In a new book, "Through the Eyes of a Lion: Facing Impossible Pain, Finding Incredible Power", author Lusko challenges one to live everyday not just "to survive" but to live with fire and passion. This starts when you go beyond your earthly eyes - learn to look at life and your circumstances through the eyes of Jesus - the eyes of a Lion! Elsewhere, Lusko preached: "Jesus was crucified on a Friday and rose on a Sunday, and Saturday was the time of trial for His disciples. A promise had been given but not fulfilled yet. The question is, how do we live on "Saturday"?".
In 2013, CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors (trillion $s asset) quit to be on "mission" ... now trying to help ex-convicts adjust to life after prison:
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/ex-wells-fargo-ceo-is-on-mission-to-help-ex/article_804042bd-0936-5fc6-8977-fde8678a62ea.html ("Three out of four people released from prison wind up arrested again within five years ... ")
A very interesting case study:- http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/august/70000-minimum-wage-bible-parable-gravity-payments.html
According to http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/09/news/gravity-payments-dan-price-70k-salary/ :-
"Price decided to hike his employees' pay after he read a study about happiness, which concluded that addtional income up until a salary of $75,000 a year can make a significant difference in a person's emotional well-being."
Quote: "It’s a radical, provocative idea: We’re not entitled to get offended or stay angry. The idea of our own “righteous anger” is a myth. It is the number one problem in our societies today and, as Dallas Willard says, Christians have not been taught out of it.... "
Movie "Unbroken" is about the amazing story of Louis Zamperini (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Zamperini) who was able to forgive (by God's grace) his former captors/enemies who gravely tortured him in prison!
"Zamperini survived the war, married Cynthia Applewhite, but was constantly haunted with nightmares from his time in the prison camp. Falling into alcoholism, his marriage was on the verge of ending, until his wife became a born-again Christian at a Billy Graham crusade. Through her prodding, she convinced Zamperini to attend the crusade where an internal struggle eventually broke him and brought him to his knees at the cross of Christ. Through his relationship with Christ, he was able to forgive his captors and tormentors."
"On July 30, 1967, Joni (http://www.joniandfriends.org/) dove into Chesapeake Bay after misjudging the shallowness of the water. She suffered a fracture between the fourth and fifth cervical levels and became a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down. During her rehabilitation, she experienced anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, and religious doubts.
In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She emerged successfully from cancer surgery and is hopeful of a positive prognosis."
So, Joni has seen and experienced a lot of sufferings and hardships in life.
So, what does Joni expects from God in heaven? :-
Joni (http://www.joniandfriends.org/nrb-awards-dinner):- "So don’t be thinking that a new body (Joni was left paralyzed from the shoulders down) is what I am looking forward to most in heaven: jumping up, dancing, kicking and doing aerobics. Oh, that’ll be wonderful; it would be a great fringe benefit of being invited to Christ’s coronation party, but that’s not what I am looking forward to. I want a new heart; I want glorified heart that no longer twist the truth or resists God (heart free of selfishness), or looks for an escape, or gets defeated by pain, or becomes anxious or worrisome about the future — no longer trying to justify itself. Oh, that’ll be heaven for me."
This also flies in the face of "health-wealth" / "prosperity" gospels.
8Aug14:- "On the peaks of the Sinjar mountains, 50,000 members of the Yazidi people are facing a slow death from dehydration and exposure. Below them waits the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant extremist group who will kill any that descend."
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”".
So, when we live like that, Jesus assures that we will experience HIM/GOD for sure ("I am with you always") : )
When GOD speaks, universe/planets/humans/mountains/animals come into being (Book of Genesis)! Eggs unscramble and dead rise too (even from dry bones & ashes)! - Wow that is called POWER! Now, GOD's spoken Words are also stored in the Bible. That is why we study Bible regularly - to experience "THE SAME KIND OF" God's power in our life : )
At times you may think it's all over ... You may not have any motivation left to continue ... Remember, people managed to kill and lay dead GOD (Jesus) too! But then Jesus rose and Romans 8:11 says: "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.".
So, the same Spirit that RAISED Jesus FROM BEING DEAD, is NOW IN YOU, Christian!! So why are you worrying and stressing out? Your situation cannot be that dead, that the Spirit of GOD, in you, cannot bring it back to life!
Your friends are telling you one thing, your professor is telling you one thing, your pastor is telling you one thing, your parents are telling you one thing, and your own flesh is telling you one thing ... And you wonder who is right? Whom do you believe? Well, that is why GOD has given us His Word - the Bible! Remember, whenever the devil tempted/provoked Jesus in the dessert (Luke 4), EVERY TIME (note "everytime"), Jesus responded by going to God's Word / Holy Scriptures:- "It is written ...".
Psalm 119:105: "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path".
Thank God for the Bible : ) So, yes, READ YOUR BIBLE : )
Learn the facts about poverty and how it affects children in need and their families.
Worldwide 600 million children are living in extreme poverty.
The cost of eradicating world poverty is estimated at 1 percentof global income.
Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts forthree-quarters of world income.
1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.
6.9 million children under five years of age died in 2011, nearly 800 every hour.
The highest rates of child mortality are still in sub-Saharan Africa – where 1 in 9 children dies before age 5.
The number of under-five deaths worldwide has declined from more than 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011.Nearly 19,000 children under five died every day in 2011.
Globally, the four major killers of children under age 5 are pneumonia (18 percent), diarrheal diseases (15 percent), preterm birth complications (12 percent) and birth asphyxia (9 percent).
58 percent of deaths in children under age five are caused by infectious diseases.
1981, 52 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty
(defined as living on $1.25 or less a day.) Data from the World Bank
released in February 2012 estimates that 22 percent of people live in extreme poverty.
Country with highest number of under five deaths: India.
Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
99 percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.
If you feel your situation right now is very hopeless then read on ..
BTW, Happy Easter !! : ) Easter is the greatest symbol of hope that I am aware of!
About 2000 years, a guy named Jesus started Christianity. His movement for barely 3-4 years old, when he was unjustly arrested and crucified! And Jesus was given an extremely horrible death ... Isaiah 57 says: "His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness" ...
The disciples of Jesus who witnessed all this, must have been utterly shaken & shattered to the core and must have thought the "Jesus movement", which was barely 3-4 years old, is all over ... Things surely looked completely hopeless at that point ...
But, then came the biggest turnaround in the history of humanity ... Jesus rose from the dead in three days (http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html)!! And 2000 years from then, today, ~2 billion people (1 out 3 people in this planet) claim to be Christian!!
Isn't this the biggest turnaround in the history in humanity?!
This is why I am always in so much awe of our GOD ... history shows how GOD can turnaround and bring back to life situations that may look so bad, so dead, so hopeless ...
And, all this makes Easter - the ultimate symbol of hope - So, HAPPY EASTER TO YA'LL!!
Chan: (~5:45) " ... when I came back from Africa my heart was just broken, I look at all the stuff around (here) ... and I go honey (to wife) it's so hard ... you gotto see these kids they are so beautiful but they are digging through the trashes and you gotto go with me and you gotto see it .. "
(A brief interview on why Francis Chan left his mega Church and moved on to serve in SF ...)
A clip from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93hux7vQSyY
Francis thinks it's the story of the most interesting man ; )
An incredible, mind-blowing, heart-warming, superbly-inspiring ministry accomplished in spare time!
" .. With God all things are possible!" Matthew 19:26
Aron: "Francis explains the vision behind our new church planting movement in San Francisco, which is still in its experimental stages. Keep in mind this is just a rough cut and the beginning of an ongoing conversation."
According to Isaacson, Jobs, a self-proclaimed Buddhist, began questioning the meaning of life and God in the past few months before his death.
"I remember sitting in his backyard in his garden one day and he started talking about God," recalled Isaacson. "He said, 'Sometimes I believe in God, sometimes I don't. I think it's 50-50 maybe. But ever since I've had cancer, I've been thinking about it more. And I find myself believing a bit more. I kind of – maybe it's cause I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn't just all disappear. The wisdom you've accumulated. Somehow it lives on.'"
2013 started for us with a lot of blessings from God! Lots of prayers went out for God to rain salvations in Galveston and nearby counties. People went out in streets, parks, neighborhoods, shopping malls to engage the people in the city in spiritual discussions. Initially we thought that people would just avoid us and not talk to us. But we were surprised that we had a lot of deep conversations about God with people we had never met before! We did see a lot of new people join us in Church this month.
Recently, someone brought to my attention Luke 16:19-31 (parable of the rich man and Lazarus) in a way I never thought about it before! In the parable, the rich man dies and is carried away to Hades where he was in immense torment. In his torment, he cries out to Abraham: “I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’”
Remember one day a lot of people (with whom you ate, drank, partied, spend a lot of intimate happy times or even those you briefly came across in your life) may think about you, while being in Hades, that you never warned them or told them about Jesus!! So make the best of every opportunity NOW to tell people around you about Jesus! Else, there may be a lot of embarrassments about missed opportunities latter!
In the "Desiring God" website, Jonathan Parnell talked with Nancy Guthrie, author of Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, to ask her about what the humanity of Jesus means for us:
Quotes from it:
- The Lord Jesus Christ — the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, the one through whom all things were made — became human like us.
- Jesus is a safe person to draw close to when life is hard. He is not a distant deity who knows nothing about the struggles and pressures of living life in the real world. He knows, He understands. He can relate with us as He himself endured severe hardships. Isaiah (53:3) described Him as a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. In the garden of Gathsemane, His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (Mark 14:35). Hebrews 4:15 says He was tempted in all ways.
"Lucinda grew up being abused by her dad. Because of that, she hated him, even to the point of wishing he was dead. Watch her ransom note to see how Jesus healed and transformed her, such that she now deeply loves and cares about her dad":
Lucinda reminds at the end: With God all things are possible :) (Matthew 19:26)
Yes, there are a lot of people who think life is all about money. I don't know frankly how people come to that conclusion. Just yesterday, I was trying to explain to a friend why this is a prevailing myth, without much success because I am not good at debating ;) Then today I heard this song on KSBJ: http://www.lyricsbox.com/holly-starr-lyrics-dont-have-love-fq657df.html
which gives a good idea why there is much more to life than just money. Maybe God led me to this song today, so that I can better explain to others what life is really about!
Some lines from the song:
"You can have money, and cool friends, a ring on your left hand
But it's never gonna be enough, if you don't have love
You don't have love
You can have a fast car, a mansion, and everyone's attention
But it's never gonna be enough, if you don't have love
You don't have love, you don't have love
If you don't have love
Then you've got to, got to have love"
SO, if you want to be true-ly satisfied in life, you need love. Not just any kind of love, but the kind of love that never fails! And where do you find this kind of love? In God (Father, Son-Jesus, Holy Spirit) alone! :) (Psalm 136, Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 8:35, John 15:13, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:10, 1 John 4:9, Ephesians 1:4).
Please, let me know if you can find unfailing love anywhere else!
I used to wonder what it mean’t when people said they were in the presence of God. Does it happen when you go to Church on sunday mornings?
That happens at times when you completely surrender yourself to Father God. That is, when you place yourself in His perfect will. It is then you experience the promised peace (Philippians 4:7), which surpasses all understanding. The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is a great example. As long as the younger son lived with his father (lived as per his will, in his presence), he was doing great. When he left his father (against his will and away from his presence) and started living in the world, he started wasting himself away, until he came back.
From the church service in Pune last sunday: -- to live in complete surrender to Father God means to live in complete obedience. -- to live in complete surrender is not the best way to live BUT the only way to live.
Lastly remember, Matthew 6:25-33, is an epitome of what it means to live a surrendered life: 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? …. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Quoting from https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=139989935971
When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for 3 months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.
“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States. “Pray that I have clarity.”
She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you will trust God.”
Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see That beauty is within your heart And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hair Are perfect just the way they are
There could never be a more beautiful you Don't buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do So there could never be a more beautiful you
Little girl twenty-one the things that you've already done Anything to get ahead And you say you've got a man but he's got another plan Only wants what you will do instead
Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come You starve yourself to play the part But I can promise you there's a man whose love is true And he'll treat you like the jewel you are
So turn around you're not too far To back away be who you are To change your path go another way It's not too late you can be saved If you feel depressed with past regrets The shameful nights hope to forget Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the one who's strong can right your wrongs Can rid your fears dry all your tears And change the way you look at this big world He will take your dark distorted view And with His light He will show you truth And again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl
That there could never be a more beautiful you Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do So there could never be a more beautiful you There could never be a more beautiful you "
CHENNAI, INDIA – A dozen men and women and their children were freed from slavery in a rice mill over the weekend. Local authorities partnered with IJM to rescue the families and restore them to freedom.
One of the men who was rescued said he had not been allowed to leave the rice mill to visit his home for almost four years – even though his home is five minutes from the mill.
The government officials granted twelve of the individuals release certificates, emancipating them from slavery and cancelling any outstanding debt the owner may have claimed they owed him. The certificates also entitle each freed person to government-allocated funds that will help them build sustainable lives in freedom. "
Can you believe how many crazy things happen around us? Yes, we live in a world which is so broken. Kudos to Christ led IJM for their amazing works. Please check out http://www.ijm.org/ to become a part of slavery rescue efforts worldwide!!
Voice of Martyrs (VOM) published a news about Asia, a Christian imprisoned in Pakistan, highlighting her daily relationship with God in prison. This is what Asia said to a VOM representative:
" (1 Kings 17:6a): 'The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening ...'. There is a beautiful thing that happens every day in my cell. Two days after they announced my death penalty, I was brought into [death row]. Every morning around 3:30 or 4, a brown bird with a long beak appears and sits on the boundary wall. This bird also comes every evening around 5. He sits there for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Later on he became my friend. I talk to him and he also talks to me.
As I watched this bird every day, I tried to understand the meaning of him coming day after day. I think this is a messenger from God giving me His message. When the bird comes, I feel encouraged and peaceful. I feel comforted after his visit. I think this is a very significant sign from God. "
Asia also reported that she spends much of her time in prayer, including prayer for those around the world who pray for her and speak out on her behalf.
I often meet people who say they don't need Jesus. How can that be possible?
Like, don't we all of want to change the world? (like, Obama's mantra during the elections was "change") There is so much darkness and chaos in this world. Like, it is estimated that some 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, about 100 times as many as those who actually die from it each year. Some say 20% of 20 million of children in India alone are part of the commercial sexual exploitation network. In 2000, nearly 88,000 children in the United States experienced sexual abuse. Intense human oppressions occurring now in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, etc. Then there are happenings like 9/11 terrorism, Nazi oppression, etc. The list of crazy dark things happening in this world goes on and on.. we read it in daily news all the time.
So what is the best way to deal with the darknesses and chaos in the world? Bible points to Jesus as the solution. Jesus said in John 8:12: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.". Jesus uses darkness as a metaphor for the sins in this world because sin is in total opposition to God/light (The book of Genesis says that God created light and he separated it from darkness). In a nutshell, as per Bible, Jesus is the best answer to all the chaos and darkness in this world. So, if you want to change this world and get rid of the bad stuff, you need to be that change first (as Gandhi said: "be the change you want to see in this world") by becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. So you do need Jesus (and so does your neighbor)!
References: - lives of Martin Luther King, Jr; Mother Teresa; etc. - http://my.auburnjournal.com/detail/150148.html
I met this woman at the UTMB Jail hospital. She is under custody and also suffering from cancer. She is probably in her forties. She said that right then at jail, as she is going through her cancer treatment, she has been most peaceful in her life. She has found her peace in eternal God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
Hmm, so essentially she testified, what King Soloman said in the book of Ecclesiastes that our pursuits in this world is not going to give us everlasting peace/contentment/joy, if they are not centered around God.
It also reminded me of Apostle Paul: "I can rejoice at all times and I can be content in whatsoever state I am in, even when I am in prison" (Philippians 4:4,11). "Christ is everything I need! Christ is my Life!" (Colossians 2:10; 3:3). That is, our joy does not depend on circumstances, but on the eternal God.
This is also what Jesus said, in John 4, about the "living water" He gives: "Whosoever drinketh of this water (i.e., things of the world) shall thirst again.But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.".
Yesterday I watched Spielberg's eye-opening movie "Schindler's list". It was pretty amazing that right when Schindler was about to finish up all his money (which he was using to protect the Jews in his factory and also towards non-cooperation of Nazi war efforts by not producing a single weapon that could be fired), Germany surrendered. Any delay of German surrender could have been catastrophic for all the Jews in Schindler's factory.
I was also wondering how much did the growing resentment of the weapon manufacturers, like Schindler, towards inhumane killings contributed to Nazi defeat.
In 1731 John Wesley made 30 pounds. He lived on 28 of them and he gave away 2. It's less than a tithe. The following year he made 60 pounds. He lived on 28 and he gave away 32. In the fourth year he made 120 pounds. He lived on 28 and he gave away 92 pounds. And finally, later in his career John Wesley became one of the best paid preachers in all of history. He made the modern equivalent of $1.4 million dollars in one year. Now that is without CDs, that's without TV. You know we think the TV evangelists are making it. This is on penny tracks and preaching engagements. $1.4 millon dollars. That year he lived on the equivalent of $30,000 and gave away all the rest.
He was afraid of laying up treasures on earth, so the money went out in charity as quickly as it came in. He reports that he never had 100 pounds at any one time. He was concerned about the gospel and the needs around him. He was content to live at some level that wasn't 100% of what he owned. And he really believed that it was worth it to live in light of eternity. He really believed that God was going to credit this to his account, just like Paul says to the Philippians.
Yesterday, Gideon Stanley rightly pointed out "you are what you eat". And, Gideon said, this is exactly true with the Word of God, on which we need to feast on frequently, so that we can be more and more like Jesus... John said Word became Flesh (Jesus) and Jesus talked of eating His flesh...His body was broken for us, and we do communion to remember that (bread we eat reminds of His body and is analogous to in-taking Word that became flesh)...
More passages from Bible on the importance of regular feasting on God's Word (courtesy MIKE Cleveland): - Not only were the Israelites told to put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, they were also instructed to eat the Passover lamb (now Jesus/Word). (Exodus 12:11) - Psalm 1:2, 3: "His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law He meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither." - Deuteronomy 8:3: "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." - John 6:48-51: "I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. - Jeremiah 15:16: "When your words came, I ate them. They were my joy and my heart's delight." - John 17:17: "Sanctify them [set them apart from sin] by the truth: your Word is truth!" - Joshua 1:8: "Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."
In the second video of his book "Crazy Love", Chan does a great job in explaining what a Christian life is about and about how God went crazy to pursue a deep,intimate relationship with each one of us. He uses the analogy of God as a bridegroom who is proposing to you to spend eternity with Him ...
I started reading Chan's book "Crazy love", which is getting popular these days. We are starting to follow it in our campus Bible study.
In this book Chan argues that if you are not crazy about God or if your lifestyle does not reflect your craziness for God, then probably you don't know or understand who God is and what He has done and is doing in your life. That's why in this book Chan's goal is to educate the readers about who God is and what He has done and is doing for us. So that they can become crazy about God after reading it!
I liked what Piper says in: http://www.desiringgod.org/Events/NationalConferences/Archives/2010/Invitation/
"Thinking is one of the most hazardous things we do. But it is absolutely necessary for being human and worshipful. The apostle warns, "Knowledge puffs up" (1 Corinthians 8:1). But he also commands, "In your thinking be mature" (1 Corinthians 14:20). Do this dangerous thing. But do it well. ..."...FOLLOW THE ARTICLE FOR COMPLETE READ.
I found this new awesome song in the weekend prayer & worship meeting:
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer. Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer. Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
So, where do you find people reading Bible and praying all day?
You can find such people in prisons.
I am planning to write-up my experiences of prison ministry, at TDCJ, UTMB.
Usually when I go to minister there, I would always find couple of them who would minister to me. They would spend their time so well in the prison: reading Bible and praying all day. I sometime ask them to keep me in prayers, as they pray so much. They can essentially become pastors, when they are released.
I also notice that sometimes they give me affirmations & love much more than people outside prison. Because they become so grateful that someone from outside came and showed them respect and care.
Today the sermon in the Galveston Bible Church was about prayers. It was a great session. Some quotes from Pastor Clay:
-Who do you think in the Bible prayed most? Jesus? But who do you think would have needed least prayers? Jesus? --Prayer is conversation with God. Jesus, Paul, etc. needed constant communion with God so much. Just like in a relationship, how long can you stay away form your spouse without talking? God longs for us so much, that He gave his only Son to suffer & die to have a continuing relationship with each one of us. --Intercessory prayer is an important component of prayer. Pray for unreached places, mission fields, those in drastic need & suffering (places in Haiti, Zimbabwe) --Thanksgiving is also an important component of prayer --What do you constantly pray for: for God to show up, which way to go: directions, etc.
-He knows what you need and when you need
-How sweet is Your Word, sweeter than honey
-IT IS SO EASY TO GO TO CHURCH, LISTEN TO A SERMON ON PRAYERS, AND COME BACK HOME AND NOT DO IT! We have to keep up with your prayer life consistently. Jesus warned in Luke 22:46: "Why are you sleeping?"- he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
This is a good read. It talks about one important need of the current time: "The local church has to support culture-making" BTW his new book, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (Dutton Adult, October 2009)is becoming increasingly popular -- a very good book!
Even so blessed people like John Piper get overwhelmed: http://theresurgence.com/8-godly-precedents-piper-sabbatical Quoting: "I was brought to tears and was extremely humbled by the courageous letter that Dr. John Piper wrote to explain that he is taking a sabbatical “because of a growing sense that [his] soul, [his] marriage, [his] family, and [his] ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit.”"
I think this is a very good life lesson for all Christians.
I have been listening to Francis Chan's online sermons (sequentially from the day 1 of his church). As I listen to his sermons, I feel he has special anointing from God, to further His Kingdom in this age. In-fact people have started calling him young John Piper!! His book "crazy love" is becoming increasingly popular (reminds of Rick's "purpose driven life", when it came out first).
His wiki is interesting. It says:
"Chan's parents both died by the time he was 12 years old. He was somewhat close to his brother growing up. He did not get along well with his father, but says that his fear of his father has helped him understand a level of fear of God. He also stated he didn’t understand the love of God well until he became a father himself."
"Chan frequently talks about 'What the bible is really saying' and really living our lives that way. He is not afraid of confronting lukewarmness, but his challenge seems to draw more people to his message, rather than pushing them away. In-fact his church is now one of the largest churches in Ventura County, California. He started his church in 1994 with only 30 people. Within two months, the church had grown to 100 people, and by 2000, Chan was leading a $1 million project to provide for the 1,600 member congregation."
"Chan gives away about 90 percent of his income ... Chan doesn't take a salary from his church, and he has donated all of his book royalties, which total about $500,000 to various charities. Much of it goes to organizations which rescue sex slaves in foreign countries."
I do highly recommend listening to his sermons sequentially from day 1!
Of all the stories I’ve told after thirty years of traveling, this one is nearest to my heart, probably the most moving to me. In 1971, I preached in Vietnam. I was in my mid twenties; my interpreter was seventeen years old. His name was Hien Pham. We covered the length and breadth of the country. The American troops carried us around or we went by motorbike. How our lives were rescued, I don’t know. But we came back safely. A revival broke out in the country through the preaching of these two young men.
Hien was my interpreter. In the city Natrang, I held him close, embraced him, and said, “Goodbye, Hien. I’ll probably never see you again.” I flew to Saigon and on back where I was living at that time in Toronto.
Seventeen years later, my phone rang. I was in Vancouver speaking and the phone rang at 11:00 p.m. The man said, “Brother Ravi.” There’s only one person who called me with that intonation that way. I said, “Hien, is that you?” he said, “Yes.” I said, “Oh my word! Where are you?” He said, “California.” I said, “What are you doing here?” He said, “Have you got a few minutes?” I said, “Yes.”
He said, “After Vietnam fell, I was imprisoned by the Viet Cong because I’d worked with the Americans, worked with people like you. They put me behind bars, they took away all English from me, took away my Bible from me, tried to knock faith out of me. I was only allowed to read Marx and Engels in French and Vietnamese. After about a year in there, so worn out, I said, ‘Maybe you don’t exist, God. I’m giving up all hope. I don’t believe in you. Tomorrow when I wake up, I’m not going to pray.’”
That morning, he was assigned to clean the latrines. He said, “Brother Ravi, it’s the dirtiest place on earth you’d want to be. I bound a handkerchief around my mouth cleaning the wet floor, and I saw a little bin with dirty pieces of paper, with human excrement in it. But something told me as I looked there, there was one paper, a piece of paper with English.” He said, “I hadn’t read English for so long. I washed it off, put it in my hip pocket, waited for everybody to go to bed, to sleep. Lights were out.
I took out my flashlight under my mosquito net. I flashed it. On the right hand corner it said, Romans chapter 8.” He said, “I started reading and cried. ‘Oh, my dear Lord, you didn’t leave me one day without you.’ ‘For all things work together for good to them that love God; to those that are called according to his purpose. For who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Neither things present, nor things to come, nor life nor death.’”
Hien said, “Next morning I went back to the commanding officer. I said, ‘Do you mind if I clean the latrines again today?’” He went there every day. He found another page from the New Testament. The commanding officer had been given a Bible a long time ago. He was tearing out a page every day using it as toilet paper. Hien was washing it and using it for his devotions every day.
I said, “Where are you now?” He said, “I’m at Berkeley doing my business degree.” I said, “I can’t believe this, Hien.” He said, “I’m in America.”
I said, “How did that happen?” He said, “I was released and I built a boat with 52 others. Four days before my release, before our escape, four Viet Cong came armed to the teeth and grabbed me and said, ‘Are you trying to escape?’ I lied and said, ‘No.’ They said, ‘Are you telling us the truth?’” He said, “Yes.”
They let him go. He got on his knees, and said, “God, I lied. I’m running my own life. I lied. If you really want me to tell them the truth, let them come back again.” He said, “I sincerely hoped that prayer would never be answered. Hours before we left, the four of them came with their machine guns, grabbed me by the collar, rammed me against the wall. ‘You’re lying, aren’t you?’”
Hien said, “Yes, I’m escaping with 52 others. Are you going to imprison me again?” They said, “No. we want to go with you.’”
“Brother Ravi, if it weren’t for them we would never have made it. They knew how to navigate the ocean on that boat, get us safely to Thailand. I was then listed as a United Nations refugee. I’m here in America now doing my business degree.”
He runs a financial planning company now in California. He came and visited us, wanted me to officiate at his wedding, and he looked at my kids and said, “Don’t ever think God is far away from you. That intimate relationship is the greatest thrill of anyone’s life, for He seeks such to have fellowship with Him.”