The Jungle Whack Blessing

 

The Jennifer and Mark Morris family with Silas and Liana from the jungles of Pucallpa Peru

The Jennifer and Mark Morris family with Silas and Liana from the jungles of Pucallpa Peru

             My friend Jennifer Harris Morris was in town this summer from her mission station in Pucallpa Peru. She has started over 35 churches in 16 years. It’s an amazing story of what one woman can do devoted to God’s purposes. Their Jungle Ministry funds Micro Enterprises, conducts Animal Husbandry projects, provides social services, educates satellite churches, organizes a Bible Institute, operates Emmanuel Farm, and supports Youth Scholarship Programs for 40 students to get a vocational training. For more information, check out Mark and Jen’s Jungle Ministry

                At the end of the time where our two families spent time with one another in California, we took time to pray before leaving. Jen prayed for me a blessing she had had prayed over her in her first few years of missionary work.

                “I bless you with the Jungle Whack Blessing. You feel like you’re in a jungle and you can’t see where you’re going. But each day you move forward using the machete to cut a few more feet forward. As you look back, you can see you are leaving a path. You keep whacking away at the jungle until you reach the clearing or the water. Each day is progress, even if you can’t see it. You are moving forward and creating a path through the jungle. I bless the work of your hands each day you work.”

                This captured exactly how I was feeling about working on five projects at once and not feeling that any of them were progressing toward completion. Jen had listened, and lended her outsiders’ perspective to my world, and shared a blessing that had brought her victory.

This blessing sustained me. It was exactly what I needed to keep whacking away each day! Thank you Lord for friends who can hear and understand and know exactly how to pray.

 

For More Information on Mark and Jen’s Jungle Ministry, click here to visit their web site, Mary and Jen’s Jungle Ministry.  


Strategies for Overcoming Depression from Psalm 143 Part 1

 

Pausing to Look at the Sunset from Spanish Bay Resort, California

Pausing to Look at the Sunset from Spanish Bay Resort, California

In Psalm 143, King David outlines the strategy of the enemy for discouragement and despression. Then he describes the steps we can take to win in this battle of the mind.  Psalm 143:3-6 in the New American Standard Bible reads,

            “For the enemy has persecuted my soul;

            He has crushed my life to the ground;

            He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead

            Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;

            My heart is appalled within me.

            I remember the days of old;

            I meditate on all Thy doings

            I muse on the work of Thy hands

            I stretch out my hands to Thee

            My soul longs for Thee, as a parched land. [Selah]” (italics added)

 

The action verbs that describe the enemy to stir up our souls are persecuted, crushed and dwelling in dark places. Anyone who has walked on or near the path of depression knows what those days are like.  We feel overwhelmed and distressed (v.4).

Psalm 143 continues after verse 4. King David shares what his plan of action is. We remember the things God has done in the past. We mediate on the things he has done for us in the past. And we muse on the works of his hands (v.5). I purposely pause to consider a rose, or comprehend the stars of a night sky, or a sunset at the beach. These things give me a perspective larger than myself. Life gets better when I focus on how big God is. He’s bigger than my problems. He’s bigger than my family. He’s bigger than my company. He’s bigger than my state or country. I remember this, and then factor in his love. I take the time to meditate on his love and power told in scriptures.  I speak scriptural truths out loud.

“God loves me, flaws and all. God is for me, and not against me. God goes before me into every battle. He is with me through the floods and through the fire. He is my rear guard. I call upon Him and He answers me. God is with me in trouble. God will deliver me and honor me.” (See Romans 8:31, Psalm 56:9, Isaiah 43:2-4, Psalm 91:15, Jeremiah 31:3, 1 Samuel 17:47)

See Strategies for Overcoming Depression from Psalm 143 Part 2


Opening the Gates of Divine Marriage for 2018

Opening the Gate of Kingdom Marriages. Photo: Manfast.blogspot.com

Opening the Gate of Kingdom Marriages. Photo: Manfast.blogspot.com

During a prayer meeting on the first weekend of the New Year 2018, a friend of mine requested prayer for a marriage partner.  She has prayed this prayer before.  She said one prayer partner had seen gates that were locked and guarded by angels.  She could tell there were kingdom marriages on the other side, lots of them.  And many other marriages as well. We asked God what it would take to unlock the gates.

 

What came to me was the need for Christians to repent for what they once had.  2 Chronicles 7:14 says God cares about what His people are doing, and He listens. He knows what the others are doing.  But what do His people want and ask God to do for them and their society? God had been giving His children to one another in marriage for centuries.  But over the last generation or so, there has been some things that Christians have done in marriage that need to be repented for, in order for God to open the gates again.

 

I felt qualified to pray since I came from a divorced home of Christian leaders.  There was great delay in getting my prayers for a husband answered. Consequently I have wrestled with the question, “Why?” I started with forgiveness of my parents and took it up the family lines from there.  Then I changed the reasons I was asking God for a spouse to be more what He had in mind for my marriage.  This made a huge difference for me and meeting my (now) husband.  As I started to pray for my friend and “this gate,” I started to pray on behalf of where things are statistically with Christian marriages.

 

Here’s what came to mind:

 

1.         I repent for the broken promises of Christians made before God in marriage vows.

2.         I repent for not appreciating the gift that marriage is, and opting for what seemed like easier options than the tough work of making marriage work.

3.         I repent for the impact Christian divorce left for our children and our children’s children.  The decisions to break up marriage leave a legacy to future generations. It sets a pattern in place that only God can heal.

4.         I repent for those who compromised on God’s laws after they were married and tainted marriage before God.

5.         I repent for those who make marriage an idol in society right now.

6.         I repent for those who took an “Easy Out.”  I repent for commitment weakness.

7.         I repent for those who didn’t seek God’s purposes for their marriage and saw their marriage as something that was merely there to meet their needs.

8.         I repent for those who never saw themselves as their spouse’s “helpmate” to carry out God’s purposes for their marriage.

9.         I repent for those who didn’t seek God’s help in making their marriages work.

 

As we repent for these things on behalf of many, it may be a needed step in opening the gates for Kingdom marriages to flourish. May the Lord bless these marriages to be all that God designed them to be.  Let the divine connections flow in 2018.


After the Breaking Point, Fixing it Together

Broken Windows Happen.  Try Fixing Them Together with God. photo credit: kevinspear.com

Broken Windows Happen. Try Fixing Them Together with God. photo credit: kevinspear.com

After something breaks, we have a choice. It could be a broken relationship, a  broken job, or a broken dream.  Something happens and it’s broken.  Now what?  How do we respond?

I heard a sermon recently where a boy came to his Dad in tears. The Dad asked, “Hey, what’s up, buddy?”

The boy answered, “I broke a window.”

The Dad is thinking, “I’m so glad it’s just a broken window.”

The boy was really upset though.  He continued, “That’s not the worst of it. I did it while I was disobeying Mom.  She told me not to play in the garage, and I did it anyway. The ball went through the window and broke it. I feel really awful.”

Ah ha.  Disobedience and a broken window.  The disobedience part was more painful than the actual damage.  This was the part that was breaking him on the inside.  He had a contrite heart.  He didn’t try to blame anyone.  He didn’t try to lie.  He didn’t try to hide it up. He simply called his Dad and told him everything because he didn’t know what to do.  Now it was the Dad’s turn to respond.  The Dad didn’t respond with yelling and screaming.

The Dad said, “I’m glad you told me what happened.  I’m glad you chose to tell the truth.  We’re going to have to deal with the disobedient part.  But together we’re going to fix this.”

That is the heart of Father God. He doesn’t gloss over the disobedience part.  There’s consequence coming.  But there’s also the place to share honestly.  There’s the place to fix the problem together.  The boy didn’t have to tell the father.  The boy could have chosen options that drove them apart.  But coming to the father brought them together.  It didn’t change the fact that there was a broken window that needed repair.  But it did make the Dad and boy a team.  Punishment had to be implemented.  But learning who to call and what to do to fix the broken window also was part of the learning curve.

Some people grow up in loving families and learn how to handle life’s broken windows.  Others of us have to unlearn old responses of denial and avoidance and fix it ourselves before anyone notices. We learned our family members were not our allies.  We forgive, but haven’t learned to trust again. God wants to be our heavenly father.  He stands ready to listen and teach.  He knows what to do.  He quietly says to us, “Together, we can fix this.” It is our choice to turn toward God and become a team.


Looking for the Living Hope

A Living Hope Lets the hopeless find hope, the broken be healed, and the oppressed go free, again and again

A Living Hope Lets the hopeless find hope, the broken be healed, and the oppressed go free, again and again

For so many, the holidays seem full of hope and joy at seeing family members.  I have spent enough Christmases without family to not have the hope that comes from being with familiar family members.  In those years, being part of the family of God offered me the hope of a larger family that has many surprise members.

Paul writes about a living hope in 1 Peter 1:3,  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who…has begotten us again to a living hope.”  Jack Hayford comments, “It is the song of the gospel and the message of the Kingdom of God:  ‘Let the hopeless find hope, let the broken be healed, let the oppressed go free!’”  This piece is tucked in his devotional quoting his book, A New Time and Place every year at the beginning of the Christmas season.

Hayford continues, “It is not a matter of fortune or luck.  It is a matter of love.  It is the way of the King.  He reverses situation. He turns impossibilities on their heads.  He transforms darkness into dazzling light and plants living hope in the lives of all who come to Him.”


The Promise of Life Beyond the Box

"Because I live, you will live also."  John 14:19

“Because I live, you will live also.” John 14:19

What happens when we die?  Everyone wonders about this question at some point.  Some settle it with, “We end up in a box, and that’s the end of it.”  But the majority of people believe there is an afterlife.  Most people have a vague notion of a heaven.  Many people think they are going to heaven without having investigated what it might take to get there.

Jesus talked a lot about what the Kingdom of God is like, both on earth and in heaven.  According to Jesus, all are welcome.  But few will get there.  “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14. To His followers, He promised eternity with God the Father.

John 14:19  reads, “Because I live, you will live also.”  When we die, we do not end up in a box.  There is life beyond death.  We don’t come back as an insect or some other animal.  We keep going.  We keep our lessons, we keep our love of good.   Our good works unto God live on after us on earth.  God evaluates all our works in heaven.  All that is not done unto God gets forgotten and eventually wisps away.  But what we invested in others lives on.  What we talked about that honors God lives on in this eternal book. “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.  A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.”  Malachi 3:16. The prayers (not just wishes) we prayed are still being answered.  We plant, but God makes things grow.  1 Cor 3:7.

People miss loved ones when they die.  We feel sad.  The hope remains that we will see them again. The angel came and confronted Mary Magdalene after Jesus was murdered, “Do not fear.  He is not here.  He is risen and alive.”  Matthew 28:5  Since Jesus lives, we do too.  Jesus told one of the two men hanging on crosses next to his that he would be with Jesus in heaven that day.  “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:43 This is our hope.  This is our confidence.  We live on, in heaven, with Jesus.

 


Making Good Decisions Pre Determining Positive Behavior Action Points

Making Good Decisions Involves Making Good Pre-Determined Behavior Action Points

Making Good Decisions Involves Making Good Pre-Determined Behavior Action Points

One way to make good decisions in life is to pre-determine certain decisions.

In all families there are things that we wish had been different in our growing up years.  We might have wished our parents had shown more affection for each other, or that the words, “I love you” had been verbalized more. We might have wanted more sports encouraged for women or more traditions insisted upon.  When we get our own families we can decide in advance, “This is the way our family will be.”

We can pre-determine that when we go to certain events, we will limit ourselves to a certain time or how many drinks we will have or to whom we will speak (or not speak.) These are choices we make in advance for a desired outcome.  This avoids the chaos that comes from, “We’ll see what happens when we get there.”  One can pre-decide what will not happen in Las Vegas before one goes to avoid guilt or shame later before God.

In scripture we have a great example of a young man who was taken from his family as the Jews went into exile in Babylon, made into a eunuch, forced to serve around sorcerers and astrologists, and be taunted by a king’s constant tests.  In order to serve God, Daniel had to get past the hurdles of offenses that might have been the normal response to such circumstances, and choose to learn about God and want to honor God.

The Bible says that, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”  Daniel 1:8. Daniel “purposed” in his heart a choice of action points.  God gave Daniel favor among his superiors and Daniel excelled in physical strength as well as intellectual and spiritual knowledge.

Decide in advance who you are shaping up to be as a person of character.  Determine in advance what you will do and no do in advance of certain challenges and tests to be victorious in life.  Unexpected circumstances come to all of us in the course of life.  Yet there are many pitfalls we can avoid by pre-deciding in advance to choose good behavior action points that won’t take us on unwanted detours in life.

Lord, Guide me in all the decisions I need to make today.  Give me your wisdom concern my life.  Let me make in advance all decisions that will help me today.

See more on making good decisions by pursuing holiness.


10 Reasons to Celebrate Positive Social Markers in the World

Child Mortality Rates are the Lowest in History.

Child Mortality Rates are the Lowest in History. (Chart from the web.worldbank.org)

Johnny Enlow spoke at an Aglow conference in Sacramento in May 2014, and outlined these 10 positive Social Markers.  The media and many forwarded group emails highlight enough bad news and reasons to mourn events in the world that bring trouble and sorrows to many.  Before Christ comes back for His spotless bride (the church), there will be an Age of Restoration of

All Things.  This is a time to rally our faith and raise our requests to the Lord expecting to see His glory unfold on the earth in positive ways.

To counter so many bad news headlines, let us look at some positive trends our of world statistics.

A Fresh Look at the Societal Marker Scoreboard

1.  Evangelism Statistics

There are 2.6 billion Christians on planet earth currently.  That’s 1 in 3.

In 1900 it was 1 in 27 people who claimed to be Christians

150-200 million are in China.

30,000 are coming to God every day

35 million Christians live in India

 

2.  Holy Spirit Knowledge

700 million people around the world claim a relationship with the Holy Spirit

That is roughly 1 of every 10 people on the planet.

120 million are Catholic charisma tics.

Pope Francis encourages people to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

3.  Extreme Poverty Rate

In 1990, 33% of the world lived in extreme poverty

In 2014, 20% of the world live in extreme poverty

Bill Gates hopes that by 2020 we could have extreme poverty eliminated

Bill Gates is contending against extreme poverty rates

God will bless whoever worked toward this goal.

Eventually the church will embrace this role.

Heaven passes around good news.

 

4.  Child Mortality rates

2.65% decrease every year since 1990

Child Mortality rates are at the lowest in history

 

5.   Teen pregnancy in USA

Down 60% since 1990

Lowest since 1940 (when they first started tracking the statistics)

 

6.   Abortions

In 1990, there were 1.4 million abortions in USA

In 2013,  800,000 in USA  (Lowest ever)

Less abortions in 2013 than before Rowe v Wade passed

87 abortion clinics closed in 2013

7.  Sexism Against Women

Discrimination against women has been improving.

We live in a time where it  is the best stage ever for women.

Things have never been better

There are laws in place that protect women that are being enforced.

8.         Racism

Best state ever in history or our country.

USA voted for an Afro American president – twice.

This is an amazing fact.

Some minorities think, “If a black man can be elected President, I can do anything.”

It’s happening, whether we know it or not.

“No bullying” is a policy that many communities are adopting.

Awareness on this issue his been increasing.

Valuing an individual comes from heart of God

Those fighting for this have God’s heart

9.         Government Accountability

In general, it’s never been harder to be a dictator.

Cameras around world capture so many things that force honesty.

Truth comes out with social media – electronic trail

10.       Malaria

Lowest rates in history

The effect of the momentum is positive.  Be encouraged!

 


Great Dads Reflect a Positive Relationship with God – Part 2

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on earth

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on earth

1 Corinthians says to believe the best in people.  God believes the best in you. He approves of you—even if not every choice you’ve made so far  God never expected perfection out of us—just like we don’t expect any kid to walk perfectly the first time or get perfect scores in every subject of every level of learning.  (Parents who expect this are projecting their need for perfection on kids.)  Most parents are thrilled when we take the first few steps, even if we fall down.  We get up and keep trying till we’re walking.

All of God’s favorite kids (our heroes in the Bible) had flaws and weaknesses and made bad decisions.  Luckily, our Daddy is really big. He’s so big that He can still make things okay when we mess up.  Even with Adam and Eve, He continued his plan for earth even after they flunked their first test.  God works with us humans knowing we are not perfect.  Jesus worked with flawed disciples and He still changed the world in three short ministry years.  After He ascended to heaven, the well meaning fishermen became emboldened with the Holy Spirit anad carried out God’s plan to take the good news of Jesus to every corner of the world.

There’s less consequences (to us) when we make good decisions. God works with who we are and whatever we give him.  We remind ourselves that our Heavenly Father is a Big God, a loving God and a God who is for us.

Let us honor our earthly Dad’s for all that is honorable.  And let us also take time to worship our Heavenly Father today.

Have you thought about the fact that our Heavenly Father never grows old? He doesn’t have bad hearing or becomes forgetful.  We’ll never heave to take care of Him.  Our Heavenly Father really is perfect.  He is holy and honorable in every way.  Praise God, our Father.

Psalm 37:5 says, Roll your burdens on to the Lord. Trust in Him and He worketh.

Catch the first part of this article Great Dads Reflect a Positive  Relationship with God – Part 2


Great Dads Reflect a Positive Relationship with God – Part 1

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on earth

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on Earth

Great Dads reflect a positive relationship with God.  They offer love, loyalty, belief in us, family pride, nurturing, encouragement, fix-it help and advice.  To the point they can, Dads who love a woman (hopefully our mothers) model love to their kids.  They know how to establish friends and can earn a living and be good providers.  Good Dads are good at whatever skill God gave them to develop.  They put on kindness and gentleness.

With not-so-good Dads, we project a father’s worst traits on to God, instead of the enemy who deserves it.  It makes it harder to see God and his goodness.

Breakthrough happens when we realize all our frustrations with God usually belong to the enemy and not God.  Every good gift is from God above.  James 1:17. If we can grasp this, and fully believe it, we move into victory realm.  The Dad we always wanted is there for us in Father God.  For all our Dad’s foibles, we must learn to turn to our Heavenly Father to get the missing piece from our perfect Father.  We can let our earthly Dads be the imperfect human Dad  He too can get his needs met from the Father.

Our Heavenly Father is love.  And He has already made the decision to love us (from the beginning of time,) to create us, and to design us for His delight.  He’s delighted with you.  He’s given each of us everything we had for a joy filled life of abundance.  We come more as a kit project.  He wants to build the project of us with Him..  He and we are a team and we are a part of a larger design of family and community.

See also: Great Dads Reflect a Positive  Relationship with God – Part 2