Guiding Child-Sized Dreams Into God-Sized Faith

by Leigh Ann Thomas | Are we as parents holding on to old dreams? Does God want us to release them so He can give us a broader vision? Maybe we’re thinking too small. (image: Gravity Leadership)

Dirt, tiny digging tools, and a magnifying glass littered the table where my fourth-grade daughter hunched over her latest project. Her focus was intense, and even calls for lunch weren’t enough to pry her from the task at hand.

“Mom, I think I found something!”

Sure enough, I could see a dinosaur fossil clenched in her tweezers. I’m not sure which was more impressive—the fossil, or my daughter’s jubilant smile.

Her sisters joined me in examining the find and my heart thrilled to watch the enthusiasm of my little explorer.

For several years, my middle daughter was into all things dinosaur. She lived and breathed paleontology. She exhausted available library books, begged to visit museums, and requested science kits for birthdays and Christmas.

Around that time, our family devotion time centered on the importance of a daily walk with God and learning to listen to His leading in all decisions, especially our life’s work.

This gave my young scientist great pause. As she pondered the concepts of listening to God’s voice and living in obedience to Him, I could see the conflict in her eyes.

“But Mama, what if God doesn’t want me to be a paleontologist?”

(Side note: Moms, don’t ever wonder where your mission field might be—you are living it every day.)

My daughter and I spent the next few minutes discussing that if she surrendered her dreams to God, He would take that sweet obedience and He would fill the place in her heart—presently filled with dinosaurs—with His plans for her (science or something else).

And those plans would be bigger and more amazing than she could imagine.

What a privilege to teach our children the concepts of faith and submission! To introduce God’s promises and precepts concerning how to follow Him. To encourage them to cling to Scriptures like Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” and Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Walking with Christ is about surrender and obedience. About denying self and reaching for the heart of God. Every step of faithfulness lights the way for the next step.

Are we as parents holding on to old dreams? Does God want us to release them so He can give us a broader vision? Maybe we’re thinking too small.

What a joy-filled responsibility God has given parents: To walk this path of obedience so that little feet may follow.

Leigh Ann Thomas is the author of Ribbons, Lace and Moments of Grace—Inspiration for the Mother of the Bride (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A columnist for AlmostAnAuthor.com, she has also written for The Write Conversation, Southern Writers Suite T and Power for Living. Leigh Ann blogs at https://leighathomas.com/, where she encourages others to keep a Jesus heart in an upside-down world.



After Hurricane Harvey, a Visible Sign of God’s Protection

by Diana Aydin | How floodwaters delivered unexpected protection to a widow’s evacuated home.

The other day a friend of mine, Jim Debes, showed me a remarkable photo that he took during Hurricane Harvey.

Aydin - Has God ever given you a visible sign of his love and protection

Jim had been looking out for one of his friends, a widow who had to evacuate because of the flooding. He knew how nervous she was about leaving her house. She prayed and prayed for God’s protection.

Jim promised her he’d look after her home. He even went there after she evacuated to store some of her things in the attic so they wouldn’t get damaged in the flooding. When he left, the power had gone out in her house and both sides of her electronic gate were wide open.

A week later, Jim returned to her house to check on things. To his surprise, the gates were firmly closed, held in place by a 30-foot telephone pole (minus wires). The area had gotten over six feet of water and, evidently, the pole just floated over and closed the gates!

The waters from Harvey weren’t kept out, but that telephone pole kept her property safe from debris, critters and looters.

And reminded both Jim and his friend of God’s unwavering love and protection.



Paul’s Prayer: The Measure of Immeasurable Power

by the Bible Study Tools | There are two measures of the immeasurable power ; the one is that infinite limit of “the power which He wrought in Christ,” and the other the practical limit—the working bound of our spiritual life is our faith.

That ye may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ.—Eph. i. 19, 20.“The riches of the glory of the inheritance” will sometimes quench rather than stimulate hope. He can have little depth of religion who has not ‘often felt that the transcendent glory of that promised future sharpens the doubt—” and can I ever hope to reach it?” Our paths are strewn with battlefields where we were defeated; how should we expect the victor’s wreath? And so Paul does not think that he has asked all which his friends in Ephesus need when he has asked that they may know the hope and the inheritance. There is something more wanted, something more even for our knowledge of these, and that is the knowledge of the power which alone can fulfill the hope and bring the inheritance. His language swells and peals and becomes exuberant and noble with his theme. He catches fire, as it were, as he thinks about this power that worketh in us. It is “exceeding.” Exceeding what? He does not tell us, but other words in this letter, in the other great prayer which it contains may help us to supply the missing words. He speaks of the “love of Christ which passeth knowledge,” and of God being “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” The power which is really at work in Christian men to-day is in its nature properly transcendent and immeasurable, and passes thought and desire and knowledge.And yet it has a measure. “According to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ.” Is that heaping together of synonyms, or all but synonyms, mere tautology? Surely not. Commentators tell us that they can distinguish differences of meaning between the words, in that the first of them is the more active and outward, and the last of them is the more inward. And so they liken them to fruit and branch and root; but we need simply say that the gathering together of words so nearly co-extensive in their meaning is witness to the effort to condense the infinite within the bounds of human tongue,to speak the unspeakable; and that these reiterated expressions, like the blows of the billows that succeed one another on the beach, are hints of the force of the infinite ocean that lies behind,

And then the Apostle, when he has once come in sight of his risen Lord, as is his wont, is swept away by the ardour of his faith and the clearness of his vision, and breaks from his purpose to dilate on the glories of his King. We do not need to follow him into that. I limit myself this morning to the words which I have read as my text, with only such reference to the magnificent passage which succeeds as may be necessary for the exposition of this.

I.—So, then, I ask you to look, first, at the measure and example of the immeasurable power that works in Christian men.

“According to the working of the strength of the might which he wrought in Christ.” The Resurrection, the Ascension, the session at the right hand of God, the rule over all creatures, and the exaltation above all things on earth or in the heavens —these are the things which the Apostle brings before us as the pattern-work, the chef-d'(euvre ot the power that is operating in all Christians. The present glories of the ascended Christ are glories possessed by a man, and that being so, they are available as evidences and measures of the power which works in believing souls. In them we see the possibilities of humanity, the ideal for man which God had when He created and breathed His blessing upon him. It is one of ourselves who has strength enough to bear the burden of the glory, one of ourselves who can stand within the blaze of encircling and indwelling Divinity and be unconsumed. The possibilities of human nature are manifest there. If we want to know what the Divine power can make of us, let us turn to look with the eye of faith upon what it has made of Jesus Christ.

But such a thought, glorious as it is, still leaves room for doubt as to my personal attainment of such an ideal. Possibility is much, but we need solid certainty. And we find it in the truth that the bond between Christ and those who truly love and trust Him is such as that the possibility must become a reality and be consolidated into a certainty. The Vine and its branches, the members and their Head, the Christ and His Church, are knit together by such closeness of union as that wheresoever and whatsoever the one is, there and that must the others also be. Therefore, when doubts and fears, and consciousness of my own weakness, creep across me, and all my hopes are dimmed, as some star in the heavens is when a light mist floats between us and it, let us turn away to Him our brotber, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and think that He, in His calm exaltation and regal authority and infinite blessedness, is not only the pattern of what humanity may be, but the pledge of what His Church must be. “Where I am, there shall also My servant be.” “The glory that Thou gavest Me I have given them.”

Nor is that all. Not only a possibility and a certainty for the future are for us the measure of the power that worketh in us, but as this same letter teaches us, we have, as Christians, a present scale by which we may estimate the greatness of the power. For in the next chapter, after that glorious burst as to the dignity of his Lord, which we have not the heart to call a digression, the Apostle, recurring to the theme of my text, goes on to say, ” And you hath He quickened,” and then, catching it up a verse or two afterwards, reiterates clause by clause what had been done on Jesus as having been done on us Christians. If that Divine Spirit raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, it is as true that the same power hath “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And so not only the far-off, though real and brilliant, and eye-andheart-filling glories of the ascended Christ give us the measure of the power, but also the limited experience of the present Christian life, the fact of the resurrection from the true death, the death of sin, the fact of union with Jesus Christ so real and close as that they who truly experience it do live, as far as the roots of their lives are concerned, and the scope and the aim of them, ” in the heavens,” and “sit with Him in heavenly places”—these things afford us the measure of the power that worketh in us.

Then, because a Man is King of kings and Lord of lords; and because He who is our Life “is exalted high above all principalities and powers “; and because from His throne He has quickened us from the death of sin, and has drawn us so near to Himself that if we are His we truly live beside Him, even whilst we stumble here in the darkness, we may know the exceeding greatness of His power, according to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.

II.—Secondly, notice the knowledge of the unknowable power.

We have already come across the same apparent paradox, covering a deep truth, in the former sections of this series of petitions. I need only remind you, in reference to this matter, that the knowledge which is here in question is not the intellectual perception of a fact as revealed in Scripture, but is that knowledge to which alone the New Testament gives the noble name, being knowledge verified by inward expedience, and the result of one’s own personal acquaintance with its object.

How do we know a power? By thrilling beneath its force. How are we to know the greatness of the power but because it comes surging and rejoicing into our aching emptiness, and lifts us buoyant above our temptations and weakness? Paul was not asking for these people theological conceptions. He was asking that their spirits should be so saturated with and immersed in that great ocean of force that pours from God as that they should never, henceforth, be able to doubt the greatness of that power which wrought in them. The knowledge that comes from experience is the knowledge that we all ought to seek. It is not merely to be desired that we should have right and just conceptions, but that we should have the vital knowledge which is, and which comes from, life eternal.

And that power, which thus we may all know by feeling it working upon ourselves, though it be immeasurable, has its measure; though it be, in its depth and fulness, unknowable and inexhaustible, may yet be really and truly known. You do not need a thunderstorm to experience the electric shock; a battery that you can carry in your pocket will do that for you. You do not need to have traversed all the length and breadth and depth and height of some newly discovered country to be sure of its existence, and to have a real, though it may be a vague, conception of the magnitude of its shores. And so, really, though boundedly, we have the knowledge of God, and can rely upon it as valid, though partial; and similarly, by experience, we have such a certified acquaintance with Him and His power as needs no enlargement to be trusted, and to become the source of blessings untold. We may see but a strip of the sky through the narrow chinks of our prison windows, and many a grating may further intercept the view, and much dust that might be cleared away may dim the glass, but yet it is the sky that we see, and we can think of the great horizon circling round and round, and of the infinite depths above there, which neither eye nor thought can travel unwearied. Though all that we see be but an inch in breadth and a foot or two in height, yet we do see. We know the unknowable power that passeth knowledge.

And let me remind you of how large importance this knowledge of and constant reference to the measureless power manifested in Christ is for us. I believe there can be no vigorous, happy, Christian life without it. It is our only refuge from pessimism and despair for the world. The old psalm said, “Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honour, and hast given Him dominion over the works of Thy hands.” And hundreds of years afterwards the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews commented on it thus, ” We see not yet all things put under Him.” Was the old vision a dream, was it ever intended to be fulfilled? Apparently not, if we take the history of the past into account; and the centuries that have passed since the Epistle have done nothing to make it more probable, apart from Jesus Christ, that man will rise to the height which the Psalmist dreamed of. When we look at the exploded Utopias that fill the past; when we think of the strange and apparently fatal necessity by which evil is developed from every stage of what men call progress, and how improvement is perverted almost as soon as effected, into another fortress of weakness and misery; when we look on the world as it is to-day, I know not whence a man is to draw bright hopes, or what is to deliver him from pessimism as his last word about himself and his fellows, except the ” working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ.” “We see not yet all things put under Him.” Be it so, “but we see Jesus,” and looking to Him, hope is possible, reasonable, and imperative.

The same knowledge is our refuge from our own consciousness of weakness. We look up, as a climber may do in some Alpine ravine, upon the smooth gleaming walls of the cliff that rises above him. It is marble, it is fair, there are lovely lands on the summit, but nothing that has not wings can get there. We try, and we slip backwards almost as much as we rise. What is to be done? Are we to sit down at the foot of the cliff and say, “We cannot climb, let us be content with the luscious herbage and sheltered ease below “? Yes! That is what we are tempted to say. But look! A mighty hand reaches over, an arm is stretched down, the hand grasps us and lifts us and sets us there.

“No man hath ascended up into Heaven save He that came down from Heaven,” and having returned thither, stoops thence, and will lift us to Himself. I am a poor weak creature. Yes! I am all full of sin and corruption. Yes! I am ashamed of myself every day. Yes! I am too heavy to climb, and have no wings to fly, and am bound here by chains manifold. Yes! But we know the exceeding greatness of the power, and we triumph in Him.

That knowledge should shame us into contrition, when we think of such force at our disposal, and so poor results. That knowledge should widen our conceptions, enlarge our desires, breathe a brave confidence into our hopes, should teach us to expect great things of God, and to be intolerant of present attainments, whilst anything remains unattained. And it should stimulate our vigorous effort, for no man will long seek to be better, if he is convinced that the effort is hopeless.

Learn to realize the exceeding greatness of the power that will clothe your weakness. “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, for that He is strong in might, not one faileth.” That is wonderful, but here is a far nobler operation of the Divine power. It is great to preserve the ancient heavens fresh and strong by His might, but it is greater to come down to my weakness, to “give power to the faint,” and “increase strength to them that have no might.” And that is what He will do with us.

III.—Lastly, notice the conditions for the operation of the power.

“To usvvard who believe,” says Paul. He has been talking to these Ephesians, and saying “ye,” but now, by that “us,” he places himself beside them, identifies himself with them, and declares that all his gifts and strength come to him on precisely the same conditions on which theirs do to them ; and that he, like them, is a waiter upon that grace which God bestows on them that trust Him.

“To usward who believe.” Once more we are back at the old truth which we can never make too emphatic and plain, that the one condition of the weakest among us being strong with the strength of the Lord is simple trust in Him, verified, of course, by continuance and by effort.

How did the water go into the Ship Canal at Eastham last week? First of all they cut a trench, and then they severed the little strip of land between the hole and the sea, and the sea did the rest. The wider and deeper the opening that we make in our natures by our simple trust in God, the fuller will be the rejoicing flood that pours into us. There is an old story about a Christian father, who, having been torturing himself with theological speculations about the nature of the Trinity, fell asleep and dreamed that he was emptying the ocean with a thimble! Well, you cannot empty it with a thimble, but you can go to it with one, and if you have only a thimble in your hand you will only bring away a thimbleful. The measure of your faith is the measure of God’s power given to you.

There are two measures of the immeasurable power ; the one is that infinite limit of “the power which He wrought in Christ,” and the other the practical limit—the working bound of our spiritual life is our faith. In plain English, we can have as much of God as we want. We do have as much as we want. And if. in touch with the power that can shatter a universe, we only get a little thrill that is scarcely perceptible to ourselves, and all unnoticed by others, whose fault is that? And if, coming to the fountain that laughs at drought and can fill a universe with its waters, we scarcely bear away a straitened drop or two, that barely refresh our parched lips, and do nothing to stimulate the growth of the plants of holiness in our gardens, whose fault is that? The practical measure of our power is for us the measure of our belief and desire. And if we only go to Him as I pray we all may, and continue there, and ask from Him strength, according to the riches that are treasured in Jesus Christ, we shall get the old answer, “According to your faith be it unto you.”



Creation of Man in Islam and Christianity

by Derya Little | I believe the most crucial difference between Christianity and Islam is how each system views the human person.

It has been much harder than I expected to explain to Westerners why Muslims, even the moderate ones, behave the way they do. How does one describe the trees to a kid who only ever saw the desert? Even though it is fading, Christianity has been in the very fabric of the West, making all the wonderful things about Western culture possible, like critical thinking, respect for human rights and selflessness. None of these are fundamental in an Islamic culture. A Muslim child grows up in a world where sin and salvation mean something completely different, a world where the concept of grace is hollow and confusing. If we do not understand the culture, all our dealings with Muslims, either during daily encounters or engaging in dialogue, will remain shallow and fruitless.

I believe the most crucial difference between Christianity and Islam is how each system views the human person.

Memorizing prayers and learning to recite the Quran were crucial parts of my summers as a dutiful little Muslim girl. From an early age, I was filled with fear and awe of Allah, who demanded absolute submission without a smidgen of doubt or disrespect. However, in my child’s heart, occasionally I had the audacity to try to picture this supreme being. These irreverent falls of mine usually lasted mere seconds as an image of a pure bright being with rainbow eyes hovered in my mind. These moments of light-hearted imagination were followed by crippling fear. How dare I try to fit the all-knowing and all-powerful Allah into my measly human mind? After that, for days, I would struggle with this fear, waiting to be struck down or to be turned into stone.

Given that trying to picture Allah is forbidden, is it really hard to understand why Incarnation is not a good place to start a conversation with a Muslim friend? The most fundamental belief of Christianity is that God himself became man to bring us eternal life. But, the mere suggestion of God-man is enough for many Muslims to tear off their clothes and cry out blasphemy. Why does the thought of Incarnation incite such strong emotions? There are many reasons for this outrage, but one needs to first understand how man was created in the beginning and where Allah stands concerning this imperfect creation of his.

In Genesis, Scripture tells us that God created man and woman in his own image. Before sin severed their connection, God and man were in perfect union, for man was a creation of love as a result of Triune perfection:

The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves. (CCC 1702)

This image alone paves the way to God lowering himself to become man in order to bring salvation. Creation of man is first and foremost an act of love, a reflection of the perfect divine love among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. From the beginning, Incarnation was God’s design.

The story of man’s creation and the relationship between Allah and man could not have been more different in Islam. To begin with, we cannot talk about love as the cause of man’s origin. Without the Trinity, there is nothing for Allah to express, for he does not know love, neither is he love. A consistent view of why the man was created in the first place is lacking in Islamic thinking; however, these verses in the Quran reveal that it was not as a result of a relationship or an act of love Adam and Eve came to be:

Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him. (76:2)

I did not create the jinn [the demons] and the humans except to worship me. (51:56)

The idea that Allah the all-powerful would desire a relationship with us is laughable without the existence of a prior relationship among the Three Persons of the Trinity. Therefore, even before Adam was created, his place was set. He would be nothing but a slave who feared his master. His fate was to be tried over and over again until he pleased his master with obedience and worship so that the gates of heaven will one day be opened before him.

Thus, the first man was fashioned from dirt, and then life was breathed into him. Then, his descendants were created through a sperm-drop (nutfah):

It is He Who has created you from dust then from a sperm-drop, then from a leech-like clot; then does he get you out (into the light) as a child: then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old, —though of you there are some who die before; —and lets you reach a term appointed; in order that you may learn wisdom. (40:67)

The nutfah, semen, is a despicable fluid that is produced by shameful parts of man, only to be washed off and discarded. It is inherently dirty and something to be hidden, ashamed of.

Have We not created you from a fluid (held) despicable? (77:20)

Even though there are verses that proclaim everything Allah has created is good, there are a number of verses that keep reminding man of his beginning, lest he forget his place:

Now let man but think from what he is created. He is created from a drop emitted. Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs. (86:5-7)

Who made all things good which God created, and he began the creation of man from clay; And made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of a fluid despised. (32:7-8)

In other verses man’s origins are mentioned as sticky clay (37:11) or black mud (15:28) to emphasize his infinite lowliness compared to Allah. The Quran establishes an uncrossable chasm between Allah and man, a chasm, in fact, that cannot be compensated even by an omnipotent creator. Not because Allah is not able, but because it is unthinkable that the maker of the universe would lower himself to bestow his own image upon men, let alone become one of those utterly inferior creations. This is not to say that man is the least among others. Because Allah breathes life into Adam from his own spirit, man is elevated above the angels, who were created from light as opposed to dirt. However, even Allah’s own breath of life is not sufficient to bridge the eternal gap that remains between master and slave.

Even from the creation of man, gnostic elements in Islam are visible, and they get more pronounced in the daily life of a Muslim. For instance, ritual cleansing is a crucial aspect of religious life. One cannot enter the mosque if one has not been ritually cleansed beforehand. If any natural urges were satisfied, such as passing gas, the cleansing must be repeated. Following sexual intercourse, both man and woman need to be cleansed before praying, touching the Quran or entering a mosque. A woman on her period is banned from all religious activities. This idea that things related to the human body are unclean and in constant need of restoration start with the creation of man who came from despicable fluid and black mud. This infinite inferiority of man not only puts too much emphasis on man, but projects a deity who is capricious, incapable of love and in constant need of admiration and worship.

Without love being the most essential part of this divine equation, there is no room for incarnation. Without God’s love first expressed in the Trinity, man cannot be created out of love. The invulnerable baby who needs the attention and protection of Mary and Joseph is unimaginable to a Muslim mind, for Christ’s miraculous entry to our world is only possible with love.

Derya Little

By Derya Little
Derya Little has a Ph.D. in politics from Durham University in England. Her articles on foreign affairs have appeared in academic journals and Catholic World Report. She is the author of From Islam to Christ, published by Ignatius Press (2017).



Caribbean Churches Destroyed by Deadly Hurricane Irma

by Kate Shellnutt | Regional leaders are still assessing how millions of Christians fared in the storm.

Many churches in the Caribbean islands are presumed destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the deadly storm currently making its way through Florida.

At least four churches in Antigua and Barbuda and a dozen on St. Martin were flattened by the Category 5 hurricane last week, according to Emerson Boyce, secretary general of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean (EAC).

Boyce, who is located in Trinidad and Tobago, has struggled to reach major Christian leaders in Irma’s path to confirm the extent of the damage among the evangelical community across the Leeward Islands.

Pentecostal and Full Gospel churches are the biggest Protestant groups in the hardest-hit islands, where Christians make up 75 percent or more of the population. (There are no seminaries or Christian colleges on the affected islands; most training in the region comes out of Jamaica, Barbados, or Trinidad and Tobago.)

“I want to thank God. Despite all that’s happening globally, there is still a Christian presence in the Caribbean,” Boyce told CT this weekend. So far, 23 people in the Caribbean have died.

In the British Virgin Islands, some churches where people were taking shelter had their roofs blown off, according to mogul Richard Branson, who owns two islands in the area.

On Sunday, churches across the EAC, which represents about half of the 8 million Christians in the Caribbean, prayed for protection, safety, and relief for the victims.

Samaritan’s Purse airlifted supplies to St. Martin on Friday and will make a second trip on Monday, delivering enough supplies to help 4,000 families on the French and Dutch island of 74,000. Among the evacuees rescued by the organization was Jonathan Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and son of the late Jerry Falwell, who was there on facation.

Samaritan’s Purse said in a statement:

This was a significant encouragement to the people, that somebody cared that much for them and was willing to go and help them in their time of need. We believe God has opened a unique door on St. Martin, and we want to show the compassion of Jesus Christ and bring his hope to people who are suffering.

The next storm forming in the Atlantic, Hurricane Jose, appears to be moving away from the islands already hit by Irma.



How Does the “Selfie Culture” Affect Young Women Today?

by Rachel Marie Stone | It’s not healthy to dwell too much on how we look.

A selfie? Whether it’s spelled with an ‘ie’ or a ‘y’, Oxford defines it as;

“A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Branding yourself is not a new concept. However branding yourself with the image that you want the world – or your followers to see – is a new form of personal branding. And the way you see yourself in a selfie is tailored toward the way you expect others to see you and not the way your close family, friends and relations sees you.

 

 



Did Pope Francis Put Migrant Safety Ahead of National Security?

by Thomas D. Williams | According to Catholic teaching, the common good and the good of each individual person are not in opposition to one another, because the common good does not refer to some abstract collectivity such as “the state” but to the human community made up of real persons. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

On August 21, the Vatican released Pope Francis’s 2018 message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, a commemorative feast established by Pope Pius X in 1914. The message collects some of Francis’s now well-known considerations regarding migration, bringing them together into a four-point program: “to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”

While much of the content of the message is therefore familiar to attentive followers of the pope’s statements, one particular expression stands out not only for its novelty, but indeed because of its apparent dissonance with earlier statements by the pontiff and with elements of Catholic teaching more broadly.

In what is perhaps the most puzzling line of the message, the pope asserts that the principle of the centrality of the human person “obliges us to always prioritise personal safety over national security.” In the full text, Pope Francis even invokes his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, as the underlying source of this notion:

The principle of the centrality of the human person, firmly stated by my beloved Predecessor, Benedict XVI, obliges us to always prioritise personal safety over national security. It is necessary, therefore, to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained. The situation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees requires that they be guaranteed personal safety and access to basic services. For the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorisation.

Despite the explicit mention of Pope Benedict, the footnote provided has little bearing on the statement in question. The note redirects to Caritas in Veritate 47, in which Benedict indeed speaks of “the centrality of the human person,” but in the context of development, with no reference whatsoever to national security, immigration or the common good.

The statement provoked a good deal of comment and wound up highlighted by numerous media outlets as the most newsworthy expression in the entire message. The Guardian, for example, titled its story: “Pope Francis: prioritise migrants’ dignity over national security,” while the Washington Post printed the AP article with the headline “Pope: Rights of migrants trump national security concerns.” For its part, Reuters posted a piece called “Pope says migrants’ rights should override national security concerns.” Even certain Catholic media, such as the UK-based Catholic Herald, underscored this aspect of the Message, with the title “Pope Francis: put migrant safety before national security.”

This declaration provoked some consternation because it seems to contradict the ancient Aristotelian principle asserting the priority of the common good of society (koinion sumpheron) over the particular good of individuals, a concept fully incorporated into traditional Catholic theology and teaching.

According to Catholic teaching, the common good and the good of each individual person are not in opposition to one another, because the common good does not refer to some abstract collectivity such as “the state” but to the human community made up of real persons. It entails all the social conditions necessary for the material and spiritual flourishing of individuals, families and groups. Still, there is an understanding that individuals must look beyond their particular good to direct their activities to the common good as well.

Catholic teaching insists that the primary function of government is the pursuit of the common good of society, which explicitly includes national security.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the role of the state “is to ensure as far as possible the common good of the society” (1898) and political authority itself derives its “moral legitimacy” from its effective commitment to the common good (1902). Authority is exercised legitimately, the Catechism continues, “only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned” (1903).

These statements are particularly germane when one considers that one of the three essential components of the common good, as expressed by the Catechism itself, is “the stability and security of a just order” (1909). The common good “presupposes that authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defence,” it explains.

In other words, national security is one of the core components of the common good and therefore a fundamental responsibility of public authority.

The pope’s message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees must, of course, be read within the context of Catholic tradition, and in dialogue with other statements by Francis himself, which gives a better sense of what Francis was trying to express.

Pope Pius XII, in a letter of December 24, 1948 to the American Bishops, urged openness to migrants and refugees, with the sole caveat that the common good—or public welfare—of society be protected.

The sovereignty of the state, Pius stated, “although it must be respected, cannot be exaggerated to the point that access to this land is, for inadequate or unjustified reasons, denied to needy and decent people from other nations, provided of course, that the public welfare, considered very carefully, does not forbid this.”

It is noteworthy that the one condition Pius places on his plea for openness to “needy and decent people from other nations” is the “public welfare” (publicae utilitati). In other words, Pius asserted that public welfare be placed above the particular good of individual migrants.

Pope Francis himself has seemed to express this very point in earlier statements.

In an extended interview earlier this year with the Spanish daily El País, the pope reaffirmed basic Catholic doctrine regarding immigration, namely, that sovereign nations have the right to maintain secure borders and to receive immigrants in an orderly and controlled fashion. He also seemed to imply that where threats to national security exist in the form of terrorism, nations may impose stricter criteria in admitting migrants.

“Yes, every country has the right to control its borders, who comes and who goes,” Francis said, “and those countries at risk—from terrorism or such things—have even more right to control them more.”

In this statement, Francis seemed to imply that concerns for national security—and therefore the welfare of citizens—legitimizes greater vigilance on the part of public officials in the regulation of migration.

This also falls within the Pope’s broader perspective that immigration flows be regulated in a “rational” fashion.

In May of 2016, a reporter asked Pope Francis whether Europe should be welcoming so many migrants, to which the pope responded that “it is a fair and responsible question because we cannot open the doors irrationally.”

In his most recent message, Pope Francis has shown once again that he has a particular gift for stimulating dialogue and debate on topics that affect Catholics in a particular way, and society in general. Moreover, the pope has a way of saying seemingly contradictory things at different times, which require being read together in order to garner the full sense of what he is trying to convey. Taken singularly, they can appear incomplete or even discordant with traditional teaching, whereas when taken together, their full meaning often becomes clearer.

In this particular instance, Francis is plainly not mounting a case to undermine the importance of national security or the duty of the state to protect its citizens. He is rather underscoring the dignity of each human person and the moral requirement to treat each one—whether a citizen or a foreigner—with the respect due to that human dignity.

That being said, the frustration experienced by many Catholics over the pope’s often imprecise language and seemingly studied ambiguity is not without merit. To say something that taken at face value is simply incorrect—such as the above affirmation, which came not in an off-the-cuff remark but in a formal message—can seem to many a disservice to the immense teaching authority that has been placed in the pope’s hands as successor to Saint Peter.

by Thomas D. Williams
Thomas D. WilliamsThomas D. Williams is the Rome Bureau Chief for Breitbart News. He is a Catholic moral theologian, professor of ethics and author of 15 books including Who Is My Neighbor? Personalism and the Foundations of Human Rights (2005) and The World As It Could Be: Catholic Social Thought for a New Generation (2011). Williams holds a doctorate in theology, a license in philosophy and a BBA in business administration and economics.

 



Why Jesus’ Parables are Not Just Nice Stories

by Veronica Neffinger | By using parables, Jesus is establishing Himself as a prophet and proclaiming that He is fulfilling the mission of God preached by all previous prophets.

As Christians, we are likely familiar with Jesus’ parables. We hear about them in Sunday school, in sermon illustrations, and we read them in the Bible. These stories reveal important truths about the Kingdom of God, but their purpose is often misunderstood.

Often, Christians seem inclined to view Jesus’ parables as simply nice stories–the same way we might view stories a pastor may use to illustrate a point of his sermon. The parables recorded in the Bible, however, have a much deeper meaning and significance.

In his article for The Gospel Coalition titled “Jesus’s Parables Are Not Heartwarming Sermon Illustrations,” Greg Lanier digs into the purpose of the parables and why it is inaccurate to view them as nice stories.

Lanier points out that after one of the most noteworthy of Jesus’ parables–that of the Sower and the Seed, Jesus makes this baffling statement: “When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, ‘The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,

they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’” (Mark 4:10-12).

We may ask, Why would Jesus intentionally be vague or less than straightforward in teaching about something so foundationally important?

Lanier directs us to Isaiah 6:9-10 in which God tells the prophet Isaiah, “Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

Like all Old Testament prophets of God, Isaiah pointed to the great Prophet that was to come: Jesus. Like Isaiah, Jesus preached God’s Word to a people many of whose hearts were hardened to His Words.

“Isaiah sees a vision of the Lord and is charged to preach to the nation. His life is spent proclaiming impending judgment for many and restoration for a remnant. God tells him at the outset, however, his preaching will sometimes produce the opposite of what Isaiah may desire: it will make some more dull and unresponsive, not less,” writes Lanier.

Jesus’ statement in the Parable of the Sower, then, is a pronouncement of the state of peoples’ hearts. Those who weren’t receptive to His Words were those who had already been hardening their hearts to the things of God and His Kingdom.

“Almost shockingly, the Lord tells Isaiah his prophetic ministry is designed, in God’s mysterious plan, to produce division in the nation between the repentant and unrepentant. When Jesus, then, takes Isaiah’s commission on his own lips, he’s revealing that his ministry will produce the same result,” writes Lanier.

God’s Words are hard to hear. Writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul gets at this same thing: “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Throughout the Bible, says Lanier, “Prophets use parables of all sorts to veil and unveil truth, to bring hearers to the point of recognizing their own self-judgment, and to produce a response to God.”

By using parables, Jesus is establishing Himself as a prophet and proclaiming that He is fulfilling the mission of God preached by all previous prophets. Parables are not heartwarming stories, but instead lessons that communicate deep truths about God and His Kingdom.

Lanier concludes, “The seed of the gospel is freely and lovingly scattered to any and everyone. But the soil is what matters, and God alone can prepare it to receive the seed and yield the manifold crop of repentance and forgiveness. This frees the preacher to sow the seed faithfully, and then watch God work to change sinful hearts according to his sovereign will.”



Experiencing the Presence of the Lord

by James W. Goll | We need to spend time resting in God’s presence, going back again and again, falling in love with God all over again.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

Resting Around the Ark of God

You hear a lot these days in the church about “soaking.” Some people object to it because that term is not in the Bible. (Of course, a lot of things we do are not directly stated in the Bible. Sunday School, bus ministry and electric guitar music among others are some examples.)

But the soaking concept is there—it’s all over the place. It’s in almost every book of the Bible, including 1 Samuel. You can see it in this familiar story:

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days. There was no vision coming forth.

At that time, Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyes had begun to grow weak that he could not see), and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord where the ark of God was.

Then the Lord called to Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called to me.”

And he said, “I did not call. Return, lie down again.” And he went and lay down.

The Lord called Samuel again. So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

And he answered, “I did not call, my son. Return, lie down again” (1 Sam. 3:1-6).

Where did young Samuel lie down? Where did he sleep? He “was lying down in the house of the Lord where the ark of God was” (1 Sam. 3:3b). Little Samuel had been brought to the old priest Eli by his mother, Hannah, and he lived there in the temple, ministering to the Lord and learning about God. At night, he lay down to rest near the ark itself.

And when the voice of the Lord was released, but Samuel couldn’t yet discern that it was God’s voice, what did Eli tell him to do? He told him to go lie down there again. He didn’t keep him wherever he was sleeping, and he didn’t send him somewhere else to do something. In essence, Eli told Samuel to go and soak up some more of God’s presence so he would recognize the voice of God when he heard it.

This is instructive for us. Like Samuel, we need to spend time resting in God’s presence, going back again and again, falling in love with God all over again. We can be changed, and not just temporarily stirred up, by returning to our first love (or by finding that first love if we’ve never tasted it before). We can learn to recognize His voice and we can experience personal revival. Out of that renewal, we can obey His voice as we minister.

Hide and Seek

When you seek Him, you will find Him. Imagine for a moment that you could spend a day with Jesus—just the two of you. If that’s too much time to imagine spending with Him, imagine spending only an hour with Him. Imagine that it’s right now, right this minute. Just you and the lover of your soul. Just be …

Go ahead, soak in His presence. If it helps to put on a quiet worship CD, feel free to do that. You can find Him in ever so many ways. One of my favorite ways is hiking alone in the woods or, while I was growing up, walking on the railroads tracks outside my parents’ house in rural Missouri. You can find Him in the love letters (the Bible) that He wrote for you to read. You can see Him in the flowers that are blooming and in the creation that’s groaning around you. You can see Him in the body of Christ. But draw closer still. Yes, draw closer to His loving heart.

While going through my cancer battles, I would simply put on some great “healing, soaking music” and rest in the presence of the Lord right in my bed. I found Him waiting to meet me every time.

Get alone with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Rest around the ark, like Samuel did. Take a “selah” pause from the hectic pace of this life. Rest, wait, repose, reflect on the One who loves you more than you love yourself.

Worship. Listen. Respond.

  • Get still before Him in order to commune with Him. Read Psalm 46:10, 2 Samuel 7:18, Revelation 3:20 and Habakkuk 2:20.
  • Draw near to His heart. Read James 4:8; Psalm 42:1-2; Isaiah 55:1-3, 6; Psalm 65:4; Psalm 73:28; Psalm 84:1-4, 10; and Hebrews 10:22.
  • Seek His face. Seek God for God’s sake. To become an effective intercessor, I encourage you to engage yourself with the Lord, in order to be able to engage yourself in the work of praying. Read Matthew 7:7-8; Psalm 27:4, 8; Psalm 63:1-8; Hebrews 11:6 and Jeremiah 29:11-14.
  • Just spend time in His presence. Become an Exodus-33-aholic like Moses. Read Exodus 33:14-15, Psalm 16:11, Psalm 89:15, Isaiah 29:13, Isaiah 63:9, Lamentations 2:19 and Jude 24-25.

Have Plenty of Oil

Keep that oil replenished. Keep your lamp trimmed and ready. Get to know God. Address Him by one of His many names. You can find over a hundred of them in His Word. Sometimes one of them will capture your heart. Stay with it a while, even for the rest of the day.

I remember one time when I landed on “Friend of Sinners,” and the Holy Spirit just fastened it onto my heart and unfolded it to me. You can get to know God—and you can minister His presence to others—when you address Him by various names and get to know Him through His Word. (See Matt. 11:29; Jer. 9:23-24 and Phil. 3:8, 10.)

If you count all things as loss in comparison to knowing Him, that’s getting oil in your lamp. Read Philippians 3:7-8, 1 Chronicles 21:23 and 2 Samuel 24:24. It’s also a great trade!

Allow yourself to be overwhelmed with the amazing person you are speaking with. You are talking with Him, not merely to Him; He is speaking back to you. The God of the universe likes to hear your voice. Read Romans 5:5; Psalm 143:8, 10; Isaiah 54:10; Lamentations 3:22-25; John 17:23b and Romans 8:35-39.

Gather Strength in the Eye of the Storm

You’ll be more effective as an intercessor when you maintain your private “watching and waiting” times with the Lord. You’ve got the lamp in your hand already—God gave it to you when you were saved. Now it’s time to gather the lamp oil and keep it fresh.

It’s like being in the eye of the hurricane, where you can regather your strength and your resources for the next onslaught. Your strength is in Him. Sit, rest and sleep right at His feet. Gather strength from being in His presence.

The oil of His presence will soothe your wounds and aching muscles. It will lubricate your joints and limber up your mental processes. It will tenderize your heart.

Seek Him. Soak Him in. Let Him prepare you for what’s next.

Closing Prayer

Father, I present myself before You in Jesus’ great name. I come as an intercessor, but this time all I want is more of You. Let my words be pleasing to You. Awaken my soul and spirit to hear Your voice. I love you and I want to love You more.

I want to be like young Samuel and learn to rest around the ark. I want to soak in Your presence. Draw me close to You. Let me hear Your heartbeat. Pull my deepest heartstrings. I want to know Your voice and mirror Your ways. I choose Your ways over mine.

Give me oil in my lamp and grace me to be a wise attendant in these days I live in. I come to You with expectancy and joy. Amen!

 



How I Became a Vegan

by Dr. David C. Pate | At my one month follow-up, I had lost 26.8 lbs., nearly seven more than my goal. I didn’t have to measure out food, count calories or carbs, or feel like I was depriving myself.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be giving up barbecue and Blue Bell ice cream (If you’re not familiar with Blue Bell, you definitely are not from Texas.), I would have told you that nobody stands between this Texan and his steak.

Well, I have. It’s all because of my knee arthritis.

I have struggled with my left knee for some time. The meniscus tore six years ago and the arthritis progressed over the years to the point of bone rubbing on bone, causing me to limp most days. I checked out the publicly available quality scores on orthopedic surgeons and made an appointment to see the surgeon with the lowest post-operative complication rate.

When I saw the surgeon, he noted that I had developed atrophy in my quadriceps muscle due to long-standing avoidance of full weight bearing on my painful knee, and we reviewed my X-rays that showed the deterioration of my knee joint.

After that visit, we tried a couple of non-invasive measures (a brace and anti-inflammatory medicine) to see if I could get relief from my knee pain. I couldn’t tolerate the anti-inflammatory medicine; the brace helped, but less and less over time. I went back to the surgeon, and we agreed that it was time for a knee replacement.

Dr. Pate and Dr. Jennifer Shalz

Dr. Pate and Dr. Jennifer Shalz

A couple of months ago, I mentioned my upcoming knee replacement to our medical director of rehabilitation services. He suggested that I look into a new “pre-hab” program under development by our lifestyle medicine expert, Dr. Jennifer Shalz, whom I have written about on my blog before. Knowing that I would do better with the surgery if I lost weight and got into better shape, I jumped at the chance.

I met with Dr. Shalz, who conducted a very detailed lifestyle history. I learned about the health benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet without processed elements: weight loss, a decrease in inflammatory mediators, a decrease in risk for complications, prevention of diabetes, regression of atherosclerosis and a long-term mortality advantage.

It’s worth noting that after I saw Dr. Shalz, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that studied 74,000 adults over a 12-year period and found that surprisingly small changes in diet (a 20 percent improvement in diet quality, e.g., just swapping out one serving of red or processed meat for a serving of legumes or nuts) could cut the risk of death by up to 17 percent. The food groups that most improved overall diet quality? Whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Study participants who reported that their diet quality worsened by 20 percent had a 6 percent to 12 percent increase in mortality risk over the same period of time.

Dr. Shalz arranged for me to meet with a dietitian, Charmin Aschenbrener. I learned all about eating a section of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains and nuts.

But. Could I really do that? Give up meat? Dairy?

As if a total transformation of my diet was not enough, I met with Jeff Wagner, an exercise physiologist. He taught me exercises that I could do, despite my knee pain and limitations, that would prepare me to go into surgery stronger and recover faster.

The team and I set a stretch goal. I would try to lose 20 lbs. over six weeks in time for my mid-August surgery. I was highly motivated. I wanted to ensure that I did not have a complication post-operatively, and I had every intention to return to work as soon as possible.

I loaded up on whole-food, plant-based cookbooks and shopped for the foods I would need. I enlisted the help of my daughter to help me cook new foods.

Taking a walk with my nurse and my wife, three hours after surgery

Taking a walk with my nurse and my wife, three hours after surgery

The response to my plan among friends and colleagues has been interesting. Most people have reacted by assuming that my diet must be boring and that I must be craving meat and dairy.

Neither is true. I have had great fun finding new places with vegan menu options and trying new foods, prepared new ways.

The test came on the Fourth of July. We were invited over to friends for steaks and fireworks-viewing. I took along my veggie burger to be grilled alongside the others’ steaks. My wife offered to make a large fruit salad and to bring vegetables for grilling. I was fine. It turns out that steaks, which I have believed are a staple food for a Texan, are not critical to sustain life.

As for the exercise, I have to admit it has not been as fun. There are those exercise enthusiasts who have told me they get a “high” from exercising, but I will tell you that I have never gotten high from exercise. I don’t enjoy it; I do it because I know it is good for me. It also assists my weight loss, and I know that by exercising, I will recover and get back to work faster.

So, how did I do?

At my one month follow-up, I had lost 26.8 lbs., nearly seven more than my goal. I didn’t have to measure out food, count calories or carbs, or feel like I was depriving myself. I have had fun trying new things – I even found a vegan taco truck and had a taco salad with jackfruit. I would have sworn it was pulled pork! My wife has not gone vegan, but she supports me and often looks for new things for me when she is shopping or at a restaurant.

And when I saw my surgeon, he noted that I had restored the strength to my quadriceps muscle that previously had been atrophied.

By the time you read this, I will have had my knee replacement. I’ll report back on whether I avoid complications and return to work sooner than I might have without my pre-hab preparations. I can’t thank my support team – Dr. Shalz, Charmin and Jeff – enough for giving me the tools and the encouragement to make changes in my lifestyle that are sure to have short-term and long-term benefits.

And all you Texans out there should know that life not only goes on without steak and Blue Bell, but it can actually improve!

About The Author

Dr. David C. Pate

Dr. David C. Pate
David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.



Eid-El-Kabir: Ambode Urges Muslims To Imbibe Value Of Sacrifice, Love, Unity

by Kunle Awosiyan | “As we celebrate this auspicious occasion, let us renew our faith in our nation and implore the Almighty God to restore to us those values that place high premium on human life…”

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday called on Muslims in Nigeria to imbibe the values of sacrifice, love and continue to foster unity as they join their counterparts worldwide to celebrate this year’s Eid-el-Kabir festival.

In his Sallah message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, Governor Ambode said the period of the celebration was a clarion call for Nigerians to imbibe the lessons of the season such as selfless service to God and humanity, sacrifice and sincere commitment to righteous conducts in their private and public life.

He explained that the significance of the season should be beyond the festivities, adding that as Muslims prepare to offer animal sacrifice in the prescribed days of the festival, the real essence was not in the meat or the blood of the animal but to encourage piety, self-discipline and sacrifice.

Governor Ambode therefore called on all Nigerians to exhibit these values for the good of the country and shun any act capable of heating up the polity or causing distrust among various ethnic groups in the country.

“As we celebrate this auspicious occasion, let us renew our faith in our nation and implore the Almighty God to restore to us those values that place high premium on human life, love of neighbour and sharing even as we ventilate our faith in the unity of our dear country”, the Governor said.

“This period requires more patience, fortitude, tolerance, endurance, patriotism and a greater willingness to make personal sacrifices for the good of all,” he said.

The Governor also thanked Lagosians for supporting his administration, assuring that the Government would continue to do its best to serve the people and promote fairness and mutual tolerance among the populace, irrespective of backgrounds.

While wishing all Lagosians, especially adherents of the Islamic faith a happy Eid-el-Kabir celebration, Governor Ambode enjoined Nigerians in other parts of the country to continue to be their brothers’ keeper.

 



Love’s Measure

by The Bible Study Tools | “The breadth, and length, and depth, and height.”—Bph. iii. 18.

Op what? There can, I think, be no doubt as to the answer. The next clause is evidently the continuation of the idea begun in that of our text, and it runs ;” and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” It is the immeasurable measure, then; the boundless bounds and dimensions of the love of Christ which fire the Apostle’s thoughts here. Of course, he had no separate idea in his mind attaching to each of these measures of magnitude, but he gathered them together simply to express the one thought of the greatness of Christ’s love. Depth and height are the same dimension measured from opposite ends. The one begins at the top and goes down, the other begins at the bottom and goes up, but the surface is the same in either case. So we have the three dimensions of a solid here—breadth, length, and depth.

I suppose that I may venture to use these expressions with a somewhat different purpose from that for which the Apostle employs them ; and to see in each of them a separate and blessed aspect of the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I. What, then, is the breadth of that love?

It is as broad as humanity. As all the stars lie in the firmament, so all creatures rest in the Heaven of His love. Mankind has many common characteristics. We all suffer, we all sin, we all hunger, we all aspire, hope, and die ; and, blessed be God! we all occupy precisely the same relation to the Divine love which lies in Jesus Christ. There are no step-children in God’s great family, and none of them receive a more grudging or a less ample share of His love and goodness than every other. Far-stretching as the race, and curtaining it over as some great tent may enclose on a festal day a whole tribe, the breadth of Christ’s love is the breadth of humanity.

And it is universal because it is Divine. No human mind can be stretched so as to comprehend the whole of the members of mankind, and no human heart can be so emptied of self as to be capable of this absolute universality and impartiality of affection. But the intellectual difficulties which stand in the way of the width of our affections and the moral difficulties which stand still more frowningly and forbiddingly in the way, have no power over that love of Christ’s which is close and tender, and clinging with all the tenderness and closeness and clingingness of a human affection and lofty and universal and passionless and perpetual, with all the height and breadth and calmness and eternity of a Divine heart.

And this broad love, broad as humanity, is not shallow because it is broad. Our love is too often like the estuary of some great stream which runs deep and mighty as long as it is held within narrow banks, but as soon as it widens becomes slow and powerless and shallow. The intensity of human affection varies inversely as its extension. A universal philanthropy is a passionless sentiment. But Christ’s love is deep though it is wide, and suffers no diminution because it is shared amongst a multitude. It is like the great feast that He Himself spread for five thousand men, women, and children, all seated at a table, “and they did all eat and were filled.”

The whole love is the property of each recipient of it He does not love as we do, who give a part of our heart to this one and a part to that one, and share the treasure of our affections amongst a multitude. All this gift belongs to every one, just as all the sunshine comes to every eye, and as every beholder sees the moon’s path across the dark waters, stretching from the place where he stands to the centre of light.

This broad love, universal as humanity, and deep as it is broad, is universal because it is individual. You and I have to generalise, as we say, when we try to extend our affections beyond the limits of household and family and personal friends, and the generalising is a sign of weakness and limitation. Nobody can love an abstraction, but God’s love and Christ’s love do not proceed in that fashion. He individualises, loving each and therefore loving all. It is because every man has a space in his heart singly and separately and conspicuously, that all men have a place there. So our task is to individualise this broad, universal love, and to say, in the simplicity of a glad faith, ” Ha loved me and gave Himself for me.” The breadth is world-wide, and the whole breadth is condensed into, if I may so say, a shaft of light which may find its way through the narrowest clink of a single soul. There are two ways of arguing about the love of Christ, both of them valid, and both of them needing to be employed by us. We have a right to say, “He loves all, therefore He loves me.” And we have a right to say, “He lores me, therefore He loves all.” For surely the love that has stooped to me can never pass by any human soul.

What is the breadth of the love of Christ? It is broad as mankind, it is narrow as myself.

II.—Then, in the next place, what is the length of the love of Christ?

If •we are to think of Him only as a man, however exalted and however perfect, you and I have nothing in the world to do with His love. When He was here on earth it may have been sent down through the ages in some vague way, as the shadowy ghost of love may rise in the heart of a great statesman or philanthropist for generations yet unborn, which he dimly sees will be affected by his sacrifice and service. But we do not call that love. Such a poor, pale, shadowy thing has no right to the warm throbbing name; has no right to demand from us any answering thrill of affection. Unless you think of Jesus Christ as something more and other than the purest and the loftiest benevolence that ever dwelt in human form, I know of no intelligible sense in which the length of His love can be stretched to touch you.

If we content ourselves with that altogether inadequate and lame conception of Him and of His nature, of course there is no present bond between any man upon earth and Him, and it is absurd to talk about His present love as extending in any way to me. But we have to believe, rising to the full height of the Christian conception of the nature and person of Christ, that when He was here on earth the Divine that dwelt in Him so informed and inspired the human as that the love of His man’s heart was able to grasp the whole, and to separate the individuals that should make up the race till the end of time; so as that you and I, looking back over all the centuries, and asking ourselves what is the length of the love of Christ, can say, “It stretches over all the years, and it reached then as it reaches now to touch me, upon whom the ends of the earth have come.” Its length is conterminous with the duration of humanity here or yonder.

That thought of eternal being, when we refer it to God, towers above us and repels us; and when we turn it to ourselves and think of our own life as unending, there come a strangeness and an awe that is almost shrinking, over the thoughtful spirit. But when we transmute it into the thought of a love whose length is unending, then over all the shoreless, misty, melancholy sea of eternity, there gleams a light, and every wavelet flashes up into glory. It is a dreadful thing to think, “For ever, Thou art God.” It is a solemn thing to think “For ever I am to be;” but it is life to say :—” 0 Christ! Thy love endureth from everlasting to everlasting; and because it lives. I shall live also—” “Oh ! give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever.”

There is another measure of the length of the lore of Christ. “Master! How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him ?—I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven.”—So said the Christ, multiplying perfection into itself twice—two sevens and a ten—in order to express the idea of boundlessness. And the law that He laid down for His servant is the law that binds Himself. What is the length of the love of Christ? Here is one measure of it,—howsoever long drawn out my sin may be, this is longer; and the white line of His love runs out into infinity, far beyond the point where the black line of my sin stops. Anything short of eternal patience would have been long ago exhausted by your sins and mine, and our brethren’s. But the pitying Christ, the eternal Lover of all wandering souls, looks down from Heaven upon every one of us; goes with us in all our wanderings, bear with us in all our sins, in all cur transgressions still is gracious. His pleadings sound on, like some stop in an organ continuously persistent through all the other notes. And round His throne are written the Divine words which have been spoken about our human love modelled after His “Charity suffereth long and is kind ; is not easily provoked, is not soon angry, beareth all things.” The length of the love of Christ is the length of eternity, and out-measures all human sin.

III.—Then again, what is the depth of that love?

Depth and height, as I said at the beginning of these remarks, are but two ways of expressing the same dimension. For the one we begin at the top and measure down, for the other we begin at the bottom and measure up. The top is the Throne ; and the downward measure, how is it to be stated? In what terms of distance are we to express it? How far is it from the Throne of the Universe to the manger at Bethlehem, and the Cross at Calvary, and the sepulchre in the garden? That is the depth of the love of Christ. Howsoever far may be the distance from that loftiness of co-equal Divinity in the bosom of the Father, and radiant with glory, to the lowliness of the form of a servant, and the sorrows, limitations, rejections, pains and death—that is the measure of the depth of Christ’s love. We can estimate the depth of the love of Christ by saying “He came from above, He tabernacled with us,” as if some planet were to burst from its track and plunge downwards in amongst the mist and the narrowness of our earthly atmosphere.

A well-known modern scientist has hazarded the speculation that the origin of life on this planet, has been the falling upon it of the fragment of a meteor, or an aerolite from some other system, with a speck of organic life upon it, from which all has developed. Whatever may be the case in regard of the physical life, that is absolutely true in the case of spiritual life. It all originates because this Heaven-descended Christ has come down the long staircase of Incarnation, and has brought with Him into the clouds and oppressions of our terrestrial atmosphere a germ of life which He has planted in the heart of the race, there to spread for ever. That is the measure of the depth of the love of Christ.

And there is another way to measure it. My sins are deep, my helpless miseries are deep, but they are shallow as compared with the love that goes down beneath all sin, that is deeper than all sorrow, that is deeper than all necessity, that shrinks from no degradation, that turns away from no squalor, that abhors no wickedness so as to avert its face from it The purest passion of human benevolence cannot but sometimes be aware of disgust mingling with its pity and its efforts, but Christ’s love comes down to the most sunken. However far in the abyss of degradation any human soul has descended, beneath it are the everlasting arms, and beneath it is Christ’s love. When a coalpit gets blocked up by some explosion no brave rescuing party will venture to descend into the lowest depths of the poisonous darkness until some ventilation has been restored. But this loving Christ goes down, down, down into the thickest, most pestilential atmosphere, reeking with sin and corruption, and stretches out a rescuing hand to the most abject and undermost of all the victims. How deep is the love of Christ? The deep mines of sin and of alienation are all undermined and countermined by His love. Sin is an abyss, a mystery, how deep only they know who have fought against it; but

“O Love I thou bottomless abyss,
My sins are swallowed up in tbee.”

“I will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” The depth’s of Christ’s love go down beneath all human necessity, sorrow, suffering, and sin.

IV.—And, lastly, what is the height of the love of Christ?

We found that the way to measure the depth was to begin at the Throne, and go down to the Cross, and to the foul abysses of evil. The way to measure the height is to begin at the Cross and the foul abysses of evil, and to go up to the Throne. That is to say, the topmost thing in the Universe, the shining apex and pinnacle, glittering away up there in the radiant unsetting light, is the love of God in Jesus Christ. The other conceptions of that Divine nature spring high above us and tower beyond our thoughts, but the summit of them all, the very topmost as it is the very bottom-most, outside of everything, and therefore high above everything, is the love of God which has been revealed to us all, and brought close to us sinful men in the manhood and passion of our dear Christ.

And that love which thus towers above us, and gleams like the shining cross on the top of some lofty cathedral spire, does not flash up there inaccessible, nor lie before us like some pathless precipice, up which nothing that has not wings can ever hope to rise, but the height of the love of Christ is an hospitable height, which can be scaled by us. Nay, rather, that heaven of love which is “higher than our thoughts,” bends down, as by a kind of optical delusion the physical heaven seems to do, towards each of us, only with this blessed difference, that in the natural world the place where heaven touches earth is always the furthest point of distance from us; and in the spiritual world, the place where Heaven stoops to me is always right over my head, and the nearest possible point to me. He has come to lift us to Himself. And this is the height of His love, that it bears us up, if we will, up and up to sit upon that throne where He Himself is enthroned.

So, brethren, Christ’s love is round about us all, as some sunny tropical sea may embosom in its violet waves a multitude of luxuriant and happy islets. So all of us islanded on our little individual lives, lie in that great ocean of love, all the dimensions of which are immeasurable, and which stretches above, beneath, around, shoreless, tideless, bottomless, endless.

But, remember, this ocean of love yon can shut out of your lives. It is possible to plunge a jar into midAtlantic, further than soundings have ever descended, and to bring it up on deck as dry inside as if it had been lying on an oven. It is possible for men and women— and I have them listening to me at this moment—to live and move and have their being in that sea of love, and never to have let one drop of its richest gifts into their hearts or their lives. Open your hearts for Him to come in, by humble faith in His great sacrifice for you. For, if Christ dwell in your heart by faith, then and only then will experience be your guide ; and you will be able to comprehend the boundless greatness, the endless duration, and absolute perfection, and to know the love of Christ •which passeth knowledge.

 



ECWA USA DCC Week of Prayer

by Innocent Nwaobasi Prayer Points for the Week
Here is the prayer guide for the week and do have a blessed time of prayer in the presence of the Lord and in the fellowship of the Saints.
MONDAY: September 11th
Pray for DCC exco, Council members, fellowship Leaders and fellowship groups
TUESDAY: September 12th
Pray for our Local churches: Maryland, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, & Louisville 1 & 2.
WEDNESDAY: September 13th
Pray for the recent Harvey hurricane in Texas for God to sustain His people and Christians who are trapped in ISIS controlled Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Nigeria (Boon Haram).
THURSDAY: September 14th
Pray for our prayer cells in –Xenia Ohio, Houston, Dallas, Baltimore and Boston (Pastor Peter Johnson the Pastor)
FRIDAY: September 15th
Pray for the DCC headquarters development project- urgent funds needed
SATURDAY: September 16th
Pray for church planting work in St. Paul, LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver and Portland
SUNDAY: September 17th
Pray for generously giving towards the support of the DCC and its numerous unfunded projects. You will not be any poorer by giving to God (Psalm37:25).


What it Means to be an Educated Human Being

by Deacon James H. Toner | The mark of the educated, we used to hear, is the willing acknowledgment that one knows he does not know, or, at least, knows that he does not know enough (image: Respected Woman).

We are born and live in a certain location and in a certain time. By what appears to be the caprice of geography and chronology, we are thus, in a sense, “locked into” a particular place and period. In other words, we are trees in a forest we cannot descry; consequently, gaining perspective—seeing macroscopically instead of only microscopically—is an onerous task.

To educate comes from the Latin educere, meaning to “lead out.” Wise education may lead us, as both Plato and Cardinal Newman knew so well, out of the shadows and into the sun. I write “may lead us” because one cannot be educated against his will. Arrogance or indolence, corruption or conceit—any of these, or all of these, may frustrate learning (see CCC #2038, #2526), leaving one in a mental or moral stupor, or in a kind of academic autism, prized by some because it neither issues mental challenges nor makes moral demands.

Genuine education is rooted in the kind of timeless perspective which modern society arrogantly abjures. Such education provides depth and breadth. Alexander Pope’s idea that we ought to “drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring” has much to commend it, for a little learning is, in fact, a dangerous thing: it distorts reality, and it misinforms by providing only a small sample of fact. To say, “Professor Smith came to class sober today,” while true, leads to distortion—and to defamation (because Professor Smith never comes to class inebriated). Learning by sound bite is like reading only by skimming or eating only on Thursdays.

The ideologization (forgive that noun) of education; grade inflation; the inanity of “safe spaces,” free from reasoned, if politically unpopular, moral discourse; the rather common notion that sustained lucubration—hard work!—is no longer necessary in secondary or college work, abetted by frequent lack of academic rigor; the increasingly ubiquitous belief that college is about fun and success in social life, sporting events, or spousal pursuit; and the rampant moral chaos and confusion that mark so much of contemporary “higher learning”—all lead one to fear for the Republic and, much more critically, for the salvation of souls. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” prophesied Hosea (4:6).

The mark of the educated, we used to hear, is the willing acknowledgment that one knows he does not know, or, at least, knows that he does not know enough. The madding crowd, however, will read, or hear, or watch nothing that confronts the prejudice of the day. As Fr. James Schall teaches in A Line Through the Human Heart (of course, decrying these opinions): Abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and euthanasia are our social rights. The poor are poor because the rich are rich. The earth is over-populated, and man himself is the chief threat to the wellbeing of our planet. Islam is a religion of peace. War is always immoral. Democracy is always the best form of government, and governments exist to protect the rights they munificently give us. There is no truth; sin does not exist; and there is no final divine judgment. That these chichi views may be the stuff of rank prejudice seems utterly to escape the glitterati.

We are told, moreover, that we must learn and appreciate the words of our day, which define reality for us and point to the challenges we face: democracy, diversity, equality, inclusivity, marginalization, misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia, imperialism, colonialism, progressivism, autonomy (among others). These thirteen words are sheer cant (meaning hypocritical and sanctimonious talk); they are suggested by Anthony Esolen, who, in Out of the Ashes, says that they “are simply terms of political force and have no real meaning anymore.”

Newly minted graduates have learned, or so say a large number of commencement speakers, to “think for themselves.” Thus does academic autism parade as celebrated moral and mental autonomy. Contemporary education is emphatically modern; that such modernism is “the synthesis of all heresies” (as Pope St. Pius X put it) and may be riddled with error—e.g., “abortion is health care”—is unthinkable to many, marinated in their own sophistry (cf. James 3:13-17).

“The best that has been thought and said,” wrote Matthew Arnold, is hardly limited to what is novel. Yet anything current or contemporary must be better, or so we disdainfully think, than what is old. Such a belief, as C.S. Lewis taught us, is mere “chronological snobbery.” As long ago as 1926, Everett Dean Martin (1880-1941) wrote: “No one who is merely a creature of his own times is really educated.” He also believed that “unless education ennobles the mind, one becomes only a well-informed cad.”

If what is true, good, and beautiful depends only upon the prevailing taste in a given time or place, then everything is relative, and everything depends upon current fashion or fad. Then authority depends only upon power or privilege. Then what is sacred, or noble, or even decent results only from popularity, and might makes right. Then there is no point to or purpose in liberal education, for there is nothing to liberate us from; we are wretched, and we can separate good from evil only on the basis of the biggest guns or the most money or the greatest fame. Education thus becomes immersion only in what is thought or said or done, and never in what ought to be thought, or said, or done.

All this, of course, is exactly why G.K. Chesterton said: “the Catholic Church is the only thing which saves a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.”

Dare to challenge the false education of the day—grounded in libertinism, socialism, utopianism, pantheism, inclusivity, diversity, syncretism, or pacifism—and you will be branded as xenophobic, Islamophobic, homophobic, transphobic—and probably misogynist and fascist as well.

By and large, academics are nothing if not progressive, nothing if not “truth vandals” (to use Felipe Fernandez-Armesto’s term). Modern education so often teaches the shadow of ethical relativism and not the sun of truth because it subscribes to the first, the fundamental, the forever temptation of regarding the creature as Creator (Rom 1:25).

That temptation is so strong that it insinuates itself into much that we say and hear—and it even, at times, flows from the pens and the tongues of those ordained to resist it and to remind us, with St. Paul, that we must never conform ourselves to the abominations of our times but, rather, seek and do the will of God (cf. Rom 12:1-3), which we know through the Magisterium of the Church.

One wishes it were otherwise, but donning a biretta or a zucchetto is never a guarantee of wisdom (cf. Is 47:10, Jer 8:9, 1 Cor 1:19-20). At its best and wisest, however, the Church is always our Mother and our Teacher, for the Church, with Job, hears God: “To be wise, you must have reverence for the Lord. To understand, you must turn from evil” (28:28).

By Deacon James H. Toner
Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Air War College, a former U.S. Army officer, and author of Morals Under the Gun and other books. He has also taught at Notre Dame, Norwich, Auburn, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte.



Praise & Prayer, September 2017

EMS OF ECWA
PRAISE & PRAYER, SEPTEMBER 2017

Prayer/Counseling hotline: 08033673654, 08051614880
E-mail: prayerpromotion@emsofecwa.org
Website: www.emsofecwa.org
Brethren, pray for us (1 Thess. 5:25)
 
WEEK ONE – FOCUS IS ON PRAISE/THANKSGIVING FROM HOME AND CROSS-BOARDER MISSION FIELDS
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Ps 103:2
 
FRIDAY 1ST
Praise God for those who have come to know Him in August through the outreaches in EMS mission fields across the globe. Pray for many more to come to know Him. Ask that the witness and faithfulness of missionaries to the work of missions will be a beam of light that draws many more. Ask that God will continue to protect and provide for our missionaries and their families.
 
SATURDAY 2ND
Praise God for granting EMS an opening to do a mission awareness in Pyakasa DCC in the Central Region on 2nd-3rd of September 2017; ask the Lord to make provisions towards the success of this program.
 
SUNDAY 3RD
Praise God for the successful mission awareness that was held in Enugu DCC. Let’s keep praying that the impact of the awareness will yield great rewards of positive and enthusiastic responses from mission supporters from the South East Region.
NOTE: WE ARE FASTING TOMORROW
FIRST (1ST) MONDAY OF EVERY MONTH IS TO BE OBSERVED NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY AS EMS PRAYER AND FASTING DAY. THEREFORE, ALL EMS ARMS, MISSIONARIES, OFFICE STAFF, PRAYER PARTNERS AND SUPPORTERS SHOULD PLEASE ENDEAVOR TO JOIN THE EMS INTERNATIONAL HEAD OFFICE IN PRAYERS. WE JOIN FAITH AND TRUST GOD IN ONE ACCORD WITH BRETHREN AROUND THE WORLD FOR A STEADY AND FRUITFUL GROWTH OF THE WORK OF MISSIONS, PEACE AND THE SALVATION OF NATIONS, FOR REVIVAL AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH OF THE CHURCH. OUR COOPERATE PRAYER TIME AT THE HEAD OFFICE IS 8-9AM, 12-1PM, AND 3-4 PM RESPECTIVELY. YOU CAN JOIN US IN PRAYERS WHEREVER YOU MAY BE AT THOSE TIMES OR MAKE OUT TIME OF YOUR OWN CONVENIENCE AS YOU ARE LED BY GOD. PLEASE, JUST BE SURE TO PRAY ALONG AS YOU FAST.
 
MONDAY 4TH
Praise God for the success He granted the majority of our children at the EMS House of Hope (GIDAN BEGE) who have finished their secondary school this year and had very good results. Ask the Lord to grant them admissions and funds to further their studies.
Praise God for providing funds to enable us to pay for the release of 13 prison inmates EMS is reaching out to through Gidan Bege.
 
TUESDAY 5TH
Praise God for healing Pastor Phinehas’s wife, an EMS missionary working in Kume who was bitten by a snake. Let’s not relent in praying for the protection of all missionaries from any kind of reptile attack.
 
WEDNESDAY 6TH
Praise God for taking good care of the mission work in Togo and giving His grace to Pastor Azariah to be equipping missionaries for the effectiveness of the work both in Southern and Northern Togo.
  • Praise God for ECWA Togo General Church Assembly 2017 which took place in Soloumbia on the 10th-13th /5/2017. This year’s Assembly was of great success as participants testified to have experienced transformation and growth in ministry.
 
THURSDAY 7TH
Praise God for the revival in various mission stations in Makurdi DCC, most recent of them is the Idoma Rural Outreach that was led by Pas. Stephen Dogo from the 28th – 30th of July 2017. It was really a huge blow to the kingdom of the devil, because lives were won to Christ as a result of the outreach and a small prayer house was started. Ask that the Lord will sustain this new planted church.
 
FRIDAY 8TH
Praise God for the lives of Mr. & Mrs. Nda David who took it upon themselves to single-handedly build a pastorium in Lafia DCC, which was successfully completed and is ready for use. Ask the Lord to replenish their effort and increase upon them grace for such selfless service for the Kingdom.
 
SATURDAY 9TH
Praise God for the new prayer house started at Sonre, Burkina Faso with 12 people on the first day of meeting. Ask the Lord to sustain this church.
  • Praise God for blessing Pascal Kabore, a very committed member of ECWA Ouagadougou, with a job and a motorcycle. This provision has aided in strengthening his faith in the Lord.
WEEK TWO – FOCUS IS ON EMS HOME MISSION FIELDS
“Those who manifest wisdom will shine like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever”. Daniel 12:3
 
SUNDAY 10TH
NORTH EAST REGION- GOMBE: Let’s keep praying for God’s divine protection and encouragement for missionaries and pastors working in the Borno areas as they are faced with recurrent terrorist attacks, especially in the villages.
 
MONDAY 11TH
MID-EAST REGION-LAFIA: Pray for the Mid-East region for strength and determination, from both the missionaries, the coordinators and supporters, as they coordinate and execute the planned outreaches and programs of church planting going on intensively in the region.
 
TUESDAY 12TH
NORTH WEST REGION – KADUNA: Ask the Lord to grant an opening for provision of a good source of water for Jaja Village that is in dire need of clean water, especially for drinking.
  • Ask the Lord to intervene over the recurrent kidnapping issues in Kasuwan Magani DCC; also pray for the safety and release of pastors and members from this area who are still held captive.
 
WEDNESDAY 13TH
MID-CENTRAL REGION: Praise God for the Regional Coordinator’s official house project that has begun; pray for more of God’s provision to enable the completion of the project soon.
 
THURSDAY 14TH
NORTH CENTRAL REGION:
  • Praise God for providing four (4) plots of land for the coordinator’s official apartment; ask the Lord to sustain this provision to enable the pickup of the building project soon.
  • Also pray for the success of the upcoming North Central Region mission field’s visit with mission supporters, mission committee and other mission-minded individuals from this region.
 
FRIDAY 15TH
FAR NORTH REGION – MALUMFASHI: Satan is attempting to destroy the ministry work of Rev. Danjuma Sani, an EMS missionary. The devil has often manipulated his son into picking things unconsciously; as a result he has been expelled from his current school after being accused of stealing. Let’s ask the Lord to deliver this child who regrets the act as soon as it dawns on him that he has picked something that does not belong to him.
 
SATURDAY 16TH
EMS SUPPORTERS: Despite the dwindling Nigerian economy in recent times, EMS supporters in this part of the world have not relented in their commitment to supporting the work of missions through EMS. Let’s ask the Lord to increase upon all supporters the perseverance to stay committed and that God’s blessings will increase upon the work of their hands.
WEEK THREE – FOCUS ON OTHER EMS MISSION ARMS
“Those who manifest wisdom will shine like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars for ever and ever”.Daniel 12:3
 
SUNDAY 17TH
EMS CRISES RELIEF & PROJECT UNIT: Pray for the safety of persecuted Christians especially in Nigeria. Pray that they consider the God and the Gospel worthy of any suffering.
  • Pray for God to provide resources needed by EMS to reach out to its targeted areas of crises victims around Nigeria.
 
MONDAY 18TH
EMS MEDICAL UNIT:
  • Praise God for the restful annual vacation that Mr. Samuel Ijah, the EMS medical coordinator had. Ask the Lord to grant him excellent spirits as he implements new strategies into his work.
  • Pray for God’s healing on: Rev. Kefas Ma’de, Rev. Damina Yusuf, Pas. Mamadu Aliand, who are all EMS missionaries and their family members who are suffering from poor health.
 
TUESDAY 19TH
EMS SPORT UNIT: Considering the increase in sport’s impact especially on today’s youths, continued development of relevant strategies on how to use sports for ministry is very crucial. Ask the Lord to increase upon Rev. Emanuel Ali, the EMS Sports Ministry Coordinator, and wisdom to develop such strategies for effective EMS sports ministry.
 
WEDNESDAY 20TH
EMS CHILDREN/MISSION FIELDS SCHOOLS:
  • Ask the Lord to provide resources for missionary parents to allow them to pay their children’s school fees for the new academic session.
  • An anonymous pastor has begun mobilizing people to raise a minimum of N600, 000 every term to provide scholarships for at least 30 EMS missionaries’ children to attend Junior Secondary School. Ask the Lord to grant His servant (the pastor) favor before men and to also grant him strength not to relent in this effort to mobilize people to join in.
 
THURSDAY 21ST
EMS CITY MINISTRIES: Ask the Lord to grant grace to the six cops who were deployed to do their primary assignment in our ministry.
  • Pray for the new children’s interviews that are ongoing, that the Lord will help us to take truly needy children into the ministry.
 
FRIDAY 22ND
M.B. CONVERTS: Pray for the safety of new converts. Ask that God will keep them growing in faith and that they may not be afraid to speak about Him.
  • Pray that those who are yet to accept Jesus into their lives will be convicted of sin and know true repentance. Pray that they would experience God's total forgiveness and thus be able to forgive others.
 
SATURDAY 23RD
EMS TRAINING UNIT: Let’s keep praying for:
  • The N1, 500,000.00 (one million, five hundred thousand naira) needed for EMS to be able to provide a stipend of N25, 000 each to our Missionaries on training for 2017.
  • The provision of N900, 000.00 to enable us to carry out our retirees' seminar for 2017.
WEEK FOUR: FOCUS ON CROSS BORDERS MISSION FIELDS
"I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43-44 NIV
 
SUNDAY 24TH
ECWA TOGO: Praise God for the successful Church elections in Togo, beginning from fellowship groups, local church leaders at the zonal level and National level. Ask the Lord to grant leadership grace to all the elected so they could lead effectively and passionately.
 
TUESDAY 26TH
BENIN REPUBLIC: Praise GOD for the progress of the mission works in Benin Republic. Ask the Lord to sustained the hospital evangelism that has commence and has been yielding positive results as sick people are been witness to, we keep receiving testimonies of how the Lord in his infinite mercy is reaching out to them.
 
WEDNESDAY 27TH
ECWA MALI CHURCH:
  • Praise God for the Amahs, they are presently having a vocational school with about twelve (12) students who among them are three (3) Muslims. Ask the Lord to sustain this school vision and that many children would be reached with the gospel through this medium.
  • Pray for the issue of the theological training of Hamidou, Rev. Amah's disciple in Mali, for God to provide him with admission to either JETS or Kagoro.
 
THURSDAY 28TH
ECWA CHAD REPUBLIC: Praise God that so many are coming to Christ in Chad Republic. Ask that their faith be genuine and growing. Pray that they may be bold and courageous as they stand firm in the face of evil; pray they would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
 
FRIDAY 29TH
UGANDA: Uganda is one of the countries EMS of ECWA is targeting with the gospel. With the recent survey that has been completed, the interior unreached areas are in dire need of the Gospel. Ask that the Holy Spirit should rain down on Uganda and draw millions unto Him, pray that He pull them out of the darkness and into the Light. Also pray that He reveal Himself to the nation, and also multiply the efforts of the missionaries already working in Uganda; grant them boldness, strength to labor tirelessly & fearlessly, multiply their labor and also loosen their tongue to speak the Gospel.
  • EMS is passionately praying to send a missionary couple to be part of the Ugandan harvest, Pray that the Lord will raise a mission minded couple to be sent and for the resources needed for their up keep.
 
SATURDAY 30TH
ECWA GHANA: Ask the Lord to protect the church in Ghana and strengthen the believers to live for Him.
 
THANK YOU FOR PRAYING WITH US IN THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER. MORE GRACE AND GOD’S BLESSINGS AS YOU RELENTLESSLY PRAY WITH US THROUGH 2017. SHALOM!!!