Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

Today in London and in most of the Western world it is easy for Christians to feel they are labouring under a cloud. Church attendance is falling, the media has an anti-Christian bias, our politicians are for the most part self confessed atheists, and our churches are dumbing down the Good News in search of worldly approval. But we need to be careful that we are not falling for lies from the pit of Hell. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien describes several great leaders falling for the deception that Sauron is unstoppable and therefore despair is the only reasonable counsel. This Epiphany I believe the Lord wants us to remember that, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light”. We have a King who is enthroned in Zion who laughs when he sees the enemies of his people. His victory is assured.
At the arrival of the Messiah, his people were caught on the hop. Only a couple of aged prophets at the temple were expecting God’s redemption. So God sent outsiders to make it clear that there was good news. At Epiphany we remember that God sent wise men from overseas to announce news of glad tidings to his people. Today it seems we are still in need of good news from overseas. Our churches in England may be struggling but there is revival going on in China and many parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, even Iran has seen a resurgence.
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The London City Mission church census last year shows that church attendance in London isn’t actually falling. There has been such growth amongst the Nigerian and Ghanaian churches that over all attendance is rising. Praise the Lord!
So it is with great joy that I welcome Jonathan Oloyede to London City Mission today to encourage us from God’s Word. There is a wind blowing through London today and it isn’t only a winter storm. God has not given up on the battle in this land. His King is enthroned in Zion and he will accomplish his desires. He laughs at his enemies. If we are wise then we’ll hear the Good News and respond in humble obedience and declare his glory!

Quotes from Jonathan
“As a Muslim I sought the Lord but Allah did not speak to me. Instead I found Jesus Christ whilst studying at medical school”
“London as a city desperately needs the gospel”
“We need to raise up a cohesive army of men and women who submit to Christ’s Lordship and reach out to the lost with the gospel”
“Nobody is to far from Goods for him to touch”

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OK, so I don’t really go in for New Years resolutions. In the past I have found them more helpful for promoting a sense of guilt or false pride, rather than true godliness.
I know that putting my faith in Jesus and making him my Lord is a once off event, but the work of sanctification, overcoming my ingrained sinful habits is a long hard slog not well suited to an annual diet or fad.
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I saw something in the news though that I found helpful, and got me thinking about ways to take advantage of the cycle of days to keep me Godly.
Doctors suggest giving up smoking every Monday

Doctors in USA claim that research points to the benefits of giving up smoking every Monday. By mentally making every week a new start in the struggle against addiction we are more likely to eventually win by getting to the next Monday without falling off the wagon. Now I’ve never needed to give up smoking, but there are lots of bad habits I need to wage war on. Pride, anger, selfishness, all appear in my life in the forms of: using the internet after 10pm, getting irritable with my wife and kids, missing lunch, talking more than I listen, missing my quiet times. There are habits and traits where I need to keep on putting to death the sins of the flesh in a ruthless manner. Piper talks at length about “How to Kill Sin” and it is a daily war, not an annual battle. So here is my advice. If you’ve already failed in your annual efforts to better yourself, don’t give up. Take the doctor’s advice and restart your war on sin each week. Remember God’s goodness to you and take strength from delighting in his Word. We have been saved from the power of sin, and as we meditate on our Father’s grace to us we will be more likely respond in an obedience that flows from love rather than duty.
I’ve found a few apps that have helped me with my personal goals for this year.
Prayermate is a wonderful app that reminds me to pay for family, church, mission etc
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Logos is a comprehensive Bible app that gives me my Bible and theological library in my pocket at all times
Explore provides daily quiet time material, encouraging me to truly engage with the Word of God each morning.
I’m hoping that you already know the power of God in your life, and that he is at work in you already helping you to grow in Godliness so that you will have a more Christ-like witness this year.

Here are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the January issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

USA: best seller
The best-selling book The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, has just sold its one millionth copy, it was reported in early December.
Born in the UK — not related to Martin Lloyd-Jones — and now living in the USA, Sally noted that this book can be given away to anyone from university presidents to car salesmen as anyone can understand it. It focuses on teaching the Bible’s own ongoing narrative, that of every story in the Bible breathing Jesus’ name. Crosswalk

EU: euthanasia coalition
A new coalition was launched in Brussels in mid-November to combat the growing threat of euthanasia across Europe.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe (EPC-Europe) brings together organisations and individuals from across the continent to campaign against the erosion of laws that protect people from euthanasia. It plans to act as a powerful voice against attempts to change laws across Europe that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. Christian Concern

Brunei: sharia law
The sultan of Brunei announced on October 22 that the country will be ruled according to sharia law, which will be introduced in phases from April 2014.
Penalties for hudud crimes will be in line with the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah (the deeds and sayings of Muhammed). Hudud crimes include theft, for which sharia requires the amputation of limbs, adultery, which is punished by stoning, and apostasy, which carries the death penalty. Muslims who insult, mock or deny Islamic teachings may face imprisonment for up to 30 years and 40 strokes of the cane. Barnabas Fund

Rwanda: mission
In a Rwandan mission held in October, 78,500 heard the gospel and around 8,900 made decisions for Christ. Hundreds of church leaders received training and there was a special programme for children.
Under the heading ‘Improved Literacy through Youth Education’, 50 teachers and 50 young people were trained in Musanze town. During the training, many were able to forgive and reconcile with those who had offended them. African Enterprise

For more news and prayer fuel from around the world, subscribe to EN for monthly updates.

Evangelicals Now

Here are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the January issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

USA: best seller
The best-selling book The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, has just sold its one millionth copy, it was reported in early December.
Born in the UK — not related to Martin Lloyd-Jones — and now living in the USA, Sally noted that this book can be given away to anyone from university presidents to car salesmen as anyone can understand it. It focuses on teaching the Bible’s own ongoing narrative, that of every story in the Bible breathing Jesus’ name. Crosswalk

EU: euthanasia coalition
A new coalition was launched in Brussels in mid-November to combat the growing threat of euthanasia across Europe.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition…

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John D Manwell's Blog

    8 Representatives Together

You Tube video of 8 leaders prayer together 

With all that has separated the Body of Christ over hundreds of years there is a mountain of disunity that we need to deal with. At Saints in the Stadium thousands of Christians from all traditions and backgrounds came together to call on God to seek His help for the United Kingdom. Eight people from different denominations of the Church stood and prayed for Oneness in the Body in the United Kingdom.

There is only one God and Father. Centuries of separateness amongst believers for countless reasons does not change the unity of God. Standing together and singing or praying does not change the separation in our hearts. Issues of truth do not become flexible with us simply holding hands.

We can, however, take heart from the increasing number of leaders and church representatives who want to see a change…

View original post 128 more words

London City Mission has always had a heart for sharing the love of God, the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord with all of London. We have a particular emphasis on reaching the harder to access groups; the poor, the elderly, the sick, the immigrants, the prisoners. It’s not that middle class people don’t need to hear the gospel, but we have a calling to help the Church of London reach beyond its fringe to the 92% of people who would never walk into a middle class church. Brixton prison is just the kind of place where we want to reach out to the needy and we’ve been working there for many years. This week I was privileged to attend the HMP Brixton Christmas service and was filled with joy to see what was going on there.

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From the start the chapel was packed out. It has a capacity of 140, but with the men standing at the back I’m sure we had over 150 prisoners in the room (from a population of 700). The singing was terrific. I felt I was in the middle of a Welsh choir as we belted out, “O Come All Ye Faithful”. When a chorister stood up to sing a gospel number the room broke into pandemonium. There were men clapping, raising their hands in the air, even a couple of shouts of hallelujah. And it wasn’t all in jest, it was obvious that among the inmates there are men who have faith in Christ, and others who show a deep interest. How did Christians end up in prison? Chatting to the men there was a pattern to the stories. Often there was a damaging event; a return from fighting overseas, a divorce, childhood abuse, which then led to depression. The depression wasn’t dealt with well and soon became alcohol or substance abuse. The addiction led to other crimes either theft, violence, or trafficking of drugs. Prison hopefully called a halt on the downward spiral of these men’s lives. I am not trying to explain away the crimes. The prisoners have all made bad decisions and are guilty of hurting others through their actions. What did impact me was though how possible it is for all kinds of people, even Christians, to fall off the “straight and narrow” path and end up in a mess. There, but by the grace of God, go I. Just as I have met Christian men in LCM’s homeless centre, I have met Christians in prison who should have been given greater love, help and support by their churches during their spiral down, but we live in a society which is time poor, and where we have little time for the mentally ill, and the needy.
The Bible though challenges our behaviour and if we have ears to hear the challenge will come loud and clear. Hebrews 13 urges us to treat prisoners as our brothers, and Matthew 25 warns us that those who fail to show love to their brothers and sisters in prison will be turned away on the day of judgement. Can this really mean that we need to do acts of charity to prisoners to earn our way to heaven, surely that goes against the gospel of grace? Matthew 25 and James 1 are entirely consistent with the gospel of grace outlined in Galatians and Romans. I think rather that these good deeds, showing care for the prisoner in Matthew 25, or care for the elderly widow in James 1 act as a litmus test for true Christianity. Lives transformed by the gospel of grace will always show the fruit of love. A church which has lost its love for the prisoner and the elderly is almost certainly a church in which the gospel of grace has been left behind.

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Praise the Lord that the gospel message preached by London City Missionary, Rob Hooks, at the service will be going out to every prison in the country on Christmas morning on National Prison Radio. The opportunities to work with prisons are amazing. We have an open door to work with the prisoners preparing them for release and we regularly run courses like Christianity Explored and the Christians Against Poverty budgeting course at Brixton. Right now there are no volunteers to support the Christians Against Poverty work but we are hopefull we’ll get it back up and running soon. If you feel moved to get involved in the outreach to prisoners then there are several ways to help. If you are ready to make a regular commitment of time then there are opportunities to volunteer to assist in prison chaplaincies http://lcm.org.uk/Groups/9917/London_City_Mission/Join_Us/Volunteers/Volunteers.aspx
Another way of getting involved is to support Rob Hooks in his work by donating at JustGiving and mentioning your support for Rob https://www.justgiving.com/londoncitymission
For many the best involvement will be to pray for the work – you can sign up to pray for any of the London City Missionaries. We are desperately in need for more prayer supporters right now http://lcm.org.uk/Groups/9350/London_City_Mission/About_Us/Prayer/Prayer.aspx

What tho’ my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho’ the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cell and dungeon vile,
Our thoughts to them go winging;
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Listening to Irish singer Enya sing this old hymn inspired me to pray again this week for brothers and sisters celebrating Christmas in far off prisons, labour campus, and gulags. They are not far from their Lord and saviour.
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Hebrews 13 says this:
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Do we treat our brothers and sisters in prison as if we are in prison with them? Do we pray for them monthly? annually? ever? Do we care for our family who have been mistreated in Syria? Have we been praying for them and sending money for food? The good news is that despite our neglect our brothers and sisters won’t be neglected by the Lord, but let us continue to pray nevertheless for what we do to the least of our brothers reveals our attitude to Jesus our saviour.

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A bulldozed church in China

In addition to the Christians suffering persecution in prison, there are those being attacked in their own homes in the Middle East. Recently the Prince of Wales was joined by Prince Ghazi of Jordan on a visit to the Egyptian Coptic church in Stevenage and the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in west London, where he heard from a number of Christian families who have had first-hand experience of the rising tide of persecution. “We cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately attacked by fundamentalist Islamist militants,” he said. “The Arab spring [is] rapidly turning into a Christian winter” was how the author William Dalrymple put it on the BBC.
Christians have increasingly become the target of violence, with churches assaulted, priests abducted, individuals targeted and homes looted. In Egypt alone, Amnesty International has reported that during this past year 207 churches have been attacked and 43 Orthodox churches totally destroyed. And the situation of Christians in Syria is deteriorating rapidly as the Free Syrian Army has become increasingly influenced by foreign jihadist militants. Many thousands of Syrian Christians are now fleeing over the border to Turkey. One man who made the journey from Syria claimed: “Where we live, 10 churches have been burned down. They started to threaten Christians in the town we live. When the local priest was executed, we decided to leave.”

I’ve added some links to provide some food for thought for Christian prisoners of conscience in the Far East

http://dynamic.csw.org.uk/article.asp?t=report&id=176

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/12/05/satellite-images-reveal-scale-north-korea-prison-camps-group-says/

http://news.sky.com/story/1182848/chinas-illegal-detention-of-christian-pastor

http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/pray_for_the_persecuted_church/2011/08/china-releases-five-church-leaders-two-years-after-linfen-police-riot.html