10/31/10

Wynonna Judd - Psalm 151 (Touched By An Angel)


This is such a touching moment in an episode of Touched By An Angel called "Psalm 151." It is about a single mother who's son is dying of cancer. He knows that he is dying and there isn't much he can do about it. He tries to accomplish a list of things he wants to finish before he dies. The last thing he needs to accomplish on his list is helping his mother to finish writing a song, as she is a songwriter and stopped writing ages ago. She doesn't want to finish writing her song because it feels like she would be admitting defeat and giving up her son. It pains her so much and she doesn't want it to happen, but she has to be able to accept that her son is probably going to die and she needs to let him go and give Him up to God in peace. So, she finishes the song and as she is performing it for her son in front of a crowd of friends and supporters he passes away in total peace. It is so sad and touching and uplifting and inspirational all at once.

The History of Halloween

from www.History.com

Halloween, celebrated each year on October 31, is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts. The Celtic holiday of Samhain, the Catholic Hallowmas period of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day and the Roman festival of Feralia all influenced the modern holiday of Halloween. In the 19th century, Halloween began to lose its religious connotation, becoming a more secular community-based children's holiday. Although the superstitions and beliefs surrounding Halloween may have evolved over the years, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people can still look forward to parades, costumes and sweet treats to usher in the winter season.

CONTENTS

* Ancient Origins of Halloween
* Halloween Comes to America
* Today's Traditions
* Superstitions


Ancient Origins of Halloween

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Halloween Comes to America

As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. Because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that characterized early New England, celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited there.

It was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians, meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance, and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Young women believed that, on Halloween, they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings, or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft.

At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday.

Today's Traditions

The American Halloween tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Superstitions


Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world.

Today's Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today's trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday--with luck, by next Halloween!--be married.

In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl's future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands' initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands' faces.

Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we're asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same "spirits" whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly. Ours is not such a different holiday after all!

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.
©1996-2010, A&E Television Networks, All Rights Reserved

http://www.history.com/topics/halloween

10/26/10

Letters To God - Song from the Movie


A young boy fighting cancer writes letters to God, touching lives in his neighborhood and community and inspiring hope among everyone he comes in contact. An unsuspecting substitute postman, with a troubled life of his own, becomes entangled in the boy's journey and his family by reading the letters. They inspire him to seek a better life for himself and his own son he's lost through his alcohol addiction.~IMDB
http://letterstoGodthemovie.com
http://bailee-madison.com

10/24/10

10/22/10

VOM–USA Prayer Update for week of October 22, 2010

The Voice of the Martyrs USA: www.persecution.com
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13–14

IRAN —Pastor Sentenced to Death — VOM Contacts

Matthew 5:44–45
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Christians in Iran are reporting that Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani has been sentenced to death for what is called a “thought crime.” VOM contacts confirm that the pastor’s trial was held in recent weeks in the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the province of Gilan, but a formal verdict has not yet been delivered by the court. Pastor Youcef, a leader in the Full Gospel “Church of Iran” network, is one of several members of his church who have been imprisoned. The Iranian government has also threatened his wife with life imprisonment and has threatened to take away their two children, who are currently being cared for by relatives. Pastor Youcef was arrested in October 2009 after protesting a decision by the government requiring that his son study the Quran. Media reports suggest that Pastor Youcef was transferred to Lakan prison, which is supervised by the Political Police of the Islamic Republic. If a death sentence is officially handed down by the court and Pastor Youcef is executed, his would be the first judicial execution of a Christian in Iran in two decades. This arrest is the latest in a series of arrests of believers in Iran in the past year. Eighty-three Christians are known to have been arrested in Iran since the beginning of 2010. Of those, 65 were subsequently released, but 18 are still believed to be in custody. Pray for Pastor Youcef, his family and other believers in prison. Ask God to protect them and to embolden them to proclaim his name in the face of great persecution.

IRAQ — Christian Disappears — VOM Contacts

1 Thessalonians 3:7–9
Therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.
For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God,

The Voice of the Martyrs contacts in Baghdad, Iraq, report that a Christian woman disappeared several days ago after being caught reading her Bible. VOM contacts are not sure who may have discovered the woman reading the Bible, but Christians in Iraq are concerned for her safety. Pray that God will protect this woman and that Christians will be encouraged during this uncertain time. Praise God for all believers in Iraq.

CHINA — Authorities Harass Christian Attorney — China Aid Association

Matthew 5:10–11
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”

On Oct. 10, police officers confronted Christian attorney Jiang Tianyong while he was on his way to a worship service in Beijing, according to China Aid Association. As Jiang was walking to church with his wife and child, police officers blocked his way and told him that the deputy director of Yangfangdian Police Station would not allow him to go to church. When Jiang called the station to confirm their claim, he was told that an official from the Haidian Public Security Branch, Song Aixin, was the one preventing him from attending church. Jiang told the officers that he was determined to go to church but said they could follow him if they wished. Then, at a subway station, two young police officers grabbed Jiang from behind. Jiang told his family to leave, then tried to talk with the two officers. They told Jiang that it would be a “serious act of dereliction” if he attended church, and they held him long enough to prevent his church attendance before escorting him home. Pray that Jiang and his family will persevere in faith amid this harassment. Pray that they will continue to yield their hearts to God’s will and demonstrate his love even to their oppressors. Pray that Christians in China will continue to exercise their right to worship, despite opposition.

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

10/19/10

Mouth

Exodus 7:10-17

10 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

11 Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?

12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

13 But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”

14 Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you.

15 Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do.

16 Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say.

17 And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”

The Open Door

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

10/18/10

Stars

I always thought the stars were smaller than the moon. But they're not. They're just farther away.

Psalm 8:3,4,9 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?...O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

10/17/10

Temple Grandin


I just saw the HBO docu-drama "Temple Grandin" and I think it's wonderful. I had wanted to see it for some time; and I just so happened to come across it at my local library when I was browsing through DVDs to check out.

HBO will premiere an original film based on the inspirational, true story of Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes, on Feb. 6, 2010. Learn more: http://www.hbo.com/movies/temple-grandin

Temple Grandin paints a picture of a young womans perseverance and determination while struggling with the isolating challenges of autism. Grandin became a successful doctor in animal science through her unique connection to animals and is now a world-renowned consultant in the field. She is widely recognized within the animal welfare and livestock-handling industries as a pioneer in the ethical treatment of animals.

Grandin is also a member of the American Humane® Certified farm animal program. American Humane Certified, the farm animal program originated by the American Humane Association, is the nations pre-eminent and fastest-growing monitoring, auditing and labeling program that attests to the humane care and handling of animals raised for food. More about the American Humane Certified program can be found at http://www.thehumanetouch.org.
Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them, pray that God will bless them; Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14,21

10/16/10

Christians pray for cancer-stricken atheist Christopher Hitchens

Posted: 08/31/2010

* By Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service

One of the last things Thomas Peters does each day is face the Cross of St. Benedict that hangs over his bed and says his evening prayers.

The sobering final phrases of the Hail Mary prayer have recently taken on a unique relevancy: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen."

A month ago, the conservative Catholic writer challenged readers of the American Papist website to join him in praying one Hail Mary a day on behalf of the iconoclastic atheist Christopher Hitchens, who has been stricken with esophageal cancer, a disease that leaves few survivors.

"I am going to begin praying ... for the salvation of his eternal soul," wrote Peters, "that God will be with him 'at the hour of his death,' that God will help his unbelief in this life, and that those he has led away from God will come back to His infinite love and mercy. I am in no way praying for him to die, I am praying for him to live eternally."

Peters is not alone and Hitchens knows it. While some believers hope that he suffers and dies, post haste, the author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" told CNN that he has been surprised that others -- who are "much more numerous, I must say, and nicer" -- are praying for his healing, both body and soul.

This has been one of the strangest side effects of Hitchens' journey across the "stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." This is a zone in which almost everyone is politely encouraging, the jokes are feeble, sex talk is nonexistent and the "cuisine is the worst of any destination I have ever visited," wrote Hitchens, in a Vanity Fair essay. The native tongue in "Tumorville" is built around terms such as "metastasized," phases such as "tissue is the issue" and quotes from the writings of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Most of the inhabitants also do quite a bit of praying -- for themselves, for their loved ones and even for suffering people they have never met.

Hitchens told evangelical broadcaster Hugh Hewitt that he remains convinced these prayers "don't do any good, but they don't necessarily do any harm. It's touching to be thought of in that way."

The bottom line, explained Peters, is that his faith asks him to "pray for everyone, even those who hate us. ... Hitch just happens to be a famous public enemy of the faith, so more people know what is happening in this life, so more people are talking about why it's good to pray for him."

While it is "absolutely horrible" that anyone would pray for Hitchens to suffer and die, he added, many believers may find it hard to do more than pray for "God's will to be done." That is the "safe prayer" that is always appropriate.

Meanwhile, a quick Internet scan reveals that some believers are, predictably enough, praying for Hitchens to be converted to Christianity for the sake of his own soul. Others are specifically praying that the scribe who -- with Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins -- is called one of the "four horsemen" of the New Atheism will not only convert, but also become an apologist for faith.

That happened decades ago with an atheist named C.S. Lewis, after all.

"Ultimately, I simply will pray that Hitch has a good and holy death," said Peters. "I really do not care if he has a public conversion. I care that he, somehow, has a private conversion and that he will be reconciled to God."

As much as believers love these kinds of "foxhole conversion" stories, Hitchens is convinced he will not surrender. However, should rumors spread that he has "hedged his bets," the writer has made several public statements warning his admirers that if such cry to the Almighty were to take place, they should ignore it.

"If that comes it will be when I'm very ill, when I am half demented, either by drugs or by pain and I won't have control over what I say," he told CNN. "I can't say that the entity that by then would be me wouldn't do such a pathetic thing. But I can tell you that -- not while I am lucid. No, I could be quite sure of that."

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Contact him at tmattingly@cccu.org or www.tmatt.net .

Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Pray for his brother Peter Hitchens as well. Though Peter confesses himself to be a Christian, I read that he stated he does not believe in the literal story of Adam and Eve. Therefore, he is having issues with believing in the truth of the Bible.

I Miss Christian Television

I miss being able to watching Christian television on cable. We cut the cable nearly two years ago. Sure, I can watch a lot of Christian programs over the Internet, but it's just not the same; and I don't like being on the Internet too much. Oh well.

VOM–USA Prayer Update for week of October 15, 2010

The Voice of the Martyrs USA: www.persecution.com

Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O LORD! Let them be ashamed and confounded who seek my life; let them be turned back and confused who desire my hurt. Let them be turned back because of their shame, who say, “Aha, aha!” Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified!” But I am poor and needy; make haste to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay. Psalm 70

LAOS — Christians Arrested — VOM New Zealand

Psalm 91:1–6
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

On Sept. 18, police arrested 35 Christians in Meung Feung in northern Laos, according to VOM New Zealand. The believers, who were detained while in the area for a tree-planting project, are very active in sharing the gospel and have helped lead many people to the Lord. Thirty of the Christians were released, including the mother of a four-month-old child, but at last report five were still being held. Believers in the area are deeply concerned for the welfare of the five still in detention. Pray for the release of the five believers, and pray that God will strengthen their faith as they face this persecution. In addition, pray that God will grant boldness and wisdom to Laotian Christians as they share the love of Christ amid ongoing harassment and threats of imprisonment.

CHINA — Police Raid House Church — China Aid Association

Romans 12:14
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

On Sept. 26, police and security officers raided a house church meeting in Youqing, Sichuan province, China, detaining and beating church members, according to China Aid Association. Authorities, who claimed the Christian gathering was illegal, took 20 believers to the police station for interrogation. Five were released after their families posted bail, but the others remained in detention for several hours before being released. While in detention, two of the believers were reportedly beaten by the police station’s director. When some of the Christians returned to the station the next day to retrieve their property, five were sentenced to 15 days in detention for “disrupting the public order under the guise of religion.” During the raid, authorities smashed a desk and about 30 benches, and they also confiscated Christian books and 500 Yuan (US$29). Praise God for the faithfulness of Chinese Christians who continue to meet for worship despite the risk. Pray that those who were beaten will be strengthened and fully restored to health.

ALGERIA — Christians Acquitted —Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission

Matthew 10:19–20
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

On Oct. 5, a court in the Kabylie region of Algeria acquitted Christian converts Hocine Hocini and Salem Fellak of the charge of “non-compliance with a precept of Islam.” The men had been arrested for eating lunch during Ramadan. Also in Algeria, four Protestant leaders were to have appeared in court on Oct. 10 on the charge of “practicing non-Muslim worship without authorization.” Pastor Yahou Mahmoud and elders Raid Abdenour, Mokrani Nacer and Haouedj Idir lead a fellowship affiliated with the Protestant Church of Algeria, a large nationally accredited denomination. The outcome of their hearing is unknown. Thank the Lord for the acquittal of Hocine Hocini and Salem Fellak and for the support they received from many Christians across Algeria. Pray that the Lord will use the case of the Protestant leaders to strengthen his church and further the spread of the gospel in Algeria.

Add the PrisonerAlert.com application on Facebook by visiting http://apps.facebook.com/prisoneralert/

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

www.persecution.com

Hollywood Prayer Network October Newsletter

Dear HPN Pray-ers,

It’s October already and LA is totally decorated in orange for Halloween – the 2nd biggest retail holiday in America, after Christmas. So, let’s pray for God to give people wisdom in responding to the holiday festivities. It’s actually the only day of the year where we can go over to any of our neighbors houses, ring their doorbells and introduce ourselves to them, without needing a reason to do so.

UPDATES:

• Please continue to pray for marriages in Hollywood. They are always under attack because the business often becomes our priority, sucks up our time, and leaves the family coming in second (or third, after God, who is usually second to the industry). It's very destructive. For non-believers it's even worse for they often have no other priority than "getting ahead".

• Continue to pray for Lindsay Lohan. She is back in the news for failing a required drug test. Regardless of what the media is saying Lindsay needs our continued prayers. She is obviously crying out. Here is an excerpt from her recent Tweet: "Regrettably, I did in fact fail my most recent drug test and if I am asked, I am prepared to appear before judge Fox next week as a result...Substance abuse is a disease, which unfortunately doesn't go away over night. I am working hard to overcome it and am taking positive steps...forward every day. I am testing every single day and doing what I must do to prevent any mishaps in the future...This was certainly a setback for me but I am taking responsibility for my actions and I'm prepared to face the consequences...I am so thankful for the support of my fans, loved ones and immediate family, who understand that I am trying hard...but also that I am a work in progress, just as anyone else. I am keeping my faith, and I am hopeful.” May Lindsay find complete healing from Jesus.

PRAISES:

• We praise God that almost 20,000 HPN media packets have been sent out across the US and to over 47 countries. We are so thankful that more and more people around the world are seeing Hollywood as the world’s most influential mission field and wanting to be a part of our network to pray for the people creating the world’s entertainment. If you haven’t received an HPN media packet then just email Caren@hpnemail.org and we’ll send you one right away. It includes our DVD “The Hollywood Tribe” a brochure listing the 18 Christian ministries in Hollywood and tips on how to be praying more specifically for Hollywood.

REQUESTS:

• Let’s pray for Michael Eisner, ex-CEO of the Walt Disney Company, the other featured speakers, and the decisions that will come out of The Entertainment and Technology Summit held in Santa Monica next week. As keynote speaker, Michael will lead the Summit as they discuss what the consumers’ tastes are and how technology can meet those needs through entertainment. May the Lord intervene and allow them to consider the tastes of Christian consumers and may He soften their hearts as they analyze the American audience and the technology used in our entertainment. For more info. on the Summit, click here.

• Pray for the family and friends of Stephen J. Cannell, the prolific television writer and producer who co-created "The Rockford Files" and "The A-Team" later becoming a bestselling novelist. He died early this month and is an icon in the TV world and yet there is nothing revealed about his spiritual life. May the Lord touch the hearts of those who loved him, and admired him and lead them to Jesus as they mourn the loss of this creative man. For more info on his life, click here.

• Let’s pray for the outspoken atheist author and columnist for Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens, who is struggling to survive with cancer. Christians are now praying for writer of the 2007 book “God is Not Great” all over the world. They want to see him find God before his death. Let’s join others in praying for this man whom God loves SO MUCH. For how to pray for Mr. Hitchens, click on this article.

• Please be praying for Glen Keane, a wonderful member of our community and creator of TANGLED, the Disney animated film based on the Rapunzel fairy tale. Glen says, “From the start of this film I wanted this to be a story about a girl with a supernatural gift that could not be held back...it had to be shared. Her gift is a transforming one, a healing gift.” May God give Glen confirmation, on November 24th, when the film opens across the country, that his work at Disney is making an eternal difference.

• Pray for PEACE to replace FEAR in the hearts of both Christian and Non-Christian entertainment professionals. Most decisions here are made out of fear. We need to find peace and joy in what God wants for us and we want those who don't know about God have to find Him in order to replace their fear with love.

• Pray for supernatural love and unity among the believers here. The enemy wants to keep us divided so that we are ineffective. We have to have wisdom to resist the devil and love even the "unlovable" in order to build community and be a powerful presence in Hollywood. The pre-Christians will know that we are Christians by our love for one another and it will draw them to Jesus. We must be full of grace, forgiveness and love!

• Pray for more Christian leaders to rise up in Hollywood, who are totally sold out to the Lord. We want Christian men, in particular, who will take the lead to challenge others in the faith, in their daily walk with the Lord, in their
service to others and to their trust in the Lord to guide them in their careers.

REQUESTS FROM HPN MEMBERS:

• Let’s pray for Jennifer, who just graduated from college last May and is trying to pay her rent as she pursues a career in Hollywood. After finally finding a part-time job, her hours have been cut and she not able to meet her bills. She says: “Last week I got a call from my parents saying that they can no longer help me pay for things, so if I cannot pay December's rent I will have to move back home.” Jennifer needs wisdom to know what God’s plan is for her and what her part is in meeting her financial and physical needs, while trying to stand strong in pursuing what she believes is exactly what He wants her to do. Jennifer represents thousands of creative people who find that pursuing a career here does not allow them to make an income. Would you ask the Lord to guide these precious people in the next step and to move Christians outside of Hollywood to pray for and to support blossoming artists who sometimes need financial support to keep going, just like missionaries on a foreign mission field receive support!

• Pray for Tim who is also struggling to survive right now. He asked us to pray for him. He emailed: “Please forgive me for being a bother. Work has run-out for me again. Please pass my name on if you hear of any work that I might do. Thanks for your help. God Bless.” Tim

• Please pray with Ohio HPN Local Chapter Director Megan Stauffer. She asked us to pray for her boyfriend Sam. “He is working on an indie feature in Pittsburgh. It's a 22 day shoot and it is his first feature. Pray for physical strength and for him to stay strong in his walk with God and that he could be a light to those around him. Thanks!” Megan (http://www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org/local-chapter/canfield)

• HPN West Virginia Local Chapter Director Robin Knotts asks us to take action as we pray for Lindsay Lohan. She emailed us: “This is great....check this out. Mr. Positive says: ‘It dawned on me the other day that people are so quick to watch the decline and struggle of someone famous and there’s so few that speak up and offer encouragement.’ I'm glad he wants and feels the need to do something. I am sending Lindsey a card and praying for her!!’” Check out this link to learn how to write an encouraging note to Lindsay as she is in rehab.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

• Every Wednesday at noon there is an industry prayer time in Wiley Chapel at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Please pray with the group or even come and pray at "God Can Do It Again." For more info, email Burt Swardstrom at burts99@gmail.com.

• Every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 7:00 – 8:00pm there is an industry prayer time in Wiley Chapel at Hollywood Presbyterian Church. Again, either pray with us from wherever you are or join us those evenings. For more info, email Caren Bream at Caren@hpnemail.org.

• Thursday, November 18th is our next Worship evening. Come worship the Lord with us in the Wylie Chapel at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church (1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood, CA 90028) from 7:30 to 9:30 pm!

• There are more and more prayer groups, Bible studies, fellowship groups, screenings, Festivals and weekly events for Christians in Hollywood. If you want to find out all that is going on you can click on: http://hollywoodconnect.com/events.

Thanks so much for praying with us and for us. May you have a blessed month and a confidence that you are making an eternal impact by praying for the world’s most influential mission field!

Love,
Karen and Caren

TIP OF THE MONTH:
Rejection is not fatal. Read a good reminder that rejection is only temporary at http://www.philcooke.com/rejection

QUOTE OF THE MONTH:
"Almost every definition I find of being a Christian is also a definition of being an artist." Madeleine L'Engle

VERSE OF THE MONTH:

“Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts - to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.” Exodus 25:30-33

http://www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org/new/welcome

10/14/10

testing out some new templates since i don't like to have the same one for too long

10/13/10

General Elections (Nov 2nd)

General elections will be held soon. Don't forget to check out the candidates and how each stands on the issues, and vote for who you think will do the best job. Remember to vote!

Soul Asylum - Runaway Train


The music video shows children/teenagers that have resorted to running away from home for whatever their personal reasons are. Some of them are kidnapped. The video shows pictures of real children that had gone missing. Also, at the tail end of the video there is a scene with a woman who's baby was taken away from her in public as she happened to not be looking at the time. The kidnappers take off with the mother running after the vehicle only to never catch up to the kidnappers. Her baby was stolen and lost. That scene is based on a true story.
Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. – Mark 10:9

10/11/10

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my [sad] countenance, and my God. Psalm 43:5 (AMP)

10/10/10

What Is The Meaning Of Life?

www.GotQuestions.org
Question of the Week

Question: "What is the meaning of life?"

Answer: What is the meaning of life? How can purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction in life be found? How can something of lasting significance be achieved? So many people have never stopped to consider these important questions. They look back years later and wonder why their relationships have fallen apart and why they feel so empty, even though they may have achieved what they set out to accomplish. An athlete who had reached the pinnacle of his sport was once asked what he wished someone would have told him when he first started playing his sport. He replied, “I wish that someone would have told me that when you reach the top, there's nothing there.” Many goals reveal their emptiness only after years have been wasted in their pursuit.

In our humanistic culture, people pursue many things, thinking that in them they will find meaning. Some of these pursuits include business success, wealth, good relationships, sex, entertainment, and doing good to others. People have testified that while they achieved their goals of wealth, relationships, and pleasure, there was still a deep void inside, a feeling of emptiness that nothing seemed to fill.

The author of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes describes this feeling when he says, “Meaningless! Meaningless! ...Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). King Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, had wealth beyond measure, wisdom beyond any man of his time or ours, hundreds of women, palaces and gardens that were the envy of kingdoms, the best food and wine, and every form of entertainment available. He said at one point that anything his heart wanted, he pursued. And yet he summed up “life under the sun”—life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses—is meaningless. Why is there such a void? Because God created us for something beyond what we can experience in the here-and-now. Solomon said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men...” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In our hearts we are aware that the “here-and-now” is not all that there is.

In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we find that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26). This means that we are more like God than we are like anything else (any other life form). We also find that before mankind fell into sin and the curse of sin came upon the earth, the following things were true: 1) God made man a social creature (Genesis 2:18-25); 2) God gave man work (Genesis 2:15); 3) God had fellowship with man (Genesis 3:8); and 4) God gave man dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26). What is the significance of these things? God intended for each of these to add to our fulfillment in life, but all of these (especially man's fellowship with God) were adversely affected by man's fall into sin and the resulting curse upon the earth (Genesis 3).

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, God reveals that He will destroy this present earth and heavens and usher in the eternal state by creating a new heaven and a new earth. At that time, He will restore full fellowship with redeemed mankind, while the unredeemed will have been judged unworthy and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The curse of sin will be done away with; there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4). God will dwell with them, and they shall be His sons (Revelation 21:7). Thus, we come full circle: God created us to have fellowship with Him, man sinned, breaking that fellowship, God restores that fellowship fully in the eternal state. To go through life achieving everything only to die separated from God for eternity would be worse than futile! But God has made a way to not only make eternal bliss possible (Luke 23:43) but also life on earth satisfying and meaningful. How is this eternal bliss and “heaven on earth” obtained?

Meaning of life restored through Jesus Christ

Real meaning in life, both now and in eternity, is found in the restoration of the relationship with God that was lost with Adam and Eve's fall into sin. That relationship with God is only possible through His Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 1:12; 14:6). Eternal life is gained when we repent of our sin (no longer want to continue in it) and Christ changes us, making of us new creations, and we rely on Jesus Christ as Savior.

Real meaning in life is not found only in accepting Jesus as Savior, as wonderful as that is. Rather, real meaning in life is when one begins to follow Christ as His disciple, learning of Him, spending time with Him in His Word, communing with Him in prayer, and in walking with Him in obedience to His commands. If you are not a Christian (or perhaps a new believer), you might be saying to yourself, “That does not sound very exciting or fulfilling to me!” But Jesus made the following statements:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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” (Matthew 11:28-30). “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

What all of these verses are saying is that we have a choice. We can continue to seek to guide our own lives, which results in emptiness, or we can choose to pursue God and His will for our lives with a whole heart, which will result in living life to the full, having the desires of our hearts met, and finding contentment and satisfaction. This is so because our Creator loves us and desires the best for us (not necessarily the easiest life, but the most fulfilling).

The Christian life can be compared to the choice of whether to purchase the expensive seats at a sporting event that are close to the action, or pay less and watch the game from a distance. Watching God work “from the front row” is what we should choose but, sadly, is not what most people choose. Watching God work firsthand is for whole-hearted disciples of Christ who have truly stopped pursuing their own desires to pursue instead God's purposes. They have paid the price (complete surrender to Christ and His will); they are experiencing life to its fullest; and they can face themselves, their fellow man, and their Maker with no regrets. Have you paid the price? Are you willing to? If so, you will not hunger after meaning or purpose again.

© Copyright 2002-2010 Got Questions Ministries.

GotQuestions.org - Question of the Week

Otaiya: Japan's Hidden Christians


Purchase: http://der.org/films/otaiya.html In the sixteenth century Portuguese Catholic missionaries introduced Christianity to Japan, only to find the flourishing religion banned by 1614 by the Tokugawa government. About 150,000 believers, known as the "Hidden Christians", went underground. Through the occasion of this ceremony, the film tells the story of Japan's Hidden Christians. Made with the cooperation of contemporary Hidden Christians on the remote island of Narushima, the film features the only two remaining priests in the Goto Islands. The ceremonial and religious lives of these two men stand in stark contrast to the materialism of the younger generation.

10/9/10

Faith Saves

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved ([a]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]

Gal 2:16
(We) know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Romans 9:11
And the children were yet unborn and had so far done nothing either good or evil. Even so, in order further to carry out God's purpose of selection (election, choice), which depends not on works or what men can do, but on Him Who calls [them]...

Romans 9:16
So then [God's gift] is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God's mercy. [It depends not on one's own willingness nor on his strenuous exertion as in running a race, but on God's having mercy on him.]

Romans 9:18
So then He has mercy on whomever He wills (chooses) and He hardens (makes stubborn and unyielding the heart of) whomever He wills.

2 Tim 1:9
He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began

Titus 3:4-5
...the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of His mercy.

Testimony

What proof do we have that the Apostle's testimonies are true? Besides whatever outside sources there might be, the simple fact is: Why in the world would they go through everything they went through unless it was true? No one would go through all that is written of them in the Bible unless they were telling the truth. Either that or they were completely insane.

John 21:24 (Apostle John) This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them down. We know that his testimony is true.

2 Peter 1:16-21 (Apostle Peter) For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.


Galatians 1:11-21 (Apostle Paul) 11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. 14 I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.

15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.

18 Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.

21 After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me.
Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14
If only others knew the joy, the love, the peace, the safety and the power that is in God - the Almighty. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound..."

10/8/10

Christian Goth

Just found what looks like a really cool site: Christian Goth, which states that it's "serving the Christian Gothic community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ." How cool is that?! Might want to check it out...

http://www.christiangoth.com/

10/6/10

what really matters in life is God,if u have God as#1everything else will fall in 2place&filter through that making the life ur meant 2 live

The Simple Life


I recently began attending a new Bible study at my local church called "The Simple Life" (written by Thom and Art Rainer). It is about trying to simplify our lives, putting God as #1, but prioritizing where we need to in our lives with God, Relationships, Time and Finances/Money.

The Simple Life breaks life down into four key sections (God, Time, Relationships, Money), authors Thom S. Rainer and Art Rainer show how four key goals (Clarity, Movement, Alignment, Focus) can begin to foster a life that is more spiritual and less busy, a life rich in experiences with family and friends rather than double-booked to-do lists and late nights at the office. The book even lays out an easy-to-follow action plan that will move readers assuredly toward the simple life in just thirty days.

Authors Thom S. Rainer and Art Rainer interviewed a cross-section of 1,077 individuals to confirm that most people feel their lives are overly stressful and misguided, not allowing enough time for what really counts. As they share these highly relatable stories, the Rainers chart a simple path from joyless to joyful.

The research and change methods that made Simple Church a multi-awarded, #1 ministry best seller are now applied to everyday matters in Simple Life.

VOM–USA Prayer Update for week of October 1, 2010

VOM–USA Prayer Update for October 1, 2010
The Voice of the Martyrs USA: www.persecution.com

Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD! psalm 27:14

PAKISTAN — Bibles, Hymnals and Church Property Burned — VOM Contacts


Romans 12:14
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

On Sept. 19, Islamic extremists broke into the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church in Sharif Town, Karachi City, Pakistan, and set fire to Bibles, hymnals, a musical instrument and a table, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts. The church, which is led by Pastors George Rakha and Peter Shahzad, was established six years ago and is actively involved in Muslim evangelism. “At 4 a.m., some fanatics broke the lock of the church door and entered the church,” VOM contacts reported. “They burned three crosses, nine Bibles, five books of worship songs, a table and a musical instrument Tabla [local drum].” On Sept. 20, the Christian community displayed a banner protesting the burning of their Bibles. Christians believe this incident was a reaction to an American pastor’s widely publicized threat to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11. Christian leaders in the U.S. spoke out against the pastor’s plan to burn the Quran, and he ultimately decided against it. But it seems that no Muslim leaders spoke out against the burning of Bibles in Pakistan. Pray for believers in Pakistan who courageously live for Christ in the midst of opposition. Pray that believers’ testimonies and love for Christ will draw their Muslim neighbors into fellowship with Christ.

IRAN — Nine Believers Arrested — Farsi Christian News Network

Acts 4:29–31
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

Nine Christians were arrested recently in Hamedan, Iran, on charges of engaging in journalistic activities, according to Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN). Iranian state television reported that two of those arrested were supported by organizations from the United States and Great Britain, but their nationalities are unknown. The other seven were reportedly accused of cooperating with “Christian-Zionist organizations.” The Iranian government uses this terminology to describe Christians who have access to a number of evangelistic networks and TV satellite programs. FCNN concluded that this is the first time in three decades that state TV has broadcast news about the arrest of Christians. Pray that God will equip these believers to share the gospel while in prison, and pray for their release. Pray that the increased persecution in Iran will result in increased boldness among Christians.

CHINA — Pastor Detained at Trial of House Church Leaders — China Aid Association


Romans 5:10–12
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Pastor “Bike” Zhang Mingxuan and his wife, along with several other believers, were detained on Sept. 20 while attending court proceedings for imprisoned Christians Liu Yunhua and Gao Jianli in Xuchang, Henan province, according to China Aid Association. Pastor Zhang, who has been imprisoned previously, was released a few hours later with his wife. Other Christians, including the son of defendant Liu Yunhua, were detained by authorities on their way home from the trial. At last report, these believers were still in detention. Pray for the release of the detained believers, and pray that God will grant patience and faith to Liu and Gao throughout their trial. Ask God to continue to equip and embolden Pastor Zhang in his ministry.

Add the PrisonerAlert.com application on Facebook by visiting http://apps.facebook.com/prisoneralert/

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:12