Monday, July 31, 2006

Wrestling Prayer

GENESIS 32:24-27

We read of Jacob the man that wrestled with God. Early in this chapter Jacob has agonized over how to meet his brother and survive. He has tried the political approach, “I’ll send an ambassador to try and prepare the way for me.” This human wisdom failed and Esau pursues them with 400 men.

Next he tries a military strategy and divides his company into two in hopes that if one is destroyed the others might escape. Finally, he realizes his need to pray; in full humility he approaches the Lord and asks for deliverance from the wrath of his brother. He reminds God of His promises to do good unto Jacob and make his seed a multitude.

After awhile in prayer he goes back to his human understanding and determines to send presents. Oh, how many times have I approached the place of prayer in faith and reminding the Lord and myself of His promises; only to leave the place of prayer and do something in my own strength?

Desperation grips Jacob as his imagination conceives of the horrible battle that will begin in the morning. He went to the solitary place of prayer, crying out in such agony, contending for an answer. The Lord must ensure that my brother does not destroy my family in his vengeance. The Lord must bless me! I imagine his agony in this place was a small token of what Jesus went through in the Garden of Gethsemane.

God could not resist blessing this one, but like he does with us He wanted Jacob to wrestle. He was so please that Jacob didn’t quit but through all of his emotions, senses, strength. The was a strength and an aggression that arose within Jacob, it wasn’t from him but from the Lord, faith to hold and not let go. This is the kind of faith and activity the Lord loves to bless. It’s the stuff the Sermon on the Mount is filled with.

God grant me this holy, righteous, passion, that won’t settle for anything less than all of your blessings!Lord, cause me to contend for your blessings so that none of them should fail to come to pass. Cause me to contend to know you as Jesus knows you. --Amen

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Mystery To Ponder

“It is all about the Holy Spirit!”

The mystery of the indwelling Holy Spirit; the God who created the Universe, parted the Red Sea, Raised the dead; now the indwelling presence of the His Spirit lives in me. I ponder this mystery daily; I think it is the hardest thing to comprehend in Christianity.

People died when the touched the Ark of the Covenant, priests feared for the lives when entering the Holy of Holies. Now He dwells in me. I wonder when God breathed His very breath into Adam, if His breath was not His Spirit. I have always thought that it was the “glory of God” that left Adam and Eve when they sinned. I even surmised that it was the serpent who “told them they were naked.” Now, I wonder if it wasn’t the indwelling breath of God; the Holy Spirit. We know God met with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day; but did the Holy Spirit dwell within them? If He did, that would explain the instant loss that Adam and Eve experienced. If the Holy Spirit did not dwell within them, than that would mean that we have the potential for even greater fellowship with God than they did. All of this while we are still without resurrected, glorified bodies.

Now this is an amazing thing, I always meditated on Genesis and thought wow, what would it have been like to walk with Him daily in the Garden? I reflected upon it as though Adam had something more, than I did. Now I realize a little more the precious treasure that is within this earthen jar.

Holy Spirit, I acknowledge your presence, and give recognition to you as “Christ within”. The Father and the Son reached down to my lifeless corpse and breathed the very breath of God into these dry bones. Then my eyes opened and felt your presence within. Life within me! Holy Spirit teach me to commune with you. Let our times together be so precious that I would sooner die than neglect you. You are not a force, a thing, an experience, or electricity…you are God. The third person of the blessed Trinity. – Amen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sovereign God or Free Will...Great Explanation

Another problem created by the doctrine of divine sovereignty has to do with the will of man. If God rules His universe by His sovereign decrees, how is it possible for man to exercise his free choice? And if he can not exercise freedom of choice, how can he be held responsible for his conduct? Is he not a mere puppet whose actions are determined by a behind-the scenes God who pulls the strings as it pleases Him?

The attempt to answer these questions has divided the Christian church neatly into two camps which have borne the names of two distinguished theologians, Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin. Most Christians are content to get into one cap or the other and deny either sovereignty to God or free will to man. It appears possible, however, to reconcile these two positions without doing violence to either, although the effort that follows may prove deficient to partisans of one camp or the other.

Here is my view: God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “What doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.

Perhaps a homely illustration might help us to understand. An Ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by the proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.

On board the ship are several scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by the decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. The eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port.

Both freedom and sovereignty are present here and they do not contradict each other. So it is, I believe, with man’s freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God’s sovereign decree keeps its steady course over the sea of history. God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfillment of those eternal purposes which He purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began. We do not know all that is included in those purposes, but enough has been disclosed to furnish us with a broad outline of things to come and to give us good hope and firm assurance of future well-being.
A.W. Tozer The Knowledge of the Holy Chapter 22

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Want to hear some great Podcasts? Click on the ONETHING PODCASTS Title to go to the feedburner site. You can catch the latest Podcasts are updated every week.

Berga Soldiers of Another War

Kelsey picked up this PBS documentary at the local library. In brief, it is the story of 300 US soldiers, captured during WW 2 and sent to a 'feeder camp' for Buchenwald. The story centers on the fact that the soldiers would not reveal the Jews among their party, preferring mass abuse to letting the Germans know definatively who the Jews were. The soldiers, many of them interviewed here as old men, say things like "They asked who our Jews were. We told them that in our country, we do not differentiate between religions. And so they threw me down the stairs...".The website does a fair job of telling the story, including some compelling video clips, but of course, the documentary is better. This is one of the most timely things I've seen, in light of what is to come. See Tom Mill's description of yesterday morning's service for more thoughts of standing with Israel.

Copied without permission from Randy Bohlender's blog.

In The Dark

God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark. “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gate of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; and I will give the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.” Isaiah 54:2-3

It is heartening to learn how many of God’s mighty deeds were done in secret, away from the prying eyes of men or angels. When God created the heavens and the earth, darkness was upon the face of the deep. When the Eternal Son became flesh, He was carried for a time in the darkness of the sweet virgin’s womb. When He died for the life of the world, it was in the darkness seen by no one at the last. When He arose from the dead, it was “very early in the morning.” No one saw Him rise. It is as if God were saying, “What I am is all that need matter to you, for there lie your hope and peace. I will do what I will do, and it will all come to light at last, but how I do it is My secret. Trust Me, and be not afraid.”

With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack? Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Kidnappers have demanded $100,000 for the release of two U.S. missionaries seized on their way to church in Haiti's capital, a U.N. official said Thursday. The captors initially sought $500,000 but lowered the ransom demand during negotiations with the
FBI', said Leslie Dallemand, chief of the U.N. peacekeeping mission's anti-kidnapping unit.

An FBI spokeswoman in Miami, Judy Orihuela, declined to comment on the demand, saying the U.S. law enforcement agency doesn't discuss ransom details.

Tom Barron, a minister at The Mustard Seed church, and member William Eugene Seastrum were driving to church early Sunday when assailants stopped their car and dragged them out, Dallemand said. Both missionaries are from High Point, North Carolina. "As far as I know, they're pretty healthy," Dallemand said. "The kidnappers didn't speak English. They made (one missionary) call his wife in North Carolina, and he did say he was OK."

Once relatively rare in Haiti, kidnappings became an almost a daily occurrence after a bloody revolt toppled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004. Kidnappings leveled off following the February election of President Rene Preval, but the problem has worsened again in recent weeks.

U.N. officials say the kidnappings and other violence are aimed at destabilizing the new government, which took power in May.

On Wednesday, gunmen stopped dozens of cars traveling along a main road leading to the capital's airport and tried to seize the occupants, Dallemand said. At least two Haitians were reported kidnapped.

It's unclear how long Barron and Seastrum had been in Haiti. Dallemand said the two were staying at a hotel in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Delmas, where many kidnappings occur.

Dallemand said the FBI is working with U.N. and Haitian authorities to free the men, the latest foreign missionaries to be kidnapped.

Last month, Canadian missionary Ed Hughes was abducted from a rural town north of Port-au-Prince where he runs an orphanage. The 72-year-old was freed a week later after an undisclosed ransom was paid.

At least 29 people have been reported kidnapped in Haiti so far in July, about a third of them U.S. citizens, Dallemand said.

Last year, 43 Americans were kidnapped in Haiti, including three who were killed in attempted abductions, according to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006



I have been to many prayer meetings where I felt the need to prove my closeness to God by throwing out a prayer that sounds profoundly spiritual to others around me. I’ve also been in many prayer circles where I would repeatedly say “Yes Lord,” simply so that others in the group would hear and know that I am really involved in the prayer. This is what Jesus calls praying on the street corners. It is found in Matthew chapter 6. It’s also very embarrassing to admit that I used to do it.

Praying simply for others to hear is like getting affectionate with my wife when we are entertaining dinner guests. There is nothing wrong with being affectionate while my dinner guests are enjoying dinner. But if I am only being loving with her so that my dinner guests will know that I am a good husband, how will my wife feel? How fake! If the only time I ever show her the best of my love is in public, what kind of love is that? Is is real?God wants us to be intimate and real with him, I don’t think he is too crazy about PDA. (Public Displays of Affection.) I have re-learned to pray to him and to him alone. Not for others to see.


I was master of praying to Jesus in such a way that I convinced myself that the things I wanted were really in his perfect will for me. I look back and I think I should have been more honest with the Lord and actually prayed “Not your will, but my will be done.” Because this is what I meant.I used to push my own agenda and desires onto the Lord even though deep in my heart, they were things that I wanted for myself. This too is embarassing to admit.


One thing God showed me about my prayers was my religious tag line. I used to say it so fast at the end of my prayers that it blended together. “In Jesus name amen.” In my mind, it was what made my prayers official. I have yet to be around a church going individual who doesn’t pray with this tag line in some form or another. Again, the words aren't evil, but the fact that we don't even pay attention to what we are saying, illustrates how meaningless the words are to us personally. They are fluff for many people. They were for me. There is nothing wrong with the tag line in itself, but it is simply not the kind of language I would use with my best friend here on earth. So what place does it have in the conversation with my best friend in heaven?


I am no teacher at all, and I am not proclaiming any revelation truths. I am simply sharing with you some of the things that Jesus has shown me personally. He is so good to me, and has opened up my prayer life and helped my whole life to become a prayer. No longer do I spend moments in mind-wandering prayer, but Jesus and I are most always together conversing. And we are not able to do this because of anything I have mastered, but because he does it all. Yet another stepping stone in the journey. Author Sean Dietrich

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Teach Us To Pray (part 1)

I sympathize with Jesus’ disciples when they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Like them, Jesus has taught me so many other things that fly in the face of the religion I used to serve so devoutly. So what about the way I learned to pray? Hey Jesus, will you teach me to pray too?

Jesus has taken me through a long hard examination on the way I pray. It’s taken a long time, and I am not through yet. But with his steady support and help, I have learned more about what prayer really is. I’ve learned so much from my friend about what authentic prayer looks like. I love him for teaching me. I don’t claim to know everything by a long shot, and this is definitely not a formula to prayer. These are just tiny bits from my lessons from Jesus.


The first thing Jesus showed me personally about prayer, concerned the actual words I used when I prayed. Now, I would have never thought this really mattered to him, but I found out that it most certainly does. You can read his take on it in Matthew chapter 6. Jesus tells us not to use many words when we pray like the pagans do. What does he mean? Easy. He means not to use many words like the pagans do.

I used 100 words to say something that only required 10 words. I would never talk to my wife that way. I would never say, “Honey, I just ask right now, that you would reach your gracious arms down into the cloudy, dirty, and murky dishwater, and scrub the dishes with all your powerful dishwashing might. Oh yes dear wife! Right now in your name, dear Honey, I ask that you would wash. I come before you now and ask you to wash, dear Honey! Thank you dear Honey-bun, I know that you hear me and that you are going to wash the dishes because you promised you would Honey. Thank you my Honey. In Honey’s name, amen.

I’m sorry for the crude example, but it illustrates what Jesus showed me so clearly. He desperately wants to be our friend, but he can’t if we keep making him our religious statue. Jesus showed me that he wants me to really talk to him. Not chant to him.


Another important thing Jesus taught me about prayer concerns my own selfishness. I used to spend 99% of my prayer life asking for things. After all, I thought this was what prayer was. I came before God like I used to sit on Santa’s knee in the shopping mall. “Um, I want a bike, and a football, and…”

One night, I found in my concordance that the Greek word Jesus commonly used for prayer was a word that also meant to “worship.” In the Matthew 6, Jesus didn’t use the Greek word meaning to “beg,” he actually used a word that meant to “worship” and to “supplicate” as well.

What kind of friend am I, if the only time I ever speak to Jesus is to ask and beg for things? If my wife never spoke to me except to ask me for something, I wouldn’t have much of a marriage. If I never heard her speak except to ask questions, I would think that she was rather selfish. I want to know my wife’s heart, and how she feels. I want her to talk to me with complete honesty and vulnerability.

Asking for things is not terrible. In fact, Jesus wants us to ask and rely on him to supply our needs. I am not suggesting that we cease to ask God for anything. However, Jesus also wants us to simply hang out with him, and to listen to him speak. He wants us to love him and spend time with him, not just ask him for more toys. authored by Sean Dietrich

Friday, July 14, 2006

Where the Hell is Matt?

Why didn't I Think of this? If this guy can dance then I can too!


Israeli warplanes Friday destroyed the building housing the headquarters of
Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Beirut, the group's TV station reported. It did not report any casualties.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and the top leadership of the group have offices and residences in the high-security area, but they were likely to have been on the move during the Israeli offensive.

Smoke rose from the Haret Hreik neighborhood late afternoon, after four huge explosions shook the capital. They were followed minutes later by a fifth blast.

Earlier Friday, Israeli warplanes renewed attacks on the southern suburbs, targeting a Hezbollah radio station and starting a fire in a building, but its broadcasts continued.Israeli aircraft pounded the neighborhood overnight, destroying overpasses and punching large holes in an intersection.


Prayer Request From Friends For Friends.

Please add my friends to your prayer list.........

1. Cami Dombkowski (One year anniversary of death of her husband - not easy for her.)
2. Ann Swanson Cancer - brain tumor. Birthday is in a few days She is an amazing person.

Matt 18:19-20
19 "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." NKJV

When you pray for these or any post we list...let us encourage you to post a comment. It can be as simple as AMEN. -Thanks

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From Christ's Church to iChurch

Leader's Insight: From Christ's Church to iChurchHow consumerism undermines our faith and Skye Jethani, Leadership contributing editor

A recent article in The New York Times reported the opening of the first Indian megatemple (the Hindu equivalent of the American megachurch). The enormous building is designed to attract and entertain the un-templed with a large-format movie screen, an indoor boat ride, and even a hall of animatronic characters. The temple's public relation's director proudly admits, "There is no doubt about it—we have taken the concept from Disneyland."

Similarly, Times writer Laurie Goodstein has reported on the struggle of American Muslim clerics to protect their faith from the influence of materialism and consumerism. Indications are that over time American Hindu and Muslim leaders will follow Christians in succumbing to the siren song of consumerism.

Christian critiques of consumerism usually focus on the dangers of idolatry—the temptation to make material goods the center of life rather than God. This, however, misses the real threat consumerism poses. My concern is not materialism, strictly speaking, or even the consumption of goods—as contingent beings, we must consume resources to survive. The problem is not consuming to live, but rather living to consume.

We find ourselves in a culture that defines our relationships and actions primarily through a matrix of consumption. As the philosopher Baudrillard explains, "Consumption is a system of meaning." We assign value to ourselves and others based on the goods we purchase. One's identity is now constructed by the clothes you wear, the vehicle you drive, and the music on your iPod.

In short, you are what you consume.

This explains why shopping is the number one leisure activity of Americans. It occupies a role in society that once belonged only to religion—the power to give meaning and construct identity. Consumerism, as Pete Ward correctly concludes, "represents an alternative source of meaning to the Christian gospel." No longer merely an economic system, consumerism has become the American worldview—the framework through which we interpret everything else, including God, the gospel, and church.

When we approach Christianity as consumers rather than seeing it as a comprehensive way of life, an interpretive set of beliefs and values, Christianity becomes just one more brand we consume along with Gap, Apple, and Starbucks to express identity. And the demotion of Jesus Christ from Lord to label means to live as a Christian no longer carries an expectation of obedience and good works, but rather the perpetual consumption of Christian merchandise and experiences—music, books, t-shirts, conferences, and jewelry.

Approaching Christianity as a brand (rather than a worldview) explains why the majority of people who identify themselves as born-again Christians live no differently than other Americans. According to George Barna, most churchgoers have not adopted a biblical worldview, they have simply added a Jesus fish on the bumper of their unregenerate consumer identities. As Mark Riddle observes, "Conversion in the U.S. seems to mean we've exchanged some of our shopping at Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, and Borders for the Christian bookstore down the street. We've taken our lack of purchasing control to God's store, where we buy our office supplies in Jesus name."

Ultimately we shouldn't be surprised that American Christianity has succumbed to the pervasive power of consumerism. Alan Wolf, a leading sociologist and the director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, has concluded that, "In the United States culture has transformed Christ, as well as all other religions found within these shores. In every aspect of the religious life, American faith has met American culture—and American culture has triumphed."

Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, co-authors of The Churching of America, 1776-1990, argue that ministry in the U.S. is modeled primarily on capitalism with pastors functioning as a church's sales force, and evangelism as its marketing strategy. Our willing indoctrination into this economic view of ministry is so complete that most pastors never question its validity or recognize how unprecedented it is within Christian history.
According to Finke and Stark, the American church adopted a consumer-driven model because the First Amendment prohibited state-sanctioned religion. Therefore, faith, like the buying of material goods, became a matter of individual choice and self-expression. And "where religious affiliation is a matter of choice, religious organizations must compete for members and … the 'invisible hand' of the marketplace is as unforgiving of ineffective religious firms as it is of their commercial counterparts."
This explains why corporate models, marketing strategies, and secular business values are pervasive in American ministry—we are in competition with other churches, and other providers of identity and meaning, for survival. To appeal to religious consumers we must commodify our congregations—slapping our church's logo on shirts, coffee mugs, and Bible covers. And we strive to convince a sustainable segment of the religious marketplace that their church is "relevant," "comfortable," or "exciting."

As a result, choosing a church today isn't merely about finding a community to learn and live out the Christian faith. It's about "church shopping" to find the congregation that best expresses my identity. This drives Christian leaders to differentiate their church by providing more of the features and services people want.

After all, in a consumer culture the customer, not Christ, is king.

Skye Jethani is assistant teaching pastor at Blanchard Alliance Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and contributing editor to Leadership. His full-length article "All We Like Sheep" appears in the Summer 2006 issue of Leadership.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Prayer For Pastor's


Would you restore, renew, revitalize, refresh, Pastors today. You have set apart these men and women to do a work they can not do well, without you. Strengthen them with love, your love. Fill them with the might of your Spirit God. Set them ablaze. Bring healing to their families.

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,"Ephesians 3

Let their eyes see the Eternal, unseen. Let their hearts know the depth of your depp. Let their eyes see the Eternal Unseen. Show them you love. Set the hearts ablaze. To know you Lord. Let them know you and cause them to make the work of their hands, your work. Show them your love.

Monday, July 03, 2006

How Much Would You Pay For Lunch With Jesus

By Jonathan StempelFri Jun 30, 8:18 AM ET

Warren Buffett lunch sells for $620,100

Dining at a steakhouse can be a costly affair. Dining at a steakhouse with billionaire investor Warren Buffett is now a very costly one.

Lunch with the world's second-richest person went for $620,100 (340,000 pounds) in an online charity auction on eBay Inc., topping last year's $351,100 record for the fundraiser.

Yongping Duan, a 45-year-old investor from Palo Alto, California, won the date, using the moniker "fastisslow." He topped a $620,000 bid by "magicyourlife." The weeklong auction ended Thursday night.

Buffett, the 75-year-old chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has since 2000 offered lunches for up to eight people to benefit the Glide Foundation, a San Francisco non-profit that helps the poor, hungry and homeless.

Susan Buffett, the billionaire's late wife, worked for the charity, which has said its annual budget is $12 million.

"I learnt a lot from Warren Buffett and his philosophy," Duan said in an interview Friday morning. "I wanted to find a chance to say thanks to him. I have also looked at Glide, and they do very good work."

Duan said his family's Enlight Foundation will provide the donation, and plans to take his wife and friends to the lunch.

This year's lunch will be at a Manhattan steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky. Its parent Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group Inc. is donating $10,000 to Glide.

Earlier this week, Buffett said he would give away 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four other charities.

Buffett took over Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire in 1965, and transformed it from a struggling textile maker into a $142 billion company through investments in undervalued securities and purchases of well-managed, easy-to-understand businesses.

At the lunch, the billionaire will talk about pretty much anything other than what he is buying and selling.

Duan used to run a consumer electronics business in China.

He said he plans to ask Buffett "when you have too much money in your hand, and don't find very good targets, what do you do? I believe he's very good at this kind of thing."