As a pastor myself I have participated in numerous mission trips and relief drives of all sorts. Most people I know are truly compassion at heart and want to help. But there are ways to help people and then there are “better” ways to truly help people. This blog simply offers a better way… looking at the longer view (or bigger picture) of what people really need after a disaster. Pass it along if it ministers to you.
Oh, dear God, the Oklahoma tornadoes. Such heartbreak. Christ, have mercy.
On March 2, 2012, forecasters anticipated tornadoes in our area. My son’s school let out early, and when the sirens started up we all huddled in the unfinished basement. The air outside our windows was deadly still, but the internet broadcast from our local television station told us that a large tornado was on the ground just a few miles away. We waited underground in folding chairs, my husband reading a book and my young son playing a video game. I kept my eyes on the screen as reports began to come in about damage in small communities populated by beloved church members and friends.
Then the image changed: a school collapsed, no knowledge of how many students might be trapped inside. My stomach lurched, and I thought I might vomit. I silently ticked off a list of…
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Thank you for your support. Today, January 4, we just passed the 100,000 views mark. God is good.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 55,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 13 Film Festivals
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has been in prison for more than 1,000 days.
Iran (MNN/ACLJ) ― The Iranian pastor who has spent more than 1,000 days in prison will be headed by to court. Iranian authorities are demanding Youcef Nadarkhani be back into court in Iran September 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM to answer for “charges brought against him.”
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, it’s unclear if the charges are new or are connected to his apostasy conviction. Nadarkhani was convicted and sentenced to death for apostasy: becoming a Christian. When Iranian officials demanded that he recant his faith in Jesus Christ or die, he responded, “I cannot.” He has been illegally imprisoned and separated from his wife and two boys since 2009.
The ACLJ has obtained a copy of the official Iranian court summons demanding his appearance.
What is clear is that his new court date will come after more 1,060 days spent in prison for nothing but his faith in Jesus Christ–an imprisonment that violates Iran’s own constitution.
The ACLJ is continuing to work with contacts in Iran, the State Department, and foreign diplomats to pressure Iran for the release of this persecuted pastor. The Tweet for Youcef campaign continues to grow, now reaching more than 2.8 million Twitter accounts around the world with daily information and updates about Pastor Youcef.
Continue to pray for Nadarkhani and other Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. The church is growing in Iran, which is why the government is taking action against Christians.
If you’d like to join the ACLJ Tweet for Youcef campaign, click here.
Can you imagine spending over 1000 days in jail…. just for being a believer. Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef and his family.
Acts 2:1-4, crossed the Red Sea, Ezekiel, fifty days after the resurrection, first Shavout, I am a litte pencil in the hand of a writing God, Jeremiah, love letter to the world, Mother Teresa, Pentecost, Shavout, the law of God shall be written upon your heart, Yeshua
And when the day of Pentecost (Shavuot) was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1,4
In Israel, the celebration of Shavuot took place yesterday. Most Christians would recognize this as the celebration of Pentecost in Acts 2. However, the very first Shavuot took place fifty days after the Israel crossed the Red Sea. It was on this day according to Jewish tradition that the law was given on tablets of stone.
Fifty days after the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus), Shavuot was celebrated again when the Holy Spirit was poured out and the law of God became written upon the hearts of men. Just as God had promised in Ezekiel and in Jeremiah — the law of God shall be written upon your heart.
Shavuot is both a celebration of the God’s faithfulness in the early harvest and an anticipation of the abundance of the final harvest yet to come. Just as three thousand Jewish people came to faith in Messiah on this day a couple thousand years ago, the day will soon come when the fullness of the Gentiles will be completed and then “all of Israel shall be saved!”
(Reblogged from Worth Brief)
“Fear looks; faith jumps. Faith never fails to obtain its object. If I leave you as I found you, I am not God’s channel. I am not here to entertain you, but to get you to the place where you can laugh at the impossible.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“Some people like to read their Bibles in the Hebrew; some like to read it in the Greek; I like to ready it in the Holy Spirit.”˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“Great faith is the product of great fights.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“How can one come to possess great faith? Now listen, here is the answer to that: First, the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Faith must grow by soil, moisture, and exercise.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“You will have to voice many things in order to bring them into being.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“If you are in the same place today as you were yesterday, you are a backslider.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“To the man of faith, there is not a thing that is not opportunity.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“Before a man can bind the enemy, he must know there is nothing binding him.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“If you want to increase in the life of God, then you must settle it in your heart that you will not at any time resist the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost and fire – the fire burning up everything that would impoverish and destroy you.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“God’s plan for you is to forget the past in every way, because the future is so amazingly wonderful. Oh, the word of God is so wonderful! The word so eats me up that I have no place but in God’s word.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“If you leave people as you found them, God is not speaking by you. If you are not making people mad or glad, there is something amiss with your ministry.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“If the spirit does not move me, I move the Spirit.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“No wavering. This is the principle: He who believes is definite. A definite faith brings a definite experience and a definite utterance.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
“Before God could bring me to this place He has broken me a thousand times.” ˜ Smith Wigglesworth
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
I have to admit I’m a little bit nosey at times. I have heard a lot of prayers and I have heard people share their answers to prayers. It is always encouraging to hear God answer prayers. What we don’t get to see is the inner workings of God….just how does He answer all those prayers. It is the details I want to know about. How about you? Do you wish to understand how God works it all out?
The story below explains just how God answered the prayer of one little girl. Don’t be surprised to find sometimes that God uses you to answer someone else’s prayer. When He does, you may not even know it.
A pastor had a little kitten stuck up in a tree, and the kitty would not come down. The tree was not sturdy enough to climb, so the pastor decided that if he tied a rope to his car and drove until the tree bent down, he could then reach up and get the kitten. As he moved just a little too far, the rope broke. The tree snapped upright and the kitten instantly sailed through the air and out of sight.
He felt just terrible and walked all over the neighborhood asking people if they had seen a little kitten. Nobody had and finally he prayed, “Lord, I commit this kitten to Your keeping,” and then went about his business.
A few days later, he was at the grocery store and met one of his church members. In her shopping cart he was amazed to see cat food. Now this woman was a cat hater and everyone knew it, so he asked her why she was buying cat food when she hated cats so much.
She replied, “You won’t believe this, but I have been refusing to buy my little girl a cat even though she has been begging for one. Finally I told her that if God gives you a cat, I’ll let you keep it.
“I watched my child go out into the yard, get on her knees and ask God for a cat. Really, Pastor, you won’t believe this, but I saw it with my own eyes. A kitten suddenly came flying out of the blue sky with its paws spread out and landed right in front of her. Of course I had to let her keep the kitten because it came from God...” (from The Daily Dilly)
Be encouraged today, because God is always at work. We may not get so see behind the scenes…but He is at work.
“…but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Do you ever struggle with keeping the main thing, the main thing in your life? The real important things in life can get swallowed up in the minutia of everyday battles. It is as if Paul is reminding himself of what is really important to him in this passage. I have to keep reminding myself of what is really important as well. In order to pray more, I have to set aside more time to pray. If I want to study the Bible more, I have to set aside time to make sure that happens. Why? There is always something going on in my life to eat up those moments I want to give to the Lord. It is a battle and the only way to stay victorious is to keep reminding ourselves of what is important. Below is a story I reread every-so-often to remind myself to do the important things first.
A while back an expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students.
After speaking to them for a while, he said, “Okay, it’s time for a quiz.” He set a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks & carefully placed them, one at a time, inside the jar. When the jar was filled to the top & no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”
“Really?” he said. Then he reached under the table & pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel into the jar & shook it , causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled & asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them said.
“Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table & brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in & it filled all the spaces between the rocks & the gravel. Once more he asked, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water & began to pour in the water until the jar was filled to the brim.
Then he looked back at the class & asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”
One eager beaver raised his hand & said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit something more into it!”
“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”
Make sure and to put the BIG ROCKS in your life first this week!
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” Matthew 13:11-12
I blogged on this a few days ago. Help me, I can’t stay away from thinking about these verses. It is the plight of being a pastor. When you begin to meditate on certain issues, they ruminate in your spirit until you share them. So listen up!
I struggled with these verses for several years. Why are some given beauty, talent, higher IQ’s, and athletic ability, while others do not appear to have been “granted” as much? When we are young, these differences seem to be even more glaring. Some have even taken their dissatisfaction and have grown to despise the Lord for His creative neglect. They are somewhat bitter over their limited ability, skills, or physical appearance.
At first glance, Jesus’ words appear to confirm what many falsely believe. God has favorites! Some have been granted more and others have not been granted very much. How could God allow such a thing to happen in the Spirit as well? Life is not fair! How could some be given an inside track to God’s mysteries, while others are left out?
What do you think? Do you feel God has kept His best from you? Do you feel God placed you at the end of the line when He passed out both physical and spiritual abilities? Have you grown bitter over such issues? I think I might be able to help you. There is a better, more complete way of viewing these types of situations and this passage….follow me for a few moments.
- Don’t fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy! “YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; 15 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL,” What comes first, a hard heart or God keeping His revelation from you? Let me paraphrase Isaiah’s words. Isaiah’s prophecy states that if we keep a dull and hard heart, it prohibits us from hearing God and being healed. Wow! God doesn’t want it to be this way. It is simply a spiritual law at work. It works 24/7/365. The polar opposite is equally true. A soft heart allows God’s revelation to flow to us. Anytime you find your heart growing hard and calloused towards God, repent immediately.
- Purpose to “bloom where you are planted.” Physically speaking…you are where you are. It may not be in the best of places, but it is the place God has planted you. God made you the way you are and loves you the way He made you…warts and all. Don’t allow your circumstances to make you bitter. Permit the hardships of life to make you better. This is more than just making lemonade out of lemons. It is about allowing the glory of the Lord to manifest in your life. Remember, a soft heart towards God changes everything. God will open up the heavens for a soft heart…believe it.
This helps to explain why some appear to grow more easily than others. It is not that God has favorites. Those with a soft heart are simply in compliance with God’s spiritual order of things. Where do you stand? Is your heart soft towards God today. Only you can change that situation.