Resting in the Arms of Our Father in Heaven

From somewhere near the Zagros mountains near Erbil and Baghdad:

Last night I had the pleasure of riding on a plane with quite a number of Muslim families. One family in particular stood out.

The mother desperately wanted her girls to sleep and Umm-Binti kept trying to force her girls to go to sleep, but sleep did not come, and the subsequent ruckus was what one might expect from tired toddlers and a frustrated mother.

Meanwhile, Abu-Binti their father was quite a gentleman and held up the girls close to himself, taking turns with them, of course. As soon as the girls would be set down by him, they would cry. The mother tried to pacify them with things to watch and play, but they would either squeal with delight or dejection. Needless to say, quiet and sleep were elusive.

As I mulled over what I what I saw, I was reminded of the teachings of our Lord Jesus, “if you fathers, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven know how to give you what you ask for” and “My father is eager to give you the kingdom.”

What is the greatest gift which God our Father in Heaven could give us? It is not food to eat, houses, paid bills, nor even the charisma of a leader. No, the greatest gift is to give us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the very presence of God with us.

Of course, I was not convinced that this fellow on the plane knew how his loving care to his desperate daughters on the plane had delighted my soul in the Deliverer, Jesus our Messiah.

So after much pleading with the Lord, I delivered to him a Gospel of John in English and Arabic. When I told him that the book told of another Father whom he reminded me of, he received the gospel with joy and thanksgiving. Will you join me in prayer that this Muslim father, and Muslim fathers around the Middle East whence I drafted this in the air, will indeed turn to the Father of lights and awaken in the Kingdom of Jesus, safer and sooner rather than sorry that they awoke too late?

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Flights of Fancy, Faith, and our Father in heaven.

written 6/15/2021 From somewhere in aerospace over Canada and the USA.

Today aboard an Etihad Boeing 787 (Part of an alliance with United) I was treated to a most unusual mosque visit.

The flight began with an Islamic prayer for travellers. This was accompanied by an image of a mosque complete with dome and minarets.

What followed was the most bizarre guide on how to stay safe in the aircraft. The imagery on the video which was shown in English and then Arabic had no direct reference to an airplane. For example, in a building with modern arabesque features, akin to the inside of the mosque featured in the prayer, one saw oxygen masques suddenly descend from thin air. Along the perimeters of the hallways of the building we saw lighting. 

If you clued into the allusion to a huge flying carpet, you would realise that they wanted you to feel safe and comforted in a mysterious and magical Muslim sort of way. If you were new to flying, I’m sure that the whole video would give one rather little idea of how to stay safe in case of emergency.

The avant garde safety video would perhaps make a conservative or fundamentalist Muslim feel safe and uninclined to undercut the safety of the magical flying mosque. However, if some adverse atmospheric or aeronautic event were to occur, the poor Muslims who didn’t know what to do would have little clue how to respond.

So it is with Islam today: a goose has gotten into the engine and there is no sullen captain ensuring that people know the importance of flying properly. A mosque was never meant to soar on wings. So the whole fragile apparatus of Islam shall before the weight of irrelevance to changes in life. 

However, faith in the messiah is adequate for the challenges of modernity and postmodernist. Christianity can handle the flights of modern human imagination and creativity and land us safely. Why? Christianity consists not of meeting in four walls, but as every reader of the Bible knows, Those who wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as Eagles … not flapping, but soaring high above, unperturbed by landings.

Also, the Christian does not need a safety video in the image of a cathedral. Why? Jesus was quite comfortable sleeping on a boat in a stormy sea and bringing such vessel to safety. Jesus made the tomb his home, what most would consider the most untimely crash landing of all time, and he rearranged geology, physiology, and history to ensure that he could exit in time to meet the third day challenge and still have a day full of busy ministry. Jesus himself went up into the clouds and he shall return, on his schedule, without loss of a single passenger who has sold all he has to buy a ticket to a new heaven and new earth.

This is not an escapist approach to reality though. Those who first mastered the art of flying made astute observations of the world, of birds which God had created to fly and set out to change the history of humanity. And so Orville and Wilbur Wright, the sons of a Christian minister, were encouraged by their father to pursue their dreams and were the first Americans honored with a national monument in their own lifetime.

Has modern aviation been without accident or injury? No. Just as presumptive birds will fly into glass windows or be attached by other birds, or by hungry human hunters; so many modern fliers have become prey of the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. However, those who monitor their attitude will maintain the proper altitude and land safely at the home base of our Captain and Carrier, Jesus Christ, the one who proclaims from the heights the everlasting gospel of Him who created the skies, the seas and springs, and the landscape, and all things therein and Who can make even an ordinary, yet real, aircraft a vessel which will be used to unite nations, families, and bring blessings to the most remote tribes on earth.

To God be the glory, who rules on high, immortal, invisible and ever wise and loving to those He carries in His tender mercies. 

But woe to those who would try to make Him come to earth on their time or schedule!!

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Big Prayers

Praying Big Prayers, Living Large Mert Hershberger What is the biggest prayer you have prayed? What was God’s answer? Did you ever stop praying big prayers?

Do you pray only for your own salvation and the salvation of a few individuals close to you, or do you ask God to intervene in the broader world?

  1. Prayer’s Power: Matthew 21:22 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” What miracle do you and your nation and your world need right now? Will you pray for that?
  2. Prayer’s Reach: Psalm 2:8, “Ask Me, & I will make the nations your inheritance, and the ends of the earth your possession!” What is the greatest heritage you ever received from a family member? What nations and unreached lands do you want to leave to your family in the Messiah as a legacy of your prayers, giving, and witness?
  3. Prayer’s Authority: 1 Timothy 2:1-2, 4 “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in authority …. God our Savior wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth.” What difference would it make if we would present our needs for godly government more to the Lord than to social media? How can you express support for godly leaders while not creating unhealthy divisiveness?
  4. Prayer’s Impact: Revelation 8:5 “The angel took the incense burner, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it to the earth. There were rumblings of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake!” Would you be willing to pray big prayers if it meant you would have to clean up the “mess” of natural disasters and help those who are given needs for you to meet when you pray? What big prayer will you pray this week?
  5. Prayer’s Purpose: Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, plead to the Lord of the harvest to send our workers into His harvest.” Will you pray for relief workers, global and national and local leaders, missionaries and other disciple-makers? Will you give to support these works of God? Will you offer to serve God’s purpose in your generation? Where will you go serve this week?

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The Work of Redemption

Column for Joan Hershberger – drafted by Mert Hershberger on the Lord’s Day, January 3, 2021

When I came to Michigan, I thought the only redemptive work that I would be involved in was preaching the good news of Jesus. However, I soon learned that there are other opportunities for redemptive work. Michigan has very generous redemption values that it places on canned and bottled beverages. Most soda and alcoholic beverage containers have a redemption value of ten cents. That is much higher than the value on the aluminum or plastic alone, so many folks here collect bottles and cans to make ends meet. In fact, it is against the law to throw away redeemable containers in Michigan.

During the severest part of the COVID shutdowns here in Michigan, the stores were not allowing any bottle returns, so I found a lot of extra cans and bottles just laying around in people’s recycling bins. I started to collect them for a couple months and ended up redeeming well over $100 worth over several weeks once the COVID shutdowns ended and stores again allowed customers to redeem bottles. This extra money helped me buy groceries for people to whom I delivered in order to help them make ends meet. I continued to collect cans and bottles in the months following the reopening and kept buying groceries and toilet paper for a handful of people, on an as needed basis.

Once, I was at a bus stop and picked a few cans and bottles out of the trash. A fellow who regularly hangs out at the bus stop and solicits small donations from any willing soul tried to stop me. He said, “You should get a real job. Stop begging for money! You are dirty!” I turned around and talked to him, “Well, I’m not asking anyone for money. I’m on a redemptive mission. These bottles have value, so I plan to redeem them. It’s a crime to throw away what can be redeemed. You can be redeemed too, and you wouldn’t want anyone to throw you away, right?” After that, he lightened his tone and was more friendly again.

On Thanksgiving while my lovely wife fixed a delicious meal for the two of us, I got bored, so I wandered over to a nearby university campus. When I started to find redeemables, I decided to collect them while I was on the phone with my Mom. I ended up scouring half of the campus and collecting bottles and cans worth about $2.50. It’s not often I get paid to talk on the phone!

On New Year’s Day, I again was bored and again went over to the nearby University campus. Again, I made a call to someone and again I picked up $2 to $3 worth of redeemables from the other half of campus. Nobody had picked up any trash since Thanksgiving and the University was basically closed since then due to a rise in COVID cases locally in December. And nobody had gotten any of the cans or bottles since then, so I decided it was high time somebody rescue what could be redeemed.

There is a neighbor who regularly drinks tall beers and discards cans and some Coke bottles too, so I’ll pick up the cans, empty out the remaining beer onto the ground, and take a couple dollars’ worth of bottles and cans home from there every week or two. Sometimes he has even given me whole bags filled with redeemables. Once, he was moved with compassion and gave me a couple $2 bills as well. All I have to do is stop a little off my regular route, sort through the recycling, and rescue what would otherwise go in the garbage.

These cans are such a hot commodity that people will sometimes post on Facebook that they are having some difficult economic times and ask if people will let them pick up cans from their homes. Most of the time, several people will post that cans are available, the person will put gas in their car or buy groceries, and that is the end of it. But recently, a woman who works for the same public service agency as I work for viciously berated a can collector for asking for the help. Because her comments were relayed to me via the agency Facebook page, I gently corrected her and suggested she use more discretion in her online interactions. The next day, when we were both in a webinar on sensitivity towards those who have suffered racial injustice, she was visibly shaken.

My mother taught me to redeem the time, to stretch my money, and that there are no throw-away people. The week of her birthday and anniversary, I will celebrate by redeeming a large bag of cans and bottles, then getting food and toilet paper for people that I serve. Thanks, Mom, for not letting me waste my life!

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I Pray for the Collapse of Islam Because I Love Muslims

Islam is the system.

Muslims are people.

I don’t know of any time in the Bible where we are commanded to love systems. Nations are redeemable according to Scripture, but systems are more akin to what the Bible calls the Beast and the AntiChrist and the False Prophet.

Here is why I believe praying for the fall of Islam is one way to love Muslims:

  1. Islam teaches that Jesus is not God, that there is no Son of God, and that Jesus did not die on the cross. In itself, this is adequate reason to pray and work for the collapse of Islam by converting Muslims to be Christians. These three teachings of Islam are lies and must be countered with the Truth of the Bible. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God and that Jesus claimed to be Lord. The Bible in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Covenant teach that God does have a Son, and that Jesus (salvation) is his name. Jesus did die on a Roman cross, which is prophesied by the Hebrew Prophets and, predicted by Jesus himself, and historically verified by both the gospels, the teaching of the Missionaries, and the practice of the churches, not to mention external historical records.
  2. Islam exhorts the exemplification of Muhammed. If he were a godly person, this would be a good thing. However: Muhammed was anything but virtuous. He married a little girl. He had sex with a prepubescent girl according to Islamic tradition. He taught that raping any and all female prisoners of war was an OK thing to do, and commended it to his followers. Muhammed himself at one time had 10 wives. Historically, Islam has permitted other people to have 4 wives at a time. (Polygamy is oppressive to women and corrupts society. There are indication in Genesis that this one of the main reasons for the OT Flood in Noah’s day.)  The Lord Jesus taught that marriage is to be between one man and one woman for as long as they both shall live. The missionary Paul taught that women (and men) should be mature before they marry.
  3. Islam, again following Muhammed, has been one of the perpetrators of racism and oppression of dark skinned peoples of Africa. Tradition Islamic teaching is that Muhammed was white and that Blackness of skin is a sign of a curse. Islam promoted the black African slave trade and spread it to Europe. The Bible says that all peoples are equal in the the Messiah.
  4. Islam launched as a military raiding movement. Islamic sources tell us that initially Islam spread primarily by military conquest. It did not succeed by the virtue of it’s ideals but by the sword. Arabs conquered other Arabs and then conquered other peoples and nations. Local people’s were exploited for their skills and resources, but once Islam’s system of oppressive taxation on minorities took root, the Arabic renaissance collapsed. Jesus rebuked his disciples for defending him with the sword. The message of Jesus is called the gospel of peace.
  5. Islam has a book that is full of significant alterations and changes, but most Islamic scholars refuse to address the textual corruption of their supposedly holy book. It is a book which promotes falsehood and is derived from Jewish and Christian sectarian and heretical works, not rooted in divine inspiration, see #1. Jesus urged people to look at the words of the Bible carefully and to remember truth accurately without distorting the words of revelation. Christians and Jews spend a lot of time and energy ensuring the accuracy of the Scripture.

There are other reasons, but these are some of the more major reasons I pray for the collapse of Islam.

 

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Confession

This is from a collection on prayer. The theme is confession: How to confess as you begin to pray, so that your prayers will be heard. C-confession – click here.
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Stand Firm in Forgiveness: Savor Sweetness and Abandon Bitterness

Here is a message that was prepared 7 years ago. I reviewed and edited it again for clarity, but the same message rings true today and has powerful truth to encourage you. Click Here to read: Bitterness and Forgiveness
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Theological Balance & The Middle Way.

Results/Fruit
Appearance Oriented – Attitude Oriented – Action Oriented

Sanctification
Been perfect – Becoming perfect – Be perfect or be gone.

Love one another
Compartments of worship – Complete worship – Complaining, not worship.

Issues of Sin
Delving into sin – Deliverance is of the Lord – Deliverance ministry.

Nature of Ministry
Express yourself – Experience God’s presence – Extend your hand.

Zeal
Failure – Faithful – Fighter

Charismata
Gifts – Giver – Giving

The Cross & Resurrection
Heretical Renderings – Historical Reality – Hysterical Ruin

Power
Investigate the Author – Invested with Authority – Invest in Autocrats

View of God
Joking matter – Jesus Saves! – Judge

Kingdom of God
Kiss the son lavishly – Keep a simple faith – Kill Enemies

Brotherly Kindness
Lust – Love one another – Love as duty

Suffering
Mean people cause it – Method of growth – Meaning of life

Born Again
New Livelihood – New Life-Source – New Lifestyle

Position toward Christ
Original sin – Order restored – Original Sin

Purpose
Please self. – Please God – Please men

Character of Worship
Quest – Quietness – Quick

Gaining Strength
Restore – Rest – Repent

Nature of righteousness
Surface – Solidity – Shallow

Dealing with Hurt
Tears away from other – Tears at sin – Tears up in pain

Unity of the Saints
Umbrella for any sinner – Understanding shared – Unique identities stressed

The Sovereignty of God
Vanquish the thought – Vanguard of the soul – Victory in behavior

Balancing the Way of the Lord
Walk in Unity – Worship God always – Witness to God’s glory

Nature of God’s Word
X out the unwanted parts – X-Ray exposing our hearts – Xerographic conservation

Cause of Joy
Yesterday’s strength – Yes, Today is the day – Yearning for tomorrow

Paths to choose from
Zoological worship – Zeal for the Lord – Zeroed out religion.

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Top 10 “One Another”s in the Law of Moses

Look up the verses, with their context and answer the questions. In the NIV, the phrase, “one another” is in each of these passages.

1. Compassion from God. Exodus 25:20; 37:9 – The cherubim on the on the ark of the covenant were facing one another looking at the mercy seat. Why? What needs to be at the heart & center of our worship? Peter 1:12

2. Covenant. Genesis 26:31 – These two men covenant together and kept their word. What does it take for us to be faithful to one another?

3. Covering. Exodus 26:3; 26:5 – How can we be better fitted together as a people who worship the Lord?

4. Contracts. Leviticus 25:14 16-17, 46 – Does God care if we treat one another like slaves and our own personal servants? How should we deal with one another?

5. Confession. Genesis 42:21 – Have we failed any of our members? For example, letting them go to the wolves?

6. Communication. Leviticus 19:11 – How do we communicate with one another to preserve the community?

7. Complaining. Numbers 14:3-4 – What is your first reaction when you face challenges & promises from God that seem impossibly great?

8. Conspiracy. Genesis 11:3 – What did God want the people to do following the flood? What did they do instead? Are you working against God’s plan?

9. Confusion. Exodus 16:15 – What are things that we discuss among ourselves when we need to ask God?

10. Collapse. Leviticus 26:36-38 – What happens to the Lord’s people who face judgment because of rebellion?

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The Census & the Cause of Christ

Census2020

All people in the USA are to fill out the census. PRAY that they would also be enrolled in the census of God’s Kingdom.

Most of us are familiar with the fact that Jesus was born in Judea in a year of a Roman census. (Luke 2:1-5) Census taking in the Roman Empire, generally affected the taking of taxes and the allocation of imperial resources to public works. Likewise, in America, census usually accompany allocation of resources to the states … and relate somewhat to taxation. This year, for example, the Census will be taken during the same season as taxes are gathered in by the IRS. Government officials will be allocated according to the number of people discovered.

What does that have to do with the rest of the Bible and the cause of Jesus other than an off-hand comment that helps us properly place the birth of Jesus in historical time?

In 1 Chronicles 20, almost 1000 years before the birth of Jesus, David the forefather of Jesus took a census of fighting men in his day. Joab his general objected, but the king prevailed. The king had been fighting a battle for years to establish the LORD’s people secure in the land. He wanted to ensure he had adequate personnel to fight if they needed to do so again. Where was the Kingdom after all those years? The curse that followed David’s decision resulted in the death of thousands of men in Israel. The Lord made it plain that the curse which lasted for days upon the land was the result of the unwise taking of a census. 70,000 people died.

Just as Israel had fighting surrounding nations for a generation or two (the reigns of 2 kings, 40 years each), the USA has seen at least 80 years of regular waves of global conflict and war. Most recently the USA has been fighting the heirs of Edom, that forebear of Islam. The President has staked his administration on preserving the nation and the people of God. We may be charitable and assume that he is doing all he knows to do to lead the battles we are facing. However, not a few people are dying. Currently the flu along with COVID-19 are plaguing the land along with any number of other illnesses, disorders, and diseases that could be prevented. Suicide is killing far more youth and soldiers each year than COVID-19 has killed globally so far. Rumors of conflict arise in the news as there is regular talk of police brutality and occasional terror strikes and school shootings. An outsider’s perspective could lead to the conclusion that there is a curse in the land.

Perhaps we can learn something from David’s response to the curse: He invested in land to be used as a house of prayer for all nations. He bought the threshing floor from someone who was present where the plague stopped, and David dedicated that land to serve as the foundation for the Temple. The same area where Jesus would later be dedicated to His Father as a baby, as an adolescent, and as an adult. God used the disaster of an unwise census to prepare the way for His Kingdom agenda.

What was wrong with the census?

In the book of the Law in Exodus 30:12-16, the LORD says that whenever a census was taken, all those 20 years old or more were to give an offering equivalent to ½ Shekel. The value of a shekel has fluctuated over time, as has the standard weight of the unit. At times, ancients were paid as much as 7-10 shekels per month in the ancient world. So, a Shekel paid for as little as 2 day’s wages at times. A half-shekel would have paid approximately 1 day’s wage for a common laborer. If a day’s work is 8 good hours at minimum wage, you are looking at ~$80. ($120 if you work for 12 hours of daylight! Or maybe you earn more than minimum wage .…)

If that seems to be a burden, another way of figuring the value of a shekel is to look at the weight of a sheke since the word shekel means weight: A shekel was the basic silver coin of that day, of whatever nation. In the days of the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD, a half shekel weighed about 8.6 grams of silver (Jesus seems to have critiqued the cheap money changers and the low value of their temple coinage, and thus prophesied its collapse in the gospels.) The value would have approximately been $5 in today’s market. Another way to calculate, would be to figure the value of the main American Silver Coin now made: one troy ounce coins are valued at around $15 if you sell them to a dealer, or you can buy them for $30. So, if $30 is a shekel, then $15 is a half-shekel.

David prayed that the guilt for the wicked census would not be on the people but would be on his family and on his house forever. He did not collect this amount from the people to be put it in the temple treasury, instead he bought the land for the temple. However, can a building and religious services remove guilt? No, Jesus, the Son of David removed that guilt by bearing the sins of His people as the King of the Jews upon the Roman cross outside the city. Jesus was rejected, yet He knew He’d win the hearts of all nations. Has Jesus won your heart? Have you received the mercy the Messiah made available when He offered Himself up for many?

What was the spiritual responsibility of the people of God during a time of census?

God’s people are to invest in the house or center of prayer. Let me encourage you to make a special offering to the Lord’s house of somewhere from $5 to $15 to $80 (or more if the Spirit so leads you), per adult person to pledge loyalty to God’s call to pray. Perhaps you already tithe to your local church, but you really want to honor the Lord’s call to pray for all nations, which is commanded in Psalm 2:8 and Isaiah 56:7 and Mark 11:15-19. You could give a special gift, of the weight that accords with your commitment to pray for God’s Kingdom to Come, to a ministry that is focused on the nations. Not just your own nation. A ministry equipping you to pray for other nations & the advancement of Jesus’ kingdom. You are after all, a kingdom of priests. You are welcome to donate to this ministry which regularly offers and shares prayer for those nations and peoples and individuals of the world that are outside of the realm of Christ’s honor, which is their obedience to His name. (Perhaps you guessed I’d say that.) 😊 But, if you feel uncomfortable donating to the work that I do to advance the Father’s kingdom, I would be happy to suggest some other ministries that are also raising prayer among the nations. Remember, giving to the Lord’s work (and I’m much less concerned if I gain from this teaching than if you do), is a privilege. I have personally seen the Lord’s healing and protecting hand on me as I sought to obey this simple teaching. It has led to some significant gifts to ministries promoting prayer for the nations … and it has resulted in lives and nations being changed. I am committed to promote prayer for unreached Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist lands and direct my investments accordingly, to the Father’s glory.

I do not want the King to return and ask me why I have invested so little into His business. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Are you merely investing in your own time to worship and spiritual services that cater to you? Or are you investing in prayer for the nations, as David, Solomon, and Jesus did?

Mert Hershberger, PO Box 981215, Ypsilanti, MI 48198-1215 – 734-678-1367 – mertaka@everybody.org

To donate online: https://bit.ly/375HzSk

You may print off the attached file that has this teaching and a donation card: 2020-Census-HalfShekel. OR

To make Check donation,

  • mail it to:

IF4ES-Donor Services, c/o New Horizons Foundation, 5550 Tech Center Drive Ste 303, Colorado Springs, CO 80919

If you need further help email support@foundationhelpdesk.com or call (800) 531-4075

Name of Project: “IF4ES” (International Fellowship for Everyday Saints)

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