The numbers worldwide continue to rise: 181,377 cases, 7119 deaths, 78,085 recoveries. Worldwide reactions are dramatic: airline flights cancelled, large numbers of quarantined populations, countries with closed borders, bans on gatherings over 250 people, schools closed, colleges reverting to online classes, sports leagues cancelled, plummeting stock markets etc. Behold a pandemic! The cause of this chaos is a virus named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is called “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
Have you ever wondered, What do I have to do to live a stable life, to not be twisted with every fierce wind of opposition or pulled from what is right to what is ultimately degrading? How can I have the kind of healthy fellowship with God that will bring joy and fulfillment?
Zechariah 7:9—“The LORD of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.”
It is cold outside—twelve degrees above zero. Snow is on the ground and from inside my office window it looks beautiful. It’s a matter of perspective. December can be a wonderful time of warmth for many people; a chance to be with family, to take a break from work and to enjoy each other’s company. But I could equally write that this month is a frozen, depressing period for many people; the reminder that loved ones are gone, unemployment a reality, and a feeling that few care or understand.
Four Tuesday evenings of each month, several of my West Point classmates join together for prayer. On a normal session we span from Alaska to Virginia (4 time zones). We briefly give updates on what is happening in our lives and this is often a time of bottom-of-the-heart-sharing. Some have recently lost spouses or parents to death. Some have spouses or children with medical challenges or are personally recovering from surgery. Some are in the midst of uncommon adversity with lawsuits, work harassment and attacks from the enemy. All at some point have encouraging stories of victory and the blessing of divine favor.
Skye Jethani wrote a book I highly commend to your reading. It is simply titled with. The premise of the author is that we typically find four types of Christians. The first group is comprised of those who live life under God. Their emphasis is on God’s divine will and appeasing Him through behaviors—“either in the form of rituals or morality.” The second group includes those who live life over God. Their emphasis is on applying Scripture and godly principles, which are useful for controlling the world and life. Those who live life from God characterize the third group. They are highly self-preoccupied. Under the banner of “the health and wealth gospel” these adherents see God as a divine genie that is eager to grant their desires. The fourth group is made up of those who live life for God. Life is all about staying on mission: sacrificing, achieving, serving, working to accomplish tasks (evangelism, discipleship, etc).
2 John 12—Though I have many things to write to you, I don’t want to do so with paper and ink. Instead, I hope to be with you and talk face to face so that our joy may be complete.
While attending a class on cyber security in November of 2012, I was amazed to learn that 4.8 billion people own a mobile phone which surpasses the 4.2 billion people who own a toothbrush. Fascinating! Just imagine if all of those people could connect via a twitter account—the ability to pass information instantaneously is staggering.
Several years ago I walked with Dad along the Hudson River where as a cadet I used to run the two mile run. While walking I prayed for the salvation of my A3 company mates. As we were praying the Lord prompted me with the thought, “Why don’t you recruit a Christian from each of the other 35 companies to do the same thing you are doing.” Unfortunately, instead of going home and recruiting others to pray, I procrastinated. But the Lord is faithful and about a year later I had occasion to visit with Craig, a classmate in Virginia. He invited several of our classmates over for a mini-reunion. While we were together, I shared with them the concept of weekly prayer for our company mates. Craig got excited and said he would join me and pray for B4. That was the encouragement I needed to get moving in sharing this prayer opportunity with others.
Matthew 14:13—When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns.
Pete and Saul left last month to visit three Segadorian missionary families working in the distant Asheninka tribe. They traveled seven hours by bus, then six hours in the back of a pick-up over a rough road, then finally three hours in a motorized canoe in drizzling rain. As Peter notes in their newsletter it was well worth the sacrifice. Why did these two men go to such lengths to visit these families? They went because they understood how important the value of encouragement is. It is not easy to get from Lima, Peru to remote jungle towns but it you want to communicate to your fellow teammates that they matter; making the effort is the right thing to do.
Okay, I admit it. There are days I just don’t feel like working out. However, if I want to have good muscle tone, a healthy heart and a strong body I have to exercise. Physical fitness doesn’t just happen. It takes consistentwork. We all know what occurs when we don’t exercise regularly. One workout (jogging, weight-lifting, aerobics class) per week, will not make me physically fit! Unfortunately, it’s be fit or be fat.
Ephesians 6:18—Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
This Reveration I want to share something special—instead of a devotional, below is a first hand report written by David Joel, our Nigerian brother and recently appointed international leader for our Prayer Walks. I believe you will be blessed by his sharing just as our team is blessed.
John 15:5-I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
A nonfiction book that I highly recommend is Hard Faith. You can buy it off Amazon.com or purchase it directly from us. I love Hard Faith because I know the author Dan Berg and I’ve seen firsthand how he successfully overcame incredible pain and adversity with his wife. The only reason Dan is walking well today aside from the ever-present grace of God, is that he stuck to his values. He wore the robe of faith when the world suggested other attire.
Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Last week, the head of our food ministry terminated our operations. Nine people lost their jobs and The Road Home lost its office and meeting place. In one swift move, life took an unexpected detour! Why shut down a ministry which last year resulted in over 78 people putting their faith for the first time in Jesus, hundreds of families receiving food and free dental assistance plus prayer and encouragement? Better yet, why treat a ministry like a business and let the fear of lawsuits trump eternal investments? I felt like telling the owner, “When you die, you won’t stand before lawyers, you’ll stand before God, so lead accordingly!” But he was acting according to what he felt was right. He generously gave to help us move on. Rather than protest, it was nobler to pray and seek God’s leading.
Part of me is lost and I don’t like it. If I could skip this day in time or have never lived it I know I would be the worse for it but at least I would not sense this absence that came too fast and . . . heartrending and heartbreaking are too strong in meaning for what I’m feeling. Perhaps in this poignant period a more apt description is heartmissing. The good news is she is only three and a half hours away. The bad news is there are 206 miles between us.
Until she passed away, I loved to meet with Lillian for prayer. She lived in a retirement community called King City. Each of the houses were separated by brick walls and the only way to enter a home was through the garage or a gate in the front. Whoever designed her neighborhood obviously valued privacy and security. There was little sense of community. No wonder lonely Lillian so much looked forward to meeting.