Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Change, You and Me


Through the past four weeks as I have been engaged in focused research on changing perceptions of the Bible and biblical doctrines in the heartland of Islam, I have observed the ebb and flow of what will probably be seen as historic change in this time-worn region of civilization. This is not an attempt to speak about the outcomes of the “Arab Spring.” While Syria continues to bleed, Tunisian government continues to morph, Iraq continues to simmer, and the Egyptian Brotherhood continues to seek to find its way towards governing this complex country, any assessment is premature and truly a prophetic utterance. As Garrison Keillor said in his years old Prairie Home companion skit, I saw snow on July 4th, “I’m not a prophet. So, I kept my mouth shut.” So, this is just some anecdotal observations from taxi drivers and guys on the edge of demonstrations and other ordinary folks in the midst of change.

King Abdullah II of Jordan’s motorcade sedately passed us as my taxi driver, Rajah, and I discussed the turmoil of the region. I put the event in the context of other heads of state passing near me since 9/11. Three suvs traveling just faster than the 60 kph traffic. No sirens, exposed guns, no helicopters overhead. Just a king among his people going to the airport. I know we are talking apples and oranges here, but this was a different take on how to move the head of state. So, we moved to talking about this young King and his pronouncements. He has said, I was not prepared for the task of being King. I have and will make changes to reduce the power of the office. My son will have a much different job from mine. The parliament and prime minister need to have a greater share in leadership. So, he rolls along absorbing the changes of the day. In our general conversation, my friend says he and his country men are not ready for “American style” democracy. They need to grow to face the responsibilities of true freedom. It seems to me that their young king is leading well.

One of my interviewees, Dr. Kamal, leads an institute founded by the Crown Prince of Jordan to enhance understanding between the world’s peoples and cultures. My friend, like Arabs in general is cordial and gracious to any stranger or guest. He is an Orthodox Christian trained in the USA with a PhD in political science. He loves Americans but is concerned that we have lost sight of our “north star.” He thinks we need to return to our values which he characterized as respect for the dignity and equality of all persons. Concerning our governmental and institutional response to Arabs and Islam, Kamal sees a historic shift in Western treatment of persons due to stereotypic thinking because of the actions of a few. Although a Christian, he like many sees American branding of one as dangerous and a condemnation of both. Like many in the world, Kamal gives the West, its media and political institutions, more credit than warranted. But, his point that shaping a future based on the pains of the recent past can result in a deadly spiral into reaction-ism. He asked, “Is the plight of Palestinians under the state of Israel different from pre-holocaust Jews in Europe?” He is asking for balance, the West appeared to have assuaged the guilt for ignoring the plight of European Jewry in creating the nation of Israel. Should we not care for the plight of Arab families as well as Jewish families in the current conflict? Kamal pointed to me and said, “You, American protestants need to recover your identity and values. I love all people, Jews and Arabs, he said. If your behavior causes people to question your love for everyone, you need to examine why you and or your government is acting that way. Is it media bias? Is it rude hatred? What is causing that behavior? You need to restore your values.” In this Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the longest armed conflict in our world there is little change. The political solutions presented by Thomas Freidman at the close of his 1989 From Beirut to Jerusalem are still viable; but, the will of the leaders and the peoples to change expectations so they can reached their stated desired co-existance and possibly “peace” cannot be granted by Washington.

Change is hard. I guess that is the bottom line of my musings from Cairo- which isn’t sure whether it is Spring or Winter (politically speaking) -on this last day of a mild-weathered February. I have pulled together two sources in thinking about change.
The following is a compilation drawn from two sources

[Regular font portion is by Maryellen Weimer. Reference: Henderson, C., Beach, A., and Finkelstein, N. (2011). Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM instructional practices: An analytic review of the literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48 (8), 984-952. Simply replace [we] or [I] for teacher in the text. The Italic font portion is my summary of Price Pritchett & Ron Pound ”A survival Guide to the Stress of Organizational Change.”]

I'm working my way through a 33-page review of scholarship on instructional change in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines. The authors reviewed an impressive 191 conceptual and empirical journal articles. However, what they found isn't impressive both in terms of the quality of the scholarship on this topic and in terms of instructional change in general.

It's not the first article I've read of late on the various barriers that stand in the way of change in higher education. The literature is not encouraging, but I think there are some fairly straightforward principles that give any new teaching strategy, technique or approach a much greater chance of success. Out of that success will grow the courage and motivation to implement even more instructional changes.
1. Think about what needs to change before deciding on a change — I regularly lead workshops on campuses across the country and often worry that there are carts being placed before unseen horses. When I'm asked to present, I'm usually counseled that faculty attending will want techniques, new ideas, strategies that work, and pragmatic things they can do in the classroom. But that's not where the change process should begin. It should start with a question, 'What am I doing that isn't promoting learning or very much learning?' Or, 'What am I doing that I've probably done the same way for too long?' Once you see the horse, you can better pick out a cart to put behind it.
2. Lay the groundwork for the change — I regularly object to the "just do it" approach to instructional change, as if we all work in a Nike commercial. The motivation is admirable but every instructional situation is unique. Teachers are different, students are different and we don't all teach the same content in the same kind of courses. Whatever a teacher does must be adapted so that it fits the peculiarities of the given instructional situation. Don't just do it before having given careful thought to how the change will work with your content and students, and when you use it.

Three Key Drivers of Change: People: Human populations continues to grow, augmented by migration and immigration, this insures that every human community and institution is changing. Technology: New means of communication on smaller and faster smart phones and tablets along with continued improvement in computer speed and increased volume of global traffic on the internet makes this world a village wired for change. People: Global information continues to double at faster and faster rates making this age of information a world of change in itself.

3. Incorporate change systematically — Beyond adapting the change, teachers need to prepare for its implementation. This means considering when (or if) it fits with the content, what skills it requires and whether students have those skills. If they don't, how could those skills be developed? It also means valuing the change process by giving it your full and focused attention so as to ensure the new approach has the best possible chance of succeeding.
4. Change a little before changing a lot — Too often faculty have "conversion experiences" about themselves as teachers. They go to a conference or read a book, get convinced that they could be doing so much better and decide to change all sorts of things at once. They envision a whole new course taught by an entirely different teacher. Unfortunately, that much change is often hard on students and equally difficult for teachers to sustain.

Three thoughts on responding to the need to change: The danger of doing what comes naturally: Change is a stressor which leads to biologically defense mechanisms (fight or flight) kicking in. Neither of which helps us. Systemic change calls for surrender and reassessment of our role and direction. The Jesus way: (the authors describe this as The Zen way. I have a better Way than just absorbing the enemy.) To victoriously face life and its changes consistently requires the recognition that the God of creation loves you and regardless of supposed success or failure He will not leave you. He has come in Jesus to be your shepherd and you have accepted His ownership. This is the difference between breakthrough and breakdown in the face of change. Playing the hand that Life deals us: We need to toughen up. Coach Sean Payton says, “Just do your job!” Sam Parker (sparker@givemore.com) advises us to quit feeling like victims in pitiable employment. “Maybe we acknowledge that we're not entitled to everything being perfectly wonderful at all times.” (The authors then flesh out 15 mistakes in facing change which round out their workshop. You can get the booklet from Amazon.)

5. Determine in advance how you will know whether the change is a success — It's too bad that assessment has come to carry so much negative baggage, because when it's about a teacher trying something new and wanting to know if it works, assessment provides much needed of objectivity. If you determine beforehand what success is going to look like, then you are much less likely to be blinded by how much everybody liked it. In this giant review of the change literature I mentioned earlier, only 21% of the articles contained "strong evidence to support claims of success or failure."
6. Have realistic expectations for success — No matter how innovative, creative and wonderful the new idea may be, it isn't going to be perfect and it isn't going to be the best learning experience possible for every student or the pinnacle of your teaching career. Everything we do in class has mixed results; any new approach will work really well for some students, in some classes, on some days. Know that going in, remind yourself regularly, and don't let it discourage you from continuing to make positive changes.

So, in my thinking, borrowed from C.S. Lewis for change to be progress we must manage the forces so that the resultant path aligns us with the One who is the truth, life and way-Jesus.
profmike



Monday, February 18, 2013

Late Cairo Musings

Last night, after preaching through a translator on Peter's sermon concluding at Acts 2: 36, I had supper with 3 of my wife's former music students who are among those who are the hope for the new Egypt. As they talked and I listened to the stressors they and their families faced, I was struck by their calm and insightful analysis of this Middle Eastern world to which I, as a stranger, am seeking admission. It is a strange thing to be struck by the surroundings as new and strange while the feeling of old comfortable surrounding softens the blow. I don't know this place or these people and yet I'm back home and among family. How odd the passing of time in our absence makes our interface with the present and our past. But that is way too much of that type of musing. More pressing things are afoot. Back to the table talk. S from his leadership position in risk consultancy and I discussed the financial situation and the realities of novices (recently released from prisons) being at the helm of the ship of state as she seeks safe passage though the uncharted waters of redefined treaty relationships and international debt. President Morsi and his allies have little experience and hardly more interest in negotiating with the IMF or even the international oil partners on whom the future payrolls of countless Egyptians depend. Every element of the electoral process is being challenged or dismantled by the constitutional court of Egypt and the youth continue to protest the harsh measures of the Ministry of Interior. The situation is very stark. But these three Christian men, one a regional leader for Campus, one a strong free market business man, and the insurance consultant for an international construction firm are not hiding or cowering they are going to work each day and facing life with the knowledge that God loves them. I was reminded of J.D. Greer's thesis in his book, "Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary." At the end of that fabulous fellowship as I slipped into bed at midnight, I pondered again this new world and especially how the Islamic speakers I had spent most of the week with seemed to be different and communicate different themes that those in similar roles twenty years ago. The institutions of Sunni Islam seem to be responding to stressors, not completely different from the precursors of the "Arab Spring" revolutions which are as of yet not yet fully defined. I'm not going to get into the content of the interviews, the project is not yet really begun in earnest. But I will say that the speakers are expressing views which are different from their coreligionist of 20 years ago, and I am beginning to pick up on some of the general influences behind these trends. Briefly. 1. The growing interface with western culture and its rational basis. 2. The rapid shifting of society and population to a younger and more internet equipped educated generation. 3. The need to respond to probing questions by Christians and other non-Muslims. Two decades ago, it seemed that the two possibilities for a future Islamic reality were a reformation type of event which would bring reason into the hermeneutic of Qur'anic thought or a rigid wall between the Diaspora and the heartland or some such division in the Islamic umnah (or global nation)--East/West, or South/North or Heartland with South/ Western diaspora. But the hermeneutic seems not to be Qur'anic but cultural. The imperative seems to be only remotely revelation in the Qur'an and more directly to answer pressing cultural and environmental issues. The issue of western reason would be overlooked by most. The reasoning process operates differently and the pace is controlled by relationships assisted by conventional wisdom. So everything feels and operates differently. Yet, in comparing the "snapshots" of this city taken by these eyes 20 years apart, it is western culture which jumps out of the print. The open-faced veiled Muslim lady with the blue tooth ear piece in place as she walks down the corniche sidewalk. The massive new hotel with a Lebanese Restaurant and a Starbucks, side by side, rocking on until our supper finished just before midnight. Me hearing the call to prayer while I work away on my I-Pad, along with most of Cairo on WiFi or cell interconnection this evening (though most Egyptians are using Samsung or other brands of tablets-sorry Apple). If you speak Arabic and English the cultures are much closer on most issues today. However, there are some dramatic and striking differences, points where the gulf of Orient and Occident is much deeper if not wider. Lest we veer into the content of the interviews we'll more on. Cairo has had a young population especially since the 1967 war. Even with increased life expectancy the vision on the street is of a young population and the institutions of higher education have churned out the thousands of graduates. Young, educated, and internet connected the population has raised their expectations. They want more and they want answers to their questions that make sense to them. Oh. Yeah! And they want them now. The Sheikhs have done away with many standard answers which didn't seem to make sense to us, but what did we know-foreigners and such. The leaders had to answer their students when without timidity they asked the unthinkable questions and expected answers, even if they had to go to Christians to get them. That brings me to the third stressor on the bastions of documentary Sunni Islam--Christian apologist, the most striking example being Father Zakarias and his satellite television show, who asked probing and embarrassing questions. However, while the institutions of Islam are responding and changing, the rumor on the street is of a number of young Muslims renouncing faith. Some are turning their back on organized religion and on God. Some looking for new answers even as Islamic leaders re-frame doctrines like abrogation. Peter was right. You can try to kill Jesus on the cross but God just raises Him from the dead, because Jesus is Christ and Lord. just musing, Profmike

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This first of eight weeks of the project brought home to me, again, the importance of relationships and networking. As I wait for the Sunday morning service's scheduled start time (Arab world Friday and Sunday Evening Worship is on a par with U.S. Sunday AM), I've been thinking about how our lives intertwine. On two occasions this week I reconnected relationships which are needed for all parties to be fruitful. Walking in Tahrir Friday with the throngs wanting to hope for governmental re-formation such as Tunisia's experience this week, I met an Egyptian political activist who longed for connection with the American people and was confused by American government's (past and present) inclination to invest in political entities rather than in the people. The old Egyptian solution to all of this is, "shai" --a cup of tea. Sit down and converse. I realize that that is what I'm trying to do from by "base camp" in Cairo. Converse with faith family who through prayer are vital members in what I am seeking to accomplish. So, this morning or whenever you can slow life down just a bit, sit down with someone vital to you and converse. By the way
, how was your week, friend? ProfMike

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Alert

Well you will note the lack of pictures in this post. That doesn't mean that I didn't want to share some of the events of the day. Instead it means I was looking instead of being alert to being "cased" by a pickpocket. When I pulled my trusty LG lucid wonder gismo (phone, pdf, camera and more) out to snap one last picture near the Maadi Road 9 Metro station and slipped it back in my "secure" front pants pocket, I was unaware that I was being sized up and set up. One of the bumps and jostles between that moment and arrival back "home" was cover for a deft and experienced hand lifting the camera out of my pocket. So, you will have verbal images from now on accompanied by a few ipad stills. All because I was not focused on what was happening to me. Trust me it could have been much worse-my backpack had the hardware for the whole project in it. My other front pocket had my clip with credit cards and Egyptian cash. I need to retrieve the skill I once had in walking "with myself" sounds sorta psycho but it isn't. It's the art of really experiencing your environment instead of just walking through it. We try to teach this in prayer walking. See the people around you and lift them up to the Father. Being Alert. One of my favorite passage of the Bible Isa 40 closes with vs 31 "they that wait or hope or focus on the Lord renew their strength.... Today I visited with several people who have been hoping and waiting for that which has not come and as it were their wings are crushed. How precious it is for you and I to have brothers and sisters here in the midst of this "storm" who are living billboards for the peace, joy and hope found in God though Christ Jesus. As I visited with one of them and he shared what God's Egyptian team is doing to prepare for the possibly deepening storm, in retrospect I apply the lesson of my pickpocket. Our Christian family here is ALERT the thief is trying to steal souls Christ died to save and they, the church, are working hard while it is still day that in making Christ known God might snatch the hopeless and helpless from darkness into the Kingdom of Light in Jesus Christ. May we all be alert while it is still day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Give me Liberty...

Liberation Square-that’s a good translation for Tahrir Midan. The name comes from the largely bloodless overthrow of the last Egyptian King, Farouk who was really a puppet for the Brits. To celebrate their victory, the first leaders of modern Egypt named the center of the city Tahrir-Liberation. So it is that masses of Egyptians who feel their government is not really theirs have used the square for revolt for the past two years. As I walked among them and listened, I felt that the spirit of the Boston tea party, or the Minute men was animating them. I also felt once again reform and revolution must be constant processes if they are to succeed. Even being liberated from the power and penalty of my sin/s by Christ, I need to pray and watch, lest I become compromised with forces set on removing Him from my heart’s throne. Walk with me through this physical revolution which has not run it’s course yet.
A lot is going on both for and against your side all the time. Notice the chairs. Is revolution a spectator sport? There were as many people observing as there were conferring about what to do next. On the wall outside of the science building [pictured below] of American University of Cairo (Actually most of the teaching takes place on the desert campus established several years ago.), you will notice three things: 1. communication (In this case notable personal suffering is immortalized.) 2. Heroes are identified. 3. The broken glass in the science building demonstrates that everyone suffers together. Or another way there is always collateral damage in rebellions.
The AUC library(below) became a communication channel.
The flags are flying and folks are just waiting for the next event whichever way the wind blows.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Passing On


Passing on
Passing is an interesting word. We use it for success and death. I passed a test and I will pass out of this life. In New Oleans we sometimes say, “We passed a good time, yeah!” We use the word in lots of ways. I suppose passing is in my mind as I passed the Hebron pulpit to Dr. Jerry Barlow for the weeks of February , March and the First week of April.
The baton is passed but my desires for the health of individuals who make up the Bush community and the body of Hebron Baptist Church has not passed away. In a small way, I’m following Helen Young, who passed from this world of care into the rest of her Savior last week. Miss Helen in passing expressed her wishes—Celebrate life and if you want to give flowers give the money to the Hebron building fund instead. In doing so she passed the test. Leaving for a better life she still cared, as always, for others and for her church. What a great lady and example of how to pass!
As I fly out of the country for witness and research in Egypt and among Muslims, some have quietly questioned my sanity. I can understand. There is a great myth in our day that we must guard our lives at all cost. Why go somewhere dangerous? Reality is that life is not “safe.” Reality also says that life is not just physical. There are dangers which require us as long as we possess life to take risks. We realize this when our loved ones are at risk from flood waters, storms, or crazed gunmen, but that is not the complete list of the dangers. Nor should we only concern ourselves with the people who share our same name or DNA. Risks are real but we need to be careful how we count them. Jim Elliot, who died in the last century seeking to share Christ with a South American tribe wrote in his diary, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."  Jesus said it even better, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul ? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul ?” Matt 16: 26 NAB translation of the Bible.
Life is a test. When you give yourself to Jesus, God credits you with the Father's evaluation of the Son. Passed!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Passion during Easter Passion Season

Brothers and Sisters in Christ living in the Middle East are seeking partners during this Easter season. the following are documents from them for your action.

First document:
Dear Friends,
Greetings from Jordan after our first AGSL  meeting with Tom Elliff as our new president.  Tom has started by calling all of us to be people of prayer.  I thank the Lord for how Tom’s heart for our Lord has placed our daily walk and talk with Him as priority one. This further stirred my heart because I knew you were already redoubling your commitment to focus on listening to and sharing your heart with the Father.
A question that is shaping my heart these days is, “What can I ask of the Lord that only He can do and if He does it only He can get the glory?”  As I watched the demonstrations across our AG, this question caused me to remember the children of Israel as they cried out while they suffered in the land of Goshen.  The Lord reached out during those days and prepared for a way of redemption and a pathway to follow as they journeyed to live in His great promise.
This week we will all be thinking of the great journey our Lord took as He provided our redemption and opened the way for us to live in His great Kingdom. Remember that the “us“ includes a multitude from every people, language, tribe and nation. That includes all the peoples of NAME. This is something only He can do. This week I am trying to list the impossible things that need to be opened up so that our peoples’ hearts will cry out to HIM. I ask that you join me in thanking Him for the fact that NAME peoples will come to know and worship our Lord Jesus. This is already established in heaven and we are now beginning to see it come here on earth among our NAME peoples as it is in heaven.
Psalm 107:19-21 has helped me have words to voice my prayer.
    “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;
     He saved them from their distress
     He sent His word and healed them;
     He rescued them from the Pit.
     Let them give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love and His wonderful works for the human race.”

Join me as we ask the Lord to speak to us as we listen to Him. Also, let us ask Him to see His Kingdom come among our peoples as we lift them to Him this week.
John Br
Twitter account: @jbr2
2nd document:
When April 17-May 8
Palm Sunday - Mother's Day
• Fast from food or other things as
God leads you.
• Pray "outside the box" every day.
• Listen to His voice with a "whatever
it takes, whatever You desire, Lord"
frame of mind.
• Report what He says to you:
4ThyName@post4us.com
Invite others to join you.
Yes, ask me for anything in my name and I will do it! John 14:14
A CALL TO PRAYER AND FASTING FOR 21 DAYS
LORD, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO DURING THESE DAYS OF UPHEAVAL
AMONG NORTHERN AFRICAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN PEOPLES?

3rd document:

Fasting
If you do not already know of the power and importance of fasting, here are some very important facts:
& Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, "when you fast," not if you fast.
& Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the "first love" for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
& Fasting is a biblical way for you to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King David said, "I humble myself through fasting."
& Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.
&The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you!
& Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience.
& Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life-and make you a channel of revival to others.
& Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of II Chronicles 7:14:
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
The Bible Recounts Primarily Two Types of Fasts
A partial fast is described in the book of Daniel. Although the water fast seemed to be the custom of the prophet, there was a three-week period in which he only abstained from "delicacies," meat, and wine (Daniel 10:3).
Another type mentioned in the Bible is the "absolute" fast. These are total fasts-no food (solid or liquid) and no water. Paul went on an absolute fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9).
**The first page is from an article by Bill Bright.  The rest of the article is from various sources.
Occasional Food Fasts and Permanent Worldly Fast
Many people God has greatly used began their calling in intense prayer accompanied with one type of fasting or another. Although fasting is basically abstaining from food, self-denial from other things of the flesh is also fasting.
There are many things of the flesh (of worldly value) that hinder sensitivity to the spirit of God. Some require occasional fasts like interaction with certain people.  Some require frequent fasts like certain foods and quantities, certain books and multimedia, etc. (TV, e-mail, Facebook, etc)
Others require permanent fasting. Anything that does not add to our closer walk with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit requires a permanent fast.
In spite of the absolute safety and benefits of fasting, there are certain persons who should NEVER fast from food without professional supervision. For example:
  • Persons who are physically too thin or emaciated.
  • Persons who are prone to anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders.
  • Those who suffer weakness or anemia.
  • Persons who have tumors, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, or who have heart disease.
  • Those who suffer chronic problems with kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, or other important organs.
  • Individuals who take insulin for diabetes, or suffer any other blood sugar problem such as hyperglycemia.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing.

Children
In general, children should not fast from whole meals, or at least no more than one meal at a time, but they can be encouraged to give up certain favorite foods, activities, or fast from media for a period of time.

Fasting is to be done under the guidance and leadership of the HS.  Please ask the Father what He wants you (and your family to do). 
4th document:
Listening to God

This is a time for each of us to be alone with God.  My prayer is that it will be a time of refreshment for you as well as a time to be still and listen for God to speak.  We want to truly hear what He has to say to us as an affinity, but we also want to hear whatever else He has to say to us personally or as a group.  After our three weeks of praying and fasting we will put together what God has said to us as a whole.

When spending time with the Lord, set aside some time without interruptions.  Sit, change positions, lie down on the floor, sing.  Have a sweet, blessed time with the Father. 

Step 1... Be Still

God has given his people express commands governing the turbulence of their own hearts and the peace that he offers and expects. None stands out so markedly as Isaiah 30:15, which declares that the Lord's purpose is for his people to find quietness and confidence before Him. The indictment was that his people "WOULD NOT" and therefore had no peace.

Isaiah 30:15 "In quietness and confidence will be your strength and you would not..."
Isaiah 32:17 "The effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever."
Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am thy God..."
It is the mandate of God that we still ourselves before him in order to find his peace and hear his voice. So thus, we have as the first and most important step in the believer's prayer life to STILL OURSELVES before the Lord. The New Testament similarly reflects the same need of mental quietness when it refers to bringing...
"EVERY THOUGHT INTO THE CAPTIVITY OF CHRIST"
(II Corinthians 10:5)
We live in a busy, noisy, tumultuous society. There are demands for our attention almost constantly every waking hour.  Therefore we must find an inner solitude in the Lord's presence.



PRACTICAL APPLICATION:
HOW TO STILL YOUR MIND
1. Find a quiet undisturbed place. Jesus called it a closet of prayer. That means you are to be alone, shutting out every distraction and interruption!
2. Kneel in the Lord's presence. (Only under real medical prohibition should you do otherwise. Kneeling or prostrate are worship positions.) You need not be uncomfortable but neither should you be lazy in prayer. Philippians 2:10-11
3. Make your mind stop its commotion and noise.  Your mind is not a noisy playground. It is a sanctuary. Your mind is yours. Make it obey you. 2 Corinthians 10:5 "Bring it into subjection to Christ." Prov. 25:28 "He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city with out walls." 1 Peter 1:13 "Gird up the loins of your mind." Take control of your thoughts!
5. Slow down! Relax! Refuse to be rushed in the presence of God. Consciously loose the tension of every muscle. Begin with your neck, then shoulders, arms back, thighs, legs and finally your feet.
4. Breathe slowly. Inhale slowly! Exhale slowly!  You'll be amazed at how it begins to quiet your body, which in turn affects thoughts too. Remember, if you cannot control your body, you cannot expect to control you spirit either.  1 Corinthians 9:27.”I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection..."
6. Refuse to go on to the next step until the body and mind have obeyed you. This step is by far the most difficult! That is because it is the most contradictory to our natural lifestyles.

Step 2  Worship and Thanksgiving
¯Sing
¯Remember His mighty works.
¯Exalt His names.
¯Physically express your worship and adoration.
¯Read scriptures of praise.
¯Acknowledge His sovereignty and power.

Step 3 Confession

Ask God to show you if there is anything that needs to be dealt with before proceeding.
In your prayers, confess not only obvious sins, but the less obvious ones as well--the sins of omission as well as the sins of commission experiences. These may be experiences of leaving your first love for our Lord: worldly-mindedness, self-centeredness, spiritual indifference, and unwillingness to share your faith in Christ with others, not spending sufficient time in God's Word and in prayer, a poor relationship with your spouse, your children, your leader, or other members of your team.

Step 4 Listening and Intercession

Read the focus passage for the week to use for meditation.  Feel free to go to any other scriptures that God leads you to.  (Please write down what you hear.)

Which verse grabbed your attention? 
How can you apply it to yourself personally?
What do you see in this passage that is new?
What do you think God is saying to our affinity through this passage?

Step 5 Thanksgiving

Thank the Father for meeting with you and for giving you His word.

Ideas for Families with Children at Home

We would like everyone to participate in this intensive three-week call to prayer.  You may want to lead your children in a group time in the word and prayer and then encourage your children to meditate on the passage.  You can discuss together questions like:

What is God saying to us in this scripture?
Has God pointed out a sin He wants you to confess?
What do you think He wants you to do?
What can we do as a family to obey this scripture?
Pick a verse to memorize.

Write down your children’s responses to the scripture.
Lead them in praying for the affinity.

This should be in addition to your own one-on-one time with the Lord, listening to Him.

These documents arrived today and the matter is long overdue. Our God is moving in the Middle East and we must decern His wisdom and join Him with all our passion.
For the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God,
your coworker,
mike