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.
    "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
    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

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Courage Under Fire

Chuckle:  "In 1920 the U. S. Post Office ruled that children could not be sent by parcel post.  Makes you wonder what was going on before the ruling!" 
Quote:  "Courage faces fear and thereby masters it.  Cowardice represses fear and is thereby mastered by it." --Martin Luther King
    "The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13 NLT).
To say that a soldier "showed courage under enemy fire" is a great compliment.  But there are many types of enemy fire, much of which come from Satan himself.  There are those who would silence us from proclaiming the gospel message of Jesus Christ and would like to see our society totally free from religious influences.  It seems there is growing animosity toward Christians and our freedom to express our values and to worship freely may become threatened.  We must be bold and courageous even in the face of threatening opposition, and we can take courage from the lives of early New Testament Christians like Peter and John.
In our text, the ruling religious leaders of Israel were doing everything in their power to silence the powerful voices of those proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ.  Many were beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for their actions.  When you face ridicule and persecution for expressing your faith, take heart because you are not alone and your are not dependent upon your own strength to see you through.
The boldness and courage of Peter and John caused great consternation in the minds of the Ruling Jewish Council.  They were amazed that these unschooled and ordinary men were so powerful and articulate in preaching their message.  When you feel you are just too "ordinary" to be used of God, forget it.  That's the Devil speaking to you.  In our day and time, Our Lord needs every Christian to act and speak boldly, in love, as we defend our faith and as we work to elect leaders who will protect our freedoms to do so.
Your power to act and speak boldly is the same power evidenced in the courage of Peter and John.  When our lives reflect the characteristics of Jesus in the power of the Spirit, those around us will be amazed by what God is doing through us.  A changed life convinces people of Christ's power.  One of your greatest testimonies is the difference others see in your life because you belong to Christ.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if people around you observed: "We can tell he or she has been with Jesus by the way he/she acts and speaks."  

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 
"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      

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year: New Beginning

Chuckle:  "You're old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster."
Quote:  "To believe only possibilities is not faith, but mere philosophy." --Sir Thomas Brown
    "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1 NLT).  "In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands" (Psalm 102:25 NIV).
Genesis 1:1 records the new beginning of all new beginnings.  Have you ever wondered why God even bothered to create the heavens and the earth?  Did He just need a few more toys with which to amuse Himself?  Or did He have in mind a great and amazing master plan to gloriously reveal Himself to mankind, the crown jewel of His creation?  The Scriptures tell us it was the later. 
Because "God is Love" (1 John 4:16), He wanted to share that love and Himself.  He wanted someone with whom He could fellowship, share His love and have that love returned.  That someone was to be the zenith of His creation -- Adam and Eve -- the parents of the human race.  He also created an environment in which mankind could exist, grow, prosper and commune with Him in concert with all creation.
We often think of the New Year as a time of new beginnings.  We may want our circumstances to change for the better in the new year.  We want our problems and challenges to be reduced in size and frequency.  We want our love relationships to grow and become more fulfilling.  As you begin 2014, what do you plan to do to make your dreams and desires become reality?  God took definite action to bring about the beginning He had in mind.  Will you be proactive and take positive actions to make this the best year of your life?  As you begin the new year, please reflect on the following:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes (trusts, has faith) in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John  3:16).  ". . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:23).  "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (5:8).  ". . . if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. . . for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" Rom. 10:9-10, 13).
There is no better time than now for a new beginning.  You may need to repent of your sin, give your heart and life to Jesus Christ and pray to receive Him as Savior and Lord.  If you are already a born again believer, it's a great time to commit your life to Him anew and pledge to walk with and serve Him more faithfully in 2014.

Love, Jerry & Dotse