When My People Pray

We are being encouraged to increase the frequency of our prayers and increase the amount of time that we pray.

Two weeks ago, we looked at the first half of 2 Chronicles 7:14, and this week we will look at it, again. We focused upon the first part of the verse which is the CONDITIONAL part…

IF my people will pray

Today, we look at the RESULT of the condition…

If—then or therefore

It is the relationship between

  • what God calls us to do and
  • what He plans to do in response.

Let’s look, again, at this verse:

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.            2 Chronicles 7:14

Last time, we looked at the first part of this verse, and we broke it into these parts:

  • If My People
  • Who Are Called by My Name
  • Will Humble Themselves
  • Pray
  • Seek My Face
  • Turn From Their Wicked Ways

 God calls us His People…Is that not an awesome statement?

Most of us in this room are called by American society, “Baby Boomers.”  Some of us are part of “Generation X.”  Some are “Millennials” and our children here in church are “Post Millennials.”  But according to God, we are “His People,”

And that is because…we believe in the gift of God’s Son, Jesus, the Messiah.

  • Jesus bought us with the payment of His blood and
  • Proved that his sacrifice was sufficient by his resurrection from the dead.

We who are His people are to be humble, Yet, many people think this is the opposite of how we act. We need to change that by being even more humble.

And in Humility, meeting with our Father in the Name of Jesus, we need to pray even more; Seek God’s Face…kingdom and righteousness; Repent and stay away from sinfulness…

Then God promises two things:

  • To Hear
  • To Respond, Favorably

I am a realist, I think (I hope) and I am a man of faith in God.

God answers our prayers, because He hears them.

Now, let’s consider the whole verse, again.

It sounds like a formula.

When I was a teenager, I worked for the summer at a paint store, and I was trained to mix automotive paint. We did this by weight,

  • and we would begin with an empty can,
  • then fill it with the base or majority paint,
  • then we would add other colors to make the specific type of color…
    • not just grey,
    • but charcoal grey…
    • but not just charcoal grey, but phantom grey.

So, as a formula, God begins with His People, and He tells to add

  • 1 part humility

plus

  • 1 part prayer

and

  • 1 part seeking face of God and
  • finally one part of repentance, and

viola

God hears, and answers favorably.

To look at it as a formula might cheapen it, and I am not trying to do that…I am not trying to dumb this down. But, let it become a way of life…When we come before God, let us do so in HUMILITY By PRAYER, SEEKING HIS FACE…not our own ideas or opinions…And TURN FROM WICKEDNESS

It is a way of life

God calls us into relationship

He offers to HEAR  and RESPOND FAVORABLY

And this is what we need.

  1. Hear

Let us believe that He indeed hears us…He knows what we are about to pray for before we even ask.

He knows our thoughts…He longs to hear from us…he wants to hear us, so, we must pray….Yes, He can read our thoughts, but He created us as beings who can communicate, (which is part of the understanding of being made in God’s Image),

God communicates, thus He longs for us to communicate with Him. When We Pray, let us remember that He loves WHEN WE PRAY.

He hears us.

David recognized that it is the righteous that God hears:

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.   Psalm 34:17, 18

And John wrote to the church that God hears us when we pray according to God’s will:

 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.      1 John 5:14, 15

Our prayers are even described as incense before the Lord.

… the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8

He hears us.   We must believe this.

David wrote:

Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:7-12

So, yes, He hears us, and therefore, Satan wants to stop us from praying.

Each of us who has endeavored to increase the amount of time we pray this month, or the amount of times we pray, has probably found it not only difficult as a new discipline, but we have found many things to complicate our time.

I’ve had many unusual things happen during this month of prayer, that have come down hard on me, and have blocked me from GIVING as much time as I had hoped, but I’m still pushing through.

Satan is at work, and he will try to keep us from praying, because he knows God hears us. And He knows that God will answer, favorably.

  1. Respond Favorably

This is a delicate area for many people. There are those who say God doesn’t heal today. There are those who say He does, but with limitations. There are those who SAY if you pray X number of times then God will answer.

The favorable responses in 2 Chronicles 7:14 are

  • forgiveness of sin and
  • healing of their land.

The first favorable response that God lists is forgiveness for sin.

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, there were two trees mentioned, specifically.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   Genesis 2:8, 9

God told man to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but man, through the Tempter, ate of it, and man was exiled from the garden.

The earth that man was supposed to rule, now was spoiled by sin, and from that spoiled land man would receive his sustenance.

God promises forgiveness and the healing of our land.

We fully understand this in the sacrifice of Jesus, through whom all of our sin is forgiven, if we believe in His death and resurrection.

We need to be reminded of

  • our fallen state without Christ, and
  • our forgiven status with

Thank God for His forgiveness, through which we have eternal life, that we are living even now,

  • as we no learn to let go of grudges,
  • as we learn to let go of bad habits,
  • as we learn to let go of greed, and give God at least 10% of our income and give to those in need
  • and as we learn to let go of our loneliness,
  • and let go of our independence that sometimes leads to idolatry…

…as we are letting go, we are experiencing the beginning stages of eternal life even now. This is because we are Forgiven. 

There is so much more to say about forgiveness, but let share one Scripture that is incredible:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.    1 John 1:9

It sounds like a formula, again.

If…then

If we confess our sins, then we’ll be forgiven and John expounds more and says we will be PURIFIED.

Notice, too, that John describes God’s character, WHICH is why He not only Forgives, but Also Purifies.

He is Faithful…Faithful to forgive the one who confesses his sins

But He is Just…Full of Justice, and doesn’t want us to live forgiven and yet impure.

Remember, God removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after they sinned, but it was not just a punishment, or result of their sin, it was an act of mercy.

21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  Genesis 3:21-22

God didn’t want man to live forever in a sinful state.

His character is Mercy, Faithfulness and Justice.

Thus, He calls us to Call to Him, and be forgiven and healed.

The natural question for us now is why doesn’t God heal us every time we pray?

I don’t really know.

But what I do know is that God promises to answer favorably.

How is God going to answer our prayers right now?

For example, Andrew Brunson is the American pastor imprisoned in Turkey today under false accusations…I am not in his place or situation…How can I say that God will do what He has promised and answer favorably?

It is by trusting in God while we are praying.

Andrew Brunson, like all ministers who serve in other countries, counted the cost before setting foot in Turkey. He knew that this could happen.

He continued to count the cost when three Christians were martyred in 2007.

He continued to count the cost.

While I pray for his release, I know that God called him to serve those people in the way that he has served, and God has walked with Andrew during this troubling time.

Andrew is not the only person in prison, but thousands of Turks are in prison since the attempted coup in July.

I pray that God’s Will be done in Andrew’s ministry, which continues through his unjust imprisonment.

Before 9/11, there were several Christian ministers  who were abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I pastored a church that I started in Almaty, Kazakhstan at that time.

Our church in Kazakhstan began to pray and ask God to release those missionaries.

I didn’t realize at the time that I had even had coffee with one of them when I had visited Pakistan earlier in the year in 2001.

But we were fervently praying.

Our church members did not watch the news, though, so when the missionaries were freed (after 911), I preached a message about how God answers prayer.

And at the end (in one of my favorite memories of ministry), as I announced to the congregation that the missionaries had been released,

And then this church of about almost 200 people, all rose and shouted praises to God and thanksgiving.

Then, sacrificially, this very financially-challenged congregation, gave an offering of $1500 to bless the churches of Afghanistan.

These former Communists and former Muslims were experiencing Eternal life, letting go of their anger toward Afghanistan, and letting go of their funds to bless that land.

What will God do for us?

God wants us to pray, and

When we pray,

God is at work!

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.   2 Chronicles 7:14

Let’s pray

 

Posted in prayer, Sermons | Tagged | Leave a comment

If My People Will…Pray

If My People…Pray

Happy New Year!

This is the time in which we make new plans, and new resolutions! This is the time in which we say,

“another year has come and gone, now we have a chance to make for a better year than last.”

And, therefore,

We need to pray.

It is the beginning of 2017, we need to pray.

We are Christ’s church,

a local expression of His worldwide body,

so we must pray.

We are God’s People,

gathered together around this fellowship,

so we should pray.

When we pray, we should expect things to happen.

As we pray,

we should be opening our hearts to God’s Spirit of Life.

Since we pray,

we should be hearing even more from Our Savior, Lord and King.

A favorite verse for God’s people on prayer comes from 2 Chronicles.

It is the voice of God speaking to Solomon after he had completed building the Temple.

Let’s read this, today,

and my message will really be a meditation upon that verse.

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Let’s pray 

  1. IF My People

My people

God is speaking about “His” people

Specifically, He was speaking about a collective of the People of Israel.

Yes,

He would hear individual prayers, but He is for His People

As the Apostle Paul wrote,

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

God is for US.

Yes,

that means God is for “you” and “me,”

but really, He is for “us,” collectively.

Can we step out of our American rugged individualism long enough

to see that what is precious to God is His People.

If my persons would be a people

Let’s be the people of God

Let’s gather together, not just here, but in our homes.

Let’s meet in cafes and pray for each other.

Let’s meet in businesses and study the Bible together while on break.

Let’s be the PEOPLE of God, not hidden, and showing up only at political events.

Let us be the people of God

Not waiting until we get everything ready, but let’s meet as part of our process of growing.

Let’s come here to share, to participate and to receive, not only from the pulpit but from the pew.

Let’s be the Active People of God, and specifically, let us be that with regards to prayer, and see where that takes us.

If my people…

  1. Who are called by My Name

The original people that God was talking about were the Hebrew people,

called by His Name.

Since then, God has expanded the definition of who are His People to include Non-Jews.

We are his people,

not ethnically,

but through adoption

into His Family

by the work of Jesus in His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead!

We celebrated this act when we shared the Lord’s Table, today.

We are part of His family because He did the work to bring us in.

IF MY PEOPLE

WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME

  1. Will Pray

Does God answer prayer?

Yes!

Must one be a Christian for God to answer one’s prayer?

No,

…but once you are a Christian, you are, then, in a relationship with God, and our prayers are part of our life.

Don’t grow tired in prayer.

As we enter into this emphasis of prayer,

I want us to spend time in prayer with God, daily.

One the handout sheet, I’ve put a place for us to put a commitment regarding prayer this month.

I want to ask you to make your own commitment to prayer this month

Increase the frequency of prayer for this month.

Increase the amount of time of prayer this month

If you are available, come on Wednesdays from 11:00-1:00, and/or 5:00-7:00 PM, even if you have only 15 minutes, join us for that time.

We want to know and publish your prayer requests.

We want to post requests for prayer, publicly, and want you to participate.

We’ll post more on Facebook about this this month, too.

We have new communication cards, please take one and turn it over.

Write your prayer request, today, that you want us to remember in prayer this week.

Each week, put it in the offering.

Make sure I have your card before you leave, today.

IF MY PEOPLE

WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME

…..

  1. Will Humble Themselves and Pray

Prayer is What God wants us to do,

And He also asks us to be humble in our prayer.

To repent of our self-centeredness.

Are we really so important?

TO repent of our self-sufficiency

Do we really think we can be successful apart from God’s Plan?

To turn from our rebellion

Is our heart really in rebellion against authority, and therefore, we are in rebellion against God?

To remember who He is and

To remember that we come from the dust of the earth at His command.

Remembering who God is, and who we are is the beginning of true humility.

James wrote:

“God opposes the proud

    but shows favor to the humble.”

James 4:6

I really believe that there are many believers in America who are tired of prayer and tired in prayer.

They may not readily admit it, but they are.

This would be reflected in the frequency of prayer and length of time that they pray.

I want to challenge us,

if we are “tired” in prayer,

to humble ourselves, even more, and for this month,

to encourage each other to pray more.

In prayer, focus upon God.

Worship Him, and let’s bring the needs of others

and our own needs to Him.

IF MY PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME WILL HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY AND …

  1. Seek My Face

God calls us to seek Him, and Him alone.

If we will seek Him, He will be found.

Jeremiah 29:13 says,

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Jesus, later, said,

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

As we pray,

we are seeking

  • God,
  • His kingdom,
  • His righteousness.

God is looking for worshippers who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

As we seek God, He finds us, too, and comes to us. As James wrote:

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:8

Let us come to God,

  • seeking Him,
  • His Kingdom and
  • His Righteousness.

But, we cannot seek Him if we are not also repenting.

IF MY PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME SHALL HUMBLE THEMSELVES AND PRAY AND SEEK MY FACE AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS…

  1. Turn from Our Wicked Ways

We are in a relationship with God through Jesus because we have turned from sin,

and turned toward Jesus,

but sin is stubborn, and doesn’t let go too easily.

We need to let go of sin.

We need to let go of

  • sinful attitudes….
  • sinful thoughts….
  • selfish cravings…
  • the ease of allowing anger, frustration, and depression TO CAPTIVATE

The context of this statement is that

when things are going wrong,

if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways….

there is an understanding that we bear some of the responsibility for our problems.

Yes, I live in a fallen world, and that is why illnesses, unemployment, troubled economies, broken relationship happen.

But, we also need to understand our own responsibility.

And we do that by humbling ourselves

In all of this, God is promising something to us.

  1. The Results

I will hear

I will forgive

I will heal

Response

I WANT TO SHARE THE SECOND HALF OF THIS VERSE NEXT WEEK, AND WE WILL FOCUS UPON GOD’S RESULTS.

BUT FOR NOW,

Let us pray

Let us humble ourselves

Seek His Face

Turn from Wickedness

Expect Him to Hear

Receive His Forgiveness

Look for His Healing and restoration.

Pray

SING “AS WE CRY”

 

Posted in prayer, Sermons | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing Is Believing

thomas“My Lord and my God!”

These were the words of the reluctant disciple known as “Doubting Thomas.” He doubted for a week, in between appearances of the resurrected Jesus. Once he saw Jesus, he no longer doubted.

Paul was a Jewish leader who persecuted the early Church, but once he saw the resurrected Jesus, he went from persecutor to preacher; from prosperous to persecuted.

Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).” Thomas, Paul, the other Apostles and according to Scripture 500 others saw the resurrected Jesus, and they believed.

Belief in the resurrection of Jesus is key to receiving the power of His sacrificial death for our rescue from the effect of sin, which is separation from God. According to Jesus’ words to Thomas, there are those who see and believe, and there will be those who believe without seeing the actual body of the resurrected Jesus.

So, the vast majority of Christians through the ages have not seen Jesus, physically. Occasionally, Jesus appears to people, but for the most part, Jesus leaves the job of revealing salvation to His disciples of every generation with the help of His Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).” We hear so often that the churches are full of hypocrites, and yet Jesus tasked the Church to love one another. This love will identify them as His disciples…as “Christians,”…as those who have believed in the resurrection without seeing the physical body of Jesus.

I’ve never had a vision of Jesus. My wife had one when she was very young. I’m jealous (sort of). Thirty years ago I began to read about an interesting phenomenon that I could not readily appreciate. Random individuals from a particular group of people were having visions of Jesus. These were not Christians, but people who seemed to have these things in common: belief in one God; desire to follow God; an open heart.

At first I didn’t think much of these visions of Jesus since I had believed in Him without benefit of vision or dream. I had seen Jesus in the lives of His followers (and, yes, I have seen a great lack of Jesus in some of His followers). But, as I observed this group of people, I began to value their visions as gifts that God was giving them because that is how God’s grace is.

I have thought much of how important it is to represent Jesus to those who don’t know Him. I’ve learned that by reading His revelation, the Bible, I learn more and more of how to reveal Him to the world. Yet, still, God sends visions and dreams of Jesus to various people in this group. I cannot reveal my source nor the location of the story, but last year, in the midst of a battle in a place that Americans would refer to as “God forsaken,” two men from this particular group of people approached a friend of mine and asked, “Please tell us more about Jesus. He appeared to both of us in separate dreams, and we want to follow Him.” I remember wondering why my friend had remained in that dangerous place. He was not able to leave because of travel restrictions and visa problems, yet in his faithfulness to live and pray among an oppressed group of people because God placed him there, God sent a dream to two men who risked everything to follow Jesus, even though they were surrounded by Muslims, and in fact were previously Muslim, too.

Muslims are having visions and dreams about the resurrected Jesus! Islam teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross, hence they don’t believe in His resurrection.

As I prayed this morning for the world, my nation and the current refugee crisis, I wondered, “how many of these refugees had visions and dreams of Jesus. I know of one, and that story has influenced other refugees as well. But visions and dreams are not happening enough to touch the world. The world needs to see Jesus in His followers.

If “seeing is believing,” then I don’t want to people to believe anything less of me as a Christian than this: I want to love others as Jesus has loved me.

PRACTICAL WAYS OF SHARING JESUS’ LOVE WITH THE WORLD

  1. Pray. It is hard to love someone if you are not praying for them (vice versa, too). Pray for our enemies as well as our neighbors. Pray for the government and for those who have never heard about Jesus.
  2. Deny ourselves. Putting ourselves first, is not how we love others. Practice putting others, first. This should be learned at home, first, as it would be scandalous if we put our neighbor first, and don’t practice this with our families.
  3. Look at the world through the lens of Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and is revealed in the New Testament. Why don’t we stone adulterers today? One reason is that Jesus showed us a better way to deal with sin in our community.
  4. Get moving. Stagnation for anyone is a death sentence. Get off of Facebook. Get off of the couch. Get on with life. Jesus’ commission was to “go and make disciples,” not “grow wide on the couch and complain about the lack of disciples in the world.”
  5. Repeat (there are other things we can do, but repeating the four above is a great start).

Remember, seeing is believing, and I want the world to believe I am a follower of Jesus so that they might want to listen to His Word, believe in His resurrection and follow Him.

Posted in Refugees, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tis the Season to Be Naughty or Nice

santa kabobs
Thanksgiving is approaching and then Christmas (there are other holidays, but as a Christian, people already think I am not politically correct, so I don’t need to try and be PC, because I’ll still disappoint them) and these are times when we will be challenged in many ways. Here are just a few:

1. Those who count calories will lose count quickly;
2. Those who use credit cards will max them out, just as quick;
3. People will be tempted to lie about why they can’t go to a gathering, or lie about how good someone’s fruitcake is (actually, I cannot lie, I hate fruitcake)
4. Many businesses will fail or succeed based upon how much money that they can make over the next couple months, and that means many in retail will not spend time with their family as they really would like or need.

As I was growing up, gift-giving was something we enjoyed. I am the youngest and received the most presents. I recall as I grew up, I visited some families that took gift-giving to extremes that I was not used to. It really made me uncomfortable. I really hated seeing the wasted food that was trashed after exorbitant feasts, also. I was ready to give up on Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations because of the abuses I saw. I wanted to remember that Jesus is the person we are celebrating at Christmas and God’s Providence is what we celebrate at Thanksgiving.

Boycotts and critiques are attempts to make the participant feel better, while nothing really changes, and the world continues to celebrate in drunkenness, gluttony and greed. So my suggestion is that we try and redeem the celebrations.

Here are a few thoughts:

1. Find a homeless person or two, and take them to a restaurant;
2. Invite foreigners, even Muslims, to come and celebrate with you. Let Muslims know if you will have pork, and have something that they could eat, instead (like Guinea Fowl, a popular dish during this time, that we call “Turkey” because of the Muslim Turks who used to trade this with the English);
3. Provide some tangible assistance to people in need (hopefully you know someone with a need, if not, then ask a charity or church for help);
4. Begin reading the New Testament at this time (if you read three chapters a day, you can finish in about three months), and while reading, listen to the Holy Spirit tell you how you can be more like Jesus;
5. Do something intentional and nice for your neighbors (aside from the mandatory wave that we often do). Distribute homemade cookies, or give them a hand delivered card or an ornament for their tree. If they don’t know why we celebrate Christmas, ask them if you can take them out for a cup of coffee and talk about it.

You get the picture, just reach out to people in love, and let the goal be to serve someone rather than being served.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Travel Tip: How I Keep from Spoiling My Hotel Key Card

key card

You may have had this happen, too (perhaps it is more of a problem for guys than for ladies), but I would find myself at my hotel room door, trying to open the lock with a key card, and only see a red light in response. This has happened when I was tired and needed some sleep, or while on a five minute break during a conference.

A key malfunction requires one to make a mandatory visit to the front desk, as the clerk is the only person who can solve the problem at hand. This is especially troublesome when at a conference hotel, and there is already a line of people waiting to have their key cards reactivated.

I’ve been told that my cell phone is most likely the culprit, as the phone demagnetizes the strip on the card. The solution, I am told, it to keep the card away from my smartphone.

This sounded simple, so I would put the key in my left front trouser pocket, while my phone would safely rest in my right front trouser pocket. This would work, as I made my way back to my room. Later in the day, however, while back at the conference or touring the city, my phone and card would somehow make a connection, and the key would, again, deactivate. Sometimes I would find the card and phone in a warm embrace in one or the other pockets. I would have to go back to the front desk and humbly repeat my plea for assistance, “My key doesn’t work, can you please help me?”

Another way I have tried to solve this dilemma was by placing the key in my shirt pocket, but the problems with this included the following:  (1) The card fell out when I bent over; (2) I didn’t have a pocket on my shirt; (3) Or, embarrassingly, I forgot I had placed it in my shirt pocket (they are light as a feather, by the way). and asked for a replacement key.

One day, I noticed a young lady who was wearing her younger sister’s jeans (I am sure of this, because they were very tight fitting, and certainly were not the correct size). Inside her back pocket was a smart phone. About 75% of the phone was exposed, and I wondered if she were about to lose it. But, honestly, I’ve seen this type of behavior around the world, and wonder how many young ladies lose their phones in toilets, on busses or simply while strolling through a park. Ah, but then I also recalled that most of the time, smart phones are not in pockets, but in hands, as people often are looking at their phones. And contrary to what my wife thinks, I am not always looking at my cell phone, just usually when she is talking (!).

Anyhow, my eureka moment caused me to consider stuffing a key card in my back pocket, like the young lady had stuffed 25% of her phone in her back pocket. And now, that is exactly what I do: I keep my phone in my front pocket and my card in my left back pocket.

And in the three months that I have been following this policy, (in about ten separate hotel stays), I have not had the pleasure of interrupting a hotel clerk (while she was playing games on her cell phone) in order to reactivate my key card.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Young Muslim Men Are Not the Only People Fleeing ISIS

europe

Prior to 2014, I think our church in Istanbul had only 1-2 refugees associated with us. Now, given the current situation, we have had at least 17. Included in this number are a Syrian widow and her two sons.

This woman and her family used to live in Jordan, which is where her husband became ill and died. He was a well-known author in Syria, and his death could have been prevented, but they had no money for medical treatment while in Jordan.

So the remaining three in the family moved to Istanbul and through mutual friends, found our church. We welcomed them, and they tried to build a new life. However, it was too expensive, and hard to learn a new language, so they moved back to Syria (!).

From time to time I would communicate with the widow through social media to see how they were doing. And today, while pondering the current refugee crisis, I reached out to her.

“We are in Germany,” she wrote.

“How was your journey from Syria to Germany?” I asked.

“Oh my God! It was so difficult, but the Lord was with us. Thank you for your prayers for us.”

I want to thank everyone who has prayed for our ministry, our church and the millions of refugees coming from Iraq and Syria. When we began our church, I didn’t know that this great refugee crisis was going to happen. I am humbled to think that we have had a small role in helping refugees.

Some people are critical when they think of the refugees coming into Europe saying, “why are there so many young men?” and assuming they are all Muslims. I know of three children, two women, one 60 year old man and only two young men in their 20’s who would all call themselves Christian have made the difficult journey from death to life in Europe. These are ready to become productive citizens in Europe and to honor God. They are thankful that they have found a new home, far from ISIS.

Posted in Refugees | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Language Blunder: Mispronunciation of One’s Name Can Be Embarrassing

Lada-2105-USSR-1979

We moved to Almaty, Kazakhstan in October, 1996, and at a friend’s suggestion, we hired a driver for two days a week for a few months. While the most of the week, we walked and used public means of transportation, two days, weekly, we rode in style in a red Russian Lada.

Our driver was very quiet and spoke no English, though I was trying to learn Russian. Soon, I learned to speak words like “home,” “school,” and “store,” with great proficiency. Our driver’s name was Yevgeny, and he was called by the shortened version of Zhenya (the Russian equivalent of “Eugene” and “Gene”). I had trouble with the “zh” and the “ya” sounds which are one letter, each, in Russian, but I had no idea how badly I was mispronouncing his name.

Many times while we were out, we would meet someone I knew, and I would try to introduce my driver. Without fail, he would pick up on my actions, and before I could state his name, he would stick out his hand and say, “Zhenya, Zhenya!”

One day, the friend who had arranged for our driver asked how we were getting along together. I  told her that all was well and that I was learning the city through him. Then I tried to tell her a story about my driver, when she suddenly stopped me and asked,

“Peyton, what is your driver’s name?”

I answered “Jina.”

My friend burst with laughter, and then explained that I was mispronouncing his name and calling him “wife.”

Zhenya, though very quiet, never seemed to want me to introduce him to anyone. 🙂

Posted in Cross-Cultural, Extreme Expat | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment