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Worshippers after typhoon
Residents displaced by Typhoon Haiyan still manage to come together to worship the Lord—even in 16 inches of standing water. (J. Lee Grady)

Right after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines this month, a friend sent me the amazing photo I’m posting here. It’s a shapshot of a Pentecostal church service held a few days after the monster storm displaced 3 million people and killed more than 5,000. Notice that the worshippers are standing in about 16 inches of water. A flooded church did not keep these people from thanking God that they were spared.

I’ve stared at this grainy photo many times since I received it. I intend to stare at it some more, especially during the Thanksgiving holidays, because I want the image burned in my heart. When I look at the dedication of these poor Filipinos—some of whom lost what little they owned—I am forced to face my smug first-world ingratitude.

If you are reading this online, you are already blessed because 70 percent of the world has no access to the Internet. Here are 10 more things you should be thankful for:

1. Got drinkable water? About 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Because of that, about 9 million people will die this year because of water-related illnesses. The next time you open a bottle of Dasani or drink from your tap, remember that millions of women around the world spend an average of four hours daily walking to get water.

2. Do you eat three meals a day? The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world’s population is overfed, one-third is underfed and one-third is starving. Approximately 925 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished, and 15 million children die annually because of hunger.

3. Got electricity? About 1.5 billion people in this world have no access to electrical power. In the nation of Malawi, where I preached two weeks ago, only 9 percent of the people have electric lights. Do you enjoy that oven in your kitchen? The next time you prepare a meal, remember that 2.5 billion people in the world still use wood or charcoal to cook their food. Do you enjoy your washing machine? Data analyst Hans Rosling recently reported that 5 billion people in the world still wash their clothes by hand.

4. Got a roof over your head? The U.N. Commission on Human Rights says there are 100 million homeless people in the world. One in three children in the world live without adequate shelter. And today there are about 42 million people who are living as refugees. Most were displaced by war and live in crude camps.

5. Do you own a car? The United States still has the highest number of motor vehicles in the world. Globally, only 1 out of every 8 people has access to a car. Many of the others either walk, take crowded buses or public vans or ride on bicycles, rickshaws or animals. Did you fly somewhere in the past year? You are blessed. Only 5 to 7 percent of people in the world have ever flown in an airplane.

6. Do you have a flushable toilet? The United Nations Development Program reports that 2.6 billion people do not have access to any toilet facilities. India has the largest percentage of people who lack adequate sanitation. About 638 million Indians must go outdoors.

7. Can you read? Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. There are 72 million children who should be in school but are not enrolled. If you have a college degree, you are in a privileged minority; only 6.7 percent of people in the world have a college diploma.

8. Do you have health care? Here in the United States, we are debating the pros and cons of Obamacare—and griping about the reliability of the government’s infamous health care website. But let’s keep in mind that in developing countries, you might wait 8 hours to see a doctor in a clinic where there are no medicines and no electricity—and you might have to bribe the doctor to see him.

9. Do you have political freedom? About 1.6 billion people in the world live in repressive societies where they have no say in how they are governed. They face severe consequences if they express their beliefs or assemble peacefully. The most oppressive countries today include North Korea, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

10. Are you free to worship? More than 75 percent of the world’s population lives in areas with severe religious restrictions. Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution simply because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

For the rest of the post…

by JOE CARTER

A young associate pastor accompanies his mentor to a private meeting of pastors from around the country. As they take their seats the host says, “To start us off, let’s have a few rounds of the best jokes.”

An elderly minister stands up and says “37,” and everyone laughs. Another yells “49,” and the crowd cackles hysterically. This goes on for a while, when the young pastor turns to his senior and says, “I don’t get it, numbers aren’t funny.” His boss explains that since the same folks attend this meeting every year, they know all the jokes. Instead of wasting time by telling the same jokes everyone has heard, they just tell the punch lines, which they’ve numbered to save time.

christanese-prayerThe associate, wanting to fit in with his colleagues, jumps up and yells “44.” When absolutely no one laughs, he sits down, embarrassed and confused. The old pastor leans over and says, “You told it wrong.”

Christianese Spoken Here

Whether we’ve been in the church for a few days or several decades, we often find—like this young pastor—certain terms or phrases that everyone but us seems to understand. Like most groups, we Christians have our own insider language, technical terminology, or characteristic idioms that only those in the know can comprehend. It can be frustrating when we hear such jargon and don’t know what exactly it means or where it came from. Too embarrassed to ask for a definition, we flip through our Bibles or search through a concordance to find elusive explanations.

As an aid in translating “Christianese” (and because we aren’t sure what the terms mean either), The Gospel Coalition is putting together an ongoing series to explain the meaning of obscure phrases that Christians use when we talk to our fellow believers. In this inaugural article, we’ll examine a few terms often associated with prayer.

Hedge of Protection

Example: “The congregation will be praying a hedge of protection around John and Jill as they go off to college this fall.”

Explanation: “If somebody didn’t know that Christianity’s roots began in a rural, agricultural area (such as the near Middle East),” says Tim Stewart, creator of theDictionary of Christianese website, “it wouldn’t take them long to figure it out, judging by the language we use when we pray.”

As Stewart explains, in the Bible hedges are mentioned as secure barriers around vineyards (Isaiah 5:5Mark 12:1), and Satan refers to God’s protection and favor on Job as “a hedge around him” (Job 1:10). Christians likely adopted this imagery and language from Job 1:10. The prayer is often invoked (e.g., a hedge around, about, or even over the person being prayed for) as a request for God to protect a person from threats both spiritual and physical.

Prayer Warrior

Example: “We’re going to ask Sister Betsy, one of the congregations most ardent prayer warriors, to pray a hedge of protection around Jill and John.”

Explanation: “Effective intercessors who are greatly used by God in prayer are at times referred to as ‘prayer warriors,'” former missionary Wesley Duewel says in his book Touch the World Through Prayer. “It is correct to use the term in this way, for great prayer demands doing battle with the forces of evil.”

The Bible doesn’t use the term “prayer warrior,” though the warfare imagery is biblical. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells believers to,

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and shaving put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

For the rest…

By Dave Butts

For many years now, the Lord has put the issue of revival praying upon my heart. Initially, I must admit, my prayers were fairly generic: “O Lord, please revive us.” As I have grown in my approach to prayer, I’ve learned more specific requests, especially in using the Word of God to help format and provide content for my prayers. Psalm 80 and Isaiah 63 and 64 have helped me to petition the Lord for revival with both variety and the power of Scripture behind my requests.
Recently I have been praying through the Psalms again. I began to lift before the Lord the words of Psalm 74. To my delight, I found another “revival” prayer. My desire is that this Psalm will provide fuel for the fire of intercession and petition in your life as you beseech God to once again bless us with His Presence in revival.

As you pray through Psalm 74, please notice that before major sections I share some comments to help you see the aspects of revival in each passage. I encourage you to move beyond Bible study however, to passionately praying the heart of the Psalmist.

The Awareness of the Need for Revival

At the beginning of Psalm 74 we find the agonizing realization that God’s presence is not near. In fact, because of sin, there has been a sense of rejection. As is typical in revival praying, there is a cry for God to remember His people and return to them:

“Why have You rejected us forever, O God? Why does Your anger smolder against the sheep of Your pasture? Remember the people You purchased of old, the tribe of Your inheritance, whom You redeemed – Mount Zion, where You dwelt. Turn Your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary” (Psa. 74:1-3).

The Result of God’s Apparent Absence

When sin is accepted in the life of the people of God, the consequences begin to be felt. The enemies of God and His people begin to afflict the nation. Notice that the Psalmist uses the phrase, “Your foes roared.” This reminds us that our ultimate enemy is Satan, the one whom Peter tells us roams about as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

“Your foes roared in the place where You met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved paneling with their axes and hatchets. They burned Your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of Your Name. They said in their hearts, ‘We will crush them completely!’ They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land. We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be” (Psa. 74:4-9).

Turning to an Awareness of the God to Whom We Are Praying

An important lesson to learn in prayer is that ultimately we need to be concerned about God and His reputation and the extension of His kingdom and purposes. Revival really isn’t about us having better meetings or being happy. It is about God’s Name being exalted and more praise and honor given to Him on this planet. Notice that the Psalmist asked God to go to work, because He is the one being reviled and mocked through the attacks on His people. Note also that this portion of the Psalm then moves into a wonderful expression of recognizing God’s power and ability to handle any attack. It is as we understand the awesome power of the One we are addressing in prayer, that our faith will grow and we will begin to pray in a way that moves the hand of God.

“How long will the enemy mock You, O God? Will the foe revile Your name forever? Why do You hold back Your hand, Your right hand? Take it from the folds of Your garment and destroy them.

For the rest of the article…

Prayer is a gift, a context for living our lives with God.

~ Del Fehsenfeld III. Revive, Fall 2013, 5.

 

Revival is a fresh infusion on life.

~ Byron PaulusRevive, Fall 20133.

Yesterday evening, I returned home to Omaha, NE from Michigan. I went deer hunting with five other men in the north, central part of the state. We set up “deer camp” which was a fifth-wheel RV. The living quarters were a little tight, but we had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, we did not see many deer. Thus, I was unable to fill my out-of-state deer tag. Oh well! There is always next time.

I did pray a lot during those many hours when I sat in my deer blind. I also prayed a lot when I laid in bed. I prayed myself to sleep and I prayed when I woke up in the middle of the night.

I prayed that Jesus would be glorified in my life!

I prayed that we would be kept safe as we hunted.

I prayed that revival would come to Harvey Oaks Baptist Church.

I prayed for the November 17th Sunday School and worship service.

I prayed for my wife and children.

I prayed my relatives who need Jesus in their lives.

I prayed that God would heal people.

I prayed that God would restore broken marriages.

I prayed for all the widows at Harvey Oaks Baptist Church.

It was  good to be away from the computer and television and for the most part, my phone (we used our phones to communicate with one another, but the reception was not always that good!)

Let us continue to seek the Lord through prayer.

“Continue steadfastly in prayer…” (Colossians 4:2).

Posted on November 10, 2013 by creeping

via Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

by Srdja Trifkovic

When a false-flag atrocity occurs of which Muslims are the purported victims, the United States goes to war to save them—the January 1999 stage-managed “massacre” at Račak, in Kosovo, being a classic example. When all-too-real massacres of Christians by Muslims take place, they are unreported in the Western media and uncommented upon by Western politicians.

“Slaughter in Syria: 45 Christians Killed by Islamists in Sadad and Thrown into Mass Graves,” CatholicOnline reported on November 5. The facts of the case are obvious from the rebels’ own shockingly gruesome footage ( here with English subtitles ) and from the government forces’ initial video report after liberating the town (viewer discretion advised). As The Tablet reported on the same day, civilians unable to escape – including the elderly, disabled, women and children—were subjected to death by torture, including strangulation. The bodies of six members of a single Christian family, aged 16 to 90, were found in a well, prompting the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III to ask, “How can somebody do such inhumane and bestial things to an elderly couple and their family? I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.”

Sadad, a town of 15,000 mostly Syriac Orthodox people, is on the strategically important road from Damascus to Homs. It is mentioned in the Old Testament books of Numbers and Ezekiel. Most of its 15 churches have been destroyed or looted during the week-long jihadist reign of terror (October 21-28), most prominently the Church of St Theodore which the jihadists from Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front used as a base.

The initial detailed report, accompanied by graphic images, came out of Syria on October 31. “What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two years and a half,” Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, told Fides on November 1:

Forty-five innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, many thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized: thirty were wounded and ten are still missing. For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields, among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women… All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property looted. The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture. Schools, government buildings, municipal buildings have been destroyed, along with the post office, the hospital and the clinic. What happened in Sadad is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010.

For the rest of the post…

The best way to strengthen your foundation is to go deeper in your relationship with God through continual prayer and study of the Word.

~ Nelson SearcyThe Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry70.

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.”

~ Andrew Murray

“Prayer is where the action is.” 

John Wesley

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