Friday, June 13, 2008

Prayer for Father's Day 2008

Lord, Sunday is Father's Day. I praise You and thank You for the many blessing in my life. I know that no matter how disappointed or discouraged or tired I might get, I need to count my blessings.
  • You gave Your own son Jesus to die a painful death like a common criminal to pay the price that had to be paid for my sin so that I could be with You for eternity.
  • I am healthy enough to work outside in the yard for several hours in summer heat.
  • My wife and children are also healthy.
  • We have not been a victim of senseless violence.
  • We have not had any horrible accidents.
  • I have enough financial resources to provide all the true necessities of life plus several luxuries.
If it be Your will, I pray that You...
  • Keep my faith strong.
  • Make me responsive to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in my life. In particular, make me alert to anyone You put in my path for a reason. Tell me what to say or do that will help them come to accept Jesus into their life.
  • Help me resist temptation to stray away from the straight and narrow road You have revealed to us in the Bible
  • Give me a hunger for Your Word and for time spent in prayer with You.
  • Show me how it is You would have me serve Your purposes in this life. Open those doors of opportunity and close all the other doors which would only distract me from Your purpose for my life.
  • Bless me in my role as husband and help me be a blessing to my wife. Spread Your grace all around our home and remove all barriers which might come up between us. Give me joy in my marriage to her. Give her joy in her marriage to me. Prepare us for the time when all our children are grown and help us find new ways then to serve which fit Your plan.
  • Bless me in my role as father and give me wisdom in family matters. Help me know when to step back and wait on You and Your timing.
  • Bless my children thru me and help me set a Christian example for them. Put positive Christian friends, teachers, professors, coaches, ministers, youth workers, etc. in their path that will also be a blessing upon them. If it is Your plan that they should marry, I pray that You are this moment preparing a godly spouse for them that will love them always and be godly parents for any future grandchildren. Help each child also find their place of service to You and Your purposes.
  • Bless me in my role as provider and help me take full advantage of every career opportunity which is part of Your provision for my family's financial needs. I pray that You guide me thru the changing economic times. Help me trust in You alone and not in my job title, credentials, salary, or 401k balance.
  • Bless me in my role as employee and help me honor You in my work and show Your light in a dark world.
  • Bless me in my new role as a manager and help me lead Your way and be a blessing to every person under me.
Lord, I also pray for similar blessings for all the other fathers on Father's Day. Help all of us be the Christian men, husbands, and fathers that You need us to be.
  • There are probably millions of fathers struggling to provide basic necessities for their families that I take for granted. I pray You show them Your provision for their families.
  • There are fathers grieving the loss of a wife or child. Show them Your comfort.
  • There are fathers faced with career decisions which will affect both their ability to provide for their families financial needs and the time/energy they have to devote to their wives and children. Give them wisdom to balance the seemingly conflicting demands upon them. Help them be good stewards of their time and talents.
  • There are husbands out there who just found out their wife has been unfaithful. Guide them as they must decide what to say and do next.
  • There are husbands out there who have been unfaithful to their wives. Help them repent of their sin and live honorable lives from this day forward.
  • There are fathers out there grieving over a son or daughter that has made horrible choices in life and are now suffering the consequences. Help them know Your will and comfort them.
  • There are husbands and fathers who are being the spiritual leaders in their home that You intend. Supernaturally enable them to succeed.
  • There are husbands who want to be the spiritual leaders in their home that You desire but there attempts have been rejected. Spread Your grace in their home, supernaturally enable them, and prepare the hearts of their families to hear and accept Your message.
  • There are fathers out there that have let their children down. Lift them up and grow them into the fathers both You and their children need them to be. Help them also to live honorable lives from this day forward.
  • There are fathers out there who are managers or business owners that have great influence on their employees and their families. Bless them as they honor You in the way they conduct their business.
  • There are fathers out there spending their spare time with children and youth as coaches or Sunday School teachers. Lift them up so they are good examples of what it is to be a Christian man today.
God, bless all fathers on Father's Day


Copyright © 2008 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chip Ingram - Living on the Edge

Over the last several months or so, I have really embraced the concept of podcasts. I love downloading great spoken word MP3's onto my iPod and listening to them during otherwise wasted time commuting to work, mowing the grass, and sometimes even while washing the car. It's like an audio book but a shorter, more focused version which can be digested in the time we have available.

I want to recommend several of the best Christian podcasts that I've found in hopes that you too will find these as a way to "renew your mind" (see Romans 12:2 ).

My first podcast recommendation is the "Living on the Edge" podcast by Chip Ingram. I just find that the way Chip Ingram talks about practical application of the Bible in our everyday lives very compelling. His podcast has really helped me grow spiritually. It comes out pretty much every day and each episode lasts about 25 minutes, perfect for commuting.

I was listening this morning as he was going thru a series on the Ten Commandments. His discussion about the commandment about having "no other gods before me" really challenged me about the things in my own life that have the potential to become idols. I have what I hope is a healthy ambition at work. But am I putting too high of a priority on recognition at work? Would my life fall apart if certain people were taken away from me? Would I be willing to give up the nice house, proximity to relatives, or my 401K balance for God if it were really required of me to serve God's purposes? In other words, is God really first in my life?

Listen to Chip now with iTunes or listen online.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My Chinese Church Away from Home

In some previous posts I described the circumstances under which I found myself with the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China on business on several occasions. See When do You Leave a Good Job? and Leaving the Comfort Zone to Experience God's Provision. I've also commented on my experiences attending Beijing Haidian Christian Church and some good news about the freedom of our Chinese brothers and sisters to worship openly and read the Bible. See China, Christianity, and the Bible.

I have enjoyed my worship experience at Haidian so much, I now think of it as my church away from home. (I'm not done yet with my travels to China.) Here's a picture of me and my new acquaintance and Christian brother Chuck who went with me last Sunday. (The English language service is now at 11 am in the basement. Enter from the rear of the building at ground level.) Haidian just moved in a wonderful new building which was dedicated on June 3, 2007.

One of the things which is so exciting to me is to see so many college age worshipers. Haidian has the lucky location to be a next door neighbor to two of the most prestigious universities in all of China, Beijing University which I've heard compared to Harvard in the US and Tsinghua University which I've heard called their "MIT." Note the young and standing-room-only crowd at the English language service below.

As you can see, they didn't start an English language service to reach out to Westerners like me, they started an English language service to reach out to the college students. If you are a bright, ambitious college student in China you want to go to graduate school in an English speaking country. All the top jobs and careers in the new China require regular contact with Westerners and good English language skills are a plus. The result, probably 250-300 Chinese college students worship in English in Beijing each Sunday morning.

See also the China Daily article
Modern church, more religious freedom for more information and quotes from Pastor Wu Weiqing saying that over 70% of those attending the church are young people.

Copyright © 2007 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Make a Loan and Change a Life - Part 2

If you are a regular reader, you may remember a couple of previous posts Make a Loan and Change a Life and My Career as a Financier to the Developing World in which I talked about making "micro credit" loans as way of helping people in the developing world help themselves. I am happy to report that I just received an email from telling me that Ariola Sánchez in Ecuador has paid her loan in full. Ten of us who signed up at loaned $250 ($25 each) to Ariola to "buy Bibles, clothing and other miscellaneous products to sell" in her neigborhood.

Friday, June 08, 2007

China, Christianity, and the Bible

My hotel in Beijing provides me with an English language newspaper, the China Daily. I don't know how the content differs form what is in a typical Chinese language newspaper in Beijing, but right on the front page was a small story Call it a sign, word is out on the Bible. The story has some encouraging statements.
  • China has printed more than 43 million copies of the Bible in the past three decades, and the number of Protestants in the country now exceeds 16 million.
  • The free expression of Christianity in China is ensured and the Bible is widely available, said Rev Cao Shengjie, president of the China Christian Council, at the "Bible Ministry Exhibition of the Church in China", which concluded in Germany yesterday.
  • There are some 55,000 places of worship and 18 divinity and Bible schools
  • According to the Rev Yu Xinli, president of the Christian Council in Beijing, the number of Protestants is fast increasing in the capital with about 5,000 being baptised annually, he said.

When I visited the Beijing Haidian Christian Church on June 3, 2007 I was simply amazed hear a moving sermon (English translation received in real-time by a small FM radio receiver) on "taking up your cross" to follow Jesus and then to witness the baptism of 41 believers. There was a twenty foot long counter outside the sanctuary containing many Chinese Bibles for sale. Someone who spoke English told me some of the books where "how to be a Christian" books. Incidentally, I believe this church is the closest government-registered Protestant church to the Olympic Village.

I have had a few English-speaking Chinese tell me that some Chinese polititicans now openly talk about religion in China helping to create a "harmonious society". See the March 7, 2007 article Religion Can Contribute to Building a Harmonious Society. The story says that on March 4, 2007 "China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin called on religious groups to give full play to the positive role of religion to boost social harmony at a panel discussion with the country's political advisors from religious community. Jia also called for frequent exchanges between different religions and between religious believers and non-religious people to promote social stability and unity, and happiness of the people."

Copyright © 2007 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shouldn't We Just Send Money?

(This is something I wrote back in 2005)

A friend of mine at work just returned from a church-sponsored mission trip to Honduras. He described it as “the best trip I’ve ever been on!” He showed me many digital pictures from his trip showing how they built simple houses for people there. People of all ages went including many retirees and teenagers with some doing construction and some teaching a vacation Bible school for Honduran children. One couple that went had been sponsoring a child in Honduras by mail for a while and got to meet “their” child in person. The smiles of delighted children were prominent in many pictures. He showed a picture of himself with his arm around a Honduran teenager with the teenager wearing his hat and sunglasses. My friend had given them as a gift to the teenager right before they left to return home. When was the last time you spent $900 dollars of your own money and used a week of your precious vacation time to go bang nails all day in the hot, tropical sun for people you just met? When was the last time I spent $900 of my own money and a week of my vacation time to go bang nails in the hot, tropical sun for people I just met? I know my answer is “never.”

My own church regularly sends people on mission work trips to a girl’s orphanage in Chile and I have only heard glowing comments from the people who return. If there was any sadness in their remarks, it was that they could not provide even more help. One guy told of eating a meal with the girls where the main dish was chicken. After dinner, he ventured back into the kitchen to find the girls and house mother picking the little pieces of chicken left uneaten off of the bones. Nothing could be wasted. They would put this small amount of left over in soup at another meal. This big, burly guy talked about how now before he goes to sleep in the States at night, he wonders if the girls (who he now knows by name) got enough to eat that night.

I can hear the naysayers now. “Wouldn’t those people in Honduras or Chile be better off if all those Americans did not go down in person but instead sent the cost of their airfare, hotel, meals, etc. to those people?”

I think the naysayers are missing something. Yes, from a short-term, purely economic point of view they may be right. However, their attitude seems to be based on the assumption that only the physical needs of the poor in Honduras matter.

What about the spiritual needs of the person who makes the journey? If they had only sent their money:

  • Would they have learned how much faith other people around the world must have to face such hardship and still be happy?
  • Would the traveler have learned to be grateful for the many blessings they have already received in life and so often take for granted?
  • Would the traveler learn the lesson about what things really are necessities? and how it is possible to be happy with little?
  • Would those teenagers be the same kind of husband, wife, or parent in their future if they had not had this opportunity to give to someone in person who really appreciates it... and cannot return the favor?
  • How will the world be different if enough Americans have faces with names in their memories and wonder if the person they met had enough to eat today?

What about the spiritual needs of the people in Honduras?

  • Would they have learned that when Jesus is actively at work in the lives of someone “rich” they don’t look down on the poor?
  • Would those children in the vacation Bible school that week gotten the same life lesson if they had not seen that all those “rich” people who could have been lounging around at the beach for fun would rather come tell them about Jesus while swatting tropical insects?
  • If the lady who had a house built for her were to improve her financial situation later in life, would she be as generous face-to-face to those poorer than her if she had not seen the example of those Americans coming to help her when they could have stayed home and pretended she didn’t exist from 2000 miles away?

I think I’m missing something. What about you?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Real Men Friends

I had lunch today with three other Christian brothers. I found it a great source of encouragement to be with other men I know share my faith and also want to find God's will for their lives. It was uplifting to know that I was not alone.
I encourage each of you to find a few same-sex friends with whom you can be real about your struggles and successes.
See also these posts on accountability.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lost Boy of Sudan to Graduate

Some of my readers may remember a post A Prayer for Michael and the Lost Boys of Sudan in which I described a moving incident meeting a refugee from Sudan in the waiting area at a car dealer. Imagine my surprise when I open up the morning paper and find a whole article about the same young man. See One of Sudan's 'Lost Boys' finds calling, will graduate as nurse.
Apparently he is graduating soon and making a trip back to Africa to see his mother whom he hasn't seen in 19 years and hasn't spoken to since 2004. Let's all pray for a happy reunion.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Beijing International Christian Fellowship

In a post back in January My Glimpse at What Heaven Must Be Like I described how moving it was to see so many nationalities worship at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship. On my last visit back in March, they said that 70 nationalities now worship there. The man who sat down next to me told me he was from Uganda and that he worked for the United Nations. On two different visits in March 2007 I had the good fortune to hear Christian singing groups from both Indonesia and Hong Kong in the English language service. The Beijing International Christian Fellowship meets in a large auditorium it is allowed rent from the 21st Century Hotel. The building is shown below.

Only foreign passport holders are allowed to attend BICF, but Chinese Christians do have places of worship and are even being allowed to build new ones. See Beijing Haidian Christian Church.

Copyright © 2007 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved

Beijing Haidian Christian Church

This picture exposes how poor the zoom lens is on my camera but I think you'll get the idea. On a recent trip to China I snapped this picture on Palm Sunday 2007 of the brand new Beijing Haidian Christian Church which appears to almost be completed. The Haidian neighborhood is in nortwestern Beijing, not too far from the Summer Palace. How wonderful that my Christian brothers and sisters in China can obtain property, get all the necessary government approvals, hire building contractors, and build such a bold and beautiful place of worship.

Copyright © 2007 by Philip Hartman - All Rights Reserved