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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers for Isabella Joy

Less than one month—and you will depart the warmth and comfort of your mama's womb and enter the world rich with activity and noise and love. You will leave the place where you began in love and where most of what you heard was your mama's heartbeat and voice –to hands clamoring to hold you and everyone's different idea of what you want, need or – yes – what you should do and be. Pressure. Such pressure for a tiny one!

So, my prayer for you, little girl of my Little Girl, is that you enjoy the time remaining in the peace of your mama's womb. God has said He knit you together while there. Beginning with—did you know—your hearing muscle? That is the first part of the human body that forms in the womb after conception—the hearing muscle. Isn't that interesting, Isabella? (I wonder if you, dear child, will enjoy my many bits of trivial information or if I will bore you with it? Time will tell.) The hearing muscle is the first thing to form and usually the last thing to stop living when the body dies. God intends us to hear. So, I pray for you, my baby girl, to have ears to hear what God says and the heart to follow fully after Him when you do—unafraid and unashamed. Not everyone will appreciate that prayer, but I pray it nonetheless.

Science also tells us that if we could take a mold of the shape of our inner ear, it is the exact same shape we are while in the second trimester while growing in our mother's womb. We are born to hear. Samuel's name means to hear with the intent to follow. I pray this same thing for him.

God says in His word, "before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you." I also pray that you never forget His voice and that you remain forever in tune with Him, just as you will be with your mama and daddy. May He speak mysteries to you, Isabella. May He speak mysteries and allow you to share His wisdom with the world around you — that the world around you may know Him too. God has said, "It is the glory (character and nature) of God to hide a matter and it is the glory (character and nature) of royalty to find it." He built us to find the mysteries He has hidden, Isabella. How exciting our God is! How fun!

I believe one of the mysteries He has hidden (but I found it!) is that the first thing He knits together while we are in the womb is the hearing muscle—so that we continue to hear Him as we did when He knew us before He placed us in our mother's womb.

God bless you little one. I love you.
Nina

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why I See Christmas in Numbers 21 (Part 2)

We are talking about how we can see the purpose of Christmas in the Old Testament story of Israel's rejection of the manna God rained down from heaven for them to eat. I would like to note that the manna came early in the morning, while the people still slept. The dew came first so the manna did not connect with the earth that was cursed because of the fall of mankind. The dew came down and then the manna rested on the dew. Biblically speaking, dew is representative of God's favor and blessing. So, instead of food from the earth which is cursed, the manna rested on the opposite of cursed—favor and blessing.

But Israel complained about the manna. They called it light bread and said their souls loathed it. Then poisonous serpents—common to the area—began to bite them. The serpents had never bitten anyone before, so apparently a door was opened—a shield came down through the complaining—and allowed the venomous snakes to do what snakes naturally do.

When people began to drop dead from the serpents' bite, they asked Moses to intercede for them. He did, and God gave him the cure. Now pay attention, we are about to celebrate Christmas.

When we spell out the word serpent in the Hebrew we can see a picture developing. The Hebrew alphabet is amazing in that it also contains their numerical system and each letter paints a prophetic picture.

From right to left the first letter in the word serpent is nun. The ancient Hebrew pictograph of the letter nun is a seed. It has the meaning of continuation, progeny, and heirship. The modern Hebrew picture of nun is a fish—which is where the Christian fish symbol comes from. This fish symbol connotes the meaning of believer. This makes perfect sense because those who believe on Jesus become sons (children, progeny) of God (John 1:12). Before the fall—before Adam took the word of the serpent over the word of God—God called Adam a son (Lk 1:38).

The letter nun has the numerical value of fifty, which has a theme of freedom. The year of Jubilee is the fiftieth year and slaves are set free, debts canceled and property returns to its original owners.

The second letter of the word serpent is chet. The ancient Hebrew pictograph of this letter is a tent wall. It is what separated the female side of the tent from the male side. It was a wall of division. The modern picture of the letter chet is a fence. Both signify separation and/or division.

It is significant to me that the doorposts in Goshen (believers) had to have blood applied to the lintel (above the door) and each doorpost, which forms the letter chet if you write it out. I haven't figured out how to do that in the blog world yet. Only the doorways with the blood applied were protected from the death angel. That is why most modern Jews consider the chet the sign of life and often wear it as jewelry. The blood of the lamb on those doorposts left all Israel alive. The picture of the door or fence brought the realization of separation to a new light.

The numerical value for chet is eight, which has a theme of new beginnings. Eight people were in Noah's ark to begin new life in the earth after the flood. On the eighth day after birth, a male child (Hebrew) enters into covenant with God and is given his Hebrew name—which is kept secret until that time (tradition).

The last letter of the word serpent is the shin. Interestingly, the ancient and modern picture of shin is tooth/teeth. It is drawn as two front teeth in the ancient pictographs, representing peace and protection from the devourer. Shin represents the Guardian of Peace and one of the names God chose to reveal Himself to Abraham—Shaddai—the provider and sustainer of life. Starting to see a theme here? If you look at the shin it seems to signify a flame as it looks like flames leaping upward. The Jewish mystical tradition of the spiritual essence of shin is fire and flames. Though the two pictures seem diverse, they aren't. Teeth are used to devour and fire devours too.

The numerical value of shin is three hundred. Gideon attacked the Midianites with only three hundred men armed with flaming torches in one hand and swords in another. Samson burned the fields of his enemies by releasing three hundred foxes with torches tied to their tails. And I am reminded of the story of the Holy Spirit coming to reside with believers and people saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

I see vividly the story of the fall in the Hebrew writing of the word serpent. The serpent is the fence between the believer and God—the source of separation and division.

But God gave Moses the solution to the serpent problem. He told Moses to make a serpent of bronze. In the biblical world, bronze is representative of judgment. God told Moses to place the bronze serpent on the rod and lift it up so all could see it. Those who were bitten by the serpent need only to look upon the bronze serpent to live. The serpent was judged and the people were healed and regained the life the serpent stole.

Now I want you to know that in Hebrew writing that the word bronze is the exact same word as the word serpent except one letter has been added to the word. The letter tav is added to the word serpent to make it a bronze serpent. The ancient Hebrew pictograph of the tav is a cross. When the cross is added to the serpent it represents the serpent has been judged. The serpent is rendered powerless. To all who look upon the cross in belief—the serpent cannot harm.

Jesus said, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up. Whoever believes in Him (Son of Man) will have eternal life. God loves all humanity in the world so much that He sent His only Son to liberate them from the curse in the world because of sin. Whoever believes in this Son that God has sent is no longer cursed or condemned, but set free (John 3:14-18).

Can you see the purpose of Christmas in this story? Can you see, like the manna, coming quietly and in a manner unexpected (what is it?), the Savior of the world came as a child in the wee hours? Jesus said, "I am the bread sent from Heaven, for the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (John 6:33-41). Jesus came to give us the life God intended for us to have. We cannot attain that life any other way. All the health food in the store will not give us that quality of life. All the organic supplements and all the prescription meds and all the physicians of the world—are lacking compared to what Jesus accomplished by coming to the earth and being lifted up to take the judgment and curse that was in the world because of sin. Now that is a Christmas story!

To sum up a few points I gained from this study:

Believers are considered (by God) to be children of God—with all the rights and privileges of heirship. (John 1:12-13).
Slaves are set free, debts are released and property is returned to the original owners. Jesus represented to us how mankind was intended to live—far above principalities and powers, sickness and disease, evil of every kind—and as He was leaving, He said, "As my Father sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21).
Christmas is about family. God called Adam His son. When Adam turned away from what God said as truth and honorable—like the prodigal son in the parable Jesus told—God did not write him off, but rather waited for him to realize his "missing the mark," (which is what sin is) and sent Jesus to show us all the way back to being the family of God. We all descend from Adam. The Bible calls Jesus the last Adam, because He came to show us the way back home—to the heart of God.

The Angels said it best, "Peace on earth and (God's) goodwill toward mankind." Merry Christmas to all and may the light of the world shine brightly in each heart.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why I See Christmas in Numbers 21 (Part 1)

During their wilderness travels, Israel became discouraged and they began to complain about God and Moses. They said, "Why have you brought us from Egypt to die in this wilderness? There is no bread. There is no water. And our soul loathes this light bread (speaking of the manna God provided for them each day)."

And this story makes me think of Christmas. "What?" You say. "How can this story remind you of Christmas? There is no manger. There is no star. There is no Savior of the world." Oh contraire. It has everything to do with the reason of Christmas and gives us a tremendous visual of our Savior. Will you allow me minutes of a few days before Christmas to share with you this version of the Christmas story?

The people are complaining. The economy is tough. They want steak and ale and all they have is water that comes from a rock when Moses talks to it and a food they don't recognize and call "what is it?" That's what the word manna means, "what is it?". They said their soul (mind, will, emotions—intellect) loathed the manna. So, let's talk about Manna for a few moments.

In Psalm 78, Asaph highlights the 40 year trek Israel took in the wilderness. He says, "He (God) split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas." And, "He (God) rained down manna for them to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels." (Ps 78:15, 24-25). Psalm 105 states that there was none feeble among them (Israel). Moses, talking for the Lord, states, "In these forty years He has led you, your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell. He fed you on manna to teach you that man does not live by bread alone, but from every word that proceeds from God's mouth you may live (implied)." (Dt 8:3-4). And then Jesus, Himself, said to those who would hear, "I am the bread come down from Heaven." (Jn 6:41).

This is the bread—the light (something light in value or position) bread—their soul loathed was a picture of Jesus as provider and sustainer of life. But the story gets better, stay with me.

When they said, "Our soul loathes this light bread.", fiery snakes—which by the way are common in the wilderness—began to bite the complainers. The snakes were always there—but until the people complained, they didn't bite anyone. They were poisonous snakes whose venom was like fire.—but they didn't touch Israel until they spoke against God. Complaining opens a door for serpents to attack. Brings a new realization of that verse that says, "Life and death are in the power of the tongue," doesn't it? There are serpents in the world around us, but we are protected as long as we remain in agreement with God's word and way.

Tomorrow we will examine the Hebrew word for serpent to understand this story and the story of Christmas better. Hope to see you here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Portraits of God

My latest painting work in progress, titled simply, "I AM," immerses me in worship each time I pick up a paint brush and draw crude pictographs (hieroglyphics) representing the ancient Hebrew perception of the entity we call God. Though we have manuscripts more ancient than the writings of Moses—few have given us the visual the ancient Hebrews did through their writings of a God—a Supreme Being that cares for people so deeply and passionately that He would come and take the suffering, shame and horror that humanity had coming because our father, Adam, brought sin into the earth.

This is the God I worship. He is the God I cling to in adoration. No other God died for humanity—no other God/prophet/leader took what sin required—all the way to the grave reserved for sinners and then rose again from that grave to prove there is more and that more is given to those who believe. The only requirement left for us is to believe. Once we believe, we receive the right to become the children of God (Jn 1:12). After we receive the right to become children of God, we want to know what that means. I did/do.

Ergo, my search in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. God chose to reveal Himself to and through the ancient Hebrew people, so I consider it wisdom to find what He revealed. I still study the names by which He revealed many aspects of his nature and character. That is what the "I AM" painting is about. He said about Himself—"I Am the Lord who heals you." That name is Jehovah Rapha. He says He is the Lord who makes us holy (Ex 31:13)—it is by nothing we do on our own—He makes us holy. That name is Jehovah Qadash. There are others—many others—and by these names, we begin to know Him—the nature and character of the one true God. And so I want to know Him more by those names.

The most interesting thing about "I AM" to me, is that when He reveals to Moses, "I AM that I AM (Ex 3:14), He says, "This is my name forever." The most literal translation from the ancient Hebrew text is: I Am He Who will be—the Coming One (Bullinger).

And so today, as I put away my paints and brushes and pick up my routine work—my Monday through Friday activities—I first pick up my source for strength and encouragement (Bible) and look again at what God says about my life and the world I live in.

In Zechariah 1:7-17, the first vision comes to Zechariah the prophet. In the vision it is night. Nighttime is more frightening than the day because there is so much we can't see. In this vision, the prophet sees a man who rode a red horse and stood among the myrtle trees. Later (verse 11), the prophet describes this man as the Angel of the Lord—a designation given for the One who would come and carry the sins of the world.

This One stands among the myrtle trees in the bottom—or more literally—in the deep. It is generally agreed that the myrtles represent Israel—not the proud cedar or spreading oak—but the low growing and yet fragrant myrtle. For the most part, growing in the valleys—the myrtle is out of the world's gaze. And yet, it is with the lowly that the One true God seems most at home with and certainly drawn to. The myrtles, which the Angel of the Lord is seen with are growing in the bottom—literally sinking in the water. It would seem this state of Israel could not go lower or be less esteemed.

A remnant returned to Jerusalem after the seventy year Babylonian captivity. Not many desired to return to the burned out mess that Jerusalem was after the Babylonians razed it and then burned it so that there was no hint of the brilliant city of the great king left in it. Those straggling few who returned fell into depression and inactivity because of persecution. The vision given to Zechariah symbolized the Lord's attention—He knew where they were, how they were and what they needed. And more importantly to me—He was there. The Angel of Jehovah, the second Person in the Trinity, in His love redeemed and carried them (Is 63:9)—and now, He is among them, in fulfillment of His word, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and the rivers shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, they will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior (Is 43:2-3)." And didn't He prove it? When Daniel's friends were in the fire—He was there with them—and the fire did not set them ablaze.

And so as I read about Him—I realize how much He deserves our praise and adoration. His faithfulness surpasses anything we've seen or understood before. His love is everlasting—this is not just something He has said, but it is what His character has revealed.

The desire of my heart is to paint His portrait so beautifully, that you will leave encouraged and strengthened. The reality is—He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He is our constant companion and help. He understands where we are and is not satisfied leaving us there. Oh yes, He is beautiful, and He is worthy of all our worship. Blessed are all who know Him—who really know Him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aiyn

About a month ago, it became year 5770 (Hebrew calendar). It is the year Aiyn—which is the Hebrew letter representing 70. Let me tell you a little something about Aiyn.

Ayin is formed from two Hebrew letters—the zayin on the left which is attached to an enlarged yod on the right. The ancient Hebrew people wrote this letter as an eye, which is significant for this year. The zayin—drawn in ancient Hebrew as a mattock—now represents a weapon—represents the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. The yod—the Hebrew letter that hovers above the line—represents the Spirit of God. Combined, they allow us to see as God wants us to see. This is the year of the open eyes that see as we have not seen before.

Zayin has the numeric value of 7 and yod has the numeric value of 10—when multiplied they equal the numeric value of 70 which is the numeric value of aiyn. This is a new season—a new decade. The prophets say this is the decade of the eyes opened by God's Word and focused by His Spirit. We will see people differently. We will see circumstances differently. We will see as God designed us to see—finally. Amen. May it be so to me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What Will Our Prayers Accomplish?

One day, a young Peter Joshua decided not to go to school, but to go fishing instead. He sneaked off the road to the school onto a familiar and well-worn path to his favorite fishing hole. While leaned back waiting for fish to take his bait, Peter heard his father, Seth Joshua, praying as he came down the path Peter had taken to the fishing spot. Peter ran and hid behind some bushes and watched his father plead with God. Seth's prayer was simple, but heartfelt, "Give me Wales, God. Please give me Wales."

Later, Peter confided to his mother, "I heard father praying one morning and he cried and begged God, 'Give me Wales, God. Give me Wales.' What does that mean, mother?" His mother replied that one day he would understand.

Of course, that was one hundred years ago, and now we know the importance of those prayers. In 1909 the Welsh Revival came and thousands were saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit. It doesn't take great intelligence to reach God. It doesn't take muscle or grandeur or anything special to connect with God in prayer. It only requires a heart connection—your heart to His heart and a true desire for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

As I meditate on the prayers I've prayed for the twenty years I've known the Lord, I realize how wonderfully God has affected my life because of my prayers. I began praying for the sons my daughters would give me through their marriages almost twenty years ago—long before either of my daughters met and married their husbands. I prayed for them like they were my own sons—because in my heart they were and are.

The first son God gave me was Jason. What a son! Jason brought us faithfulness and constancy. He is still teaching us that love never stops. What a joy to have him as my son! Then God gave us Thomas. He has brought so much peace to our family. He has given us structure and calm. My son Thomas is a gift straight from the heart of God. Recently, God gave us Giuseppe. He has brought to our family animation and energy. He gives us spontaneity and affection that is beautiful. God gifts brought by simple prayers.

Would God have given us these sons if I had not prayed? Probably. But the fact that I did pray for them, makes me aware of God's presence and working in their lives and in the lives of their families. Whether we see the manifest presence of God there or not—we know—because we prayed.

In the last two or three years, I've heard a lot of the prophets speaking about more angelic interaction on the earth. Interesting. Because for years I have prayed that God would give His angels charge concerning my family and me—listing all of us name by name. And I know He does. I know there will come a day—if that day has not already come—that my children and their children will encounter angels and those angels will have been sent by God—because of my prayers.

God is not a respecter of people (Acts 10:34). If He will give Wales to Seth Joshua and those who prayed with him—He gives angels to my beloved. Because that is who God is. Aren't we glad?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thoughts on St. Patrick

Perhaps because I am Irish—or at least partly so—I have been thinking of St. Patrick today. Not the pinching and the need for green—as most have made of it, but the spirit of St. Patrick.

Patrick was born in the late 300's. His dad was a deacon in the church where he grew up in Scotland. When he was sixteen, Ireland invaded Scotland and Patrick was taken as a slave to Ireland. Can you imagine the grief of his parents? Can you imagine his own despair?

He'd not really followed God in his growing up years. I think of how that knowledge affected his parents when he was dragged off. If only they could have had the solace that he walked with God no matter where he went or what he experienced. While a slave in Ireland, Patrick was assigned duty as a shepherd. His many hours alone in the field with the sheep gave him time to reflect on his upbringing and time to seek the God of his father, which he did.

One day an angel of the Lord appeared to him and he gave his life to Jesus. Later, God gave him a series of supernatural dreams. One such dream gave him the strategy to escape Ireland—which he followed successfully. He escaped to Britain and began studies for the priesthood. During that time, the Lord met him in another dream. He said, "I want you to return to Ireland—not as a slave—but as My minister to take Jesus to them." Patrick obeyed.

We can attribute the three leaf clover as Ireland's national emblem to Patrick. He used it to teach people about the Trinity.

I think again of his parents. How delighted they would be to know that their son not only came to know God but that he served him well all the days of his adult life. It proves to me that no matter what, we parents who love God and pray for our children have nothing to worry about. God can reach them no matter how far or by what means they leave our nest. God is good. St. Patrick reminds us of that goodness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Choosing to Honor

Matthew 26:53-54—"Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?"

During the hours before this, Jesus was in the garden praying. He repeatedly told God He didn't want to "drink the cup" that the world deserved to drink. Yet, each prayer ended with, "Nonetheless, Your will be done." Jesus submitted His will fully to the Father He trusts. He laid His life down not only because God so loved the world, but also because Jesus so loved and honored His Father. Up to the moment He breathed His last breath, Jesus had the opportunity and the right to change His mind—to change His will—and God would have sent legions of angels to minister to Him.

That makes me think about every moment of my every day—how I must understand that every decision is about whether or not I want to honor God or myself. Do my words fulfill what He has said? Do my motives reflect His love for mankind? Do my actions, attitude and speech declare to the world around me God's intended peace on earth and good will toward humanity? Because that is what Jesus accomplished when He submitted His will to the Father.

We are told that God's purpose for each of us is that we be conformed (patterned after) the image and likeness of His dear Son (Jesus). Seems to me, that conformation would begin with honor. We honor God because He is worthy of all honor. And yet—do we? Do we honor God? I am learning something about honor that I didn't know until today.

We see honor displayed in many ways in today's society. We honor movie stars with their posed pictures all over the newsstand and airways. We honor heroes with parades and salutes. We honor our country with songs of allegiance. But is that what God means for us to do when He says we must honor Him above all and honor our mother and father? I have been asking God about this for a few years now. "What do you mean by honor your father and mother? How is an adult child supposed to honor their father and mother?" It seems easy for me to honor God—because He is wonderful—the perfect parent—but as an adult how do I honor my parents? I read in one book that said the best way for an adult child to honor their parents was to live a life that brought them honor. I have tried to do that. I have tried to live my life so that it brings God honor—if He is honored, I think my parents would be too.

God gave Israel the ten commandments on two tablets of stone. The first stone has the five commandments concerning man's relationship with God. The second stone and correspondent set of five commands pertain to relationships among people. The first commandment on the first stone has to do with honoring God—the first commandment on the second stone has to do with honoring parents. The two correspond. He says to Israel: "I Am the Lord your God. I brought you out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. Because of that, I Am the only God you must honor and serve. There is no other." Likewise, we are to honor our parents—they are the only parents we will ever have. They are the parents He has given us. We should honor them as such.

Whether we understand their ways or not—we are to honor them. There are no loop holes to slip through here. The text is explicit. Even if our parents are not by definition "honorable," the command is there—He gives us no excuse not to honor our parents. The reason is clear to me. If we can't honor the parents we see, how can we honor the God we cannot see? Often we may not understand all of God's ways (Isaiah 55:9), but because He is God and because we are not—we must honor Him. In doing so, we eventually grow to understand more of His ways and are blessed in the process.

God has said that He placed each of us into our mother's womb. That means He chose the mother we have. Whether she was a good mother or not. Whether she chose to keep you or give you away—God chose her womb to knit you together (Psalm 139). God has said He knew us before He placed us in our mother's womb (Jeremiah 1:5). It sounds like it was a deliberate action on God's part in choosing our mother (by implication—parents). I can name several reasons this makes sense to me. Perhaps the DNA mix is what he wanted to accomplish. Perhaps he saw what those parents could and would be with His influence in their hearts—and that would have been the optimal experience for the child He designed in that womb. I don't believe He placed anyone in a womb with the intent to see that person suffer abuse and neglect. I don't believe cruelty was God's intention for anyone. But because we have a will—we all choose from moment to moment to either honor God with our attitudes and actions or we can choose not to. Some got parents who chose not to do things God's way—and sometimes that resulted in cruelty to the child. But that does not mean it was God's intent for that child.

What we do with the precious child God placed in our womb—is an act of honoring God or not. Period. How we value that little life He has given us depends on how we value Him and His influence in our lives. I believe one reason the religious Jewish people are the most prosperous and successful people on the earth (per capita) is because they are taught to honor God. Because of that supreme honor—they honor His gift of children and so they bless their children and teach their children with love and grace to honor the gift of life God has given them. And yet, if they were not good parents—there is no stipulation given that excuses not honoring our parents. The command is the same for all.

Jesus lives out that example vividly. Let me show you some things about Jesus' Father He chose to honor:

"It was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer . . . " (Isaiah 53:10).
"For they have persecuted Him whom You Yourself has smitten, and they tell of the pain of those whom You have wounded." (Ps 69:26)
"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:32)

Jesus honored His Father because He knew the Father's heart well enough to know why it was His will to crush Him. He understood why it pleased God for Him to suffer—because it would spare the multitude. Jesus' life was the price to pay for the ransom of our souls. This is why God wanted Him crushed. The wrath because of sin was poured out on that perfect sinless being who laid down His life to honor the Father He adored.

I have not honored my parents so vividly. Quite the contrary; in comparison to Jesus, I have not honored my parents at all. Today I repented to God for not honoring my parents in the way I should. Perhaps my parents can forgive me as well.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Grace Reigns

Grace Reigns

Before the elections, I heard it, you heard it, we all heard it. Christians all over the U.S. received the emails threatening that Obama is the Anti-Christ. He is evil. Wicked. He will lead our country down a dark and dreary path to a fiery hell. I don't know if these emails were started by Christians or not, but they were certainly promulgated by them. Some of them were so far-fetched it was embarrassing to me that someone calling themselves "Christian" could send it. Do you know, they are still going around?

I chose not to vote for Obama as president, not because of the email threats, but because of his voting record in several issues. I didn't prefer the other candidate—I settled for the other candidate--because his voting record on the issues that most concerned me was more reflective of my conscience.

But now Obama is the new President Elect. He will begin serving the U. S. in a few days. So, what are Christians to do? How are we supposed to react to and think about this new leader of our country? Pray. The Bible is explicit—we are to pray for those in authority over us that we may lead quiet and tranquil lives (1 Timothy 2:2) . That is God's word, not mine, but I certainly agree with and submit to it. We need to pray for the President on down to our local government officials.

I suggest we pray for grace to reign over our leaders and over us as a nation. Paul said, in Romans 5:21, that grace reigns in righteousness. I know some would claim that sloppy grace is the reason we have the mess we have now, but I would argue that point. Grace is not favor as some believe favor to be. We have been told for so many years that grace means "favor". In today's language, favor means one getting preferential treatment. But that is not what the biblical meaning of grace is. The biblical meaning of grace is hundreds of years old as was the definiton of "favor". What grace means is influence to the point of changing the life of the individual grace reigns in. Particularly, God's influence in our heart so our lives are changed, and that change is evident to people who knew us before. That is the biblical grace mentioned more than one hundred times in the Bible.

So, instead of bad-mouthing our leaders, I suggest—no, I plead—we pray for them. I suggest we pray for grace to reign over them and our nation. I will be praying that way. I pray grace affects the hearts of each of our leaders from President Obama, his family and cabinet, to all our Congress and Senate to our local governments from Governor to mayor to police and fire departments. I pray that God come in and influence each heart so that the changes He wants to make in our nation be effected and reflected to the world what God can and will do when people pray. I pray for God to give our leaders His wisdom to lead our nation out of this mess and into the goodness of God for each family. I pray that through this intervention the world will witness the goodness of God and in seeing that will come to repentance and draw near to Him.

We can send out destructive and useless hate mail—condemning a man who has been elected to lead us. Or we can pray for this man and choose to honor him as the one God has allowed to be in this place at this time. That is what Daniel did. Daniel chose to honor God and in honoring God, he honored the King ruling over him. Look what God did for Daniel. Look what God did for the kings Daniel served.

Governments change, but God remains the same yesterday, today and forever. If we will pray—and if we will honor those God has put in the position they are in (John 19:11) because God said to, then we can again enjoy quiet and tranquil lives. Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't it be good to not be in a war? Wouldn't it be nice not to see so much destruction in our nation as we do now?

Pray, Church, pray! Pray for grace to reign.