Wednesday December 27, 2017

Sunday December 24, 2017 – Christmas Eve
December 24, 2017
Thursday December 28, 2017
December 28, 2017

Members of a group that were shown the largest open air drug market in Kensington walk the Conrail tracks amid the piles of garbage that litter the right of way of the rail tracks. Michael Bryant, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Photographer

Retail Shopping

Dear Father, it has been reported that shoppers spent over $800 billion during this Christmas season, the highest ever reported. Growing consumer confidence, rising employment, and early discounts are credited for the shopping spree. While online sales grew 18%, brick-and-mortar sales improved after a year where our economy experienced the closure of many stores. Father, I do ask for prosperity for our economy. I ask that for one reason – charity. There are many people in need in our country and there are many cash-starved ministries struggling to help them. Father, I ask for a surge in giving to faith-based ministries in 2018 because people can afford to donate money. I ask that those ministries will use the donations wisely and that the people in need will directly benefit from the generosity. Father, we are a nation that worships materialism. Economic prosperity without compassion for the poor is a certain invitation for Your wrath on our nation. Lead individuals to donate to private-sector social services because the people are thankful for the love You have showed them. May there  be an outpouring of sacrificial love for the destitute by people of means who understand it is more of a blessing to give than to receive. Amen

ISIS

Dear Father, Jesus Christ told us that all of Your commands could be summed up by two commands – love God and love your neighbor.  Jesus described perfection as selling all of our goods and giving the proceeds to the poor.  There are 15 verses in scripture that describe You as compassionate.  However, there are people in our world today who describe You as a God of brutality, even though Your Ten Commandments include a prohibition against murder.  People are saying that You love violence and bloodshed.  In fact, people believe the more violent they are, the more rewards they will have in heaven.  They tell us that Your tool for dealing with Your enemies is terror, even though Your Word calls us to love our enemies.  They describe You as a legalistic God, a God who cares only that we follow every rule precisely. You allegedly care little about a personal relationship with a human.  Father, this is all a huge lie from the enemy.  The more he describes You as a monster, the more hesitant people will  be to trust You.  Father, ISIS appears to be a collection of a few thousands jihadists who enjoy terror, persecution, and the oppression of populations.  However, they are really empowered by the enemy.  They exist because he desires to characterize faith in any god as foolish given all gods are violent. ISIS is a call for millions of people to embrace atheism.  The enemy is attempting to paint the picture that God is not a God of love at all.  He is attempting to argue that You wouldn’t sacrifice Your Son out of love for this fallen world.  Father, You are fighting against this lie.  Yes, there has been violence.  It is reported today that the ISIS fighting force in Iraq and Syria is now down to fewer than 1,000 fighters.  More than 70,000 jihadists have been killed by US-led coalition airstrikes.  They have lost over 90% of the lands they had conquered.  Father, this is not simply a victory for US foreign policy.  This is Your answer to those who advocate that You are a God of violence – they will meet the God they described You to be.  However, for those who embrace that You are the God of love, they will experience Your love in full measure.  Father, I pray today for mercy on all of the remaining ISIS fighters.  Rescue individuals in the organization who are no longer sold on the ideology of ISIS.  Spare their lives. Introduce them to Jesus Christ. Transform their hearts and minds.  May they become men and women with amazing testimonies of Your love.

Kensington, PA

Dear Father, I had the opportunity a few years ago to attend two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in a worn building beneath the elevated train tracks in the heart of Kensington, PA.  The meeting was held in one of the most drug-infested neighborhoods in America.  A half-mile stretch of a Conrail railroad line is said to be the home of as many as 125 heroin addicts at any given time.  The DEA considers the area the East Coast’s largest heroin market.  Over 900 people died from overdose in this icon of hell in 2016, a few acres of land that apparently many addicts travel to from across the country.  Government authorities are searching for a solution, using words like “bulldozers” and “prison fencing”.  However, the true solution to this problem is the love of Jesus Christ.  Father, bring Your church onto this land.  Flood the homeless addicts with Your grace, compassion, mercy, and generosity.  Build trusted relationships between the lost and those who have had their lives transformed by You.  May the godly lead the addicts into safe places, places where they can be freed of the oppression of their addictions.  May the godly help the former addicts find places to live, acquire job skills, and get jobs.  Father, at the very least, me the feet of Your church walk through “El  Campamento” each day, pouring prayer into the broken lives hidden behind trash and trees. Amen

 

US Colleges and Free Speech

Dear Father, free speech is essential to the growth of Your church. People need to hear the stories from Your church of how Your love transforms lives. Your church also needs to hear where people’s hearts and minds are. We need to know their thoughts, feelings, and values so that we can pray and minister effectively. The doctrine of free speech conveys the idea that every human has value and worth. Efforts to restrain and constrain speech close doors between the godly and those who are searching for God. Father, in the 1960s, our institutions of higher learning were the torch-bearers for free speech. They wanted alternative voices to be heard when so many sung the praises of tradition. Now, those same schools deny free speech. Now that the alternative has become the norm and tradition has been pushed to the periphery of elistist society, these schools want traditional voices to be silenced. One study reports that 90% of top US colleges have at least minor regulations controlling free speech. Father, I ask that You defend free speech on our college campuses…for the sake of ministry and the sharing of testimonies. Father, change these policies. Create an environment in academia where competing ideas are debated respectfully, thoughtfully, and peacefully. May college and university administrations have integrity and courage – truly fostering learning and the spirit of “tolerance” by welcoming the viewpoints of all faiths.

The Kardashians

Dear Father, Kris Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Kardashian West, Khloé Kardashian, Rob Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, and Kylie Jenner are famous people in our culture. They are the stars on the hit television show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”. Millions of people follow the adventures and listen in on the conversations of a blended family that celebrates materialism. The show is now in it’s tenth season. Additional characters in the show have included other children in the family as well as those who are the love interests of the members of this family. The family came to fame through their father Robert Kardashian who represented OJ Simpson. They have also become famous because of their fashion servies for Hollywood stars. It is said the popularity of the show can be attributed to the public’s desire to gossip about the family’s dysfunctional and celebrity relationships. Father, their lifestyle is foreign to the millions of middle-class and poor families across America. Their advocacy for materialism and superficiality does not connect with millions of Americans who have higher ideals and values. Sadly, there are millions of Americans who would trade places with the family in a heartbeat. There is a widespread longing for and envy of luxurious living in our culture. Americans treasure what this world has to offer and don’t think twice about life after death. The Kardashians are simply poster children for how Americans think. Father, I ask that You do a miracle in this family. I know that You love each one of them. I know that You long to have a personal relationship with each member of this family. I know that You are eager to transform their lives. Father, I ask that You that very thing. Bring the love of Christ into this family. Throw a monkey wrench into the family’s worship of worldly values by one of their own taking a stand against it. Empower that person to model Jesus Christ genuinely and persuasively. May it cause the other members of the family to reconsider their faith and values. Father, I ask that there will be a Kardashian taking a stand for Christ in our land in the 2020s. Amen.