Astrology in Myanmar

We learned a great deal from our Buddhist guides while in Myanmar. For example, the people there don’t have family names (surnames). Their last name is the day of the week they were born.  They divide Wednesday into two days: Midnight to 12 noon is one day; noon to midnight another day. That way there are eight days in the week—and eight is a “lucky” number.

It is their belief that the day of the week they are born determines their personalities. There are certain days of the week—let’s say Monday. If you’re born that day, then you would not make a good match with a person born on another day—let’s say Wednesday. An astrologer is consulted before a wedding to ensure a good match according to the astrological chart.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe astrology is the “interpretation” of an assumed influence the stars and planets have on human destiny. According to the Bible, this is a false belief.

  1. In Daniel 1:20 the royal astrologers of the Babylonian court were put to shame by God’s prophet Daniel.
  2. The astrologers were powerless to interpret the king’s dream in Daniel 2:27.
  3. God specifies astrologers as among those who will be burned as stubble in God’s judgment in Isaiah 47:13-14.
  4. We read in Deuteronomy 18:10-14 that astrology as a form of divination is forbidden in Scripture.
  5. In Deuteronomy 4:19 God forbid the children of Israel to worship or serve the “host of heaven.”
  6. We read in 2 Kings 17:16 that the Israelites fell into that very sin several times. Their worship of the stars brought God’s judgment each time.
  • In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.     Daniel 1:20
  •  Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about.     Daniel 2:27
  • All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!  Let your astrologers come forward, those star-gazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you.  Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up.  They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. These are not coals for warmth; this is not a fire to sit by.     Isaiah 47:13-14
  • And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.          Deuteronomy 4:19
  • They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves,and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal.     2 Kings 17:16
  • SONG:  THE PARALYTICMusic by Kathleen, Lyrics from Mark 2:3, 5-12
This life is temporary.  This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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Superstition, Luck and Buddhism

Although it’s been a while,  what we learned about Buddhism on our trip to Myanmar, formerly Burma, needs to be shared.

We learned that Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God!  Some Buddhist sects may pray to Buddha, but most meditate on, and only pay respect, to Buddha, their teachers or their ancestors.  It was our understanding that they might meditate for themselves or others.  Their prayers may often be their own words of encouragement to themselves!

Their lifestyle is steeped in superstition and luck, which they take seriously.  We were told that certain flowers are bad luck if placed in certain places. Doing different normal activities might be bad luck, depending on the day or place.

When I think about my faith in Jesus Christ, I realize there is no place for superstition. Christians are not to be superstitious.  Superstitions are actually a form of witchcraft and we want no part of that!  Satan is alive!  Satan does not care what we believe, as long as we don’t put our faith in Jesus Christ.

What about LUCK?   A follower of Jesus is not to depend on good luck, nor fear bad luck. In fact, I believe there is no place in a Christian’s vocabulary for the word luck. We depend on Jesus Christ and the Word of God, which is far superior than luck.

  • Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’  These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.      Colossians 2:20-23
  •  Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.    1 Timothy 4:7 
  • THE STORY OF A DREAM – by Kathleen
    This life is temporary.  This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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Nirvana? Reincarnation?

Our guide in Myanmar explained that Myanmar  (formerly Burma) is the most religious Buddhist country in the world.  This is in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and the proportion of income spent on religion.

A Buddhist’s ultimate spiritual goal is nirvana. The various schools of Buddhism understand nirvana in different ways, but they generally agree that nirvana is not a place.  It is a state of existence.

We learned that Buddhists seek to be reincarnated over and over again, until they reach nirvana—a state of peace, joy, contentment, freedom from suffering and freedom from the power of lust and evil in our lives.

Can a Christian experience nirvana?     This is the way I see it:  When a person surrenders his life to Jesus Christ he/she becomes saved for all eternity, and at that time receives the Holy Spirit.  Along with the Holy Spirit comes the fruit of the Spirit:   love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Eternal life in Christ occurs the moment of our surrender.  The potential for nirvana is then available to every Christian.

When Christians experience physical death and pass from this life, they then enter into the presence of Almighty God and fully experience heaven–a state of existence even better than nirvana.

Can a person be reincarnated into an animal or insect?   We were told that Buddhists from Myanmar believe a human can only be reincarnated into another human being, never an animal.  Apparently, Buddhists and Hindus in some countries believe humans can be reincarnated into animals or insects.  Our guide explained that in some countries people don’t wear shoes for fear of stepping on an insect that might be someone’s relative.

  • Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  Hebrews 9:27-28
  •  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
  • Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.     Revelation 7:16-17
  • ONLY ONE LIFELyrics by C.T. Studd, circa 1900; Lyrics updated and arranged by Kathleen; Music by Kathleen
This life is temporary.  This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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Buddhism & Karma

Four years ago we traveled to Myanmar, formerly Burma. What an education that was–I had no idea we’d be submerged in Buddhism!  Our Buddhist guide explained that Karma was basic to his faith.  “Karma is the belief that your current station in life is a direct result of the way you lived in a previous life.”

He explained that if a person is suffering in this life, it’s because of some misdeed he did in a previous life;  his suffering is how he works out his Karma. If we help that person then we are doing him a disservice, for he will have to return in his next life and suffer again.

The Buddhist people in Myanmar are known for their kindness, patience, long-suffering, contentment with little, suffering in silence and non-complaining.  These character traits are to ensure good Karma.  Our guide explained that if they don’t do the above this will result in bad Karma and they will have to work to perfect it again in their next life.

Do I believe in Karma?  I do not.  My life has nothing to do with my activities from a previous life.  There is no such teaching in the Bible.  This life is it, friends!  This life is a test.  This current life is the only test.

It’s interesting that many young people in our western culture today claim to believe in Karma. Yet their definition of Karma is simply, “What goes around comes around.”  That’s it!  They seem unaware of a deeper meaning.

It’s not just Buddhists who embrace Karma. Karma is also a concept of Hinduism.  Here is an excellent website I appreciate: http://karma2grace.org/

  • Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,  so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.    Hebrews 9:27-28
  • THE STORY OF A DREAM by Kathleen
    This life is temporary.  This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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Fishing Pier Adventure

We live in a beach community that has a long fishing pier. We enjoy walking out on the pier and watching the excitement of a fisherman bringing in his catch. Naturally, I always bring along a few Jesus booklets or tracts to share as the opportunity arises.

Last week while walking with a friend, I noticed a young man sitting by his fishing rod while reading.  As we passed behind him, I glanced over his shoulder and could see he was reading what appeared to be Arabic or Farsi on his cell phone.

I quickly dug into my belt bag and pulled out a booklet entitled,  Jesus & The Quran.   Holding the booklet so he could see it, I said:  “Excuse me, we are sharing the good news about Jesus.  Would you be interested in reading this?”

His eyes lit up!  “I am a Muslim!  I believe in Jesus!  Yes, I would very much like to read this.  Thank you!”

He immediately opened it and began reading. We smiled as we walked away, praying that God would open his heart to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Later in reflection, I wondered how I was able to see so clearly what the young man was reading on his cell phone.  Typically, the bright sun makes it more difficult to see a cell phone, especially from a distance.  I then realized that God did it!  He wanted that man to come to the knowledge of the truth.  He allowed me to see what normally would be impossible to see!  Oh, how God loves us!

  • You may be interested in reading  Jesus and the Quran yourself!  Check it out here:  https://www.christianbook.com/jesus-and-the-quran-tracts-25/joseph-gudel/9781682161456/pd/86493#CBD-PD-Description
  •  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

JOHN 3:16-18Arrangement and music by Kathleen

This life is temporary.  This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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BLM Returns!

I received a call Friday evening alerting me that Black Lives Matter was coming to our town again!  They were planning a protest the next day–Saturday,  at 12 noon in front of our county government center.

I suggested we do what we did two weeks ago.  That is, invite some praying friends to meet at the government center to pray, to praise God and do battle in the heavenlies.  We would pray that God’s peace would reign!  Although we’d be meeting at the same location as BLM,  we would pray earlier, between 9 – 10 AM, long before they were due to arrive.

A number of people we asked were fearful of coming, but promised to pray at home!  I thought of 2 Timothy 1:7  in the NKJV  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  I would claim that verse and move out in faith.

We were a dozen or so who began praying at 9 AM.  Around 9:30, while we were praising God, some of us with our hands in the air, two men approached.  One had spiky hair and was wearing a long black cape.  The other had multiple tattoos and ring piercings.  They noticed our hands in the air and must’ve thought we were waving.  They waved back and smiled!

We continued praying.  We claimed Psalm 44:5  “Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.”   We continued to praise the name of Jesus in song.  We asked that as the BLM people arrive they would sense God’s peace and all anger would melt away.

We ended our prayer time at 10 AM and already 20-30 people had arrived.  We all went to our cars.  I ran some errands and on my way home I passed in front of the government center at 11:30.  I noticed the crowd, carrying their signs, walking away!  A friend drove by at noon and saw no one in sight!  They had completely dispersed before their planned meeting time!  God had done it again!

  • I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time… Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.  1 Timothy 2:1-6,8.
  • For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:6-7
  • DO NOT BE ANXIOUSBy Kathleen
This life is temporary.  This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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Hurricanes Laura, Sally & Beta

My friend Bill is part of a group of older Christian men who go into areas after disasters and help folks.  The hurricane season began in August with Laura and has kept them busy nonstop.

They might remove mud from homes or remove broken tree branches. Most importantly, they see this as an opportunity to share Christ with devastated home owners and their neighbors.  He’s sure to tell them that even though bad things happen, God loves them and wants to help them get through the mess.

One young man wasn’t a believer when they arrived.  He admitted that he’d never given much thought to end of life issues or that what he owned could possibly be destroyed.  The hurricane changed all that!  By the end of the week, he had prayed to give his life to Jesus, weeping with joy.

A man from Mexico sold everything, moved to Texas, bought some land and had started a church for fellow Spanish-speaking folks.  The hurricane tore the roof off of the poorly constructed house they were using as a church. The team cleaned up the mess and came up with donations to help him get started again.  He prayed for blessings on them.

A recently retired Christian high school football coach was devastated when a tree fell, puncturing the roof of his house and knocking down his carport.  He was overwhelmed with appreciation for the team’s help, both physical and spiritual.

Bill asks for prayers to get through the next few weeks.  Hurricane Sally has done most of its damage and now Beta is gaining strength.  Outside temperatures have been in the high 90s and they need supernatural help.   “We don’t always have the blessing of leading someone to Christ.  Yet we know seeds are planted.  God never promised us closure on the work we do, but He loves us enough to allow us to see some of the results.”

  • Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:6
  • not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2:4

THE WELL OF DESPAIRLyrics by Liana Wendy Howarth; Music by Kathleen

This life is temporary.  This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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My Second-Best Decision

The best decision of my life was when I chose to surrender my life to Jesus Christ.  My second-best decision was five years later.  It was the decision to commit to spending five minutes a day reading the Bible and meditating on the God’s Word.

The challenge was presented at a Christian seminar.  We were cautioned in the seriousness of making a vow to God.  It was not to be taken lightly, because it was never to be broken.  The speaker warned, “Today you may feel like vowing to spend 20 minutes a day in the Word, but don’t do it.  However, if you cannot spare five minutes a day, there is something wrong with your schedule.”

Truthfully, I was afraid of making a vow to God and not keeping it.  But I did make a commitment—and I’ve maintained it through the years.  I believed God desired to speak to me through His Word.  I love the Word and as much as I know I need it daily,  I also knew I would not be faithful to God’s Word unless I made such a commitment.  Even though it’s a commitment to five minutes, rarely is it only five minutes!

Have I broken it?  There have been days when I came close. I have found myself in bed at night unable to sleep. Suddenly I realize I’ve missed my time in the Word. I quickly get my Bible and go to another room and yes, I’ll clock-watch just to get my five minutes in.

There have also been times when things were going poorly.  Once I was angry—angry with my husband and angry at God.  The last thing I wanted to do was open the Bible.  Yet at the end of the day I knew I had to, because I’d made a commitment.  I found it so difficult I actually cried out,  “Jesus help me!”

Once I opened it and read the first words, tears began to flow. God’s love and His peace enveloped me.  I was able to forgive and forget.   God does reward us when we obey.

Yes, I can say with certainty, that this was the second-best decision of my life.  What about you?  Have you ever made such a commitment?  Would you?

  •  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.    Romans 15:4
  • Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”     Matthew 4:4
  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.     2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • THESE INWARD TRIALSWords by John Newton; Music by Kathleen
[This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

[To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

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BLM Comes to Our Town

We learned from a police officer friend that Black Lives Matter was coming to our town!  They would be protesting the next morning at 11 AM in a park across the street from our California Mission.

We’ve seen what happens with many peaceful protests.  They can become violent, destructive and dangerous.  Is there anything we can do besides wait, watch and pray?

I was reminded of the story in 2 Chronicles 20 where King Jehoshaphat learned that a great army was coming to destroy them.  He told his people to fast. Then he went to God in prayer. He was assured there was no need to fear because the battle would be the Lord’s.  Jehoshaphat then appointed men to sing to the Lord, to praise God for His glory and holiness.  The musicians marched out in front of the army,  saying “Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever.”  As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the approaching army.  God fought the battle for them and the enemy was defeated!  Indeed, the Lord DID fight for His people and won the battle!   

A friend and I recognized this is what God wants us to do as well!  We both agreed to contact praying friends and ask them to meet us up at “the cross” at 9 AM.  The cross is high on a hill that overlooks the city and is situated directly above the mission and the park.

The next morning at 9 AM the prayer warriors began praying, singing and praising God.  We went to battle in a powerful way – against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Hours later we learned the BLM protest had ended peacefully.  God had answered.  What a faithful God we have!

Incidentally, there was no local news coverage. Yet a friend in Europe sent a video of the news coverage there!  It showed lots of screaming of profanity, interrupted by police on a megaphone saying, “This protest has crossed the line into what we deem a riot.  This is not Portland and we are fully equipped and ready to stop violence of any kind; please disburse immediately, head east out of town.”  That ended it.

  • For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.   Ephesians 6:12

Note:  Nearly three years ago there was a wildfire in our community and hundreds of homes burned.  The olive trees on the hill surrounding the cross were destroyed.  The cross itself stood strong!  The only evidence of fire we see today is the slight burn on the left side of the cross bar.  Only God.  

[This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

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Do Christians Need to be Different?

A precious memory from my years doing jail ministry:

I was speaking to a group of prisoners, explaining that many people claim to be Christian, but they live and act no differently than anyone else. If people are truly Christian, they should be different from the rest of the world.

Joe spoke up, “Why is that? Why do we need to be different?”

I said, “It’s not that Christians need to be different, Joe.  Christians are different.  True followers of Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. They have a desire to please God.  Once you have Christ living in you then you have all the fruit of the Spirit available to you—you just need to exercise it.

“There are nine fruit of the Spirit and they are found in Galatians 5:22-23: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All Christians receive ALL the fruit of the Spirit, not just some of it.”

Joe asked, “What if I don’t feel like exercising self-control? What if I don’t feel like exercising love? There are some mean guys living in this facility—they’re not easy to love.”

“I understand, Joe! But Christians don’t live by feelings, we live by fact! If you have the Holy Spirit you can do it. Colossians 3:14 tells us to ‘put on love.’ It says nothing about feelings. It just says, ‘put on love.’ Next, we are to step out in faith, trusting God and allowing the Holy Spirit to love through us. He will do that. As you begin to show love toward another, you will suddenly notice it’s not so much you putting forth the effort, as it is the Holy Spirit loving through you. It’s almost as if it’s something supernatural—in fact it is.

“It’s the same with self-control. You can pray this way: ‘God, You know I have no self-control in certain areas of my life. Yet, I now have the Holy Spirit living in me. You and I together, Lord, we can do this.’ Then, as you step out in faith, praising and thanking God that He is helping you one step at a time, He will.

“It’s important that we trust God to help us exercise His fruit. Trusting God is what the Christian life is all about.”

+++
  • And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.    Ezekiel 36:27

  •  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?    2 Corinthians 3:16

  • Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.                                     2 Corinthians 6:17a

  • SONG: AT THE FEET OF JESUSLyrics by Liana Wendy Howarth; Music by Kathleen

    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:   http://www.godlife.com/gospel/  and  http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]

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