except that God has some other attributes in addition to being perfectly just. He is also perfect in love and mercy! "For God so loved the world" that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the penalty for us (John 3:16).
- "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
- "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).
How can salvation be not of works when faith is required? Isn't believing a work? - GotQuestions.org
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
What was Job's Answer to the Question of Suffering? By Billy Graham, Tribune Media Services
Q: I took a religion class in college last year, and one of our assignments was to read the book of Job in the Old Testament. Can you help me understand it? I read it through three times, and I never did figure out what Job's answer was to the question of suffering. -- K.H.
A: The Bible says that Job was "blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil" (Job 1:8). God had blessed him with great wealth, and also with a large family.
And yet in spite of his goodness and his devotion to God, God still allowed him to experience almost limitless loss and suffering: His family was destroyed, his wealth was taken from him, and his health was ruined. So terrible was his suffering that at times Job wished he had never been born. In spite of this, however, he never lost his faith and trust in God: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15, KJV).
Why did God allow Job to pass through such suffering? This is the book's central question -- and it's the question we ask when we experience loss and suffering. Job's friends suggested various answers, but in the end, the only answer Job discovers is that God is far greater than we are, and He can be trusted to do what is right -- even if we don't fully understand. Someday we will understand when we enter into God's presence -- but not yet.
But the Bible points us to the One who experienced far more suffering than Job ever did -- and that is Jesus Christ. He was without sin, and yet all our sins were placed on Him, and He took the sin and death and Hell that we deserve. Have you thanked Him for this by giving your life to Him?
Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: http://www.billygraham.org/.
Why DID God allow satan to torment Job?
6 One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
7 The LORD asked Satan, "Where have you come from?"
"From roaming through the earth,"Satan answered Him, "and walking around on it."
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil."
9 Satan answered the LORD, "Does Job fear God for nothing?
10 Haven't You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions are spread out in the land.
11 But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face."
12 "Very well," the LORD told Satan, "everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job [himself]." So Satan went out from the LORD's presence.
Remember satan's nature is evil. He looks to devour. He looks to whip up trouble and perpetuate evil. He wants to destroy that which God has made. He wants to be equal to God or, even, be God. He rebelled against God, lost, and was thrown from heaven to Earth, he, and 1/3 of the angels that sided with him. So, while satan is 'roaming the earth and walking around' just what do you think he is up to? No good, is the answer. In verse 12 God placed everything Job owned in satan's power. BUT satan had to accuse God first, seen in verse 10 & 11.
Again the question I pose: Why would God allow satan to test Job and cause him to suffer?
My response is: To show satan and the rest of creation that a man, with a fallen nature, would still choose to trust in God and worship him even in the face of much adversity and suffering.
Job was a devout believer and God had richly blessed him in family and material wealth BUT Job also was a sinner as evidenced by his practice of burnt offerings. A man of great integrity, blameless & upright, yes, but still a sinner.
I pray I am never put to the test Job endured. I wonder, when I read Job, if I would have the same integrity and faith as Job exhibited. How about you that are reading this?
"Father, I pray we may be found with the same integrity and faithfulness that Job displayed when we are tested or even tormented by satan" In Jesus name I ask for your strength and wisdom for us all." Amen and Amen
I am a Fellow Christian Sojourner and One More Disciple of the Christ, Jesus
Friday, March 21, 2008
..."Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."... Hebrews 10:17
Even knowing who He was, in their hearts, their hearts were so bent on evil that they ordered His execution! IMAGINE!! They traded the truth for a lie and thinking they were wise they became fools. In the end ALL will bow and proclaim Jesus as Lord of All. Draw near to Him NOW while you still can. Waiting until judgement day will be too late.
33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the
34 But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are
doing " And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him,
saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His
36 The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine,
37 and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!" Luke 23:33-37
Jesus chose to die for us so we could choose to live for Him
Imagine, even from the cross, the most humiliating, cruel and painful way to be put to death, Jesus prayed for forgiveness for those responsible. I wonder if Barabbas realized that God took his, Barabbas', place? Did he ever realized That God saved his life, which gave HIM another chance to repent? I wonder what ever happened to Barabbas?
A Fellow Christian Sojourner and One More Disciple of the Christ, Jesus
Saturday, February 23, 2008
"Word Made Flesh is called and committed to serving Jesus among the poorest of the poor. This calling is realized as a prophetic ministry for, and a holistic, incarnational ministry among, the world's poor. We focus our energy to make Jesus known among the poor while reconciling the Church with the poor."
"Our involvement for the poor is primarily through serving the Church as a prophetic voice articulating God's passion for the poor through Scripture and further educating them concerning the needs of the world. We seek to reconcile the Church with the poor as a means of communicating and testifying of God's redemptive work in our lives. This movement of bringing the Church and the poor together is done through Biblical preaching, teaching, discipleship, exposure experiences, music, media and other creative means. As we participate in this movement we pray that our lives will answer both the cry of God for the poor and the cry of the poor for God."
At the end of this post I am also including a letter from a friend of mine "Rachel" who is a missionary in Romania with WMF.
As Disciples of the Christ we are called to participate in spreading God's message of hope and salvation. Part of this can be in the area of Missions. I don't mean you have to pack up your gear and quit your job or leave your family [unless you're called to].
We, as disciples, can participate and derive a great joy and blessing that comes from missionary support. THIS is the other way to participate! Whether it's praying or writing or sending monetary support, God will honor your participation.
Read in Philippians 2: 10 - 20. It is there that Paul is thanking the Philippians for their gifts [not that he was looking for one, though] It is in verse 17 where Paul indicates that their, the Philippians, gifts will be credited to their account [in heaven]. He goes on to say in verse 18 that their gifts are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, which is pleasing to God AND that "my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ, Jesus."
Now for Rachel's letter. She has served in Romania for sometime now, I think 6 - 8 years. Rachel left (I should say was called and she accepted) the comfort of her home to go to Romania and work with the street children.
Be listening for God's voice in your lives.
Easter on the Orthodox Church calendar falls at the end of April this year, which has caused a little confusion for me as I think about observing a season of Lent. My Western calendar says I should have begun early in February, but that would mean two and a half months of observing Lent! Nope, I'll stick to the 40 days, thanks very much. Due to this difference of calendars, it feels early for me to share an Easter reflection, but I have an encounter that I am eager to share and I also know that most of you reading this letter are already well into the Lenten Season and will be celebrating Easter in March this year. The following is based on a journal entry from November 2007.
I approached Ron and Audra's apartment building, puzzled by the police officer and medical vehicle parked out front. Two black printed words across the side of the yellowed-white station wagon announced: "LEGAL MEDICINE." The back trunk door was popped open, and I thought, "Funeral, at this hour?" The police officer, chatting with a slightly distressed middle aged woman in her long black overcoat and furry hat, rested his arms against his chest and casually watched me as I approached. When I passed by, I heard the officer utter in a low tone, "Let's see what she does." I pretended not to hear and proceeded on past the medical vehicle which was backed up to the front entrance of the apartment building. A single glance inside the opened back confirmed my fears – dead body. "But no," I thought, "That was just a blanket bundled up in the shape of a body. I've never seen a funeral without a casket, and never a body simply wrapped up in a blanket!"
As I entered the building, a solitary light bulb cast long shadows from an open apartment door beneath the stairwell. I quickly mounted the stairs to my second floor destination. Then I smelled it. That smell. The unforgettable smell of rotting human flesh, an odor of putrid decay. My stomach turned. I knocked on the door. No one answered. I knocked again, harder, louder. The odor of human decay wafted all around me as I took short, quick breathes, desperate for an escape.
Ron answered the door with a smile and I rushed inside, closing the door securely behind me. He seemed puzzled by my rapid, flustered entry, but I had no time to explain before I was tackled by his two little boys, full of stories and happy to see me. In an effort to protect the boys from the trauma outside their door, I said nothing until after dinner when I was alone with their parents and the boys were occupied with toys. I explained which apartment door I had seen open and Audra recalled having met an old man crawling on his hands and knees near there once before. She had asked another neighbor if anyone should help him but she was told to just leave him alone. Was he alcoholic? Probably.
Who was inside that blanket? How did he die? We could only guess that an old, lonely, possibly alcoholic man died in his apartment and was discovered later on by a neighbor or relative who called the police to investigate and take care of the body.
So here I was confronted with the putrid odor of a cold, motionless, lifeless body. This is a peculiar smell that one does not forget. And this was not my first encounter with the smell of death. Romanian funerals are traditionally three day events, and almost always open casket. Since my arrival six years ago, I have attended an average of one funeral per year. In 2006, I attended three funerals in the space of four months.
In Romania, after a person dies they are placed in an open coffin in a room of their home where family and friends mourn their passing for three days. After the three days have passed, an orthodox priest comes to the home and reads or sings the funeral liturgy. The open casket is then placed on a flat bed truck and a procession of mourners line up behind the slow moving casket, accompanying the deceased on their journey to a final resting place. As the procession nears the cemetery, the gate keeper rings a huge bell and the procession passes through the gate under the sounding bell. Gathered at the grave sight, the priest performs the final rites of the liturgy, the family is asked to bid their final farewell at which point the women usually wail and kiss the hands of the deceased. Finally the cemetery workers slide the cover onto the casket, nail it down on each corner with stinging blows, and lower the casket into the pit.
As I walked home that night my thoughts were flooded with scenes of flickering candles and funeral processions and the piercing cries of weeping mothers as four large nails are pounded into the coffin to secure the cover before lowering the dead into their grave.
But even as these painful memories swirled through my mind, my spirit was stirred by a peculiar hope. That very morning during chapel we had read through the entire account in John 11 of Jesus raising his good friend Lazarus from the dead. Resurrection!
Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after Lazarus' death. They warned him not to go near the tomb because of the smell -- the smell of death. Jesus wept. But then he went forward, refusing to listen to Martha's concern. "Lazarus, come forth!" And out he came. That was all, just three simple words, and the dead was restored to life. No putrid odor, no decay, no bodily fluids staining the ground. Just life. Lazarus, living and breathing and alive!
And this Jesus, this Restorer of life, He is our God and we are His friends. This one who raises the dead without fear of their odor, He is the one we serve. He is the God of life.
He says to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26).
And now Jesus is asking us the same question, "Do you believe this? Do you really believe that I have power over death?"
I believe He does. And I am convinced that if we truly believe in God's power over death we would live our lives much differently than those around us, not with fear or anxiety but full of hope, peace and joy. This Easter I am challenged to ask myself if my life reflects my belief in a God of resurrection, the God who weeps over the death of His friends but also restores them to life!
May the God of peace whisper words of hope to each one and stir our hearts to live in the light of our radiant resurrected King who is not afraid of the smell of death, our God of life who promises us life everlasting. May He have mercy on us and grant us peace.