1459) Mad at Who?

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Phil Robertson talks about duck calls and Jesus


By Phil Robertson in NKJV Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible.


     Years ago I was invited to give my duck call demonstration at a store in Iowa.  A huge crowd of duck hunters gathered around me like bees on honey.  They’d seen our Duck Commander DVDs and our TV show on the Outdoor Channel, and they wanted to meet me in person.  After I went through my demonstration, I used the opportunity to share the gospel.  Look, I know if you’re gonna do that, there’ll be a trickle of people who’ll head toward the exit.  But that’s okay with me, because I’ve also seen the impact of the gospel on people’s lives.

     About five years after that presentation in Iowa, I got this letter:

Dear Mr. Robertson,

I came to hear your demonstration in Iowa because you were my hero in the duck calling world.  In my mind you were the big cheese and the guru, so I had you all built up.  As you went through the demonstration, I thought, That guy can sure blow a duck call– if I could only get half as good as he is.

     I really looked up to you.  But before a cat could lick his tail, the duck calls went back inside your little satchel and the next thing I know, you got a Bible and you’re talking about sin, death, and Jesus.  I’m thinking, What a jerk!  He’s taking advantage of me.  I came to hear a duck call and now he’s beating me over the head with religion!  When I left there, I bad-mouthed you.  I cussed you to everybody I knew.  I even threw your duck calls away.

     But a strange thing happened.  What I heard kept gnawing at me.  One day I woke up and sat on the side of my bed.  I was thinking, Now wait a minute!  This guy told us that we were all sinners.  Which is true.  He proceeded to tell us that we’re all going to go six feet under.  Which is also true.  So I began to question why I was so mad at you.

     It occurred to me, Mr. Robertson, that the whole time I’ve been bad-mouthing you, it really wasn’t you I was mad at— it was God.  He’s the One I’ve been rebelling against.  Here you give me the way off of Planet Earth, you tell me my sins can be removed so I can come forth from the grave— and I am cussing you out over that . . . for five years!  What can I say?  I’m an idiot.

     So I took you up on the good news of Jesus.  I responded by faith.  I was baptized.  My wife is thrilled.  My children are jumping up and down.  They’re happy because their dad is now a Christian.  I hereby officially apologize for cursing you for five years.

     Just because someone hears the gospel and their first response is to get mad or reject you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have said anything.  Remember it’s God who grants repentance to them.  This guy wrestled with the Almighty for years.  That’s spiritual warfare: the devil was on one side and God was on the other.  The Spirit, through the gospel, had convicted him at that duck call workshop.

     A guy once warned me that my preaching was going to hurt my business.  Hurt my business?  We’re comparing duck call sales to people getting their sins forgiven?  After all, Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12)!  And if He lives in us, Jesus says we’re supposed to let our light shine so that people will see it and come to Him.  Look, I enjoy going to conventions to talk about duck calls, but I want to get down to some more important business while I’m there.  The truth is I really don’t care what it does to the duck call business.

     Besides, I’d say things are working out okay for us on that front.


I Thessalonians 2:2b  —  With the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.

2 Timothy 2:24-26  —  The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

John 8:12  —  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Luke 11:33  —  (Jesus said), “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”


We are going home to many who cannot or will not read your Word.  So, Lord, make us to be a Bible, living as you have taught us to live, so that those who do not read the Book can read it in us.

–Prayer of a Chinese woman

1455) Curly Don the Disciple

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By Phil Robertson in the NKJV Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible

     A few years back, the creek down the hill from my house froze over solid.  I’d never seen a phenomenon like that in all my years.  The temperature dropped low enough to make a snowman shiver.  I figured anyone with a lick of sense would stay inside like I was doing.  That’s when I heard a banging sound outdoors.  I bundled up and walked down to the mouth of the creek to see who or what was making all that racket.  This was back in the day when I was able to let folks come and go on my property as they pleased, to launch a boat or whatnot.

     When I walked to the riverbank, I spied an aluminum boat with two young bucks in there thrashing about.  They were maybe fifteen, sixteen years old.  One dude was hitting and breaking the ice with his wooden paddle.  He’d cut a path about twenty feet out into the creek.  “What are you boys fixin’ on doing?” I asked.

     They looked up, startled to see me.  The older boy, Curly Don, said to the other, “That’s him!”

     You might say in this part of the country I’m a bit of a legendary figure.  I’ve managed to win the respect of the locals, who’ve watched me work hard and grow the Duck Commander business.  To some of the rednecks, however, I scare the daylights out of them.  You have to remember: when they’re dealing with me, there’s always a Bible within arm’s reach.  To a redneck, a Bible in the hand of an ex-drunk is scarier than a guy with an Uzi sub-machine gun.  They’re thinking, ‘Don’t mess with that ol’ cat because he’s gonna start preachin’ to you and everything else around.’  They see me and my Bible and they start tearing up the road.  But these dudes were clearly fans.  After getting over their initial shock, they answered, “We’re gonna go duck huntin’ up the creek about a mile or so.”

     “Without a motor?”


     “Do you realize that even if you could bust the ice for a mile, it’d be refreezing right behind you?”  They hadn’t thought of that and, of course, they didn’t have the proper clothes to keep warm.  They were just a couple of rednecks with their shotguns.

     I said, “Boys, you don’t want to try that.  You’ll get tangled up out there and you’re likely to freeze to death.  Get out of that boat; I’ll take you.”

     After we shot a bunch of ducks, I invited them to swing by the house to talk whenever they had a chance.  Curly Don took me up on that offer and got to hanging around to learn about God.  He eventually gave his heart to Jesus and he’s been a member of our church for probably twenty or twenty-five years.

     Here’s the deal.  The Bible says we’re supposed to make disciples of all the nations, right?  But that’s not just the work of missionaries in faraway places.  When I ran up on those boys trying to break the ice, I could have run them off my property, or I could have ignored them and let them be.  When I offered to take them duck hunting, I was thinking of their eternal souls.  The hunting was just a way to make the first connection.


Matthew 28:18-20  —  Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Acts 13:47  —  This is what the Lord has commanded us:  “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Romans 1:16  —  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

II  Corinthians 5:20  —  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.


Our Father, remove from us the sophistication of our age and the skepticism that has come, like frost, to blight our faith and to make it weak.  Bring us back to a strong faith that enables us to live and to love, always walking with Thee.  We pray for a return of that simple faith, that old-fashioned trust in God, that made strong and great the homes of our ancestors.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

–Peter Marshall (1902-1949),  Mr. Jones Meet the Master, 1949, page 159 (adapted).

1347) What Are the Unchurched Thinking?

We hear much today about the hostility of unbelievers towards Christians:  don’t say ‘Merry Christmas,’ take down those Nativity Scenes from public places, make sure the children don’t sing any Christmas carols at the ‘Winter Program,’ etc.  Just yesterday I read about some customers at a restaurant who were offended by the Christmas music that was playing softly in the background.  Who are these people?

Well, according to a recent survey, they do not represent your average unchurched neighbor.  Actually, according to this survey, there is among America’s unchurched a surprising openness to conversation about religion and an invitation to church.  The following piece was taken from an article by Thom Ranier entitled “Five Surprising Insights about the Unchurched.  ( http://www.ThomRanier.com )


     They aren’t antagonistic.

     They welcome a conversation with believers.

     They aren’t staying out of church for the reasons you may think.

     They are the unchurched.  And because many church leaders and members have such misconceptions about them, churches often fail to reach them, or even attempt to reach them.

     In one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on the unchurched, LifeWay Research, in partnership with the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism in Wheaton, Illinois, surveyed 2,000 unchurched Americans.  They defined “unchurched” as someone who has not attended a worship service in the last six months.

     One-third of the respondents were non-white.  Genders were almost equally represented (53% male), and almost half have a high school diploma or less.  Let’s look at five surprising insights about the unchurched.

  1. Most unchurched do indeed have some church background.  Contrary to some perceptions, the great majority of unchurched have a church background.  Almost two-thirds of them (62 percent) went to church regularly as a child.
  2. Most unchurched quit church because they got out of the habit of churchgoing.  For certain, a number of them did leave churches for negative reasons, but that is not true of the majority.
  3. One-third of the unchurched have plans to go to church in the future. Please read that statement carefully.  One of three unchurched Americans are actually planning to return to church.  Is your church actively inviting them?
  4. The unchurched are very open to a gospel conversation.  Nearly half (47%) would interact freely in such a conversation.  Another third (31%) would listen actively without participating.  Pause for a moment.  Look at those numbers.  Almost eight of ten unchurched Americans would welcome a gospel conversation.  Another 12% would discuss it with some discomfort, and only 11% would change the subject as soon as possible.  We can’t use the poor excuse that the unchurched really aren’t interested in gospel conversations.  In reality, church members are more likely not to be interested in initiating gospel conversations.
  5. If you invite them, they will come.  About a year ago, I received requests to provide a framework for churches to invite people to church.  We called it ‘Invite Your One.’  We are now getting responses from churches that have initiated this ministry, and we are blown away at what God is doing.  Among the unchurched, 55% said they would attend church if invited by a family member.  And 51% said they would attend church if invited by a friend or neighbor.  These numbers are staggering.  The opportunities are incredible.

     I have been involved in church research and practice for four decades, a testament to both my passion and elderly status.  These data confirm my anecdotal observations that there has never been a more opportune time to connect with the lost and unchurched.

     It’s truly an incredible opportunity.


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Numbers 10:29  —  And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us,  and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good things to us.”

Mark 1:17  —  Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Acts 8:30-31  —  Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?”  And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Matthew 11:28-30  —  (Jesus said), “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Revelation 3:20  —  (Jesus said), “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.”


God of love, who sent Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost, may we who have been found by him value those who do not believe, and never shun neighbors who reject you.  Remembering how our faith was given, may we preach good news with good will, trusting you to follow up your Word, so that all may hear and believe and come to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Presbyterian Hymnal, 1970, page 180.

1325) A Little Light in the Darkness


The ‘Backyard Bible Club’


By Joshua Rogers, November 15, 2016 blog at:  www.joshuarogers.com

     My old friend Dawn emailed me with unbelievable news last week:  She accidentally found Amanda.  The last time either of us saw her was 17 years ago.

     The summer of 1999, our church hosted Backyard Bible Clubs in neighborhoods throughout Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Dawn and I were assigned to a trailer park where we met several kids with little to do during summer break, and that’s where we met nine-year-old Amanda, her siblings, and her friends.

     The kids showed up every morning, ready for another day at the castle.  They sang along with the songs, listened intently to the lessons, and addressed the members of the “royal court” as if we were kings and queens.

     Little did we suspect that Amanda and her siblings were living through hell.

     Seventeen years after the summer of Son Castle, I saw Dawn on Facebook occasionally, but I had almost forgotten about our Backyard Bible Club days.  Then I got her email last week.

     Dawn, now a registered nurse, told me that earlier that day, she hosted a party at her home and one of the nurses from her workplace came.  During a conversation, the nurse asked Dawn if she had ever helped with a Bible Club at a trailer park in the Glendale community.

     “I sure did,” said Dawn.

     “Oh wow,” said the nurse, “I was at that Bible Club.”

     It was Amanda.

     Amanda told Dawn that she attended Bible Club with her brothers and sisters, and for some reason, her most vivid memory was of Dawn in a purple outfit.  She had never forgotten her face.

     “I had a terrible childhood,” Amanda told Dawn, “and Backyard Bible Club is one of my few happy memories of it.  It was my first encounter with God.”

     To Amanda’s surprise, Dawn found several photos of the Backyard Bible Club and brought them out.  Amanda’s eyes filled with tears as she looked through the photos.  As she and Dawn were talking, Dawn sensed God prompting her to share about her own horrific upbringing.  So at the risk of creating a potentially awkward conversation, she went out on a limb and revealed that as a child, she had been sexually abused for 11 years.

     Amanda says, “When the words ‘sexually abused’ left Dawn’s lips, I felt a sense of purpose wash over me.  Meeting her was what God wanted; it was what I needed.  I needed Dawn.”  And that’s when Amanda revealed her own painful story.  Around the time when we met her, her step-father was forcing her to share a bed with him.  She went through years of sexual abuse as well, and yet there was a light in her dark memories:  a 19-year-old in a homemade princess outfit.

     Dawn and Amanda, who are both faithful Christians today, sense that they were brought together to give other survivors hope.  They’re thinking through what that will look like, but whatever it is wouldn’t have been possible without a few simple things like a Backyard Bible Club, makeshift costumes, and young adults who were willing to play dress-up for a week to bless some kids in a trailer park.

     If you’re a believer, there’s a good chance that you too are doing some small things to love the people around you.  You’re teaching Sunday School, visiting a relative in the nursing facility, intently listening to your kids, donating money to charity, encouraging a coworker — whatever it is, God knows and He can use it.

     Be encouraged.  When we push over the dominoes of God’s love — even one — the result is unpredictable.  Through His unfailing love, all kinds of people will reap the benefits of your selfless gifts, no matter how big or small.  And while these gifts may not seem like much, God is big enough to take them and turn them into miracles.


Matthew 5:14a…16b  —  (Jesus said), “You are the light of the world…  Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Mark 9:37  —  (Jesus said), “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Matthew 19:14  —  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE  (two verses from one of many versions)

Lyrics by Avis Christiansen, tune by Harry Dixon Loes, c. 1920.

This little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

Out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Oh, out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Out in the dark
I’m going to let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.


This Little Light of Mine on Youtube:




1313) Going Fishing With Jesus

By William Willimon (source lost)

     In Matthew 4:19 Jesus called some fishermen, ordinary folks like you and like me, to be his disciples.  He said to them, “Follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.”  Jesus has promised that those who follow him shall work with him in ‘catching people,’ that is, in leading others toward his kingdom.

     When was the last time you shared your faith with someone who is not a believer, not a member of the church?  Many people have never had that experience.  We are uncomfortable talking about religion with other people.  We Americans like to say, “Religion is a private affair,” something to keep to yourself.  Of course, we don’t want to be “pushy,” but fear of being too “pushy” leads most of us to say nothing at all about what we believe.

     Do you know the major reason given by people who don’t go to church when they are asked why they don’t go to church?  “Nobody ever asked me.”

     We’ve done a poor job of fishing with Jesus.  And yet Jesus has commanded us to share the gospel.  Think about the people with whom you work at the office the people you enjoy having lunch with at school, or your next-door neighbor.  Have you invited them to come to church with you?

     Maybe we still live with the old assumption that this is basically a “Christian country,” where being Christian comes with breathing the air and drinking the water.  We don’t have to tell people about the kingdom because they are already in it just by being lucky enough to be born in North America.  Not much need for fishing.

     If we were ever correct in those assumptions they are not correct today.  Increasing numbers of people are utterly befuddled by the church, have no knowledge of the Bible, and feel alone and disconnected from religious faith.  Rather than wringing our hands over the church’s decline, perhaps we ought to see this as a great opportunity for us again to enjoy fishing with Jesus, reaching out, and pointing others to God who has loved us and called us and calls and loves our neighbors as well.

     Thus, I shall tell you a story:

     When evangelical activist Dr. Tony Campolo was to speak at our chapel, a young man appeared at my office and asked to introduce Dr. Campolo before he spoke.  He told me that he would like to share something of what Dr. Campolo had meant to him.

     “Such as?” I asked.

     “Such as when I worked for him last summer, in Philadelphia,” he replied

    I asked him to tell me about it.

     “I got converted my senior year of high school.  I was a fresh, eager Christian, so when Dr. Campolo came to our town to speak, I went to hear him.  He was great.  After he spoke, he asked us to sign up for his program of inner-city ministry in Philadelphia.  So I did.

     “Well, in mid-June, about a hundred kids met in a Baptist church in Philadelphia.  We had about an hour of singing before Dr. Campolo arrived.  When he got to the church, we were really worked up, all enthusiastic and ready to go.  Dr. Campolo then preached for about an hour, and when he finished, people were shouting, standing on the pews clapping.  It was great.

     “’OK gang, are you ready to go out there and tell ’em about Jesus?’ he asked.  ‘Yeah, let’s go’ we shouted back.

     “‘Get on the bus!’ Tony shouted.  So we spilled out of the church and on to the bus.  We were singing clapping.  But then we began to drive deeper into the depths of the city.  We weren’t in a great neighborhood when we started riding, but it got worse.  Gradually, we stopped singing and all of us college kids was just staring out the windows.  We were scared.

     “Then the bus pulled up before one of the worst looking housing projects in Philadelphia.  Tony jumped on the bus opened the door and said, ‘Alright gang get out there and tell ’em about Jesus. I’ll be back at five o’clock.’

     “We made our hesitant way off the bus.  We stood there on the corner and had a prayer, and then we spread out.  I walked down the sidewalk and stopped before huge tenement house.  I gulped, said a prayer, and ventured inside.  There was a terrible odor.  Windows were out.  There were no lights in the hall.  I walked up one flight of stairs toward the door where I heard a baby crying.  I knocked on the door.

     “‘Who is it?’ said a loud voice inside.  Then the door was cracked open and a woman holding a naked baby, peered out at me.  ‘What you want?’ she asked in a harsh, mean voice.

     “I told her that I wanted to tell her about Jesus.

     “With that she swung the door open and began cursing me.  She cursed me all the way down the hall, down the flight of steps, out to the sidewalk.

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     “I felt terrible.   ‘Look at me,’ I said to myself.  ‘Some Mr. Christian I am.  How in the world could somebody like me think that I could tell anyone about Jesus?’

     “I sat down on the curb and cried.  Then I looked up and noticed a store on the corner, windows all boarded up and bars were over the door.  I went to the store, walked in, and looked around.  Then I remembered the baby had no diapers.  The mother was smoking.  I bought a box of paper diapers and a pack of cigarettes.

     “I walked back to the tenement house, said a prayer, walked in, walked up the flight of stairs, gulped, stood before the door and knocked.

     “’Who is it?’ said the voice inside.  When she opened the door I slid that box of diapers and those cigarettes in.  She looked at them, looked at me and said, ‘Come in.’

     “I stepped in the dingy apartment.

     “Sit down,’ she commanded.

     “I sat down on the old sofa and began to play with the baby.  I put a diaper on the baby, even though I have never put one on before.  When the woman offered me a cigarette, I smoked it, even though I don’t smoke.  I stayed there all afternoon, talking, playing with the baby, listening to the woman.

     “About four o’clock, the woman looked at me and said, ‘Let me ask you something.  What’s a nice college boy like you doing in a place like this?’

     “So I told her everything I knew about Jesus.  It took me about five minutes.  Then she said, ‘Pray for me and my baby that we can make it out of here alive’

     “And I prayed.

     “That evening after we were all back on the bus, Tony asked, ‘Well gang, did any of you get to tell ’em about Jesus?’

     “And I said, ‘Ya, I got to tell ’em about Jesus.  I went out to save somebody, and I ended up getting saved.  I guess I became a disciple.’”


The moral of the story is that a tangible expression of care and concern might open the door for a few words about Jesus.   Watch for such opportunities and be ready to respond.


Matthew 4:18-22  —  As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.  Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John.  They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.  Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.


Lord, open my eyes so I may see the opportunities around me to tell others about you.  Amen.

1310) A Prayer for an Unbelieving Husband

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A story told by Tom Housholder, pastor/evangelist in the former American Lutheran Church.  The story took place in the 1950’s in  Housholder’s first congregation.  I heard him tell this story when I was on internship in Sisseton, South Dakota in 1979.


     Elmer lived the life of a hermit in a remote cabin in a valley in the mountains of Idaho.  Elmer had no friends, and no one knew anything about him.  His cabin was far from any main road, so people knew of him only because of his occasional trips into town to buy a few things.  Elmer did not go to church anywhere and never talked to anyone about anything.

     One day Elmer parked his old truck in front of the Lutheran church and went in to talk to Pastor Tom.  The pastor was surprised to see Elmer, and invited him to come into his office.  Elmer introduced himself and said, “Pastor, I would like to be baptized.  Would you do that for me?”

     Without hesitating, Pastor Tom said, “Sure, Elmer.  But can I ask you what made you decided you wanted to be baptized?”

     “Well, pastor,” Elmer said, “it was my wife that got me thinking.”

     “Your wife!” said a surprised Pastor Tom.  “I didn’t know you had a wife.”

     “I don’t anymore,” Elmer said looking down.  “She’s been dead for about sixty years.”

     The pastor shook his head and said, “I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

     “It’s a long story,” Elmer replied, and then went on to tell the pastor the story of his life, a story no one in town had ever heard.

     Elmer was originally from Minnesota.  He got married, and he and his wife moved to North Dakota where they homesteaded a farm.  There, they had a child, and with tears in his eyes Elmer talked about how happy the three of them were.

     One afternoon in their second winter on the farm, Elmer’s wife and baby were visiting at a neighbor’s house.  Early in the evening it started to snow, so Elmer’s wife and child left for home.  On their way, the gentle snow suddenly turned into a blizzard, with the intense prairie winds blowing the heavy snow so hard that the mother could not see where she was going.  They lost their way, and both froze to death that night in the rapidly falling temperature.

     Elmer was devastated by the tragedy.  He could not get over it.  In the long and lonely nights that followed, he came to a decision.  He would never love anyone like that again.  In fact, for the rest of his life he would not even try to get to know anyone.  He did not want to leave himself open to being hurt like that ever again.

     The next Spring Elmer packed up a few belongings and headed farther west.  He bought a small place in this mountain valley, built a cabin on it, and stayed there.  And he kept that promise he made to himself, and never got to know a single person.

     One of the few things Elmer brought along from his home in North Dakota was his wife’s Bible.  It was important to her, and he had fond memories of her reading it every day.  Elmer said he was never interested in religion.  His wife would occasionally bring it up to him, but he paid no attention, and she never forced it.

     Many thousands of times over the last sixty years, Elmer would sit in his rocking chair and hold that Bible in his hands, thinking of his wife and how happy they were together.  He never opened the Bible.  He still was not interested in what it had to say.  Elmer just held that Bible because it reminded him of his wife.

     “Well,” Elmer said as he neared the end of his story, “I have arthritis in my hands now and I have been dropping things.  Last night when I reached over to pick up the Bible, it slipped out of my hands.  It fell open on the floor, and inside I could see a small piece of paper.  I put on my glasses to take a closer look, and I saw it was my wife’s handwriting.  It was a prayer.  It said, ‘Lord, get a hold of Elmer—he doesn’t know you yet.’  That isn’t much, but it was enough to make me want to do something about it.”

     Over the next few weeks Pastor Tom met with Elmer to help him ‘get to know the Lord.’  When baptism day came, everyone in the small congregation gathered around the font to serve as his sponsors.  When the baptism was complete, Elmer, who had never again wanted to get close to anyone, looked up and said to everyone, “Hi, family.”


I Corinthians 7:13-14a…15b-16  —  If a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.  For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband…  God has called us to live in peace.  How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?  Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

James 5:16b  —   The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.


Lord, get a hold of _______.  He/she doesn’t know you yet.  Amen.

1308) Muslims Finding Jesus in Athens


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New Glory in the Ancient City: Muslim Refugees Turning to Jesus, by David Crabb; posted October 25, 2016 at:  http://www.desiringgod.org .


     ATHENS, Greece — The spirit of Athens today lies at the crossroads between old and new.  Everywhere you look are reminders of the epic grandeur this city once enjoyed.  Even if you were to overlook the many monuments and ruins scattered throughout the city, the Acropolis looms large on the horizon, serving as a constant reminder that the world once revolved around this city.

     The modern Athens, however, bears little resemblance to its ancient self.  While teeming with life and energy, it sags under the burden of economic stagnation and wrestles with its current and most pressing crisis: what to do with the massive influx of refugees from the Middle East that are daily streaming into the city.

     Greece is unofficially a “Christian” country.  Some estimate that nearly 97% of the population identifies with the Orthodox church.  And yet for most Greeks, this is merely a cultural identification, not a religious one.  The church is linked closely with the state, and most Greeks ignore the church at best, or resent it at worst.  The tired cathedrals throughout the city serve as an appropriate metaphor for the “Christianity” of the city — ubiquitous, but lifeless.

     And yet the kingdom of God is growing in Athens.

     The Spirit of God is on the move and proving once again that he uses the foolishness of the world to confound the wise.  God has used this city’s greatest burden — the refugee crisis — to display his glory in magnificent ways.  Every day Muslim refugees in Athens are finding Jesus to be their true Treasure.

     Javad is an Iranian former Muslim pastoring in Athens.  He first heard the gospel via satellite radio while living in Iran.  He didn’t have a Bible, and he didn’t know any Christians.  But when he came to Greece, a roommate asked him to come to an Iranian church with him.  He didn’t even realize it was possible for “Iranian” and “church” to be put together!  Because it was an entirely new concept, he accepted the invitation out of curiosity.  There, in a small, nondescript room of a rented street corner, he heard the message of life and gladly surrendered to Christ.

     Javad is a remarkable evangelist.  Every day he goes to the park, refugee camps, or coffee shops to share the gospel with Iranian and Afghan refugees.  He told me that he knows of at least two-to-three Muslims who have trusted Christ nearly every day since he arrived in 2008.  He works in a refugee center that provides food, clothing, and practical help to newly arrived refugees.

     Through the ministry of this center alone, over two thousand Muslims (overwhelmingly Iranian and Afghan) have trusted Christ in the last eight years.  In Javad’s church, approximately four hundred people have trusted Christ in the last few years, and nearly two thousand Farsi Bibles have been distributed to Iranian seekers.

     Many of these new converts are only passing through the city of Athens on the way to other European cities, so an informal network of church plants has grown up.  Former-Muslim converts have planted Farsi- and Urdu-speaking churches in Germany, France, the U.K., Sweden, the Netherlands, and more.  A new wind from the Global South is changing the face of gospel-preaching Christianity in Europe.

     And yet following Jesus is a costly decision for Muslims.

     Javad told me, “When I came to faith, I knew I could never go back to my family or to Iran, but it’s worth it because I have Jesus.”  This is a great problem for many Muslims.  To come to Christ means to give up everything they know: their country, their family, their friends, and their way of life.  And yet, as one former Muslim here in Athens told me, “When you have the Treasure, you will gladly leave family, friends, and country.”

     These brothers and sisters know the truth of Jesus’s words, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

     After conversion to Christianity, many former Muslims experience persecution from their family and friends.  They are ostracized, harassed, sometimes even attacked.  These brothers and sisters know the truth of Jesus’s words, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

     Like the apostle Paul, many of these converts once persecuted Christians themselves.  Javad was preaching in a park one afternoon and proclaimed, “Jesus is the Son of God.”  A Muslim woman who was entirely veiled except for her eyes, cursed him loudly and intensely.  A few weeks later, he was preaching again at church, and after the service a woman — with no veil — came up to him and said, “I heard you preach in the park a few weeks ago and cursed you, but now I have eyes to see that Jesus is the Son of God.”  This woman is now part of a church plant in Germany and regularly shares her faith with Muslim refugees…

     In Athens, a new glory is on display that exceeds even the grandeur of the ancient city.  “The gospel . . . is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16) because “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  The name of Jesus is spreading through Athens, and thousands of Muslims are finding him to be their greatest Treasure.


This is a side of the Muslim refugee story you probably have not heard in the mainstream media.  We’ve seen the video clips of Muslim refugees — many of them from war-torn Syria — flooding into an unprepared and overwhelmed Europe.  We’ve heard accounts of some of these refugees committing ugly crimes and others demanding that the post-Christian societies that welcome them conform to the harsh demands of Islamic law.  We’ve even read the stories about Islamist terror groups such as ISIS infiltrating the refugee populations in order to wreak further havoc on the West.

But you may not know the rest of the story.  It’s a story of God building His kingdom in the midst of chaos, doubt, and uncertainty.  So while the wars and upheavals in the Middle East and Asia have sparked a crisis of biblical proportions, God continues His quiet work of saving sinners and transforming lives.   As Joseph in the Old Testament said, what man meant for evil, God meant for good, for the saving of many people.  –Eric Metaxas


Matthew 16:18  —  (Jesus said), “I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Genesis 50:20  —  (Joseph said), “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good; to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Acts 4:12  —  (Peter said), “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

1278) She Brought Her Assassin to Church

I Found the Gospel in Communist Romania


By Virginia Prodan, on the ‘My Testimony’ page of the September 23, 2016 issue of Christianity Today magazine.  Prodan is an international human rights attorney, and an Allied Attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom.  She is the author of Saving My Assassin (Tyndale).


     Like most people, I was born with a hunger for truth and freedom.  Unfortunately, I was born in Communist Romania under the brutal totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.  Ceausescu’s Romania was a land of lies, where simply questioning a government directive could lead to imprisonment, physical torture, and— in some cases— death.

     Needless to say, we lived in a constant state of anxiety and mistrust.  Anyone could arbitrarily denounce a neighbor, classmate, or family member for making “anti-government” statements.  The government even had spies planted in the churches.  The best way to avoid trouble was to remain silent, question nothing, and try to blend in.

     For years, I watched my parents and relatives play the part of “good citizens” while privately whispering their contempt for the government.  I wondered, Why do people always speak in whispers?  Why are they so afraid to speak the truth?

     The more fear battered those around me into silence, the more obsessed I became with finding the truth.  After graduation, I went to law school and became an attorney.  But my job— assigned by the government— consisted of little more than rubber-stamping newly-created communist rules and regulations.  It was demoralizing.

     One evening a client came in to discuss some paperwork related to a property settlement.  We had been meeting for months now, and frankly, I was exhausted.  But this particular client never seemed to get discouraged.  He always smiled, and he had a sense of contentment unlike anything I had ever seen.  It was as though he were somehow oblivious to all of the misery that surrounded him.  He radiated joy and peace, and for some reason, it troubled me.

     Without thinking, I confessed, “I wish I had what you have in your life.  I wish I had your sense of peace and happiness.”

     “Do you go to church?” he asked.

     “Yes,” I replied.  “On Christmas and Easter.  Why?”

     “Would you like to come with me to my church this Sunday?”

     My first instinct was to decline.  After all, the communist government was notoriously anti-church.  Under Ceausescu’s rule, Christians were frequently arrested, beaten, and imprisoned.  Church buildings were bulldozed, their land confiscated to make room for Ceausescu’s palace.  Anyone who questioned his anti-God stance was either thrown in jail or “disappeared.”  For all I knew, this could be a trick to test my loyalty.  I paused briefly to consider my next move.  Then I saw once again that look of peace and contentment.  I wanted that— so much so that I decided it was worth the risk.

     The next Sunday I visited his church.  As soon as the choir finished the opening song, the pastor read John 14:6:  “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  I could not believe what I heard.  Someone was claiming to be the truth?

     As the pastor continued to describe the truth of Jesus Christ, I felt as though the verses he shared were written specifically for me.  Looking across the aisle, I saw my client.  He smiled, nodded, and gently patted his Bible as if to say, “Now do you understand?”

     I did.  Without realizing it, I was beaming back at him.  For the first time in my life, everything made sense.  I had spent years searching for the truth, but I had been looking in the wrong places— law school, the government, the justice system.  I suddenly realized that truth was something that came not from law books, but from God himself: the Creator of the universe— my Creator, the source of all life, peace, and happiness.

     Barely able to contain my excitement, I accepted the pastor’s invitation to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior.  From that moment on, I would dedicate my life to pursuing and speaking the truth, no matter the cost.

     Shortly after I was baptized, I began defending fellow Christians facing imprisonment for transporting Bibles across the Romanian border, sharing their faith, or worshiping privately in their own homes.

     This quickly made me a target.  Many days I awoke to find my tires slashed.  Clients and friends— even my children— were threatened.  My daughters and I were held under house arrest for almost a month.  I was kidnapped, bullied, pushed into moving traffic, and beaten by the secret police.  For their own protection, friends and coworkers began keeping their distance.  My faith was tested daily.  My greatest test, however, was yet to come.

     Late at night, after a long day in court, Miruna, my legal assistant, peeked into my doorway: “A big man in the waiting room says he wants to discuss a case.”  She shrugged.  “That’s all he will tell me.”

     I was taken aback at how enormous he was.  As he sat down in front of my desk, his eyes seemed to bore a hole straight through me, and a sneer formed at the corner of his mouth.  Slowly, he pulled back his coat and reached into a shoulder holster, withdrawing a gun.

     “You have failed to heed the warnings you’ve been given,” he said, aiming at me.  “I’ve come here to finish the matter once and for all.”  He flexed his fingers, and I heard a distinctive click.

     “I am here to kill you.”

     My hands shook.  Fight-or-flight instincts pinged in my brain.  My chin trembled.  An image flashed through my mind: my assistant arriving in the morning and finding my lifeless body on the office floor.

     I was alone with my killer.  And yet, I was not.  I began silent, fervent prayers, recalling God’s promises.  His Spirit breathed peace into my panicked heart.  Then I sensed his message: Share the gospel.

     I considered the man before me.  Behind those hate-filled eyes was a creation of God.  He had an immortal soul, and he needed to know about the love God has shown in Jesus Christ.  At once emboldened, I met my killer’s eyes.  “Have you ever asked yourself: ‘Why do I exist?’ or ‘Why am I here?’ or ‘What is the meaning of my life?’  I once asked myself those questions.”  My voice stayed calm and did not waver.

     He slid his gun back into the holster.  I leaned forward.  “You are here because God put you here, and he has put you to a test.  Will you abide in God or in the will of a man— your boss, President Ceausescu, who requires you to worship him?  God has given you free will to choose.”

     His eyes softened.  My heart thumped even faster, and my confidence rose.

     “The truth is that we have all been corrupted and gone away from God.”  He nodded.  “We all are sinners, and our sin has determined our future.  Hebrews 9:27 says, ‘People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.’ ”

     His mouth fell slightly open, and his hands relaxed.

     “But the good news is that God has prepared a way out for every one of us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ ”

     As I continued to talk with him, he appeared smaller and more peaceful.

     Finally, he brought his hand to his forehead and said, “You are right.  The people who sent me here are crazy.  I do need Christ.”  He promised, “I will come to your church as a secret brother in Christ.  I will worship your powerful God.”

     And with that, my killer walked away saved— a brother in Christ.  He went on to enroll in seminary, and we have even kept in touch.  He, like me, had found the Truth.  And neither of us will be afraid to speak it ever again.


Hebrews 9:27  —  People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

John 14:6  —  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

II Corinthians 9:13  —  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Mark 13:11  —  (Jesus said), “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”


Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths…  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

–Psalm 25:4…143:8b

1253) Duck Hunters Finding Jesus

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By Phil Robertson, in Happy, Happy, Happy, pages 189…195f, Copyright, 2013.  

Phil Robertson began making duck calls in 1972 and has built the Duck Commander Company into a multi-million dollar international family business.  He is the patriarch of the Robertson family which is featured on the popular A&E television reality show Duck Dynasty.  He graduated from Louisiana Tech where for a while he was the starting quarterback.  But he got tired of missing out on duck hunting season to play football, so he quit the team in his junior year.  This gave second string quarterback Terry Bradshaw a chance to show what he could do.  Phil Robertson also does a little Gospel preaching.  


     For the first twenty-eight years of my life, I didn’t know the gospel and I didn’t know Jesus Christ.  Now I’m trying to make up for lost time.  Jesus said all the authority was given to Him, and He told us to go preach the gospel and make disciples of all the people we baptize.  Basically, Jesus is telling me to share with people what I didn’t know until I was saved.  So I’ve been sharing everything I’ve learned since I was converted.  Nowadays, I get asked to speak to churches, colleges, hunting clubs, and other groups around the country… 

     One of the first opportunities I had to speak to a large crowd was at the Superdome in New Orleans in the early 1990s.  I was invited to speak and demonstrate duck calls during a hunting and fishing show.  I had a crowd of about one thousand people listening to me, and I blew my calls and gave them some hunting tips.  Then I reached into my bag and pulled out a Bible.  I told them, “Folks, while I’m here, I think I’m gonna preach you a little sermon.”  I thought I owed it to them to share the gospel.

     “I’m standing under a sign that says, ‘Budweiser is the king of beers,’ and everybody’s got their beers here today,” I told them.  “But I’m here to talk about the King of Kings.  I know I might look like a preacher, but I’m not.  Here’s how you can tell whether someone’s a preacher or not:  if he gets up and says some words and passes a hat for you to put money in, that’s a preacher.  This is free.  This is free of charge, which proves I’m not a preacher.”

     I preached for about forty-five minutes, and afterward several men came up and thanked me for sharing my story.  A few of them even invited me to preach at their churches, so that’s kind of how my road show started…  Because of the success of Duck Dynasty, I’m getting more opportunities to speak to larger audiences now.  But I don’t care if I’m talking to one person or one thousand; if I can help save one lost soul and bring him back to Jesus, it’s well worth it to me.

     The good Lord leads us to lost souls in many different ways.  We meet some of them at our speaking engagements, others at church, and some simply stop by the house.  I’ll never forget the time when someone called my house to order duck calls, back when Duck Commander was still being run out of our living room.  The man kept using the Lord’s name in vain during his conversation with me.

     “Let me ask you something,” I told him.  “Why would you keep cursing the only one who can save you from death?”

     There was silence on the other end.

     “You got my order?” the man asked.

     “Yeah, I got your order,” I told him.

     Click.  He hung up the phone.  A few minutes later, the phone rang again.

     “Mr. Robertson, I’ve never thought about what you said,” the guy told me.

     “Well, you ought to,” I told him.  “Let me ask you something:  Where are you from?”

     “Alabama,” he said.

     “You’re about ten hours away,” I said.  “You ought to load up and head this way.  I’ll tell you a story about the one you’ve been cursing.”

      About a week later, there was a knock on the front door.  This young buck stepped in the house and asked, “You know who I am?”

     “I don’t reckon I do,” I told him.

     “I’m that fella from Alabama who was cursing God,” he said.

     The man had a buddy with him, and I told them the story of Jesus Christ.  By the time I was finished, they were on the floor crying like babies.  I took them down to the river and baptized both of them that night.

     I remember another time when I gave a duck-call demonstration at a sporting goods store… I blew on some duck calls and then preached from the Bible.  When I was finished, I concluded with what I always tell my audience:  “Where else can you go on a Friday evening in America and get first-rate duck-call instruction and a gospel sermon at the same time?”

     Well, about five years later, a guy who was there wrote me a four-page letter.  He said he went to the sporting goods store to listen to a duck-call guru because he wanted to become a better duck hunter.  However, he wasn’t prepared to listen to what I had to say about the Bible, about how we’re all sinners, and we’re all going to die.  He thought I’d taken advantage of him.  When the man went home, he burned every one of my duck calls, and for the next several years told anyone who would listen to him that I was the sorriest, most low-down man he’d ever met.

     He shared that story on the first two pages of the letter he sent me, but I didn’t hold it against him and kept on reading.  On the third page, he told me he woke up one morning and realized he couldn’t get what he’d heard out of his mind.  He couldn’t forget me telling him that God loved him, his sins had been paid for, and that he could be raised from the dead.  After a couple of years of romping on me so badly, he asked himself why he was so mad at someone who loved him enough to tell him that story.  So he picked up a Bible and started reading it himself.  It confirmed everything I’d told him.  He told me his wife was thrilled, his kids were happy, and they were a much closer family now.  He felt guilty because he thought I knew he’d been poor-mouthing me, which, of course, I didn’t, and he wanted to apologize for being an idiot.

     Here’s the point of his letter:  if you really love someone and want to tell them about what God’s done for us, there’s no way to escape without being persecuted.  I usually tell anyone I talk to that I’m going to share the gospel because I love them.  I tell them it’s not contingent on how they feel about me.  If they hate me, I’m not going to hold it against them.  If they don’t like me, they can walk away.  But I have to love my enemies.  

     If anyone has a better explanation as to how I can be resurrected, I’m open to listening to new ideas.  I’m all ears when it comes to an alternative, but I’ve never found another way in which I’m going to make it out of here alive.  I don’t know any other way, so I’m sticking with what I know to be the gospel.


Phil and his family tell their story at:



Matthew 28:18-20  —  Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Romans 10:9  —  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Acts 16:30-31  —  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved– you and your household.”

Joshua 24:15b  —  (Joshua said), “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”


Almighty God, have mercy upon us, forgive us all our sins,
and deliver us from all evil; confirm and strengthen us in all
goodness, and bring us to life everlasting. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer, Scotland

920) A Challenging Opportunity for Christian Testimony

By Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, October 16, 2015, at:  http://www.Christianitytoday.com

‘Justin Bieber of Nepal’ Converts to Christianity

Raju Parivar

     The two men share a last name but otherwise come from different worlds:  Raju Parivar, a popular folk singer in Nepal, and Bishnu Parivar, a Christian pastor who runs a children’s ministry and orphanage in the tourist city of Bharatpur in the Himalayan country.

     They sat next to one another on a flight from Kathmandu, Nepal, to Mumbai, India, in May.  During the two-and-half-hour-long trip Pastor Bishnu told the renowned singer about the God who saved him and his family 20 years ago.

     “I had a great passion to share the gospel, and he showed interest to listen,” Bishnu told Christianity Today by email.  As he spoke to his seatmate, he imagined the impact on Nepal’s music scene if a star like Raju Pariyar came to Christ.  In Nepal, only 1.4 percent of the population identify as Christian.  Eight out of every ten Nepalese are Hindu, while the rest are Buddhist, Muslim, or followers of the indigenous faith Yumaism.

     In early July, about six weeks after the pastor and pop singer met, his prayers were answered.  Raju, along with his wife and two children, made the decision to give their lives to Christ.  They traveled to Bharatpur, about 150 kilometers west of Kathmandu, to make their public proclamation in Pastor Bishnu’s church.

     “Jesus has changed me fully,” Raju said following his conversion.  “I left the previous worldly activities, and I am renewed in the spirit and following Christ as my redeemer.”

     To date the 35-year-old has recorded 1100 folk songs; his singles top the charts in Nepal, and he sells out stadiums for concerts.  The award-winning musician has also toured in South Asia, the Middle East, and Australia.  But despite the widespread adulation, Raju faces a difficult path ahead as a Christian performer in a nation that had been a Hindu kingdom up to 2008.

     Last month, Nepal adopted a new constitution that establishes it as a secular country, but still requires the state to protect Hinduism.  Four centuries after the first known Christian missionary in Nepal, Nepalese Christians remain a persecuted minority.  According to Pastor Bishnu, Nepalese Christians regularly face discrimination.  “We are hated by the people and even by the government,” he said.

     Raju is well aware of the religious climate, but has no plans to hide his conversion.  He wants to shift to performing worship music.  Raju said he wants to be known “as a Christian singer of Nepal, who has decided to become a Christian though we have challenges in Nepal.”

     He asks for the support of the greater church as he begins speaking out for the faith.

     “Please pray so that our faith be strong in the Lord despite the challenges,” he said by email.  “Please pray for my musical career to be smooth and I can make a great change in the lives of the people and my supporters.  Please pray that his will be done in my life and in my family, and my life and career will go well, and I can abide in Christ ever and ever.”


II Timothy 1:7-8  —  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner.  Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

Mark 8:38  —  (Jesus said), “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Matthew 5:14-16  —  (Jesus said), “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”


 Merciful Father, your kindness caused the light of the Gospel to shine among us.  Extend your mercy now, we pray to all the people of the world who do not have hope in Jesus Christ, that your salvation may be made known to them also and that all hearts would turn to you.  

Lutheran Book of Worship, Prayer #191, Augsburg, 1978.