Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deuteronomy 11:18, 19 (NIV)


Tomorrow begins my 25th year (more or less) of Camp Curry with my grandchildren.  Two sets of grandchildren have already grown up and will hopefully someday have their own version of summer camp with their children and grandchildren.  Camp Curry has two objectives:  First, I get to have my grandchildren all to myself and secondly, most importantly, I get to demonstrate godly principles set in an atmosphere of creative fun.

It seems appropriate during this political season to focus on our country:  its symbols, its patriotic music, the branches and functions of government, and our rights and responsibilities as citizens.  What better time will I have for emphasizing the need to pray for our country and invoke God’s protection (Psalm 127:1)?  What a great time to teach the grands that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).  And, with all the disrespect characterizing national discourse, I will remind the children that God sets up governments for his own purposes (Romans 13:1).  It is our responsibility as citizens to be obedient and to pray and work for change, when needed.

Of course, we will talk about our nation’s history and how we were birthed by many people seeking religious freedom.  So many of those early settlers and explorers were Christians and missionaries.  We’ll talk about the sacrifices that people made to give us the freedoms we enjoy today and what we must do to preserve those.

There will be videos and books and art and field trips to reinforce our learning times.  Actually, I shall use subversive means so that the children don’t even know they are being taught.  I’m hoping they go home just thinking they had a great time at Mimi’s while these little seeds continue to be watered and fed at home by Mom and Dad who are also subversive teachers.

We’ll have a trip for flag-spotting, a visit to the White House (yes, someone built a replica here in South Texas), and other surprises throughout the week. Did I mention we’ll have chicken, red/white/blue ice cream, hotdogs, French fries, red/white/blue cupcakes (with sprinkles), and lots of other goodies?  You get the idea.  Mom and Dad can do the organic healthy foods when they go home.

Jesus told us we should first be witnesses in Jerusalem (home), Judea (neighborhood),  Samaria (outreach), and the ends of the world—in that order (Acts 1:8).  Sometimes we skip right over Jerusalem thinking the ends of the world are more needful, but that’s not what Jesus said.  I’m taking off work this week to be in Jerusalem.

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Father, prepare our hearts for what you want to do in us this week.  May you be glorified.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. Jeremiah 29:7

How do you tell Christians living in the middle of severe persecution and repression to pray for the perpetrators?  Well, that’s exactly what John Chew, former Archbishop of Singapore, told his thousands of parishioners who live in Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Vietnam, and Thailand.  Some of those countries are on the World Watch List (Open Doors) for persecution of Christians.

When I questioned Chew about this strange mandate, he reminded me of the context of this verse penned by the Jeremiah.  Thousands of years ago, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah of impending disaster if they continued to disregard God and his laws.  In spite of repeated warnings from numerous men of God, the people continued to follow their own desires, worshiping idols, abusing the poor, sacrificing their own children, and turning their backs on God. Finally, they were taken into captivity in Babylon.  Many would never return to their homes.  In distress one of the exiles wrote a plaintive dirge (Psalm 137):


By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.

There on the poplars

we hung our harps,

for there our captors asked us for songs,

our tormentors demanded songs of joy;

they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord

while in a foreign land?

And yet, it was to these very exiles that Jeremiah wrote the words that persecuted Christians in Archbishop Chew’s churches would also be given:  Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.  Jeremiah and Chew both understood that God’s grace, whether in exile or in persecution, was abundant and that God would sustain through their prayers and repentance.  “In its welfare you will have welfare” reminded them that nations and communities at peace are more likely to benefit the people than those experiencing deprivation, violence, or unrest.

Paul took this a step further when he admonished Timothy (2:2) to “pray for rulers and for all who have authority. Pray for these leaders so that we can live quiet and peaceful lives—lives full of devotion to God and respect for him.”  He didn’t put any stipulations on the prayers such as “pray for good rulers” or “pray for the rulers you like.”

Perhaps one of the reasons we experience so much conflict at home and abroad is that we’ve forgotten that strange mandate about praying for cities, for leaders, for all in authority.  It’s not too late to start.


Father, all the leaders of the world bear heavy burdens.  Work your will, your peace, and your love in their hearts.  Fill them with your wisdom to govern that we may all live in peace and bring glory to your name.  In Jesus our Lord.  AMEN.