Monthly Archives: July 2013

Larry the Lizard Slayer

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I had no intention of causing the little lizard problems, but it’s hard to convince him now because he’s dead.

It all began with me looking out the window and seeing a six-inch fence lizard resting on the patio. I opened the door and watched him scamper toward the BBQ grill. I followed him with my finger poised on the camera button of my i-Phone.  He dove into a hole in the butane tank which proved to be his downfall.

Although his head and front legs fit through the hole, his larger back legs could not. He was stuck. I tried helping, but his fear proved too great. I walked away and prayed, asking the Lord to free him.

The next day, I checked again. He was still stuck.

On my walk around the neighborhood, I decided the lizard was in desperate straits and needed help now. I prayed and asked the Lord to relax the lizard, maybe even put him into a deep sleep.

I softly crept up behind the lizard. I reached down and gave him a quick jerk, hoping to surprise him and free him at the same time.

Let’s just say, it did not work out quite like I planned. He died in my hand.

I felt terrible and asked forgiveness of the Lord for killing the lizard. An empty feeling hung on me for hours like a funeral shroud. If only I wouldn’t have bothered the lizard, he’d still be alive.

Now think about it, okay?

There are probably 500, 000 of these fence lizards in my neighborhood alone, ranging in size from itsy-bitsy to six inches, measuring from head to tail. Cars, lawn mowers, cats, birds, snakes, and dogs remove thousands of them every week from my area. So, what’s the big deal, right?

He lived in my yard, under my care. I let him die for no good reason at all.

Do you know what made me feel better?

I received a letter in the mail from a child we sponsor in India. Her words warmed my heart, knowing she thinks I’m someone special, but in reality, I’m not. She’s the special one who God laid on our hearts to love and help.

If you’re interested in knowing how to sponsor a child in Gospel For Asia’s Bridge of Hope program, click here.

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Racism: Who’s in the Right? And Who’s in the Wrong? (Part 7)

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God thrusts his prophets into battles, not because the people think they are ready, but because God is ready to use them as His warriors. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was just such a man in 1955, when he became the head of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

As the bus boycott continued into its second month, King received 30 to 40 death threat phone calls per day. On January 27, 1956, King received a midnight phone call threatening his life. He hung up without speaking. Unlike the other calls which he shrugged off, this one devastated him. He went into the kitchen, made a pot of coffee, and sat down at the table.

I was ready to give up. With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me, I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward. In this state of exhaustion, I decided to take my problem to God. With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud.

The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. “I am here taking a stand for what I think is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.”

At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced God before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: “Stand up for justice; stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever.” Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.

(Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr., Beacon Press, Reprint Edition, 2010)

Three days later, King’s house was bombed and his family nearly killed.

“Strangely enough, I accepted the word of the bombing calmly. My religious experience a few nights before had given me the strength to face it.”

I was immediately driven home… As I walked toward the front porch, I realized that many people were armed. Nonviolent resistance was on the verge of being transformed into violence.  (Stride Toward Freedom)

(Continued in Part 8)

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Prayer: So Easy To Talk About, Yet So Hard To Do (Part 7)

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When J. Hudson Taylor was born in 1832, his mother and father prayed, “Lord, grant that he may work in China.”

The parents saw little evidence their prayer had any effect on their son’s life as he grew up in Yorkshire, England. In fact, he became a skeptic and wandered far from his Methodist upbringing. But when Taylor reached his teenage years, God grabbed his heart while he read a Christian tract in his father’s apothecary shop. A short time later, Taylor felt God had called him to be a missionary to China.

Then, Hudson Taylor’s training began in earnest.

Taylor read George Mueller’s newsletter and believed he needed strong faith and a prayer life like Mueller’s to succeed in China. To accomplish this, Taylor moved miles away from home to live in a poor area. He vowed to never ask people for help, but instead, like Mueller, he prayed, asking God to meet his needs. An absent-minded employer and sickness brought him close to starvation and death, yet God proved Himself faithful, delivering and healing him.

In 1853, Taylor sailed as a missionary for a new missionary society to Shanghai, China. The society seldom sent funds and Taylor refused to ask for help. “Depend upon it. God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack for supplies,” he proclaimed.

After seven years of hard work, he built a church of only 21 believers in an inland city. But because of illness, he and his wife returned to England. It was during his stay in England, when he felt defeated and depressed, that God gave him a vision for a new missionary society for China. Struggling with the vision and his lack of faith for it,  Hudson Taylor eventually told God: “All responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with You. I am Your servant and I will obey and follow You.”

From this point forward, Hudson Taylor began praying for missionaries to join his missionary society: China Inland Mission. By 1895, 641 missionaries and 462 Chinese helpers at 260 missionary stations were the results of his prayers, more than half of all Protestant missionaries in the nation.

Missiologists and historians refer to Taylor as ‘one of the profoundest Christian thinkers of all time’, ‘a visionary pioneer’ and ‘one of the four or five most influential foreigners in 19th century China’.

Taylor’s own assessment was somewhat different: ‘I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use, and that He found me.’

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Inside Israel

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Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua.  Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …

What are your thoughts occupied with as we heard toward tisha b’av next Monday night and Tuesday? I’ve been thinking about those little mistakes in communication that snowball into huge conflicts between people and communities. The children that grow up estranged because their parents were too busy to say “I love you.” The couples that stopped listening to each other because they didn’t understand each other. The religious sectors that split apart because they never took the opportunity to learn to value each other.

When we talk about Sinat Chinam (baseless hatred) in Israel, it’s important to realize that so many of our fights can be avoided if we take the time to maintain the relationships we have, and fill them with love and beauty instead of jealousy and suspicion. If we can do that as a nation, we’ll never have to fast on tisha b’av again.

Wishing you an easy and meaningful fast.”   (from the local ‘janglo’ weekly letter)

Greetings and Blessings, dear sisters and brothers, May The Lord be glorified, blessed, worshipped… may you be blessed!

As ramadan is being observed by the world’s Moslems, the tisha b’av fast appears on the horizon.  Tisha b’av (or 9th day of the month of Av on the Hebrew calendar) is observed this year beginning Monday night the 8th through Tues sundown the 9th.  Aside from the fast day of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, this is the most solemn fast day of the Jewish year.  It is not observed as widely as Yom Kippur (which is commanded in scripture and actively observed by a large majority of Jews) but it IS observed by a surprising number of even secular or nominally observant Jews as well as the religious.

As I have told you recently, I have been going through this interesting season of having my morning devotional reading ‘disrupted by The Lord’ after 37 years of following His initial directions to me, and have been having an intense time reading and re-reading the major prophets again and again (along with other portions in New Covenant and Psalms), so this day is making a very present and living impression on me this year, even more so then in past years.

The 9th of Av commemorates the actual date of the destruction of BOTH the first and second temples and the punishment of the surviving remnant being sent out of the promised land of Israel into the diaspora.  You can read Jeremiah’s account of the date in Jeremiah 52:6-7 –

6 By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.

7 Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around. And they went by way of the plain.

I have also shared many times over the past years lists of the unusual number of cataclysmic events that have taken place among the Jews through out modern history on this same date.

People prepare for this time of often very real repentance and heart searching in many ways.  The very religious men do not shave or cut their hair from Shavuot until tisha b’av, so there are many fully bearded men around right now.  There is also a general feeling of mourning in the air and I have heard many greetings which include a blessing for Jerusalem.  The teaching is that the judgment of God comes upon the people of Israel mainly for ‘brother hating brother’ (sinat chinam, in Hebrew).  Of course this is partly true according to the scriptures as hatred, or lack of love, produces selfishness, oppressing, cheating, theft and the like.  But the Scriptures make it clear that there are other reasons for the judgment of God upon the children of Israel: (I have been writing them down during these 6 months of reading through the major prophets).  Some of them are:

Forsaking Him (our first love); serving other Gods (like material goods, the flesh, new age ideas…?), worshipping the work of our own hands, giving heed to seducing spirits (counterfeit works of a spirit other then HIS); defiling His land; rebellion; pride; not finding delight in The Word of The Lord; covetousness; dealing falsely; will not hear correction; following the dictates of our own heart; forsaking Shabat; following Eastern ways; arrogant tongue; despising this inherited land; lack of mercy…oh my, the list goes on.

At the top of this letter I copied a small paragraph that opened a local weekly email information site, and similar exhortations and encouragements are appearing in newspapers, in short messages on radio and tv and on billboards (at least in the Jerusalem area).  ‘Prepare your heart to seek The Lord…do not let Jerusalem go again…’

I was in the Old City on Tuesday and many large groups of youngsters, soldiers and older folks as well, were on ‘learning tours’, reviewing the history surrounding the destructions of the temples.  They stop to read scripture and pray. On tisha b’av itself, the book of Lamentations is prayed/read during the fast and many people stay up all night weeping and even dressing in sackcloth and ashes.  We can scoff at what is ‘religious show’, but I, for one, know that God hears hungry hearts and my prayer is that this will NOT be a religious tradition, but that there will be breakthroughs in hearts; that The Holy Spirit will convict, and draw the hungry to Yeshua, Whom He is well able to reveal!  AND… that He will indeed, CREATE hunger in the hearts of those who may be crying out of tradition only.  He is able.

I have not been well, so will close and go to bed now.  What a season we live in, eh?  His ways are so above our ways and His thoughts so above our…and I am thankful for that!  I send you much love.  God bless you and keep you and make HIS FACE to shine upon you…and give you (HIS) Shalom.

Lovingly,

your sis  J

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What Would You Do If You Saw This Scene?

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(Click to enlarge)

The young girl is a member of the 300 million people-group in India known as the “Untouchables” or Dalits. This people-group is considered subhuman, impure from birth, and worthy of nothing but contempt. Anything a Dalit touches is then considered impure and contaminated, and must be thrown away.

Dalits work at the most degrading and menial jobs in India. They clean out the open-air toilets, latrines, and sewer lines with their bare hands. They work back-breaking twelve-hour days as laborers on farms or carry firewood from the forests. All for only pennies per hour in wages. Crimes against Dalits, such as rape or kidnapping as slaves, are seldom reported because the police turn a blind eye when they hear the whole story.

The Dalits are the least of the least and the poorest of the poor.

So, you can understand why it’s acceptable for the young girl to dig through garbage. She is, after all, already contaminated and who knows? Maybe she’ll eke out a few pennies to help feed her family that day.

Let’s say you were walking down the street and happened on the scene shown in the photo. What would you do?

If you don’t have a good answer, check out Gospel For Asia’s Bridge of Hope Ministry.

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Racism: Who’s in the Right? And Who’s in the Wrong? (Part 6)

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On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks sat on a crowded bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on her way home from her job at a shirt factory. The bus was segregated with roughly the front half reserved for white bus riders and the back half for blacks. A sign separated the two sections. Rosa sat on one of the first seats behind the sign in the black section.

As the bus continued on its route, it began to fill up with white passengers. Some whites stood in the aisle. The bus driver stopped and walked back to the sign. He moved it farther toward the back and asked four blacks to give up their seats for the white people standing in the aisle. Three obliged him, but Rosa Parks continued to sit on the seat.

“Why don’t you stand up?” the bus driver asked her.

“I don’t think I should have to stand up,” replied Parks.

The bus driver called the police who arrested Parks and charged her with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters, where, later that night, she was released on bail. Her eventual fine was $10 and $4 for court costs.

Later,  Parks stated that she was not physically tired, but just tired of giving in. (Rosa Parks Biography)

Within days of Parks’ heroic stand against racism, the Civil Rights Movement began with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Most of the estimated 40,000 black bus commuters refused to ride on the city buses. They walked, rode in black taxi cabs, or car pooled to work.

Dozens of buses sat idle, crippling the bus line and downtown merchants as the boycott progressed forward. Segregationists retaliated by burning black churches and bombing the homes of the boycott leaders. Black taxi cabs had their insurance policies suspended. Black citizens were arrested just for observing the boycott.

Rosa and her husband, Raymond, were fired from their jobs. They ended up moving to Detroit, Michigan, where Rosa worked for Congressman John Conyers as a receptionist and secretary.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott ended on December 21, 1956. The 381 day boycott showed America and black Americans the power of a large group walking together with truth on their side.

Rosa Parks was the spark needed to set off the Civil Rights Movement, but another person emerged from Montgomery to become the dominant voice of that era: Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Continued in Part 7)

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Prayer: So Easy To Talk About, Yet So Hard To Do (Part 6)

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One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty.  There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy food.  The thirty children were standing, waiting for their morning meal, when George Mueller said, “Children, you know we must be in time for school.”

Lifting his hand he said, “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat.”

There was a knock on the door.  The baker stood there, and said, “Mr. Mueller, I couldn’t sleep last night.  Somehow I felt you didn’t have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some.  So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it.”

Mueller thanked the man.

No sooner had this transpired than there was a second knock at the door.  It was the milkman.  He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it.

(Life and Ministry of George Mueller by Ed Reese, Reese Publictions, Christian Hall of Fame Series)

George Mueller (1805 – 1898) pastored the same Baptist church in Bristol, England, for over sixty-six years. Yet, he is best known for his orphan ministry, with stories like the above being common in his life. His orphanages cared for over 10,000 orphans at a time when destitute children were locked up in prisons to keep them off the streets.

Armed only with prayer and faith, he went through daily spiritual battles to provide for the increasing number of orphans under his care. He admitted his faith was nothing special and any believer could do it. What he did was simple enough in that he meditated in scriptures and then prayed the promises before God’s throne. He continued praying until He had peace about his prayers being answered by God.

God never failed him.

Near the end of his life, Mueller stated he had received over 50,000 answers to specific prayers from God. The amazing thing is that George Mueller never once asked people for money. Never once. Every prayer request was made alone before God.

Thousands of believers have been encouraged by the many books on George Mueller’s life. We’ll talk about one of them next time.

(Continued in Part 7)

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