A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

Archive for September, 2017

Iraq: Muslim from Nineveh discovered the Bible’s magnetism

Iraq: Muslim from Nineveh resisted the Bible, then discovered its ‘magnetism’

Chevan was born in Nineveh, the city where Jonah preached. His father was a sheikh and preached at the mosque, but Chevan never got interested in daily prayers. He was drawn into journalism and reported on television and movies.

As a result of his coverage of popular culture, islamic extremists targeted him. They had already killed a sportswriter friend because they were demanding “good” press. They didn’t care that a sportswriter has nothing to do with politics. Chevan didn’t write about politics either, but after he witnessed his friend gunned down in front of his eyes, he knew not to stick around.

He traveled to Syria, then Egypt, to Dubai and finally to Lebanon. His family was aware of the dangers he faced and funded his travel. While he pursued an acting career, he found a job selling ads for a magazine and two newspapers. He was getting by.

‘The pastor reached out his hand and offered him a Bible’

One day he was walking down a busy street near downtown Beirut when he ran into a pastor handing out Bibles. The pastor reached out his hand and offered a Bible to him. “No, I don’t take it,” Chevan said. “I am Muslim.” “You don’t have to be Christian to read the Bible,” pastor Gergis responded. “It’s happy news. You just read it like any other book.”

Two days later, the same pastor approached Chevan on another street, without recognizing him. This time, Chevan was annoyed. “This is the second time you told me to take the Bible, and I told you I don’t want it,” he responded gruffly. Improbably, the pastor ran into Chevan on the beach a few days later, didn’t recognize him, and offered him a Bible once more. “You know this is the third time you offer me this Bible. This time I will take it, not because I want it, but just because I want you to stop!”

Chevan took the Bible home and started reading in Genesis. He flipped through to the middle and studied some passages. He also read some passages in Revelation. He spent nearly four hours in the Word. Suddenly he was seized with curiosity to discover the “happy news.” “I wanted to read it more. I wanted to know what the secret was in this book,” he said. “It was magnetic to me. The next day, I went to the Bible, I don’t even know why. I just wanted to open it again. I felt like something amazing was in this book, but I didn’t know what it was.”

‘Then he discovered the secret behind the Bible’s magnetism’

The Sunday afterward, he found an ad in the newspaper about a church and decided to attend. Originally, his plan was to expose the Christians’ false worship. By “coincidence,” it was Pastor Gergis’ church. “People were very friendly to me. I thought I would tell them I am Muslim and they would kick me out. But they didn’t. They told me it was God’s house for everyone in any time. I was happy.”

Two months later, Chevan discovered the secret behind the Bible’s magnetism: it’s a living Word. Unlike other books, the words in the Bible are alive and they offer new life to all who believe. In response, Chevan surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and was born again. He was 29 when he received the Lord.

Later he received a refugee visa for the United States and got involved in a local church. Chevan has now been following Jesus for 10 years. He dreams about becoming a pastor in Nineveh, the place where he was born.

Source: Esteban Orozco, the names in this report have been changed for security reasons

# 1053 | September 26, 2017

 

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5 verses to pray when you want to know God’s will

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God’s Will

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God's Will - Counting My Blessings

Do you ever lie awake at night thinking, I don’t know what to do?

You have a decision to make, a problem to solve, or a path to pursue and you’ve prayed, oh how you’ve prayed but you don’t feel like God is giving you clear direction.

So, you stare at the ceiling, weigh your options, plan to do more research in the morning, and pray again…

Father, I love you and I want to glorify you with my life. This choice is hard. There are so many possibilities and I have no idea what Your will for me is in the situation. Please help me. Guide me by Your Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen. 

And you try again, to get some rest.

Whew, I’ve been there. I’m guessing you’ve been there, too.

Because my most visited post is 5 Ways to Know if Something is from God which leads me to believe I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes with the specifics of God’s will.

So, I went digging to find verses that might help us know God’s “always” will . . . when choices are hard and life is confusing.

I don't think I'm the only one who struggles to know the specifics of God's will. So I searched for verses to pray to ask God for guidance and direction.

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God’s Will

Proverbs 3:5–6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
    and He will show you which path to take.

Father, forgive me. I’m quick to ask my friends for advice and quicker to worry; yet, I’m slow to turn to Your Word or come to You in prayer. Maybe trusting with all my heart is the problem. I’m sorry. I want to surrender myself completely and trust that Your will for me always comes from Your love. Thank you for using this time to remind me just how very much I need You. And I do need You, Lord. Help me, by the power of Your Spirit. Amen.

1 Timothy 2:3–4

This is good and pleases God our Savior,
who wants everyone to be saved and
to understand the truth.

Father, Your will for me is to know and love Your Son, Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Giver of Life eternal . . . Your gift so awesome and wonderful. I’m humbled that Your will for me above all else is that I will cherish Your gift of an eternity with You through Jesus. In light of forever, my current circumstances seem less monumental. Please by Your grace, help me keep an eternal perspective as I trust You with the details of my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

Romans 12:1–2

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God
because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—
the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform
you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will
learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

This is hard, Father. The world is always in my face and it’s tempting to just want to fit in. You tell me not to follow the behavior and customs of this world. It’s tough. I see friendships end and people hurt because they choose to stand on the truth of Your Word. Father, I need Your transforming power to change the way I think and act. Your Word says You will show me Your good, pleasing, and perfect will and you change my heart and mind and make me a new person. I love that! Please continue to work in me and draw me close.

I love You, Lord and want to honor You with my life. Amen.

5 Verses to Pray when You Want to Know God's Will - Counting My Blessings

Hebrews 10:10

For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the
sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Father, You make me holy through Jesus, setting me apart and showing me Your truth. Thank you! I am overwhelmed by your grace, mercy, and love. Humbled that You care so much about Your children that You willingly sacrificed Yourself for us. Forgive me, Father, for ever foolishly believing I’m doing a good job enough to be declared righteous on my own. I can’t. I need You. I need Jesus. I need Your Spirit. Help me surrender to You and live under the glorious grace You so generously pour into my life. Thank you, Amen.

Romans 8:27

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying,
for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

And Father, when I get it wrong . . . which I do much of the time, I’m so very thankful for Your Spirit who pleads for me. Who knows Your will and knows exactly what I need. Thank you. You will never leave me alone to wander in the dark. By Your grace poured out through Your Spirit, You fill me, provide for me, care for me, comfort me, and guide me. Thank you, Lord. Your loving presence meets my every need and with Your help, I surrender to Your will for me. In Jesus name. Amen.

May my prayer each day be to humbly surrender to God’s will trusting His will is best for my forever and for my today.

What’s your favorite verse to pray when you need to know God’s will?

By Deb Wolf – Counting my Blessings

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See also: 5 ways to know if something is from God

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5 ways to know if something is from God

5 Ways to Know if Something is From God

5 Ways to Know if Something is from God - Counting My Blessings

Do you ever wonder whether you are following God’s will or plan for you?

Do you worry that you might be headed in the wrong direction?

Do you wish God would write His will for your day on your to-do list?

Yep, me too!

Since his ordination, Rev has received calls to serve at various ministries and I’ve had to decide whether I should go back to teaching full-time, part-time or if I should stay at home.

And work is just the beginning, isn’t it?

How many children should we have? Where should our children go to school or should we homeschool? Where should we live? Is that the right house for us? The right church family? When should I retire?

What should I do?

The questions go on and on.

Sometimes it was easy to tell where God wants us, other times are harder.

Life decisions can cause some of the greatest stress in our lives.

So the question we all want to know is…

 

There are some things we can do to test a situation and we ask for God’s guidance and seek His will.

Do you ever wonder whether you are following God's will or plan for you? Here are 5 things you can do when you want to know if something is from God.

5 Ways to Know if Something is From God

1. Pray

Begin with prayer. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is.

Start by asking God to show you His specific will for you in this situation.

Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go. Jeremiah 42:3

2. Glorify God

Ask – Does this glorify God?

 

Ask yourself, “Does this bless my relationship with my family? Does it make it possible for me to serve others? What will my attitude be if I do this? Etc.”

Give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Romans 6:13

3. Agree with Scripture

Does it agree with Scripture?

God gave us His Word to show us His will. You and I can trust the counsel of the Bible.

You never have to ask God if it’s His will for you to embezzle from your employer or dish the latest dirty detail about your neighbor.

 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16

4. Be Willing to Wait

Be patient. God’s will is worth the wait. Trust His timing.

If something is God’s will, He will guide you while you wait and bring it to pass. Don’t rush it – when the timing is right God will let you know.

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

5. Trust God to accomplish His will in your life

God will fulfill His promises and accomplish His will for you.

I’ll admit, I’ve gotten impatient at times. I want a clear answer and I want it now! But I’ve learned I can watch and wait . . . God will do what He says He will do, and He will accomplish His will.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

Not everything in life is clear. There will be times when you will do all the above and still be uncertain about God’s direction for you.

That’s okay.

You can trust that if God wants something specific in your life He will guide you to it.

If you’ve gone through the 5 step process and still have no clear answer . . . just keep moving. Make a choice. The good news is if you are trusting and glorifying God with your life you can move ahead confidently.

By Deb Wolf – Counting my Blessings

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See also: 5 verses to pray when you want to know God’s will

Proverbs-3

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North Korea: The blessing of forced solitude with God

North Korea: The blessing of forced solitude with God

Released Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim recently shared about how he survived his 2.5 year ordeal in a North Korean prison.

Lim was operating humanitarian efforts in North Korea before disappearing in February 2015. It turned out the DPRK had arrested him, and in December 2015 Lim was sentenced to life with hard labor for crimes against the North Korean regime.

“I was first sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life of hard labour. That was God’s grace, and gave me tremendous peace,” Lim said. “From that moment, there were days of overwhelming loneliness. From the first day of my detainment until the day I was released, I ate 2,757 meals in isolation by myself. It was difficult to see when and how the entire ordeal would end. But this isolation also gave me the opportunity to spend an extended time of solitude with God.”

During the winter Lim had to dig holes that measured one metre wide and one metre deep. The ground was frozen. The mud was so hard that it took two days to dig one hole. “It was incredibly challenging,” Lim said. “My upper body was sweating; my fingers and toes were frostbitten. I also worked inside a coal storage facility, breaking apart frozen coal.” In the spring and the summer, he worked outside, eight hours a day, in the scorching sun. One year of this difficult labour took a toll on his body and he was admitted to the hospital for two months. There would be three other occasions where he would be admitted to the hospital in a serious condition.

Prison camps in North Korea
“During my time there, I read over one hundred books on North Korea and began to grasp and gain a deeper understanding of the 70 year history that formed the nation,” Lim said. “I also was permitted a Bible that I read in both English and Korean five times and memorized over 700 Bible verses. I worshipped alone for 130 Sundays.”

“While I was laboring, I prayed without ceasing,” Lim said. “There were many difficult moments but it was during these times that God gave me the strength to endure and persevere. There were moments of discouragement, resentment, and grumbling but that soon changed into courage, joy, and thanksgiving. I learned to fully accept all of this as a form of God’s love and discipline to make me stronger. By God’s perfect and sovereign timing, I was released and returned home.”

Source: Hyeon Soo Lim, The Toronto Star

# 1050 | September 4, 2017

 

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Mongolia: Russian Christians bring God’s love to the steppes

Mongolia: Russian Christians bring God’s love to the steppes

Young Christians from Russia are passionately reaching out to unreached people groups on the steppes of Western Mongolia.

Mongolia is one of the world’s least-densely populated countries, with just over three million people. More than half live in the bustling capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The rest of Mongolia, which is roughly three times the size of France, has vast, treeless grasslands, where most people live a nomadic lifestyle raising sheep, goats, cattle, camels and horses.

CBN correspondent George Thomas recently joined 46 Christians from neighboring Russia heading to four remote Mongolian provinces where few have heard the message of Christ’s love. Russian pastor and missionary Pavel Barsokov led the mission. “The heart of my Lord Jesus Christ is for the lost and hurting,” he said. “I want to have the same heart.” From his home in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, he regularly takes the difficult two day drive to Western Mongolia.

Each time he comes, he brings with him young Russian Christians trained and equipped to serve as possible missionaries and evangelists. “What I am attempting to do is raise a new generation of Russian believers who will have an understanding of Christ’s love for the world and the role they must play in bringing the good news to the unreached.”

One of these young people is Natasha Gorodnuk who wants to serve as a missionary to Nepal. “Every time I think about it, my heart breaks because I know the calling on my life and I know what I’m supposed to do,” she said.

For several weeks Natasha and four-dozen other Russians partnered with Mongolian Christians to hold evangelistic camps for young people to see their lives changed. Lives like that of 22-year-old Buyanaa Davaasambuu. She accepted Christ while attending camp here as a little girl. Davaasambuu graduated from Bible college in May and is preparing to go on the mission field. For others like 16-year-old Mashbat Bassan, a Buddhist, this was the first time learning about Christianity. “Before coming to this camp, I never heard about God,” he said. “I learned in the Bible study today that this God created the heavens and the earth, the animals and creatures of the sea. I never knew.”

Shortly after the fall of communism, there were only ten believers in the entire country. Today, 26 years later, some 60,000 believers are spread across this vast nation.

Source: Pavel Barsokov, Natasha Gorodnuk, George Thomas

# 1050 | September 4, 2017

 

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All Saints: How a church turned into a farm

USA: How a church turned into a farm

Michael Spurlock and his wife Aimee firmly believe in the power of prayer and stepping out in faith – even when it doesn’t make sense.

In 2007, the Spurlocks were assigned to All Saints’ Episcopal Church, a struggling church in Smyrna, Tennessee with just a few dozen members and a devastating amount of debt. “I was just out of seminary – I’d never been the pastor of a church before,” Michael told The Gospel Herald during an interview. “I had no idea what I was doing. We were sent down to see what should happen; should we close the church? Should we sell the property? Could we make a go of it? That’s when everything began.”

‘We were on the verge of closing down when the refugees came’

The church was on the verge of closing when a group of Karen refugees forced out of Myanmar unexpectedly joined them. With little resources, growing financial issues, and a language barrier, the congregation was unsure of how to minister to the group’s physical and spiritual needs. “When the refugees showed up, we just turned a radical corner in the life of the parish,” Michael said.

Faced with closure, Michael came up with an unusual solution: he decided to start a farm on church property. However, as they didn’t receive the support of their church officials, the Spurlocks were forced to rely on faith. “Oftentimes, I just didn’t feel equipped to handle the enormity of the problems facing the church,” admitted Michael. “But, God sustained me and saw me through it. He encouraged me when I would get discouraged.”

The people of All Saints, along with the Karen refugees, worked tirelessly on the farm, allowing them to pay the church’s bills and feed all of the people. “We were praying throughout the whole experience,” Michael said. “Sometimes, the provision was so miraculous… you could feel the presence of God there.” Nearly a decade later, All Saints is a thriving church – in fact, it’s more robust than ever.

‘Christian hospitality led to the resurrection of the church’

“Basic Christian hospitality led to the resurrection in that church,” Michael said. “A simple adherence to Jesus’ command to love one another, to welcome the stranger, to not be judging who should and shouldn’t attend your church. Just the openness to those possibilities changed everything, it was so far beyond our imagining what God wound up doing there.”

The Spurlock’s inspiring story of faith and perseverance is the subject of the new faith-based drama, released by AFFIRM Films on August 25, appropriately titled “All Saints”. The real All Saints church and farmland were used as a backdrop for the production. The Spurlocks hope their story inspires others to open their hearts – and their church doors – to the least of these (Matthew 25:40).

Watch the movie trailer

Source: Michael and Aimee Spurlock, Gospel Herald

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Cultural Types: The Lewis Model

Lewis Model Explains World Cultures

By Gus Lubin

A world traveler who speaks ten languages, British linguist Richard Lewis decided to plot the world’s cultures on a chart.

Many people think he nailed it, as his book “When Cultures Collide,” now in its third edition, has sold more than one million copies since it was first published in 1996 and was called “an authoritative roadmap to navigating the world’s economy,” by the Wall Street Journal.

Lewis plots countries in relation to three categories:

Linear-actives—those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germans and Swiss are in this group.

Multi-actives—those lively, loquacious peoples who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italians, Latin Americans and Arabs are members of this group.

Reactives—those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side’s proposals. Chinese, Japanese and Finns are in this group.

He says that this categorization of national norms does not change significantly over time:

The behavior of people of different cultures is not something willy-nilly. There exist clear trends, sequences and traditions. Reactions of Americans, Europeans, and Asians alike can be forecasted, usually justified and in the majority of cases managed. Even in countries where political and economic change is currently rapid or sweeping (Russia, China, Hungary, Poland, Korea, Malaysia, etc.) deeply rooted attitudes and beliefs will resist a sudden transformation of values when pressured by reformists, governments or multinational conglomerates.

Here’s the chart that explains the world:

Some more details on the categories:

 

The point of all of this analysis is to understand how to interact with people from different cultures, a subject in which Richard Lewis Communications provides coaching and consultation. “By focusing on the cultural roots of national behavior, both in society and business, we can foresee and calculate with a surprising degree of accuracy how others will react to our plans for them, and we can make certain assumptions as to how they will approach us,” Lewis writes.

See also:

24 East-West Diagram Comparisons 

5 Stages of Culutre Shock

5 common misconceptions between foreigners and Thais

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BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

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