INDIA BLOGS 2014
BLOG 198: “DO NOT BE AFRAID” (Genesis 15:1 – part 1)
God always uses my time in India to show me special Bible promises or truths. Perhaps it is because I am more aware of my need of them during the times in India. Whatever the cause, I am very glad for them and depend on them. The ones that have meant a lot to me in the past continue to do so today. The verse that has been most significant in my thoughts during this trip is Genesis 15:1. “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’” This short verse actually has 2 promises as well as a significant point of theology which has really opened my mind in many new ways. Anyway, let’s look at this passage.
“After this” refers to the events in Genesis 14: namely Abraham and his servants freeing Lot from the kings who had captured him after destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. Melchizedek, a local priest of God, came to encourage Abraham and Abraham gave him tithes to God. The rest of the spoils from rescuing everyone he returned to the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It was then that God spoke to him in a special way: “The word of the Lord came to Abram.” This is the first of 105 times this phrase is used in the Bible, showing God was communicating with man in a very special way. Usually this was through an audible voice, like when God spoke to Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:22) and when Jesus spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4-6).
It is “the Lord” who spoke to Abraham – Jehovah Himself, the eternal “I Am,” YHWH – the most special, personal, redemptive name for God. It is a great, great honor for Abraham to hear from God.
Not only does He hear God, but God calls him by name: “Abram.” Can you imagine God speaking to you, addressing you by your name? How marvelous that God calls us in the Bride of Christ His personal, individual friend (John 10:3), and that He knows each of our names and needs (Psalm 147:3-4).
“Don’t be afraid” are God’s first words to Abraham. This is often how God, or angels, start when communicating with humans for our natural response when seeing their holiness is awareness of our sinfulness (Genesis 21:7; 26:24; 43:6; Exodus 14:13; Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:13, 20; Acts 18:9; 27:24). This is the first in over 100 occurrences of this greeting. God’s ‘fear not’ promises have always meant a lot to me personally for fear is something I have had to battle my whole life. It is a sin passed down in my family line. I have found great comfort in God’s wonderful ‘fear not’ promises such as Exodus 14:13; Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:6-9; Isaiah 41:10. In my counseling and spiritual warfare ministry I’ve found that fear is one of Satan’s most effective weapons. It causes man to deny his faith without realizing what he is doing. Fear is the opposite of faith. A person cannot have faith and fear at the same time, only one at a time can dwell in the human heart.
Here are some of the promise God has given me over the years which I have applied to my trips to India: (Monday, February 18, 2013)
Deuteronomy 20:3-4 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” God gave me this promise on my first trip to India and I’ve continued to lean on it and it almost daily since that time.
Exodus 33:14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Joshua 1:6-9 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. … 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Psalm 25:3, 5, 21 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, … 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. … 21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
Isaiah 42:16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
Genesis 28:15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 For when I am weak, then I am strong.
What fears do you most struggle with? What is that of which you are most fearful? You must be able to name them so you can recognize them. What promises of God best fit your situation?
BLOG 199: “I AM YOU SHEILD” (Genesis 15:1 – part 2)
In yesterday’s blog I started sharing the verse God most impressed upon my heart this trip to India, Genesis 15:1. “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’” God Himself is speaking out loud to Abraham. He calls him by name and assures him there is nothing which he should fear. Then He makes his twofold promise:
“I am your shield” is God’s first statement. It has accurately been pointed out that God’s “I am’s” are more than adequate for our “I am nots.” I am not in control. I am not adequate. I am not able. I am not. I am not. I am not. All these are very true. Yet over above them is God’s more than adequacy to control, provide and protect – “I Am.” “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11). “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
God first promises Abraham “I am your shield.” A shield provided protection. Perhaps Abraham was concerned that the kings he defeated would regroup and come back to destroy him. He was no match for them and without God’s supernatural help would never have defeated them in the first place. God promises him that if this, or anything else, happens that He will protect Abraham. Notice what God does NOT promise – He doesn’t promise they won’t come back and attack! God never promises to change circumstances so we don’t have to fear, but He always promises help when those things happen to us. I’ve had all kinds of things happen to me traveling and ministering in India. I wish God would have prevented every one, and He could have. He was not unable to do so. But His greater plan was to stretch my faith and show His ability to protect and provide. He was always with me whatever happened, and nothing was ever nearly as bad as it could have been! The problem is I’d rather not have to go through anything at all! We are all babies when it comes to pain and stretching, aren’t we? But at least I have His promise I won’t be going through them alone.
A shield comes between the person and the enemy. It is an analogy of battle, warfare. We are in a war (Ephesians 6:10-20). The shield protects us against that while would seek to destroy us. We have many substitute, man-made shields: money, weapons, alcohol, friends, education, insurance, etc. They all fail, though. We’ve all tired them and found them inadequate. Only God can shield us.
But here’s the best part so far. God doesn’t just promise to provide a shield; He promises that He Himself will be our shield! Think about that, make sure you realize the difference. God doesn’t promise to provide a shield for us; He promises that He Himself is our shield!!!
Imagine going into battle carrying a shield for protection, and when you look carefully you see that the shield is God Himself! This is true all the time. The Hebrew grammar shows it is continually present, all the time. Every once in a while I have to stop, sit back, and take time for something new to sink in. Realizing this was such a time for me. God doesn’t just send angels to protect me. He doesn’t just manipulate things from afar. He Himself comes to stand between me and what is threatening to destroy me! How comforting is that! I don’t know how I overlooked this before, for it is often stated in the Bible (Psalm 18:2; 119:144; etc.).
Think of an astronaut who lands on the moon. He is from a different planet and cannot survive on the moon without a shield which protects him. All the needed life-giving substance is provided within the shield – his air, his water and his food. He survives on a foreign planet because of the shield which contains his protection and life-supply and which is compatible with his own planet. The moon cannot provide him any of this and therefore without the shield (space suit), he will die. Now he does not belong there, he belongs on the earth. But he is able to do things as long as his shield is in place. He is sustained by means of a foreign life supply – not from the moon but from the earth. If the shield were to break, or were to be removed, it would mean certain death. That’s certainly what would have happened to us with all the spiritual warfare teaching and praying we have been doing! God didn’t just put a shield around us, He Himself became that shield. No wonder we were so safe!
As a born again believer filled with God’s Spirit, we are foreigners in this present world. We are in the world but not of the world. The only way to survive, therefore, is to have the shield of God from which all the supernatural supply is provided. If there is no shield then there is no life-giving substance. The only way to survive is to have the shield of God in place. You are sustained by a foreign supply – supernatural provision and protection by God Himself. This is vital for your spiritual survival
By now you should have gathered that God’s shield is not just something on one side of you. It is a total protection – front, back, over your head, on your sides and under your feet. Perhaps we can deduce from this teaching that when God says “I am your shield,” that you are protected in a “cocoon” type enclosure. Because when God protects you, the devil cannot get at you, no matter at what angle he tries to attack you. (Wednesday, February 20, 2013)
Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
Think about this concept for a while. Maybe it isn’t new to you like it is to me, but if it is new meditate on it a bit. Its great God promises to protect us, as God He is able to do that. But that He Himself would commit to coming between us and all we face is even more special. Thank Him for it. Think of all He has protected you from in the past. Thank Him that at this very moment He is between you and that which would destroy you today.
BLOG 200: “I AM YOUR VERY GREAT REWARD” (Genesis 15:1 – part 3)
We have been looking at a verse God used in a special way to minister to me in India, Genesis 15:1. “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’” God promises Abraham He will be his shield – that that He will provide protection and that He Himself will be the One who comes between Abraham and anything that tries to destroy him.
“I am your very great reward” is God’s second promise to Abraham. “Reward” can be translated “salary,” “payment,” “compensation,” “benefit” or “wage.” Was Abraham concerned about giving back the vast fortune he returned to the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah? Was he thinking it might have been something he needed in the future, or even in the present? That Abraham was thinking in terms of material possessions is clear from the next verse, Genesis 15:2, where he asks about an heir for his possessions and God reassures him that he will have a son. But God’s promise goes far beyond financial reward. God never promises to meet all our wants but He does promise to meet our needs (Philippians 4:19). He promises reward and blessing in the next life far beyond anything we can imagine (1 Corinthians 2:5). He also promises spiritual blessings for right now, in this life (Ephesians 1:3). It’s all by His grace, nothing we can do to earn or deserve it (John 1:16).
The assurance from God that He would reward me for this work in India is something I still can’t really grasp. I know the Bible says God will do that, but what can I possibly be rewarded for? I wouldn’t be doing this if He hadn’t really put it in my heart to do it. And clearly none of it would have happening if He wasn’t making it all happen! I tell Moses we are like a hose that He uses to send His blessings to the pastors here. What can a hose take credit for? How can a hose be rewarded? For what? For allowing itself to be used? How can it not do that? How can it get any credit for that? Please don’t think I’m being modest. If you’d be me you’d agree that none of this is any of my doing!
In fact, the privilege of being the hose, of being part of this, of having a front row set of watching God work, is more reward and blessing than I could have ever hoped for! It feels like something I should be experiencing in heaven, not on this earth. And yet the part of this verse which touched me most is still to come!
“I AM your very great reward.” The real blessing to Abraham was not just material blessings for Abraham, or even a son to inherit them – it was God Himself. He doesn’t just give us spiritual blessings now and for eternity, He Himself IS our blessing – our “very great” reward/payment/wage/benefit. Awareness of that truth was the foundation of all kinds of good things God has been teaching me these past few weeks. It is the first domino in a chain that is still continuing. God doesn’t just give me a reward or blessing, He Himself is that reward and blessing!
Usually we think of God as a means to our reward. He blesses us with the fruit of the Spirit, He heals us, He provides financially, He restores a relationship, and He shows His love in many and various tangible ways. Unfortunately some people follow Him just for the purpose of receiving those things. Their entitlement mentality has them thinking “What’s in it for me?” So they switch from church to church, waiting for the magic formula that will take away all their problems and make everything feel good. God isn’t a magic gene we can rub and get Him to do whatever we want! He has something much, much better than promising to grant us three wishes. He promises HIMSELF!
I’ve given that a lot of thought and meditation, a LOT of it. It’s an amazing thought that God is rewarding me by revealing more of Himself to me, letting me get to know Him better and more personally, experiencing Him in a fuller way! Not only is the concept great, but the fact He would do that for me is absolutely mind-expanding! He has been doing that in me – I blogged about experiencing His love and power in a much greater way and that helps me see Him in a far clearer light. I see His power in protecting us from any attacks despite all the training of pastors, especially in spiritual warfare and in how He answers prayers. I experience His love in the fact that He chose me to be the tube to be used to do this, to see how he’s been working in my life all along to bring the right training and skills into place for this time, to be a ‘missionary’ for Him, and even to write books. I have always wanted to write but had given that dream up years ago assuming it would never happen.
He wants to reveal Himself to each of us, not just me. He doesn’t just want to be part of our life, a dispenser of quick fixes when life gets too hard. He doesn’t want us to use Him, but to let Him use us. Don’t just have Jesus in your life. Let Him BE your life – not for what you get from Him but for Whom and what He is. Abraham’s great reward was not the material blessings or the son he would get, but God Himself, his growing relationship with the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. God wants that with you as well.
And, finally, He doesn’t just want to be your reward. He wants to be your VERY GREAT reward! If God says it is great, you can count on it being indescribable! (Friday, February 22, 2013)
Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
God doesn’t just want to be my reward; He wants to be that for each and every Christian as well. Think about how He has been blessing you lately. Do you recognize His hand in all that is happening in your life? What new truths have you been learning about Him? How have you been getting closer to Him lately? What is He trying to reveal to you about Himself?
BLOG 201: THE GUILT-INNOCENCE WORLD VIEW
Each culture has its own individual way of looking at life: how they interpret what happens, set values and priorities and know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. This is their particular way of viewing life and the world. It is their world view.
It covers all areas of life: how we view suffering and pain, the way we handle what is unfair, our definition of success and failure, traits we look for in friends and mates, the value we put on money and possessions, choices and decisions we have to make, the way we face circumstances that are out of our control and how we view our relationship with God.
Traditionally those in their country have viewed life from a right-wrong perspective. We make value judgments on everything that happens. We view live through a guilt-innocence grid. When a marriage fails we wonder who was at fault. When a business fails we want to know who is to blame. If we are swimming in a public pool and the lifeguard blows his whistle everyone looks to see who has done something wrong. In school when little Johnny is called to the principal’s office over the intercom everyone wonders what he did that got him in trouble. When driving down the road and a red light starts flashing in the rear window, our first thought is if we have done something wrong. Then when the police car passes us we watch to see who was guilty.
When something unfair happens to innocent people we want to know whose fault it is, who is to blame. If we can’t find a person who is at fault then we blame God. That’s why we are often wondering how God can allow a child to suffer or something unfair to happen to someone. Our world view sees everything on a guilt-innocence paradigm.
We all want to be innocent of any wrong. “I’m OK and you’re OK” is our rallying call. We tell ourselves that we are as good as the next guy. Speakers and books assure us we are fine just as we are. We’re all about right and wrong, guilt and innocence.
This perspective of viewing life comes from our legal system, which is the foundation of our country. As Americans we are obsessed with fairness and justice, with the rights of the individual and everyone meeting their potential. This forms the backbone of our society.
It’s not surprising, then, that we view salvation through the same colored glasses. We are guilty and God is innocent. He is right and we are wrong. We sin and are guilty before Him. Jesus took our sin and guilt on the cross and paid the penalty for it so we can be innocent again. Accept His gift of salvation and we’ll be pure and clean again. We illustrate this with the story of the judge who must uphold the law and exact the penalty on a friend who has no means to pay the fine he owes. So the judge leaves the bench, takes off his robes, comes down and stands by the man and pays his fine for him. That is what God did for us. It can be seen almost like a business transaction.
We find this detailed in the book of Romans, the favorite Bible book of American evangelicals. From it we get the Romans Road and the Four Spiritual Laws – clearly legal terms explaining a legal transaction. It shouldn’t surprise us that we identify so clearly with the book of Romans for our legal system and much of our government is based on theirs. Their world view is now our world view. When Paul wrote to them he explained salvation in terms they would understand – guilt and innocence.
But not all cultures see the world and life from that slant. Rome did, as do English-speaking and European countries today. The rest of the world sees life through other grids, though. Israel, for example, had an entirely different world view which is seen in most of the Bible.
Take the Gospels for example: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We call them ‘gospels’ but can you find the gospel in the gospels? Can you use them to lead someone to salvation? It’s very hard to find our legal right-wrong, guilt-innocence paradigm in them. Jesus doesn’t talk about guilt, legal payment and innocence regained. Yet many people come to salvation just reading those accounts.
Jesus focused on living the Christian life, and that really isn’t part of our guilt-to-innocence transaction. In fact, the church is often weak in countries with a guilt-based world view because it doesn’t speak to the fact of what happens after salvation. Many Christians feel that once they have invested in their eternal life-insurance they have all they need and go back to life as they lived it before. Often we relegate living the Christian life to something unrelated to salvation, but Jesus talked about living for Him as being part of salvation. So what’s the deal? (Monday, December 30, 2013, USA)
Next blog will look at another world view, the paradigm the Jews in Bible times used to view life around them.
Ps 38:1-4 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
Think of a time in your life when you felt guilt. What did you do about it?
If it weren’t for Jesus, what could you have done about it?
Is there anything you feel guilty about now? Admit it is sin and turn it over to God. Accept His forgiveness. Forgive yourself. If you need to make things with someone else do so right away.
BLOG 202: THE SHAME-HONOR WORLD VIEW
While the English-speaking world and Europe view life from a guilt-based world view, another large segment of mankind sees things through a shame-honor paradigm. The Jews in Bible times viewed life this way. The Bible talks about shame and honor four times as often as it does about guilt and innocence. Countries in the 10/40 window today have this world view.
Arab countries clearly are shame-based. Family and tribal honor comes above everything else. The pride of the tribal and national rulers is clear. Offense is taken for the smallest slight, which is why there is always so much infighting amongst the Arabs. It can be seen in the way those who are perceived to bring shame to the family are treated. Fathers and brothers are required to kill wives or daughters who bring shame on the family by their sex or morals. Their death restores the families’ honor. The same is true of becoming a Christian. The shame it brings on those around them can only be removed by their death.
Asia, too, is shame-based in its perspective of life. China and Japan are all about honoring and showing respect to those who deserve it. Their society is full of bowing down, showing good manners and being respectful of those deserving of honor.
India is the same way. I am shown great honor in the way I am treated. To do otherwise would shame those in a position to honor me. I am showered with the best hospitality they have to offer, with shawls and flower garlands, with offers of help for whatever I am doing. God is honored in their worship by entering taking off their shoes and the women covering their heads.
Shame is to be avoided at all costs. If a wife disgraces her husband by something she says or does, by not producing a healthy male heir or by some other dishonorable activity she is often murdered by her husband and/or mother-in-law. Her sari will ‘accidentally’ catch fire while she is bent over a stove and she will burn to death. This is accepted by their culture for it is the way shame is removed. Babies who are born handicapped are often left to die for their imperfection brings shame to the whole family and often even the tribe.
If a student fails to get good enough grades in school to move to the next level they may take their own life. That is true in Japan as well as India. The pressure to succeed and bring honor instead of failing and bringing shame is very great.
Because there is no right-wrong grid of absolutes government officials are often very corrupt. They become rich at the expense of the taxpayers. This wealth brings them honor. However if they are caught and their corruption is exposed they quite often take their own life because the shame of being caught and losing their income is so great they don’t feel they can go on. Corruption isn’t shameful, but being caught is.
While our ethics are based on right or wrong which stem from absolutes in the Bible, their morality is context-sensitive. It is relative, depending on the circumstances. There is a growing belief in relativism in America today. It exploded in the public arena as ‘situational ethics’ espoused by Playboy and other similar magazines.
It is very hard for us to think in terms different than we always have for we have no frame of reference built into us to understand and follow that philosophy. We can’t imagine not looking at things through a guilt-innocence, right-wrong grid. They can’t imagine looking at things in that way! Thus when we bring the Gospel to those with other world views but use our guilt-innocence paradigm, they don’t respond. They don’t understand it. It doesn’t speak to their needs. They don’t feel guilt like we do so why should they need a solution to it. They just don’t think in terms of right and wrong. For someone else to kill their daughter would be shameful, for them to kill her if she is does something different than community standards brings honor. It doesn’t make sense to us but does to them!
For us as evangelical American Christians guilt-innocence is the way we see everything, but even in America that framework is shifting with the younger generation and the unchurched. As our culture buys more and more into the lie that there are no absolutes, that right and wrong are determined by each person just for themselves, than the guilt-innocence viewpoint loses its hold. In America today we see it being replaced by a shame-honor system.
Perhaps this is most clearly seen in teen culture today. Things aren’t evaluated by right and wrong but by cool and uncool. Certain dress, talk and actions are cool, thus they are honored. Others are not cool, they are uncool, and thus they bring shame. Everyone tries to fit in and be honored, not rejected and shamed. Their group of peers replaces family and tribe. Being part of a cool group is paramount. Rejection by ones chosen group brings shame and devastation. People today aren’t asking “What should I do?” Instead they are asking “Who am I?” Am I acceptable? Am I all I can be? Am I getting all that is due me? This is all about being honored and not shamed.
The greatest shame in shame-based cultures comes from rejection. When a person is rejected by their family or tribe the shame can be overwhelming. To be sent out of one’s home with nothing and have to beg naked on the street is a shame most cannot endure. Death is preferable.
Jesus Himself used the shame-honor viewpoint to explain salvation. The gospels are full of stories of Jesus healing lepers. There was no one more dishonored, no one more rejected than a leper. They had to walk around calling ‘unclean, unclean’ wherever they went. They couldn’t heal themselves, only God could do it. By removing the same in their body and restoring them to honor Jesus was clearly showing He could remove the shame in our lives and give us honor instead.
All of Jesus’ many miracles of healing removed the shame of the handicapped and replaced it with health and wholeness. The unworthy person is now worthy again. This was Jesus’ calling card, proving to all who He was and what He could do.
He took away the stigma of Gentiles and removed their rejection, bringing them into a place of honor in Israel. He healed a woman with a 12 year issue of blood which made her unclean and unable to even enter the temple. He removed the shame of the woman taken in adultery and the woman at the well in Samaria. He gave them honor instead of disgrace.
So we have these 2 perspectives of life: guilt-innocence and shame-honor. Are you wondering which one is right? If so I hope you get the irony of that question. Only those in guilt-based systems would ever even think in those terms! But since that is the way we think let’s try to answer that question in the next blog. (Wednesday, January 1, 2014, USA)
1 Peter 2:6; Romans 9:33 “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
How would you explain shame to someone?
When have you felt shame? Why?
Do you still feel shame? Why or why not?
What advice would you give to someone who felt shame as to how to get rid of it?
BLOG 203: THE FEAR-POWER WORLD VIEW
In the last 2 blogs we’ve examined to very prevalent world views today: guilt and innocence is one, shame and honor is the other. These are two different ways of perceiving truth and our relationship to God and each honor. But which one is right (only guilt-innocence followers would even ask such a question)? Let’s look at the first sin in Eden and see if it brought them guilt or shame.
Genesis 3:7 says “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” This clearly shows guilt. Their conscience showed them their guilt. A conscience will do that, but consciences can be silenced after a time of being ignored. So our guilt-based view must be right, right?
But look at the next verse, verse 8: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Now this is clearly shame they are feeling. So both guilt and shame were their responses to sin.
However those were the only responses, there is one more! “Adam answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:10) Now we see a third response, fear.
This brings us to the third paradigm in the world today, fear-power. This perception of life and the world is very aware of the power of Satan and demons in whatever form they may take in their culture. Their whole existence is one of trying to appease the gods around them so they won’t make life worse for them. We see this in primal religions and cultures like Native Americans and those in the jungles of Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Those into the occult and horoscopes follow a fear-power perception of life. It is also seen in dictatorships and communism. Various religions use fear to control people. Many of the cults operate this way, as does a segment of legalism in evangelical Christianity. Many have also seen this in Roman Catholicism.
In India it is very evident, especially in the rural parts of the country. That is why my teaching on and ministering in spiritual warfare was so effective. It shows God’s power as greater than any other force and set those in bondage free from their fear.
Thus we have 3 basic world views: guilt-innocence, shame-honor and fear-power. We can compare and contrast them like this:
|GUILT – INNOCENCE||SHAME – HONOR||FEAR – POWER|
|Legal aspect, right and wrong, law broken||Embarrassment, unworthiness in relationship||Consequences of action (or no action)|
|From breaking God’s LAW||From breaking God’s RELATIONSHIP||From breaking God’s TRUST|
|Answer: FORGIVENESS||Answer: HOPE||Answer: FREEDOM|
|2. Time: Greece, Rome into Europe||3. Time: Islam spread, defeated going west so went east||1. Time: Ancient times, before Greece|
|To the Greeks||To the Jews||To the Barbarians|
|Now: Western cultures||Now: 10/40 window||Now: Jungle Africa, Asia, So Am|
|Geog: West of Jerusalem||Geog: East of Jerusalem||Geog: South of Jerusalem|
We must understand all three of these in order to minister to people today. No country has just one; often there is a mixture of two or even three of these. We must understand the people we are working with so we can connect with them through their world view. We must start with people where they are, then move them in the direction of the truth of the Gospel. (Friday, January 3, 2014, USA)
Luke 12:4-6 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
What are you most afraid of in life? Why?
What do you usually do to handle your fear when it comes?
What is God’s remedy for fear?
BLOG 204: “BEARING ALL MY SIN AND SHAME”
As American evangelical Christians today we clearly understand the truth behind the guilt-innocence paradigm. We have been taught we are guilty before God and He has paid the penalty for us so we can be free (innocent). That is very true and clearly understood.
We are also fairly well versed in the fear-power perspective as well. We are taught about Jesus’ miracles and God’s power. We know and experience freedom for Satan and his demons. We are steeped in the awareness of God’s awesome greatness. We know there is no power greater than Him.
Where we fall short is our understanding of the shame-honor view. We know our sins are forgiven and we no longer have guilt before God, but we go through life with tremendous shame, not realizing Jesus removed our shame on the cross as well. Let’s look at the gospel from a shame-based perspective and see how that applies to us today as well.
We all stand in shame and dishonor before God. We have no worth of our own to earn His approval. We have been sent from His presence, as Adam and Eve were sent out of Eden. They couldn’t return and neither can we. We stand naked and disgraced before Him (Job 1:21). We are poor and penniless beggars with no hope and no future.
Perhaps teens can understand this better for they are more affected by a shame-based culture. Suppose a teen was totally rejected by family and friends. They were mocked and hated, kicked out of their home and group with nothing – no food, no clothing, no shelter, nothing. They have no worth and no hope. A large sign is put around their neck which reads ‘uncool’ (or ‘nerd’ or something similar). In total embarrassment they have to sit naked in the mall begging for coins for food. They find scraps of paper on the floor and try to use them to cover themselves and hide their nakedness. How would such a teen feel? That is how we are before God and that is how we should feel in approaching Him on our own.
There is nothing we can do to change our standing before God, absolutely nothing. Only God Himself could remove our disgrace. Only He could clothe Adam and Eve in Eden, and He did so, making garments of skin for them to wear (Genesis 3:21). That is exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross. He hung there, totally naked, for 6 long hours. He was completely rejected by God and man. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me!” He cried (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Feeling the guilt of our shame in His sinless soul was beyond any shame we will ever feel. The rejection was beyond anything we will ever know, and it was all done for us.
By sharing and removing our shame He has given us honor. His worth for doing such a thing was passed on to us. That wonderful act was eternally honorable for Him and that is the honor He passes on to us. He removes our shame and rejection. He makes us part of His family and we are accepted by Him in heaven for all eternity. Isaiah writes: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)
Let’s go back to our teenage sitting naked and embarrassed in the mall, covered with pieces of litter and begging for scraps of food. As he sits there he notices the multi-millionaire owner of the mall walking down the hall. The owner spots him and changes direction, walking directly toward the teen. The teen pulls his scraps tighter around him but can’t avoid the stare of the owner. He stops before the teen, and then does what seems unbelievable. He takes off his fine, tailor-made clothes and puts them on the teen. He takes the teens place, covers himself with the pieces of litter and becomes the beggar the teen was. He gives the teen the keys to his office with its fine furniture and state-of-the-art entertainment center. He hands you papers stating you are adopted into his family and that everything he owns is equally yours. His family is waiting to accept you into an honored position and shower you with presents and love. Imagine how the teen would feel now! Imagine how he’d feel toward the owner who did all this.
That is the best way I can describe what God did for us from a shame-honor perspective. Like the father of the prodigal son, He clothes us with His best and puts us in a privileged, highly esteemed position (Luke 15:22). Best of all, there is nothing that can happen to have this honored position taken away (Romans 8:1). We need never living in shame or rejection again! We have respect and honor for all eternity! We have gone from being pitiful, naked beggars to honored and esteemed members of God’s family for all eternity! We will rule and reign with Jesus forever (Revelation 20:6). Our shame has been replaced with honor.
There is no need for any child of God to live any longer in shame. Too often we are defeated by lies about our past, memories of things which God Himself has forgotten (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17; Jeremiah 31:34). There is no reason to live in shame. It has been totally removed forever. There is no shame for the child of God (Romans 8:1). The wonderful grace of Jesus is greater far than all my sin and shame!
So our guilt has been turned to innocence because Jesus paid our debt on the cross. Our shame has been turned to honor because Jesus took our shame and rejection and gave us His honor position with Him forever. Our fear has been removed because His power for us and available to us assures us that there is nothing more for us to ever fear. It’s all taken care of – God covered all 3 world paradigms on the cross! He’s got it all covered!
He has replaced our guilt with innocence. “The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy” (Zephaniah 3:15a). He has exchanged our fear with power. “The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm” (Zechariah 3:15b). He has traded our shame for honor. “’I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,’ says the Lord” (Zechariah 3:19-20).
What a wonderful, marvelous, all-providing God we serve! We can only scratch the surface of His love and greatness. No wonder we will spend all eternity in heaven worshipping Him, for then we will see His glory in its full magnificence. Worthy is the Lamb! He bore all my sin and shame, ALL of it. Worthy IS the Lamb! (Monday, January 6, 2014, USA)
Dan 6:21-22 Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.”
What are some of the wrong ways those who aren’t believers handle their guilt and shame?
When are you most apt to be tempted to fear or worry?
What do you usually do when hit with fear or worry?
What is the way God wants us to handle them?
BLOG 205: SHARING THE GOSPEL IN A SHAME-BASED CULTURE
(With our January 7 trip to India nearly here, I thought I’d run some blogs about one of the most basic theological differences between Indian culture and ours. I have found this VERY helpful in knowing how to better communicate the Gospel to those from different cultural backgrounds.)
When I speak in India I use guilt-innocence illustrations and references to show the legal aspect of how God paid for our sins. That is true and important to know. But it isn’t the only way, nor the main way, I convey the truth of God’s grace and love.
I enjoy speaking of Jesus’ might, of His miracles and power. It is a pleasure to show how He overcame the power of Satan and demons and how that power is available for us today. Many in India have been raised in a fear-power mind set, and virtually all of them have been influenced by that in some way. So seeing God’s victory in Jesus speaks to their fear-power world view. That is always a large part of what I share.
More recently I have learned to speak to their shame-honor system as well for it is part of the very fabric of what it means to be ‘Indian.’ It’s important for me to speak to all three and it’s important for each Christian to understand all three. Not only does this enable us to be released from guilt, shame and fear, but we are able to share this freedom with others. There are millions in this country living with the shame of past actions. Muslims, Arabs, and Asians of many various cultures are living around us in the country now and we must be able to reach them as well. Then there are the young people in this country, and older ones who haven’t been churched and have turned from absolute truth and a right-wrong world view. They then find themselves in a shame-honor system. We need to know how to minister to them as well. Paul says he became all things to all people so he could connect with them and reach them with God’s truth (1 Corinthians 9:22). We need to be able to do the same in this day and age.
So how can we best minister to those with a shame-based value system? We don’t have to convince them they are shamed, without honor or worth. They already know that, that’s why they try to run from rejection to acceptance. The hope we offer is in Jesus, what the mall owner did for the disgraced teen. We need to let them know that God sees them as people of worth, that He respects them and wants them to be accepted as part of His family. He wants to shower them with honor and blessing for all eternity. They need to know Jesus took their shame and will share His honor if they let Him. They need to know that true honor and acceptance is only found in Jesus Who loves them so much He took their shame so it would be removed. There is a degree to which they need to understand the legal action of removing sin by His work on the cross, but their main response must be to His unconditional love and acceptance of Him.
As they allow themselves to have hope and belief in that truth, and as God’s Spirit works in their hearts, they will open their hearts to His love and presence. They will seek His comfort and fellowship. They will want to know more about Him, and to know Him Himself. They will respond to His love with their love for Him. It may not be a once-and-done business transaction type of commitment like we often see it, a legal transaction made, signed and sealed in a moment of time. It more likely will be a growing awareness, a gradual shift in how they see their position and God’s role in their life. It may take time for these truths to settle in and become part of their thinking, replacing lies that have been hammered in for many years.
But when the change does come it is complete. There is no question of how they will live. Living for Jesus is an honor and privilege, not something they will have to be coaxed into. There is no demanding things of God or questioning if what He is doing in their lives is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ He is God and they are not, of course He can and should do whatever He things best. We are not to question. He is above all things totally honorable so we don’t question what He does.
That does not mean there is not much growing and learning to take place for there is. As with us from a guilt-based culture, we must change our whole mind set to view life from God’s Biblical world view. That is not quick and it is not easy no matter the previous paradigm life was viewed from.
There is much in God’s Word we can use to reach those with a shame-based slant on life. Adam and Eve in Eden were shamed and hid but God reached out to them and clothed them, removing their shame and dressing them in His righteousness. The Jews were slaves in Egypt but God brought them out and elevated them to great honor. We go from slavery to sin to being joint-heirs with Jesus.
The whole Jewish ceremonial and religious system was based on clean and unclean, being washed to be acceptable to God (Exodus 30). As we saw, cleansing lepers is a clear picture of having honor replace shame (Leviticus 13 and 14; Luke 5:12-14 and many accounts of Jesus’ healings in the Gospels). There was the cleansing of the woman who was bleeding 12 years and was rejected from the temple (Mark 5:25-35). There is the shame of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) who was rescued and restored by Jesus. The woman at the well (John 3) was too embarrassed to come draw water with the other women because of sin in her life. She was rejected and dishonored. Jesus showed her respect by asking for a drink, talking with her and ultimately restoring her honor by removing her shame.
Then there is the prodigal son (Luke 15:22), a clear story of moving from dishonor to acceptance and honor again as the Father forgave and restored him. We are sin-crippled illegitimate children rejected by the Father, but through Jesus our infirmities are healed and the Father accepts us as His own. The illustrations from the Bible are limitless when we look for them.
Make sure you apply these truths of God’s victory over guilt, shame and fear to your own life, but use them and apply them to the lives of those you come in contact with. God is truth. God has it all covered! We have the privilege of sharing that truth and freedom with others. Ask Him for opportunities to do so starting today. (Wednesday, January 8, 2014 USA)
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
What does it mean when God says we are ‘holy’?
Why is it so important to God that we be holy?
What can you do each day to help live a holy life?
(I’d be very interested in your comments, observations and experiences as they relate to what I’ve been writing about in these blogs. I’m still learning about these world views and would appreciate any insight you can share with me. Jerry Schmoyer firstname.lastname@example.org)
BLOG 206: BETTER THAN THE NEXT BEST THING
It’s finally here – the day I have been anxiously looking forward to with joy and, to be honest, a lot of hesitation. We leave for India in a few hours. I’m not real big on situations where I am not in control, in fact where I am very much out of control. That seems to intensify as I get older. Traveling to and around India for 3 weeks certainly qualifies as something out of my hands!
So if I am not in control, what’s the next best thing? Actually, there isn’t a next best thing; there is something even better – God being in control. That is always the case when I go to India, but it is especially true this year because spiritual warfare will be the predominate topic at the pastors’ and leaders’ conferences. Speaking of victory over Satan seems to intensify the battle.
While praying with Nancy about this a few days ago a Bible verse I hadn’t thought of in years popped into my mind strong and clear, obviously from God. Isaiah 54:17 No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. I’ve read this many times since then and think about it often. It brings me great comfort and peace. We stand on God’s promises for they are 100% true all the time. I know the context for this passage doesn’t apply to us today, but God is clearly showing me that the principle He is expressing will be applied to us in the coming weeks. I thank God for that.
Unfortunately the verse doesn’t say weapons won’t be formed against us nor accusations made against us. It assumes these things will happen, and we know that is so. Satan, the world around us, even our own sin nature conspires to oppose God’s kingdom and people in every way possible. God does not prevent that, He allows it. But He uses it for His good. In Sunday’s sermon we talked about how God doesn’t direct us in the easy way but in the best way. All He does is for our growth and His glory. We do what is best for our children, not what is easiest, and our Heavenly Father does the same for us. Would we really want it any other way?
My flesh recoils from discomfort, from distress and from any kind of emotional or physical pain. But I move ahead trusting God’s promises. He is in control no matter what. It’s not the next best thing to me being in control, it’s even better! (Doylestown, PA, Tuesday, January 7, 2014)
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Are you facing situations in life you can’t control, things that bring you stress or pain? What promises in the Bible speak to your situation? Meditate on them; think of them whenever you think of the problem situation. God is in control even when we are not.
BLOG 207: THE CREATIVE WORRIER
I seem to have developed quite a skill at playing the “What can go wrong game.” You know what I’m talking about – being able to find the black lining in any silver cloud. I can’t take all the credit for my creative ability to worry about things for I come from a long line of those who have played the game far better than I will ever be able to. It was a way of life for me growing up. And it’s a very hard habit to break for it is rooted in fear. I think if I can somehow anticipate what will go wrong I can in some way do something about it. Unfortunately that is not true. Ironically enough, usually what does go wrong is not something I imagined but something I never anticipated at all! So why do I still play the game? For the same reason we all play it as well – lack of faith.
In the months leading up to this trip it is easy to think of all kinds of things that can go wrong just in the trip here itself. I try to commit them to God in faith and trust His promises, but it sometimes becomes a battle. What is interesting this trip is that none of the many things I thought of which can go wrong did. Strangely enough several things did go wrong which I had never imagined happening. Of course God took care of them well enough, but it really reinforced to me that worrying about what could go wrong is a useless exercise. Worse than that, it is sin.
So anyway we have arrived! Our 32 hour trip is over. We are now at Pastor Moses’ new apartment, resting and preparing for the first pastors’ conference tomorrow. We visited the orphans, lepers and Dalits his church ministers to. Let me summarize what it took to get us here by the numbers:
11 time changes we traveled through
10 months of making plans and preparations
9 hour flight from Frankfort, Germany to Mumbai, India
8 hour flight from Newark to Frankfort, Germany
7 times I’ve been to India now
6 security checkpoints to go through
5 hours sleep, total, while traveling
4 airports to navigate around
3 continents to spend time on
2 business class flights instead of economy (thanks to God and the friend who donated his miles)
1 (and this is the best of all!) wife here with me this time!!! What an amazing difference it makes having Nancy here. I keep looking at her and touching her to make sure it is real – and it seems to be! I know it’s not a dream for we haven’t had much sleep lately!
Thanks for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated. Pray God would give me the words to say to minister to the pastors tomorrow, and each day we are here. (Frankfort Airport, Thursday, Jan 9, 2014)
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Are you a worrier? What causes you the most fear?
Make a list of all the things you are worried/concerned/fearful about right now. One by one pray about them, giving them to God and trusting Him to do what He knows is best (not necessarily easiest) for you and for His Kingdom. Whenever worry tries to come again keep giving the situation back to God.
BLOG 208: THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
We had our first Pastors’ Conference today. I would like to describe how I feel before leading these conferences but I haven’t ever found the right words. It’s a mixture of excitement, humility, oppression, God’s power, and feeling responsible to make this time count for these men who receive very little other training. It is very exhilarating and totally draining at the same time.
This year is different in that all the conferences will be 2 days long. We are using larger buildings so more can come, and by having them come for 2 days I can cover twice the material. So instead of teaching 50 pastors and wives in one village today and 50 more in another village tomorrow we are bringing in 150 to a larger location. It doesn’t take a math genius to realize we train more people and give them twice as much training. It does cost more to help them travel further and to give them more meals and a blanket to sleep in.
Knowing I had an additional day to teach them added to the responsibility of making the best use of the time, my own experience, and the prompting of God’s Spirit, both led me to plan for spiritual warfare to be the main top of the first day. All believers are in a battle, but in some ways it seems even more real here in India.
I am going through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, tracing our warfare with Satan and his forces and how we are to have victory. An overview of the flow of the whole Bible is the basic framework for this study. (If you’d like this material it is taken from my book, Spiritual Warfare and the Bible, which is on my web sites. If you’d like a digital copy emailed to you just email me.). It’s more like telling a story than anything else. But what a wonderful story! It’s the story of God’s involvement with mankind from the beginning. Despite man’s continuing failure God stays faithful. It truly is the greatest story ever told. The best part is that I am in this story, and so are you. It’s the most wonderful romance, mystery, and sometimes humor story ever. It’s the most amazing love story of all time. And while there are some sorrowful parts, it has a great ending. The climax to this story is really just out of this world! (Hyderabad, Friday, Jan 10, 2014)
John 4:16 For God so loved the world that He send His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Think about the story God is writing about your life: where it’s been, where it is and where it’s going. Think what it would be without Him. There may be parts of the story line you don’t understand, some you may not even like, but you know where God is going with your story and how it will end. Only it will never end but will continue on forever. Think about these things for a few moments and thank God for these truths.
BLOG 209: REMOVING THE ROUGH EDGES
Our first 2-day pastor’s conference is over and it went very well. There are some rough spots to work out but that will come in time, I walked about What God Expects of Pastors, Marriage and Ministry, and Signs You Are Growing Spiritually. There were 200 pastors and 25 wives who attended –far beyond what I expected. They were very appreciative of the teaching and the 3 free books we gave each one who attended. They said over and over that it was ‘deep’ and ‘practical.’ I was pleased to hear that for it’s what I wanted it to be.
They aren’t the only ones being ministered to, however. God is using this experience to stretch and make me more like Jesus as well. The more I seem to make progress, the more I see needs to be made. He is using His Word and other believers to bring that about.
David is a great example of how this works. He wasn’t born a hero. He became one when he killed Goliath. He didn’t do it with his hands, but with a smooth stone and a slingshot. The stone was God’s instrument of choice to bring victory and deliverance. But it wasn’t any old stone. The stone had to be prepared.
It wasn’t just a common stone David picked up from the ground. He had to descend from the mountain to the valley where there was a creek. Humbleness is the first requirement in being an instrument God can use. David then chose 5 smooth stones. What made these stones smooth? It was what happened to them in the creek. The motion of the water against them removed their rough edges. When the water of God’s Word moves against us and we let it form and shape us our rough edges are smoothed away (Ephesians 5:26). It can be a painful, time consuming process but God is working on that in all of us as we apply His Word to our lives. Then we become useful to Him.
What also smoothed the stones was friction with other stones as the force of the water tumbled them along (Proverbs 27:17). Our contact with mature believers helps smooth and refine us as well. Fellowship and friendship with others who are also being formed into useful instruments is a key part of our growth process.
I see God doing that in the lives of the pastors in India. I see Him doing that in my life as well. Do you see that happening in your life? It happens in humility, in the valley, not on the mountaintop. It comes about by continual exposure to His Word and contact with His people. It is a slow but steady process, but an important one. It’s the way God prepares instruments for His service. (Hyderabad, Saturday, Jan 11, 2014)
Proverbs 27:17 as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Ephesians 5:26-27 Christ loved the church and give Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
Can you see God using the truths of His Word and the impact of godly friends to help make you more like Jesus? Make sure you stay in the valley of humility for this process to continue. Be available to be used as His instrument whenever and wherever He chooses to use you.
BLOG 210: PRECIOUS IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD IS THE DEATH OF HIS SAINTS
Today we went to Moses’ church and spoke to children, teens and the whole congregation. I’ve spoken to them 30 or more times over the years. I know most of the people personally and have been in many of their homes. I’ve watched the children grow, and some of the older ones die. I am truly at home there, and of course they love having Nancy with them! I feel very much at home and truly loved by them. What a wonderful blessing to be loved by two very special churches, one in Doylestown and one in India! That is a great blessing from God.
I am typing as we drive 6+ hours from Hyderabad to Vijayawada. When I finish here I must go over the lessons for the coming days. Circumstances have caused me to have to throw out many of my plans and come with new plans and lessons. If you know me you know I’d rather have it all dialed down 6 months ago instead of not knowing what I’m going to teach tomorrow! Pray for wisdom and guidance as I seek God’s will for what is the best use of the time I have with these dedicated servants of God!
Thanks for the emails! Many of you have emailed me messages of encouragement and I greatly appreciate each and every one. I can’t write back often, but look forward to reading them. Thanks!
On a more somber note, though, is the news that a pastor in Hyderabad was killed by a mob yesterday while giving out tracks. He is the third pastor who has been killed that way recently. We are in no danger, neither are those who keep silent. But the ones who stand up for their faith and share it with others are often in danger. The reactions of Christians in Hyderabad is strong. They are gathering at this time in a public display to demand equal protection for Christians as others. These deaths are making them stronger in their faith. This just shows me all the more how important it is to do whatever we can to help support these pastors. They are truly on the front lines. Prayers are being requested for the family of this pastor. (driving from Hyderabad to Vijayawada, Sunday, January 12, 2014)
Psalms 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Revelation 1:17-18 “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. “
Thank God for the freedom and protection from persecution which you experience.
Pray for your brothers and sisters in the Lord who are not so fortunate.
Pray for comfort for those who suffer for their faith. Ask God to empower His people with courage to stand up for their faiths. Pray for the Christians in America for they, too, need courage to stand. Pray for yourself, to have courage to take advantage of the opportunities God will give you today to share His love with others.
BLOG 211: TESTIMONIES
We had our first Leader of Leaders conference today – the men we’ve worked with closest and longest. I’ve known them for years, been in their homes, preached in their churches and helped pay for new homes or churches. They are among the ones we support with $25 a month as well. I feel very close to them and they to me. They have sponsored conferences in their churches, and they oversee our work in their area among the several churches they all oversee.
While waiting for lunch today some of them shared what God has recently been doing in their churches. Here are the highlights:
Pastor Isaac Vizaq (picture 1, man in light blue shirt and wife on right). A girl who had cancer came for prayer and was healed, believed in Jesus and attends church. An alcoholic man who beat his wife came for prayer and became a believer. Someone dreamed of he and his wife, then went and found them, asking for prayer. He was delivered from alcoholism and became a believer. They prayed for young man who hated Jesus. Before long he became a believer now his whole family attends church.
Pastor Prakash Rao, Bobbili (picture 1, standing on left in pink shirt) He oversees 4 churches and his wife 3 among the gypsy people. A women with AIDS came for prayer. She was healed and became a believer.
Pastor Sudhakar working in Repalli (picture 1, tan shirt, 2nd from left) A man with aids prayed and was healed and believed. A Hindu man sitting outside his house had an idol fall on his head and break his back. He was paralyzed and the hospital couldn’t help him. He was dying so his family dumped him at the church because they didn’t want him. The people prayed, he was healed, believed in Jesus and went back and testified to his doctors.
Pastor Das (picture 2, standing) A lady with swelling in her legs and stomach came for prayer, was healed, now is part of the church. A pregnant lady who wasn’t able to deliver her baby was dumped at their church to die but they prayed and she had a safe delivery.
Pastor Sudhakar Rao, Bobbili (picture 3) A man with kidney failure was left at the church to die. They prayed, he was healed and believed; now he has part in their ministry.
What a joy and privilege to be involved with these men. Thanks for you who help support them with $25 a month! (Vijayawada Monday, January 13, 2014)
Matthew 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Matthew 10:8-9 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
Pray for these people and for the pastors working with them. Ask God to give them wisdom, courage, perseverance and protection as they bring the light into darkness.
BLOG 212: HERE’S THE DIRT ON INDIA
When one grows up in America and then visits India there are many aspects of life that, while making perfect sense to the Indian people, come across as really strange to us. One of these is the cleanliness/dirty quandary in India. The majority of the people keep themselves and their property meticulously clean. Some wash several times a day, and they are forever sweeping their homes and the area in front. But where do they put the dirt? They sweep it into the street, where wind and feet carry it right back to their homes. Their trash and garbage pile up just outside their properties.
Don’t they realize that more is required than just cleaning up their own person and space? When will they realize that cleanliness as a nation requires more than that? How can they see so clearly the filth in their own space yet block out so much of it all around them? (Have you figured out yet where I’m going with this?)
While we as Americans look down on the India people for the way they handle the physical filth in their nation, don’t we as Christians do the same concerning the moral filth in our country? We make sure our lives and personal space stay clean from it, but we can somehow overlook it as it piles up all around us: immorality, materialism, greed, addictions, abuse, profanity, etc., etc., etc.
How can Indians overlook the filth everywhere else in their nation? The same way we do. What would happen if all those who want personal cleanliness would work together to get rid of the filth piling up around them? The same thing as would happen if Christians in this country worked together to clean up the filth piling up around us. We can exert tremendous influence as we vote for those who share our values, boycott that which is ungodly and support that which is wholesome. We can talk to neighbors, write letters to manufacturers, turn off offensive programs and make a larger impact on our local neighborhoods.
It would certainly improve India as a nation if they would be interested in cleaning up national filth and not just personal dirt, and the same would be true here if we as Christians did the same. (Vijayawada, Tuesday, January 14, 2014)
Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Luke 14:34-35 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear let him hear.”
You can’t clean up the world, but you can impact your part of it. Make sure your life and personal space is clean of sin. But don’t stop there. Make a list of things you can do (or stop doing) today to impact others for godliness. Who can you talk to, write, and/or pray for? What entertainment or shopping habits should change? Who do you know who is struggling with filth in their life? What can you do to help them clean up?
BLOG 213: YOU CAN’T WIN A BATTLE WITH JUST A HELMET!
Our 2-day Leadership Conference and our 1 day Leader of Leaders Conferences are now over. We had 80 pastors at the former and 30 at the latter. These are the men I know best and work with most often throughout the year. They take what we teach to the pastors and churches they oversee and pass it on to them. They plan and run the local conferences we have in their areas. These people are very special to me, and I to them. It is a joy and privilege to be involved with them. This is why I come.
I feel the conferences went very, very well. They say they were very meaningful to them. God blessed the sessions and touched all of us with His presence in a very real way. I talked about pastoring, leadership, spiritual warfare, family life and spiritual growth. Since these men have been listening to me for years (some since 2006 or 2007) I use new material each time and we can build on previous years. It’s given me the opportunity to really build into their lives. Having these conferences is hard work but well worth the cost.
After the conferences we drove 6 hours further north, then tomorrow we’ll get up early and go another 2 hours to the location for the pastor’s conference for the next 2 days. We are traveling so far because it is a location that is especially neglected as far as pastor training so we want to help them. Pray God would bless the conference and each one who is present (that includes me!).
A couple days ago I spent a large amount of time explaining the armor we are to wear in our spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6). It struck me again how we need each piece, all of it. Salvation, of course, is key – that’s the helmet. Unfortunately too many people stop right there and think that’s the only equipment they Ned. Then they wonder why they are defeated and don’t have joy and blessing. If a soldier goes into battle with only his helmet he will be defeated every time. We, too, need our breastplate (holy living), belt (telling truth from lies), sandals (peace from God), a shield (faith) and a sword (knowing and using God’s Word). You can’t defeat a skilled, experienced enemy with only your helmet! (Vijayawada, Wednesday, January 15, 2014)
Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
What about you? How has your spiritual growth been in the last 3 months? Are you coasting on your salvation, and then wondering why you do not have the joy and victory you need? You have the helmet of salvation, but what about living a holy life, knowing and following God’s truth and growing in faith? It takes more than salvation to win the battle you are in!
BLOG 214: YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN INDIA (Nancy Schmoyer)
Nancy wrote this blog – something she did while listening to me give the same talk to a different group of pastors for the umpteenth time. (At least she was awake!)
I KNOW I’M IN INDIA WHEN:
Jerry tells me 10 times a day that he’s glad I’m with him.
10 boys run to carry my one bag.
Someone is trying to touch my blond hair.
I see a store selling “Repossessed Mattresses”
Rice is the main course for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Street food is cooked corn in a small cup or a 3” banana
They serve tea to me in a 2 ounce cup
There are dozens of shoes piled outside the conference room door
Jerry wears a dress over his trousers
There is no toiled paper – and often no toilet
Dogs are wild street animals
Grown men laugh hysterically at Jerry’s simple magic tricks
86 degrees is winter
A herd of water buffalo cross a modern 4-lane highway
I see my next meal being cooked on a dirt floor
I pay $.40 for sterling silver ear rings but $3.50 for 2 small scoops of Baskin Robins ice cream
After 6 hours of driving at 60 miles an hour there are still continuous fields of rice patties
A hotel attendant works 12 hour days and earns $6,500 a year
Jerry eats rice and spicy bony chicken and loves it
I really get excited to see Subway
The stories I tell from the Bible are new stories to the ones listening
We don’t advertise the Christian conferences because too many people will attend and overwhelm the facilities
Multiple calendars are used for wall art
I see 4 people and a goat riding on one scooter
Drivers routinely drive north in the south-bound lanes
The car horn is used as a turn signal, passing alert and everything else
I hear the eerie whine of Muslim prayer horns at 5:30 AM
Women cover their heads and men remove their sandals as soon as someone prays
A 4 star hotel means I get 2 towels
I use a quart of hand sanitizer in 3 weeks
No 2 women ever wear the same dress (sari)
AV equipment means there is a mic as long as there is electricity
A head bob means yes, no or maybe – you are never really sure
I never pass up a bathroom stop
I arrive during the annual sewer cleaning season
Someone may offer me 2 water buffalo for my daughter
All chickens are free range (Vishakapatnam, Thursday, Jan 16, 2015)
Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
What have you been complaining about today that you probably wouldn’t have been complaining about if you lived in India?
When have you last thanked God for your life in the United States instead of complaining about things? Thank Him now.
BLOG 215: PASSING IT ON
I find I feel very comfortable with these pastors in India, despite the fact that verbal communication is virtually nonexistent. In many ways it’s like a mother meeting a mother from another culture. Even though they can’t talk, they share a common experience that goes deeper than words. I feel a kinship with the pastors here because we’ve been through the same wars and fought in the same trenches. Some things don’t have to be spoken; no words can really capture what is in the heart.
God has given me a greater opportunity for training than they have, but I don’t see myself as superior to them in any way. They experience situations in everyday life I don’t know if I could handle. Having more Bible knowledge doesn’t make one a better person. Having lived longer and therefore learned some things through experience certainly doesn’t make me superior to them in any way. In fact, there is much they can teach me about commitment, faith and sacrifice. We may be very different, but down inside there is no difference at all.
So why do I do this when, to be honest, I’d rather be at home? I must be a steward of what God has so graciously given me. Paul pretty much sums it all up: So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. (I Corinthians 4:1-2)
God has entrusted me with the truths of His Word, not to keep to myself but to pass on to others. Some of you have been entrusted with finances, and the pastor you sponsor is the recipient of what God has given you. For others it may be time to pray, or organizational skills or whatever God has entrusted to you. Remember the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-23)? Each servant was given a resource for which he was accountable. He couldn’t just keep it for himself but had to use it by investing it. The more he was given, the more for which he was accountable. God has allowed me to gain a good understanding of His Word, not just to keep to myself, but to pass on to others. That’s why I’m here. (Vishakapatnam, Friday, January 17, 2014)
2 Tim 1:13-14 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
What skills, training or resources his God given you? In what ways are you using them for others? Are there any ways you could use them even better?
ANSWERED PRAYER: For months I have been praying for God to empower our words (me and translator Moses) so that God’s Spirit impresses them on the hearts of the listeners in a real and powerful way. Each day several pastors come to us and their comments reassure us that this is indeed happening.
BLOG 216: MEET THE PASTORS
Yesterday’s conference was in an entirely new area, one that has been untouched by this kind of pastoral training, and their appreciation showed. About 120 pastors and wives attended the 2-day conference. It was draining but uplifting.
While in this northeastern corner of Andhra Pradesh, in Vizianagaram, we met with a group of pastors we support. These are wonderful men, very familiar faces and longtime friends. We have bonded closely over the years we have been working together. I stay in close contact with them throughout the year through Pastor Moses. These are pastors we send $25 a month for. This accounts for 1/3 of their salary! We had a great visit. They filled us in on their lives and ministries. I pass it on to you to help you better pray for these very special men. They pass on deep gratitude for you financial and prayer support. Without it much of what they do would not be accomplished. The attached picture shows the men, so you can put a face with the name.
- ANANDA RAO (older man far left) is 64, a pastor 45 years, the pastor of Hallalujah church in Vijayanagaram for 20 years. Pray for his ministry, and for his wife who suffers from migraine headaches and a lot of pain in her right knee.
YESUPADAM D (checkered shirt, 2nd from left) is our big helper in this area, along with his wife SHOWBHEGYALRALTHI. She is the daughter of V. Ananda Rao and a very close friend of Nancy. She got Nancy her first sari 3 years ago. They live and minister in Bogapur and have 2 grown sons, one in Bible College. They have a bad situation with their church flooding water around church. Recently they baptized 12 people. Pray for the water situation, and for the wife’s bad back pain and sciatica in her leg. (A picture is attached of this couple and us)
- ISAAC (brown shirt white stripe, 3rd from left) need a roof on one of the churches he pastors. The poor testimony of some local pastors is causing people to turn from Christianity in his area of Vizaq. A woman was recently healed of liver cancer and is now coming to church. He recently baptized 4 people and has 1 son and 1 daughter.
- SUDHAKAR (white shirt, 4th from left), Bobbili, pastors churches in 5 villages, 2 of them need places to worship. He has recently baptized 21 people and has 2 children. His wife suffers from very bad health. 2 need places, 21 baptisms, 2 children, wife not well
R JOHN BABU (arms crossed, 5th from left) has started a new church and has a location to build but needs a building. He has recently baptized 3 people. He lives in Kaypurum, has 1 daughter, and his wife suffers from low blood pressure. She is often in the hospital.
- PRAKASH RAO (checkered shirt, Jerry) has a big, bright smile that encourages me whenever he is in a group I teach. He pastors 6 churches, 1 needs a shed (building to meet) because theirs was destroyed in the recent cyclone that made worldwide news. He pastors 350 believers, has recently baptized 30 people, and has 3 daughters. He lives in Bobbilli.
G MADHU (white shirt & pants, Jerry’s left) pastors 5 small churches near Kaypur, one with a leaky roof, another with foundation problems. He has baptized 12 people has 1 daughter
SRINU (PAUL) (checkered shirt, far right) from Kaypurum, has recently had 15 baptisms, 2 new village churches and needs a place of worship in one of them.
N RAJSEKAR from Vijayanagaram was unable to attend because he was sick in bed. There is much witchcraft and black magic in his area and he is often asked to pray for those who are demon possessed. He is a young pastor with no children.
ZECHARIAH from Vizianagaram also was unable to attend. He is married with grown children. His church has a foundation but no roof. (Driving from Vishakapatnam to Vijayawada Saturday, January 18, 2014)
Colossians 1:3-12 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints. … All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. … 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Print out this email and the picture of the pastors so you can pray for them every day. Pray for guidance, wisdom, protection and courage. Ask God to strengthen their marriages and families. Pray for others to help share the load of their ministry. Pray for faithfulness, holiness, perseverance and encouragement.
BLOG 217: MEET THE PASTORS – 2
(Sunday, January 19, 2014) We visited 2 churches today and spoke in each. Nancy shared her testimony. I preached about faith (Hebrews 11:1-7) and dedicated a church (Psalm 30). The first church was in the village Pastor Moses grew up in – Mellamarru, right by his old home place.
Born of a Hindu family, Polisetti Karunakar (who later added the Christian name Moses) was in a farming cast, fairly high in India’s cast system. There were no Christians in the village and no one there ever heard of Jesus. His father died of TB when he was 3 and he was the only child. When he was 7 some Dalits came and invited he and his mother to church. He went, learned about Jesus, and believed. When he was 17 he left the family farm to his uncle and went to the city for seminary training. He never returned to live in the village. His uncle and family, still Hindu’s, care for his mother, now 64 years old. He visits often and helps her financially. He says if his father had not died he would not have been a Christian but would still be a rice farmer. Romans 8:28!
After seminary he was pastoring a church when the parents of an 18 year old girl asked if he would marry her. Her family agreed. He had not spent any time getting to know her, just knew she had a reputation of a good, praying girl. So at 21 he married his wife, Krupa. Her father later became a pastor: Pastor Barnabas who is Pastor Moses’ right hand man and is someone I admire greatly. A strong love started growing between Moses and Krupa. A year after marriage they had a daughter Shekinah, who is finishing medical college, and 6 years later a son, Prabhu, just starting computer college. (A picture of his family and the church are attached.)
From there we went to the church of another pastor we sponsor, Joshua, in P P Palem near Machilipatnam. He started a church in his Dalit village in 2006 and recently built a church building for $3000. We contributed a small amount to it, so they wanted us to do the dedication. It was a pleasure and honor to be part of this special day. These people are outcasts, not even in the cast system. They can only work as day laborers and street cleaners, the very bottom of the ladder. They are fine, loving, giving people and very, very committed Christians. Pastor Joshua has 3 sons and has started another church in a nearby village where they meet in a house. (A picture Pastor Joshua and his church are attached.)
Words cannot express the blessing and privilege it is to be involved with these fine men in even the smallest way. Thanks so much to you for your prayers and finances, for without them this wouldn’t be possible. These people faithfully pray for us. I tell them at the end of every conference that I may not see them again in this life, but I will see them in heaven, and then we will have a long talk about all the Lord has done for us. You who invest in these men by your prayers or in other ways will also get to know them in heaven. What a special joy that will be!!!
3 John 3-4 It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Spend a few moments now, and throughout the day, thinking about heaven and what it will be like for you. Think about the people you know who are there. Think about other believers you may not have met on this earth but will meet in heaven. What sort of things do you think you will talk about? You can have that fellowship now by talking about those same things with Christians you know. Start practicing what it will be like to be in heaven!
BLOG 218: A CHRISTIAN FUNERAL IN INDIA
(Monday, January 20, 2014) When we left Mellamarru yesterday morning we assured them we’d come back and speak there again sometime in the future. Little did we know we’d be back in 18 hours to bury Moses’ mother, who died shortly after we left. Pastor Moses got the phone call while we were eating supper last night and was devastated. He wasn’t expecting this at all.
She raised him as a single mother since he was 3 years old, 45 years ago. She died at age 64. She became the first Christian in their village after going with an untouchable to Calvary Church in the next village. She and her family were from a MUCH higher cast of farmers, but she went and received Christ. Then she evangelized the village and many are now Christians. She built a hut church on her property and recently rebuilt it with concrete, cinder blocks and a real roof. EVERYONE knows she is a Christian. Many were grieved.
The funeral and burial are soon after death, which often necessitates driving all night to arrive. Moses’ wife, son and several elders from his church did just that. We left at 6 this morning to arrive at 8. There is no funeral director, no one pronounces the person dead, no death certificate. Families totally handle their own deaths. The body is laid in front of the hut on hay and covered in a white linen material from the neck down. Relatives and villagers stop by to cry and mourn. Men are hired to start digging a grave on her small farm land. A wooden box is made and they cover it with white cloth and flowers. Much time is spent praying, singing and crying. Clearly it is a time of love and devotion to a special woman.
I had a 30 minute message from John 14:1-6, focusing on bringing comfort to the believers as well as understanding of the gospel to the Hindu’s present. Then there was more singing, others spoke, more singing, and so on for several hours while the grave was being prepared.
The men then left and the women lovingly washed her body and wrapped it in a new, pretty sari. They brought the coffin over and put her in it, put a lot of flowers in with her, and nailed down the lid. The casket was carried in a procession around the small village and to the burial place which was on some land she owned. A concrete block rectangular wall was built in the grave and the casket lowered into it. The coffin was open and salt was poured in until her whole body was covered except her face. Then the casket was again nailed shut.
I had the privilege of saying a few words at the burial. I used Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Then I prayed. We all threw some dirt and flowers in the grave and marble slabs covered opening. We went back to their home where everyone sat and talked for a few hours. We ate a nice Indian meal and walked around the village for a while as well. It’s like walking around in a National Geographic’s special.
This was certainly a day and an experience we will never forget. To watch this body of believers grieve together and support each other was a beautiful thing. To see what a difference the assurance of eternal life in Jesus makes was very moving. The Hindus have no such hope, and their grieving shows it. To be a part of this day was truly a humbling experience. I knew many of the pastors and people who came today from my visits here. The fine elders in Pastor Moses’ Hyderabad church are good men of God and ministered to all of us in many ways. They are fine men indeed.
Psalms 116:15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
How often do you think about death? If a believer close to you dies, do you have confident assurance that you will see them again? Are you ready if God should choose to suddenly call you home?
BLOG 219: NANCY’S NOTES
We had a very good day at one of my very favorite places on earth – Koduru. I have many good friends there from my years of going there. Once I stayed there for a whole week living with Pastor Barnabas. Pastor Moses hasn’t slept much, but is doing better. He still is suffering from the loss of his mother. Pray for peace for him and for a good night’s rest tonight. We have 2 more 2-day pastors’ conferences left. It will be hard to leave these fine people in less than one week! Please keep praying for us! The rest of the blog is from Nancy:
As filthy as the environment is, women are the opposite in cleanliness, strikingly colorful, meticulously groomed and manicured. The common woman doing her wash could just as easily be going to a prom. They are always adorned with perfect hair, neatly braided. Their smooth, flawless, chestnut skin makes their colorful saris all the more striking. They are always feminine, soft, gentle, soft-spoken and modest, oozing with femininity. Their femininity has nothing to do with sensuality. It is pure 100% beauty. Even in the poorest village they wear their saris – 6 yards of art. They are sleek and slender and move graciously, gliding effortlessly wherever they move. A few are very petite. I can’t help but stare in envy at their grace and beauty. I hope India’s movie industry called Bollywood, does not redefine such beauty with sensuality. But from the looks of their films, they already have switched to a male defined sensual beauty.
Normally cultures that are tied to Britain are obsessed with time. Somehow India has escaped that obsession quite well. Their culture is not structured around the concept of time. They don’t save time, make time, be on time, lack time, have time, be ahead of time, lose time, gain time, run out of time or have no time. They have few clocks and no watches and don’t seem to miss them. They have the sun, so it must be daytime.
There are many statues in India. They can be broken into 2 groups. If they look like a man they are a political character. If they look like a cartoon character, they are an idol. Neither of which have any real character!
Driving in India is a continual game of chicken – the one closest to death yields. (Vijayawada, (Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014)
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Think about the women of India who manage to stay clean despite the filth all around them. Are you able to stay spiritually clean despite the greed, materialism, immodesty and self-centered focus all around you?
What source of uncleanliness around you is the quickest to pollute you (TV, movies, advertisements, thoughts, influence of others, etc.)? What can you do to stay clean today? If there is anything that needs to be cleansed do so now.
BLOG 220: WE ARE NOT ALONE (JOSHUA 1)
(Wednesday, January 22, 2014) As I speak to these pastors every day, I often find I am speaking to myself as well. Sometimes it is conviction, other times encouragement. The conviction I’ll keep private, but the encouragement I want to share with you.
One of the last-minute replacement messages I put together after the first pastor’s conference was on Joshua as a leader, taken from his first battle experience as leader. He was totally overwhelmed with the seemingly impossible task of defeating impregnable Jericho in order to enter the Promised Land. Nothing in his military experience had prepared him for such challenge, yet God had led them to enter the land right where Jericho stood. So Joshua went outside the camp by himself to think and pray. Being alone was appropriate for he felt alone with the load of his responsibility resting only on him. No one else could share the burden; no one could really understand just how he was feeling and what he was going through.
I can identify with those feelings and I’m sure you can as well. Even when surrounded by many people, we can feel very alone in the challenge we are facing. I’m in a country of over 1 billion people, but in trying to fulfill the responsibility God has given me I feel quite alone. Having Nancy with me this trip is wonderful beyond words, but speaking and ministering and the many choices and decisions that go with it are mine alone.
You, too, face situations in your family or with friends, at work, in health or financial matters that are yours alone. No one who isn’t in your situation can really understand, and even then each situation is different. No 2 are totally alike. So we feel alone. That’s how Joshua felt.
What happened, though, was that God Himself appeared to him to reassure him that he wasn’t alone (Joshua 5:13). God had promised he would not be alone (Joshua 1:5). He has repeated that exact same promise to us as well (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6-8, I Kings 8:57). When I share this truth with the pastors God applies it to my heart as well. We are not alone. I am not alone. You are not alone. Yet our enemy would do all he can to convince us we are alone, God is not with us, he does not care about us. Remembering that we are not alone is absolutely crucial to moving ahead in faith. If not we will become discouraged and defeated. The truth of the matter is that we are not alone. Never. God is always with us. He is in India with me every moment. He is with you wherever you are every moment. We never need to feel alone. Never!
Joshua 1:5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.
Hebrews 13:5 God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
When do you tend to feel most alone? Memorize one of the above verses today. Meditate n it all day. Remember it all day long. Share this truth with others.
BLOG 221: NANCY’S NOTES – 2
(Thursday, January 23, 2014)
When I was a new believer I was worried about surrendering my life. I thought God would call me to a mud hut in Africa. I was so wrong. The mud hut is in India.
The lower class is rapidly moving to a larger middle class. That is good. The middle class is rapidly embracing the worst of western culture…materialism and sensuality. That is bad.
YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN INDIA WHEN (part 2):
You wake up at 3:30 every morning, a side effect of your malaria medicine
You have your Passport strapped to your leg all day, every day
Stop signs are just for decoration
A 5 person rickshaw normally carries 11 people
You see strikingly beautiful, manicured woman in a silk sari behind 2 oxen in the middle of a field
You see children holding hands with those of the same gender as they walk
Laundry drying on the roadside guard rail means it’s the shepherd’s wash day
Men’s shorts are a short piece of material wrapped around their waist…. Period.
The shoulder of the road is regularly used as a passing lane and often counts as a third lane
While driving in a car you wonder if you have enough life insurance.
Every curve in the road is a new opportunity to trust God
Food: Cold means room temperature and hot means you might need a trip to the Emergency Room
In a village you have to walk through someone’s kitchen to get to the next house
You see 4 story high scaffolding made from bamboo or sticks
People in flip flops wear ear muffs
“To-let” means “for rent”
“STD available” means public phone
401K retirement plans are called schemes … maybe they know something we don’t.
A man riding a bicycle precariously balances a propane tank
My new friends in India are mosquitoes. (They never seem to bite Jerry !!)
It is hard to know difference between a preconstruction site, a completed site in use or abandoned site.
A Ford dealership has 15 letters in its name (Vishakapatnam Ford)
CONTRASTS IN INDIA
Large electric substation alongside an oxcart carrying chickens
A herd of water buffalo crossing a 4 lane highway
Domino’s pizza being delivered on a rickshaw
Halal meats (kosher to Muslims) served in Subway
A cow lumbering across a speed bump
Cell phone store in the most remote village
There is a Lion’s Club in every town… that is really strange!
A TV in a mud hut
1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Matthew 6:31-33 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
To what extent are you preoccupied with the ‘things’ of this life? Are your belongings serving you or are you serving them? No matter how much or how little we have, our possessions can easily possess us.
BLOG 222: WE ARE NOT IN CHARGE (JOSHUA 2)
When Joshua faced the first great hurdle as the leader of the Jews he felt alone, but God appeared to him to reassure him he was not alone (see yesterday’s blog). He had a second truth to teach him, one which also speaks to me as I pass it on to the pastors here. It applies to you as well. That’s why I share it with you today.
When Joshua went out alone before attacking Jericho God appeared to him to reassure him he was not alone. When Joshua asked who He was He said He was the commander of God’s army (Joshua 5:14). He reassured Joshua He wasn’t in the Jews army or Jericho’s army. He was in God’s army. In fact He was the head of the army because He was God Himself. You see, Joshua thought he was the commander of the army, but really God is showing Joshua that He outranks Joshua. So Joshua is not the highest ranking officer. God Himself outranks Him and is taking command from Joshua. Joshua only thought it was his battle when in really it is God’s battle.
As I teach this I am reminded that I am not in charge of this ministry in India. On the one hand this is very evident! I can’t even speak the language! Pastor Moses tells me when to talk and that is my only responsibility. But that part of it is a great responsibility. I have 4+ hours a day to impact up to 225 godly men and women in the best way possible. There are so many things to teach, continual interruptions and distractions and difficult conditions in which to minister. I must remember God is in control here, even over what I say even over what I say and how I say it. He puts the works into my mind and I speak them with my mouth. Then God does the same with Pastor Moses as he translated and the people as they listen.
I remind the pastors that it is God’s ministry, His church. He is the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20), the sheep belong to Him, not us. He promises that He will build His church (Matthew 16:18). It is His work, not ours. That is great reassurance for the pastors who listen as well as I who speak the words. I am not in charge. He is. I need not worry, get upset or try to force things. I am not alone, and I am not in charge. Neither are you. (Vijayawada, (Friday, January 24, 2014)
Joshua 5:13-15 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” 15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Are you a person who wants/needs to be in control? If so, confess your lack of faith in God because it is a sin. Give God control of your life, especially what you fear and worry about. Don’t think it is up to you. You are not in charge. Thank God for that fact!
BLOG 223: EACH MINISTRY IS A SACRED ASSIGNMENT (JOSHUA 3)
I’ve been sharing lessons with you from the life of Joshua, lessons which God spoke to my heart as I shared them with the pastors I was teaching. First, God showed Joshua that he was not alone. They He reminded him that he was not in charge. God had another lesson for Joshua before He gave him instructions as to how to have victory over Jericho. He told Joshua to take off his sandals because the place he was standing was holy (Joshua 5:15).
God wanted Joshua to be sure he understood that the assignment he was being gives was a sacred trust. It was sacred because it was assigned by God. Every ministry assignment God gives is special and sacred. We judge what we are given by God to do by comparing them to what others do. So inevitably we start thinking someone else has an assignment that is more important than ours. We feel they are better than us. And those who don’t seem to be doing much for God we may look down on as not being as good as us. God was teaching Joshua that his assignment was sacred because it was from God and for no other reason.
If God has entrusted you with an assignment it is sacred. The duties of a wife and mother are no less special than those of a large church pastor. All are sacred because all come from God and are individually assigned. If I feel my contribution to the kingdom is less because I pastor a small church then I am denying the sacredness of what God has anointed for me to do. If you are a wife, a mother, an employee, a teenager or wherever you find yourself in life and God has given you opportunities to minister to others in any way in His name that is a sacred ministry.
The implications of this truth are astounding. Whatever God has given you to do for Him is important and special. There are no ‘little’ assignments. What you do for Him is as precious in His sight as what I do, and what I do is as special as the pastor of the largest church in the USA. So don’t feel your work isn’t important, or notices, or appreciated by God. Don’t judge or compare one Christian with another. And especially don’t underestimate the value of the unique contribution God has given YOU in His Kingdom. (Vijayawada, January 25, 2014)
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
What is the unique contribution you make in the name of Jesus? Whose lives do you touch? What service do you do for Jesus’ sake? Thank Him for these sacred opportunities. If you have not seen it as very important ask God to forgive you for devaluating what He says is special. Recommit yourself to doing the best you can in each responsibility He has given you in life.
BLOG 224: BY THE BOOK
It continues to amaze me how the books I have written make such a wonderful contribution to the ministry to pastors. “What Does God Expect of Pastors,” “Spiritual Warfare,” and “Marriage and Ministry” are the 3. We give them out at each of our pastor’s conferences. Throughout the year they are being distributed. They are wonderful resources for those who have very little Christian literature available. The books help reinforce what we talked about and allows them to go even deeper. Books can be given to those who aren’t at the conferences as well.
Almost daily I hear accounts of how the books have helped pastors, how they have changed their lives or ministries. It is a trill to go into a church or pastor’s home and see my books setting right there with the pastor’s Bible. Throughout the year I hear reports of how helpful they have been to many. It’s time to reprinting the first book for pastors for supplies are running low.
Now they are asking me to write other books. They want one on an overview of the Bible, a summary of each book and a flow of the history from beginning to end. It will be like a Bible survey book. After checking they found there is nothing like that in their language, and they would find it most helpful. They also want a short book on Bible Prophecy, for there is no teaching on it and pastors seem totally ignorant about it. These certainly sound like an interesting challenge for me, something I’d enjoy doing.
I’ve been thinking about working on another book when I had time. It would be about how to study the Bible and preach. It would take a pastor every step from when he opens the Bible until when he sits down after his sermon on that passage. I’d really like to develop that as well.
All that is needed is time and money, two precious comedies for all of us. New books have a one time for translating and preparing to print. Once that is done the cost is about a dollar a book to print them (if the order is for 5,000 or more). Pray that if God wants me to do this He would provide the time and money. If this is something God wants me to put my time into I know He will provide the finances for it. Thanks! (Vijayawada to Hyderabad, Saturday, January 25, 2014)
2 Timothy 4:13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
Think of which books have most influenced your life. Thank God for those who provided them for you.
Pray God would continue to use the books that are being distributed here. Pray He would provide the time and money needed reprinting old books and developing new books for the pastors in India.
BLOG 225: INDIA 2014 SUMMARY
(Sunday, January 26, 2014) Tomorrow we come home! It seems like the time has gone twice as fast this year, but that could be because I’m only here half as long! It’s different for me to have a shorter visit, but it’s worth it to have Nancy along, and having more conferences would have cost more so this worked out just right.
I’m VERY satisfied with how everything went. All was beyond expectations. Our theory of 2-day conferences instead of 1 day conferences worked very well. We trained 866 men and women, almost double the number if we would have had smaller one-day conferences. Plus we had them for twice the number of sessions. That gave me double the teaching time with each group, more time to get to know them and them to know me, and I didn’t have to give the same talks every day (just every other day). The only ‘negative’ is that is cost more to feed and house the people overnight. But it was worth it!
One good way this trip was different was that I didn’t get sick! I don’t think I even lost much weight. Getting sick on Indian food for a week isn’t a diet I’d recommend, but it is very effective if you want to lose a lot of weight in a short time! I’m glad I didn’t need my personal nurse for that!
The highlight of this trip, the best and worst thing that happened, was Moses’ mother dying. Clearly God wanted us here for this, and to be alone with Moses for the week after it happened. His mother had something to him the last time she saw him about us being like parents to him now. He doesn’t really understand what she was saying, but God does. Talking at the funeral, burial, and then the sermon this morning on how we know we have eternal life and what it will be like was a stretching but rewarding experience, certainly one I’ll never forget. I’ll use this morning’s sermon at Main St Baptist Church next Sunday. I’ll be on the church web site afterwards.
This is my 7th year coming to India, and I’ve spent a total of over 6 months here and have spoken to 3300 men and 933 women during 84 days of pastors’ conferences. I thank God for this privilege and opportunity, and you for your prayers and gifts that make this possible. It is by far the hardest thing I do all year, taking me to my limit and way beyond, but when I am weak then I am strong! I look forward to working on the 2 new books they would like to have. Pray God would provide the time and finances to do this.
Please pray for our trip home starting tomorrow! We leave at 3 PM our time (4:30 AM Monday morning your time) to begin our 42 hour journey home. Once we fly out of Mumbai things should go smoothly, but there are some major possibilities of difficulties before that happens. Pray God would have mercy on us and His angels would go ahead to prepare the way for us!!!
2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
What does God allow into your life to show you that you are weak? Are you learning to lean on His strength through these things? Spend some time now thinking and praying about this.
BLOG 226: WE HAVE ALREADY WON THE BATTLE (JOSHUA 4)
God has been teaching as he begins his service to God as the leader of the Jew (Joshua 5:13-15). As Joshua faced the impossible task of defeating impregnable Jericho God appeared to Him and assured him he wasn’t along, he wasn’t in charge, and the assignment the Lord gave him was sacred. There is one more truth God will teach him – the battle has already been won (Jericho 6:1-2).
Joshua 6:1-2 says: “Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and it’s fighting men.’” Not only is the battle God’s but it has already been won! All Joshua had to do was listen to God’s word and obey His orders and God would do the rest. They were strange orders, walking around the city, making noise and all the walls falling down and the soldiers dying with no casualties to the Jews. That’s not the way you’d think a battle would be fought!
But God has strange directions for us to win our battles today: forgive our enemies, show love to those who hurt us, be kind to those who are unkind to us, in order to be first we must be last, etc. Yet God’s directions are always right.
The battle belongs to God and He is already the victory, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to fight. Joshua couldn’t stay in his tent; he had to battle the enemy. All out battles will ultimately end in victory. Some may come quickly, others will take a lifetime. Jesus promises that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
Our sheep are not ours but Jesus’ sheep. He will fight for them. Ultimately He will have victory and the church will prevail. The battle can be long and hard, but we must keep fighting because we know there will be victory for us and for the church. So don’t be discouraged, don’t give up and don’t fear defeat. The enemy cannot defeat us if we keep following Jesus. Only we can defeat ourselves. I must keep pressing ahead during good days and bad, when victorious or struggling. So must you. The battle has already been won. And we are the victors! (Hyderabad, January 27, 2014)
Deuteronomy 20:3-4 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
This was a verse God gave me the first time I came to India and it still means a lot to me. Think about what battles you are fighting now. Write them down so you can clearly see them as battles. What difference does it make that God has already promised victory, even if it might not come for a while? How should that affect you in how you face these things today?
BLOG 227: WOMAN NAMED AFTER HINDU GODS TRYING TO FOLLOW JESUS
She hung to the back of the group of people as I laid hands on them and prayed for them one by one. Finally the others had wandered off and she came forward to 2 women friends. I easily put my hands on her head for she was very short, even for Indian women. A second later she started shaking and pulling back from me. Her friends expected this and held her upright but she soon collapsed to the floor anyway. She was moaning, shaking and holding her hands over her ears with more strength than he small body should have had. As we prayed for her full story came out.
She was named Naga Durga by her Hindu father. Naga is the Hindu snake god (one of the most powerful in this part of India) and Durga is a female goddess very similar to Dianna that the apostles challenged in Ephesus. Because she was named after 2 Hindu gods the demons had a strong claim on her. She had been coming to church and is a believer in Jesus, even removing the Hindu idols from her home. But her Hindu husband brought one back in and won’t let her remove it. She hasn’t grown to the point where she will stop wearing her bindi dot, for it was present on her face. She has been encouraged to take a public stand by being baptized and taking a Christian name but she is afraid of doing that without her husband’s approval. She wants to wait until he is baptized as well. His name, by the way, is Ravi Kumar.
Nancy, some of the women and I prayed for her, anointed her with oil several times, and kept interceding until finally she settled down. Then she would start up again. After several episodes of this she finally came back to her normal shy, gentle self. She said the demons hadn’t left for good but that the battle was over for now.
Pray for her. You can call her ‘Martha’ for when they asked me to give her a Christian name as an identity that is what God put in my mind. Call her what you will, God knows who you are talking about. Pray she would have the courage to be baptized and change her name. Pray for her husband to be softened as well, and to come to the Lord. (airport on the way home from India, Tuesday, January 28, 2014)
James 5:16 The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 4:2 You do not have, because you do not ask God
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
On a scare of 1 to10, how much do you really believe in the power of prayer? Does the quality and quantity of your prayer life show that? This is an area where God has been convicting me and where I need to grow in the coming months. Pray I would. Pray you would as well.
BLOG 228:THE BIG ROCKS GO IN FIRST
Nancy wasn’t just a great asset to me this trip, she was wonderful blessing to everyone who met her. The pastors loved her, their wives were thrilled to have her, and children were naturally attracted to her. One of the ways she ministered was by starting off each conference by talking about Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).
She explained how Martha was so distracted with being busy that she didn’t take time to sit at Jesus’ feet and fellowship with Him. The housework she was doing wasn’t wrong or bad, it was just that there was something better she could and should be doing at that time. Indian pastors often have a hard time saying no to the demands of people, so this lesson about priorities was important for them. Pastors, and other Christians as well, can substitute business for holiness. Busy people are seen as important people. It’s easy to stay busy, but hard to have an ordered life of godly priorities.
To illustrate her point Nancy had an empty jar and a pile of rocks of different sizes. She demonstrated that in order to get all the rocks in the big rocks had to go in first, then those a little smaller and a little smaller yet. To partially or totally fill the jar with small rocks would mean there would be no room for the large rocks. Then she talked about the largest rock that must go in first or there won’t be room for it – time with God. Other large rocks include time with their family, Bible study, being a good steward of their body, etc.
The jar stayed on our speakers table in the front of the room for the whole conference. I would often refer to it as I taught the pastors, emphasizing that quality time with God and His Word was the first and most important stone. Meeting their wives’ needs was the second stone that had to go in, then their children were third. Studying and preparing nourishing sermons was a large rock, as was taking care of their health by proper diet, sleep, exercise and time off. Training their people to minister and grow was also important (Ephesians 5:12). Doing things for their people that they should be doing for themselves was a small stone and not a top priority.
Nancy did a great job of explaining this and they listened attentively to the white skinned blond haired woman from America. It was a great way to start each conference and as I referred to it and applied it to each of my sessions it reinforced what she had said and tied everything together in a nice way. We really hadn’t planned that, it just sort of ‘happened’ – but obviously God had it planned all along. (Traveling home ,Tuesday, January 28, 2014 – I think!)
Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
If Jesus would speak to you, what do you think He would say you were putting before time with Him? Take time now, no matter how busy you feel, to ‘sit at Jesus’ feet” enjoying His presence and learning from Him. If you don’t know how to do that ask Him to teach you, and spend time there every day.
BLOG 229: PRAYING THROUGH
Something God has been teaching me in the past year is the importance of perseverance in prayer. I used to think that sovereign God will do what He knows is best about my prayers and that repeating myself over and over is unnecessary. I’ve heard others say that the more often you pray something, or the more people who pray who pray for it, the better chance it will be answered. I am very grateful for the many people praying for this trip to India, but I don’t feel that the more who pray the better chance we will have of everything going well. If so, why have many people pray? Why should I persevere in prayer myself?
I’m not sure I can completely answer that question, but I know that God wants us to express ourselves to Him, as a parent wants a child to tell them their needs. That doesn’t mean nagging, but opening ones heart day after day and sharing it with our loving heavenly Father. So part of the answer to my question is obedience and intimacy. But there is more.
We must persevere in prayer because we have an enemy who perseveres against us. His forces of evil are always working, never give up and keep on opposing. If they continue to work against that which we are requesting from God, then we must continue to bring those issues to God. He is sovereign and His will is done, but in some way I don’t begin to understand our prayers do make a difference. There is some kind of power in the prayers of God’s people that does make a difference in the spiritual realm (James 5:17-18). Persevering in prayer is part of our battle, not growing weary but keep pressing ahead against our enemy.
Years ago the phrase “praying through” was used to describe perseverance in prayer until the answer came or God released one from the burden to pray for that particular thing. I think we miss a lot of God’s blessings today because we don’t “pray through.”
Please pray for our work here in India, not because our nagging forces God’s hand nor because we are trying to beg something from Him, but because our enemy keeps working against us so we battle by prayer. Persevere. Don’t give up. The battle can get weary but keep going, for us and for other issues God has you praying for. Pray through! (Traveling home (Wednesday, January 29, 2014)
Daniel 10:12-13 Then the angel continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.”
Daniel kept praying for weeks even though it seemed his prayer wasn’t heard. It was crucial that he did, for God used that to empower His angels to break through the demonic opposition. What would have happened if he had stopped praying? What have you stopped praying for because it’s been a long time and it doesn’t seem like God is answering? Make a list of these things and start praying regularly for them again – and don’t forget to keep praying for us!