Praise & Prayer, January 2019


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Brethren, pray for us (1 Thess. 5:25)
“Praise the Lord, all people on earth, praise his glory and might.” (1 Chronicles 16:28)

TUESDAY 1ST Happy New Year to you! Praise God for His sustaining grace and mercies that kept us thus far. Ask the Lord for greater multiplication of His word in us and with us.

  • Pray for God’s anointing on us afresh to serve Him faithfully this 2019 and pray for the Gospel to accelerate and yield hundred-fold and that through us the knowledge of the glory of God will spread wide among men this year and beyond.

WEDNESDAY 2ND Praise God for all those who volunteered their gifts, skills, education, talents, time and resources as contribution to Kingdom services with EMS in 2018. Pray that God will grant grace and peace to each and every one who has made himself available to be used for the Gospel.

THURSDAY 3RD Praise God for the new converts in Bantanima, Senegal. A woman along with her household accepted Jesus. Praise God for the conversion of the landlord in Gungul, Gambia. We praise God for convicting him to join the church that started in his house.

FRIDAY 4TH Praise God for using the school that was newly opened in Old Yundum, Gambia as a means to bring a parent to the saving knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

SATURDAY 5TH Praise God for a successful training of leaders who came from three churches in our Zambian mission station. It was an exciting time for the churches coming together as they felt very encouraged in sharing burdens and ministry ideas.


But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose. Luke 4:43

SUNDAY 6TH EMS MANAGEMENT Pray for fresh grace, blessings, protection and daily strength upon the EMS Management Team as they work daily and travel to advocate Christ’s cause and provide leadership within Nigeria and abroad for the purpose of God’s mission around the world.



MONDAY 7TH EMS BOARD MEMBERS Ask the Lord to please keep EMS Board Members humble and always relying upon him to give them the perfect wisdom and direction that they need to strategize and advice EMS leadership on how to move the ministry forward.

TUESDAY 8TH EMS SUPPORTERS Pray for EMS Supporters and Partners that God will strengthen them and pour fresh zeal and increased passion for God’s Kingdom on them. Ask the Lord to grant open doors for many who pledge to support EMS to fulfill their pledges.

WEDNESDAY 9TH EMS STAFF Praise God for all EMS staff; they have been doing well at their various desks. Ask God to bless them spiritually, physically and financially.

THURSDAY 10TH ECWA EXECUTIVES Pray that the ECWA mandate to fulfill Matt. 24:14 will be fruitful this year. Ask the Lord for daily grace, guidance and wisdom on ECWA Executives for more of God wisdom and unity of purpose for mobilizing and impacting the body of Christ and its leadership to fulfill the mission of God worldwide.

FRIDAY 11TH ECWA MINISTERS/STAKEHOLDERS Pray that the Lord will restore His church to her Kingdom responsibility as priests and kings. Ask that this restoration will begin with all ECWA ministers and stakeholders at many levels.

SATURDAY 12TH CENTRAL REGION – GARKI DCC Praise God for the commitments of the many individuals, groups, families and churches supporters God has blessed EMS with in this region. Ask the Lord to renew and replenish their grace as they serve God’s purpose with their gifts, talents, skills and resources In 2019 and beyond. Pray that God will give us more of these people to advance His work this year.


But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

SUNDAY 13TH NORTH WEST REGION – KADUNA Pray for missionaries who are working and laboring in difficult terrains in this region. Ask the lord to shield, guide and defend them and their families from every evil in 2019.

MONDAY 14th MID CENTRAL REGION- KAGORO Ask for open doors for the penetration of the gospel into difficult terrains in this region. Pray that God will direct our ministry plan for 2019 to break new grounds to preach, make disciples and plant more churches in this region.

TUESDAY 15TH SOUTH NORTH EAST REGION- JALINGO Ask the Lord to sustain the young family of Pas. & Mrs. John Isa and that of Pas. & Mrs. Cyrus Ishaku who got married last year in December.

  • Let keep praying for Christian communities in this region that are still displaced as a result of attacks from terrorists. Pray especially for a firm foundation for the believers who can’t gather for worshipin their usual churches. Also pray that the pastors of all the churches that are currently closed due to these attacks will stay focused and be guided in seeing areas the Lord will have them serve Him during this challenging period.

WEDNESDAY 16TH FAR NORTH – KATSINA DCC Pray for the fruitfulness of our outreach teams to unreached communities of this region. Pray for the harvest of souls as missionaries launch out to preach the gospel. Pray that we will experience the Pentecost again in 2019.

THURSDAY 17TH NORTH CENTRAL REGION – JOS Pray for spiritual awakening in the body of Christ in this region this year. Pray for spiritual enablement, exemplary leadership, right influence and a deep sense of commitment to Scripture and missions among God’s servants in the North Central Region, so that through them the purpose of God will be achieved.

FRIDAY 18th EMS MUSLIM OUTREACH UNIT Pray for the Muslims around the world that God will encounter them. Pray that Christians will be well-informed and suitably equipped to minister to them globally.

  • Pray for the successes of all the training scheduled for this year in all ECWA Muslim Background Believer (MBB) centers. Ask the Lord to console the bereaved in the wake of atrocities committed in the name of Islam in Nigeria and elsewhere.


  • We thank God for New Life for All who went on an outreach to the mission station and recorded eight new converts in Gidan Maidoki; ask the Lord to grant sustaining grace on these converts as they are discipled by the resident missionaries.
  • Pray also for a financial opening for the building project at Gidan Soda and Dandume in Tsiga


But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43

SUNDAY 20TH Praise God for the successful evangelistic activities that were embarked on across the foreign mission fields in 2018. Pray for a fruitful ministry in the 18 countries that EMS is reaching out to. May God grant more wisdom and grace on all cross borders missionaries as they put up relevant strategies to reach out to their communities this year.


  • Ask the Lord to raise workers who can work in French-speaking Senegal and in new Gambian mission fields.
  • Pray for the Gambian Seminary that started with 3 students; pray for God’s wisdom and understanding of His word. Also pray for the primary school at Old Yundum that has predominantly Muslim pupils. May they be ministered to even as they receive sound teaching.


  • Pray for God to provide support for the completion of the building of a mission church in Kaboli that is ongoing.
  • Pray for God to provide EMS of ECWA Togo with a vehicle for the purpose of coordination of the mission work.
  • Pray for God’s provision to acquire a land for ECWA Togo Headquarters. Two hectares of land for the ECWA HEADQUARTERS OF TOGO is estimated to cost about Five Million Naira only (₦5,000,000.00) in Sokode.


  • Praise God for the successful starting of ECWA Theological School Togo which kickstarted in September 2018. Pray for God’s wisdom on the school leadership as they put up strategies to enhance the school’s growth.
  • Pray for the provision of at least 5 motorcycles for the missionaries that are working in the interiors to run the work easily.


  • Pray for the three congregations in Zambia- Kitwe, Luanshiya and Mufilira – for God’s direction as they meet to map out schedules for 2019.
  • Also pray for these churches to embrace evangelism and giving for the gospel.
  • Pray for the Zambian team of our missionaries as they focus on the fields that God will give thempatience and commitment.

FRIDAY 25TH ECWA CAMEROON Pray for some of the EMS missionaries in Cameroon that are in dire need of motorcycles for the progress of the work.


  • Let’s be in prayers for Sister Edith Aboubakar who encountered the Lord through the prison ministry of the Amahs (our missionary in Mali). She has left Mali to return home as a free woman. Ask that the Lord will increase upon her grace to be steadfast and stay committed to serving God in truth and in spirit.
  • Let’s also uphold our sister Hauwa who gave her life to Christ through the house fellowship ministry Mrs. Amah started. Pray for good understanding of the Word as she is descipled; ask the Lord to keep her focused and steadfast as she struggles with the issues of her husband leaving to marry another wife.
  • Continue to pray for God’s provision for the Amahs to care for some of sister Hauwa’s needs.
  • The foundation-laying process of the permanent site of ECWA Mali has stopped for lack of cash;please pray for God’s provision for the progress of the work.


Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

SUNDAY 27TH EMS TRAINING UNIT Thank God for the impact of all our trainings and programs in 2018. Pray that this year our trainings and programs will receive wider acceptance with greater multiplication and that believers and leaders will truly be equipped to fulfill the Great Commission. Pray for our Staff Retreat.


  • Praise God for the provision of funds to buy 13 wheelchairs to our targeted handicapped women and children.
  • Praise God for the miraculous provision for kids’ Christmas clothes and grains for the year 2019.
  • Praise God for the provision of admissions for some of our kids into tertiary institutions; pray forprovisions for their upkeep in school and for God’s divine protection as they resume.
  • Pray for EMS HOUSE OF HOPE’s Consultant for safety; he traveled to the US to see his family.

TUESDAY 29TH EMS RELIEF UNITAsk the Lord for help from above as EMS empowers widows, orphans and the less-privileged through this unit. Pray that the Lord will open doors of grace and supply to EMS as we seek new avenues to raise money for this effort.

WEDNESDAY 30TH MISSIONARY KIDS Pray for the children of missionaries and pastors, that the good Father will shield them from mischief of the devil and strengthen them in their call to follow the Lord In this year 2019 and beyond.

THURSDAY 31TH EMS NATIONAL MISSION CONFRENCE EMS is trusting God to bring together all its missionaries from all its mission fields across Nigeria to converge in a conference at the headquarters in Jos in April. Pray for financial support for the conference.


ECWA Maryland Church Activities

Sundays: Sunday school, Youth Bible study, and Baptismal Class 10:00 am -11:00 am
  • Sunday Service – 11:00 am – 1:30 pm
  • 1st, Sunday – Prayer Service
  • 2nd, Sunday – Holy Communion
  • 3rd, Sunday – Thanksgiving service
Wednesdays: Bible Study and Prayer
Saturdays: Intercessory Prayer 9:00 am – 10:00 am
  • 1st, Saturday – Board of Elders’ Meeting

Why Plant Churches in the USA?

by Rev. Joseph Ezeigbo M.Div, Th.M | The Psalmist urges us to declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. Ps.96:3

America, with her approximately 350 million people, has the third largest population of any nation in the world. Although this number represents only about 4.28% of the entire world population, it comprises the highest number of the largest ethnic and groups of people in the world. Further, America has the highest number of growing immigrant population in the world, thus making it the greatest mission field in the world. These are not new facts. Missiologists established these statistics more than a quarter of a century ago. Immigrants accounted for 4.7% of US population in 1970 and rising to 6.2% in 1980 and up to 12.5% in 2009. Since 2000 America absorbs at least 1 million immigrants annually. (Note that this excludes undocumented immigrants). Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, charged His disciples thus saying, Do you not say, ’Four months more and then the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest (Jn. 4:34). In His compassion for a desperate and distressed world, He urged them (us— ECWAUSA) … The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field Matt. 9:37-38. POLARIZATION OF THE GOSPEL Though record indicates that about 30,000 Churches shut their doors between 2006 to 2012; a study reported by the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion states that there has been a general increase in the number of Churches in the US since 1998. The National Congregations Study (NCS) conducted between 2006 and 2012 also indicates an increase from about 336,000 congregations in 1998 to about 414,000 in 2006 and perhaps leveled off at 338,00 in 2012. The Southern Baptist Church(SBC); America’s largest denomination, has about 50,000 congregations. However, consider that these overall statistics include those denominations that have become apostate (denying the five Cardinal doctrines of the Bible), including the inspiration of the Bible and authority of the Scriptures and ordination of openly gay and homosexual individuals. In Africa in general and Nigeria in particular, the situation is more bemoanable. The seemingly out of control upsurge of the Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has become a reproach to the cause Christianity in Nigeria. Fake miracles, Occult practices, False and demonic doctrines, bogus titles by “ministers of God” (MOGs), excessive lavish lifestyles and materialism etc. (Reading material, The Seduction of the Nigerian Church by Gary Maxey and Peter Ozodo and The Modern Theology versus Biblical Theology by an ECWA pastor, Daniel Sopuru). According to Pew Research, Nigeria is the second most religious country in the world. Apostle Paul stated the integrity that governed his ministry and should be the goal of every ministry in these words, “unlike so many we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ, we speak with sincerity, like men sent from God” “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have received this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly, we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17;4:1-3). POST-MODERNISM (POST-CHRISTIAN) ERA For those who canvass in Philosophy, this is an upgrade from the Age of the Enlightenment of 17th and 18th Centuries. Author and pastor David Roper gives the following description of this period: we are living in what many have described as a Post-Christian era. That doesn’t mean there are no longer many Christians around; there may in fact be more true believers than ever before. ‘Post–Christian’ era means that Christian faith no longer plays a role in shaping public opinion and policy. Christian assumptions and commitments once widely held no longer have the presence and impact they once had. A new hallmark of this period is characterized by the rise the “Nones.” The “Nones” are the new segment of the American population who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated. And they are growing by the numbers. According to a study, in the 1950s, around 3% of Americans checked the “None” box when asked about their religious affiliation. That number has grown especially in the last decade to 20%. This group, according to Pew Research Center, makes up for about 23% of US adult population. About 33% of Millennial's population fall into this category. In the last five years, this population grew from 15% to 20%. PORTRAY THE BEAUTY OF THE GOSPEL AND TRUE CHRISTIANITY Paul’s admonition to his protégé, Titus behooves us. …that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive (NIV) Tit. 2:10. The word attractive adorn (NKJV) kosmeo in Greek. The idea is to beautify or make beautiful in order to draw attention. The Gospel has become the object of ridicule and caricature in many quarters today for the reasons mentioned above especially when considering the state of the Church in both the United States and Nigeria. Judging by population and size ratio, Nigeria has the largest number of Churches and Christian population of any country in the world. United States and Nigeria are the two countries with the highest number of Church attendance population in the world. May we aspire to spread the aroma of Christ as we are urged for we are to God the aroma of Christ. PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL The Psalmist urges declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples Ps.96:3. The Great Commission is preceded by Christ’s declaration of His possession of All authority in heaven and on earth (Matt.28:18) Contextually, therefore when we obey the Great Commission, we march under that divine authority and the promise of His company and abiding presence (vss.19-20). Also, the blessing of those who proclaim the God news would be abundantly ours (Isa.52:7).

Rev. Joseph EzeigboRev. Joseph Okechukwu Ezeigbo is a Bible teacher for the weekly Bible study at ECWA Maryland. He is also a part of the National Day of Prayer and the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted.

The Cost of Being Part of the Building Process

by Rev. Jean de Dieu Nzeyimana | ECWA USA DCC Assistant Secretary, Pastor of ECWA II Louisville, Kentucky | Planting a church requires fight, endurance, commitment and courage to dodge Satan’s arrows that come from both within and outside the church! Planting a healthy church requires self-sacrifice.

Building solid church requires planning and preparation. What are the costs related to both planning and preparation? Without going into more details, many of us know how Nehemiah planned, inspected, and prepared to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, despite the opposition from both inside and outside! When he resolved to the rebuilding work, he endured the first cost of being mocked and ridiculed. They (opposition) said:

What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble-burned as they are? …. What they are building if even a fox climbed upon it, he would break down their walls of stones!”, end of quote (Nehemiah 4:1-3.)

This ridicule and mockery may appear the same for someone envisioning to plant a church today and who encounters opposition along the way. The Apostle Paul endured pain in his missionary trips when at several times he was mistreated, ridiculed and sometimes put in prison for what he believed in. But there was a joy in the end to see that the Gospel that started in Jerusalem, spread in Judea and Samaria had reached the entire world. That joy caused the Apostle Paul to say: 2 Timothy 4:7-8:

I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul’s crown of righteousness is a result of his commitment to serve hardheartedly, to endure the pain of serving self sacrificially.Planting a church requires fight, endurance, commitment and courage to dodge Satan’s arrows that come from both within and outside the church!Planting a healthy church requires to conquer fear of failure within oneself! Conviction that you are doing the right thing. Conviction that it is not your work but the Lord’s! You must sense God’s presence and his voice repeating the same words he told Isaiah as found in Isaiah 41:10: “Go I am with you”! It requires commitment to follow through.There are many people out there who will always want you to fail because of their own interest and profits! Acts 16:16-24 recounts a story of a dirty and satanic business held by wicked people through a female slave who, through her evil spirit in her predicted future. When the apostle Paul intervened to silence the devil, he was beaten up, dragged out of the city and put into prison. Planting a church comes with cost! It was once said:

There is no growth without change. And there is no change without loss. There is no loss without pain. A church that wants to grow without going through growing pains is like a woman who says: “I want to have a baby, but I don’t want to go through labor.

Planting a solid church requires obedience. Using my own experience, God convinced me to leave a paying job I had to become a full-time pastor without salary! It was crazy in the eyes of other people including those in my church. Some said: “Do not expect any tithe from us. Go in the factories/warehouses and sweat like others. God listened to the ridicule and provided in a miraculous way. God has many ways to reward people of courage.

Planting a solid church requires trusting God. One day I asked someone to join the leadership of our church. He told me that he was willing to do so with only one condition; to give him a salary! Knowing well that I, myself do not have any salary, but just trusting God, I prayed for him a similar prayer as Elisha’s in 2 Kings 6:17: “O Lord, I wish he could trust your faithfulness!”.

‘Till today, God has been providing for our needs.

Planting a healthy church requires self-sacrifice. In ancient Ugandan kingdom, a young boy whose name was Charles Lwanga; a son of the Ugandan king was persecuted, burned alive in January 27, 1887 in Namugongo province by his own father just because he refused to recant his faith. The child decided to side with other Christians and this cost them their lives as a result! One of those boys, the oldest Matthias Kalemba, exclaimed, God will rescue me. But you will not see how he does it, because he will take my soul and leave you only my body! Out of that persecution sprang a strong church which stands today! Tertullian, one who is believed to be one of our early church fathers once wrote. The more Christians are persecuted the more Christianity takes root; the blood [of martyrs] is the seed of the church. Costs is almost always associated with building a solid church across the ages!

Regarding planting a solid ECWA USA, same above principles should be applied. A healthy ECWA church requires committed sons and daughters who are determined to go and find the lost from diverse cultures. We need to come out of our comfort zone and go where we may be challenged. We must break cultural barriers and allow inclusiveness.

There is pain mixed with fear for any pastor to see his congregation decreasing! I have a quote from Bill Smalt that illustrates pain/fear of building a solid church:

As the pastor moves down the aisle to great his congregation, he glanced over to the section that, only weeks ago, was occupied by several people who had been under his watchful care for a number of years. The feeling of success about the service he just led suddenly fades away. One of the reason pastors quit the ministry is discouragement. Watching people leave a church prematurely, year after year, wears on pastor’s emotions and can play a big part in feeding feelings of discouragement and failure.

This was our experience in ECWA II towards the end of last year! We saw three diverse groups splitting from our church. The first thought was: Are we the reason of these departures? Fortunately, and we thank God for that, it was not because of us! They just wanted to start their own churches as they claimed to belong to their church denominations of origin and not to ECWA. It was a shock to us to see people queuing in front of church office to inform us of their unannounced departures! We were just left with one option; to pray and let them go! However, I was energized by a quote from the same person Bill Smalt:

Be willing to let people leave the church! People are going to leave your church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you are choosing who is going to leave…. You can’t surrender the leadership of your church to manipulators. Jesus invested the maximum time with those who would bear the maximum responsibility.

I agree with Bill that in the church, people go, and new people come. What we should consider is not the sizeable number of people, but few who support our leadership and the direction of the church. After these departures, some people told me that I should thank God for purging his church of those who could hurt it in the end. This thought corroborates with someone who identified three layers of people: The core (genuine followers), the leaning in (those who can follow), and the leaning out (those outside the margin). And he said that we should get rid of those who lean out and remain with the core and the leaning in.

Planting a solid church requires to break the cultural barriers. Last March I visited a healthy church in Pretoria, South Africa and I was amazed by how multicultural the church is. Its members are from more than twenty different nationalities. The whole congregation (both men and women and child) are involved in various church activities. From ushers, to welcome teams, traffic and parking teams, information team, prayer teams, men’s, women’s, and youth programs, etc.

The church has a wing for children’s ministry where church members go to volunteer as teachers, ushers, and baby sitters.

There is no such thing as a South African, Rwandan, Burundian, Nigerian, Tanzanian, Ugandan, or Kenyan church member! They all work as sons and daughters of the Kingdom. I would suggest that this multicultural church did not arrive to this point overnight! It cost their church leadership enough time to implement that effective church structure.

Labeling and name tag calling are other indications of dysfunctional churches. When we start labeling our churches as Nigerian, Burundian, or Rwandan, the failure is already looming at our doors. And most of the time we are the active agents of that labeling, especially when we seem pushy towards those who do not look like us. No one would tell anyone to leave the church, but their attitudes would convince you that you are not welcomed! My dream is to one day see ECWA USA beyond the cultural barriers mentioned above. Let us use more inclusive terms rather than exclusive ones!

Building a solid church requires investment in time, effort, and energy. Nowadays, many church leaders, especially in African churches here in the USA, have tendencies to consider church like any other duty. They come to church on Sundays and after service they go and stay away from church activities until they come back the next Sunday. I wonder why church members are reluctant to give their tithe because, according to them, they refuse the pastor to get paid twice! The pastor goes to the company/Warehouse like any other person, someone complained! Why would he (the pastor), want us to pay him for the work he did not do!

Some African pastors here in states have tried to make church a business! They take the church for another source of revenue/income! If you believe you can’t trust God to provide for you as you work for him, then get down to business and find jobs like any other person. Pastors should spend enough amount of time performing church duties. If a pastor has a full-time job outside the church, he should not expect that his church would to be sound and strong!

Before concluding my sharing, if everything I said can be forgotten, remember this anchor for a solid church plant, reliable results will not be taking place until godly men and women get on their knees and pray without ceasing. Prayer should not be put on to-do-list. It should permeate all our activities. Prayer must be our lifestyle.

Rev. Jean Nzeyimana

Rev. Jean de Dieu Nzeyimana is ECWA USA DCC Assistant Secretary and Pastor of ECWA II Louisville Kentucky. He is the Executive Director of Gate of Hope Ministries International.

Biblical Mandate for Church Planting

by Rev. Joseph Ezeigbo M.Div, Th.M |It is through the Church that Christ intends to reign on earth, because the church is the visible manifestation of His mystical body . Eph.1:22-23. Col.1:18 (image: Grow Baby Grow, R. James Shupp).

The Biblical mandate for Church planting is inextricably interwoven with the Great Commission. This burden was uppermost in the Lord’s heart that it is repeated in all the four Gospels and in Acts.

The Church is not an afterthought but has been in the mind of God since eternity. Eph.1:4,;3:2-6. For this purpose we shall concentrate on Matthew 28:18-20. The apostles carried out this mandate immediately following the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts1:5-8,2:41-47. The mandate spells out what should be the stance of the church. “ A church on the go”. The Church is a movement not a monument. Not just a movement, but a missionary movement. Matt.28:19-20; Acts 1:8.

It is a transformational movement ( make disciples of the nations) Matt.28:19

It is an educational/teaching movement. ( teaching them…) Matt.28:20.

Greater Purpose

There is yet a greater purpose for the mandate to plant churches.

  1. To declare the praises of Christ for our salvation 1 Pet.2:9
  2. To declare His glory through a life of holiness Eph.1:4,6;1 Pet.2:10-12.
  3. It is through the Church that Christ intends to reign on earth, because the church is the visible manifestation of His mystical body . Eph.1:22-23. Col.1:18.
  4. The Church is also the fullness of her Head (Christ) Eph.1:22-23.
  5. It is through the Church that Christ declares His reconciliation with mankind and between mankind. Eph.2:11-22; Col.2:18-22.
  6. It is the Church that makes manifest the mystery of the ages and through which the manifold wisdom of God is declared to the kingdom of darkness. Eph.3:9-10.
  7. The Church is God’s designated change-agent in the world Acts 17:6;2 Cor.2:14-16.( I recommend Christian Counter Culture, A Message of the Sermon on the Mount. (Inter-Varsity Press) by John Stott. Kingdom Disciples ( Moody Publishers) by Tony Evans.

First Century Examples

a. The early Christians obeyed this mandate Acts 8:4-7;11:19-21.

b. The apostle Paul carried out this mandate as he traveled and evangelized the Mediterranean world.Acts 14:21-23;16-20;1 Tim.1:3;Tit.1:5.

c. The Body of Christ is not a vague, amorphous visualization or imagination, but a tangible reality represented by a local church.

Rev. Joseph EzeigboRev. Joseph Okechukwu Ezeigbo is a Bible teacher for the weekly Bible study at ECWA Maryland. He is also a part of the National Day of Prayer and the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted.

How to Use Technology and Social Media Without Worshiping It

by Rowland Adeniyi | To use technology and social media without worshiping it, we must exercise self-control which can be achieved by everyone with discipline (image: iStock).

Technology and social media allow us to stay in touch with friends, explore the world around us, learn new things, and order anything online. It is a powerful tool to make our life easier and better while on the other hand, it can lead to isolation, neglect of our responsibilities, or disrespect of people around us. To use technology and social media without worshiping it, we must exercise self-control which can be achieved by everyone with discipline. This includes turning off the function where new posts pop up as alerts on your devices, cultivating healthier activities to keep yourself busy, turning off your connected devices, or uninstalling social media Apps from your smartphone and using the one on your personal computer. If you’re beyond exercising self-control, you can find treatment centers here for internet addiction in your area or call the Helpline at 888-465-7473 or 877-762-4484 or 866-208-4949. There is no need to be in self-denial, many of us are not using technology and social media appropriately. It is very difficult to know the cause of the problems; technology providers, educators, school curriculum, or the federal agency policies about technology. There is plenty of blame to go around even as far as parents themselves are concerned. Although there is no scientific standard for measuring if you’re worshiping technology and social media, some reports suggest it may affect as many as 38 percent of the general population. The reason for discrepancies is that it is researched differently among scientists including the mental health professionals. The vast majority of Americans, about 95% now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% in PEW Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011. THE GOOD AND THE BAD When used wisely, technology and social media have the potential to support the much-needed large scale change in education especially in the areas of math and science education. For this to happen though, educators need to be very creative in developing new and far more ambitious course work for a quite different future that technologies and social media make possible now. The most useful educational perspective of information technologies and social media is to see them primarily as tools that help students accomplish more. The tool role is of primary importance because it extends the capacity of students to undertake investigations, to attack computational problems, to communicate, and to access information resources. On one hand, the potential positive effects of using technology and social media without worshiping it include enhanced cognitive development and school achievement, reduced barriers to social interaction, enhanced fine motor skills and visual processing and effective rehabilitation. On the other hand, the potential negative effects include threats to child safety, inappropriate content, exposure to violence, bullying, internet 'addiction', displacement of moderate or vigorous physical activity, exposure to junk food advertising, sleep displacement, vision problems, and musculoskeletal problems. All researchers agreed on one thing, the extended use of technology is damaging to anyone, especially in the early developmental years of adolescence. ARE YOU WORSHIPING TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA? The troubling thing about using technology and social media without worshiping it is that a person is endlessly surrounded by technology. From the time one wakes up to the time one goes to bed, we are bombarded with technology and social media. Its use is endless. In this digital age, how then do you know if you’re worshiping technology and social media?

  • I saw an elderly lady walking across the street one day in one of the high-tech cities along the US west coast with her eyes glued to her device screen and not even paying attention to the oncoming traffic until the driver slammed the brake and blew the horn and the lady literarily ran off the street. If a person is not able to physically stop checking their Facebook account, tweeting, blogging, e-mailing, or whatever, then they are worshiping technology and social media.
  • Complex, strategy-based games like Starcraft can improve many cognitive skills, including working memory and reasoning. When playing a strategy game, the player must be flexible and quick to change tactics on the fly with limited resources and logistics when something unexpected suddenly happens, just like in the real world. Although this strategy game no doubt improves cognitive skills, doing it online in excess no doubt constitutes that we are worshiping technology and social media.
  • Everyday we use our technology to buy practically everything online these days and that includes perishable goods like groceries delivery as well. There is no doubt about it; from researching our first home to ordering pizzas online, we are a technology savvy community when it comes to shopping. The problem comes when we keep buy unwanted goods every day and we end up as a compulsive online shopper.
  • A virtue as Wikipedia described it is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. Having read a few books on the impact of technology and social media on humans, I can say conclusively we are consuming technology at an alarming rate and entertaining ourselves to illness. When our use of technology and social media clash with the development of our virtue, our relationships, work, or school then we are worshiping technology and social media.

USING TECHNOLOGY & SOCIAL MEDIA WITHOUT WORSHIPING IT The most important thing about using technology and social media without worshiping it is that of self-corrective behavior which can be achieved by everyone with discipline. Corrective behaviors include the use of software that controls the internet use and types of sites that can be visited like Qustodio or Disney's Circle for your phone and/or wireless router. These software are designed to supervise, manage and protect children device use on the go! It basically allows parents to see how their children uses devices, apps, the web and control it. For self-correction, one will for example set their alarm for say 45 mins. Things done without devices is good, which means a person is having a face-to-face interaction which is always better and rewarding. After the 45 mins, one will get outside the building or house and do something different, like reading a book or visiting a friend’s house where one can either play an old-fashioned board game like monopoly or go for a walk. Physical activity is very effective at increasing serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine levels which is known to decrease dependency on the use on internet devices. Boredom isn't bad, and the cure for boredom is being creative without using technology. Studies show technology and social media use just makes a person more easily bored. I. CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 12 YEARS Looking at the use of smartphones, MP3 players, TV, social media, and the internet at large make it all seems as if our kids are always plugged in. Many parents compete with technology for their kids’ attention all the time. As a family, everyone need to work together to create an acceptable technology use policy (see example below). This includes 1) Who can use it and what they are allowed to do with it? 2) Where and when they are allowed to use it? and 3) How will this use be monitored? One of the best things the parents can do regarding technology is to talk to their kids about what they are seeing, hearing and doing. What are other kids doing? What do they think about this and that? Have they seen or heard of other kids being bullied? Have they been bullied? Are your kids mature enough to understand the basics of internet safe usage? It’s also a good idea to show your children news articles about bad things that happens when kids use technology. It’s one thing to hear it from you, but to see it happen to someone their age will make them think twice. We as adults need to be very specific on what our children are allowed to do with their devices. For example; no bullying, and they should never take or look at naked photos of themselves and explain to them the consequences. Whatever they text, post, email, or tweet will become part of the public realm and they can never get it back, since it will be there to assist or hinder them as adult. The parents can use cell phone bills, monitoring software like Qustodio or Disney's Circle to look at the technology itself to see what content has been viewed. This is not an invasion of privacy – it’s not about snooping. It’s about keeping your child and other children safe from predators, bullies, and content they think they are old enough for but that is really harmful. Sample Family Acceptable Use Policy.

  1. You may not ignore calls or texts or email from us. We will always know the password for this device and you may not have or know the password to our devices. Your use of your devices is privileged and will be revoked for a week at the first evidence of tampering with our security or password.
  2. When you are at home with us, you may have ______ hour(s) on school days and ____ hour(s) on weekend days to enjoy using your digital devices. We like being with you and talk to you.
  3. You will return this digital device to a parent (or a guardian if we are not home) at ____ p.m. every school night and at _____ p.m. every weekend night.
  4. Do not post or share photos of other people without their permission. And especially, do not photograph or share inappropriate or naked images of yourself or other people. If something does happen, you can always call us for help.
  5. Resolve conflict with someone face to face and NOT by texting. We expect eye contact during face-to-face discussions. Don’t text when you are angry or mad.

What happens online impacts your life offline. Colleges and future employers can and will search your name, and the internet never forgets. Slow down and think before posting. II. TEENAGERS AND YOUNG ADULTS Many adults sometimes don’t know what their teenagers are going through every day which is why it’s hard to separate teenagers from social media, messaging apps, or online games and videos. Sometimes some of them are afraid of being alone and they rely on technology and the social media in general to give them a sense of belonging while their capacity for empathy and relationship suffers. There is no doubt about it, technology is inhibiting our teenager’s connection and conversation at school and at home. Somehow, they find ways around conversation, tempted by the constant bombardment of text or an email in which they feel they have to look at or listen to. We really need to teach our teenagers the virtues of person-to-person conversation and especially the use of technology and social media without worshiping it. Work with Your Teenagers and Teach them to Use Technology Wisely Challenge your teenagers as a parent for them to use technology and social media as a tool to contribute to and analyze global environmental datasets, polls, and other network science projects. Here they can collect their best work and evidence for skill mastery into portfolios for you as a parent to evaluate. This will give the teenagers a technique to move between quantitative observations to theory that they will find powerful for use later in life. And these experimental investigations will continue to mature as your teenagers mature. It may even break the barriers or walls between you and your teenagers and they may see you as allies. Depending on how good these portfolios are; they may even be able to use them in college admissions and job applications. Be A Good Role Model We need to show our teenagers how to use technology and social media in a healthy, human way while also developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way they use digital media rather than accepting technology's promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world's knowledge at their fingertips. Show them how to make money with their knowledge of technology and social media. And if you as a parent didn’t know how, pay to send them to summer school or weekend classes on how to. Teenagers with Technology Issues Need to Try Self-Help Research shows strong associations between addictive use of technology and comorbid psychiatric disorders. In “The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders by Andreassen et al.: A large-scale cross-sectional study; age appeared to be inversely related to the addictive use of these technologies. Being male was significantly associated with addictive use of video games, whereas being female was significantly associated with addictive use of social media. Being single was positively related to both addictive social networking and video gaming. As a teenager, you have to accept the fact you’re not an adult and hence lack the maturity to curb devices use on your own. Studies has shown that the parents taking the device away from you as a teenager doesn’t help either since it creates a withdrawal symptom like, anxiety. Instead, there are plenty of other ways to help yourself find a healthier balance: As part of a self-help, you need to recognize what make you reach for your smartphone in the first place. Is it when you’re lonely, bored, depressed, or stressed; then the excessive devices use might be a way for you to relax. And there is no better way to relax than to change your mood without the use of devices. Head on to your neighbor or friend for face-to-face interaction which can make you feel calmer, safer and less stressful. Studies shows interacting through text, email or messaging that bypasses nonverbal cues does not have the same effect on individual's emotional well-being. No one knows you better than yourself, and the ultimate goal is to build skills that will make it easier for you to relate to others and find it easier to communicate in person rather than tweeting, texting or blogging other people online. Building skills in these areas may help you weather the stresses on your daily life without relying on your devices. Think back to other times when you've reached out for your devices, is it to distract yourself from other issues like loneliness and shyness? If so, you need to reach out to your friends and family. If you are shy, there are ways to overcome social awkwardness and make lasting friendship without relying on social media or the Internet. Help your younger sibling out with their homework. They've probably been nagging you for a while about that anyway. Set a good example for your siblings. Better yet, try reaching out to your teacher for that problem you know you cannot solve by yourself or join a club at school that is not related to technology or social media. Where to Find Technology/Internet Addiction Treatment If you’re a teenager with technology and social media issues or internet addiction disorder, sometimes abbreviated as IAD; it may be time to look for outside support, teenagers often rebel against their parents, whether it’s from family, friends, or a professional therapist. It's very difficult to find a dedicated facility that specializes in technology and social media issues or internet addiction. Many treatment centers that treat internet addiction also handle a variety of other behavioral problems. Professional therapists who provide couple’s therapy often deal with patients that have a range of compulsive behavioral problems. Find treatment centers here for internet addiction in your area or call the Helpline at 888-465-7473 or 877-762-4484 or 866-208-4949. Specific therapies and therapeutic activities prescribed by a therapist will vary from teen to teen, but here are some options tested to have the best impact on a teenager with internet addiction.

  • Structured and closely supervised schedule with little or no access to Internet-connected devices
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Behavioral modification
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Equine therapy
  • Expressive arts therapy
  • Recreation therapy

III. ADULTS As an adult, the best way to use technology and social media without worshiping it is to cultivate habits that can free us to enjoy living. This includes: Cultivate Healthier Activities Been bored and lonely as an adult is no fun. You should resist the urge to use that device by doing a hospital visit, volunteering at church or your community, taking a yoga class, reading a book, or walking with friends. Disable Notifications Internet connected devices somehow pulls people out of the present moment and into someone else experience. Resist this by turning off the function where new posts pop up as alerts on your devices. Unless your job requires it, there is no need to take your devices like smartphone or tablet with you everywhere in the house. Leave it where you normally put it when you get home and go to the deck to relax and get some fresh air or just take time off for a quiet time.. Block Out an internet Connected Devices Turnoff Time Ever since I almost crashed into the car in front of me while driving on Interstate 5 using my smartphone about 5 years ago, I always turn off my smartphone as soon as I get into the driver’s seat. Other times I turn off the smartphone include during sporting activities, bedtime, dinner, meetings, or playing with kids. Check internet Connected Devices with a Purpose Determine from this day on to always check your smartphone with a purpose in mind. Constantly documenting everything around you to post on your social media page so that you’re socially accepted is nerve racking and time-consuming. It’s best to check your smartphone sporadically or at a scheduled time and make sure you time yourself. No Smartphone in the Bedroom or Bathroom Treat your bedroom as a mini-sanctuary where there is no eating or smartphone usage. If you cultivate this habit, your children will thank you for it when they grow up and on their own. Smartphone usage and eating in bed unless on special occasions is totally distracting and send the wrong message to your kids that they can eat in bed and take their smartphone to bed as well. Unless your job requires you leave your smartphone on all the time, or you use your smartphone as a wake-up alarm; it's best to turn off all devices and leave them in another room overnight to charge. Get traditional paper books for the bedroom and bathroom instead of eBooks on your smartphone or tablet. Uninstall social media Apps If your eyes are glued to your smartphone or tablet instead of helping that crying baby or living up to your responsibility as a parent then it may be time for you to remove the social media apps from your smartphone and check Facebook, Twitter and the like only from your personal computer. Unless you make a living from social media; you can spend as little time as you want on social media and you won’t miss out on anything. Besides, you will boost your sense of self-worth and have more time for things that are important in your life; like spending quality time that requires eye-to-eye contact with loved ones.

Rowland Adeniyi is a security and Infrastructure Architectures Consultant. Consulting to colleges, Microsoft, and other agencies. Built and maintains ECWA USA Website.

  REFERENCES Andreassen, C. S., Billieux, J., Griffiths, M. D., Kuss, D. J., Demetrovics, Z., Mazzoni, E., & Pallesen, S. (2016). The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(2), 252-262. Carnes, P., Delmonico, D., & Griffin, E. (2007). In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior (2nd ed.). Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Foundation. Internet addiction disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from Stewart, C. (2010, January 13). Obsessed With the Internet: A Tale From China. Retrieved from Young, K. S. (1998) internet addiction: The emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 1: 237-244. Young, K. (n.d.). Center for internet Addiction – Education and Treatment. Retrieved from Risky Business: internet Addiction – Help for recognizing and dealing with smartphone and internet addiction. (Mental Health America) Media Smarts – Site covering safety tips for children and how to cope with challenges such as social media, texting and messaging, and excessive internet use. (Canada's Centre for Digital and Media Literacy) Understanding Addictive Cybersex – Article by Dr. Jennifer Schneider discusses the types and consequences of cybersex addiction. ( Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous – How to find a 12-step program for sexual addictions. (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) On-Line Gamers Anonymous – Help and support for problems caused by excessive game playing. (OLGA) Restart Center – Offers programs to help you disconnect from digital media, such as smartphones, gaming, and the Internet. (Center for Digital Technology Sustainability) Apps Block social media Because Users Can't Stop Themselves – Review of anti-distraction apps and software that help you monitor and curb your smartphone and online behavior. (NPR) Smartphone Compulsion Test – Dr. David Greenfield's screening tool for smartphone overuse or addiction. (The Center for internet and Technology Addiction)

How to Build Strong Multi-Cultural Churches

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | Pastor, ECWA Church, Chicago | We must have policies that allow “none indigents” to be engaged in ministry at all levels and be elected into different offices within the ECWA Structure

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Rev. 7:9-12 The chief end of man and all creation is to worship God thereby bringing glory to God. The Great Commission is about making disciples of all nations (ethnos- people groups). The Church is God’s instrument to make this happen. So, building strong multi-cultural churches is not man’s idea, it is God’s express will. WHAT IS A MULTI-CULTURAL CHURCH? Simply put: Believers of different cultural backgrounds worshiping together in one place. These different cultures may be of the same ethnicity or of different ethnicities. This is God’s plan that will culminate in the Revelation 7 experience. Naturally people of the same race or tribe hang out together and systematically exclude others who are not like them. But the church of God is called to pull down all barriers that separate and differentiate us. This has always been a challenge which each generation must face and overcome. Although all of Jesus’ disciples were of Jewish cultural background, the Holy spirit launched the Church in a spectacular way by bringing people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds together as recorded in Acts 2. The Church that was birthed represented the community around it. The Jews were very reluctant to integrate other cultures and ethnicities, they wanted to maintain their mono-cultural identity. God had to get to work to change that mindset. He was not going to allow His church to be limited to or be defined by one cultural group or ethnicity. He created all cultures and ethnic groups and He wants all to worship Him together as part of the one family of God. Acts 10 expose how God finally dealt with the ethnocentric posture of the Jewish believers. “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Acts 10:34-35. Later on, Paul declared in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It is clear then that God’s plan for His church is to accommodate all people of all cultures and backgrounds. It is to be noted that there will be mono-cultural churches is some situations like rural communities where all the community members are of the same culture. There will be need for a mono-cultural church in cities also where immigrants into the city cannot communicate in the main spoken language. First generation immigrants benefit from the mono-cultural church. However, such churches must work toward being multi-cultural, else they will not grow much and they will lose their young ones who may not be interested in learning the language of their parents. HOW WE CAN MAKE THE TRANSITION AND BUILD STRONG MULTI-CULTURAL CHURCHES

  1. Be convinced that this is God’s plan and work toward it.
  2. Pray for God’s revelation of how your church can make the transition
  3. Prepare your congregation for the change which could take a long time and could be painful
  4. Study, preach and teach the Bible always rather than talking much about your culture or church denomination.
  5. Language is a strong tool that connects people – use the main language everyone speaks.
  6. Have a parish mindset for your church. Reach out to everyone in the community where your church is, rather than just inviting people of your cultural background.
  7. Adapt to the community where you are – become all things to all people… Some aspects to consider are: dressing, language, time orientation, style of worship, etc.
  8. Be involved in the community in other ways and not just on spiritual things
  9. Show that you are for everyone and not just for some.


  1. Acts 6 reveal how it can get messy when different cultural groups worship together. A proper balancing act is needed.
  2. Cultural pressure can be very strong. Peter shied away from the Gentiles to please his fellow Jewish believers; Paul had to rebuke him Galatians 2:11-13
  3. Acts 15. The Jerusalem Council had to come up with new policies that addressed the concerns of believers from other cultural backgrounds.
  • Churches need to have right policies that welcome people of different backgrounds
  • Majority culture should always be ready to make sacrifices to accommodate the minorities
  • It is important to not only integrate but also treat everyone fairly and equally.
  • Give leadership responsibilities to minority cultures also.

CONCLUSION Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) – if we are going to be the kind of church God wants us to be, which we also want to be, we must follow the 9 steps given above and in addition: update our constitution, manuals, and handbooks to be a true reflection of a church that is global and welcomes all cultures. We must have policies that allow “none indigents” to be engaged in ministry at all levels and be elected into different offices within the ECWA Structure. Church planters need to be trained and equipped to start churches with the mindset of growing multi-cultural churches and not mono-cultural churches. It is easier to start a multi-cultural church than to convert a mono-cultural church into a multi-cultural church. May ECWA be a church that anybody from any ethnicity, or cultural background can walk in and feel at home because we are all about Jesus and not so much about culture or denomination. Amen!

Rev. Sunday Bwanhotby Rev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.  

The Truth About the Holy Spirit and How I Can be Filled

by Rev Philologus O. Irukera | Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23)

If you are like me, you are probably wondering like Gideon, at the height of Israel’s humiliation, subjugation and oppression by the coalition of enemies (Judges 6:11-13), why is the Church so ridiculed, weak and seemingly unable to fulfill her Biblical mandates today? Where are the aura of God’s presence and power in the Early Church that elicited fear, respect and goodwill from unbelievers (Acts 2:42-47)? Where are the famed divine exploits through both the leaders and members of the Early Church in our time (Acts 5; 6:8-10; 8; 12-13:3; Rom. 16:3)? Coming closer home in ECWA today, why do will find it difficult to replicate the faith exploits of our forefathers and the missionaries that brought to them the Gospel of Jesus the Christ? I presume the answer boils down to just one factor: the quality and depth of our relationship with God through His Spirit. This informed, sustained dynamic relationship with God through the agency of the Holy Spirit is the heart of the topic of this workshop. Being a workshop, it is expected that this meeting would be interactive. However, it would be impractical to venture into being exhaustive with just an hour long meeting. Hence, we shall depend on the Great Helper Himself to direct us to His choice of area of emphasis as we proceed. Also, some questions have been prepared separately to aid and stimulate discussion on the topic under consideration. I. Truth about the Holy Spirit The Bible is replete with information about the Holy Spirit. For example, right at the beginning in Genesis 1:2, the Bible reveals the role of the Holy Spirit in the creation story. Let us briefly consider some revealed truths about His identity and activities in the Scriptures:

  1. Holy Spirit is a person. He is not a mere force or influence as some sects would have us believe, but a person with all the related qualities of will, emotion and intellect. Hence, Holy Spirit may be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and His will or instruction resisted or obeyed (Acts 7:51; 13:1-3; 1Thess.5:19). He knows our ways even, our darkest secrets and rebellions (Acts. 5:1-11).
  2. Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. John 14:26; 16:7, 14-15; Acts 5:3-4, 9. Apostle Peter identifies Holy Spirit as the omniscient God whom Ananias and his wife conspire together and lie to. Co-equal and co-eternal both with the Father and Son yet, the Holy Spirit never works against them. He is in unity with both the Father and the Son because His works conform to their will and interest.
  3. Holy Spirit was the agent of creation. The Hebrew word ruach translated as Spirit of God in Gen. 1:1-2 can also be rendered as breath of God in reference to God’s power breathing out creation. Interestingly, Jesus Christ whom John identifies as the Word (ho logos) who is God that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14) is also credited with the creation of the universe in Col. 1:15-16. These truths about the Son and Holy Spirit confirm that the creation was a united effort of the three God-heads. So, now we know that God’s call, Let Us make man in Our image, was directed to the Son and the Spirit (Gen. 1:26, HCSB). So focusing on Gen 1:1-2, it is certain that the creation was brought into being through the relentless power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Holy Spirit is also the agent of new creation. Apostle Paul describes those who have been saved through the blood of Jesus Christ as new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In His famous nocturnal meeting with Nicodemus, our Lord Himself describes the new creation experience as a state of being born again (John 3:7). He describes it again as being born of the Spirit, to reveal the identity of the Holy Spirit as the one who is behind this life altering spiritual experience in Christ (John 3:5-8).
  5. Holy Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures. About forty people of various backgrounds, status, educational levels and living across many national boundaries over a period of about fifteen hundred years penned the books of the Bible. Though their education, personalities, experiences and skills were influenced their writings, 2 Timothy 3:16 clarifies for us that these books of the Bible are God-breathed. Apostle Peter clarifies it further for us by stating that these men spoke or wrote from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This fact proves the Holy Spirit as the real Author of the Scriptures.
  6. Holy Spirit is the promised Helper. In John 14:16-17, 26 Jesus promised to send a new helper to be with His disciples after His departure. Jesus calls this helper paracletos. This word is unique to Apostle John’s writings. It is strictly used for the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel as cited above and is translated as helper, counsel and comforter. It is also used in reference to Jesus Christ in John’s first epistle and translated as advocate (1 John 2:1). Paracletos simply means a person called alongside or called to one’s aid as helper (or comforter, a Latin equivalent), advocate, intercessor or counselor. Jesus makes it clear in John 14:16, 17 and 26 that the Holy Spirit is the intended Helper and not Mohamed as some Muslim apologists spuriously claim. Note that the Helper is sent to be with the disciples, and to live inside of them forever. These and many more that Jesus indicates in verse 26 prove that the late Mohamed the prophet and founder of Islam has never been and cannot be the promised Helper.
  7. Holy Spirit as Gift. Peter in his Pentecost sermon boldly and passionately pleads with his listeners to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit as the promised gift (Acts 2:38-39). It is hard to believe any less considering the total package the Holy Spirit instantly brings into the life of a newly saved sinner. The following will do to drive this truth home:
  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Rom. 6:2-4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 2:19-22; 4:3-6; 5:30. Otherwise known as Spirit baptism, it is that divine act of the Holy Spirit whereby He baptizes or joins or places the new believer into the body of Christ, the Church- consisting other believers and Christ as the Head. Through this baptism you mystically become part of the body of Christ, His Church regardless of your denomination.
  • Indwelling of the Spirit: 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:24. It is the gracious act of the Holy Spirit whereby, in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of John 14:16, 26, enters and permanently dwells in every repenting sinner. It is permanent! That is why it is not possible for a redeemed sinner (Christian) to lose the Holy Spirit.
  • Sealing work of the Holy Spirit: 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2Tim. 2:19. This is the work of the Holy Spirit whereby at conversion, He affixes on every penitent sinner, the divine stamp of approval and ownership as a guarantee for immediate, ultimate and total salvation.
  1. Practical works of the Holy Spirit. There are other experiential works of the Holy Spirit especially, in the life of Christians. Below listed are some of them:
  • He convicts: John 16:8-11. Holy Spirit exposes the sins of the world, thereby convincing and convicting to bring to shame and possibly repentance, the person being reproved.
  • Guides into all truth: John 14:26; 16:12-16. The Holy Spirit teaches and gives biblical insight to believers as well as brings such into remembrance when it is exactly needed.
  • Empowers and gifts believers various spiritual gifts for service. Acts 1:8; Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 12. The presence and influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian will condition him/her with the ability to exceed his/her natural ability. Hence, the Lord’s instruction to His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they experience the Holy Spirit before they proceed on the work He assigns them. Also, the Holy Spirit by virtue of His indwelling of believers gives at least, a special ability, otherwise known as spiritual gift, to every Christian to serve or edify the body of Christ (Eph. 2:10; 4:11-13). Christians are saved in Christ for a purpose. We are saved and equipped by the Holy Spirit to serve one another with our spiritual gifts, seeking to build-up one another in faith until we all mature and conform to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). So, no Christian can afford indolence, doing nothing in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
  • Intercedes. Romans 8:26, 27. Though the exact interpretation of this verse has been a subject of debate among some Bible students, what is not in doubt is that the Holy Spirit is the dependable Helper of Christian in his/her prayer relationship with God. When in prayer and words fail us in articulating the needs that are sensed in our spirits, the Holy Spirit is always on hand to help those saints who would let Him. He does not replace us or take over our responsibility to pray. Rather, He is our partner, our enabler and helper.
  • Infilling of the Holy Spirit. The prerogative of infilling of the Spirit rests with every believer. The decision is yours to make; hence the call to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18, Gal. 5:16). However, the Holy Spirit is always eager and ready to cooperate with every believer to help him/her remain under the influence and control of the Lord. And when we slip, yes, when we lose the infilling of the Holy Spirit due to our foolish and carnal ways, grieving Him (Eph. 4:30), He’s always there, faithfully waiting to help us recover the loss if we truly repent in total humility and submission.

II. Meaning and Reasons for Infilling of the Holy Spirit Meaning of Infilling of the Holy Spirit: Certain phrases in the New Testament give hints and shades of what constitute the infilling or the filling work of the Holy Spirit. Such include controlled by …the Spirit (Rom. 8:9), led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 5:18), live by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5; Gal. 5:16), crucified with Christ … by faith (Gal. 2:20), Let the word of Christ dwell in you…(Col. 3:16), …walk in the light …(1John 1:7). They all point to the state of total obedience, surrender and submissiveness under the dominant will and control of the Holy Spirit. So, the filling work of the Holy Spirit can simply be explained as the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit whereby He continuously fills and exercises divine control of the life of a Christian as he consistently and progressively surrenders. Reasons for the Infilling of the Holy Spirit One may ask: why is it necessary for a Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit? The following deserve our careful consideration:

  • It is commanded in the Scriptures. Apostle Paul’s call to the Ephesians (5:8) not to be enslaved to fermented drinks but instead be ruled by the Holy Spirit comes standard here. So does also, Gal. 5:16 call to Christians to live strictly under the control of the Holy Spirit to avoid falling under the power of sinful desires of flesh.
  • The responsibilities attached to our calling in Christ necessitate that we be filled with the Holy Spirit to succeed. In our service to the dark and dying world on behalf of the Lord, we are expected to shine our light of Christ for all to see (Matt. 5:14-16). As salt we are to demonstrate the sweetness that life in Christ offers and as well as morally and socially season the society to minimize decadence (Matt. 5:13). We are sent to bear witness to Christ as the Savior (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). And to the body of Christ, we are called to use all the gifts and blessings at our disposal to edify or build up one another in faith (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7-13). We are called and equipped in Christ to produce spiritual fruit to the blessing of others and to the pleasure and glory of the Father (Gal. 5:22). The infilling work of the Holy Spirit is the key to our being successful in all these responsibilities. For it is through the filling work of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to succeed.
  • The reality of dangers attendant to Christian pathway necessitates that we be under the total influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not promise His disciples bed of roses. If anything, He clearly forewarns them to be prepared for difficulties (John 15:18-16:4). Apostle Paul in Ephesian chapter 6:12 acknowledges our struggles against enemies beyond flesh and blood. Therefore, he encourages Ephesians to embrace the infilling work of the Holy Spirit as the only proven pathway to victory (6:10-13). Paul also recognizes the enemy within every Christian to be the sinful nature that seeks to derail our spiritual growth and ascent. To disarm this enemy and forestall the inherent danger, Paul encourages all to surrender to the life under the leadership of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18).

Practical Steps toward Being Filled with the Holy Spirit Now to the question of how a Christian can be filled with the Holy Spirit. The prescription given here is not exhaustive. It is based on the insight gleaned from the Scriptures and from the accrued wisdom of other saints who have trod this path before us.

  1. Desire sincerely to please God. This is a desire for practical holiness. Matt. 5:6 calls it a thirst and hunger for righteousness. Our Lord calls those who nurture this type of crave blessed with a promise of satiation. The desire to please God does not end with mental activity. It must find culmination in definite and deliberate positive actions described in Psa. 1.
  2. Confess every unconfessed sin the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance. Trust and thank God for the promised forgiveness of confessed and forsaken sins (I John 1:9). Do not revisit or re-confess the sins that the Lord has forgiven and forgotten (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Heb. 8:12). Rather sincerely confess and forsake every sin the Holy Spirit convicts you of and move on with total trust in Him for the promise of forgiveness.
  3. Practice genuine and complete obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22-23). Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23).
  4. Surrender totally your will to the full control of the Holy Spirit. This is a step above obedience; it is total submission. This is Paul’s intention when he says he has been crucified with Christ and that the selfhood in him lives no more but Christ living in Him (Gal. 2:20). Rom. 12:1-2 calls it, offer your bodies as living sacrifices …renewing of your mind. In 1 Thess. 5:19 it is not put (ing) out the Spirit’s fire. Surrender to the authority of the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit.
  5. Crave to know God intimately more. Despite the fact that he was very close to God already (Numb. 12:6-8), wanting to know Him more, Moses pleads with God, Now show me your glory (Exod. 33:18). Same goes with Paul who craves to know Christ the more (Phil. 3:10). This is one crave every Christian must not outgrow!
  6. Embrace active fellowship with other saints. This is the clear position of the Scriptures (Heb.10: 25). The rising preference for virtual church under the guise of modernization is disconcerting and inimical to the vision and purpose of Christ for His Church, His body (Eph. 2: 14 -22; 3:14 – 4:16). Nothing should replace physical coming together of His saints for wholesome fellowship. Also, every believer must make it a habit of making deliberate preparation spirit, soul and body, for every fellowship with other saints and our Father just as He instructed Israelites to do in Exod. 19:10, 11.
  7. Be actively involved in the communal life of your church. The Spirit has endowed every truly born again with at least one spiritual gift. Identify it if you don’t know yours and promptly seek to use it for the mutual building up of members of the household of faith (1 Thess.5:11; Jude 20). Don’t be a bench-warmer in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
  8. Delight in the word of God. Follow the example of the Psalmist in Psa. 119:9-16. Develop acute interest in it and like an infant, crave the pure spiritual milk (1 Pet. 2:2-3 NIV). Don’t just read and study it but meditate on it and as well, let it be on your lips (Josh.1:8). Above all, in the words of James, our Lord’s brother, be doers of the word and not hearers only (Jas.1:22, HCSB).
  9. Cultivate the habit of reading Christian materials. Religious publications like magazines, expositional works on Bible characters, biographical works on living or dead exemplary Christians and the likes could be of great help.
  10. Christian audio/visual materials. Christian drama, documentary and music can be of great benefit for spiritual development if wisely used. At the dedication of Solomon’s new temple, good music released the glory of God that filled the temple (2 Chron. 5:11-14. Music with spiritually rich lyrics potentially, will not only positively appeal to God but can be spiritually enriching to His people.
  11. Pray continually. (1 Thess. 5:17). It is one thing to truly desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit while it is another, to actually and effectively act on the desire. This is due to the complexities and rebellious inclinations of man. Our Lord understands this too well, when He counsels sleepy Inner Circle, Watch and pray….The spirit is willing, but the body is weak (Matt. 26:41, NIV). Pray continually for the help of the Holy Spirit as you endeavor to align your will with and surrender totally the rule of your life to the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion Holy Spirit is not a mere force. He is fully God in unity with the Father and Son. Holy Spirit is very active in the world out there and in the Church elsewhere today. He is our helper who desires to make His presence and power felt in our lives for our good and to the glory of the Father. Because of our persistent rebellions, we have considerably limited the impacts of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in our lives today. The results are the waning glory and drying river of goodwill that we used to enjoy among men. We now have defeat and restriction in places we ought to have been victorious and unstoppable. We no longer impact the society for the Lord like our forefathers did. The reason is not farfetched. We have not allowed the Holy Spirit the free reign and rule that He is supposed to have in the Church and in our lives. But if we humble ourselves as a people, if I repent and turn submissively to the rule of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in my life, then there will be an end to the era of Ichabod. The renowned acts of the Holy Spirit in the days of yore of our fathers and mothers in the Way (Acts. 9:2) will again be replicated in our own very time. Sinners would be won by loads into the kingdom of God. Fear will grip and awe strike the world all over. And the work of God will be revived again in our church family and in individual lives. Only if we would be ready to say yes to the infilling work of the Holy Spirit! Only if I would jettison my big idol of carnality and you your petty idols of pride, greed, self-centeredness and the likes! If we would surrender to the lead and control of the Holy Spirit and submissively cry, Have your way now Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus! Then we will experience those blessings and benefits of infilling of the Holy Spirit which include peace, joy, practical victory over sin and over power of darkness. We would be empowered to overcome befuddling odds and limitations of life. Above all we would become bold and effective witnesses of Christ, bringing in the bounteous sheaves of ripe harvest of souls like the early Christians (Acts 4:13-20; 5:12-14; 8:4-8) and our forefathers in ECWA did. For the Church, and indeed ECWA, to regain her lost glory, power, fruitfulness, goodwill and respect from the society, we must all go back to the ancient path of total surrender and submission to the leading and control of God the Holy Spirit. For you and me to experience the authentic Biblical prosperity, we must personally allow the Holy Spirit to rule our will and affect. For Him to fill us, we must give Him the total control of our lives. May the Lord help us all as we do so. Amen! References Online Sources Begg, Alistair. (May 12, 2018). Five Truths About the Holy Spirit. June 20, 2018 Bright, Bill. (n.d.) The Steps to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit. June 22, 2018 Walvoord, JohnF. (January 8, 2008) The Filling of the Holy Spirit. July 4, 2018 Books and Bible Translations Bridges, Jerry. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006. Cabal, Ted. (G. Ed.) The Apologetics Study Bible (HCSB). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007. Green Sr., Jay P. (G. Ed.) The Interliner Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English. 2nd Edn. London: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986. Griffiths, Michael. Cinderella with Amnesia: A Practical Discussion of the relevance of Church. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975. International Bible Society. The Holy Bible (NIV). Colorado Spring: Biblica, 1984. MacArthur, John F. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992. Willmington, Harold L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011  

Rev. Philologus IrukeraRev Philologus O. Irukera is a trained and ordained minister. He is an assistant minister at ECWA Church in Maryland.

‘Agnus Dei’ A Sundance Dispatch

Alissa Wilkinson | Agnus Dei tries to approach (but not fix) the repercussions of unspeakable cruelty with the quiet balm of beauty. A must-see film that quietly suggests a surprising answer to the problem of evil. (image by Anna Wloch)

One of the oldest refrains in the world is the theodicy question: how could a good God let bad things happen?

That question animates Agnus Dei, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday. But the film's answer is expansive, complex, and subtly subversive. Directed by Anne Fontaine (Coco Before Chanel, Gemma Bovary) and led by an all-female cast, the movie tries to approach (but not fix) the repercussions of unspeakable cruelty with the quiet balm of beauty.

Agnus Dei is set in 1945, amid the ruins of World War II. Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) is a young French doctor working with the Red Cross in Poland. Through an unusual set of circumstances, she comes into contact with a convent of Polish nuns who, she discovers, are in advanced stages of pregnancy. Months earlier, a group of Russian soldiers had broken into the convent and raped the women repeatedly, staying for several days. The horror haunts them still, even while they have tried to regain their faith and practice their vocation. Full of shame, they’re convinced of the need to conceal their condition, lest they be shut down by their superiors. And yet the reminders linger in their own bodies and, nine months later, are about to arrive.

Mathilde isn't Catholic; over vodka one night, she tells her fellow doctor and sometime lover Samuel (who himself is Jewish) that her parents were staunch Communists, and she seems untroubled by her lack of faith. Late in the film, it becomes clear that Mathilde and Samuel, considered by some to be the unholy interlopers in a world of peace and piety, are in fact more aware of the implications of their own vocation as doctors than some of the women in the convent.

That in part is the genius of the film: it doesn't force Mathilde or Samuel to have some kind of religious awakening in order to act as an angel of mercy for the nuns, nor does it lump all the pregnant women into one category, with one way of thinking about their predicament. Those women are painted as full, complex characters in a few deft strokes—women who are struggling after rape to know whether they believe in something anymore, to understand their vows of chastity, to live in the problem of theodicy every day.

The word "beauty" gets tossed around irresponsibly a lot, often by people who feel the need to invoke it in art's defense. But that does beauty a disservice. It is not a quality that lets us feel the things we find pleasant are worthwhile; it is an unruly, unsafe force that we feel in our bones rather than our minds, and that makes us desire. (To say that beauty is erotic isn't to tie it to sex; it's to say it makes us want, in a non-rational way.)

So to say Agnus Dei is a stunningly beautiful film isn't to aestheticize it. Most of the film’s images could be paintings, images of women shot in the natural light and shadow of the convent, of stark forests laden with snow, backed by the sounds of the women singing their prayers and—finally—Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” (which I only recognized because it’s the melody that makes me most achingly sad, in all the world). But every bit of this comes at great price to the wounded and victimized.

But it is that beauty, evoked by the film's sensual elements rather than its narrative ones, that forms the film’s run at the theodicy question. Various characters try to give an answer for what has happened through appeals to beauty’s companions: truth and goodness. But those are insufficient on their own. Living a perfect life after tragedy cannot heal the tragedy; simply reiterating the truth isn’t enough to cover violence.

The characters never talk about beauty, living in the austerity of war-torn Poland on the one hand and the convent on the other. Instead, Fontaine allows the images and music to simply seep into the viewer’s bones, suggesting a third way of living with trauma. As one of the nuns points out to Mathilde, even when the war ends, the world is not going to be more kind to them. What saves them, ultimately, is a closer connection to the world outside their walls, to messier parts of life, to the beauty of the world in its woundedness.

In his dense book The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth, David Bentley Hart writes about beauty and power:

Christ is a persuasion, a form evoking desire, and the whole force of the gospel depends upon the assumption that this persuasion is also peace: that the desire awakened by the shape of Christ and his church is one truly reborn as agape, rather than merely the way in which a lesser force succumbs to a greater, as an episode in the endless epic of power.

The film’s French title is Les innocentes, which is perhaps a better moniker. Many “innocent” people have been victimized by those with power—from the nuns and their offspring to the children who need someone to watch over them. Peace is what they yearn for: peace in which the lesser force, having surrendered to a greater one, is not hurt but made whole.

Agnus Dei doesn't give a definitive solution. It just points to a few starting places. And it makes us long for peace.

Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and an assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She tweets @alissamarie.

Check out the original article on Christianity Today site


Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight

Each of us can reach our ideal weight and reclaim our youthful vitality by adopting healthy lifestyle (image, Helen Glen).

A healthy lifestyle involves many choices. Among them, choosing a balanced diet or healthy eating plan. So how do you choose a healthy eating plan? Let's begin by defining what a healthy eating plan is.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

Eat Healthfully and Enjoy It!

A healthy eating plan that helps you manage your weight includes a variety of foods you may not have considered. If "healthy eating" makes you think about the foods you can't have, try refocusing on all the new foods you can eat— 

  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Fruits ― don't think just apples or bananas. All fresh, frozen, or canned fruits are great choices. Be sure to try some "exotic" fruits, too. How about a mango? Or a juicy pineapple or kiwi fruit! When your favorite fresh fruits aren't in season, try a frozen, canned, or dried variety of a fresh fruit you enjoy. One caution about canned fruits is that they may contain added sugars or syrups. Be sure and choose canned varieties of fruit packed in water or in their own juice.
  • Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Vegetables ― try something new. You may find that you love grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables with an herb you haven't tried like rosemary. You can sauté (panfry) vegetables in a non-stick pan with a small amount of cooking spray. Or try frozen or canned vegetables for a quick side dish — just microwave and serve. When trying canned vegetables, look for vegetables without added salt, butter, or cream sauces. Commit to going to the produce department and trying a new vegetable each week.
  • Calcium-rich foods ― you may automatically think of a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk when someone says "eat more dairy products." But what about low-fat and fat-free yogurts without added sugars? These come in a wide variety of flavors and can be a great dessert substitute for those with a sweet tooth.
  • A new twist on an old favorite ― if your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling. Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish!

Do I have to give up my favorite comfort food?

No! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while, and balancing them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.

Some general tips for comfort foods:

  • Eat them less often. If you normally eat these foods every day, cut back to once a week or once a month. You'll be cutting your calories because you're not having the food as often.
  • Eat smaller amounts. If your favorite higher-calorie food is a chocolate bar, have a smaller size or only half a bar.
  • Try a lower-calorie version. Use lower-calorie ingredients or prepare food differently. For example, if your macaroni and cheese recipe uses whole milk, butter, and full-fat cheese, try remaking it with non-fat milk, less butter, light cream cheese, fresh spinach and tomatoes. Just remember to not increase your portion size. For more ideas on how to cut back on calories, see Eat More Weigh Less.
Content source:Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the leading national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, a few miles northeast of the Atlanta city limits.
You can read the original article on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site.


Faith is a Spiritual Force

Faith is a spiritual force. James is talking about your faith being tested so you will know where you are. Are you able to slay the giants? (image, Che Garman)?

"Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given" (Matt. 13:11, NKJV).

A mystery is a truth to be revealed. As a child of God we thrive on revelation. John tells us that the truth will set you free. As always there is that little word with significant meaning. Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32, NKJV).

If you abide in My word, you will know the truth. Only the truth, the mystery that is revealed to you, will set you free. Until we receive the revelation of the truth, we will go around that mountain one more time! It is time to turn, go north. That is what the Lord spoke to the children of Israel. "You have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward" (Deuteronomy 2:3, NKJV).

Conversion gives you the ability to see. Jesus told Nicodemus, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3, NKJV). Jesus also told the disciples in John 16:7 that you have an advantage over the world, and the Helper will come to guide you into all truth. Read John, chapters 14, 15 and 16. It is just as important for you as it was for the disciples when Jesus was preparing them for His departure.

In Ephesians 1:15-17, Paul says, "After I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, [I] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." Notice, it was after he heard of their faith. He knew they now had the ability "to see."

When you embrace mystery in one hand and revelation in the other one, you are on your way to building a life full of faith and walking in the promises of God. That is where you live, at the corner of mystery and revelation! You must read the Word, meditate the Word, ask for revelation of the Word and then you will live the Word and experience the promises in your life!

In Exodus 23:29-30 (NIV), the Lord told the children of Israel, "But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land."

God knows where you are and if you are ready to destroy the giants in your land. He tests your faith so you will know if you are ready to slay the giants. James 1:2-3 (NKJV) says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." Various trials are in the world. They come in relationships, finances, health and matters of everyday life you face in the world. Faith is a spiritual force. James is talking about your faith being tested so you will know where you are. Are you able to slay the giants?

The "key" to this testing is found in James 1, verse 12, NKJV: "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." Blessed is the man who endures temptation, not the man who endured the trial or test.

The temptation for the child of God is to doubt God's Word. If you have a revelation of the promises, you will stand tall and walk in faith and see the end intended by the Lord (see James 5:11).

Time is your most valuable asset, and choice is your only real freedom. When you choose to invest a small amount of time, over time it will bring increase in areas that matter most! God is looking for men and women of God to be intentional and consistent in learning to navigate the pain and disappointments of life.

Joyce Tilney is the Founder of Women of God Ministries, teaching women today from women of yesterday. She is an author and Bible teacher. Visit www.wogministries for more information. Her new book and workbook, Why Diets Don't Work – Food Is Not the Problem, share her testimony of how the Lord helped her lose 88 pounds. There is nothing impossible with Him. Visit the website: for information.


Girl’s perspective: How to talk to women properly

Here is an insight for men on how to carry on conversation during a date with that special someone (Canamgirl Music photo)

Dear Men of all ages, I am sure that you all have the same question that you ask yourselves on a regular basis, “How can I pick up the ladies?” It is constantly on your mind, not only because you actually want a relationship or even just a date. It is an unwritten code among men. You hold a high place in your own manly society if you are that guy who gets all the girls. Have you ever thought that perhaps this is an issue? How do you think women respond to this knowledge? Do you think it works in your favor? Well gentlemen, I am here to answer all these questions and give you some insight. Not only for your sake, but for the sake of women who are losing faith in men.

Tip #1:Don’t try so hard.
Honestly if you make a couple attempts to get that girl onto the dance floor….to no avail…. it is most likely a wise decision to take a few steps back. Your chances of even a decent conversation will be a lost cause if you continue to push. This tactic becomes extremely annoying, not only that, eventually creepy. Instead, try asking once for that dance, (or whatever it may be) if you are “Shot Down” just wait for another opportunity to approach and strike up a conversation. You are basically still trying quite hard, although to the female species it will be seen as persistent; not pushy. You may actually instill in them a feeling of curiosity to know more.
Tip #2Play hard to get
Usually women are the ones who play hard to get. I can honestly tell you it is because it gives a feeling of being “hot stuff” “worth the chase.” Why not turn the tables?? Allow them to realize what a great catch you are! Pull away ever so slightly, give the woman a time to mull things over and realize how great you are Eventually she will turn up on your caller ID for a change. Trust me, we don’t give up that easily.
Tip #3DON’T be cocky!
There is nothing less attractive than a man who portrays himself as “Gods Gift to Women.” Be modest in conversation, try directing questions towards her, show an interest in her likes, dislikes, career etc. Be an honest gentleman. Tip #4Be truthful in your intentions. Men, please don’t get our hopes up for something more if that is never your intention. If you are just interested in a few casual dates now and again don’t be afraid to tell us. It is better to know that there is no current interest in a committed relationship right off the get go.
We will respect you for it.
Nothing worse than having the wrong idea and then getting hurt in the end. So, to sum things up……You all have moms, sisters, and female friends, pay more attention to the things that they talk about. I’m sure they can be heard complaining about that last date, or how they wish ( the man in question) would speak to them differently. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from those special women in your life, trust me, it will make you no less of a “man.” In fact, to a woman, you will see more of a man than ever!

is a blogger and the publisher of Susie Magazine: Find your soul mate. You may read more here.


Lessons from Star Wars Relationships

"I was pleasantly surprised at how these characters and events can give insights into our most important relationships." (Poster | Star Wars)

I write a lot about healthy relationships. I've done plenty of posts offering principles for a strong marriage or keys to coaching your kids on how to enter romantic relationships with wisdom. It's what I do.

I'm also a big Star Wars fan. Given the fact that The Force Awakens (episode 7 for those who aren't paying attention) opens this week, I couldn't help but mine the Star Wars canon for some valuable relationship advice. After some thoughtful consideration, I was pleasantly surprised at how these characters and events from "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" can give us insights into our most important relationships.

For no particular reason, I've chosen to put these bits of wisdom in an order that generally reflects the timeline of when we encountered the characters and events. Whether you are married or hoping to coach your kids, I'm sure these truths will absolutely revolutionize your life. Or not.

Romantic Relationships Begun During Times of Stress are Doomed to Fail
Romantic Relationships Begun During Times of Stress are Doomed to Fail
One day you're in a dead end job as a moisture farmer on a desert planet. The next day your home is destroyed, your relatives are murdered and you're caught up in a plot to destroy the Galactic Empire. THIS IS NOT A GOOD TIME TO ENTER A RELATIONSHIP. Even if the girl is a imprisoned princess who has a fiery heart and who looks surprisingly awesome with her hair in ridiculous buns on either side of her head. She might give you a passionate kiss before swinging across an oddly positioned crevasse on a giant space station, but you shouldn't trust your feelings (no matter what Obi-Wan might say). This relationship is going nowhere. Which leads me to our next relationship principle…
Don't Flirt With Your Sister
Don't Flirt With Your Sister
Before you start flirting with the only eligible female within twelve parsecs, make sure you first confirm that she is not, in fact, your twin sister. And whatever you do, don't kiss her to make another guy jealous. Ewww.


On Rare Occasions, Arrogance is More Attractive Than Humility
On Rare Occasions, Arrogance is More Attractive Than Humility
This is for the young men out there. When you are trying to pursue a romantic relationship with that special lady who you think is "the one," tenderhearted humility is always the right tone to take. It will almost always attract the girl more effectively than cockiness or swagger. But there is one exception. If your courtship hits a rough spot and an evil galactic dictator is about to freeze you in carbon before a bounty hunter takes you to your eventual death, all bets are off. In your last few moments of consciousness, if your girl declares, "I love you," then a perfectly appropriate response is, "I know." Chicks dig that.
There is Someone for Everyone
There is Someone for Everyone
If you have had little success in dating relationships and are wondering if there might be someone out there for you, don't lose hope. There was that brief scene in Episode One when the pod race was about to start. The vile and disgusting Jabba The Hutt steps up to the mic … and there in the background we catch a glimpse of Mrs. The Hutt. Again… Ewww. If Jabba can find a mate, then anyone can.
But Some People Are Single For A Reason
But Some People Are Single For A Reason
Maybe you're an 850 year-old sage from a new age religious order who has big ears and an annoying tendency to speak with technically accurate but annoying grammar. You'll likely be single for life. Maybe you're a seven and a half foot tall dude who speaks in grunts and who has a significant back hair problem. While certainly lovable, you are forever stuck in the friend zone. Maybe your parents named you Jar Jar. Know this: everybody hates you. You are destined to die alone.
Look for Red Flags in Your Dating Relationships
Look for Red Flags in Your Dating Relationships
Parents must coach their daughters to look for warning signs in the early stages of a romantic relationship. While a girl might be "in love," her significant other might have some character flaws that will negatively affect their relationship long-term. If your daughter's boyfriend shows any of these signs, you should coach her to move on:

He is at least 7 years younger than her and was absolutely annoying as a child. He grows into a handsome young man but still has the personality of a rotten turnip. His role model is a crusty old man with an eye on the absolute domination of the known galaxy. And if your daughter's boyfriend ever suggests that murdering a bunch of young trainees in his religious order is a good thing, she should take that as a warning sign that the he is not the marrying type. Better to end it now than to have to deal with his dysfunctional tendencies later.

A Final Word
Hopefully, these principles will help you to build healthy relationships in your marriage and family. As Yoda might say: "Timeless, they are."

Since one portion of our work at INFO for Families is devoted to discovering God's design for sexual health in marriage, I will offer one final piece of relationship advice to all the wives out there. If are you're looking for "a new hope" to bring some spice back into your marriage, buy one of those Princess Leia costumes from the Jabba the Hutt scene in Return of the Jedi. You can't go wrong.

Barrett and Jenifer JohnsonAfter serving in the local church for 25 years, Barrett and Jenifer launched INFO for Families as a ministry designed to encourage people through speaking, personal coaching and resource development. Barrett served for 15 years in youth ministry before serving for eight years as the Family Minister at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Atlanta, one of the largest churches in the South. He has degrees from Texas A&M University and Southwestern Seminary, but he and Jenifer have received their best education through the no-holds-barred nature of everyday family life.

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When You Only Have a Few Minutes to Pray

How one to three minutes can focus our minds and hearts on adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. (image, Centreville United Methodist Church)

My wife is a professional counselor and a good one. Her workdays are divided into listening to and helping many different people, 55 minutes at a time. She has often said she’d like to have a 50- or 55-minute hourglass for her counseling sessions. It would be not only a helpful way to keep track of time but also a focusing and soothing influence on both counselor and counselee! So this past fall I ordered her a custom hourglass to give to her as a Christmas gift.

That got me thinking, which is always a risky proposition. Hourglasses come in all shapes and sizes. We even have several one-minute and three-minute versions in our home already, packed in various board games and group game boxes. So why not put them to even better use—in prayer?

So, new year, new things. I plan to try it.

For example, I can follow the ACTS pattern using the three-minute timer for each type of prayer:

  • Adoration and praise
  • Confession
  • Thanksgiving
  • Supplication (asking in earnest) and intercession (praying for others)

I might use the one-minute hourglass to focus my prayers on family: a minute of intercession for my wife, children and grandchildren.

Something else I might try: using the one minute timer for “lightning round” prayers, like game shows sometimes do, particularly in the middle of the day. So even when I have only a few minutes to pray, the hourglass can help focus my thoughts and prayers.

I bet the hourglass can even help me practice silence. I can use one of them to focus my thoughts at the beginning of my prayer time, watching the grains of sand flow silently downward. Or let the sand be a benediction of sorts to conclude a period of prayer. And on those occasions when I am hurried or stressed, maybe I can let the hourglass calm me for a minute. . . or three.

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