Saturday, October 31, 2009

Focusing on the Poor

Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away.

How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness. Paul says, "God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). This is the true vision. The poor are given to the Church so that the Church as the body of Christ can be and remain a place of mutual concern, love, and peace.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

The Truth

"Our challenge for today and every day is to make it a priority to spend time with the Lord in His Word. We may have to reorganize our schedule or wake up earlier. But it's worth the effort--discernment and wisdom await us if we put into practice the truths we absorb each day." -- Dr. Charles Stanley

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Weakest in the Center

The most honored parts of the body are not the head or the hands, which lead and control. The most important parts are the least presentable parts. That's the mystery of the Church. As a people called out of oppression to freedom, we must recognize that it is the weakest among us - the elderly, the small children, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the hungry and sick - who form the real center. Paul says, "It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified, that we surround with the greatest dignity" (1 Corinthians 12:23).

The Church as the people of God can truly embody of the living Christ among us only when the poor remain its most treasured part. Care for the poor, therefore, is much more than Christian charity. It is the essence of being the body of Christ.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

God's beauty

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where is Christ?

“I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew28: 20

Jesus comes alongside us as we worship. He speaks to us in his Word and sometimes through a stranger, spouse, or child. Yet much of the time we are not aware of his presence. Is it God who pulls the shade over our eyes? We are kept from recognizing him by our doubt, by the depth of our sorrow or the height of our troubles, or just because in our busyness we pay no attention to the many ways he reveals himself.

We often become aware of Jesus’ presence only in looking back. Then we remember the moments when our hearts were strangely warmed. Then we see how he guided our feet, how he covered us with his wings, how he has never failed or forsaken us.

Let’s pray for expectant ears alert to hear His voice, expectant eyes that notice signs of His love, and expectant hearts eager to respond to His call. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



"Be still and know that I am God...." Psalm 46:10

There is a time and place in our walk with God in which He sets us in a place of waiting.

It is a place in which all past experiences are of no value. It is a time of such stillness that it can disturb the most faithful if we do not understand that He is the one who has brought us to this place for only a season.

It is as if God has placed a wall around us. No new opportunities--simply inactivity.

During these times, God is calling us aside to fashion something new in us. It is an isolation chamber designed to call us to deeper roots of prayer and faith.

It is not a comfortable place, especially for a task-driven workplace believer. Our nature cries out, "You must do something," while God is saying, "Be still and know that I am God."

You know the signs that you have been brought into this chamber when He has removed many things from your life and you can't seem to change anything. Perhaps you are unemployed. Perhaps you are laid up with an illness.

Most religious people live a very planned and orchestrated life where they know almost everything that will happen. But for people in whom God is performing a deeper work, He brings them into a time of quietness that seems almost eerie. They cannot say what God is doing. They just know that He is doing a work that cannot be explained to themselves or to others.

Has God brought you to a place of being still?

Be still and know that He really is God.

When this happens, the chamber will open soon after.

by Os Hillman

One Body with Many Parts

The Church is one body. Paul writes, "We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13). But this one body has many parts. As Paul says, "If they were all the same part, how could it be a body? As it is, the parts are many but the body is one" (1 Corinthians 12:19). Not everyone can be everything. Often we expect one member of the body to fulfill a task that belongs to others. But the hand cannot be asked to see nor the eye to hear.

Together we are Christ's body, each of us with a part to play in the whole (see 1 Corinthians 12:27). Let's be grateful for our limited but real part in the body.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Authority of Compassion

The Church often wounds us deeply. People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands. Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily. Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let's keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

A Love That Changes Everything

On the night of March 29, 1848, Niagara Falls completely and mysteriously stopped flowing. The estimated 500,000 gallons of water that customarily rushed over the falls stalled to a trickle. James Francis Macklem, a village justice of the peace in the Niagara area, wrote that he had witnessed the subsidence of the waters and that the phenomenon of the Niagara running dry "caused great excitement in the neighborhood at the time."

To some, the mystery of this sudden "turning off" of the river seemed to be a sign, and nightfall found most of the churches packed with people praying or talking in frightened voices about the end of the world. Fear grew into panic.

The cause of this unusual event began along the shores of Lake Erie near Buffalo. For several days, the wind had been blowing to the east over Lake Erie, driving much of its ice flow down river. Then the winds suddenly shifted to the west, driving the lake water west and causing the lake’s ice to break up and dam the river. The Niagara River ceased to flow for almost 30 hours until the ice shifted and the dam broke up.

Up until about a week ago, I was really exhausted. Something had stopped flowing and I was experiencing some struggles and stress, and rather than wanting to learn from them my first instinct was to flee. I wanted to escape the trials. Something had stopped flowing, but then something happened to me. As I prayed, the love which I experienced long ago as child in Jesus Christ when I gave my life to Christ, was poured out all over again. I was overwhelmed by a feeling that no matter what happens in life, no matter what struggles I must face, it’s all going to be all right, because I’m loved. I’m loved by one whose love for me is greater than I can ever explain. And because of that love I can endure and can hope not only in tomorrow but also in eternity. Because of that love I can live, and live abundantly.

Keith Manry

Soar with the Eagles

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."1

Did you know that an eagle knows when the storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come.

When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle doesn't escape the storm; it simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us—and all of us will experience them—it may not be easy but we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief in Jesus, our God—and daily committing and trusting our life and way to Him. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, but rather, how we handle them.2

As God's Word says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."3 Admittedly, this can take time.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to always hope and trust in you so that, when the storms of life rage around me, I will be able to soar like the eagle above the turbulence and become a better, stronger and calmer Christian as a result. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name. Amen."

Note: For additional help read "Lessons from Suffering" at:

1. Isaiah 40:31 (NIV).
2. Today's Daily Encounter was submitted by Dick Nichol who has since lost his wife through cancer. Author of the Eagle story unknown.
3. Romans 8:28 (NIV).


Acts International - Daily Inspiration

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breaking Through the Boundaries

The sacrament of the Eucharist, as the sacrament of the presence of Christ among and within us, has the unique power to unite us into one body, irrespective of age, colour, race or gender, emotional condition, economic status, or social background. The Eucharist breaks through all these boundaries and creates the one body of Christ, living in the world as a vibrant sign of unity and community.

Jesus prays fervently to his Father: "May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me" (John 17:21). The Eucharist is the sacrament of this divine unity lived out among all people.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

Blessings of Unanswered Prayer

Jesus said, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father [God] in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!."1

Terry Fitzgerald Sieck shared how she "was in the habit of praying very specifically for what she wanted. She told God in great detail about the kind of job, the kind of husband, the kind of life that she envisioned for herself. And Terry was frequently frustrated. One day, a friend suggested that she try a different tack. Give God a blank sheet of paper, the friend suggested, and let God give you his list for your life.

"Not long afterwards, Terry went back to school—something she hadn't anticipated doing. And she met a wonderful new man whom she eventually married. He didn't fit the criteria of her earlier list, but he was everything she wanted in a husband. When Terry turned her life over to God's will, God provided for her needs in ways she couldn't have imagined."2

There's nothing wrong with asking God for what we would like, but to get prayers answered, they need to be in harmony with God's will. And while "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers" (as the country song puts it), he often does give us the desires of our heart when we pray in harmony with his will.

I think God has a great sense of humor too. For instance, my last car had just under 200,000 miles on it. It was old but still okay for running around town, but I didn't feel safe in driving it long distances anymore. For months I had been looking for a good bargain on a mid-size SUV (not a gas guzzling one) as I carry lots of stuff for our work. I prayed, "God, I don't really need an SUV but it sure would be nice to have one." Within two weeks I found a fabulous bargain on a year-old, low-mileage vehicle. I now own an SUV and have found it a great help in our work.

I think one of my son's "prayers" was answered too. His vehicle was giving him all sorts of problems so I sold him my old car for $1.00—which he borrowed from us to pay for it!

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you hear and answer my prayers. Thank you, too, for the times you haven't answered my prayers according to my wishes which, if you had, it may have done me more harm than good. Help me to live and pray in harmony with your will so that I can be sure that you will answer my prayers one way or another. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Note: See article, "How to Pray Effectively" at:

1. Matthew 7:11 (NIV).
2. Terry Fitzgerald Sieck, found in Stories of God's Abundance for a More Joyful Life (Lancaster, PA: Starburst Publishers, 1999), pp. 196-198.



"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

What audience do you play to?

Each day you are seen by many who will make a judgment about the way you handle yourself among different audiences.

Politicians have learned to play to their audiences, customizing messages for the needs of their particular groups.

Musicians have learned to play to their audiences.

Pastors play to their congregations each Sunday morning.

Workplace believers play to the audiences who will buy their product.

Christ has called us to play to one audience--the audience of Himself.

When you seek to please any other audience in your life, you become susceptible to situational ethics and motivations based on the need for the moment. Your audience becomes a pawn in your hands because you know what they want. Is that wrong? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

Pure obedience to pleasing God in our lives will often meet the needs of those around us.

It is God's will that you and I love our spouses, provide good services to our customers, and look to the interests of others before ourselves. This will result in meeting many needs of the audiences in our lives.

However, there are other times when our audiences are asking for something contrary to God's will.

Politicians are often forced to appease their audiences, even though it may go against God's laws. When we are asked to go with the flow, we discover which audience is most important in our lives. Is it the audience of One, or the audience of many?

Today, be aware of which audience you are playing to.

Ask yourself why you are taking a particular action.

Is it to please the audience of One?

Or is it to please the audience of others who might negatively impact you should you not play to their tune?

by Os Hillman

Pruning for Productivity

Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father [God] is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."1

In preparation for his sermon about Jesus being the vine, and we the branches, Brett Blair shared the following: "I must admit that I know very little about the particulars of the wine industry. So I did some reading in this area and found it to be quite fascinating. Grape vines are very rugged in one way, but in another sense their fruit is very delicate and requires being treated with kid gloves. A young vine is not permitted to bear fruit for the first three years. It is therefore drastically pruned in December and January to preserve its energy. The particular branches that do not bear fruit are cut out to further conserve the energy of the plant. If this constant cutting back was not done, the result would be a crop that was not up to its full potential."2

Sometimes we wonder why God allows us, his children, to go through so many trials and tribulations; and yet, when we look back over the past, we can see how God was with us guiding our every step and pruning us so our lives would become more fruitful and productive. As the writer to the early Hebrew Christians wrote, "No discipline [or pruning] seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."3

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, while I can't say that I have ever enjoyed your 'pruning' in my life, I thank you for all the trials you have used in my life to do this. Help me to realize when trials come that you are using these to help me become more and more like Jesus in every way and accept them with an attitude of gratitude. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Note: For further help see "Lessons from Suffering" at:

1. John 15:1-2 (NIV).
2. Rev. Brett Blair.
3. Hebrews 12:11 (NIV).


Acts Internatonal - Daily Inspiration

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The "Demon" of Lust?

"If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry--get over it quickly; for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil."1

A Daily Encounter reader writes, "I have been fighting with a lust demon for years. I have asked GOD to relieve me of this demon, but I keep slipping back and doing the same thing all over again. I have just rededicated my life to God and am on my church's outreach team. I want this demon of Satan out of my body never to return. Will you pray for me?"

Hello, Jim (name changed), Thank you for being honest and sharing your struggle with lust. To resolve any problem, it is imperative to understand the root cause of the problem. Let me assure you that lust, as with anger, is NOT a demon. If I am wrongfully angry, that is my problem, and when I fail to resolve it, I give the foothold to the enemy.

It's the same with lust. Lust is a struggle most red-blooded men struggle with at one time or another. Severe lust, however, is usually a symptom of repressed love or unmet love needs. As long as you blame the problem on anything outside of yourself, you will never overcome it because lust is a problem within. I don't know who told you it was a demon, but I challenge this person to find anywhere in the Bible where it says there is "a demon of lust."

Sure, Satan is the originator of all sin and does tempt us, but most of us don't need the devil or a demon to make, or even cause, us to lust. We can do it all by ourselves because we are all sinners.

So how do you overcome? First and foremost, you need not only confess your lust to God, but also ask him to confront you with the real cause of your lust ... to show you the root cause of the problem ... and then to lead you to the help you need to overcome. Only by facing the truth will you be set free.

Remember too, as David wrote in the Psalms, "The Lord is near to all who call on him; to all who call on him in truth."2

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, whenever I have any problem that I can't resolve, please help me to see the root cause of it and help me to find the support I need to overcome. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

Sample of Daily Encounter by Dick Innes

1. Ephesians 4:26-27 (TLB).
2. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).

On the Lighter Side

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque.

It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it.

The six-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, "Good morning, Alex."

"Good morning, Pastor," he replied, still focused on the plaque. "Pastor, what is this?" The pastor said, "Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."

Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Alex's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear asked

"Which service ... the 8:30 or the 10:30?"

Submitted by Milt Lockett

Monday, October 12, 2009












第三届中文五旬宗大会和区域复兴特会刚过了六天。现在才来写一写在特会中所领受到的恩典。与大家分享 一二。
无可否认的, 这四大要点是我们五旬宗所持之以恒的。

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Living in a State of Preparedness

Everything that comes from God asks for an open and faithful heart. We cannot live with hope and joy in the end-time unless we are living in a state of preparedness. We have to be careful because, as the Apostle Peter says: "Your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5.8).

Therefore Jesus says: "Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life. ... Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36). That's what living in the Spirit of Jesus calls us to.

Henri Nouwen - Daily Meditation

The Real Meaning of Peace

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest--in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

"Because," explained the king, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."


Author Unknown. Source: "Inspiration Peak"


"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." -- Mother Teresa


You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you. -- Barbara Sher

Anger Pegs

"Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun goAdd Image down while you are still angry."1

One night when I was watching the news on TV, I couldn't help but notice that one group who were demonstrating against war became very violent. Violent peace—an oxymoron if ever there was one!

Now, I'm not against peaceful demonstrations, but when people get violent, it seems to me that they are very angry and are looking for a peg on which to hang their anger. That is, they want to blame someone or anything outside of themselves for their own personal problems.

Unfortunately, this happens far too often in relationships. Angry people breed anger and until they "own" their anger (admit that they have an anger problem), they will continue to look for pegs on which to hang their anger and blame others for their anger and rage. What happens doesn't make them angry—it just triggers it. To blame others or external circumstances for one's anger is a handy excuse to hang on to if we don't want to grow up and accept personal responsibility for our problems.

I'm not saying we shouldn't get angry at wrongdoing and evil. We should. But when we overreact and become violent or rage-full, that is entirely our problem. The purpose of anger is to bring about creative change—not to lash out at others and blame them for our rage.

So … if you are angered too easily, too often, too much[,] and react out of proportion to what has happened, and you want to bring about change, may I kindly suggest that you start the change in yourself, admit your problem, and seek help to resolve it.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to see through my blind spots and acknowledge all of my problems and character issues. Help me to accept personal responsibility for resolving them, and lead me to the help I need to do so. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Acts International - Daily Inspiration

For further help read "Taming Your Anger" at:

1. Ephesians 4:26 (NLT).