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December 1st is World AIDS Day

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On my two trips into Uganda I had the honor to meet and spend some time with families and individuals who have been affected by HIV AIDS. It not only affects those who have it, but scores of children who are left parent-less as the pandemic spreads due to a lack of sanitation, cultural beliefs, stigmatism against those with HIV/AIDS resulting in not getting help out of fear of reprisal or shunning, Governmental denial, and brutality towards women.

I remember sitting in a training session in Kenya under some of World Vision's top leaders in the field, as well as others working closely with those infected and affected by the disease. Listening to story after story of pain and tragedy was hard, numbing at times. I vividly remember one stat given in the training. Each day, the number of people dying from HIV/AIDS was equivalent to experiencing the death toll of about two-and-a-half 9/11 tragedies each and every day…day after day after day. The numbers for the region have changed, but still can you imagine how much more fervently we in the US would be addressing this issue if upwards of 7000+ people were dieing each day here in the States? I think there would be such an outcry to our government like we have never seen.

In Uganda, the numbers were getting better as the government, churches and the people were all making an effort to work together to educate the people about safer sex practices through the ABC's:

A: Abstinence
B: Be Faithful
C: Condom Use

This brought Uganda's HIV/AIDS percentages down from the 30 percentile range in some areas, with an average of about 17% nationwide to around 5 % today by most resources I have found.

The church has played a huge role in Uganda. The pulpit has sway to remove the stigmatism, speak truth with grace, and love those who have been hit both as victim and perpetrator.

The women in these countries need our prayers and support. Very often, they have no choice, and infection comes not because of promiscuity, but due to rape, and forced sex. In some of the groups I had an opportunity to talk with, there was a practice of female genitalia mutilation, which was a cause not only of infection, but very often death. And the next generation will be paying for the results of the current pandemic if that generation even lives to experience the consequences.

So, would you join me in praying on Monday December 1st? Would you consider doing something to help not only globally, but locally? Here are some links to get more information on how you can pray and help!

Here is the U.N 2008 report on HIV/AIDS

Download 20081128_aids_outlook09_en

And a couple Web links for more info:

http://www.worldaidscampaign.org

www.worldvision.org

Dei Gratia
Monty

Ramadan-Remembering 9/11 & The Campaign Trail

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I hit one of those torn moments. When your soul knows where it should go but your mind can’t get past certain images which are contrary to where your soul wants to go. It can happen in a myriad of ways. Perhaps you find yourself in an incredible God-moment. Your thoughts are centered, your body relaxes, and you begin to pray to release, or forgive someone or something. Yet, as you begin that prayer of release, your mind hits the review tape button on your internal remote and you remember…you see…you experience again…and your mind says, "Are you crazy? Why would you forgive in light of the pain caused?"

September 1-30 is the time when Muslims observe Ramadan (which means the ninth month). They believe this was the time frame when the Angel Gabriel received the Qur’an and then delivered it to Muhammad. During the month adherents fast, they do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset; pray and read the Qur’an; and re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic teachings.

There are many followers of Jesus who have been praying for Muslims during their month of prayer, that they would see and Encounter Jesus. In fact, one organization called Open Doors has a large opportunity in a global way to join together and pray, you can check out what’s going on at http://www.opendoorsusa.org/content/view/687/

It is amazing, according to Open Doors there have been reports coming in about Muslims coming to faith in Jesus through visions. When I read that I was just so awe struck with the absolute love God has for people, that He would travel any road to rescue us, we simply need to respond!

But while I was praying, my brain was going back to the anniversary of what happened today, which is 9/11…the day America really stoppped as planes took out the Twin Towers in New York. That’s when the events that have been stored in your biology resurface speaking self interested words to your mind which then often overides the language of the soul. During the Islamic season of Ramadan, some within their fold struck out in the most evil of ways taking the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

That’s a hard image to erase. So I pondered for a moment, and -chose- to let the Holy Spirit do His work in me, and began to pray, forgive, and release. I pray in earnest that blinders would be removed, and the the True Vine (Jesus) would be seen in their personal lives. Being a follower of Jesus is never easy but Christ came to bring Light to the Darkest of places, and God will travel any road to reach those who are stuck in the dark…my next thought is are we willing? It is much easier to accuse, fight, and isolate and then try to justify our wrong actions or inaction…but just imagine what would happen if we all began to focus our prayer constantly on the realms of darkness in the world. 

The Campaign trail had a slight pause today as McCain and Obama stood together silently at Ground Zero…and to be certain, regardless of all the political moves, showmanship, and marketing that is going on to be the next President of the United States, I would think that a moment of reality must have hit them like a crashing mountainside during avalanche season. The position of President of the United States is not simply a job to go after, or another advancement on a persons career sheet. The weight of being the President of the United States entails not only creating a place for Americans to live in security, peace and prosperity, but also to extend that to the planet.

So, my prayers shifted to the two men who stand neck and neck in the race to control the free world. The choices we make in the global village have results and affect lives. Our country has enemies, our country has too many people living below the poverty line, our country neads a leader not someone trying to get a job by popular vote.

Can you imaguine what must have been going through their minds as they stood next to each other at Ground Zero? Was it a time of affirmation in their hearts that they were in this race for the right reason? Did they see the future as it could be? Did they shake to the core of their being at the task ahead of them should they be elected.

I would guess their brains were rapid firing thoughts, and just mnaybe they were having one of those torn moments in their own soul. I pray the image stays with both of them in the days ahead. Show us a political season with dignity, honor, and character. Rise above the past and choose to walk with integrity, no matter what the cost.

If we truly want to see the planet change though, it starts with us. The Holy Spirit is moving your soul, and your soul is speaking…God is calling you to the deep place of prayer where the impossible truly is possible.

Monty

Ramadan-Remembering 9/11 & The Campaign Trail

091108_pausingtoremember
I hit one of those torn moments. When your soul knows where it should go but your mind can’t get past certain images which are contrary to where your soul wants to go. It can happen in a myriad of ways. Perhaps you find yourself in an incredible God-moment. Your thoughts are centered, your body relaxes, and you begin to pray to release, or forgive someone or something. Yet, as you begin that prayer of release, your mind hits the review tape button on your internal remote and you remember…you see…you experience again…and your mind says, "Are you crazy? Why would you forgive in light of the pain caused?"

September 1-30 is the time when Muslims observe Ramadan (which means the ninth month). They believe this was the time frame when the Angel Gabriel received the Qur’an and then delivered it to Muhammad. During the month adherents fast, they do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset; pray and read the Qur’an; and re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic teachings.

There are many followers of Jesus who have been praying for Muslims during their month of prayer, that they would see and Encounter Jesus. In fact, one organization called Open Doors has a large opportunity in a global way to join together and pray, you can check out what’s going on at http://www.opendoorsusa.org/content/view/687/

It is amazing, according to Open Doors there have been reports coming in about Muslims coming to faith in Jesus through visions. When I read that I was just so awe struck with the absolute love God has for people, that He would travel any road to rescue us, we simply need to respond!

But while I was praying, my brain was going back to the anniversary of what happened today, which is 9/11…the day America really stoppped as planes took out the Twin Towers in New York. That’s when the events that have been stored in your biology resurface speaking self interested words to your mind which then often overides the language of the soul. During the Islamic season of Ramadan, some within their fold struck out in the most evil of ways taking the lives of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

That’s a hard image to erase. So I pondered for a moment, and -chose- to let the Holy Spirit do His work in me, and began to pray, forgive, and release. I pray in earnest that blinders would be removed, and the the True Vine (Jesus) would be seen in their personal lives. Being a follower of Jesus is never easy but Christ came to bring Light to the Darkest of places, and God will travel any road to reach those who are stuck in the dark…my next thought is are we willing? It is much easier to accuse, fight, and isolate and then try to justify our wrong actions or inaction…but just imagine what would happen if we all began to focus our prayer constantly on the realms of darkness in the world. 

The Campaign trail had a slight pause today as McCain and Obama stood together silently at Ground Zero…and to be certain, regardless of all the political moves, showmanship, and marketing that is going on to be the next President of the United States, I would think that a moment of reality must have hit them like a crashing mountainside during avalanche season. The position of President of the United States is not simply a job to go after, or another advancement on a persons career sheet. The weight of being the President of the United States entails not only creating a place for Americans to live in security, peace and prosperity, but also to extend that to the planet.

So, my prayers shifted to the two men who stand neck and neck in the race to control the free world. The choices we make in the global village have results and affect lives. Our country has enemies, our country has too many people living below the poverty line, our country neads a leader not someone trying to get a job by popular vote.

Can you imaguine what must have been going through their minds as they stood next to each other at Ground Zero? Was it a time of affirmation in their hearts that they were in this race for the right reason? Did they see the future as it could be? Did they shake to the core of their being at the task ahead of them should they be elected.

I would guess their brains were rapid firing thoughts, and just mnaybe they were having one of those torn moments in their own soul. I pray the image stays with both of them in the days ahead. Show us a political season with dignity, honor, and character. Rise above the past and choose to walk with integrity, no matter what the cost.

If we truly want to see the planet change though, it starts with us. The Holy Spirit is moving your soul, and your soul is speaking…God is calling you to the deep place of prayer where the impossible truly is possible.

Monty

Election 08

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Things are heating up on the campaign trail. As
the candidates enter the debate season, sides are drawn, communities
are polarized, pastors wonder how political can they get in the pulpit,
and others just pray the elections would come and go.  This election
season has proven to be a history maker. From the first African
American to run for office, to McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah
Palin as his running mate.

Within the church, politics has been a wedge
separating men and women on both sides of the political aisle, as both
parties try to make Jesus their poster boy…however, Jesus belongs to
no party, rather as believers we belong to His kingdom, and our hope
then relies on something greater than the kings and presidents of our
day.


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So as you look at faith and politics, what
thoughts do you have about the current political scene? How should
believers engage in the political process? How do we balance allegiance
to another kingdom yet live in this one? When is our faith more in the
systems of the world than in God’s kingdom?

Okay, play nice but be honest….Monty