Saturday, December 31, 2011

US Campaign for Burma Give Today

Top 5 Reasons to Give Today:

Last Chance to Make a Tax-Deductible Donation in 2011

As the year winds down, we reach out to our most important constituency, you - our supporters. We asked people to contribute, and they responded--so far we’ve raised over $18,000. Our goal is $25,000, we need your help to reach this goal. Time is almost up to make a tax-deductible gift in 2011.

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far, and if you haven't, here are the top five reasons for you to donate today to USCB.

1. Ongoing conflict and human rights abuses: More people have been displaced in the past year and a half in Burma than any other year in the past ten years. Displacement and attacks from Burma's Army against civilians continues. USCB has been instrumental in bringing this tragic situation to the world's attention, but more pressure is needed in order to stop the atrocities

2. Over 1,100 political prisoners: Despite claims of reforms many students, monks, journalists, human rights defenders, and political leaders unjustly remain behind bars, we will fight for the release of every political prisoner.

3. Congressional Support and Action: Our advocacy efforts in Washington have resulted in strong bi-partisan Congressional Support for Burma and secured more than $20 million of U.S. government funds for life saving humanitarian aid for those who struggle to survive as internally displaced persons.

4. Media Attention: USCB is crucial in getting U.S. media to pay attention to issues in Burma. Our work has been featured in more than 10,000 news articles including the New York Times, CNN, BBC, Foreign Policy and the Washington Post.

5. Grassroots Action: USCB has worked with thousands of Americans, including students, entertainers, community leaders, churches, and more to raise awareness about Burma. Tens of thousands of petitions signatures have been gathered; thousands of emails sent to President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Congress; hundreds of letters to the editor have been sent; and many many facebook posts, tweets, and more. This is all thanks to a strong partnership between USCB staff and our amazing grassroots.

This is why we ask that you please make a tax-deductible year-end gift, so that 2012 will be the year peace prevails in Burma.

Happy New Year,

Aung Din, Jennifer, Myra, and Thelma

P.S. Already donated? Thanks so much! Please forward this message to friends and colleagues that might share your support for USCB's work

Become a member of the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

Or, make a tax-deductible donation today.

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Daily Devotional Saturday 31st December

““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”” John 16:33 NIV
Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon


"Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."
Ecclesiastes 7:8

Look at David's Lord and Master; see his beginning. He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Would you see the end? He sits at his Father's right hand, expecting until his enemies be made his footstool. "As he is, so are we also in this world." You must bear the cross, or you shall never wear the crown; you must wade through the mire, or you shall never walk the golden pavement. Cheer up, then, poor Christian. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof." See that creeping worm, how contemptible its appearance! It is the beginning of a thing. Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof. That caterpillar is yourself, until you are wrapped up in the chrysalis of death; but when Christ shall appear you shall be like him, for you shall see him as he is. Be content to be like him, a worm and no man, that like him you may be satisfied when you wake up in his likeness. That rough-looking diamond is put upon the wheel of the lapidary. He cuts it on all sides. It loses much--much that seemed costly to itself. The king is crowned; the diadem is put upon the monarch's head with trumpet's joyful sound. A glittering ray flashes from that coronet, and it beams from that very diamond which was just now so sorely vexed by the lapidary. You may venture to compare yourself to such a diamond, for you are one of God's people; and this is the time of the cutting process. Let faith and patience have their perfect work, for in the day when the crown shall be set upon the head of the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, one ray of glory shall stream from you. "They shall be mine," saith the Lord, "in the day when I make up my jewels." "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."


"Knowest thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter end?"
2 Samuel 2:26

If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true ketch of thine end.

You are a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of grace, but having no heart in the matter. Tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up crying, "O God, it is hard to die. Did you send for my minister?" "Yes, he is coming." The minister comes. "Sir, I fear that I am dying!" "Have you any hope?" "I cannot say that I have. I fear to stand before my God; oh! pray for me." The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time put before him, but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. I may put my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here again. But where is the man, and where are the man's true eyes? It is written, "In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment." Ah! why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will be your wailings. Let the Saviour's own words reveal the woe: "Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame." There is a frightful meaning in those words. May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah's wrath!


Today's reading: Zechariah 13-14, Revelation 21 (NIV)

View today's reading on Bible Gateway

Today's Old Testament reading: Zechariah 9-12

Cleansing From Sin

1 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

2 “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, their father and mother, to whom they were born, will say to them, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD’s name.’ Then their own parents will stab the one who prophesies.

4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision. They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. 5 Each will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.’6 If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends....’ the rest on Bible Gateway

Today's New Testament reading: Revelation 20

A New Heaven and a New Earth

1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true....” the rest on Bible Gateway


Simeon, Symeon [Sĭm'eon]—hearing, hears and obeys orhearing with acceptance.

1. The second son of Jacob by Leah(Gen. 29:33).

The Man Who Was Self-Willed

It is not easy to deal with Simeon alone, since he is always associated with his brother, Levi. “Simeon and Levi are brethren” (Gen. 49:5 ). Of Simeon’s personal history we know little. His name implies hearing with obedience, but Simeon was deaf in the day he should have heard, and disobedient and irresponsive when his lot hung in balance.

The first thing recorded about Simeon is that with Levi his brother, he drew the sword in treachery against the Shechemites and slew all the males. When rebuked by their father, they upheld indignantly their right to act as they did. Both acted “in their selfwill” (Gen. 49:6), which means they took malicious delight in their gross crime.

Simeon next appears in the story of Joseph, who felt it would be better to retain Simeon until Benjamin had been brought to the palace. Joseph felt with his father Jacob that Simeon and Levi would be best apart. In fact, Simeon had no blessing while joined with Levi and no prosperity while he was with Reuben. When separated, Simeon, at first, did not multiply (1 Chron. 4:24-27). During the forty years in the wilderness the decrease of Simeon was remarkable. Because of the idolatry of the tribe, thousands were slain.

In the land of Canaan, Simeon joined with Judah, and this association marked a turning point in the history of the tribe. Judah and Simeon went up together to Canaan (Judg. 1:1-3). Simeon means “obedient hearing,” and Judah, “praise.” The absorption of Simeon into the inheritance of Judah gave Simeon a place and work in Israel. In the final division of the land, foretold by Ezekiel, between Benjamin and Issachar, there is a portion for Simeon.

Over the gate to the Golden City, Simeon’s name is inscribed—“Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed 12,000”—a way for even Simeon to enter the city of God above. From the time the Simeonites became aware of what God had done for them there was no more curse and no more captivity for them. Hitherto instruments of cruelty, they became instruments of warfare against the enemies of the Lord, ultimately earning the right to be included among the number eternally sealed (Rev. 7:7).

Self-will fittingly describes Simeon’s career until he was separated from Levi. God hates self-will for He knows how it accounts for uncontrolled passions, and the failure to respond to higher appeals. Because of their self-will God, in His governmental dealings, scattered and impoverished the Simeonites. May we not come nigh their dwelling but ever seek to learn, prove and obey “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

2. A just and devout man in Jerusalem who awaited the coming of Jesus, the Messiah (Luke 2:25-34).

The Man Who Died Satisfied

The adoration and prophecy of Simeon, who waited for the consolation of Israel and blessed the Consoler when He appeared, is rich in spiritual suggestion. This spectator of the most significant birth of all history, endued with a prophetic spirit, kept the lamp of prophecy burning when religion was at a low ebb in Israel. Simeon means “one who hears and obeys” and this saintly Simeon knew the voice speaking in the prophets of old, and obeyed the light he saw. Coming into the Temple, he took the Babe in his arms and blessed God. What a wonderful benediction his was!

At last faith had been justified and Simeon could die without fear. Have our eyes seen the salvation of the Lord? Can we die in peace? In his swan song, Simeon was not ashamed to declare that the One born in the city of David was the Saviour of the world. This was more than the letter-learned scribes of his times had discerned. These were the men who looked upon Christ as a sign to be spoken against and to whom He would become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.

With godly Simeon it was different, for he was Spirit-taught and knew that Mary’s Child was the One through whom the world was to be blessed. As he eagerly anticipated Christ’s first advent, are we found patiently awaiting His second advent? When He does appear and we see Him as He is, ours will be the thrill Simeon experienced as He gazed upon the Lord’s Christ.

3. An ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:30).

4. A disciple and prophet at Antioch, surnamed Niger (Acts 13:1 ).

5. The original name of a son of Jonas, or John, and brother of Andrew an apostle of Christ. See SIMON (Acts 15:14).

Amy Carroll

December 30, 2011

A Place of True Belonging
Amy Carroll

"Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you—better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away." Proverbs 27:10 (NIV 1984)

As we sat around the table with the sun setting behind us, I breathed a deep sigh of contentment. The faces of my dear friends glowed in the fading light, and our voices were low and intimate. The conversation had turned to matters buried deep in our hearts; laughter pealed, tears were shed and our faces reflected concern and caring as the conversation ebbed and flowed. With darkness deepening around us, we reluctantly stood, said our good-byes and returned to our waiting families and beds.

Pulling the quilt up to my chin that night, I thought, "There's nothing on Facebook as good as that."

Please don't get me wrong. I love social networking as much as anyone. I've enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, staying connected to new friends I meet as I travel and connecting to my children in creative and fun ways. It's entertaining and enjoyable. It's fascinating and engaging. It's educational and inspiring. It's not a place I intend to abandon, but it's a place I need to recognize for what it is and what it isn't.

Since Facebook is my favorite site for social networking, I decided to do a little investigating. From its inception in 2004, Facebook has grown from 1 million users to an astounding 500 million users by the middle of 2011. And it's not just for kids any more. The 35-54 years old demographic is now the largest population of users with women leading the pack!

I've been wondering about the cause of the overwhelming growth in social networking. I'm no expert, but I have some ideas of my own. Our culture has become increasingly insulating over time. Everything from industrialization when families began to move away from family farms, to air conditioning which drives us off our front porches and inside our cool homes, has made it more challenging to find a place of true belonging.

Instead of joining churches for a lifetime, we're either moving to another town or another church. Instead of walking next door to ask our grandmothers for parenting advice, we're using search engines and reading blogs. Instead of meals around tables in our home, we're driving thru and eating on the way.

If this sounds scathing, please excuse me. I'm writing with a broken heart out of my own experience. I am that woman. I'm a woman who has turned inward. I've turned on my computer instead of turning outward with open arms and an open life. I'm a woman who has settled for "friending" online instead of knocking on a friend's door because of some past hurts. It's easier "out there" instead of close by, isn't it?

I was reflecting one day about the time and space into which Jesus was born. God could have sent Jesus into any time of His choosing. Why didn't He send Jesus during our day? Surely using television and internet would have been a more effective way to get the Word out.

Maybe, just maybe, His choice of time sends us a message. Jesus chose deep relationships as the way to transmit His message forward in time until He comes again.

He was the one who created us in His own image with an inescapable need for face-to-face, heart-to-heart relationship. Maybe a place of true belonging with God and others is the only way to satisfy the longings of our souls.

Dear Lord, I know that in You I will find a place of true belonging. Help me to build that relationship with others too. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?

A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman

Visit Amy's blog for more encouragement.

Order P31 Woman magazine to read together with a friend!

Application Steps:
Examine how you spend your time. Is the majority of your time being invested in face-to-face relationship with friends and family?

Pay attention to your true feelings after interactions on the computer or in person. In the end, is the interaction fulfilling or hollow?

Where do I find my place of belonging?

Is the belonging that I feel true or artificial?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." (NIV 1984)

Romans 12:5, " in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (NIV 1984)

© 2011 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105


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December 30, 2011

I Need Rest!

Gwen Smith

Today's Truth

"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place" (Mark 6:30-32, NIV).

Friend to Friend

I spin plates. Not real plates. Metaphorical plates. I spin lots of plates at the same time and I multi-task. This is both a blessing and a curse in my life. Sometimes my attention is divided in too many directions, leaving me harried ... while at other times, I'm energized by the amount of things I can get done in a small window of time. Regardless, there just never seems to be enough hours in the day to get things done or enough hours in the night to give me complete rest.

Being a plate-spinning mom is a challenge. When my kids want me, they don't like to wait for me to spin three more plates before I answer them or give them my attention. When my daughter Kennedy was a toddler, she figured out a way to stop me mid-task, no matter what I was doing. She would place her chubby little hands on my cheeks, look me in the eye, and demand my full attention. Then she would deliver her message or question to me. I became her captive audience.

Just like Kennedy used to seek my attention, the Spirit of the Lord often speaks a similar message to my heart: "Don't forget about me, Gwen! I know you have a lot going on, but your attention should be mine. I love you. Come sit with me a while."

Life is busy. Each day we have activities, tasks and distractions that vie for our time and attention. If we aren't careful and deliberate, our relationship with God can suffer as a result. The Lord doesn't want to be an after-thought and He doesn't want to be penciled in to our schedules. He wants us to prioritize Him. Focus our hearts on Him. Worship Him. Be with Him. Rest in Him.

What are your priorities? Where does God fit into your schedule? How vital is it to you that you spend one-on-one time with God each day? Are you experiencing the supernatural rest that's found in His presence?

In Mark 6:30-32, we learn that Jesus and His apostles had been busy working for their heavenly Father. In fact, they had worked with such vigor that they hadn't even gotten a decent meal in their belly. (Boy, do I know what that's like!) In response, Jesus invited them to get away with Him so they could find some rest and rejuvenation in His presence. He said,"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31, NIV). That same invitation is extended to you and me.

God wants you to pause the plate spinning and be His captive audience in this very moment. He wants you to go with Him to a quiet place: to be still, to gaze into His eyes, to worship Him in Spirit and in truth, to be lost in His glory, and found by His grace - to find rest.

I'd like you to imagine His strong yet gentle hands reaching for your cheeks, lifting your chin, and drawing your eyes to His. Fix your gaze on His beautiful, blazing, mercy-filled eyes. Give the Lord your full attention. He will be your rest.

Let's Pray

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for all of the times I fail to give You my attention. I shake my head at the very thought that You want to lock gazes with someone like me, yet Scripture clearly tells me that You desire to be sought after and found by me. I'm here. You have my full attention, please speak to my heart and help me to be Your captive audience throughout today and every day.

In Jesus' Name,


Now It's Your Turn

  • I co-wrote a song called "Sacred Place" that is purposed to lead you to His presence. Please take a moment to listen to "Sacred Place" and personally respond to Him. CLICK HERE to listen to the song on my Facebook page.
  • Find a solitary place, grab your Bible and read Psalm 103.
  • Write down your favorite verses from that chapter and journal about what they teach you.

More from the Girlfriends

Do you know that rest, the rest that comes from the heart of God and permeates every fiber of who you matter what you are facing? God desires for you to know His rest, for you to experience the fullness of His love and His peace. If your soul is in turmoil, lift your gaze to the Father. Seek His heart. He will meet you at your need and sustain you one day at a time. Spend some sacred quiet time with Him today.

Gwen's song "Sacred Place" is featured on her live worship CD, Unsearchable, which is available on iTunes, Amazon and on Gwen's website.

Portions of today's devotion are found in Gwen's book, Broken Into Beautiful. God delights to transform lives...even yours! Experience how the unconditional love of Jesus can change your life and then stand back and watch the wonder of grace at work.

Seeking God?

Click here to find out more about

how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God

P.O. Box 725

Matthews, NC 28106



From Abraham to Exile

Matthew 1:2-11

Not every ancestor of Jesus trusted in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Still, the Lord's grace overcame what could be called "impossible" odds in working through the sinful sons of David to bring about our salvation. This grace seeks out even the most wicked person and calls God's chosen to repentance, even if they are as vile as Manasseh or as lost as Rahab. Our status as Christ's brothers and sisters (Heb. 2:11) comes only by such almighty grace.

For further study:

2 Samuel 12

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 6-7

Coram Deo from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.




From Abraham to Exile

Matthew 1:2-11 "Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king" ( vv. 5-6).

It is not difficult to understand the reasons why Matthew and John were the most widely quoted gospels among the early church fathers. John, for example, writes some of the boldest words about Jesus' divinity in the New Testament. Matthew emphasizes Jesus' teaching ministry, and sections like the Sermon on the Mount (chap. 5-7 ) were widely memorized early on in the life of the church. In fact, Matthew was read aloud more often than even the gospel of John in the years immediately following the death of the last apostle.

Matthew's gospel is placed first in the New Testament canon largely because of its clear connection to the Old Testament. Certainly, the apostles all wanted to show how Christ and His church fulfill God's promises to Israel. However, the first evangelist (another title for a gospel writer) alone begins with Jesus' genealogy, putting Him in the context of God's plan of redemption and tying Him, through His forefathers, to the Old Testament promises.

Notably, Matthew shows in 1:1-17 that Jesus is a direct descendant of David and therefore the Messiah. Yet Matthew makes other important theological points in his presentation of the historical data. For example, genealogies in the ancient world did not normally include women, but Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah's wife (Bathsheba) are found in Matthew's ancestry of Jesus (vv. 3, 5-6 ). All of these women were Gentiles or married to a Gentile: Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites (Gen. 38; Josh. 2), Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4), and Bathsheba's first husband was a Hittite (2 Sam. 11 ). These names could have been omitted, but Matthew includes them to show us that God's family in Christ is comprised of faithful Jews and Gentiles.

Moreover, Rahab's inclusion in Jesus' lineage despite her past in harlotry reminds us of God's grace. Indeed, the Savior has relatives with a more wicked past than Rahab (Manasseh, for instance; 2 Chron. 33:1-20; Matt. 1:10 ), but these sinners, because they turned from their evil, were not cut off from God's covenant blessings. Jesus, Matthew Henry comments, "takes even great sinners, at their repentance, into the nearest relation to himself."

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Not every ancestor of Jesus trusted in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Still, the Lord's grace overcame what could be called "impossible" odds in working through the sinful sons of David to bring about our salvation. This grace seeks out even the most wicked person and calls God's chosen to repentance, even if they are as vile as Manasseh or as lost as Rahab. Our status as Christ's brothers and sisters ( Heb. 2:11) comes only by such almighty grace.

For further study:

2 Samuel 12

The Bible in a year:

Genesis 6-7

INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.

Subscribe to Tabletalk magazine and receive daily Bible studies & in depth articles from world class scholars for only $23 per per year! That's only $1.92 per month. And you can try it out for three months absolutely free! Bringing the best in biblical scholarship together with down-to-earth writing, Tabletalk helps you understand the Bible and apply it to daily living.



The Cappadocians: Molded by a Woman's Touch


The Cappadocian Fathers, as they later came to be known, were brothers Basil and Gregory and Gregory Nazianzen, all from Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey. Recognized for their monastic leadership, they were also astute theologians. The term Cappadocians , however, is more fitting than Cappadocian Fathers because it captures three generations of a family, both women and men. The grandmother of Basil and Gregory was Macrina the Elder, who fled persecution only to be left widowed and impoverished. Yet she ministered to those who were even more needy and was canonized as the patron saint of widows.

One of Macrina's sons was Basil (the elder), who had nine children, five of whom were designated as saints. Macrina (the younger) (324 - 379), named for her grandmother, was the older sister who had a profound influence on her siblings as well as on her mother.

Macrina the Younger had chosen a life of asceticism after her fiancé died, and she treated her servants as sisters and equals. She later joined with Basil to form a convent in conjunction with his monastery. The most celebrated of the Cappadocians, he is recognized as Basil the Great (329 - 379), Father of Eastern Monasticism. Setting aside worldly aspirations and touring monasteries in Egypt, Basil returned to Cappadocia, where he established a monastery. His "Longer Rules" and "Shorter Rules" are still used today, and all monks in the Eastern church are Basilian monks. Basil viewed monastic life as one of service to those in need, setting the example by selling his family's estate for famine relief and calling on other wealthy landholders to do likewise. He worked in the kitchen and dispersed provisions alongside ordinary monks, distributing food freely to any in need, regardless of ethnicity.

Basil had a flare for words and is remembered particularly for "The Six Days," his series of nine sermons on creation that display the beauty of God's natural wonders. In 370 he was named bishop of Caesarea, pitting him against Emperor Valens, an Arian. When he died in 379, the entire population of Caesarea - Christians, Jews, and pagans - is said to have followed his funeral cortege with weeping.

Basil's younger brother Gregory of Nyssa (335 - 394) did not enter the monastery and may have been married to Theosebia, a much-heralded deaconess in the church at Nyssa, where Gregory served as bishop. His writing set the stage for the Eastern church's focus on apophatic theology, which emphasizes that God is ultimately unknowable. While strongly defending the doctrine of the Trinity, he insisted that God is infinite and transcendent and thus beyond our understanding. The true way to God is through darkness.

Gregory Nazianzen (c. 325 - 389), the third of the Cappadocian Fathers, was a close associate and friend of Basil and Gregory of Nyssa. His mother was instrumental in converting her husband, Gregory, who subsequently became bishop of Nazianzus. Young Gregory accused his father of tyranny and left home, only to later return and work with his father in the church.

Gregory later gave away his wealth and entered a monastery. On his own deathbed, Basil, not a man to hold grudges, recommended his friend Gregory to a post as the leading theologian in Constantinople with the hope that he would defeat Arianism. As such, Gregory's tenure in Constantinople was anything but peaceful. The city was deeply divided, but he began drawing crowds with his powerful preaching. His "Five Theological Orations," defending the Trinity and the deity of Christ, were aimed at Arians.

Arian opponents stormed his church in 379 during the Easter vigil, killing one bishop and wounding Gregory. Matters improved when Theodosius ascended the throne and vowed to rid the East of Arians once and for all. Gregory was elected bishop of Constantinople to replace the Arian bishop dismissed by the emperor, but his problems were far from over. Accused of attaining his position illegally, he resigned: "Let me be as the Prophet Jonah! I was responsible for the storm. . . . Seize me and throw me." The emperor accepted his resignation, and Gregory returned to Cappadocia where his ministry began.

If you enjoyed the above article, please take a minute to read about the book that it was adapted from:


Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church

by Ruth A. Tucker
Buy the book!
The story of Christianity centers on people whose lives have been transformed by the resurrected Lord. Tucker puts this front and center in a lively overview peppered with sidebars; historical "what if?" questions; sections on everyday life; drawings and illustrations; bibliographies for further reading.


He Is - Fire

Deuteronomy 9:3

Fire symbolizes God's presence and power. God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush and guided the Israelites with a pillar of fire. In this verse he promises to go before them like a devouring fire, judging the nations that defy him.

Fire can be either helpful or harmful. Contained, it provides light, warmth and fuel. Uncontained, it devours everything in its path. One way or another, God will be a fire in your life. If you defy him, he will burn with justice. If you serve him, he will illuminate the path before you.



True Identity: The Bible for Women
by Zondervan

The Bible that helps you see yourself as God sees you! Find your true identity in Christ through your relationship with him.