Worldwide Wednesday: O Pray for Oman

Pray Around the World!

Welcome to another issue of World Wide Wednesday – during the year of 2017, we are praying through the alphabet — once a week. So today we are landing on the letter “O” for Oman. I am so glad you are here. I am learning a lot about people groups and countries I would not have learned about except for this journey and God’s leading. It’s great to have your interest. Thanks for joining this #MissionTrip that requires #NoPassport. We just need to #CareThruPrayer. Thank you for your prayers!

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. Psalm 86: 6


Asia

Geography

Area: 309,500 sq km

A mountainous land on the southeast coast of Arabia and the strategic tip of the Musandam Peninsula that dominates the entrance to the Arabian/Persian Gulf.

Population: 2,905,114    Annual Growth: 2.10%

Capital: Muscat

Religion

Largest Religion: Muslim

Answer to Prayer

Christians are growing in number. The large majority of converts actually come from expatriate workers and usually from non-Muslim backgrounds, but Omanis are also coming to faith in Christ.

Challenge for Prayer

The unreached. The entire Muslim majority remains a big challenge. Proselytism of Muslims is illegal, and

There are no known churches among the semi-nomadic Mahra or Jibbali of Dhofar, the Baluch of the eastern coasts, the rural population or the Swahili speakers.

Prayercast

PRAYER POINTS

Pray for a wide open door to the Gospel that would spread to neighboring closed nations.

Pray for the Gospel to infiltrate Omani culture, reaching the many who are still unreached.

Pray for opportunities and courage for Muslims to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

SUMMARY

Connecting the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf, the nation of Oman sits in a strategic position. Seas in the north and east and deserts in the west and south, though, have often led to isolation. With an economy heavily dependent on declining oil reserves, Oman has begun to focus increasingly on tourism. The diverse landscape of untouched coastlines, deserts, and mountains has become a unique destination for travelers. Spared of much militant Islamist violence, Oman enjoys significantly more personal freedom and political stability than the surrounding area.

In 1970 Qaboos bin Said Al-said overthrew his father, and he has since ruled as the sultan in this benevolent absolute monarchy. His modernization program and moderate foreign policy have opened Oman’s doors to the outside world and led to overall good relations in the Middle East. Over 25% of the population is expatriate, bringing many foreign influences to bear, but Oman still holds its Arab and Ibadi/Sunni Islamic identity, as it has since the days of Muhammad.

Due to the massive expatriate influence in Oman, people are free to practice varying faiths, and the government has even given land for places of worship. But, it remains illegal to share the Gospel with Muslims. Islam remains the state religion, claiming roughly 89% of the population. The nearly 3% that claim Christianity are predominantly part of the expatriate community.

There remains 77% of the Omani population that have yet to be reached with the Gospel. Numerous media strategies are being pursued through Christian radio, the internet, and mobile phones, and over 2,000 Omanis have the opportunity to hear about Christ each year while studying abroad.

http://prayercast.com/oman.html

What’s it like being a woman in Oman? I get asked this question a lot. Foreigners with very little knowledge of Oman tend to think we live isolated lives like women in Saudi Arabia simply because we’re next door neighbours. They couldn’t be more wrong!

Oman has taken significant measures to ensure women’s rights in most areas. Women in Oman can work, drive, vote, own property and hold office. We also have equal opportunities when it comes to education.

When I was working on my undergraduate degree here in Oman, more than half of the students enrolled at my university were females. For a town as conservative as Salalah, this was quite something.

However, like most women around the world we have our share of struggles. Having two female ministers and a handful of ambassadors doesn’t mean all Omani women are empowered. Many forms of discrimination still exist against women in Oman.

Drive into any village or small town outside the capital and observe how the women live. There is a lot to be done. First and foremost, women in rural areas need to know what their rights are.

The main issue we face in places like Dhofar is society’s attitude towards women. The majorities of men down south disapprove of working women and prefer their women to be at home where no other male can see them. Naturally, the glass ceiling is also a big issue for working women in the public and private sectors.

There are also some aspects of the law that discriminate against women in Oman especially when it comes to marriage, divorce and inheritance. They aren’t major issues but they matter a lot. I will save that argument for my next column.

Today I am focusing on the positive and paying tribute to all the incredible women in Oman who have helped shape this country and who continue to prove themselves on a daily basis. Happy Women’s Day!

Susan Mubarak is a Salalah-based HR professional in the private sector. She is an avid reader and writer, and enjoys photography and travelling

 http://www.muscatdaily.com/Archive/Stories-Files/The-role-of-women#ixzz4hwVkW7NA

 

Friday Favorites: Sheryl’s From Ashes To Beauty May 2017 Newsletter

It’s May and things are ‘on the grow,’ including Sheryl’s teaching, training, coaching and counseling ministry. Our April event was a great evening of fun, food and fellowship. At “A Time To Grow” we hosted family, friends and ministry partners at Edwin and Kaye Camp’s Tractor Museum. The farm setting seemed like very fitting place to share how exciting growth is taking place in Sheryl’s ministry.

What a joy to share Sheryl’s 

families, workplaces, ministries and leadership.

(L to R) Bishop Andrew & Ann Marie Bills founders of The Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network, hostess Kaye Camp, Robert & Christine Mc Duff, Sheryl & husband Jim Turner, Carol & Hank Wilcox enjoy the fun of “A Time To Grow.”

(L to R) Pastor Wendell & Lynda Vinson with Carlos & Amy Baldovinos and other friends fellowship at Sheryl’s event with a delicious catered meal by Salty’s Bar-B-Q.

 

 

 

 

…They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1 & 3

 

 

 

 

– Tami Bettingfield (L) and Cynthia Earnest are graduates of the women’s discipleship program and continue to walk in freedom in Christ.

Grace and Cor Koelewjn minister to children and leaders in Uganda. Sheryl is planning an August trip to assist with teaching and training in Tororo, Uganda. The focus of this trip will be Freed to Lead: Identity-based leadership.

 We can’t continue to grow without your partnership. I am praying for you. Would you pray?

Would you invest, plant and water with me so we can continue to grow?  Thank you so much, Sheryl

Don’t miss our “Unquenchable Faith with Carol Kent” event Monday, September 18, 2017 – Stay Tuned for Details!

 

 

 

Worldwide Wednesday: N – Pray for New Zealand

Pray Around the World!

Worldwide Wednesday: N – Pray for New Zealand

New Zealand

Aotearoa

If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.  – John 14:14

Welcome to Worldwide Wednesday: N – Pray for New Zealand – We are so excited to pray for another country that covers a couple of islands. I hope you can locate this on your world map, to help you get your bearings as we join our hearts to pray for the people of New Zealand.

Geography

Two mountainous main islands 1,600 km southeast of Australia.

Capital: Wellington

Official language: English, Maori. Samoan widely spoken

Largest Religion: Christian

Prayercast

Challenges for Prayer

Kiwi society is increasingly post-Christian and secular. Other religions are far less a threat to the Church than basic unbelief. The last 20 years have seen significant proportional decline among Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and, to a lesser extent, Catholics. Those claiming to be non-religious increased from 1.1% in 1951 to 40.9% in 2010; at current rates of change,

Church attendance is also in decline. About 14% attend weekly; 40% of Kiwis attended church in the past but no longer do so.

Pray for:

  1. a) A further outpouring of the Spirit to renew those in churches and to draw in again those who have left. 24/7 prayer rooms and other prayer groups are multiplying throughout the country, indicating that God is indeed stirring the Church.

  2. b) Effective training and discipleship tools that enable all Christians, ministers and laity to connect meaningfully with the unchurched. New bridges to non-believers need to be built.

  3. c) New expressions of church that are dynamic, relational, relevant and culturally appropriate to both the Pakeha (Caucasian) majority and the many minorities.

  4. d) Wisdom for the Church as it comes under increasing pressure from the government to cooperate with other religions.

There are tensions in many denominations over a variety of issues, and cooperation among denominations has declined. Some tension exists among Pentecostal churches. The activity of some churches in politics is criticized by others. New Zealand Christian Network (formerly Vision Network) is a national body linking denominations and agencies that represent the majority of New Zealand’s Christians. Pray God’s wisdom for this group in what is a vital ministry for the health of the Church and its testimony to non-believers.

http://www.operationworld.org/newz

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to humble an independent and secular people.

  • Pray for committed Christian leaders to be raised up from the Maori.

  • Pray for immigrant believers to be bold proclaimers of the faith.

SUMMARY

The unparalleled beauty of New Zealand’s snowcapped mountains and majestic lowland plains attracts tourists year-round as does the vibrant intersection of British and Maori cultures. A world-renowned destination for the nature enthusiast and cultural connoisseur alike, New Zealand is truly a traveler’s gem. Though tourism is a thriving industry in New Zealand, there is much more this nation’s story than trendy hotels and epic wilderness adventures.

The Polynesian Maori were New Zealand’s first inhabitants and settled as early as 800 A.D. Hunting and fishing people, the Maori sustained themselves with the rich natural resources the island provided.  These resources lured European explorers to the islands in the late 18th century.  In 1840, a treaty was signed between the United Kingdom and Maori chiefs, which granted Britain sovereignty over the island. Twenty years later, the UK established its first colony. Tension between the Maori and British settlers over land rights erupted in conflict and the eventual defeat of the Maori.  By the 1890’s, a constitutional government emerged, and in 1947 New Zealand became autonomous.

and has embarked on numerous international peacekeeping missions.

A young Maori woman (with the Pohutu Geyser behind), Te Puia (New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute), Rotorua, New Zealand

Since the 1960’s, New Zealand has seen dynamic growth among charismatic groups and many dynamic churches have emerged. But non-belief is increasingly prevalent.  In 1951 only 1% identified themselves as non-religious, but by 2010 that number grew to 41%! It is estimated that by 2020, Christianity will cease to be the majority religion and will be replaced by non-religious thought. A post-Christian nation, New Zealand faces growing secularism, which has infiltrated education and political policies. Prostitution, which was legalized in 2003, exemplifies the rapid moral decline facing this nation. The Church is in great need of unity amidst growing indifference.

http://prayercast.com/new-zealand.html 

Let’s Pray: “Father, thank you for your love and grace over the nation of New Zealand. We ask for you to strengthen the believers of New Zealand through Bible teaching missionaries. Send workers to help them establish strong local bodies who can bring peace and unity. We pray for healthy families lead by God-fearing fathers and Godly mothers who will love each other and honor each other as we see communities changed by the power of God. Thank you for building this mighty army in New Zealand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Friday Favorites: All Hope Is Ours

All Hope Is Ours

All hope is ours. Really? Yes, that’s right. Because of our position in Christ,

Sometimes it’s kind of hard to believe isn’t it? Hope is a gift God want to give us. How can we find hope? We can begin by expecting it to come our  way. Hope begins to be revived when we ask God to replace our dread and fear with the gift of hope. Abiding in hope is confident expectation for God’s provision. He is our refuge, our joy, our deliverer, our help, our strength and our comfort. Why would we hope in medication or therapy or anything else before we hope in God?

Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of HOPE make you full of joy and peace through faith, so that all hope may be yours in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

As we let that verse sink in, we can accept the fact that

God is faithful and will provide for us. I have experienced this firsthand. I am a delivered drug addict. I was once a hopeless dope fiend and now I am a dopeless hope fiend. I don’t know where I would be without the light of hope in my life. Whether you live in a garbage heap or a palace, without the hope of Jesus, we have nothing to look forward to.

If in the midst of a storm at sea, a ship may drop anchor, when it does, it is secured by the huge 25 ton iron anchor that goes down deep. When strong and wild waves hit the boat, the rough waters won’t tip it over, it is safe and secure because the anchor has held it fast to the bottom of the sea. This is how hope works – it keeps the eternal part of us safe and secure in the storms of life. Our hope must be solidly in Christ, vibrantly connected to Him, we can endure and we are secure even in life’s fiercest storms. Hebrews 6:19 says “We who are holding on to the hope of God’s salvation promises have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

When I had cancer, I held onto God’s word by studying the names of God. God healed me from stage four cancer. When my husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident, I held onto hope by clinging onto His promises. God healed my broken heart so I could love again. If you want to know more about the names of God and how to stand on His promises, check out my teaching program – This weekend, I talk about Jehovah Jireh – My Provider on “Transformed Through Truth” with Sheryl Giesbrecht on www.HSBN.tv.

Let’s pray from Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

Dear Lord, we ask for you to give us more hope. Help us not to let go of the hope you offer us. We want to receive all the hope you want to give us through the power of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for giving us handles of hope through your amazing character qualities, your promises and through deepening our faith. Help us to trust you and believe you more. Thank you, You never let go of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

Friday Favorites: What Are You Hoping For?

Welcome to Friday Favorites: What Are You Hoping For?

Financial security? A stable career? A satisfying marriage? Family harmony? Everyone hopes in something As believers, we can get caught up in the false hope offered by the world. Each year, approximately 23 million Americans claim to struggle from anxiety disorders, 17.5 million with clinical depression, 530,000 actually attempt suicide and many others endure the daily pain of fear and hopelessness.

Some have found their search for hope is futile and they will never get what they want. Others think if their problems are solved, their bank accounts are full and everyone likes them, they have arrived. Yet even this type of hope will fade away. Romans 8:24  reminds us “hope that is seen is no hope at all.” The remedy is to focus on what God guarantees, we can find comfort and joy in what is true and reliable: God’s hope.

God is the only for sure hope achieve with His help. The concept is best explained in Heb. 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” When we hope in God and fix our eyes on His promises, we can cling to the divine assurance of Scripture. Because God always keeps his promises, we can be confident our hope will never be disappointed. This Christ-centered hope must be the foundation of our lives and when it is properly understood and applied, it affects every single area of our lives. We fall down and we rise up, but God’s promises are forever.

the promises of God and the power of the all-sufficient Savior.

10 Scriptures About God’s Promises

2 Peter 1:4

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 11:28-29

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Isaiah 40:29-31

He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Philippians 4:19

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:37-39

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Proverbs 1:33

But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”

John 14:27

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Romans 10:9

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The promises of God are powerful and awesome to grasp. I pray that these scriptures about God’s promises were helpful to you today.

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/the-promises-of-god-10-powerful-bible-verses-1/

Let’s pray, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the hope you offer through life in your son. I want to stand firm on your promises. Thank you that when I hope in you, I will not be disappointed. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

Worldwide Wednesday: Pray for L – Liberia

Worldwide Wednesday: Pray for L – Liberia

Thank you for joining me once, again for praying for people around the world. We are praying through the alphabet by country.

So exciting, our church – Canyon Hills Assembly of God in Bakersfield, CA is sending a team to Liberia in June 2017. I can’t wait to watch God move through this team of young adults as they share the Gospel and care for needy in this desperate part of Africa. Thank you for your prayers for the Canyon Hills Team to Liberia June 2017. Here’s how you can pray for the country of Liberia:

Liberia

Republic of Liberia

Africa

Geography

Area: 99,067 sq km

Heavily forested coastal state adjoining Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.

Population: 4,101,767    Annual Growth: 4.23%

Capital: Monrovia

Official language: English    Languages: 31 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Ethnoreligionist

Religion                 Pop % Ann Gr
Christians 1,699,362 41.43 4.9
Evangelicals 600,533 14.6 4.6
Ethnoreligionist 1,743,251 42.50

Prayercast

Challenges for Prayer

The task of evangelization and mission must fall to Liberians and other Africans. Foreign missionaries had a long, hard, uphill struggle to plant churches in the interior; but disease, language diversity, entrenched fetishism and the disruption of war all hampered the work and eventually drove out all expat workers. Few have returned. Pray for those with a burden to return; pray for wisdom to know how they can best serve in rebuilding the nation, and best help the Liberian church complete the evangelization of every people. National mission leadership is making progress in missions advocacy among churches and in researching the nation’s current status in terms of evangelization.

Christian help ministries are essential in this land of great spiritual hunger, great spiritual needs, but few material resources:

  1. a) Bible translation and distribution ministries were gravely disrupted. The Bible Society and Lutheran Bible Translators projects have recommenced; 12 projects are active but another four languages have definite Bible translation needs. The completion in 2005 of the Bassa Bible (Liberia’s second largest indigenous language) was a major achievement.
  2. b) Christian literature. Many pastors and Christians have lost all they owned, and there is a great lack of Bibles, New Testaments and Christian literature, and few available bookstores. EHC continues nationwide literature distribution; recent focus was on the Mandingo people. Literacy is also a huge challenge in this country where almost a whole generation never had a proper chance to learn to read.
  3. c) The JESUS film has been viewed by the majority of the population and continues to have a converting impact on Muslims. It is available in 13 languages; six more are in production.
  4. d) GRN audio recordings are being used in 67 languages and dialects. These are essential for low-literacy contexts and oral learners. GRN has a Liberian base from which it has conducted nationwide outreaches and distribution. This base is well positioned to produce many more Christian recordings for evangelism, discipleship and training.
  5. e)

    might still be Africa’s best known station, despite being evacuated four times and destroyed twice during the wars. ELWA has been resurrected, with eight hours daily in English and with broadcasts in nine Liberian languages, and plans for three more. Other local stations include Worship FM and a station by the Christian Education Foundation of Liberia as well as a station planned by the AoG and United Methodist Church. Praise God for the message that goes out. Pray for the provision of funds for these ministries and for the production of excellent content that will both reach and bless the entire nation.

http://www.operationworld.org/libe

“Arise for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” Ezra 10:4

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray for healing from terrible pain caused by two civil wars and the rebuilding that must occur in this impoverished nation.

  • Pray for spiritually mature leaders in the churches who will preach the Bible with integrity.

  • Pray for restoration for Liberia’s children — 50% of the population — who struggle to overcome the devastation of war.

SUMMARY

in the hope of establishing a nation in which man was not owned.  Though Liberia is the oldest republic in Africa, a national identity has only started to take shape after surviving two civil wars in the past thirty years.  Blanketed with rain forests and valuable hardwood trees, Liberia is richly blessed in natural resources and temperate weather, which foster agriculture and a growing trade market.

However, the emotional and psychological scars of past conflicts still remain. 

15,000 surviving child soldiers remain haunted and robbed of their innocence.  Sex trafficking is widespread.  Young girls are kidnapped, frequently by adults they know, and spend their youth as slaves and adulthood as prostitutes and beggars in their own communities.  An estimated 68% of the population live below the poverty level, only 60% can read, and a mere quarter of the people have access to safe drinking water.  The violence of years past remains evident on damaged buildings and roads, and political corruption is still leaving the people questioning their trust in the authorities placed above them.

http://prayercast.com/liberia.html

Father God, You are Jehovah Rapha – the God who heals. We cry out for healing for the land of Liberia. Bring healing to the men, women and children. Strengthen those in the nation that are under the age of fifteen — the statistics say its over half of the nation. Would you, Almighty El Shaddai be their refuge in this time of need. Show yourself to be great, mighty -their all sufficient, provider who helps them in this time of need. Provide for the local churches, Bible believing leaders who will shepherd this flock in Liberia. We pray form Ezra 10:4 for Liberia, “Arise for it is your task and we are with you; be strong and do it.” Allow this nation to bring healing and hope to many others by the power of your word and by the presence of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Motivation Monday: What Are You Waiting For?

Everyone is waiting on something. What are you waiting for? Christmas? Birthday? Vacation? Completing a project? Finishing a semester? Anticipating with an attitude of expectation is taking the long view. This is how we wait on God with an attitude of hope. Joyce Meyer says, “Hope is favorable and confident expectation, an expectant attitude that something good is going to happen and things will work out no matter what we are facing.” Hope is determined and does not give up.

John 16:33 says “In this world you will have trouble.” So we shouldn’t be surprised when we have trials, irritation and distress, but in spite of it, we can have peace. Jesus has overcome our difficulties and in Him we can have joy while we wait for His answers with an attitude of expectancy.

Zech. 9:12 “Return to the stronghold, you prisoner of hope, even today do I declare that I will restore double your former prosperity to you.” I like that, when you are a prisoner, you don’t have a choice about it, remain encased in hope, looking for God’s answers instead of our solutions. To get excited about waiting on God’s answer. Micah 7:7 says, “As for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my savior; my God will hear me.” I choose to look carefully for evidence of God working in my life circumstances. I must not grow weary in waiting on God and trust that He hears my prayers.

To abide in hope is more than saying I wish. It’s more than desiring something to come to pass, looking forward to an event or being in a person’s presence. Hope is defined by Webster as “expectation of something desired; thing that gives, or an object of focus.” Hope is more than mere wishful thinking, yet hopelessness can bring on despair, depression and even thoughts of suicide. Proverbs 13:12 reminds us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” No wonder why the Bible approaches

and even depression and suicide. Instead of categorizing hopelessness (also known as despair) as a psychological disease, the Bible calls it disobedience. It is refusing to trust God. Hopefulness is a choice to trust God in the midst of impossible circumstances. It is relying on the unchanging attribute of God’s faithfulness. Psalm 37:3 remind us, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When we find pleasure in God, we give him first place, submit to His plans and are directed by His hand.

And then we can easily put into practice what Psalm 37:4 says“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and he will do this.”

He is our refuge, our joy, our deliverer, our help, our strength and our comfort. Why would we hope in medication or therapy or anything else before we hope in God? Especially when dealing with disappointment, hope will cause us to rise up and pray, “God I praise you. You are working in this situation and working in me. My faith and trust and hope are in you.  Thank you, you send hope when we wait on you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen”

 

Friday Favorites: Rewrite Your Story

Rewrite Your Story – Defy The Ending

 “Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending…to rise strong, recognize our story and rumble with the truth until we get to the place where we think, yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. I will choose how this story ends.” Brene Brown

Yes, it is entirely possible. But only through transformation. Here’s how it works. Let go of your expectations. Release your plans. Submit and commit to loving God above more than anything or anyone else. He is your perfect Heavenly Father. My story began with the consistent love of my own strong and helpful dad. I remember when I first learned to ride a bicycle. “Be careful, sweetie,” my dad’s strong voice cautioned me to avoid the object in the road. He’d just removed the training wheels on my Schwinn; so even though I was seated securely on the banana seat, both hands on the handlebars, the front tire still wobbled a little. I focused intently on the path ahead, “Yes, Father,” I said. I veered to the left just a little and swerved to avoid the obstacle. Father is one of the most familiar and commonly used name of God.” (quote from newest devotional: Experiencing God Through His Names)

However, some cannot relate to God as a caring, tender and involved dad, like mine, because they’ve been disappointed by their own negative personal paternal experiences. So what’s the big deal about ‘spiritual fatherlessness’? A lot. According to a recent study, ’15 million American children — one in three — live without a father. In the past decade, families with two parents in the home has dropped significantly.  From poor academic achievement and teenage pregnancy to drug use and crime, most social problems cannot be properly understood without considering the absence of fathers in homes. Many of the social problems we face are a direct result of the fatherless home. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million.’ http://www.commdiginews.com/life/studies-reflect-the-damage-of-the-one-parent-fatherless-family-17573/

‘Spiritual fatherlessness’ causes a breach between the natural father, spiritual father and heavenly father. The devil destroys harmony between our most valued relationships.  This is not necessarily a physical breach, but a spiritual battle waging war against those that mean the most to us. I am the first born of four children, my dad always called me princess. I was the apple of his eye. However, for a few years, dad and I exchanged only harsh words, disagreement and disconnection. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the enemy tactics to divide our family. I was rebellious, un-submissive and could not respond to my father’s attempts to show me his love. It’s interesting that this is one of the final verses in the Old Testament: “and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their father lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:6 Truly a sign of the times.

At seventeen, I was sinking deep into drug addiction. I stayed high as much as possible, trying to fill the emptiness in my life with the highest high or the cutest guy while my need for affection only increased. I couldn’t wait to move out of my parents’ home. My family pulled strings to get me a volunteer summer job at a Christian camp. The camp staff assigned me lists of chores, such as washing hundreds of dishes in the mess hall, raking piles of pine needles around the campgrounds, and even moving logs around the outdoor campfire ring.

Whenever I complained or threw fits over doing my chores or smoked cigarettes and dope, the camp staff said, “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8 [NIV]) Their words, repeated over and over, immersed me for two weeks. The words rang in my ears, I couldn’t get the five-word phrase off my mind. The staff didn’t tell me to change anything about my appearance, attitude, or addictions. Instead, they showed me what the invitation of love looked like. They were kind; they offered the true love of God without forcing me to accept it.

As a youngster in Sunday school, I’d learned Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” After two weeks of experiencing how “Love covers a multitude of sins,” I embraced it. Submitting to the overwhelming love of God, I allowed His abundant love to cover my multitude of sins. One night in my cabin, I submitted to the overwhelming love of Father God. He had reached out to me, and I, a most unlikely choice, finally grasped His hand. His abundant love did cover my multitude of sins. I accepted the invitation to live a new life. My life was transformed, I was given a fresh start and the divine connection to my Heavenly Father was restored. But there was still work to do.

  1. I had to communicate with God as my Perfect Father.

The breach in my relationship with God could only be restored through the Son. The blessing came when I came to know God as my Perfect Father. I began to believe God’s love could cover the things that held me captive: drugs and alcohol, lying and stealing, promiscuity and drug dealing. It was finally clear: I didn’t need to clean up my act before coming to God; He loved me passionately just the way I was. James 1:17 “Every Good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

  1. .

I was searching for meaning, purpose and identity in things and people that could never fill my God-shaped void. In God there is no lack. God does not want the enemy to rob us of blessing, destiny, purpose. I asked God heal my father wound caused by my own decision to turn from my earthly and my Heavenly Father’s will. God showed me how to release every disappointment that had been imagined or feared and to put my trust in Him. We cannot go back and re-write history but we can get to the place where we allow God to heal us. This takes trust and transparency.

James 5:16 “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

  1. I had to ask God to help me find a spiritual father, be a father.

Once we allow God to heal our father wound, we will want to share our joy with others. It helps to keep accountable and also to share our victories and defeat. We get to choose our own spiritual parents. Let God help you find a father and be a father.

God wants us to show the world of ‘spiritual fatherlessness’ what it means to be included the family of God. So let’s share how wonderful it is to be loved by a Perfect Heavenly Father. And it will make all the difference in our destiny and theirs, too.  Psalm 68:5-6 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing but the rebellious live in a sun scorched land.”

Monday Motivation: Plan to Succeed

Monday Motivation: Plan To Succeed

You’ve failed. Again. It’s time to reorganize. Start over. Begin again. Use a fresh approach, a new strategy. When you are discouraged, it’s probably not that you are doing the wrong thing, but you might be doing it in the wrong way. Our natural temptation is to give up on our dream. We think, “Maybe God didn’t give me this dream in the first place.” No, it’s probably just the opposite.

Is it the season to try a new approach to the same ministry? Washed up actors and soloists call a new approach “reinvention.” For those who need a facelift for their house, it’s called an ‘’extreme-makeover’ for your home. Have you faced a lot of discouragement? Have numerous problems remained unsolved? Does your workload seem unbelievable? It’s time to reorganize your schedule.  Evaluate things you need to cut out of your ministry.  Examine what is important and what is not important and get rid of the excess.  Get rid of those things that clutter your life, that are wasting your time.

Find the twenty percent of the things you have to do and focus on the ones that produce the greatest results.

Nehemiah was in the middle of rebuilding the Jerusalem wall. He saw the need to reorganize to complete the work. Nehemiah 4:13, “Therefore I stationed some people at the low points of the wall and exposed places, posting them by families with their swords and their spears and their bows.”  The key phrase here is, “We reorganized them by families.”  We need a ‘family’ support group. In our workplace, church, even our home-lives, we need a group of co-laborers. We need others we can share with and who will love us unconditionally.  There’s no such thing as Lone Ranger Christianity.

  1. Evaluate – You’ve accessed the need to reorganize. Now is the time to do so. Don’t wait until you feel like it because you never will.

  2. Examine – You’ve decided what is important. Now take the steps to get to where you want to go.

  3. Expect – You’ve invited your ‘family’ to be part of your solution. Now give them their marching orders. You can get there together. Remember we are better together.

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:16

Let’s pray,

Father thank you for the opportunity to allow you to reorganize our goals. Let our plans be your plans. Let our desires be your desires. Let us evaluate, examine and expect for you to make things happen. Thank you for the body of Christ, who helps us do your will. Thank you for encouraging us to begin again. Thank you for giving us another opportunity to plan to succeed. For your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

FRIDAY FAVORITES: BACK TO THE BASICS – CALL HIS NAME

If you’ve ever felt frustrated with prayer, you are in the right place. Do you compare your prayers with others? Do your prayers seem simple? You know, you don’t have to pray long, eloquent, fancy prayers so God hears you. Just call His name.

Especially when it comes to the name of God. Ever hear God’s name tossed around, carelessly? It’s sometimes used in cursing or to make off-color comments, but that is not at all what God intended. God gave his name as a title to tell us something about himself. Psalm 105:3,4 says, “glory in His holy name, seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.” God wants us to know him. We can get to know him by relying on him, he wants us to call on his name.  God wants us to praise His name, to seek his power and that comes through prayer.

Some of us might feel a little embarrassed, we haven’t been faithful, God already knows everything about us. We are reminded about this in Psalm 139:1,2 “O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar.” Prayer is for our benefit. Prayer gives us the advantage.

It’s being comfortable and having confidence in the One we are asking. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much, He can’t love us any more than He does right now. He wants us to run to him with every concern, problem and difficulty. God says, “Just call my name.” Some people think of prayer as a formal meeting time. But prayer is as easy as calling out the name of Jesus. Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  Try calling out God’s name today. Just call it out – Jesus. He will be there.

Father, Creator, Jesus are just a few of the names you can use to ask for God’s help. And there are many more. God is waiting for you.