First known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated three years after the end of the Civil War. It became an official federal holiday in 1971. An organization of veterans established the day as a time for our nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers and flags. Gradually the holiday evolved into a day of remember and honoring military individuals who died in all the wars. Throughout the United States, parades are held, red poppies are worn in remembrance of fallen soldiers (started during WWI), gatherings with picnics are organized, and trips are taken because of the long weekend.
I read that at times Memorial Day has been used as a day to remember fallen heroes who did not die on a traditional battlefield. So, I would like to use this letter to remember and honor a man who I consider a hero of America. The Reverend Robert Hunt, a clergyman of the Church of England, was appointed as chaplain for 105 men and boys who sailed from England to Cape Henry, Virginia. After 144 days at sea, the crew landed on the southern edge of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The landing spot was named Cape Henry in honor of the Prince of Wales, Henry Frederick.
After landing on April 26, 1607, Rev. Hunt gathered the band of men together to give God glory for their successful trip and to pray to Him as they established a settlement in the New World. Bob Long, of Rally Call Ministries, researched Rev. Hunt's prayer which was an offering of covenant to God. He says of the prayer, "It was heartfelt, deliberate, and offered with appropriate spiritual protocol. The embryonic nation was now in true covenant with God. The wooden cross, planted in the sand beside their kneeling prayer, witnessed their dedication of the land to God and the covenant oath with which they did it."
Here is Rev. Hunt's prayer of Covenant with God: "We do hereby dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelists to the World. May all who see this Cross remember what we have done here, and may those who come here to inhabit, join us in this Covenant and in this most noble work that the Holy Scriptures may be fulfilled."
What a prayer! What a legacy for us to remember! The Church must make known the foundation upon which our nation was established. We must not allow the agenda of those who want to take hold of our nation for their own agenda to expand any further. It is time for the Church to take a stand to agree with God and the covenant that we made with Him. Bob Long reminds us that God is a covenant-keeping God, He remembers how and why America was established. "The foundational prophetic prayer is actually not well known, but its significance cannot be overstated. God has not forgotten this original covenant entered into with Him! Is He heartbroken with America? Yes. Angry? Perhaps. Is it too late for America to be saved? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Will there be an awakening in the hearts of the American people and a return to our original Covenant with God? YES!"
While prophesizing at a leadership meeting, Bob declared this statement from the Lord: "I have not turned away from the covenant this nation made with Me, but this nation has turned away from it. The cry of a remnant in this generation has been heard, and I am raising up a new wave of prophets to call this nation back to America's original covenant...I am shaking all things. I am raising up more who will join the remnant. I am raising up more who will increase the volume of My call to your nation to return to Covenant. I am raising up more of those who will reveal My Son to the multitudes, that hearts may turn to Me. A remnant shall be strengthened, and a nation shall be shaken, that it may be awakened!"
The Psalmist reminds us that God "remembers His covenant forever, the promise He made, for a thousand generations." (Psalm 105:8) This should give us comfort. Yet, we must also remember our roots and the covenant our nation made with God in 1607. It is time for us to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our nation. Revival is beginning and will grow. God wants American to return to our roots and to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. From the beginning, our nation was to be a place for people to worship the one true God, to teach our children and generations to come of the worthiness of the Lord, and to spread the gospel through the world. Let us embrace this worthy call!
Rest is such an important part of the life that God wants us to live! He modeled that for us during creation. "Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating He had done." (Genesis 2:3) The Lord set up cycles of rest—weekly, monthly, yearly, and every seven years. Not only were the people to rest, but also their animals. (Exodus 23:12) In addition, there is provision for the land to rest. "But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards." (Leviticus 25:4)
The Scriptures on the land resting came to life for me as we drove past fallow fields on the way to church. Where fields were full of stalks of corn in early fall, they are bare in the spring. A field is left bare without a crop for a season so that it will produce a healthier and more vigorous crop in the season to come. "Fallowing" helps to increase the nutrients in the soil and increase the moisture in the sub-soil. The structure of the soil also improves. Another benefit to fallowing is that it disrupts the life cycles of pathogens because the host plant has been removed. Today, resting farmland is part of a crop rotation technique that farmers use. When the end of the resting period comes a cover-crop is often planted and tilled into the soil to replenish nutrients.
Observing the fallow fields reminded me that at the beginning of the Hebrew year 5782 (sunset on September 6, 2021) it will be the beginning of a Sabbatical year on the Hebrew calendar. Called the Shemitah year, it is the seventh year of a seven-year agricultural cycle and is still observed in contemporary Judaism. The Hebrew word Shemitah means release. During this year, the land is to be left fallow. Anything that grows voluntarily may be eaten, and at the end of the year, all debts are to be forgiven. Releasing the land from having to produce a crop is extremely beneficial to the soil and to the crops that will grow in the future.
God's call on humankind is to be fruitful for His Kingdom. One of the keys to fruitfulness in humans is rest. Repeatedly, the Lord reminded the Israelites of their need for rest. He told Moses, "The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed." (Exodus 31:16-17)
The Lord is a gardener and tends to the soil of our hearts. Just as rest for the land makes it more nutritious and productive, rest for our bodies makes them healthier and improves the ground in our hearts. Rest brings peace for our minds and hearts. It replenishes us with energy. When we rest from our labors and the thoughts in our minds, giving ourselves time to focus on the Lord, we enhance our relationship with Him. He intentionally set up patterns of rest for His children. Stepping into God's rhythms of rest can transform our lives. Let's be more intentional about seeking the Lord for ways to rest in His presence.
People from many nations gathered in Jerusalem for what was called "The Festival of First Harvest," or "The Festival of Weeks," or "Shavuot." This is one of three festivals where God told the Jews to come to Jerusalem. Offerings to the Lord were to be abundant, starting with an offering of new grain. Where yeast was forbidden at Passover, it was to be used in baking for the Feast of Weeks. "From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord." (Leviticus 23:17)
Those who gathered to celebrate the Feast took the first and best of their harvest to bake two yeast-filled loaves to present as an offering to the Lord. Those two loaves, the Jews believe, represent the two tablets given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and the two loaves of bread offered in the Temple. There is more to the picture, in my opinion. Leaven, or yeast, represent sin so the loaves with yeast are a picture of both Jew and Gentile who are sinners in His sight. However, this changes when we accept the Son of God as our Savior through faith in Him. Our confession and belief open the Kingdom of God to all of us.
It took the Israelites 50 days to walk from Egypt to Mt. Sinai where they would receive the Word of God. Once entering the Promised Land, they harvested their crop of wheat 50 days after Passover. It was on the same day that the Jews would have been celebrating "The Festival of Weeks" (seven weeks and one day) that God ordained that He would pour His Spirit on those who waited for His perfect time. Indeed, as the Lord's followers waited in Jerusalem on this special day, another harvest was about to begin. The Word given at Mt. Sinai was to nurture obedience in His people for He was looking for a harvest of souls. The Holy Spirit poured out "on the crop" was the catalyst needed for the harvest of souls. Peter addressed the crowd of people who waited, and Acts 2:41 tells us, "Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about 3,000 were added to their number that day."
The Church calls the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out "Pentecost" which means 50. I do believe that it would be wise for us to also remember that the Jews call this day "Shavuot." Rabbi Jonathan Cahn gives us some insight on the origin of this word. He directs our attention to Song of Songs 8:4 where it says, "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you..." Charge, in Hebrew, is the word "Shaba" which is the root of Shavuot. Consequently, Shavuot or Pentecost is to be the "day of charging." Rabbi Cahn says, "When God gave the Spirit, He was giving us a charge of entrustment, responsibility, and to live a Spirit-filled life...The Spirit in your life is a sign of God's commitment to you, and by the Spirit you are called and anointed to live a life of your commitment to God. The Lord has charged you, by the Spirit, to live a life of victory, praise, joy, and triumph. You have the power. Now go out and live a life worthy of the one who has so been charged."
Beginning at sunset, Shavuot or Pentecost will be celebrated. We can honor this significant day by asking the Lord to fan the flames of the Holy Spirit within us. We can remember and thank the Lord for His indescribable gift because without the sacrifice of Jesus there would be no Holy Spirit. And we can activate our call to go out into the world to share the love of God because we have been charged to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
Mother's Day is upon us. In honor of it, I want to highlight a woman who decided to mother a nation. She gave up a privileged life to serve the Lord in a country that is considered the poorest one in the world. Together with her husband, Rolland Baker, Heidi embarked on a mission that looked impossible in its scope. However, the Baker's moved forward and began to change the face of a nation in a ramshackle orphanage in Africa. Heidi became known by her children as Mama Heidi. Today, all who know her around the world also affectionately refer to her as Mama Heidi.
The Baker’s web site, Irisglobal.org., describes their call: “The primary mission of Iris Global is to seek the face of God with all our hearts, that we might glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. We proclaim Jesus. He is our salvation, our prize, our reward, our inheritance, our destination, our motivation, our joy, wisdom, and sanctification—and absolutely everything else we need, now and forever."
As a young woman, Mama Heidi heard an audible call from God to go to the mission field with areas in India, England, and Africa being highlighted. Their belief that revival would occur amongst the poorest people on earth brought the Bakers to Mozambique where the government offered them an unsupported orphanage that had been completely neglected. They report that "80 miserable, demon-afflicted orphans in rags" lived there. Heidi and Rolland agreed to take over the orphanage as long as they were permitted to bring the Gospel to the children. The power of God was manifested, and "within months the children were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, weeping while still in rags with gratitude for their salvation.” These young ones were taught how to pray. As they cried out to God night and day, their food was miraculously provided by Jesus. The orphanage grew to 320 children and put Mozambique on the radar screen of many churches who began to support the ministry.
Challenge after challenge faced the Bakers: They were evicted from their original building and had to construct a new orphanage, hit by cyclones and floods that resulted in great famines, and overrun with scared, hungry people rushing from terrorists. The Bakers have written several books about their situation and their experiences with Jesus. Their titles tell the whole story about the miraculous provisions from heaven: There is Always Enough, Expecting Miracles, Compelled by Love, Birthing the Miraculous, and Living from the Presence.
A Scripture that has inspired the Bakers from the beginning of their ministry comes from Romans 5:3-5. "...We also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." The situations that looked hopeless gave them hope as they lived in the power of God. The Bakers story traveled throughout the world, and all who heard it had their hearts touched. Support began to pour into their ministry, and they were able to build dorms for children, schools for the bush pastors, and purchase a bush airplane to spread the Gospel and provide needed supplies for out-lying communities. What started as a small orphanage in Pemba, Mozambique has expanded to churches and schools throughout Africa and around the world. Mission training for those who want to join the ranks of missionaries is available to those who want to make an impact around the world for Jesus.
I have had the privilege of hearing Mama Heidi speak on several occasions. When we look at the Baker's expansive ministry today, it is easy to forget how it all started. Mama Heidi shares her ministry philosophy with everyone she speaks to: "Stop for the One" or "Love the One in Front of You." One by one she and Rolland built a ministry that spans the world. One by one the Bakers changed the world for Jesus. Mama Heidi's love for Jesus and mother heart for the lost and hurting is one we all need to adopt. On this Mother's Day I want to honor Mama Heidi for her love and courage to mother a nation and the world. When we look at what is happening in Africa right now, it seems the challenges that are faced by the Bakers continue to grow. The people of Mozambique are encountering terrorist groups who are destroying their lives. Thousands are pouring into Cabo Delgado where Iris ministries has set up a place to help care for their needs. The stories of their loses are heartbreaking. You can look on their web site to read more about this ministry that has truly captured the heart of God. Perhaps our prayers and gifts can make a difference for one and help this mother, Mama Heidi, to continue spreading the love of the Lord.
“The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies." (Isaiah 42:13) Are you hearing the battle cry? We are here to be part of God's army. We must fight for the souls of our families, our friends, and our nation. The kingdom of darkness is attempting to take over. If we do not take a stand, who will? While we stand, we should be encouraged by remembering that there are no victories without battles. Let's look at what the Bible has to say about battles and victories.
God trains us for battle: Judges 3:1-3 explains that God left some of Israel's enemies in the promised land so that the next generation could learn how to fight. "He did this to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience." King David wrote about this in 2 Samuel 22:35 and Psalm 18:34. "He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze."
Prepare for the battle: When the Lord was ready to give Israel victory over the Babylonians, He spoke through Jeremiah: "Before your eyes I will repay Babylon...for all the wrong they have done in Zion...Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations for battle against her..." (Jeremiah 51:26-27) The Lord helped in the battle preparation. Here is how it is explained in Isaiah 42:13. "He will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies."
Show up for the battle: Imagine being ready for the battle but refusing to participate! "The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by His law. They forgot what He had done, the wonders He had shown them." (Psalm 78:9-11) King David made the biggest mistake of his life one spring when he did not go to war in the time when all kings were expected to do so. 2 Samuel 11 tells the story of David's lust for another man's wife that led to adultery and the murder of her husband because he did not show up for the spring battle.
Recognize and use the weapons we have for battle: The Lord has already placed within us the weapons we need to win our battles. They are simple yet powerful! Look at 1 Chronicles 5:20. "They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands because they cried out to Him during the battle. He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him." The tribes that fought with David were known for their contributions. "From Zebulon, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon to help David with undivided loyalty." (1 Chronicles 12:33) Zechariah 10:4 teaches that Judah or Praise will win the battle: "From Judah will come the cornerstone, from Him the tent peg, from Him the battle bow, from Him every ruler, together they will be like warriors in battle."
Remember the reason for the battle: Three verses in 2 Samuel 23:11-12 demonstrate how one courageous man stood his ground for Israel and the generation to come. "Next in rank was Shammah ...One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field of lentils. The Israelite army fled but Shammah held his ground (stood) in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So, the Lord brought about a great victory." (NLT) Prophetic contributor to the Elijah List, Joe Joe Dawson, wrote that Shammah saw more than a field of lentils; he saw a harvest for future generations. Amen! Ephesians 6:13 admonishes, "Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Plunder is ours as we win our battles. The children of Israel dedicated some of their plunder for the repair of the temple. (1 Chronicles 26:27) How thrilling it is to give the spoils of victory to the Lord!
Remember that the victory belongs to the Lord: We should be encouraged by this truth. "Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." (Deuteronomy 20:2-4) In Psalm 6:11-12 David cried out to the Lord: "Give us aid against our enemies for human help is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies." The challenge is before us. In Isaiah 59:15-16 God reveals His disappointment that no one would intervene for Israel: "...The Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no intercessor. Therefore, His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him." The battle plan to win the war for the souls of our families, friends, and nation, and to beat back the darkness, is before us. It is time for us to take a stand. I ask again: If we do not do it, who will?
Joan E. Mathias