Prisoners of Hope

To be incarcerated physically I’m told is difficult to deal with. Locked up for hours per day, cut off from loved ones and surround by darkness and evil. Do you know that many of us are in prison in our minds. What about you? Are you in an emotional prison right now? You may not have thought about it that way, but if you are holding unforgiveness or bitterness toward someone who has wronged you — whether it was five, ten or thirty years ago — that is an emotional prison.  

God’s Word promises that if you’ll step out of that prison and become a prisoner of hope, He will restore back to you double for your trouble! That means if someone wrongs you, instead of getting negative and bitter, your attitude should be, “they just did me a favour. They just qualified me for double!” That’s the attitude of a prisoner of hope.  

Today, lock into an attitude of victory that says, “I won’t be defeated! Things may look impossible, but I know God can do the impossible. I may have been treated wrongly, but I’m not worried. I know God is my vindicator. It may be taking a long time, but in due season, I know I will reap if I just don’t give up.” Stay strong and in the place of hope today, knowing that you will come out with double! Hallelujah! 

“Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”(Zechariah 9:12, NKJV) 

Let’s Pray 

Yahweh, today I choose to release those who have wronged me. Father, I refuse to live in an emotional prison, please change my mental location. God, I know You are my vindicator and redeemer. Make me a prisoner of hope and I receive Your promise today that You will give me back double for all my trouble, in Christ’s Name! Amen

https://godinterest.com/2021/02/18/prisoners-of-hope/

VIDEO Hold On to Memories

Posted on  by Joe Rodriguez

Take the ones you love
And hold them close because there is little time
And don’t let it break your heart
I know it feels hopeless sometimes
But they’re never really gone
As long as there’s a memory in your mind

Hold On to Memories” – Song by Disturbed

Lighthouses were built to last. They were made to withstand the fiercest of storms. With the help of dedicated maintenance crews, many centuries-old lighthouses are still standing, but many have also succumbed to neglect and the inevitable calamities of nature such as erosions, earthquakes, and fires. But even so, their beauty can still be appreciated in photographs and/or paintings and the life-saving stories that made them famous can be relived through publications.

Memories! Memories are what keep not only the images but also the emotions of the things we care for alive long after they are gone. Sure, there may be memories of things we rather forget that pop up once in a while, but if we have truly repented/forgiven, accepted, and moved on, they shouldn’t hold us captive to feelings of guilt and/or regret. We must learn to focus more on the memories of things that put a smile on our face and perhaps even a couple of tears of joy and gratitude. God has allowed you and me to live and breathe up until this very moment. And wouldn’t you agree that His goodness and mercies have far exceeded the trials in our lives? If so, we can both echo David’s proclamation in Psalm 21.

“Surely you have granted [me] unending blessings and made [me] glad with the joy of your presence.”

Psalm 21:6 NIV

Better designed and even exact replicas of lighthouses have replaced those that once stood as beacons of hope and safety. Take the Cape St.George Lighthouse for example. After succumbing to erosion and collapsing into the sea, it was rebuilt to its original splendor at a nearby location.

Nothing or no one can ever replace the people and things that have been a loving part of our lives and are no longer present. But God has gifted us with something that will keep them close to our hearts for as long as we live and are cognitive, namely our memory. Among the many things to thank God for, do you thank Him for your mind? The mind is one of the most intricate parts of the human body [Read Fearfully and Wonderfully Designed]. It would behoove us to take care of it by eating right, getting enough rest, reading and meditating on God’s word, taking time to quietly enjoy nature, and by frequently reminiscing on the good ole days.

Granted, as we get older, not only do we start losing our hair, teeth, and skin elasticity [Read “Of Youth And Longevity”], but we also tend to lose our memory (short-term/long-term). Heck, I even forgot where I was going with a couple of thoughts while writing this devotion!

However, most of us will have no trouble remembering some of the fun times growing up (without today’s technology). Things like, jumping on puddles, our first love/set of wheels, and the birth of our first or only child are among the many things that have not only helped shape us into who we are today but whose memories have also served as gemstones that can still soothe mental stresses. And how about the memories of God’s faithfulness? We must acknowledge that without His past providence we certainly wouldn’t have been able to make it this far!

Nothing in this world lasts forever. Every day we welcome becomes a memory in a matter of seconds. Therefore, we should learn to appreciate every minute we are given. And while there are many hurtful memories we need to learn to let go, there are also wonderful ones that we must hold on to dearly. However, in order to hold on to good memories we need to willingly and intentionally make them. No matter the cost! Life is short, let us spend more time creating loving memories. Let us purpose in our hearts to live and not just exist.

Listen to the song below in its entirety. I believe it has a message that we all need to be reminded of regularly.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the life you have given me. In spite of the challenges and difficult times, you have been and remain faithful. Thank you for the good times and the bad times. May my mistakes and unforeseen trials serve as life lessons to make me stronger. I also ask that you guard my mind so that I can cherish and hold on to the memories of the people and things that have brought joy and peace into my life. But most of all, may I never forget the grace (unmerited favors) you have bestowed upon me. Amen!

RELATED SCRIPTURES
The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” – Proverbs 10:7 ESV

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8 ESV

“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” – Psalm 103:27 NLT

Hold On to Memories

MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students

MATT LAMB – ASSISTANT EDITOR

Although the priest argued for forgiveness, the message was lost on students

The Archdiocese of Boston forced Daniel Moloney to resign from his chaplain role at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after students and alumni complained that Moloney brought up George Floyd’s past criminal history in an email to students.

Although Moloney, a Catholic priest, was making an argument that Floyd’s past should not justify his death, the fact that he brought up Floyd’s rap sheet at all prompted some to protest the chaplain’s message to campus officials and file bias complaints over it.

“George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and shouldn’t have been,” Moloney wrote in his June 7 email to the Tech Catholic Community, a group of Catholic students on campus.

“He had not lived a virtuous life. He was convicted of several crimes, including armed robbery, which he seems to have committed to feed his drug habit. And he was high on drugs at the time of his arrest. But we do not kill such people. He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel,” the priest wrote.

“ … In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”

The e-mail was republished in its entirety by New Boston Post.

Although Moloney’s argument aimed to promote justice and forgiveness, that message seemed lost on many of its readers.

An article in The Tech campus newspaper reports that MIT’s dean for student life, Suzy Nelson, said administrators and the bias response team received reports about Moloney’s email.

In an email to student and faculty leaders June 12, Nelson wrote Moloney’s message “contradicted the Institute’s values” and “was deeply disturbing” and that “by devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character,” Moloney did not “acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism” on “African Americans, people of African descent, and communities of color,” The Tech reports.

The Archdiocese of Boston told Moloney to resign from his role as chaplain at the school on June 9, according to the Boston Globe. The move came after more than 60 people attended a forum hosted by Tech Catholic Community on June 9, according to the school newspaper.

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, told WBZ-TV “While Fr. Moloney’s comments should not reflect on the entirety of his priestly ministry, they nonetheless were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused.”

Moloney told the Boston Globe on June 16, “I regret what happened, I regret it was misunderstood, I regret that [it] became difficult for me to be a voice for Christ on campus.”

Moloney is a published author at First Things, The Wall Street Journal and National Review. He used to work at the Heritage Foundation as a senior policy analyst for the DeVos Center for Religion and Society. His doctoral dissertation focused on justice and mercy, the subject of a recent book he published as well. He also maintains an active Tumblr page but has not explicitly addressed the controversy on it.

MORE: Conservative prof says seminary used COVID as excuse to get rid of him

MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students



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https://www.foxnews.com/us/live-updates-chauvin-trial-closing-arguments

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/17/maxine-waters-derek-chauvin-must-be-guilty-guilty-guilty-or-we-take-to-the-streets/

https://www.breitbart.com/news/derek-chauvin-trial-closing-arguments-over-george-floyds-death-begin/

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/19/facing-down-censure-vote-maxine-waters-defiant-the-whole-civil-rights-movement-is-confrontation/

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/19/mitch-mcconnell-calls-out-maxine-waters-inappropriate-conduct/

https://www.breitbart.com/clips/2021/04/19/mccarthy-maxine-waters-believes-theres-value-in-violence-censure-could-result-in-loss-of-financial-services-chairmanship/

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/19/watch-judge-in-derek-chauvin-case-calls-maxine-waterss-comments-disrespectful-to-the-rule-of-law-abhorrent/

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

The Meaning of Passover

Laura Bagby

The Jews celebrated their Passover Feast in remembrance of God’s deliverance from death during the time of Moses.

Origination of Passover

Moses had been instructed to lead God’s people out of Egypt and save them from the evil and ungodly Pharaoh. Because of Pharaoh’s disbelief in the power of the One True God, Yahweh sent a series of ten plagues upon the Egyptians: the Nile turned to blood and at various times the land was filled with frogs, gnats, flies, hail, locusts, and darkness. In one awesome act of God’s ultimate authority, He sent one final devastating plague: every firstborn of every household would be annihilated.

In His mercy towards His people, God would shield the Israelites from such unmerciful judgment if they would follow the instructions He gave to Moses and Aaron. The specific instructions are outlined in Exodus 12:1-11. In sum, each family was to take a lamb and all households were to slaughter their lambs at the same time at twilight after a certain number of days. Then they were commanded to paint the sides and top of their doorways with some of this blood. Once this was done and all the meat of the lamb was eaten in accordance with God’s instructions, God would spare the Israelites from death. This is what the Lord said:

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord — a lasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:12-14)

The Seder Meal

The highlight of a contemporary Jewish Pesach, or Passover, is the Seder.

The Seder meal consists of six highly symbolic elements: matzah, a roasted shank bone, parsley or green herbs, the top of a horseradish, charoset, and an egg. On each plate are three pieces of matzah (a special type of cracker or unleavened bread). Two of these pieces represent the traditional loaves used in the ancient Temple during festivals and the third piece symbolizes Passover. The roasted lamb bone connotes the sacrificial Passover lamb. Herbs symbolize springtime growth. The horseradish represents the bitter years of slavery in Egypt; charoset, a mixture of fruit and ground nuts soaked in wine, represents the mortar used in Egypt; and the egg represents the chagigah (a secondary sacrifice prepared along with the Passover lamb).

The Biblical Accounts

Accounts of what happened can be found in all four gospels — Matthew 26:17-27:10; Mark 14:12-72Luke 22:1-65John 13:1-18:27.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

https://www1.cbn.com/teaching/the-meaning-of-passover

Komodo Dragon Genome Bites Evolution

BY JEFFREY P. TOMKINS, PH.D. * | SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and a top predator on the remote Indonesian islands they inhabit. Their sensory system allows them to detect large prey, such as deer, over seven miles away. Although Komodo dragons are cold-blooded reptiles, they can rapidly increase their metabolism to near-mammalian levels for amazing bursts of speed and even long strenuous runs. Because of their highly venomous bites, all they need is one good chomp on their victim’s leg or foot and the poisoned prey will soon be the lizard’s lunch.

The Komodo dragon’s unusual traits have made scientists eager to sequence its DNA to see what sorts of genes it contains and how it compares to other creatures. This sequencing was discussed in a recent scientific publication.1

When the researchers compared the newly sequenced Komodo dragon genes that were common among reptiles, they found many startling traits specific to the Komodo dragon and many of these genetic novelties were associated with its remarkable mammal-like ability to exhibit high levels of sustained physical activity. Because the gene variations are unique to the Komodo dragon and very different from other reptiles, the genes were deemed to be the result of “positive selection”—a magic evolutionary phrase.2

A creature’s environment has no God-like ability to create new useful genetic information for complex multi-genic traits like those associated with complex metabolic functions. Evolutionists basically substitute the magic words “positive selection” or “natural selection” for something only an omnipotent God can do.

The researchers also used other magic words to explain their non-evolutionary findings as noted in this comment from a press interview in which they stated, “Our analysis showed that in Komodo dragons, many of the genes involved in how cells make and use energy had changed rapidly in ways that increase the lizard’s aerobic capacity.”2 In this case, the term “changed rapidly” means the genes were so different and unique that the idea of random mutational processes combined with the mystical paradigm of nature supposedly “selecting” for them could not account for the great differences observed.

It’s also highly noteworthy that the researchers reported actually throwing out data in their selection analysis where the variation was deemed “unreasonably high.”The data was actually manipulated to show less variability and, therefore, more in line with the evolutionary model. The stark reality is that these genes—specific to the Komodo dragon—were engineered to produce their unique God-given traits. No sign of evolution existed in the data even though the researchers cherry-picked it to favor evolution.

The bigger evolutionary (phylogenetic) analysis the researchers did comparing the Komodo dragon DNA to other reptiles, birds, and mammals also made no evolutionary sense—the patterns and groupings were totally different than predicted by standard evolutionary models. By all accounts, the data showed that Komodo dragons were created uniquely with their own specific God-given engineering.

References
1. Lind, A. L. et al. 2019. Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 3: 1241-1252. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0945-8.
2. Guliuzza, R. 2010. Unmasking Evolution’s Magic Words. Acts & Facts. 39 (3): 10-11.
3. Gladstone Institutes. 2019. Komodo dragon genome reveals clues about its evolution. Phys.org Posted July 29, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.

https://www.icr.org/article/komodo-dragon-genome-bites-evolution/

Your Troubles Won’t Last Forever

Breaking news – your troubles will come to an end. Hallelujah! In this life, God warns that we will have trials and tribulations. The good news is that He also promises to deliver us from them all! Now, He doesn’t necessarily say that He will deliver us instantly, or the way we expect, or on our schedule.  

When things don’t happen the way you expect, it can be tempting to get discouraged, down and despondent. When you feel like trouble is surrounding you, that’s when you have to dig your heels in as the saying goes, and say “I’m not going to give up, because God promised me victory!” 

Today, if you are going through a dark time, keep moving forward! Remember, it’s always darkest just before dawn. That difficulty didn’t come to stay, it came to pass as the Bible says. Please stay in faith and keep praising and thanking God for delivering you. Set your hope in Him, stir up your faith, and keep believing, because soon you will see the victory God has prepared for you! Hallelujah! 

“Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT) 

Let’s Pray 

Yahweh, thank You for giving me the strength to overcome every trouble I face today through Your Spirit. Father, I set my mind on You. I set my hope on Your love, knowing that You are paving the way for my victory all the days of my life, in Christ’s Name! Amen. 

https://godinterest.com/2021/02/19/your-troubles-wont-last-forever/

Faithfulness

by Discerning Dad

“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8

I hate peer pressure… I mean I really do. Does anyone like it? We’ve all faced it but it seemed incredibly strong for me in grade school.

Peer pressure is like waves in an ocean trying to move you off course. A boat has to make constant adjustments in order to stay on course. Waves and wind will constantly try to disrupt the navigation flow of the vessel.

So it is with peer pressure, we have our convictions, but we become convinced by a stronger voice in our life to settle or to do something that we would not have chosen on our own. I’m only talking about negative peer pressure here; there can be positive peer pressure too.

Comparison kills contentment and it weakens our conviction. I have been a Christian all my life and in grade school and high school, there was a constant barrage of voices trying to get me to question my faith, to try a drug, watch a mature movie, be in a relationship that wasn’t good for me, and the list goes on.

Even something as relatively innocent as clothing can cause others to size you up based on the latest trends or name brands. I remember around 5th grade, I was completely happy with my socks and shoes. I had no clue about fashion or name brands that is until this one kid in particular made it known to me how much I was lacking in this department.

Every day this kid would berate me and call out, “generic socks and generic shoes.” I don’t even remember what I would wear but it wasn’t good enough for the social criticism in the late 1980’s. This kid was nonstop with the generic comments every single day. I finally pressured my Mom into buying me Nikes, but not just Nike shoes, but Nike socks which visibly had the black swoop on the top of the sock in order to be seen by all. No one would again say that I had “generic sock and shoes.” I had won.

I was perfectly contented with my situation before this peer pressure occurred. I was oblivious to the need to put on a show for others in order to not be ridiculed. Sometimes it’s just easier to give in to quiet the noise around us, to lower our convictions for a moment’s peace. How often have we compromised our walk with Christ for the easy, the popular, the pleasurable, or whatever THING that is demanding of our time and attention?

Peer pressure isn’t as in my face as it was in grade school, but then again my phone is literally in my face every day. I see on social media a non-stop list of what I “need.” what others have, what I don’t have, how others are so happy, how well behaved their kids are, how many vacations my friends are taking, what God is doing in other ministries, and the list goes on. Social media is more subtle form of peer pressure but it may be just as strong, if not stronger, of an influence in our life than a physical person.

Discernment will allow us to ask, “what is God asking of me?” I can’t worry about what anyone else is doing or what God is calling them to do. God measure success based on faithfulness not based on achievements. I am longing for the day that Jesus says, “well done good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:23).

People often will want the results without the work it takes to get there. You see that successful Pastor with a vibrant ministry? You don’t see the two failed churches, the multitude of sleepless nights in prayer, or the constant stress he faces by those that have a critical spirit about them. Actually the stress, the failure, the pain, and prayer have gotten him to this point, he had to learn to fail in order to succeed. He had to learn the lesson of when he did not rely on God so that he would never go down that path again. He had to learn the importance of prayer when he couldn’t do it on his own so that he would be able lift up those around him in a powerful covering so that Satan never gains a foothold in his ministry.

But you see him and you want to be him without any of those steps or God’s calling on your life to do that…

It’s like someone that idolizes a celebrity and wants to be them while never seeing the depression they face, the loss of true friendships, never feeling like they are valued apart from their talent, or the desire they have just to “be normal” again.

What is God calling you to do? Where is God calling you to go? If you can’t answer that, you need to pray. God is always looking for a willing vessel who can say, like Isaiah, “here I am God, send me!”

Read 1 Kings 13, seriously stop and read the chapter before you continue…but if you didn’t I’ll do my best to summarize.

Jeroboam was a wicked king (there seemed to be no shortage of them when you read the Old Testament). God called a prophet out of Judah to go to Bethel (Jewish historian Josephus called him Yadon and I will too for the purpose of this story).

God called Yadon for a purpose, to travel to another city and to boldly rebuke the King, facing a probable death for doing so. When he got there not only did he miraculously prophecy about King Josiah (which wouldn’t happen for about three centuries later) but he also destroyed the pagan altar through an earthquake (13:5)! When the King pointed at him to have his guards seize him, instantly his hand became paralyzed and he couldn’t pull it back (v4).

Now the evil King Jeroboam asked the man of God (Yadon) to pray for his hand to be restored and it was. The King then tempted the prophet to come and eat, drink, and stay in his palace, but Yadon was strong in his conviction since the Lord told him, “you must not eat or drink anything while you are there, and do not return to Judah by the same way you came” (v.9).

This was a powerful confrontation that Yadon had; almost as powerful as Elijah calling down fire on the prophets of Baal. I don’t know the mindset of Yadon but I would have breathed a sigh of relief, not only was I not killed by the wicked King, but God showed up in miraculous signs and the King actually wanted to treat me to a royal dinner. I can imagine he was pretty famished; the long journey with no food and water now was the time to relax… or was it? Yadon resisted the pressure and remained true to what God was asking him to do.

But that was not the end of this story. The rest of this story is about an “old prophet” who is unnamed who sends his sons to find Yadon. Once he was found, the old prophet rode out to meet Yadon. He asked “are you the man of God who came from Judah” (v.14)? No doubt word of his confrontation with the King spread like wildfire through the town. He invites him back to his house to get some food and drink, but again Yadon replies about how God told him not to eat or drink anything until he returns to his hometown. The same answer he gave the King.

Now this part is fascinating…

“But the old prophet answered, ‘I am a prophet, too, just as you are. And an angel gave me this command from the Lord: ‘Bring him home with you so he can have something to eat and drink. (v18)’” The next verse even says the old man was lying, but the peer pressure, the fatigue, and/or the camaraderie of another prophet got to Yadon and he went back with the old man to eat and drink.

Now think about this for a minute, God called Yadon out of his hometown to go to Bethel to deliver a mighty message to the king. Why didn’t he call this old man? He was a prophet, conveniently located in the same town as the king… We know this old man had no problem lying and God knew his heart as well.

So back to the story, the old man and Yadon were eating a meal back at the house and the Spirit of God speaks through the old man, aka the liar! “This is what the Lord says: ‘You have defiled the word of the Lord and have disobeyed the command the Lord your God gave you. You came back to this place and ate and drank where he told you not to eat or drink. Because of this, your body will not be buried in the grave of your ancestors” (v21-22).

I feel bad for Yadon, after this meal he saddled his donkey and rode off to an awaiting lion that killed him (v.24). A mighty victory for God turned into a crushing defeat because he did not obey the word of God; he listened to a false prophet who got him to sway off course. He fell into peer pressure from a fellow prophet. A prophet who said he heard from God nonetheless!

I find it interesting that God still spoke through the old prophet at the dinner table, you see, God can use anyone and anything for His glory, but that doesn’t mean the prophet was trustworthy or following the will of God.

God can speak through anyone, but that doesn’t mean you need to go to their church, to read their books, or follow them if they are not fully obedient to the Word of God. There’s a lot of truth out there being mixed with deception. God can reach people even among prosperity preachers and twisted denominations.

We need to have discernment to align all things against the Word of God and hold fast to what is true.

But on a personal level, if God is calling you to do something, don’t be swayed by what another preacher, teacher, pastor, or priest tells you. God wants you to hear his voice so clearly you don’t need a second opinion.

I’m not saying that we can’t ask for wisdom from others, but I’m saying if God tells you something; don’t listen to someone who hasn’t heard from God for your life, who has a conflicting message.

There are other examples in the Bible of this same thing. Micaiah faced off against 400 other prophets in 1 Kings 22. I love this story and I write about it in detail in my book on the chapter about counterfeits. All the prophets were ‘yes men’ and prophesied success for the King while Michaiah prophesied defeat. One of the prophets came and slapped him saying, “Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from me to speak to you” (v.24)? What Michaiah prophesied came true despite 400 voices claiming to hear from God.

Another example is Hezekiah and the siege on Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria (Isaiah 36). An envoy of Assyria came to taunt Israel and said a number of insults outside the city including, “Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it” (v.10). Obviously a blatant lie.

Satan can be disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). We have to be very careful when even someone in ministry tells us a word from God that does not align with truth. I do believe God gives people words of knowledge today, but I also believe that Satan can plan deception in people’s minds that allow them to say something that is just a little off and get you to question what God said. Just like with Eve in the Garden, “did God really say?”

God would rather you be faithful to what He is calling you to do, than to chase after dreams and aspirations that don’t align with that calling. After all, are you building your kingdom or God’s?

Maybe being faithful to the job you dislike means that you can bring life into that environment and others can see Jesus through you.

Maybe being faithful to your family despite the frustrations means that your kids will be the first generation to know of the goodness and love of Christ without having to survive an abusive parent.

Maybe being faithful to your spouse despite your feelings means that you need to subject your feelings to the will of God and not your own; your faithfulness will be a witness to other couples with the same struggle.

Maybe enduring the pain and heartache that comes with fostering children means that the children you are pouring your heart and soul into will be able to know about Jesus simply because you are being faithful to that call despite all the garbage that sometimes comes with the foster care system.

This all comes back to discernment. Seek God for yourself; stand fast on the path He is calling you to take. Don’t be swayed by the lies of the enemy, even if it comes to you under the guise of a “friend” or someone that supposedly hears from God.

Be bold, be courageous, God can use you to accomplish His will on this earth if we are faithful and obedience for the glory of God and God alone. Amen!

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad

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VIDEO Chinese Man Arrested for Evangelizing Shares Gospel with Police – Sarah’s Journey for Christ!

By Jessica Mouser -August 14, 2020

street evangelism

A Chinese man was arrested on August 3 for conducting street evangelism and was consequently placed under administrative detention for 10 days. Remarkably, the man continued sharing the gospel by encouraging the officers who took him into custody to believe in Jesus.

“Brother Chen Wensheng received 10-day administrative detention sentence for sharing gospel of Christ on the street at his own hometown in Hunan province including to policemen,” tweeted Bob Fu. Fu is the founder and president of human rights organization ChinaAid, which reported the incident.

 
 

Man Perseveres in Street Evangelism 

The man arrested for “illegal evangelism,” Chen Wensheng, is part of the Xiaoqun Church in Hengyang, a city in Hunan province. According to ChinaAid, he was preaching the gospel in a city street while displaying a cross with the phrases “Glory to our Savior” and “Repent and be saved by faith alone.” When officials arrested Chen, they also confiscated his cross. In its report, ChinaAid shared two videos, one of Chen’s street evangelism booth and one of him sharing the gospel with Chinese officials after being released from a previous arrest.

According to International Christian Concern (ICC), conducting street evangelism and getting arrested for it has become a habit for Chen, so much so that the local authorities know him. Says ICC, “He has repeatedly urged the police officers to believe in Jesus.” In the video of Chen speaking to officials during a previous release, the officers ask if Chen makes money from telling people about Jesus. He replies that the point of believing in Jesus is not to get money, but to receive eternal life. ICC says that members of Chen’s church have visited him and provided for his needs during his most recent detainment.

There is no doubt that Chen Wensheng has shown tenacity and courage, particularly as religious persecution in China has been increasing. Among the many ways the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is oppressing Christians and other people of faith is by threatening to “re-educate” their children and by taking away children who have been adopted. In 2019, one Christian family that was part of Early Rain Covenant Church left China for Taiwan for fear that the CCP would take away their adopted child.

 
 

Not even the state-approved Three-Self Church is protected from the government’s interference. There have been reports of authorities removing crosses and religious imagery from churches throughout the country, whether or not those churches are approved by the government. And it is not only churches that the CCP is targeting with this policy. Authorities are forcibly removing religious imagery from people’s homes and replacing it with images of Chairman Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping, as part of the government’s efforts toward sinicization. Those who refuse face losing their welfare benefits.

This is not to mention the government’s ongoing surveillance and unjust sentencing of Christians in China, in addition to other human rights abuses such as the CCP’s invasive use of technology and the atrocities the party is committing against the Uighur people. ICC has recently published a comprehensive report on religious persecution in China, which you can access here.

 
 
Jessica Mouser is a writer for churchleaders.com. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past two years. She especially enjoys evaluating how various beliefs play out within culture. When Jessica isn’t writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.
 
 
 

Sarah’s Journey for Christ!


More Than a Quarter of Young Adults in the US Have Contemplated Suicide During the Pandemic, CDC Says

By Bri Lamm -August 18, 2020

contemplated suicide

As the coronavirus death toll continues to rise and fall, and cases top 5 million in the U.S. alone, there’s a growing shift in focus towards mental health and wellness.

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.5 percent, or one in four adults, ages 18-24, say they have contemplated suicide in the past month as a result of the pandemic. That’s more than three times the percentage of people in the same age group who reported suicidal ideation in the second quarter of 2019.

The staggering statistics come from a new CDC study, which surveyed 5,470 people between June 24 and June 30.

Of those surveyed, more than 40 percent said they had experienced a mental or behavioral health condition in relation to the pandemic. 31 percent reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, while 26 percent of respondents reported trauma and stress-related disorder because of the pandemic. And 13 percent of those surveyed said they have turned to increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19.

And the problem isn’t just among young adults. 22 percent of essential workers said they had contemplated suicide in the last 30 days, along with 31 percent of self-reported “unpaid caregivers” of adults.

According to the report, suicidal ideation was more prevalent among males as well as hispanic and black minorities. Symptoms of COVID-19–related stress, anxiety, or depression, increased substance use, and suicidal ideation were more prevalent among employed than unemployed respondents.

When three pandemics converge.

Federal officials and public health experts have expressed growing concern of a possible mental health crisis at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month the CDC found that more young people are dying of suicide and overdose in 2020 than they are of COVID-19.

“Mental health conditions are disproportionately affecting specific populations, especially young adults, Hispanic persons, black persons, essential workers, unpaid caregivers for adults, and those receiving treatment for preexisting psychiatric conditions,” the most recent report stated.

“Addressing mental health disparities and preparing support systems to mitigate mental health consequences as the pandemic evolves will continue to be needed urgently.”

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text an emotional support counselor with the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

More Than a Quarter of Young Adults in the US Have Contemplated Suicide During the Pandemic, CDC Says