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Monday, October 13, 2014

Lebanon 2014 -Part 2-

As promised. Part Two of my photos from Lebanon. I will do Part Three later. 
~Elizabeth 


Cross in the mountains showing that it is Maronite land.



      Local shops in Reyfoun


     Prickly flowers. I think they are related to the thistle.

      A mountain town called Marjaba.




      Goats scampering across a road in the Lebanese Mountains.
 
     Delicious fresh fruit and veg. I made sandwiches with labneh (thick yoghurt the consistency of cream cheese) cheese and cucumber in Saj. (flat bread.)

     Hot Lebanese bread with beef and spicy pepper on it.  I got this fresh from the bakery down the street from where I was living.

     Ma'amoul cookies. Similar to butter cookies with date filling in the middle.


       Arabic, French and English. The three languages of Lebanon... all seen on a car license plate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lebanon 2014 -Part 1-

I had the amazing privilege to go to Lebanon this summer. I was there for two short weeks volunteering at a christian school's summer program. 

The Lord was so merciful in my travels there, and I have such wonderful memories. I enjoyed meeting the local believers and hearing Bible teaching in Arabic. (Kind friends translated into English for me.) The arabic hymns were beautiful as well. I practiced Marhaba (Hello) Kifeek/Kifahk (How are you?) and Shukran (Thank you) frequently and added more words to my limited arabic inventory. 

I do not know where to start in writing about my experiences there.... Before I went, friends  expressed concern about me going to Lebanon. It is true, there are car bombs in Beirut, and different areas are dangerous for Americans, but I was in a Maronite Christian area, so I was relatively safe. Besides, when the Lord is with you, the Creator of heaven and earth, what more protection does one need? 

What I learned from the trip was that the Lord is always with me, even when it seems like I am alone. I had to trust in Him, as I flew from Heathrow to Beirut, navigated the airport, and got my luggage. I am accustomed to being with members of my family, so it was a little unnerving but I was on an adventure! I just had to take a deep breath and pray if I felt overwhelmed. This verse was a real encouragement to me. 

"But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One."  
Jeremiah 20:11


Facts on Lebanon


  • Lebanon’s land mass is the size of Connecticut or Wales. Their population was 4,254,583 in 2010. 25% of the population is under the age of 15 years. 



  • The official language is Arabic, but French and English are widely used. 



  • Lebanon is the only Arab state that is not officially Muslim. Shia comprise 37% and Sunni 22%. There are 18 recognized religious communities: 4 Muslims, 1 Druze, 1 Jewish, and 12 Christian.



  • Lebanon remains the only land in the Middle East where all are legally free to change their religious affiliation. 



  • Believers from most other Arab countries can more freely come to Lebanon for Christian training. Pray for this religious freedom to be maintained.



  • Expatriate Christian workers still have a role to play in Lebanon. Pray for more to be called and enabled to identify with and serve the Church and all Lebanese.


Some areas where the love of Christ can be demonstrated: reconstruction, work with young people, drug rehabilitation, discipleship, and church development ministries.       (from p. 528-530, Operation World by Jason Mandryk)



                                  Wild grapes in the mountains of Lebanon.



                Byblos Beach. We brought some of the children from the summer school here.


                                                               Anchor by Byblos Beach






Friday, September 19, 2014

Shanghai Rain



Chinese Christian songs you might enjoy.

The rain dripped like tears from the sky. It gathered in rivulets on a dark green walkway overhang and separated again as it ran down metal poles to the ground. A bicycle speeds by, splashing a muddy puddle over an older man walking on the sidewalk. Bright, bobbing umbrellas and clear rain ponchos appear in my vision and then hurry past, disappearing beyond the next building on Pudong Street.
At the entrance of the apartment complex, under an arched bridge, two watchmen stay huddled at their posts on either side of the road.  From my window up on the fifth floor, I am dry and warm, but a feeling of dampness and cold sadness permeates my being. A delicious smell of curry and Indian food lingers in the apartment. 

A solitary figure appears below and then is obscured under the green walkway. He walks across the stone pavement and down four shallow stone steps, to the entrance of the apartment complex. 

It is the afternoon. A sunday. I enjoyed meeting around the Lord’s name with a group of believers in the morning. We sang hymns in pinyin Chinese and some in English. A simple plate with a loaf of bread and a cup with grape juice was on the coffee table in the middle of the room. After a delicious lunch and time for fellowship, the gathering of people has dispersed into the rain. There are just two people left in the now quiet apartment…. My dad and I. Our hosts left for the airport to fly back to the US, leaving us their apartment.

I am feeling sorry for myself and angry that life has to be this way. Arrivals and Departures. Hellos and Goodbyes. I will never get comfortably acquainted with those stark facts. This is when I need to remember that the Lord is always with me. He is present as my refuge and my strength.

God is our refuge and strength, 
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, 
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled, 
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Psalm 46:1-3
       Photo taken by me.


When I am back home in the United States, far from China, separated by 14 hours, land, and several bodies of water, I think back to my memories and am glad that the Lord gave me a brain to record experiences for later musing. I am thankful for the privilege to travel to far away countries. My life is so much richer for it. Tasting new wonderful foods, hearing an unfamiliar language, smelling Chinese flowers, soaking up the clamor and rush in a  crowd of bustling souls. Riding the subway in Hong Kong. Finding station connections on the map. Talking with fellow Christ Followers and enjoying their hospitality and kindness. 
It is 9:00 pm Saturday night here at home. At the same time, it is 10:00 am Sunday morning in China. I pray for the believers who are gathered in Christ’s name, some at great risk, obedient to His command to remember His sacrificial death and resurrection once a week. I think of the Hebrew word mizpah, meaning watchtower. It also can mean; God be with you till we meet again. 
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 

How do you deal with saying goodbye to people? What is your favorite travel memory? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hebrews in September Challenge



I have been studying Hebrews this September with a group of other Christian young women. The interesting thing is, I have only met a few of them face to face. The others I have "met" through an email group where we share thoughts and gleanings from our study of Hebrews. This is my reading schedule:
Day 1: Read Hebrews chapters 1-6
Day 2: Read Hebrews  chapters 7-13
Day 3: Repeat as before...

I thought I'd share some of my thoughts here. 

I noticed these verses, "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Heb. 12: 5a - 6) 

If we are the Lord's sons (and daughters) then we can expect discipline just like an earthly father disciplines us. It is actually a sign that we are one of His, if we experience hardships and painful things in our life. 

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Heb. 12:11


In our culture today, people use the word Jesus a lot, and hardly ever use His full name, Jesus Christ, or the Lord Jesus Christ. These verses reminded me that we serve a Holy God and we should be reverent and have godly fear in His presence. At times, I can almost forget that God is a real person, because He is invisible. But He is real and alive, and He speaks to us through His Word if we are just willing to slow down and read it! 

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire." Heb. 12:28-29

It is wonderful to know that Christ is our High Priest,  and he knows what it is like to be tempted. Yet, he was without sin. He extends mercy and grace to us, when we are in desperate need of it. 

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." 
Heb. 4:15-16

What about you? Have you been reading or studying a certain passage in Scripture?
What have you learned from it? 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hummingbird sighting!



It was a rainy day.....
We were at a family's house learning how to make Chèvre (French soft cheese.) 
The rain outside contrasted with the warm interior of the kitchen where we watched a slideshow on cheese-making. During a lull in the class, I wandered over to the front door and saw a flash of red and green. It was a group of hummingbirds! I saw about four or five. I rarely see them at our house. I hurried back inside to grab my camera and the 55-200 lens... these images are what I captured. 

God's creation is so intricately designed. Practical and beautiful at the same time.


A few facts about hummingbirds: 

Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world.


    Hummingbirds can flash their bright colors, as well as hide them when needed.

      The bright radiant color on hummingbirds comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism.

        A Gorget is the bright flashing colored feathers of the hummingbird's neck.

          A hummingbird's brain is 4.2% of its body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom.

            Hummingbirds are very smart and they can remember every flower they have been to, and how long it will take a flower to refill.


              Hummingbirds can hear better than humans

                Hummingbirds can see farther than humans.

                  Hummingbirds can see ultraviolet light.

                    Hummingbirds have little to no sense of smell.

                      A hummingbird's beak is generally shaped like any other bird beak, just longer in proportion to its body.



                      Hummingbirds do not drink though their beaks like a straw. They lap up nectar with their tongues.



                      A hummingbird's heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute.

                      A Hummingbird's heart beats about 250 times per minute at rest.

                      A hummingbird's heart is 2.5% of the total body weight.

                      A hummingbird will take about 250 breaths per minute while at rest.

                      A hummingbird's metabolism is roughly 100 times that of an elephant.

                      Hummingbirds have very weak feet and can barely walk. They prefer to fly.


                      The hummingbird's body temperature is around 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

                      Hummingbirds are on average 3.3 inches (8.5  centimeters) long from the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail.

                      A hummingbird can weigh anywhere between 2 and 20 grams.

                      A penny weighs 2.5 grams

                      30% of a hummingbird's weight consists of flight muscles

                      Humans pectoral muscles are about 5% of body weight



                      My little sister's pet turtle. :)  

                      Thanks for stopping by my blog!
                      ~Elizabeth 

                      Friday, July 18, 2014

                      What will happen before the end of the world?

                      I recently watched a thought provoking documentary called, "The Daniel Project." I would highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in world events and prophecy for the end times. The documentary's producers carefully examine 20 Old Testament prophecies and discover whether they have been fulfilled or not. 

                      This is their webite: http://thedanielprojectmovie.com    

                      Here is a trailer for the documentary: 
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgIzn5z_K4M&list=PL-YxaVTry9J-YfqxtPBxgDihixDuNAYHl 

                      Here are some reviews for "The Daniel Project." 


                      "Probably the most important documentary I have ever seen. I would describe it as inspired and ground-breaking in its field. Challenging and compelling." 

                      “Excellent, precise, direct & honest. A refreshing change from the apocalyptic movies circulating.” 



                      “I was watching in the night visions, 
                      And behold, One like the Son of Man, 
                      Coming with the clouds of heaven! 
                      He came to the Ancient of Days, 
                      And they brought Him near before Him. 
                      Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, 
                      That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. 
                      His dominion is an everlasting dominion, 
                      Which shall not pass away, 
                      And His kingdom the one 
                      Which shall not be destroyed. 
                      (from Daniel 7:13-14) 

                      "Then King Darius wrote: 

                      To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: 
                      Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. 
                      For He is the living God, 
                      And steadfast forever; 
                      His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, 
                      And His dominion shall endure to the end. 
                      He delivers and rescues, 
                      And He works signs and wonders 
                      In heaven and on earth, 
                      Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions." 
                      (Daniel 6:25-27)

                      Saturday, July 12, 2014

                      Reasons Why Believers Do Not Grow Much


                      In his "Reasons Why Believers do Not Grow as Much as They Ought", an old Dutch theologian said this: he mentioned "gospel" reasons, like christians doubting their conversion, or presuming upon grace, but also included plain old laziness. 

                      "We indeed desire to be in an elevated spiritual frame and to grow as a palm tree, but we are not willing to exert any effort- and thus we also do not receive it."

                      Which is another way of saying there is no place for quietism in the quest for Christlikeness.


                                               photo credit: http://aeshahadlina.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/palm.jpg
                                                

                      (From page 90, "The Hole in Our Holiness" Kevin DeYoung) 

                      (Dutch theologian's quote from: "The Christian's Reasonable Service" trans. Bartel Elshout, ed. Joel R. Beeke. 4 volumes)


                      Praying for Muslims this Ramadan


                                 image credit: http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/muslim-child-praying-vector-graphic_557365.htm

                      Hello friends,

                      I hope your summer is going well. What do you think about Ramadan?
                      Do you observe it, or have friends who do? I have several online acquaintances from around the world who are currently fasting all day. Then at sundown they can eat their meal of the day. I have had a heart for muslim peoples for the last 5 years. I want to be able to tactfully share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with my muslim friends. 

                      I have read a little about The Night Of Power: (called Laylatul Qadr in Arabic) a special night during Ramadan when it is believed that Allah first revealed the Qur'an to Muhammed. Some muslim scholars say that this night is hidden. Others say it occurs on either the 1st, 7th or 19th night of Ramadan. However there is strong evidence that the night occurs during the last 10 days of Ramadan, specifically on odd numbered nights. 

                      Whenever it is observed, the entire night, from sunset to dawn, is considered the holiest night of the year. It is believed there are groups of special angels who are only seen on the Night of Power. These angels supposedly perform special tasks: some come down for worship, or bring with them  proclamations for the coming year, others for granting the request of the believing Muslim.

                      According to Abu Huraira's translation of the Hadith, the Prophet Muhammed declared that "whoever prays during the Night of Power with faith and hoping for its reward will have all his previous sins forgiven." 

                      This time of heightened spirituality can be a time for God to reveal the person of Jesus Christ (Al Massih Issa Ibnollah in Arabic) to Muslims. 

                      (italics excerpted from: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus Handbook)


                      image: http://www.parhlo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/صور-تهنئة-شهر-رمضان-كروت-بطاقات-معايدة-كفرات-فيس-بوك-10.jpg
                      • Can I encourage you to pray for muslims as they observe Ramadan? Pray that as they study the Qur'an and read about the Prophet Isa, The Lord will reveal Himself to them. Pray that they will have a hunger for God's Word and read it with an open heart and mind.

                      • You can also pray for muslim-background-believers and christians who live in muslim countries. Pray for their protection and safety. Pray that they can be courageous and bold in their witness for Christ. 

                      Open Doors USA offers a user-friendly 30-day prayer and reference guide for use during Ramadan. The resource can be downloaded free of charge at: 
                      https://www.opendoorsusa.org/landing-pages/ramadan/ramadan.html

                      Here is a link to a blog post on praying for persecuted christians during Ramadan:
                      https://www.opendoorsusa.org/press/2013/06-June/Ramadan-30-days-of-Prayer-for-Persecuted-Christians

                      ~Elizabeth



                      Monday, June 16, 2014

                      Links to Christian websites/blogs


                      I thought I would share a few web links I have found encouraging and helpful:

                      UPLOOK is a wonderful Christian magazine. I have been encouraged in my walk with the Lord, by their scriptural articles. You can download back issues of the magazine to your mobile device or computer. They have a magazine archive from 1998 all the way to 2013. Check it out!  http://www.uplook.org/archives.html


                      Another blog: http://goodwordsandworks.com/
                      It features book reviews on different books and also great posts on biblical truth.
                      They have a nice list of links to other similar websites.

                      http://digitalsojourner.com/
                      Thoughts on the Christian life as we sojourn together through the modern world


                      http://whyweweb.com/
                      This website has lots of tips on technology and how we as Christians can use technology to share the gospel more effectively.


                      http://ponsvir.blogspot.com/
                      This is another writing blog. It has posts on the tabernacle and other subjects in the Old Testament.



                      Sunday, June 15, 2014

                      Vessels of Honor Conference -Part 1-


                      I went to my first Vessels of Honor Conference in May. I had heard about it for the last couple of years and was excited to be able to attend one! This year, a friend suggested I come to it (she was going too) and the Lord worked out transportation for me to get there. The conference was held at Park University's campus in Kansas City, Missouri and I really enjoyed the weekend of stimulating conversations, fellowship, hymn sings and inspiring Bible teaching. 

                      You can listen to audio sessions from past VOH conferences on their website: http://www.vesselsofhonor.org/Vessels_of_Honor/Downloads.html 

                      I am planning (Lord willing) on doing a series of posts with my notes from some of the Bible teaching sessions. 
                                                            


                      - General Session - Discerning the Times by Jonathan Peck
                      Friday May 23, 2014 

                      Discernment is valuable. We all should have discernment (as Christians) but if you have the gift of discernment it is discernment on steroids! 


                      14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
                      ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
                      And seeing you will see and not perceive;
                      15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
                      Their ears are hard of hearing,
                      And their eyes they have closed,
                      Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
                      Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
                      So that I should heal them.
                      16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

                      -Matthew 13:14-17  (NKJV)

                      Spiritual discernment is given to every follower of Christ. Discernment, like the conscience, can be sharpened or dulled. 

                      In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
                      -Ephesians 1:7-9  

                      Mr. Peck shared about a card trick he learned from someone. He was sworn to secrecy to never tell anyone else the secret to the trick. God reveals things to us that unbelievers don't know. 

                      13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
                      -1 Corinthians 2:13-15 

                      Discernment: The ability to appraise, analyze, see a matter using the mind of the spirit 
                      and understand the spiritual implications for our life. 



                      During the Tsunami in South East Asia in 2004, when the oceans waves receded from the shore, and exposed all this sand, people were curious and walked out onto the sand. Then,  they were tragically washed away by the incoming wave. Christians can be washed away spiritually. Will I discern God's will for me in these seasons and times and obey?

                      And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
                      -Romans 12:2 

                      Are we discerning where and why we are placed where we are, in this point of time in history?  We need spiritual discernment to choose between good and evil. 

                      There was a British couple visiting the Peck's town in the US. They had a neat tract with the word "Good" written on the front. But if you look closely, you can find the word "evil" hidden in the text. 

                      Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
                      -1 Kings 3:9 

                      And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is of the Lord our God, let us send out to our brethren everywhere who are left in all the land of Israel, and with them to the priests and Levites who are in their cities and their common-lands, that they may gather together to us;
                      -1 Chronicles 13:2 

                      Is God in this matter or not? When making plans, we should say "if the Lord wills", not, "because I will."

                      15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 
                       -James 4:15  

                      13 And the letters were sent by couriers into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their possessions. 14 A copy of the document was to be issued as law in every province, being published for all people, that they should be ready for that day. 15 The couriers went out, hastened by the king’s command; and the decree was proclaimed in Shushan the citadel. So the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was perplexed.
                      -Esther 3:13-15

                      When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry. He went as far as the front of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.
                      -Esther 4:1-2

                      13 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
                      -Esther 4:13-14 



                      God didn't make Esther the wife of the King Xerxes because she was beautiful, or because she was of a quiet demeanor, but because God had a plan for her.

                      Mr. Peck read some of the words from this song:

                      "Do Something" by Matthew West 
                      I woke up this morning
                      Saw a world full of trouble now
                      Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
                      How’s it ever gonna turn around
                      So I turned my eyes to Heaven
                      I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
                      Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
                      People living in poverty
                      Children sold into slavery
                      The thought disgusted me
                      So, I shook my fist at Heaven
                      Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
                      He said, “I did, I created you”

                      If not us, then who
                      If not me and you
                      Right now, it’s time for us to do something
                      If not now, then when
                      Will we see an end
                      To all this pain
                      It’s not enough to do nothing
                      It’s time for us to do something

                      I’m so tired of talking
                      About how we are God’s hands and feet
                      But it’s easier to say than to be
                      Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
                      It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
                      Well, I don’t know about you
                      But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
                      I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
                      I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
                      “I’m gonna do something”

                      If not us, then who
                      If not me and you
                      Right now, it’s time for us to do something
                      If not now, then when
                      Will we see an end
                      To all this pain
                      It’s not enough to do nothing
                      It’s time for us to do something

                      (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/matthewwest/dosomething.html)
                      You can listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8

                                                                                    
                      How do we cultivate spiritual discernment? 

                      17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. 
                      -John 7:17-18 

                      Do we seek God, wanting Him to confirm our own desires? 
                      The Pecks lived in N.E. Congo in the late 90s. In the early 2000s the "African World War" broke out. Many missionaries who were connected with mission boards were asked to leave Africa for their safety. The Pecks, who were commended by non-denominational assemblies  were not pressured to leave.  Their African friends asked the Pecks, "You teach us to trust in God and then when it's dangerous you leave, why is that?" Convicting.

                      Discernment is cultivated by being saturated in the Word of God.


                      The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
                      But the folly of fools is deceit.

                      -Proverbs 14:8

                      18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:
                      -1 Corinthians 3:18-21 




                      We cultivate discernment by non-conformity to the world. If you listen to the world's thinking your lens/eyes becomes cloudy. You have to replace worldliness with something good. 
                      Cultivate discernment by earnestly seeking God's face in prayer. Daniel made a point to  pray regularly. 

                       In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

                      Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
                      “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. 11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. 12 And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem.
                      13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.
                      -Daniel 9:1-13 

                      Don't think you are an island. Ask God's forgiveness for our country's sins. Daniel didn't put up, give up, or let up, till God answered him.