Friday, January 31, 2014

National Prayer Breakfast

Quote:  "No one's relationship with Christ will ever rise above the level of his or her praying." --Dr. Gregory R. Frizzell
 
NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST (Thursday, February 6th.)
 
    "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people"  (Proverbs 14:34). "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD," (Psalm 33:12). "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14). 
 
Let's join our hearts together in prayer for our nation's leaders as they come together for the National Prayer Breakfast.  Perhaps your church would like to organize a special prayer emphasis that would coincide with this event.  The following is taken from an e-mail message from Your Praying Missionary to Washington, DC.  Rev. Rob Schenck.
 
Next Thursday—as on every first Thursday in February—the National Prayer Breakfast will take place here in Washington, DC.  This is an event the President of the United States attends, usually with the First Lady, and joins with members of Congress from both parties in giving thanks to God for the blessings enjoyed by our country.  I've attended many times over the twenty years I've been a missionary to our nation's leaders, watching as Presidents Clinton, Bush, and now Obama, bow their heads in reverence as prayers are offered by religious and political figures, politicians, celebrities, and sometimes unknowns.

I thought you might be interested in a little background to the National Prayer Breakfast: It actually began far from Washington, DC, in Seattle, to be exact.  It was 1935 and that great northwest city was in crisis—trying to manage its growing number of poor.  A Methodist minister named Abraham Vereide, who had founded Goodwill Industries, called for prayer meetings to take place around the metropolitan Seattle area.  Soon other cities did the same, and in 1946, Vereide organized the first annual prayer breakfast in Washington, DC.  President Dwight Eisenhower attended in 1953 and every sitting president has participated since.  I've worked with the event's organizers over the years.

In spite of its many critics, the National Prayer Breakfast movement has had a major impact on many U.S. and world leaders.  It continues to be dominated by what Methodist founder John Wesley called, "Bible Christians," and has provided a worldwide platform to powerful voices like Mother Teresa, Eric Mataxas, and the remarkable Dr. Ben Carson.  You can watch the National Prayer breakfast live on C-SPAN. And, of course, you can pray with your Faith and Action team as we pray behind the scenes for all those you'll watch on the stage!
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dealing With Conflict

Chuckle:  "We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public."
 
Good Quote:  Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. --Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
DEALING WITH CONFLICT
 
    "Love must be sincere. . . Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself"  (Romans 12:9,10 CEV).  "Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out" (Proverbs 17:14 NIV). 
 
Are you involved in a conflict situation with a brother or sister?  Is there someone who really gets under your skin by their words or actions and causes you to rise up in defiance with a desire to retaliate?  Conflict does not have to be all out war to have devastating effects on our overall demeanor and our fellowship with fellow believers, not to mention destroying our joy and fellowship with our Lord.   Unresolved mild disagreements can escalate into much more serious disputes when we allow ourselves to become angry and bitter.   
 
Perhaps you are reluctant to try reconciliation because you don't know how he/she  will react to your overtures.  But you know, it really doesn't matter how they might react -- you still have the responsibility to love them and honor them above yourself.  You may say, "but  God must not understand what He is asking me to do.  He must not understand how I feel and the fears and anxieties I'm experiencing."  Oh yes He does. 
 
God wants to teach us about Christ-like love, the kind of love that allowed Jesus to pray from the cross on behalf of those who were crucifying Him:  "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34 NIV).  Jesus said, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12 NIV).  We must trust the Holy Spirit to help us show love to those for whom we may not feel love.  We cannot do it in our own strength.
 
We can honor and show love to those with whom we have conflict by trying to understand their points of view.  By viewing the issue from their perspective, you will be better able to display a Christ-like spirit toward them.  Try to see them through the eyes of Jesus -- as His precious children for whom He died.  Pray for them, give them the benefit of the doubt, and be willing to forgive. 
 
Love and forgiveness are keys to resolving conflicts.  "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13 NIV).
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse      

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why Did It Happen?

Chuckle:  Another perk of growing old: "You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room."
 
Quote:  "On my head pour only the sweet waters of serenity. Give me the gift of the Untroubled Mind."  --Joshua Loth Liebman
 
WHY DID IT HAPPEN?
 
    As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. "Teacher," his disciples asked him, "why was this man born blind?  Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents." "It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins." Jesus answered. "He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him" (John 9:3 NLT)
 
Have you ever seen someone who was crippled, deformed, or otherwise afflicted with disease and wondered why God allowed the person to suffer such a malady?  Have you asked, "what did that person do to deserve this?"  Often, we may wonder if the condition is punishment for some sin he, or his parents, have committed.  Is this God's way of punishing sin? 
 
In Biblical times, a common belief in Jewish culture was that misfortune and suffering were the result of some great sin.  It was commonly thought that God punished sins this way.  The same question always arose. "Who sinned" and caused this to happen.  Someone's transgression must have been the reason.  In the case of the blind man, God had a reason for his blindness, but it had nothing to do with sins.  It was to provide an opportunity for Jesus to show the power of God at work in the healing of the man's blindness.
 
You may be experiencing difficult times right now yourself.  It might be a serious illness, financial difficulties, or a broken heart, and you may be wondering "what did I do to deserve this?"  We must remember that in this fallen world, innocent people sometimes suffer.  If God removed all suffering, we likely would follow Him for the comfort and convenience instead of genuine love and devotion.
 
No matter the reason for our suffering, God is in control and we should trust Him in every situation.  We are assured that He has the power to help us deal with the problem and make us stronger for it.  Instead of asking, "why," we would do well to ask, "God, what are you wanting to teach me from this trial?" We should seek a better understanding and perspective on what is happening to us. 
 
Whether the suffering is by someone you know, or your own, it likely is not happening because some sin has been committed.  It's that God wants to reveal Himself and His power in your life, like He did for the blind man when He restored his sight.  Jesus wants to show you His power to restore your spiritual sight and give you the ability to see Him in a new and refreshing way.  He will help you better understand His will for your life.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse

Monday, January 6, 2014

Post-Holiday Depression

Chuckle:  "Laughing is good exercise; It's like jogging on the inside."
 
Quote:   "Prayer can make your week days strong, your trying days triumphant, your Sabbath days sacred, and your holidays wholesome." --William Arthur Ward 
 
POST-HOLIDAY DEPRESSION
 
"Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens.  Don't turn away from me, or I will die"  (Psalm 143:7 NLT).
 
Note:  If you suffer from severe depression which affects your ability to carry out normal activities and interact with others, please seek professional help. 
 
Many people experience blues, anxiety and induced depression after the Christmas and New Year holidays have come and gone.  I think it's natural to feel some sort of an emotional let-down after days and weeks of frenzied activities and  precious times with loved ones and friends.  But others suffer lingering sadness and despondency.  Some causes may include:
 
Family Disappointments:  The holidays bring precious times of love, joy and exhilaration in healthy family units.  However, not everyone is part of a healthy family.  Emotional, verbal, and even physical abuse can spoil the otherwise joyous time and lead to sadness, doldrums, and depression.
 
Financial Difficulties:  Some are saddened because they just couldn't afford to buy gifts for those they love.  Others were caught up in a shopping frenzy and spent more than they could afford.  They may have maxed out credit cards as if a day of reckoning would never come.  When the bills start coming in, and reality sets in, they worry and fret about how to pay for their spending binge.
 
Severe Loneliness:  When our loved ones have left for home and we are left alone, we can experience loneliness, sadness and depression.  The elderly may feel  depressed both during and after the holidays because they feeling neglected, alone  and unloved.  This can be especially true for those in nursing homes or whose children live far away.  It can be a terribly difficult time for those who are spending their first Christmas without spouses and friends who have passed away.  They treasure life as they once knew it, and struggle to come to grips with how it is now.
 
There may be other reasons you may feel blue and depressed once the excitement of the holidays has passed.  If so, what should you do?  For us Christians, the solution to such conditions can be found in our relationship with our Lord and loving Christian friends.  Then Jesus said, "Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28 NLT).  Our Lord is willing and eager to grant you His peace and comfort. 
 
Also, Jesus has told us to be sensitive to the needs of others and reach out to those who may be sick, lonely, dejected and depressed.  Jesus said,  "I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"  (Matthew 25:40 NLT).  I pray that God will grant you His peace and joy as we minister to one another in times of need.  There's no better medicine for our own depression than to bring joy to others.
 

Love, Jerry & Dotse