Friday, August 22, 2008

Archbishop Peter Akinola's Speech at Gafcon


Archbishop Peter Akinola


Video: Archbishop Akinola talks about Lambeth 2008




Archbishop Peter Akinola's speech at Gafcon
This is the full text of the opening address to the Gafcon meeting in Jersualem by the Rt Rev Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria
• guardian.co.uk,
• Monday June 23 2008 09:49 BST
• Article history
• http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/23/religion


Gafcon – a rescue mission
People of the living God, welcome to Jerusalem. Welcome to Gafcon. One of the marks of apostolic ministry is signs, wonders and miracle. There are many in today's Church, who would lay claim to apostolic authority without holding on to apostolic faith nor do they manifest any of the marks of the apostles. In Gafcon, I have seen signs and wonders. That we are able to gather here this week is a miracle for which we must give thanks to God.

There have been many seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but as a testimony that the Lord our God is firmly in control of Gafcon, he has graciously removed them. A conference of this magnitude would normally require several years of extensive planning, consultations and fund raising. We had barely five months to put this conference together. The Lord raised men and women who gladly and willingly offered their time, skill and money to make it happen.

I am very grateful to the members of the leadership team for their selfless and sacrificial roles in helping to deliver this conference, [please stand for recognition] We are deeply grateful to all provincial, diocesan and parish local committees, the donors, the tour agents, the travel agents, the Jordanian and Israeli governments for allowing us to meet here and in Jordan. Brethren, we appreciate the labours of love of the theological resource group. I must also thank in advance all those who will provide leadership in worship, workshops and plenary. We are heavily indebted to the various sub-committees and their leaders. God bless you all.

Why are we here? What have we come to do?
The Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) holding here in the holy land this week has understandably elicited both commendation and contempt in varying measures from all who claim a stake in shaping the future identity or in destroying the traditional identity of the global Anglican Communion.

Those who failed to admit that by the unilateral actions they took in defiance of the Communion have literally torn the very fabric of our common life at it deepest level since 2003, are grumbling that we are here to break the Communion.
Similarly, those who fail, for whatever reason to come to terms with the painful reality that the Communion is in a state of brokenness and lacked the ability to secure a genuine reconciliation, but simply carried on the work of the Communion in a manner that is business as usual are not happy with us. And of course there are those who argue that while there may be some justification for Gafcon; why not call it after Lambeth 2008.

But thanks be to God that there are millions of people around the world including members of other denominations and those of other faiths who not only share our concerns but have chosen to partner with us and are praying for us.
For those of us gathered here in the Name of the Lord, and on behalf of the over 35 million faithful Anglicans we represent, Gafcon is a continuation of that quiet but consistent initiative, a godly instrument appointed to reshape, reform, renew and reclaim a true Anglican Biblical orthodox Christianity that is firmly anchored in historic faith and ancient formularies.

Be that as it may, we must note that we cannot understand our present circumstance without locating it within the context of the controversies of the past decade. Every responsible historian knows that his task is predicated on the treasury of past events – rightly interpreted, as the compass for the present and guide for the future. For this reason, Gafcon takes its bearings from the tides of varied opinions and equivocations that have characterised our Communion in the last few years and exposed our once robust reputation as children of the Reformation to scorn. We were well-known for our stand on Scripture as the foundation stone of our tradition and reason.

The underlying objective of Gafcon necessarily compels a deep and honest reflection on the theological and ecclesiological inconsistencies of the past decade at the highest and most sacred levels of our Communion. While not contesting the right to personal opinions and attitudes to this new situation, we must disabuse our minds of the unworthy views about Gafcon being a monster on the horizon, or even a strange breed of Anglicanism devoid of antecedent factors.

Whichever way you look at it, the Communion is deeply in trouble. This is not only because of the actions of TE and the Anglican Church of Canada but also because the hitherto honoured Instruments of Communion, in recent years have, by design become instruments of disunity, putting the Communion in an unprecedented brokenness and turmoil.

Brethren, we spent much of our God-given precious time travelling long distances and at huge costs, meditating and praying earnestly about what we thought were common concerns, urging for a listening process while assuring people with different sexual orientation of God's love and our pastoral commitment to them, putting out carefully-worded communiqu├ęs and urging for restraint with regards to any attempt at defying time-tested limits.

Pre-Lambeth 98
Human memory is very short. Therefore, permit me to suggest that we need to retrace our steps to some of the events that preceded Lambeth '98 when some, particularly the Global South of the Communion sensed the crisis ahead. It was the Second Anglican Encounter in the South, which was held in Kuala Lumpur from 10th-15th February 1997 with the theme, 'The Place of Scripture in the life and Mission of the Church in the 21st Century'. The theme was in the context of a premonition that the Communion was 'at a time of difficulty and confusion in some provinces and of growth, martyrdom, dynamic missionary encouragement and quiet but powerful witness in others'.

Looking back, one must confess that some of the resolutions couldn't have been more prophetic. Take for instance the Encounter's resolution about 'Scripture, the Family and Human Sexuality':
Reflection on our Encounter theme has helped further to deepen our resolve to uphold the authority of Scripture in every aspect of life, including the family and human sexuality.
Therefore:
6.1 We call on the Anglican Communion as a Church claiming to be rooted in the Apostolic and Reformed Tradition to remain true to Scripture as the final authority in all matters of faith and conduct;
6.2 We affirm that Scripture upholds marriage as a sacred relationship between a man and a woman, instituted in the creation ordinance;
6.3 We reaffirm that the only sexual expression, as taught by Scripture, which honours God and upholds human dignity is that between a man and a woman within the sacred ordinance of marriage;
6.4 We further believe that Scripture maintains that any other form of sexual expression is at once sinful, selfish, dishonouring to God and an abuse of human dignity;
6.5 We are aware of the scourge of sexual promiscuity, including homosexuality, rape and child abuse in our time. These are pastoral problems, and we call on the Churches to seek to find a pastoral and scriptural way to bring healing and restoration to those who are affected by any of these harrowing tragedies.


This Second Trumpet was used by God to make the majority of the Bishops who participated in the Lambeth Conference 1998 stand together to assert the authority of the Bible against the revisionist agenda that was being peddled then.

Post-Lambeth Reactions
Paradoxically, that which was universally hailed as the triumph of biblical truth was, soon after the Lambeth Conference, lamented by a self-conceited typical American bishop, Jack Spong of Newark (now retired) as a disastrous condescension to stone-age logic. He actually said that the Africans were theologically "animistic and superstitious" and ignorant of scientific advancement. Lest some interpret this as a racial rather than a doctrinal issue, Barbara Harris (a black woman), Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts, even said the African Bishops' loyalty had been "bought with chicken dinners" by the conservative American Anglican Council. Of course, these slanders were calmly repudiated by noted African voices such as my most worthy predecessor- The Most Rev. Joseph Adetiloye, who said: "We in Africa hold the Bible as our authority for the Christian life. Therefore we will stand by the Word of God. To do otherwise, I'm afraid, would be impossible…"

Many American revisionist dioceses and congregations withdrew their financial assistance to needy African dioceses. Responding to this development, Bishop John Rucyahana of Rwandawho had been affected by that action said, "This has happened to many other African countries and African churches. Our opinion and independence of mind is being choked by [patronising generosity] via the gifts of money. That is manipulation and dehumanizing to think we will do what people want because they have money."

Clearly the bedrock of the revisionist perspective is the humanist, rather than theological approach. This is the crux of the problem: they are going in the opposite direction from what Biblical orthodoxy demands, and with such a mindset, a meeting-point with those who are labelled conservatives – who have chosen to stand where the Bible stands, becomes a very remote possibility.

Crossing the 'Rubicon'

Between the Lambeth Conference in 1998 and 2003, several dioceses in the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) continued with impunity to legitimise open same-sex unions. The election and proposed consecration, in 2003, of a man in an active homosexual relationship, Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in defiance of Resolution 1:10 of Lambeth 98, inflicted the most devastating wound on the pastorally responsible listening process recommended by that conference. Throughout the Communion, there was widespread outcry against that proposal. For ease of reference the text of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 is appended to this address.

The Primates' meeting in October 2003 at Lambeth Palace discussed this development with deep concern and came up with this statement:
"We … re-affirm the resolutions made by the bishops of the Anglican Communion gathered at the Lambeth Conference in 1998 on issues of human sexuality as having moral force and commanding the respect of the Communion as its present position on these issues. We commend the report of that Conference in its entirety to all members of the Anglican Communion valuing especially its emphasis on the need "to isten to the experience of homosexual persons..."

"Therefore, as a body we deeply regret the actions of the Diocese of New Westminsterand the Episcopal Church (USA) which appear to a number of provinces to have short-circuited that process, and could be perceived to alter unilaterally the teaching of the Anglican Communion on this issue. They do not. Whilst we recognise the juridical autonomy of each province in our Communion, the mutual interdependence of the provinces means that none has authority unilaterally to substitute an alternative teaching as if it were the teaching of the entire Anglican Communion.
"To this extent, therefore, we must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardise our sacramental fellowship with each other…"

At that point, the red lights were unmistakable and the appropriate note of caution was sounded by the Primates:

"If his consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in Communion with provinces that choose not to break Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA)."

Sadly, in spite of the Primates' godly admonition, prophetic and timely warning the consecration went ahead. This singular defiant action put our Communion in total disarray as some provinces like West Indies and Southern Cone declared a state of impaired Communion with ECUSA and others like Uganda, South East Asia, Kenya, Rwandaand Nigeribroke off sacramental communion with it.
It was now clear that ECUSA by its own deliberate action had made its choice to walk apart from the rest of the Communion.

For most of us, this was the point when the truth of the African proverb that "a dog that is heading for self-destruction stops heeding the hunter's whistle" became clear. We also recalled the question posed by Prophet Amos, "Do two walk together except they have agreed to do so?"

Some people interpreted our response as a judgmental attitude, but we knew we had come to that point when we had to stand up for our convictions based on the word of God and the faithful witness of a long succession of Anglicans, rather than fall for anything in the name of enlightened logic and dictates of modern cultural trappings.
Meetings and More Meetings

More efforts were still made in an attempt to manage the crisis, and we remember in particular the Dromantine meeting of the Primates in 2005 where ECUSA and Canada were given time to respond to the questions put to them by the Windsor report and also to consider their place within the Anglican Communion.

To our utter dismay, it became apparent that our sober resolutions were, in the aftermath, trivialized by some of our most respected leaders. As if that was not bad enough, our corporate integrity was abused and the pains and concerns shared so open-mindedly ridiculed and betrayed by the flagrant compromises of those entrusted with the responsibility of guarding divine and eternal truths. These rather reckless departures from our painstaking resolutions turned delicate matters into what became more of a pastime for merely pious rhetoric at the expense of the spiritual welfare of our Communion which was evidently in jeopardy.

In the light of this, the Conference of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) commissioned a group that came up with The Road to Lambeth which was endorsed by several Provinces including Nigeria.

The last major meeting that considered this issue was the Primates' Meeting in Tanzania in February 2007. After long and painful hours of deliberations the primates gave TEC a last chance to clarify unequivocally and adequately their stand by 30th September, 2007.

Strangely, before the deadline, and before the Primates could get the opportunity of meeting to assess the adequacy of the response of TEC and in a clear demonstration of unwillingness to follow through our collective decisions which for many of us was an apparent lack of regard for the Primates, Lambeth Palace in July 2007 issued invitations to TEC bishops including those who consecrated Gene Robinson to attend the Lambeth 2008 conference.

At this point, it dawned upon us, regrettably, that the Archbishop of Canterbury was not interested in what matters to us, in what we think or in what we say.

For the avoidance of doubt, I need to reiterate the most agonizing part of it all which is the fact that thrice, in the course of these crises, we have met as Primates of the Communion and have been unable in good conscience on each occasion to share in the Lord's Supper with leaders of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. What else can more powerfully and most vividly demonstrate our brokenness? No solution has been found to this fundament issue. Until sacramental communion is restored, we remain sadly, broken. This is the stark reality our leaders continue to ignore and of course to the peril of the Communion.

As the Lambeth Conference 2008 approached and invitations were being sent out as though it was business as usual, some of our Provinces counselled the Archbishop of Canterbury to consider shifting the date until the time for a meaningful fellowship and healing of relationships could be discerned. In addition, it would give the provinces of the Communion space to conclude and ratify the draft Anglican Covenant. Rejecting all entreaties, Lambeth Palace chose not to be bothered about that which troubles us; decided to stick to its own plans and to erect the walls of 2008 Lambeth Conference on the shaky and unsafe foundations of our brokenness.
Why Gafcon?

We cannot succumb to this turmoil in our Communion and simply watch helplessly. We have found ourselves in a world in which Anglican leaders hold on to a form of religion but consistently deny its power. We have a situation in which some members of the Anglican family think they are so superior to all others that they are above the law, they can do whatever they please with impunity. As a Communion we have been unable to exercise discipline. In the face of global suspicion of the links of Islam with terrorism, Lambeth Palace is making misleading statements about the Islamic Law, Sharia, to the point that even secular leaders are now calling us to order! We can no longer trust where some of our Communion leaders are taking us.

Repeatedly, those of us in the leadership team of Gafcon have been advised by all levels of our ecclesial structures to avoid a vacuum. All our bishops and wives who would normally look to the Lambeth Conference for fellowship but now could not along with senior lay leaders and selected clergy to whom Lambeth authorities are not willing to listen should meet in another forum for prayerful deliberation on matters critical to our common life and mission. Thus Gafcon is a rescue mission.

Our beloved Anglican Communion must be rescued from the manipulation of those who have denied the gospel and its power to transform and to save; those who have departed from the scripture and the faith 'once and for all delivered to the saints' from those who are proclaiming a new gospel, which really is no gospel at all, {Gal 1.} In the wisdom and strength God supplies we must rescue what is left of the Church from error of the apostates.
Brethren, we are here

• Because we are bound together in a godly fellowship by the Gospel - the gospel that shaped the theological and ecclesiological foundations of our Church, the same gospel with its transforming power that made the difference in the lives of our heroes like Thomas Cranmer, William Wilberforce, the Clapham brothers and Ajayi Crowther.

• Because we are convinced that Gafcon is a veritable tool within the Communion which God is using to bring together all who are concerned not only about the need to preserve the faith, but also to persevere and bequeath a legacy of wholesome, undiluted faith to future generations of Anglicans. It is God's gift to the Anglican Communion and to the world.

• To draw fresh inspiration to enable us 'contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints' both for our sake and for the sake of future generations of Anglicans.

• Because we want to renew our commitment to our sacred duty to preserve and proclaim uncompromisingly, the undistorted word of God written to a sinful and fragmented world. Gafcon is a meeting of ordained and lay leaders concerned about the mission of the Church and how best to carry it out and be poised to address the ever-present challenges of self-reliance, good governance, overcoming corruption and to prepare a strong and stable platform for upcoming generations.

• Yes, Gafcon offers fresh hope for a meaningful spiritual haven for orthodox Anglicans who can no longer hold out and be truly Anglican under revisionist leadership.

• We are here because we know that in God's providence Gafcon will liberate and set participants [particularly Africans] free from spiritual bondage which TEC and its Allies champion. Having survived the inhuman physical slavery of the 19th century, the political slavery called colonialism of the 20th century, the developing world economic enslavement, we cannot, we dare not allow ourselves and the millions we represent be kept in religious and spiritual dungeon.

• Because we know that together as lay leaders, clergy and bishops of our Church we can banish the errors plaguing our beloved Communion-for we will not abdicate our God-given responsibility and simply acquiesce to destructive modern cultural and political dictates.

• We are here because we know that in spite of the fractures in our Communion, as orthodox Anglicans, we have a future and so we are here in the holy land to inaugurate and determine the roadmap to that future.

And from what better place in the world could we take the fullest advantage of the most powerful reminders of the life and ministry of our Lord and only Saviour Jesus the Christ than here in the holy land where he was born, grew up, served; was killed, rose again for our justification, ascended to heaven and now seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us.

It was here in the holy land that our Lord Jesus the Christ of God gave the command to go and proclaim the sacred message of salvation and to disciple those who believe. From here, brethren, the recipient Church in the power of the Holy Spirit went out to the world and began the gradual process of its transformation.
So far, I have tried to address the whole question of 'why and how' we got to where we are in the life of our beloved Anglican Communion. The challenge we must now address is, where do we go from here and what is the roadmap for that journey? As we participate in the various workshops and plenary sessions, I ask that we give some prayerful consideration to the following questions:

In the light of the fact that the Communion is in a state of brokenness in fellowship and sacrament, are we reconcilable; is there anything that can be done which has not been articulated for the restoration of sacramental Communion?

A sizeable part of the Communion is in error and not a few are apostate; is the Communion correctable from within or must it be from without?

A growing number of our people are already talking about what they call 'unavoidable realignment' for the rescue operation within the Communion; is that the best way forward and if not, what are the alternatives?

To some, Gafcon is the metamorphosis of Capa and the Global south. Is it? Put in another way, what is the place of Capa and the Global south which historically antedate Gafcon in an all-embracing and truly global Gafcon?

We know that the expert 'divide and rule' agents of TEC and Lambeth have been at work using money and other attractions to buy 'silence and compromise' from some gullible African and Global South Church leaders; hence we have begun to see signs of disunity in our ranks. How do we forestall this danger in Gafcon?
Can we here begin to discern the content and nature of that future we long to see and work for as Anglicans?

What sort of recognisable structure and funding must Gafcon as a 'movement' in the Communion have to be able achieve the tasks set for it?

As I conclude let the world be informed that be it by birth or by conversion the men and women in Gafcon are people who have grown to be Anglican Christians by conviction, upholding the tenets of Anglican biblical orthodoxy. We have no other place to go nor is it our intention to start another church. Anglicans we are, Anglicans we'll remain until the LORD shall return in glory to judge each one according to his deeds.

And finally fellow pilgrims it goes without saying that we have committed so much prayer and material resources to this conference and pilgrimage. We have not come here to fantasise or day dream. This is the land in which the LORD our God manifested his glory and power in concrete actions in empirical history.

The programme, painstakingly designed with you in mind, is therefore fairly elaborate with variety of activities such as pilgrimage to holy sites, liturgical worship, devotional prayer sessions, workshops, Bible study and several plenary sessions. I urge you; please make Gafcon a worthwhile event. Be involved. Be punctual in attending all sessions. Participate fully and actively. Only by so doing can we together this week here in the holy land, come up with practical, realistic and actionable decisions that will honour God and bring blessing to our Communion. Let us walk, work and pray together here in Jerusalemto inaugurate that glorious future of the Anglican Communion.

And now to the King Immortal, Invisible, the only wise God be all honour, glory, dominion and majesty, for ever and ever. Amen.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

True Christianity


True Christianity is the Key To Heaven

16. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
~ Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:16 (New American Standard Bible)

Christianity can only be practiced by honesty and transparency and not by conceit and deceit.

Therefore, if you are not honest and transparent, you cannot be a Christian.

Being a regular church-goer or reading the Holy Bible cover to cover does not make you a Christian until you live according to the commandments of Jesus Christ as preached and practiced in the New Testmament.
Finis.

I do not need to write a thesis or quote from the exegesis of Genesis to prove the above definition of true Christianity.
Jesus Christ said by their fruits you shall know them and not by their lip service and mode of dressing.

Your actions will prove whether you are a true Christian or a false Christian.

The majority of those posing and posturing as Christians are in fact not really true Christians, but hypocrites and wolves in sheep clothing.

Do not be deceived or fooled by their lip service and eye-service "Christianity".

Their behaviour and attitude and how they live and relate with their fellow humans will show you their true colours eventually.

Actions speak louder than words.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Praying the Right Prayer

Praying the Right Prayer

"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."1

One reason we don't get some prayers answered is because we are praying the wrong prayer. Not necessarily because of a wrong motive, but because we focus our prayer on the symptom and not on the cause of the problem or illness.

There's a well-known hymn that says, "O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." We could also sing, "O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not pray the right prayer."

For example, if I have a stomach ulcer or a headache, I tend to ask God to heal my ulcer or my headache. This is what I mean by focusing our prayer on the symptom. While some ulcers have a biological cause, some are caused not by what I eat but by what is eating me, and then what I eat aggravates the problem. I've never had an ulcer and rarely have a headache, but when I do have a headache, it's usually because I am either mad about something or am under a lot of stress.

If I am going to ask God for healing, I need to admit not only the symptom, but also ask him to give me the insight to see, and the courage to face, anything in my life that is causing my illness, and then ask him for the help to resolve it.

It is unrealistic to ask God to heal my symptoms if I fail to face and deal with the causes. If he did, he would be irresponsible. It is possible, however, to exchange one symptom for another because if we don't deal with the cause of our problem, in time it will come out another way—probably a worse way.

I recall hearing one man claim that the moment he became a Christian, God delivered him from his alcoholism. He may have quit his drinking but it was rather obvious that he was now (or still) a rage-aholic, which quite possibly was a cause behind his alcoholism.

This principle applies not only to physical ills but to many other problems as well. I learned this lesson the hard way. After many years trying to resolve a frustrating situation I was in, I begged God to give me the courage to face the truth of what I was contributing to the problem. Within two weeks I saw what an enabler I had been for so long. Once I saw the truth, I knew exactly what I needed to do, which in the doing resolved my part of the problem.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, with every problem, illness, conflict, and challenge I face, help me to pray the right prayer and see any cause behind my sickness or problem and what I am contributing to my situation. Help me to resolve whatever cause there might be so that I will clear the way for your deliverance, healing, and freedom. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. James 4:2-3 (NIV).


A Contrast of Births

A Contrast of Births

Jesus said, "'Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."1

Walter B. Knight reported how, "An hour after Queen Elizabeth's third child was born, 128 cables were sent to all parts of the world! Lights in Buckingham Palace, the Home Office, Foreign Office, Colonial Office, and Commonwealth Relations Office had burned all night. The palace's big switchboard was manned all night. And personnel on night duty were doubled in the ministries."

How different was the birth of Jesus, "The Prince of Peace." No earthly potentates proclaimed his coming. Atrocious, bloodthirsty Herod concerned himself with the event because he thought some rival rule had appeared.

God, however, signaled the birth of Jesus by dispatching angelic hosts to proclaim the good news and by placing in the heavens the guiding star to direct humble shepherds and seekers to the lowly place of Jesus' birth.

How different will be the second coming of Jesus. The first time, he came as a babe to identify with lost mankind and to pay the price of our redemption through his death on the cross. The good news is that Jesus is coming again and, when he does, he will come in all his divine glory as King of kings and Lord of lords. To him every knee will bow. What a day this will be!

Jesus himself promised that he would come back to earth to get and take his true followers to be with him forever in Heaven. The important thing is to be sure that we are ready for his return and/or to meet God face to face should we pass from this life to the next before Jesus Christ comes back again.

We do this by confessing our sinfulness, believing that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and accepting Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord. For additional help see the article, How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian at http://tinyurl.com/8glq9.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for your wonderful promise that Jesus is right now preparing Heaven for his true followers and that he is coming back to earth to take these ones to be with him and you forever. Help me to be sure that I am prepared for this great and glorious day to meet you face to face. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus' name, Amen."

1. John 14:1–3 (NIV).


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Re: "Christianity Could Die Out Within A Century"

Re: Christianity Could Die Out Within A Century"

Only ignorant and vacuous people will think of the death of Christianity.

Christianity will outlive them and their next generations forever.

Christianity is the only and absolute way to knowing the one and only true God.

All others are false and as Jesus Christ said, "By their fruits, you shall know them."

If there was no Islam, there would have been no 9/11 and no 7/7 and there would have been no war in Iraq. And all our beloved ones killed in 9/11 and 7/7 and in Iraq would have been alive and well today.

There was Christianity before Great Britain and there will be Christianity after Great Britain.

"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

~ John 14:6 (New International Reader's Version).

A world without Christianity would be hell!

~ By MichaelChima just now




Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Instrument of Peace

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

1. Instrument of Peace

"Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."1

For today's Daily Encounter I would like to use the Prayer of St. Francis both for the devotional and the prayer:

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light, and

Where there is sadness, joy."

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much Seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
"Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.
In Jesus' name. Amen."

1. James 3:18 (NIV).

<:))))><


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fly With the Eagles

Thursday, June 12, 2008

1. Fly With the Eagles

"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."1

A friend of mine has trouble with Japanese bonsai trees in that she sees tiny trees with great potential inhibited because they have been root-bound by man. Others have trouble seeing animals and birds trapped in cages for the same reason. For example, how do eagles feel in cages in zoos? These magnificent birds, created to soar to the heights of mountaintops, do they get frustrated? Are they fulfilled? How could they be?

Too many of us, who were created to reach our total God-given human and spiritual potential, are trapped in a cage of our own or of another's making. We fail to resolve the problems in our life that hold us back. True, we may have been wounded in the past, but God wants us to be healed, to be made whole, to be free to fly, to soar to the heights of all that he has for us.

We have a choice, we can scratch in the dirt with the turkeys or we can rise up to follow Christ and fly with the eagles to the heights that God envisioned for us to reach. That choice is ours.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to fully grasp the fact that you have a wonderful plan for MY life. Help me to discover what this is, and create in me a restlessness until I discover it. And help me to begin fulfilling that plan today by seeking you until I discover it. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. Isaiah 40:31 (NIV).

<:))))><

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Follow Your Bubbles

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

1. Follow Your Bubbles

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."1

Vern Treat tells about a scuba diver who said that when you're in deep water, you're encircled by light, so there's no way you can tell which way is up because the water diffuses the light. You're also totally weightless, so you have no sense of gravity. The only way you can tell which way to get out of the water is to go the direction the bubbles are going.

Surrounded in an aura of light and weightless, it's very easy to lose all sense of direction and get disoriented. You may sense that this way is up and that your air bubbles are going sideways. You may be so convinced that your perception is true that you decide to ignore your bubbles and go the way you think is up.

One of the first things we were told when learning to scuba-dive, Trent said, was to always trust your bubbles—to always follow your bubbles. No matter how you feel, no matter what you think, your bubbles are always right.

Life can be like that at times too. If we base the rules of life on our feelings, perception or what we think, we can be very easily led astray. The philosophy, "If it feels good it must be right," is a dangerous guide to follow because our feelings can play all sorts of tricks on us. If something is wrong, it is wrong regardless of how we feel or what we think. True, it's important that we don't deny or repress our feelings, because we can learn to trust them; but what we can't always trust is our interpretation of them.

The only safe guide to follow when it comes to the rules of life is to trust God and his Word, the Bible. Therein lie the "bubbles of life" to follow. These "bubbles" are always right. Always!

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for your Word, the Bible, and for giving us principles for healthy living and loving. Give me a love for your Word and the desire to hide it in my heart so I won't sin against you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. Psalm 119:11 (NIV).

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Little Sins

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

1. Little Sins

"Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom."1

In their book, Living a Power-Filled Life, Bill Tucker with Pat Maxwell talk about a four-hundred-year-old tree that crashed to the forest floor Over the centuries it had been struck by lightning fourteen times, braved great windstorms, and even defied an earthquake. In the end, however, it was killed by little beetles. Boring under the bark, they chewed away its mighty fibers until the giant of the forest lay broken on the ground.

How true it is, it's the little things in life, which at the time seem harmless, but when you put them all together, they can cause great devastation. As another has said, "Many a marital grave has been dug by a lot of little digs." And as the ditty puts it:

It's the little things that bother us
and put us on the rack,
you can sit upon a mountain
but you can't sit on a tack!

But the biggest danger of all is found in our so-called "little sins." Eventually they will catch up with us and inch by silent inch will drive us farther and farther away from God. And as Edmund Burke said, "By gnawing through a dike, even a rat may drown a nation."

Sins—large or small—are a spiritual cancer and unless we get the cancer, the cancer will get us. As God's word says, "Be sure your sin will find you out."2 The good news is that God also says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."3

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, your Word warns us about the dangers of sin. Please help me to see and admit to my sins, confess them to you, and receive your forgiveness. And help me to resolve and overcome any habitual sin I may have in my life. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. Song of Solomon 2:15 (NIV).
2. Numbers 32:23.
3. 1 John 1:9.

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Hardening of the Heart

Monday, June 9, 2008

1. Hardening of the Heart

"But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said."1

"While sitting on the bank of a river one day, I picked up a solid round stone from the water and broke it open. It was perfectly dry in spite of the fact that it had been immersed in water for centuries. The same is true of many people in the Western world. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity; they live immersed in the waters of its benefits. And yet it has not penetrated their hearts; they do not love it. The fault is not in Christianity, but in men's hearts, which have been hardened by materialism and intellectualism."2

Some 4,000 years ago, when God called Moses to deliver the ancient people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh refused to let the people go. God kept sending plagues on the Egyptians so Pharaoh would agree to let the Israelites go, which he did. But as soon as there was relief from the plague, Pharaoh changed his mind, hardened his heart and refused to let the people go. After continual resistance, eventually God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

When we continually fail to adhere to God's Word and his message of obedience and salvation we end up hardening our hearts. Eventually God may harden our hearts too—a dangerous course to follow.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a heart that is open to your Word, that accepts your free offer of salvation, and the desire to always live in harmony with your will. And please soften any areas of my heart that I may already have hardened. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. Exodus 8:15 (NIV).
2. Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889–1929)

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Christian Converts Arrested in Iran

Christian Converts Arrested in Iran

Police in the Iranian city of Shiraz cracked down against known Christian converts from Islam, arresting members of three Christian families and confiscating their books and computers.

The arrests reportedly began at approximately 5:00 a.m. on May 11, when two couples were taken into custody before boarding their flights at the Shiraz International Airport and sent directly to jail. All four were subjected to hours of interrogation.

The detained Christians were identified as Homayon Shokohie Gholamzadeh (48) and his wife Fariba Nazemiyan Pur (40), and Amir Hussein Bab Anari (25) and his wife Fatemeh Shenasa (25). The report also indicated that although the two wives were released on the same day of their arrest, Anari was detained until May 14, and Gholamzadeh remains jailed.

About two hours after the early morning arrests of May 11, police authorities invaded the home of Hamid Allaedin Hussein (58) arresting him and his three adult children, Fatemah (28), Muhammed Ali (27), and Mojtaba (21). The family's books, CDs, computers and printers were taken as well. Hussein, his daughter and one son were released later the same day, but Mojtaba remains in prison.

On May 13, local police picked up two more former Muslims involved in a separate house church in Shiraz as the Christian converts were talking together in a city park. Both men, Mahmood Matin and a second man identified only as Arash, are still jailed. There were other arrests last month in the northern city of Amol, in Mazandaran province near the Caspian Sea. Two of the arrested converts to Christianity, one a pregnant woman, are still imprisoned with no news of their whereabouts.

Ask God for the release of those who are still in prison for their faith in the Lord (Acts 12:5). Pray that the Islamic government in Iran will allow full rights and protection for Christians in the nation.

For more information on the persecution facing Christians in Iran, go to www.persecution.net/country/iran.htm.

Resolving Conflict Creatively, Part I

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

1. Resolving Conflict Creatively, Part I

"But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ."1

I recall hearing a preacher of a large church, when celebrating his twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, declaring that he and his wife had never had a conflict. Chances are that one of the partners had become a doormat or a "peace at any price" person. About the only other way to live without ever having an argument or conflict is to become a hermit.

Wherever there are people, there will always be conflict at one time or another. When handled creatively, conflict can lead not only to resolution but also to personal growth. What we need to do is learn how to fight fair, to disagree agreeably, and to "fight" like a Christian.

So how do we do this?

First and foremost is to always strive to speak the truth in love. Remember that grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. We, too, need to precede truth with grace; that is, to always give loving, gracious acceptance. Unless we do this, the other person will not likely feel safe to share their truth. And without the sharing of truth, there is no connection and there is no resolution of conflict.

Second, listen…listen…listen—not only with our ears, but much more so with the heart. We need to hear what the other person is saying—not just what we think they are saying. This is because we all interpret messages through our own lenses, for "we see things not as they are, but as we are." And the more dishonest we are with our own inner-self (feelings), the more our seeing and hearing "lenses" are distorted and the more we will twist messages to make them match our perception of reality. For instance, if we are insecure or don't like ourselves, we will read into what others say to put ourselves down.

(To be continued.)

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be gracious in conflict situations, to always speak the truth in love, and be much more willing to listen before I speak. Help me to hear what the other person is saying regardless of their words and to handle conflict in a Christ-like manner. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. Ephesians 4:15 (NASB).

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Day That Changed the World

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1. The Day That Changed the World

"I [Jesus] am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades [hell]."1

I recall reading about a father who was caught with his two young daughters in a snow storm and lost his way. When night fell he wrapped his jacket around his two girls and lay on top of them to stop them from freezing to death. The next day they were found by a search party. The two girls were alive and safe, but the father had frozen to death. He gave his life to save the ones he loved.

That is what Jesus did for you and me. He gave his life on the Roman cross some 2,000 years ago to pay for the consequences of our sin—death; that is, spiritual and eternal death which is not the cessation of life but eternal separation from God, the author and creator of all love and life. But when Jesus rose from the grave he forever overcame the power of death and sin. In so doing, he guaranteed resurrection and eternal life for all who accept him as their personal Lord and Savior.

Rivi Zacharias expresses Christ's death and resurrection simply yet profoundly in the following words: "The disciples were the ones marked out for death. Those who survived Jesus were really the dead. And he, Jesus, the dead one, was really the living one."

And because Jesus is the Living One—the day he rose from the grave was the day that changed the world forever. And the day that you and I commit our life to him and receive his free pardon is the day that will change our life—for all eternity. Forever!

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, how can I ever thank you enough for your great sacrifice in giving your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in my place to pay the ransom price for all my sin! And dear Jesus, because you died for me, help me to love you as I ought and to live all the days of my life for you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Revelation 1:18 (NIV).

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Less We Forget

Monday, May 26, 2008

1. Less We Forget

"And He [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."1

Today in the United States is Memorial Day—a national holiday "originally held in commemoration of soldiers killed in the American Civil War (1868). Its observance later extended to all U.S. war dead. National observance is marked by the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery."2

It is good to remember every day, and to celebrate this day with special thanksgiving for all who gave their lives to give us freedom. May we also remember in prayer today all of our Christian brothers and sisters who live in countries where they don't know the freedoms that we have.

As a kid growing up in Australia during World War II, how well I remember what the Americans did for my homeland. Had it not been for the American soldiers with the backing of the American Congress and people, Australia would not know the freedom it knows today—neither would the rest of the Western World. And if it weren't for the strength and determination of America today, we would all be living in a much different world. What if a Saddam Hussein or an Osama Bin Laden had the military might of the U.S.? The consequences would be unthinkable!

Someone asked Albert Einstein what kind of weapons would be used in the third World War. "Well," he answered, "I don't know … but I can tell you what they'll use in the fourth world war. They'll use rocks."

In spite of its weaknesses Americans still enjoy many freedoms for which its citizens need to be extremely grateful. However, unless America turns back the tide that is rapidly taking it away from its Christian moral heritage and roots, it is highly improbable that our children or our children's children will continue to be blessed by the great freedoms that America still enjoys today. And for all who live in this great land of opportunity and despise, misuse, and/or abuse it, unlike many countries, America gives them the freedom to leave! Very few do though!

May we in the West never take our freedoms for granted for, "Eternal vigilance is still the price of freedom." And above all, that includes moral vigilance. For as God's Word says, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."3 And as Jesus told us to remember his death for us, let us also remember all who have given their lives to give us the wonderful freedoms we know today, for there is always a great price to purchase and maintain freedom.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, we thank you especially today for all who have given their lives to keep us living in a land that knows unprecedented freedom. Help all of us in the free world awaken to our need to be eternally vigilant in moral integrity, righteous living, trusting in you. And we pray for all living in lands where they are under great bondage, and where the gospel is forbidden to be preached, proclaimed or followed. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Luke 22:19 (NKJV).
2. Encyclopedia Britannica
3. Proverbs 14:34 (NIV).

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Rules Vs. Relationships

Friday, May 23, 2008


1. Rules Vs. Relationships

"He [Jesus] looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored."1

God is not into rules. He's into relationships. For example, when Jesus healed the man with the withered hand on the Jewish Sabbath, the religious leaders began to plot how they might kill him. Jesus was angry with these Pharisees because, among other things, they loved their rigid rules more than they loved people. They may have had religion, but they certainly didn't have Christ, Christianity, or God!

What is even more absurd is that these same religious leaders who murdered Jesus insisted that he be taken off the cross before sundown (the beginning of their religious Sabbath day) on the day they killed him because it wasn't "lawful" for him to be hanging dead on the cross on their Sabbath. To leave him there would have broken one of their laws and they would have felt ceremoniously unclean! Imagine that!

As strange as it may seem to many, religion may send more people to hell than anything else! That is, religion that depends on one's own "good works" or man-made laws, rules or traditions. These will never get anyone to heaven. God's Word, the Bible, makes it very clear that: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."2

Again, God isn't into religion or rules. He's into relationships. Jesus died so that we could be reconnected to God and have a right relationship with him. He also wants to make us whole so we can have wholesome relationships with others and live in harmony with God's laws—not to get us into God's heaven, but so we can live wholesome lives.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you gave your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins so that I could have a right relationship with you, others and myself. Help me to live by your laws that give life and not be bound by man-made religion, legalistic rules, or traditions that are not based on your Word, the Bible. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Mark 3:5 (NIV).

2. Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV).

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Successful Living

Thursday, May 22, 2008

1. Successful Living

"God's laws are perfect. They protect us, make us wise, and give us joy and light."1

Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Nature never breaks her own laws." Fortunately for us it doesn't. If it weren't for the law of gravity, for example, the earth wouldn't stay in its orbit and we'd all fly off into outer space. If we try to break nature's laws—such as the law of gravity, we can't. It will break or even kill us!

There are universal moral laws, too, without which our society would fall apart. If we defy these laws, they will also break us, or rather; we will break ourselves against them. Most man-made laws are important too. They make living together possible. Imagine driving on today's highways without any traffic laws!

There are also laws that govern human development. For example, every child needs considerable nurture, unconditional love, acceptance and approval throughout his developmental years. When this law is violated, so are our children—many of whom are left with broken lives. There are also laws that apply to adult health, happiness, and well-being. Defy, ignore or break these laws and we break ourselves.

God has also given us spiritual laws … not to take away our joy or freedom, but to give us the fullness of life as well as eternal life. We defy these laws to our eternal destruction.

We heed these laws not because we are legalists and have to obey them, but because we want and choose to obey them because we know we need to for our own well-being and that of our loved ones. As the Psalmist wrote, "God's laws are perfect. They protect us, make us wise, and give us joy and light. God's laws are pure, eternal, just. They are more desirable than gold. They are sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb. For they warn us away from harm and give success to those who obey them."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to understand that all of your laws are for my total well-being—both for this life and for the life to come. Give me the good sense and courage to always live in harmony with your laws so that I will live in harmony with myself, others and you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Psalm 19:7 (TLB).
2. Psalm 19:7–11 (TLB).

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 9, 2008

1. Happy Mother's Day

Wishing all mothers a very Happy Mother's Day

"Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."1

Lee Strobel tells about a mother from Costa Mesa, California who told about the day her three-year old son was on her heels wherever she went. She was having trouble doing her routine chores.

"Whenever I stopped to do something and turned back around I would trip over him," she said. "Several times I suggested fun activities to keep him occupied, but he would just smile and say, 'That's alright Mommy I'd rather be in here with you.' He continued to follow me and after the fifth trip, my patience wore thin and I asked him why he was following me constantly."

He said, "My Sunday school teacher told me to walk in Jesus' footsteps but I can't see him so I'm walking in yours."

The greatest way we can teach our children about and show our loved ones the love of Jesus is through the example of how we live, and how we model his love in our everyday life.

As another has said, "We raise not the children we want but the children that we the parents are."

Suggested prayer, "Dear God, please help me to so live that people, especially my children (and loved ones), will see Jesus in me and will want to follow in my footsteps and have Jesus in their life too. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (KJV).


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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hope and Endurance

Thursday, May 8, 2008

1. Hope and Endurance

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."1

You may have read the story about the "piano teacher who was affectionately known as Herman. One night at a university concert, a distinguished piano player suddenly became ill while performing an extremely difficult piece. No sooner had the artist retired from the stage when Herman rose from his seat in the audience, walked on stage, sat down at the piano and with great mastery completed the performance.

"Later that evening, at a party, one of the students asked Herman how he was able to perform such a demanding piece so beautifully without notice and with no rehearsal. He replied, 'In 1939, when I was a budding young concert pianist, I was arrested and placed in a Nazi concentration camp. Putting it mildly, the future looked bleak. But I knew that in order to keep the flicker of hope alive that I might someday play again, I needed to practice every day. I began by fingering a piece from my repertoire on my bare board bed late one night.

The next night I added a second piece and soon I was running through my entire repertoire. I did this every night for five years. It so happens that the piece I played tonight at the concert hall was part of that repertoire. That constant practice is what kept my hope alive. Everyday I renewed my hope that I would one day be able to play my music again on a real piano, and in freedom.'"

I'm sure that some of our readers at this time are facing great hardships and may even be in peril for their life. The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to experience great hardships, shipwreck, whippings, and being thrown into prison for his faith. He was the one who wrote today's Scripture verse encouraging the Christians in Rome (who, if they weren't going through persecution at the time, would soon be) to find encouragement and hope in the Word of God. May you and I do the same.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in times of hardship, despair and suffering, please help me to keep practicing my faith every day, putting my trust entirely in you. And please bring me through triumphantly to the last day when I will see you face to face and know you as you are. Grant that this hope and the encouragement from your Word will keep me enduring to the end. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. Romans 15:4 (NIV).

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Resolving the Effects of Abuse

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

1. Resolving the Effects of Abuse

"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."1

A Daily Encounter reader writes, "Could you please lend some encouragement for those of us who were sexually abused as young girls by a family member. I know it is a 'taboo' subject, but in my case, because of the abuse, I am still unmarried and I don't understand why God has not answered my lifelong prayer for a mate, especially since he knows the crippling emotional pain that I faced and how desperately I need male love."

I have often wondered if the words of Jesus in today's Scripture verse didn't apply to adults who abuse small children. Child abuse, whether it is physical, emotional or sexual is a grave offense against helpless children and is psychologically very damaging-often extremely damaging.

In my work, I have worked with many a victim and have seen first-hand some of the devastating results. One woman had been used in child pornography by one of her parents in order to make money! The struggles this victim has gone through in both her personal life and marriage have been horrific. Fortunately she is both committed to God and to the healing process, and after years of hard work is now a qualified counselor, herself helping others.

Those of us in the work of ministering to others could give numerous other examples. Sad to say, abuse is in the church as well as outside of it. The reality is that hurt people hurt people. And so often parents who themselves were abused as children, unless they resolve their hurt, tend to abuse others including their own offspring.

So how does an abused victim overcome her or his problem?

First, prayer. Some say that God uses prayer and prayer alone to bring abuse victims healing. I wish this were always true. However, I haven't personally witnessed this. Yes, I believe solidly in prayer and I believe strongly in making prayer the foundation for any and all healing. But we need to pray the right prayer; that is, if I am an abuse victim, I need to ask God to confront me with the truth of what I may still be contributing in any way to my situation, to reveal to me all that I need to know about my problem, and lead me to the help I need to face and resolve all of my self-destructive feelings and beliefs and overcome them.

Second, I need to quit the blame and self-pity game. Yes, we need to acknowledge the fact that we were abused, and deal with and resolve our hurt and anger so that we get to the point of forgiveness. If I stay in the self-pity blame game, I will B - LAME. Third, most abuse victims need qualified and skillful counseling to help them work through their struggle, get to their buried feelings and express them creatively, and then to reprogram their feelings, negative thinking, and beliefs about themselves so they learn to trust again. This is not easy. It needs God's help, determination, and a solid commitment to healing, growth and recovery, and most often the help of a skilled and qualified counselor.

Suggested prayer: "Dear Heavenly Father, there is such a need for the healing of wounded, broken souls all around us. Please use me to be a 'wounded' healer and grant that the church will become a healing center for us all. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. Mark 9:42 (KJV).

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Love God ... Love People

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

1. Love God ... Love People

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'…and…'Love your neighbor as yourself'."1

Ron Clark of Tasmania, Australia, tells how he "read of a halfway house for men released from prison where they could stay until they got a job and somewhere to live. One young man had been in a penal institution for most of his adult life. One day as he sat in the lounge, the three-year-old daughter of the couple who ran the shelter crawled up onto his lap, put her arms around his neck and gave him a hug. With tears running down his cheeks he said, 'This is the first time I can remember anyone touching me in love.'

"A few weeks later he gave his life to Jesus Christ. God used that unique communication of physical contact and love to break the scars of all those years."

I recall reading in one of Leo Buscaglia's books about a fairly small child who went to a neighbor's house where a husband lived whose wife had died. When she returned home, her mother asked what she did. She said, "I just sat on his lap and helped him cry."

If there were one answer for the ills of the world, it could be summed up in the words of Jesus when he was asked by a lawyer, "Which was the greatest of all the commandments?" To which Jesus replied, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."2

If we truly love God, we will serve him. We will also love people and do all we can to help them because we serve God by serving people.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to love you with all of my heart, soul and mind, and love my neighbor as myself, and to serve you by giving and ministering to others. And help me to always do this with a pure motive—one that will glorify you in all that I am and do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV).
2. Matthew 22:37–40 (NIV).

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Prosperity Gospel

Monday, May 5, 2008

1. Prosperity Gospel

"I [Jesus] have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble [tribulation]. But take heart! I have overcome the world."1

A Daily Encounter reader from a much poorer country than North America asks, "Can you please write a message on prosperity teachings. [Some American preachers]…say it is a sin to be poor and when you are prosperous (have money) you are blessed."

Amazing isn't it?

If God has gifted me to be a good businessman and to make money, and I can do that honestly, then I'd say it would be my responsibility to make money … not for personal indulgences but so I would be able to give generously in supporting the Lord's work on earth.

I for one, however, don't have that gift or that calling. Neither am I a gifted fundraiser, so financing God's work for me has always been a challenge and probably will be until the day I retire or die … whichever comes first!

However, to some degree I have been gifted with an ability to communicate. Thus it is my responsibility to be trained in this area and communicate God's truth and the gospel to the best of my ability. Not to do so would be a sin for me as the Bible says, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."2

To claim that everybody is gifted to make money or to communicate effectively is not true—and, if claiming this to be true, could lead many to doubt God's blessing on their life. The same goes for those who are led to believe that it is God's will for every Christian to be financially prosperous.

Think of Jesus, for example. Was he prosperous? Not at all. Were the twelve disciples prosperous? Matthew, the tax collector, may have been at one time but through questionable methods. Peter and the other fishermen and disciples probably made just enough to make ends meet. True, Moses came from a well-to-do background, having grown up in Pharaoh's household, but he gave it all up to serve God and lead the people of Israel.

If, however, prosperity is God's will for everyone, then let's take this message to the poverty-stricken parts of the world where untold thousands of people are dying of malnutrition.

For the rest of us less prosperous ordinary folks, let's do the best we can with the gifts God has given to us to help make our world a better place in which to live.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please grant that I will always be a messenger of truth and never be misled by false promises from false prophets who claim to be speaking in the name of the Lord. If ever I teach a false message, please reveal that to me so it can be corrected immediately. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name. Amen."

1. John 16:33 (NIV).
2. James 4:17 (NIV).

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

American Bible Society Releases Spanish Language Audio Bible

1 May 2008 17:18 Africa/Lagos


American Bible Society Releases Spanish Language Audio Bible

Produced and directed by 2008 Grammy Award winner

NEW YORK, May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

The most widely read book in the world is now available on the go -- in the car, on the computer and via the iPod --- en Espanol. The American Bible Society today released La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960, a dramatized recording in Spanish of the New Testament. Produced and directed by Grammy Award winner and independent producer David Rapkin, whose audio books are frequently represented on the Publisher's Weekly list of best selling audio programs, The Reina-Valera 1960 promises to bring alive the richness of the Scriptures.


In an effort to bring the Scriptures to an international audience and make the Bible accessible to everyone, despite their level of literacy, learning style or activity, the American Bible Society continues to use a variety of vehicles to spread the Word of God.


"To carry on the Bible Society's mission to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, producing a Spanish-language, auditory-version of the Bible was a natural venture to take on," said John Cruz, vice president of the Bible Society's publishing unit, Bibles.org. "We encourage everyone to experience its life-changing message."


Available in both CD and MP3 formats, the audio Bible features native Spanish-speaking talent in a dramatized presentation with music and sound effects, designed to transport the listener back to the time of Christ.


To continue to meet the needs of the Hispanic community, Bibles.org has launched a Spanish language Web site, at La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960. The Web site makes multimedia Biblical resources easily available. To listen to La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960, order a copy and to find more information, visit www.bibles.org or www.lapalabraeterna.org.


ABOUT THE AMERICAN BIBLE SOCIETY


Founded in 1816 and headquartered in New York City, the mission of the American Bible Society is to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so that all people may experience its life-changing message. The American Bible Society Web site is www.bibles.com.


Source: American Bible Society

CONTACT: Roy Lloyd of the American Bible Society, +1-212-408-8731,
rlloyd@americanbible.org; or Rebecca Silver of RLM Public Relations,
+1-212-741-5106 x 218, abs@RLMpr.com, for American Bible Society


Web Site: American Bible Society
http://www.bibles.org/
La Palabra Eterna, Reina-Valera 1960

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Only Time We Ever Have


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

1. The Only Time We Ever Have

"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."1

In his sermon, "Obedience," Warren Lamb said, "I used to have problems getting my son to clean his room. I would insist that he, 'Do it now,' and he would always agree to do so, but then he wouldn't follow through—at least, not right way.

"After high school, he joined the Marine Corps, which is where he is now. When he and I were on the plane together coming home for his leave after Boot Camp, he said to me, 'My life makes sense now, Dad. Everything you said and did when I was growing up now makes sense. I really, really understand.'

"'Oh yeah, Dad,' he added. 'I learned what 'now' means.'"2

For all of us, the only time we ever have is now.

If God is urging you to make amends with a friend or loved one, do it now. If there is a job or responsibility you have been putting of, do it now. If God is calling you to accept his gift of salvation, remember NOW is the day of salvation. Be sure to do this today. For help go to: http://tinyurl.com/8glq9 to read, "How to Be Sure You're a real Christian Without Having to Be Religious"

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for your Word that reminds me that the day of salvation is now—today. Please help me to do today what is the most important thing in my life, and especially to make sure my life is right with you. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV).
2. Warren Lamb, www.sermoncentral.com

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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Empty Promise of Promiscuity

Friday, April 25, 2008

1. The Empty Promise of Promiscuity

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."1

"Recently I've become promiscuous," began 20-year-old Ellen's sad email. "I've been boy crazy for as long as I can remember. My father left my life when I was twelve. My mom worked long hours and had little time for my brother and me after our parents divorced. I don't understand why I feel I can't function without a significant other in my life. I had a baby when I was 16, married at 17, and now I'm 20 and divorced. I'm searching for a 'soul mate' and I'm in love with the idea of love. It's ruining my morals and my values. I feel empty. Can you help?"

The above message was sent to a counselor friend of mine, Dr. Bruce Narramore. Tragically, situations like this in today's permissive society are far too common where so many lonely people seek to fill the empty void and hunger in their heart with false substitutes such as meaningless sex and empty relationships—both of which serve only to increase their sense of despair.

Bruce said, "I encouraged Ellen to seek help to gain an understanding of some of the causes of her problems. I pointed out how the void left by losing her dad and mom programmed her to feel an unusually deep need for human connection which was probably the driving force behind her promiscuity and excessive need for a man in her life. I also told her she could never fill the void coming from those childhood losses through a sexual relationship or even through marriage. We can't fill childhood voids with adult relationships. That is like pouring water through sand. The water is temporarily cooling but soon vanishes. If Ellen doesn't reverse this pattern, she will go through life trying to find the parents she lost through one tragic relationship after another.

"Ironically, not until Ellen becomes emotionally and spiritually strong enough to live without a man will she be ready for a healthy relationship. At that point she will be a mature adult ready for an adult relationship, rather than an emotional child searching for a lost daddy. And she will no longer 'be in love with the idea of love' which is simply a childish fantasy. Instead, she will be ready to love and be loved by a real person."2

Fortunately, Ellen admitted that she had a problem and needed help. She did seek counseling to help her resolve her childhood losses. We trust that she is now well on the road to recovery and ready for healthy relationships. Ellen's situation is a reminder to all who have unresolved losses that they also need to resolve their losses so they can get off the endless merry-go-round of seeking to fill the empty void in their heart by looking for love in all the wrong faces and places and by trying to fill their void with "things" instead of healthy relationships.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to admit to any unhealthy relationships and/or behaviors in my life, see the cause/s of these, and find the help I need to overcome so that I will grow in maturity and learn to fully live and fully love so my life will be a clean channel through which your love can flow to others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Matthew 11:28 (NIV).
2. Narramore, Bruce, Project Letter of the Narramore Christian Foundation.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part III

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

1. What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part III

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."1

Yesterday we pointed out three more benefits of a good church: friendship and a sense of belonging; personal care; and discovering a sense of inner peace and strength.

Regarding the latter, one hard-working electrical contractor explained his feeling this way, "I was tired of the everyday grind. I really felt all along that there was something missing. I went to church as a youth just about every Sunday. I went to boot camp. And then I lost it. I couldn't put my finger on it, even though I tried and tried again. My children started going to Sunday School, my wife started, and I said, 'Maybe this is what I'm missing.' So I tried it, and it was."2

Finding God and his will for your life. There are many more benefits gained from belonging to a good church, not the least being: learning about God; experiencing meaningful worship; finding inspiration and help for daily living; and having an opportunity to use your abilities to serve others.

Perhaps the most important benefit of all is that in a good church one can find God … and his will and direction for one's life.

The Gallup poll mentioned earlier also brought out an interesting facet of American life. At the time of this poll 61 percent of all Americans aged 18 and above want to follow God's will.

With God, life (even with all its hurts and frustrations) becomes more meaningful and purposeful. Furthermore, with God one can find forgiveness for all his sins and wrong-doing, make his or her peace with him, and receive the hope of eternal life.

Belonging to a good church is so beneficial for both individuals and families that it is well worth finding a church where leaders and members not only love God and believe and teach his Word, but also where they are loving, accepting, and non-judgmental; where they present grace with truth; and where they are committed to ministering to each others' needs. That's why God designed the church.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you above all that in a good church I can find you. Thank you, too, that a good church gives me a safe place to learn more about you, study your Word, discover your will for my life, share my struggles and failures, grow in maturity, faith, love and every grace, and find an opportunity to serve you by serving others. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).
2. Why People Join the Church, p. 105-106.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part II

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

1. What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part II

"They [the early disciples of Jesus] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."1

Yesterday we pointed out that one of the major benefits of a good church was improved family life.

Friendship. Two more important benefits provided by the church are friendship and a sense of belonging.

In their book, Growth, a New Vision for the Sunday School, Charles Arn, Donald McGavran, and Win Arn emphasize the important part that friendship plays in a live and growing church. Surveys and personal interviews have shown that this is what attracts most people and what keeps them actively involved. In fact, the number one reason people gave for joining a new church home was "the friendliness of the people."

Personal care. Another benefit of the church is its care for and support of its members.

I've belonged to churches where members band together to care for the sick, provide volunteer therapy for the handicapped, take meals to the shut-in, provide homes for the poor, give care to the aged, and provide social activities for the youth.

One church I belonged to sponsored a divorce and grief recovery program, and provided support groups for parents of teens and pre-teens, for codependents, for singles, for helping people with sexual, drug and alcohol addictions, for incest and rape victims, for those with eating disorders, and care groups for everybody in the entire church.

Inner peace and strength. It is true that some people go to church for false motives, but most, like me, are people who have blown it at times, who have fallen and made mistakes, are struggling to become the person they feel God wants them to be, and know if they are going to make it, they need a power greater than their own.

They go to church because here, in spite of their failures, they have found not only forgiveness and acceptance, but also a sense of inner peace knowing that their life is right with God, and strength to help them cope with the struggles of life.

To be concluded …

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that a good church provides wonderful friendships, a place where members truly care for one another, and a sense of inner peace and strength that comes from meaningful worship with fellow believers. Please help me not only to be a receiver of these benefits but also a giver to others so that they, too, will experience all of these benefits. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Acts 2:42 (NIV).

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Monday, April 21, 2008

What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part I

Monday, April 21, 2008

1. What a Good Church Can Do for You, Part I

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."1

Leon Norsworthy, a very successful family man and business leader, was promoted to the directorship of a national organization—a promotion which involved a move to another city for him and his family.

Before buying a new home in the general vicinity of his work and moving his family, however, Leon and his wife, Sally, did an interesting thing. They first looked for a good church, and when they found the one they felt would best meet their family needs, they then bought a house close to the church.

They did this because they have experienced the benefits of belonging to a good church and realize its importance for personal, family and spiritual life.

The Norsworthys aren't alone in their feelings about the church. In fact, 120 million or 61 percent of Americans belong to a church. What other volunteer organization can boast such a following?

True, every church has some weaknesses and some churches suit some people more than others, but for the church to survive for 2,000 years and continue to thrive as it has, there has to be many benefits to attract and hold its vast following. The following are some of the most important ones:

Improved family life. A Gallup poll showed that the number one personal need expressed by 82 percent of the American adult population was having a "good family life."

Many people besides the Norsworthys believe the church helps make for a good family life. In a special study, Edward A. Rauff, director of the Research and Information Center of the Lutheran Church Council in the U.S.A., found that the dominant reason a high percentage of the respondents gave for establishing a relationship with a church was "to keep the family together and to strengthen family life."2

That the church helps strengthen family life is supported by a study conducted by sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia. His conclusions showed that couples who attend church regularly are 42 percent more likely to be married for the first time, and those in the church who were committed to its beliefs had a 23 percent better chance of having a "very happy" marriage than those who don't go to church.

To be Continued…

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you designed the church, not only for your people to worship you together, but also to help meet many needs of the body of Christ—your Church. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).
2. Why People Join the Church, p. 73.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Is Sin?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1. What Is Sin?

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."1

What is sin and why does God hate it?

Someone has argued if God is the creator of all things then he must have created sin. Actually, sin, as another has suggested is not a "created" thing at all. It is an action on our part or a failure to act as we know we ought to act or behave. God created people but he didn't create sin or sinners. Sinners are people who have chosen to go their own way rather than God's way. It's the same with evil. It is the evil actions of people who have chosen to do evil things that make them evil.

In the Bible there are three facets to sin. First has to do with breaking God's laws that are found in his Word, the Bible. Second applies to rebelling against God and going one's own sinful way. And third has to do with falling short of God's standard of perfection; that is, being less than whole and all that God envisioned for us to be. The latter also includes sins of omission—not doing what we know we should do—as well as sins of commission.

And why does God hate sin so vehemently? Because it destroys those whom God loves—us. It causes us to be spiritually dead, and separates us from the God who created and loves us, and dooms us to a lost eternity in the place the Bible calls hell—whatever and wherever that may be.

While sin totally destroys those whom God loves, his mercy and love have provided a way of escape from sin's destructive consequences for all who put their trust in him and become a true Christ follower or Christian. For help to be sure you are a real Christian go to: http://tinyurl.com/8glq9.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to understand the totality of sin, its devastating consequences, and why you hate and despise it. Help me also to understand your plan of salvation and deliverance from sin's dreadful consequences through Jesus Christ and be absolutely sure that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and have received your gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus name, amen."

1. Romans 6:23 (NIV).

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Tennessee or Bust

The following true life story, "Tennessee or Bust" is from the wife of my Christian friend and Tennessee always reminds me of Linda Bruce and my favourite Granola Bars she always brought for me whenever she came to Nigeria.

You should sit back and read it.

TENNESSEE OR BUST
By Pastor Laura Rizzo

One of the worst and yet rather humorous times of our Christian training began in 1986 in Florida and took us on a journey to Greeneville, Tennessee. Amazingly we saw the mighty, miraculous and sovereign hand of God intervene in our lives repeatedly and learned some incredible lessons along the way…

We married in 1985 and at the end of our first year an offer came our way to live rent free, work at and be the Chaplains of a campground in Naples, Florida. To us this would be a very easy way to save money and I was always open for a change in scenery. Thinking we had nothing to lose, we had an interview with the park managers which proved to be very pleasant as the meeting was held in their lovely double-wide mobile home. They seemed so nice and reasonable and discussing our future positions seemed like such an effortless, natural choice and something we were meant to do all along.

Upon returning home we decided to vacate our lovely brand new apartment in Fort Myers to pursue this opportunity and were excited about embarking on this new adventure.

Our first day there was like a slap in the face. First off, we didn’t pay much attention to the camper that the managers had planned for us to reside in which was a gross oversight on our part. The interview was so “deceiving” that we just expected their camper to be as nice as their home. Wrong!! Upon exploring this tiny, filthy, horrifying mess, I immediately burst into tears at the sight and smell of it. By now it was too late to do anything about it as we had already given up our apartment, put all our furniture in storage and had made the commitment to take these positions. Was this a hint of things to come? You be the judge.

The day after that we started our jobs. My position at the campground was an office check-in clerk for the campers and Vince’s job was grounds maintenance and getting the campers settled onto their sites. Our next problem was that we naively believed the managers would uphold the terms for the positions we agreed to. As it turned out, completely contrary to our agreement, we worked every weekend, every Sunday and every holiday so in comparison to that, the filthy, small camper was soon insignificant. As time went on we just became more miserable and were certain that we’d made a grave mistake in our choice to go there. We then began fervently praying that God would do something—quick!!!

Customarily God rarely, if EVER, moves quickly and even if He does, its usually never within our time frame so while we were waiting for God to answer our prayers Vince happened to notice a 45 foot, 1961 International school bus that was for sale in the back of the campground.

Upon seeing it he sensed that God wanted us to have it so he actually just went and laid hands on it and asked the Lord for it. Within a few days he saw the man who owned it, spoke with him and we got a tour of it. The owner had been converting it to a camper and it had bunk beds for their kids, a customized kitchen table booth, a mid-sized refrigerator, a small kitchen sink, a small porta potty, (funny I never noticed it didn’t have a shower!!) and at this point I was open to WHATEVER would take us away from this cursed campground.

As we began to discuss the deal, we offered the man my car for an even-trade deal as it was a rather nice car, but he really wanted the Volkswagen camper we had. It was only three years old and a dear lady in our church, by direction of the Lord, had packed the thing to the full with everything anyone would ever need to go camping and then had given it to us free and clear. When he suggested that, a thrill came into my soul at the thought of blessing this man as he had a wife and kids and only had a moped (a tiny motor bike) to go to work, do errands, go grocery shopping and he owned nothing he could use to take his whole family anywhere.

Apparently God had intended all along for this man to have that camper van and everything in it as once we completed the deal, he radiated with joy and was praising God for this wonderful transaction. We too, were exceedingly happy and joyful especially since we could move out of the manager’s stinky camper!!

As it was now June of 1987, we spent several weeks working on the bus to complete the conversion and it took much longer than we expected because the heat and humidity were over 95 sweltering degrees each day. Between the heat and sweating profusely we both were exhausted by noon each day. Our upgrade included installing a window air conditioner unit in the back door window and we half killed ourselves getting a king sized bed in the back door of the bus and I wouldn’t suggest that maneuver to anyone!!! Just envision the three stooges taking on that task and it was us!!

Finally finishing the conversion, it was now time to take her out and see what she could do!! Upon our first jaunt with the bus one Sunday afternoon we were traveling towards the Everglades on a two-lane road, and had only gone a few miles when smoke began pouring out from under the hood. I pulled over onto an almost non-existent shoulder that almost dumped us into a canal and Vince leaped out, opened the hood and as he did the engine burst into flames!!!

In panic, he ran back into the bus and grabbed the fire extinguisher which he had just installed the day before, but he couldn’t get it to work!! Yikes!! Then I panicked, ran out and grabbed the extinguisher and began frantically reading the directions to operate it. At that point, Vince’s stress level went into overload and he promptly began losing his lunch on the side of the road as I finally managed to put out the fire!!

Thinking back, it must have been quite a quandary for the passers-by as they were probably quite confused as to which to respond to – the fire or Vince’s performance so no one stopped at all to help us!!!

Anyway, completely exhausted but relieved we crawled back into the bus and just sat there getting our breath when a kind, Florida Highway Patrolman traveling in the opposite direction did and u-turn and stopped to help us. He used his radio to call headquarters to get in touch with the seller who paid for the miraculous, minimal damage and we were on our way in no time!! (The miracles were starting already!)

At least now we knew the bus was roadworthy but we still needed to hear from God what to do about leaving the campground. About a week or two later one Sunday after one of our church services, a little lady told us about a place called Horse Creek in upper East Tennessee that was run by the U. S. Department of Forestry and she said we could possibly be campground hosts there and have a similar living situation there.

Well, that was music to my ears as we couldn’t wait to leave this campground and the annoying managers who had lied to us about everything. We immediately began praying about this and on Monday we called the Dept. of Forestry. They said they would love to have us come right away and informed us that their campground was in the Appalachian Mountains and that they had three huge swimming pools!!!—imagine that!! Not having been to Tennessee before, I immediately had visions of the kind of scenery of Oregon and of the Florida style of three lovely concrete swimming pools – how elegant and dreamy!!!

Finally, we were ready to make the trip and we had both quit our jobs and had purchased walkie-talkies to communicate to each other on the trip. Vince drove my car and I drove the bus as I had had extensive experience driving trucks and had my Chauffeur’s license for five years as I had worked outside construction related jobs before I met him.

Once we left Fort Myers I was as happy as a lark. The trek to Horse Creek was fairly uneventful until we were about six hours south of Atlanta when I heard a big bang from the engine. I radioed Vince and we both pulled over to check it out. As he walked up to the bus, he noticed that there was oil all down the outside of it. He opened the hood, looked around the engine, and not being a mechanic, he closed it, wiped the oil off of it, placed his hands on it and prayed that God would heal it – and God did just that!! (Acts 28:8). We never had a bit of trouble with it from that time on and we arrived at our destination safe and sound six hours later.

However, by the time we reached our destination MY stress level had gone into overload. Each time I called the Dept. of Forestry they could not give me exact directions to the campground!!! Each time I hung up the pay phone I was scratching my head in unbelief asking myself why couldn’t they just tell me where their campground was?? – after all they lived in Tennessee and they should know where their own campground was!!!

Unbeknownst to us many of the roads in Tennessee seem to have been designed and constructed by persons under the influence of alcoholic substances or if you prefer, moonshine!! The roads continue endlessly curling and winding for miles and miles. It turned out that Horse Creek was at the furthest end of one of these roads and was a place less than your average “Mayberry” with the nearest town being 18 miles away!!!

The campground itself was at the base of a huge mountain with ten tent campsites and we soon learned there were NO showers, one OUTHOUSE and NO lights within 500 feet anywhere. And as for the “three swimming pools”? These were nothing but holes in the ground about 8 to 10 feet deep with freezing ice cold, mountain stream water running through them and…where we would have to bathe for the next three months!!!!!!!!! We realized we were totally unprepared for camping up north and my dreamy visions of Oregon and elegant swimming pools turned into nightmares of “WHAT’S NEXT?”

After coming all this way, this was our future. I really remember quoting that line that has the fire and the frying pan in it and the phrase, “What were we thinking?” Here we were again faced with inconceivable, uncontrollable living conditions which we had to accept. I could handle the darkness outside as we did have power to our site and we were still in contact with the civilized world because the rangers installed a phone for us but I didn’t handle the outhouse issue well and as for bathing in water day in and day out that wasn’t frozen just because it was running downhill?? That was another issue altogether!!!!

Needless to say, we didn’t bathe TOO much and fortunately there weren’t too many campers down wind of us. And using the small porta potty we had meant Vince had to dump it in the outhouse every few days – that was another nightmare I totally chose to ignore. When we did have to bathe, our normal bath time schedule in 30 degree weather was:

1. Put our bathing suits on under our clothes and jackets.
2. Wait till it was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.
3. Take a large towel and bar of soap and your flip flops or sandals.
4. Use a large flashlight to run to the creek.
5. Strip down and jump in while screaming at the top of your lungs to dull the shock.
6. Jump out to lather up.
7. Jump in again while screaming even louder to rinse off.
8. Jump back out and hold the flashlight so the other person could do the same thing.
9. Run like crazy back to the bus without falling and freezing!!
10. Pile tons of blankets on us to keep from hypothermia!!

The upside was that bathing outside at night, makes one very glad that there are no lights within 500 feet!!!

We spent our days praying and worshiping God and studying and job hunting. We found that the norm for Tennessee is to hire and lay off all the same people year after year at all the factories because most of these folks are very clannish. That means if you weren’t born there they didn’t give outsiders a second thought. So here we were in another impossible situation where we had to pray and wait on God –again!!

One thing we really learned was how to trust God and trust that He could take care of us regardless of the situation. We still had some bills from Florida but being caretakers of this campground meant we had no overhead except for food and gas but we were learning that if God could take care of the birds of the air like He said in Matthew 6:25-34, that He could take care of us. And God was there to meet us many, many times.

To most people no jobs mean no money for food, gas or bills, but to us, this is God’s perfect recipe for a miracle. To us this is a time of sheer excitement as we wait to see God open His miraculous hand and make a way where there seems to be no way.

However, it may sound like that was an easy formula to receiving from God but it was incredible training for us which I called the “fumes of faith” because there were times that I thought WE WOULD PERISH!! And, when it comes to perishing I always think of Queen Esther in the Bible when she was positioned to intercede for the lives of the entire Jewish nation. The risk she took to go to the king with her petition to repeal a law to annihilate her people was a life and death decision she had to make whether she died doing it or not. She trusted God to see her through this and so did we.

Sometimes when we thought all was lost and that we would perish, we would come home from job hunting and find another miracle had taken place such as the day we came home and the whole one side of our entire bus was lined with huge grocery bags full of fresh vegetables of all kinds that came from the park rangers. There were about 20 bags in all. We were totally in awe of what God was doing as we told no one but God of our needs. We had been at the end again with no money for food at all. We later learned that all the park rangers owned and ran farms and worked at several different parks part time. In our greatest hour of need God had orchestrated these people to bless us during our times of despair.

As Day Light Savings Time was ended, it was getting darker sooner so we mentioned to the Dept. of Forestry just how dark the park was and they placed a large light fixture behind our bus which was just outside our bedroom air conditioner. This was rather comforting to us as the woods at the base of this huge mountain in the park rendered everything pitch black once the sun set.

However, we really hadn’t thought far enough ahead on this because being that this light was THE ONLY LIGHT IN THE PARK, we were awakened in the middle of the night to find whole families of crickets leaping through the air conditioner vent onto our king size bed!!

Half asleep, half laughing, swatting and beating the sheets we attempted to rid ourselves of over 50 of the noisy creatures who were having a grand time invading our nocturnal bliss!! I finally yelled for Vince to go outside and shut off the light to keep the rest of the cricket population from coming in. Getting back to sleep many hours later I recall even laughing in my sleep after this crazy episode. We saw this as God bringing us moments of laughter from the smallest things to keep us from discouragement and from giving up.

One day in November we discovered a local tent revival. The 30 degree weather rendered very small crowds and we noticed they were getting very small offerings as well. The small crowds made it easy for us to get acquainted with the lady preacher and we found that she too was living by faith. She then invited Vince to preach the last night of the revival.

That evening at the revival Vince sensed that the Lord wanted him to pledge to give her and her team $50.00. We didn’t have $5.00 let alone $50.00, but we knew that we served a faithful God and that He would provide. When the last night of the revival came, we still didn’t have the pledge but Vince went and preached till they were cheering and receiving from God. In fact, the lady preacher was so kind that she had all the attendees come forward and give us an offering as they left and not having ever experienced that type of offering before we just stuffed the money into our pockets.

Later when it was all over, Vince pulled $50.00 out of his pockets for her and we discovered that between the two of us we still had $290.00 left over which to us was a gold mine!! This was just enough for us to pay our few bills, get food and gas, go out to dinner and wait on God again for the next provision. Our hearts were overflowing with joy and excitement that God had met our needs, again!!

Our job hunting finally proved successful when I was hired as a secretary at a local church. The pastor could only pay me $4.00 per hour and I could only afford to work part time three days a week because each trip was 36 miles so it was rather costly. For three months we lived on about $40.00 per week!!!!

On some of those pay days, I remember walking up and down the grocery aisles tears streaming down my face wondering how we could conceivably survive and trying to reason how we would ever have enough money for gas and food, the bills and incidentals. The impossibility of it all was overwhelming and each week I would VERY carefully choose what we could afford and we always tithed $4.00 per week at the church as well. Trust me when I say that it is terribly hard on your flesh to tithe $4.00 per week when you are only making $40.00 per week but we found joy in giving to God as we saw Him lovingly provide for us time and time again.

But, don’t you know that if Jesus could feed 5,000 from one loaf of bread and two little fish that he could care for us just fine on $40.00 per week!!! He multiplied our loaves and fishes each and every week!!!! God would even put us before people who were making much more money per week than us but would be in terrible financial situations. They were living in fear as they did not have enough money to feed their kids and this one family of five we knew were living on was ice milk as the father worked at a dairy.

We would then be able to witness to them and testify how powerfully and faithfully God had provided for us and taken care of us when we put Him first in our lives. These same people would then financially bless us out of their extreme need and the next time we would see them, they had a testimony to tell of the goodness of God in His care and provision for them as well!!! In fact the next week the husband got a promotion and a raise!! When we honor God in all we do, He will honor us in due time.

Now as it turned out, Vince could not find a job so he had the privilege of staying home and praying and seeking the Lord and God would just manifest himself to him and be so real to Vince that he was incredibly encouraged and would then encourage me through the rough times.

Periodically we would get invitations to preach at local churches, which was the result of Vince’s time spent in prayer. The opportunities helped us form local friendships and provided some funding as the churches responded with some support.

By now winter was fast approaching and the situation was getting steadily MORE uncomfortable and annoying. The November-December temperatures were so cold that the mountain stream we bathed in felt like needles piercing your skin. By the time we would run back to the bus, we were so frozen that we had to stack layers of blankets on both of us to be able to stand it. The water actually felt so cold that one time Vince had a terrible headache and he dove in and practically flew out of the water and then realized his headache was completely gone!! (Either that or he was so cold he couldn’t feel it any longer!!)

Anyway, the next problem was that the campground we were in was now closing and we had to relocate to another park. In fact, it was so late in the season that when we moved to this new park we were the ONLY ones there and it was scheduled to close within two weeks. The hand of the Lord also gave us favor there as the park managers allowed us to stay free of charge!

We set up camp as usual but at least this place had hot showers – what a wonderful luxury!!!! But then the trials and challenges began again. This time we faced black spiders with fuzzy white hair on their backs that seemed to be everywhere. One day while doing the dishes I was rinsing a dish when I looked up and here was one of these spiders dangling from the shelving unit above the sink right in front of my nose!! I gasped in sheer horror and it was just enough to get him to drop down in the dishwater right where I wanted him. I thank my God that I didn’t inhale any harder or that thing would have gone right down my throat, hair and all!!

As the days passed it even got colder and we had to run two space heaters all night long because school buses have no insulation. If it was 20 degrees outside it was just about that cold inside and you could see your breath if you sat up in bed.

One night it was just too much for our generator and we woke up to the sounds of explosions and flashing lights on the left side of the bus. Afraid to look but praying it just may be something else besides our bus exploding, we dared to peek outside the curtains to realize that the power box under the bus was self-destructing right before our very eyes at 3:00 in the morning!!

Yes, it was July in Christmas – the 4th of July!! Streams of objects were shooting into the night air with great beams of light that were projecting into the pitch blackness at accelerating speeds. Booms of bangs were piercing the silence of the night as we watched our only source of heat go up in a blaze of glory. I remember just rolling my eyes back, looking over at Vince and pulling the covers over my head and saying, “We’ll just deal with it in the morning!” It was just easier to forget it all and sleep in denial for the rest of the night.

In the morning after investigating everything, we discovered that besides the power box dying that all the water pipes had frozen and burst. At this point we were at our wits end. We again were at the place of no money at all. We managed to temporarily fix things but our attitudes were really beginning to lean towards the disgusted side.

Then at around 11:00 p.m. the very last night the campground was open, we got a knock on our door and were very surprised to see a couple from the tent revival who came to see us and they wanted prayer. (We didn’t remember mentioning it, but we must have told the lady preacher where we were going to move to so she must have told them where we were.)

We were really not in the mood to pray for anyone but we did all the while I was trying to be sensitive to God to see what He would have me bless them with because they were the poorest people at the revival – they put coins into our hands when the lady preacher told everyone to give us an offering as they left the revival!!)

Anyway, God did not tell me to give them anything and spent some time with them, offered them some refreshments and then we said our goodbyes. Once they left Vince went back to being disgusted. Two minutes later I heard another knock at the door and it was the wife of the couple and she shoved something in my hand and I just said “Thank you” to her as I thought it was probably a one dollar bill. We again said goodbye, I shut the door and Vince came out to see who it was just as I opened my hand to see a $100.00 bill!!! We both were just completely stunned. I think I muttered “The wife just gave me this.” I think we just stood there about five minutes just starring at it not believing that poor little lady had given us that much money!!! Then we both did the dance of joy!!! We were just beside ourselves and thanked God and rejoiced all over the place and we slept very well that night as I recall!!

The next day all of a sudden Vince wondered whether the couple had mistakenly given us their rent money in the dark!! We had no idea where they lived or worked and looked for them for a while. Not finding them we went ahead and purchased food and gas and ran into a couple of women who were in the praise and worship team from the church we had been attending and I had been working at. They inquired how we were doing and they just happened to be the managers of an apartment complex just outside of town and by that night we had put a deposit on an apartment and had moved into it and had traded the bus for a nice car at a used car lot in town.

Interestingly enough, the next time we saw the couple that had given us the $100.00, Vince immediately asked them if they had mistakenly given us their rent money. The husband spoke up and said that when they walked outside of our camper and were getting ready to leave, they were in their car figuring out how much money to give us when they looked out toward the woods and saw a pure, white dove fly out of the woods and land on the top of our bus. As soon as they saw that, the wife ran to give us the $100.00!!

In a tiny moment of time, through the most unexpected servants of God, He had provided all we needed. I couldn’t have been more surprised. When you are determined to submit yourself to God, He will shock you with His love at times. More and more He was showing us His absolute faithfulness and loving hand of provision. More and more we were learning to behave during the hard times by maintaining a good attitude and learning to control our emotions and feelings. When we were upset or angry with God and He would answer our prayers, we would feel so ashamed that we didn’t believe and have the faith that He would take care of us.

We were learning not to get upset but to worship and love Him with a joyful spirit continually regardless of what we were going through because we knew that if we didn’t have a good attitude that we weren’t being faithful to Him. If we praise Him before He answers, it proves that we really trust Him and have faith that He is able to deliver us and keep us because He is our portion, our strength, our deliverer, our provider, the rock of our salvation in whom we can trust completely!!!

It is a wondrous thing to fall in love with the one I call Daddy God. Growing up, my brother and I never had a father image in our family – my mom brought us up all alone and Vince also had a very difficult youth as well. Father is a name neither of us could relate to but God cared for us so deeply that He revealed Himself in ways of love we never expected. Getting to know God as a real father is an incredible privilege and honor. We found the heart of God in the midst of desperation and looking back I know it was worth every moment of that desperation because soon, it wasn’t about the money, it wasn’t about jobs or preaching engagements, it was about falling in love with a God who not only gave His own Son but continued to give and give and give.

This whole journey was meant to pull us much deeper than survival or supply, it all was meant to create deep within us an unrelenting passion and devotion to the One and Only God who is alive forevermore and who loves us beyond all intellect, all knowledge, all circumstance, all there is.

TO BE CONTINUED!!!!

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Posted By Orikinla Osinachi. to Kisses & Roses at 4/17/2008 02:55:00 AM