Praying for the People of Syria

A Syrian refugee child cries at the Al Zaatri refugee camp. Photo courtesy of Nick Tann

A Syrian refugee child cries at the Al Zaatri refugee camp. Photo courtesy of Nick Tann

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

The civil war in Syria seems endless and is daunting, discouraging, and dismaying. It has gone on for over three years. 150,000 people have been killed, including many children. The numbers who have been displaced, injured, and have had property destroyed are awful. According to a recent United Nations report, attacks by pro-government forces are leading to mass casualties, malnutrition and starvation. 90 percent of explosive causalities are civilians. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are in temporary camps in Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey The nations of the world, including the United States, seem not to know what to do.

One response is to say that this is their problem—not ours. I have been rereading and studying Isaiah for Lent. The message of God in Isaiah deals with Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria among many other nations. It is apparent from the scriptures that God cares for the nations of the world. God gives us the promise of Psalm 22:27, “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.” If we believe in God, it is not proper for us to ignore or turn away from the problems of others. Jesus said that the second great commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is apparent from scripture that our neighbors involve many more than the people next door. In John 3:16, we read “God so loved the world”. It should be obvious to believers that we should pray for the people of Syria. We may be limited in what we can do, but it is not appropriate for us to ignore the troubles of others.

Many explanations for these troubles are found in the Bible. Galatians 6:7,8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Proverbs 13:15, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” What is happening in Syria is the consequence of human sin—disregard of God and the word of God. The consequences of unbelief and ignoring of God are severe. Psalm 9:15, “The nations have sunk in the pit which they made; in the net which they hid has their own foot been caught.”

The lesson for us—is that to choose a way contrary to the God of the universe will lead to disaster. As we see the troubles of others, we should look to ourselves, and remember that we reap what we sow. There are many people in our nation who think that we can get along fine without God. They are mistaken! God’s purpose for us is life and light and salvation. The words of Jesus: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster… Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth. The Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA until recently, he is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. As the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, established in 1981, he publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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Syria… Agree or Disagree?

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

sheep caught between rocks

Caught between a rock and a hard place…

What is going on in Syria, at present, is disturbing, terrifying, and upsetting. What, if anything, are we to do as a nation? Have opportunities for some kind of effective intervention passed us by? As with a few other of my blogs, I would like to ignore this subject–but cannot. I find myself disturbed by much of what I read and hear on the subject of Syria. One of the most offensive statements that I hear is “It is not in our national interest”. I gather that it is not in our national interest to care about other people–or to do anything that might be of help to them. Really, should we only look out after ourselves?

Jesus was asked on more than one occasion: “Teacher, Which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Probably the inquiry was focused on the ten commandments found in Exodus, chapter 20. Rather, Jesus referred to two passages in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”–and from the book of Leviticus (19:18), “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

In a defensive response to this, one of his inquirers asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Perhaps, he was thinking of the family next door. In response, Jesus related the story of The Good Samaritan, who came to the aid of a Jew who had been beaten and robbed; left to die by the side of the road. Other people passed by, and ignored the victim of violence. It is clear in the teaching of Jesus that our neighbor is someone in need, whom we might be able to help.

At this time, the majority of the people in the United States would like to forget about Syria, and say that it is none of our concern! The situation is perplexing with Muslim fighting Muslim. It seems to me that the United States of America (and other nations) have three choices:

  1. In some way assist President Assad to maintain his authority over the people of Syria.
  2. In some way assist the four disparate groups that are seeking to overthrow Assad.
  3. To sit by: Let them continue to kill each other and see what the end result is. In that case we may find the end result much more disturbing than we supposed. Human beings have frightening capacities for wicked and evil behavior. The Middle East is of inevitable concern to the USA. Assad has been the enemy of Israel, of Iraq, and to some degree of Jordan. Total inaction by the United States may have the effect of supporting Assad in killing his own people.

I want to discuss this with you, because, in some measure, I believe that this is our business. My concern at this point is that we think about Syria–and come to conclusions that we can defend when we talk with others. I would be pleased to have you agree with me–but also would be happy to have encouraged you to think seriously about this matter, even if your perspectives are different from mine. There are two basic things that all of us can do:

  1. Recognize that God loves the world, and that we are his servants.
  2. Pray for the people of Syria.

I like this sentence:

“Because I cannot do everything, I will not fail to do something.”

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

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 Thank you to ProProfs for the image…

THE POWER OF LOVE

by Dr. Foster H. Shannon

fork-in-the-roadWe live in a world that is in turmoil. We see it in the struggles in the streets in Egypt; in the killing that continues in Syria, with little hope of resolve. We see it in the wickedness of the governing regime in North Korea. We see it in the city of Chicago, with a murder rate that is out of control; much of it blacks killing blacks.  We see it in the restlessness of our streets; in the foolish recklessness and vandalism that occurred in Huntington Beach, California last Sunday, 21 July. People rioting, not for any cause or belief—just for the delight of destroying and pillaging property and fighting with one another!
Does God have a solution or does he will to allow us to learn the hard way through the costs of our foolishness? I believe the solution begins with our allegiance to our Lord and his teachings. One of those teachings is found in the letter of the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth: the chapter on love. We tend to use the word love by using it in superficial and misguided ways. Biblical love is a giving love, marvelously illustrated in John 3:16,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”

For many, love is sentiment, shallow and not deep.
Biblical love has to do with caring so much that you give something of yourself for the wellbeing of another. Instead of what can I get?, biblical love has to do with what can I give?
Biblical love is expressed clearly and concisely in I Corinthians 13:4-7:

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Perhaps, we say sometimes to ourselves: Why does God not help me? Why does God not help us? Well, he helps us in his teachings recorded in scripture. He helps us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, so that we might be forgiven. He helps us when he calls us to righteousness and justice and truth: words that too easily can be misconstrued and misused. We redefine them to suit our interests..
Consider the words of Jesus: John 10:10:

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

And in John 10:27,28:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”

God loves us. He wants us to find life and goodness and wholeness. He says in Ezekiel 18:23:

“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”

The world and we have a choice, it is either God’s way, God’s will, God’s purposes or our own way and our own will.

Foster H. Shannon
Please contact Foster directly with any questions or comments at the following address:

Thank you.

More about Foster…

Foster H. Shannon, Brief Biographical Note

Dr. Foster Shannon received his degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Political Science, and went on to obtain a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, with emphasis on church growth.
He is currently Interim Pastor of True Light Presbyterian Church in Alhambra, CA. He is the author of seven books and a Sunday School curriculum. He is the President of Green Leaf Press, a non-profit Christian publishing company, which he established with others in 1981. Green Leaf Press, Inc. publishes and markets Christian books with special emphasis on Bible Study, Church Growth, and Christian Evidences. The website is: www.gogreenleaf.com. He enjoys riding his bicycle and swimming weekly. He likes both classical and popular music. He roots for the CAL Bears and the Chicago Cubs.

‘LIKE’ our FACEBOOK PAGE!